Mirage: It Makes Air Visible--and Targets Move!

Mirage: It Makes Air Visible--and Targets Move!
A .22-250, fired prone from 500 yards, yielded these five consecutive hits. Wayne watched the mirage and shaded into it, pausing during boils.

On a warm, sunny day, you'll see heat waves, or mirage, shimmying off the ground. Mirage is especially pronounced on flat, hard surfaces that collect heat, such as pavement and steel rails. Fire your rifle repeatedly, and mirage from the heated barrel will distort your sight picture.

Watch distant mirage through your spotting scope or high-powered rifle-scope, and you'll see it "run" or "boil." The flatter the mirage, the stronger the wind and the greater your bullet deflection. When the waves get tall and slow, deflection will be less. Boiling mirage appears to climb straight up. A boil may indicate a let-up in the wind, or a reversal. In either case, if you shoot during a boil when zeroed for a breeze, you'll miss to the leeward side. If a reversal occurs while you're squeezing the trigger, you'll miss badly.

Mirage is most useful as a wind indicator, but it can also visually displace distant targets. In heavy mirage you'll be aiming at a bullseye that's not where you see it. A zero correction may be in order, if such a condition is expected to remain during a match.


Savvy shooters focus their spotting scopes at mid-range, so they can read mirage not only at the target where the rifle-scope is focused, but halfway along the bullet's path, where conditions can be quite different. A bullet's course "bent" by wind near the muzzle does not re-align with the bore unless an opposite wind downrange nudges it back.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Ruger's Matt WIlson kick off SHOT Show 2018 by taking a look at the Ruger Predator.

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

The SAINT' Victor Rifle delivers a lightweight and agile rifle solution while maintaining effectiveness at extended engagement distances.

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of Bullpups.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The new Tromix .375 SOCOM offers great performance with less recoil than its .458 brother. MSR

Review: Tromix .375 SOCOM

David Fortier - March 15, 2019

The new Tromix .375 SOCOM offers great performance with less recoil than its .458 brother.

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of consideration. Accessories

Three Rangefinder Products from Leica

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of...

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display at the Smith & Wesson Booth at the 2019 NRA Show. MSR

M&P15 SPORT II Rifle Available with CTS-103 Optic

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 23, 2019

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display...

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning and the new X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan. Bolt-Action

New Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Long Range McMillan Rifles

RifleShooter Online Staff - November 07, 2018

Big game hunters in search of an accurate, long-range rifle need look no further than Browning...

See More Trending Articles

More Shooting Tips

There's a lot more to rifle balance than most shooters believe; here are a few tips. Shooting Tips

Tips on Rifle Balance

John Barsness - February 20, 2020

There's a lot more to rifle balance than most shooters believe; here are a few tips.

A simple test of sorting ammo and a shooting session at the range will show how bullet runout can affect the accuracy of your rifles. Shooting Tips

Bullet Runout - How It Affects Accuracy

Joseph von Benedikt - May 13, 2019

A simple test of sorting ammo and a shooting session at the range will show how bullet runout...

Guns, modifications and training tips to help you win the West on your next Cowboy Action Shooting Adventure. Shooting Tips

Shooting Secrets from Top Cowboy Action Competitors

Rick Hacker - April 02, 2012

Guns, modifications and training tips to help you win the West on your next Cowboy Action...

Here's how to sight in for success-- and it's not from the bench. Shooting Tips

The Shifting Zero

Wayne van Zwoll - September 23, 2010

Here's how to sight in for success-- and it's not from the bench.

See More Shooting Tips

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Rifle Shooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now