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  • Post last modified:January 6, 2023

"Are you struggling to hit your target when shooting at an inclined angle? This is often due to the need for compensation for the shot angle, as the bullet behaves differently than when shooting flat.

To properly compensate for shooting angle and improve your accuracy, it's important to understand holdover. In this article, we will teach you the three simple steps for calculating holdover adjustments to help you master the technique of How To Compensate For Shooting Angle."

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3 Steps To Compensate For Shooting Angle

  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?

High angle shooting, or shooting uphill and downhill at shot angles of 45 degrees or greater, presents a unique challenge in precision shooting. Unlike shooting on a flat surface where the gravity vector is perpendicular to the bullet's path, the holdover and gravity's effect on the bullet are different in high angle shooting. Therefore, it's crucial to understand how to compensate for the shot angle in order to improve your accuracy.

How Does The Bullet Behave At High Angles

To accurately shoot at long range, it's important to understand trigonometry and how it affects the trajectory of a bullet fired at a high angle. Gravity plays a significant role in this, as does the adjusted sight height above the barrel's bore.

When shooting on an incline or decline, the gravity vector is aligned with the direction of the bullet.

To eliminate guesswork and improve accuracy, it's necessary to determine the straight line distance to the target.

An example of this is a sniper on the top of a building aiming down at the street, where the line of sight and line of trajectory are almost parallel to the direction of gravity.

3 Ways To Compensate Holdover Like 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’re using a compass, simply just put it on the flat part of the rifle while aiming at the target to find the angle.


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

Shooting at a steep angle changes the shot distance, and effect on the bullet.  So it’s imperative to beware of those numbers.

Flat Line Distance: the actual horizontal distance from the shooter to the target. Simply use the Law of Sines

The line of Sight distance times Cosine(angle) = Flat line distance, aka angle modified distance

The Line of Sight distance: 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

  • 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

The math in the long-range shooting community tends to be more focused on the fundamental principles, rather than the tactics used in close-quarters combat.

It is important to understand the basic principles and elements of long-range shooting, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Many people may feel uncomfortable with math, but it is important to simplify the formulas so that everyone can understand and apply them.

Practice Makes Perfect

This article introduces the fundamentals of high angle shooting. It's important for new shooters to understand how a flat line zero changes with different shot angles.

Choosing the right gear for this type of shooting is important, but it can also be costly. As the shooting distance increases, every detail becomes more significant. To improve your accuracy, consider investing in high-quality accessories like a laser range finder and angle cosine indicator, which can help you calculate ballistics at longer ranges.

You can also consider taking a professional course with experienced instructors, as hands-on learning and feedback can accelerate your progress and help you avoid 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.