Kestrel 3000, 4000, and Horus Meters
Firefighters battling the Arizona wildfires are relying on Kestrel Pocket Weather Meters to get the critical environmental data required for fire safety and containment. As wildfires continue to spread across the state, firefighters face extreme and dangerous conditions on the fire line. Kestrel meters instantly and accurately provide all the necessary weather information needed to help to save land, homes, and lives.
The erratic and rapidly expanding nature of wildfires can prove deadly and devastating, swallowing hundreds of thousands of acres in a short period of time. Weather reports from distant weather stations are useless for determining the conditions at the point of fire. Kestrel meters allow firefighters to know the relative humidity right at the scene of the fire allowing them to make decisions for safety and firefighting strategy. Instant wind speed and direction readings also provide clues to the fire’s behavior and how quickly its path might change. Wildland firefighter and first responder Timothy Tonge explains, “Firefighters have come to depend on Kestrel meters for critical information on current weather conditions. Correct and current knowledge of weather conditions plays a key role in keeping firefighters safe, and properly fighting and extinguishing fires.”
Previously, firefighters had to use several tools to get all of the information available in one handheld Kestrel meter. The Kestrel 3000 model replaces an entire firefighting belt weather kit with a 4-ounce unit. With optional Bluetooth® data transfer capabilities, the Kestrel 4000 series allows for wireless weather data transfer to fire behavior models and other software.
Every Kestrel Pocket Weather Meter is backed by a five year warranty and is designed, developed, built, and supported here in the USA. Nielsen-Kellerman’s Kestrel Weather division has been researching, developing and manufacturing technically advanced portable weather instruments for more than fifteen years and owns multiple patents on their unique features. Kestrel Pocket Weather Meters are employed by thousands of users in hundreds of different activities around the world.
For more information on Kestrel applications, please visit here.
Kestrel meters play an important role in sniper training and operations, supplying all relevant environmental conditions needed for accuracy in long-distance shooting. With instant heat stress index and optional Bluetooth data transfer capabilities, the Kestrel 4000 series also allows instructors to monit0r the health and safety of personnel during training in extreme, potentially dangerous conditions.
Here, you can see the Kestrel 4000 attached to a tree trunk collecting weather data during a live fire exercise as part of a 1st Special Forces Group 6-week sniper course. The sniper team duo pictured below managed to secure an ideal final firing position by patiently navigating and concealing themselves behind trees and bushes. The Kestrel 4000 was used to gather instant weather data continuously for 30 minutes while the team observed the target area, and input all pertinent information into their ATrag ballistics software on a PDA. As the only sniper team to achieve a first round hit of the day, they thank the Kestrel Pocket Weather Tracker for giving them the most accurate shot!
The Kestrel 4000 series with Bluetooth wireless data transfer is compatible with many popular ballistics programs. For help getting started or with troubleshooting your Bluetooth connection, read our Connection Guide. If you are a software developer and you’re interested in learning more about becoming a software partner, read about it and get additional information here.
If you haven’t already heard, the all new Kestrel with Horus ATrag Ballistics combines all of the above capabilities of instant environmental data PLUS integrated Hours ATrag Ballistics software. That means you get comprehensive, automatic aiming solutions customized for your target and location all in one unit- no PDA required. Depending on your needs, there’s a Kestrel as advanced or as basic as your job requires.
System: The integration of weather, range, ballistics, optics and a precision firing platform. Clockwise from right: The FN SPR-A1 with Horus Falcon 5-20×50 scope with an H25 reticle, the Vectronix LRF, Horus ATragMX ballistics computer and the Kestrel 4500 pocket weather meter. The author ranges the target with the Vectronix LRF attached via cable to the ATragMX Ballistics Computer.
For precision shooters, the operational challenge of getting a safe and accurate first-round shot grows increasingly complex as defense and law enforcement units are tasked with both expanded missions and an increased sensitivity towards liability. For snipers, success requires more than what one Army instructor referred to as “lying on your stomach and making an accurate shot.” Distances to multiple targets, shot angle—particularly in urban environments—as well as environmental factors all combine to impact ballistic performance and optics adjustment. TW combined the FN SPR rifle and Horus/Vectronix SORD ballistics and ranging system to test two of the industry’s newest precision shooting tools and learn if the combination was greater than the sum of its parts.
Special Police Rifle
FNH USA’s SPR (Special Police Rifle) series was designed with simplicity and reliability in mind. The SPR was awarded an FBI HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) contract in 2004, and according to FN, “The SPR A3 was selected after a 10,000- round endurance test with two rifles resulting in no parts breakage, misfires or malfunctions while exceeding the accuracy requirement of .50 MOA.” TW evaluated the SPR A1 for this article.
