View Full Version : Technical Series #2 FLAGS

08-31-2011, 04:16 PM
I would like to hear from the experienced guys about the flags they use, what they look for in the flag to read the condition and flag designs that they find helpful and, do you use an uppy/downy or, a windicator?


Fred J
08-31-2011, 05:14 PM
Gene Beggs had an interesting article on Reading the wind. It was a 5 part series of emails. Contact Gene at genebeggs@aol.com, and see if he still has it on file. I believe this was in November of 2002. I have locked in a Backup file, that I can not open. Sorry about that. Other than that, I use 3 to four standard flags using Sail Tails. The Sail Tails are better in heavier winds. I also you an Uppsy Downsy by Rick Graham to catch the up and down drafts close to the target and if I am shooting next to a berm. I know that is may be over kill, but I also use a Beggs Wind Probe. If that's not enough, I also study the field of flags both to the left and right of me, to see what may be on it's way. It best to take the time between targets to also study and mentally record the reoccurring conditions. Other than that, it's just PPP.

08-31-2011, 05:49 PM
I use 4 to 5 made by Danny keeny they are light and real responsive the have a 6 inch red prop the only thigh I change is tails I put on some I make out of cheap white trash bags they will be thin and almost float in no wind it will help you in calm conditions they will pic up on any air movement when others are not and I use two probes the smaller ones I get them from Charlie Scott .

08-31-2011, 06:12 PM
...I make out of cheap white trash bags they will be thin and almost float in no wind it will help you in calm conditions they will pic up on any air movement when others are not.

So that is what Bill L. had on his flags !!! At one point in time one of the tails was showing a strong updraft and I said " Did you see that tail?". "Yep" was his reply.

08-31-2011, 06:45 PM
Has anyone tested the ball versus the prop? Rick Graham sells his with a ball as standard Danny sells his with a prop but, he will do a ball on his as well. I was thinking of changing the paint scheme on the ball and make opposing quarters of the ball the same color, you would have the ability to tell the "direction" of the condition. Similar to Danny's wind wheels, without the big numbers.

08-31-2011, 07:06 PM
I use flags from Rick Graham and windicators I made myself.
But just about any windflag commercially available is going to get the job done.
The secret isn't one guys flag versus another, it's you being able to read yours.
I've been using the same set for 3 years now

Everything is about angle and velocity.

Figuring out the wind is from the left or right is easy.
Recognizing that wind from the left is from 10:00, instead of 8:00 is critical.
I think every shooter has their favorite wind,
Mine is from the right, from 1:00-2:00, or 4:00-5:00
But every day is different and you need to find out what the predominant condition is that day.

I use my own homemade sail tails and windicators to help with velocity.
My tails are cut from 3/4 oz. ripstop nylon, 1.25 wide, and 24 inches long.
They react good in lighter conditions, but I doubt nowhere close to Richard's plastic bags.
What I like most about the nylon is it has a little curl to it that keeps them rigid lengthwise,
letting the entire tail raise and fall with the wind.
I know it works for other guys, but I have a hard time with surveyors tape and such that
will typically float and flutter around.

My windicators are just simple 180 degree pivots with a 6" length of that round foam
tube toy stuff made for swimming pools to catch the wind. I think they're called FunNoodles and were
a $1 for a 6' length at WallyWorld and come in a variety of colors.

Most important is to look for the windy days to go and practice.
The only way to learn to shoot in the wind is to shoot in the wind.

Hold on the dot, look for a readable condition, and pull the trigger.
Note where the shot went. Calculate the holdoff for that condition.
Load another bullet, set your holdoff for that readable condition and wait.
Watch your flags and when they look right, pull the trigger.

A good habit that I got into is shooting heads up.
Once I set my holdoff for a condition, I typically don't look through the
scope again until after the shot is gone. Unless I need to readjust my holdoff
due to a condition change, I don't see a need to look through the scope again.

The flags are where everything is happening and I read too many times that
someone missed a shot because they missed a condition.
My assumption is they saw something in the flags that changed by the time
they looked back through their scope and pulled the trigger.

Once again, unless you're gonna change your holdoff, why look through the
scope again.

The key is practice, practice, practice. Your brain needs a chance to see where
the bullet goes in different conditions. Every shot needs to be taken with a purpose
and intent to learn something on that shot. You can't be afraid to miss a shot if that
shot is going to provide insight on the following shots. But, that's what sighters are for.

You will always have the unexpected, unexplained shot, but as you gain experience with
your equipment and your wind skills improve, you'll get to a point where you can
predict more than not where the shot is going to go.

Bill B
08-31-2011, 08:34 PM
I like to try different things. A couple years ago at the Nationals in Kettlefoot and dealing with the berm, I discovered the need for an uppy downy flag to catch the down-drafts and up-drafts. So I recently ordered one from Rick Graham. I also recently received a wind indicator from Danny Keeney (a great guy to deal with) and a couple of his wagon wheels. I have been using a set of 4 Carbon Rivers Flags (which I guess are no longer made) and 2 Wick's paddle flags (which I know are no longer made). I also tend to look at flags on both sides of me and spend a lot of time looking over the top of my rifle to get the whole big picture. For the sporter, I will place a flag right in front of my target frame, so that I can see it through my scope. For tails I like bright colors and not too short but short enough to clear the tall grass we sometime encounter.

