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  • Post last modified:October 23, 2023

Are you finding it difficult to hit your target when shooting at an inclined angle? This usually happens because you need to adjust for the shot angle, as the bullet behaves differently compared to shooting on a level surface.

To enhance your accuracy by compensating for the shooting angle, it's vital to grasp the concept of holdover. In this article, we'll guide you through three straightforward steps to calculate holdover adjustments, aiding you in mastering the skill of compensating for shooting angles.

Browse through long range scopes here

3 Steps To Compensate For Shooting Angle

HIGH ANGLE SHOOTING Ballistic Trajectory
  1. Measure the line of sight angle and distance
  2. Calculate angle modified range
  3. Use gadgets to simplify the math

What Is High Angle Precision Shooting?

Shooting at high angles, which means shooting uphill or downhill with angles of 45 degrees or more, poses a distinct challenge in precision shooting. Unlike shooting on a flat surface where gravity acts directly downward on the bullet's path, high angle shooting requires a different approach to account for both holdover and the unique effects of gravity. Therefore, it's essential to grasp how to adjust for the shot angle to enhance your accuracy.

How Does The Bullet Behave At High Angles

To achieve precise long-range shooting, it's crucial to have a grasp of trigonometry and its impact on a bullet's path when fired at a steep angle. Gravity plays a significant role in this scenario, along with the adjusted sight height above the barrel's bore.

Distance Affects bullet

When you're shooting on an incline or decline, the force of gravity lines up with the bullet's path.

To enhance accuracy and eliminate guesswork, it's essential to calculate the straight-line distance to your target.

For instance, consider a sniper positioned atop a building aiming downward at a street, where the line of sight and the trajectory line closely align with the direction of gravity.

3 Ways To Compensate Holdover Like Todd Hodnett

Long Range Shooting Todd Hodnett

The key here is to simplify our process and calculate MOA in our head quickly.

So here are 3-simple rules to remember

  • 30 degrees = subtract half-MOA or 0.15 mil every 100m from your normal holdover
  • 45 degrees = subtract 1 MOA or .3mil every 100m from your normal holdover
  • 60 degrees = subtract 2 MOA or .6mil every 100m from your normal hold over AND then add 1 MOA or .3 mil back to the holdover

Simply have those printed on a range card and mount it on the side of the rifle using this mount. Even if you don’t memorize it, you have it right in front of you for use.

Step 1 - Determine The Shot Distance And Angle

The first way is to use a mil-dot master angle range compensation chart to figure out the flat line distance by indexing the angle for the corresponding value on the card. You can go with the expensive fancy digital ones that cost a lot of money that does the same thing, but the one I found on Amazon is inexpensive and it freaking works, and you can get by click here.

If you have a compass, you can easily determine the angle by placing it on the flat part of your rifle while aiming at the target.

The shooting angle is the angle between the horizontal axis of your rifle and your line of sight, as shown in the illustration below:

When shooting at a steep angle, it alters both the shot distance and the bullet's trajectory. So, it's crucial to pay attention to these measurements.

Angle Modified Range Calculation

Flat Line Distance: This is the actual horizontal distance from the shooter to the target. You can calculate it using the Law of Sines.

The Line of Sight distance multiplied by the cosine of the angle equals the Flat Line Distance, also known as the angle-adjusted distance.

The Line of Sight distance is the distance from your scope to the target.

Step 2 - Calculate Angle Modified Range

This part is super easy.

Angle Modified Range = Line of Sight distance X Cos (Shot Angle)

Step 3 – Use Gadgets to Speed Up The Calculation

long range cosine indicator
  • Use a laser range finder to find the distance to the target
  • Use a compass with a built-in angle indicator or a mounted angle indicator on the rifle to determine the flat line distance later
  • Use a mounted cosine angle indicator, which converts the angle to a cosine value that can be multiplied by the line of sight to get the flatline distance
  • Consider purchasing an angle compensating rangefinder that calculates the flat line distance instantly
  • Be aware of the mode when using a rangefinder and make sure to switch to the correct mode for the distance
  • The line of sight and Angle Modified Range (Flat Line distance or Horizontal Component Distance) are different values for significant angles
  • Recommendations for rangefinders include the Sig Sauer Kilo 1200 and the Vortex Impact 850, both under $200

Check out other 84 coolest gun gadgets here

Keep the Math Simple

It's crucial to grasp the foundational concepts and components of long-range shooting, but it doesn't need to be overly complex. While some individuals may feel uneasy about mathematics, it's essential to streamline the formulas so that they are accessible and applicable to everyone.

In the world of long-range shooting, the emphasis is often on fundamental principles rather than the strategies used in close-quarters combat.

Practice Makes Perfect

long range targets

This article introduces the basics of high angle shooting. It's essential for novice shooters to grasp how the flat line zero changes when dealing with different shot angles.

Selecting the appropriate equipment for this style of shooting is crucial, albeit it can be expensive. With increased shooting distances, every detail gains greater importance. To enhance your precision, think about investing in top-notch accessories such as a laser range finder and an angle cosine indicator, both of which assist in calculating ballistics over extended ranges.

Another option worth considering is enrolling in a professional course led by experienced instructors. Hands-on learning and feedback from experts can accelerate your progress and help you steer clear of common mistakes.

Where To Learn High Angle Shooting

  1. School of Extreme Long Range NRA Whittington Center

The course is designed for technical thinking shooters who dig so deep into the math and science of precision shooting. They also offer a class that will teach you to shoot at the edge of science up to 2 miles.

  1. Gunsite Academy

This is for anyone interested engage targets from 1000 to 2000 meters. It’s a  4-day course that cost about $1500.

  1. Extended Long range course by McMillian

This course covers rifle/scope setup and everything you need to know about the fundamentals. They will push the student to extend their capability out to 2000 yards with wildcard calibers like the .338 and .50 or anything in between. They also offer classes for long range shooting up to 1000 yards with smaller caliber rifles. There are so many more classes you can find on Google.

4.  Accuracy 1st 

Accuracy 1st has worked with the Marine Corps and Special Forces snipers. Their Utah facility offers one of the few true high angle shooting ranges in the nation. They offer courses for snipers, high angle, designated marksman, ballistic software training and more.

Related Study Materials

The long-range Shooting handbook by Ryan M. Cleckner, former special operations sniper. This is a well-written book to help new shooters understand fundamental concepts of external ballistics. It covers everything from equipment, terminology, and basic principles of long-range shooting.

Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting Vol 2

This book contains tons of research on applied ballistics. The material inside this book is more for someone who is super into math and science. You will read about bullet dispersion and internal ballistics. If you’re a rocket science type of person, then grab this book here now on Amazon.

Magpul Dynamics The art of the precision rifle

It’s an awesome DVD set created my Magpul Dynamics. It's almost 6 hours long instructions on long-range shooting from the one of the best instructor Todd Hodnett. Currently, it’s discontinued, so you can’t find it anywhere online for purchase. I'm sure somewhere online you can find it.