The SPR’s pre-’64 Winchester action features a claw extractor and the traditional CRF (controlled round feed) mechanics. While volumes have been written in the debate between CRF and “push feed actions,” the Mauser-inspired claw does reliably control the round via contact with the rim throughout the cycle (as opposed to the push feed which engages the rim only when the bolt handle is turned down and fully locked).
Judging wind is probably the most difficult aspect of long-range shooting. Former SOF sniper Steve Adelmann has some tips on how to master the breeze in part 1 of this two-part series.
Learning to read winds and apply useful corrections to hit long-range targets is one of the more difficult precision-shooting tasks to master. The more time a projectile spends in flight, the more time winds have to move it off the intended path. Therefore, accurate wind estimation becomes more critical as the bullet’s flight time increases due to long-range or slow-moving projectiles. I can’t provide a detailed lesson here, but hopefully this two-part primer will help get you headed (or holding) in the right direction.
There are good arguments for measuring winds at the shooter, the target or somewhere between. I’ve experienced the pros and cons of each method, but prefer to look most closely at winds from the halfway point on out to the target. In open country and rough terrain, winds coming from opposite directions are common and appear anywhere along the bullet’s path. If you plan to hit challenging targets, you’ve got to find and factor in those winds. Low light, extreme heat or extended ranges will further complicate accurate wind measurements downrange. In those cases, or whenever winds are noticeably different near the firing line, I factor them in as well.
Handheld anemometers like the battle-tested Kestrel 4000 have been the “gold standard” for measuring winds in the field for many years. I use one for winds and other atmospherics that factor into precision-firing solutions. Anemometers have two weaknesses: They’re electronic devices that eventually fail and they only read winds at their current position. Unless you have an elaborate system of multiple sensors attached to transmitters, they won’t give you downrange data. Fortunately, your eyes can provide the downrange clues needed. Look for these natural indicators between the firing line and target:
- Wind felt on the face/body
- Low-to-ground vegetation (long grasses, weeds)
- Deciduous trees (longer branches, larger leaf surface
areas to catch more wind)
- Coniferous trees and bushes
- Blowing dust from loose surface material or bullet impacts in dirt/sand
- Flags or streamers (if present) ! Rain (lateral movement while falling)
- “Mirage” effect created when light refracts as it passes through different densities of air
Each of these indicators has different levels of observable movement to indicate wind speed and direction. If you have an anemometer, practice your skills by judging winds visually then check your work electronically to adjust the “calibration” of your eyes. Judging visual indicators such as dust, flags and vegetation comes fairly easily with practice, but estimating speeds based on mirage requires more effort to master.
The mirage we use for shooting is the same effect seen over pavement on a sunny day. As the sun heats the ground, rising thermal layers and water vapor rise. Any wind component present will push these layers in a detectable direction, creating a visible mirage. Spotting this effect between you and your target allows determination of the two factors needed: direction and speed. The former is determined by watching the waves closely to see the direction of drift as they rise from the ground. You can practice this by simply looking at the roof of a car on a hot summer day from several feet away. Compare what you see in the rising vapors with the wind you feel to get the hang of it before ever firing a round on the range. Speed judgment takes more practice. Mirage varies from “boiling” waves that appear to shimmer as they rise straight up when there’s no wind to horizontal waves moving rapidly, low to the ground in 10-15 mph winds. Above 15 mph, mirage is harder to see because the wind moves the waves laterally out of sight too fast to detect them. My experience has been that at 15 to 20 mph mirage starts to disappear. The good news is that as winds get higher, other indicators, such as blowing branches and debris, become more apparent and reliable for judging wind values.
Mirage can be especially tough to see on cloudy days and in cool weather. Look for a horizontal surface in the vicinity of the target, such as a rooftop, railroad timber, cement pad or target frame and focus on its top edge. The darker the color, the easier it is to see mirage. To find mirage closer to your position, change the focus of your optics to a point 1/2 to 2/3 of the distance to the target. Opposing winds may offset or cancel each other out completely, so look closely. If winds are gusty, either wait for lulls or apply your corrections into the direction the wind is coming from either by adjusting sights or by holding into the wind. Part 2 of this series will discuss different methods of applying the measured wind speed and direction to your shooting.
“Another critical and often overlooked component in ballistic testing is weather data. It may be difficult to duplicate a particular load or result if you are not aware of the climatic conditions at the time of testing. To record important and necessary weather data, I have been using the Kestrel Model 4000 hand-held weather station. This instrument is simple to use and provides you with more [than enough] data than you will need.”
Originally published in “The Varmint Hunter Magazine”
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