08-31-2011, 10:05 PM
My standard setup, or I should say this year because I've been real lazy, is 7 of Danny K. small flags with the props. I have two of Gene B. wind probes, and they are very useful, but as stated above I've been lazy and have not been using them this year. Regarding the wind flags as stated I use the props, I tried the balls and didn't like them, but with that said I do use large balls on the top of the 2 wind flags that are closets to the target. They are painted half black and white. Easier for me to pickup the direction of the flag. For tails I use pink surveyor tape from Home Depot. I tried the garbage bag setup like Richard's but I didn't like the reaction. What I'd call to busy, but Richard's a top shooter so it must work for him. I find the surveyor tape to be just right for me. I setup two flags about 5-7 ft out front of the bench approx. 2-3 ft left and right off center of my line of fire. I set my next flag approx. 20 ft out centered to target and the next 4 about equal distance apart to the target. Same as Jeff I like a right wind 4:00 - 5:00 is perfect and 1:00 to 2:00 is next for me. I watch the first three flags very closely and will not pull the trigger until those are perfectly lined up to each other if possible and all the flags at least pointing in the same general direction. When I find a condition I can work with, or trying to, I try to maintain my composure and wait for that condition at least for the first 15 minutes. I'll go out and shot sighters on other conditions to be prepared to try and use such if I'm running out of time. As others have mentioned I'll watch flags left and right of me especially when it's real switchy winds for right about the time you pull the trigger and a couple of your flags do a 180 you can only hope it's at least a 50 and not worst. Now with all that said I'm pretty much a hack and probably don't give the dedication I should, I never practice but the above is how I do it.


08-31-2011, 10:55 PM
I was planning on starting out with 4 flags and a windicator. Rick is backed-up 60days and I have State Champs in two weeks. I can always borrow some flags but, that doesn't leave much time for learning them. Or, I can get Danny's flags now and start the process. Because we have lighter winds I may try Mr. Gorham's trash bag streamers and see how it works. Both ranges we shoot at have berms and an uppy/downy or, some sort of indicator to rising currents would be helpful. I really liked the Graham flags in person, they are SUPER bright and seemed to be pretty reactive. I don't think I can go wrong either way.

How many people will use the full 30 minutes to shoot that one condition? I have only watched one sanctioned match but, I have shot a lot at home and paid attention to the wind quite a bit. I find myself trying to sneak a shot here or there and it always bites me.

Pete Wass
08-31-2011, 11:24 PM
I have spent most of my time shooting not paying a whole lot of attention to Tails. This has been a mistake on my part. The worst conditions for me to shoot in are those where there seems to be absolutely nothing happening. This my very well be where the garbage bag strength tails would be most helpful. Perhaps I could learn something. I have noticed that Wicks Flags have very thin tails.

It is difficult for me to get my mind around the fact that our atmosphere is always in motion. Just because we can't see it moving doesn't mean it isn't. Very light tails may be an aid in the very light conditions. If even Sail Tails are straight out, they aren't a lot of help now, are they?

Bill B
09-01-2011, 07:27 AM
Pete, if your rifle will not handle the apparent calm conditions, your rifle is not in tune. In those calm conditions or when there is just the slightest movement in the tails, you should be able to just put the crosshairs on the dot for an X. If you can't do that, keep working on tuning your rifle.

Edgerat, if you need flags now, get Dannys flags. They seem nice and will get you started. Strongly consider getting them with the wagon wheels. They will tell you very exactly the wind's angle. They will be far more precise about doing that than using those flags with the black/white ball on the end. You can always buy the Graham flags to try later.

09-01-2011, 09:02 AM
I believe this is once again a personal preference.
Go to any match and there will be a collection of each.

I use the balls because that's what I learned with and got used to.
Honestly though, trying to read the black/white to determine angle
on the downrange flags can be challenging.

Props on the other hand can serve a dual purpose.
They can certainly provide feedback on velocity, but I
think where they might shine the most is to help identify angle.
Having that 90 degree relationship between the prop and
the flag body is probably better feedback than a ball will give.

The only thing about props that I struggle with are the forces that
spinning object out front might be having on the overall reaction
of the flag itself. But a lot of good shooters shoot very well with

My buddy Jerry also has Grahams, but he has the props. When I can,
I will sneak a peak at his. Trouble is Jerry has flipped his vanes upside
down to lower their height, which flips his orange/green from mine.

I also shot next to Tony Meade a few weeks ago at the NC State match.
He had some propellers like Danny K uses, but they were a good 12" long.
They were connected with a gearbox for a RC airplane and were super
sensitive and real easy to see.

There's a lot of different ways to skin this cat.