Running long-range optics like the Latitude 8-32×60 F-Class doesn’t take rocket science but it does take practice. Long-range reticles come in two focal planes, first and second, and in all manner of design from more complicated layouts with subtensions, reference grids and other etched ballistic data to simple, traditional crosshairs. The Latitude features the latter reticle on a second-focal-plane. While some precision shooters may argue the need for subtensions and/or a first-focal-plane system, this is not necessarily the case in F-class shooting and honestly, for those who know how to run an optic, the Latitude’s simpler reticle is easier to employ—set your crosshairs on center-mass and squeeze the trigger. Adjustments are made via windage and elevation turrets rather than using holdovers.
What the Latitude’s reticle system does mean, however, is that you must become proficient at making effective turret adjustments and making such manipulations does require more time; fortunately, F-class is a slow-fire game—you have plenty of time for adjustments before stages, and even during, if you know what you’re doing behind the optic. That is to say, understanding fundamental optic attributes like MOA or MRAD and first- or second-focal-plane, and how they work for or against you in a given shooting environment are vital to your shooting skill set.
Sightmark’s Surprisingly Simple F-class reticle
While many precision shooters, especially those running long-ranges on dynamic stages with varying distance targets, including scenarios where rapid distance changes are required, F-class shooting is not that game. Sure, shooting is timed but match-fire is slow. Thus, the Latitude’s basic crosshair reticle is a solid choice. Moreover, without subtensions or a reference grid, there is absolutely no need for a first-focal-plane reticle (FFP optics are generally quite a bit more expensive).
Good D.O.P.E. – The 411 on MOA, Clicks and Adjustments
The Latitude’s turrets adjust your position of impact (POI) ¼-MOA at 100 yards, or ½-MOA at 200, 1-MOA at 400, 2-MOA at 800 and 3-MOA at 1,200 (the farthest target distance you’re likely to see in F-class shooting). To assign values to these movements in easier to understand language, MOA is 1.047 inches at 100 yards. So, at 1,200 yards, MOA would be 12.564 inches. To that end, simply consider an MOA as an inch. Extending elevation and windage math out over distance, based on load data and environmental conditions and recording that information creates your “Data On Previous Engagements,” also known as D.O.P.E. (DOPE)
The term DOPE is used pretty loosely to include real D.O.P.E. info collected over time as well as ballistic calculators; I routinely have gone the way of high-tech-redneck and now use ballistic calculators often—sure I can do the long-hand math to determine adjustments, but why, if I can the get same data from a cell phone app that actually works? Of course, even then, a calculator’s ballistic chart may be called DOPE, it’s not really… but for many of us, it does a decent job. True DOPE would actually be a collection of info from these ballistic charts, but I digress.
By and large, the key to making effective adjustments is to assess distance from Point of aim (POA) to POI. This information tells you how many clicks on the turrets you need to find your mark but since we’re often talking about ¼-MOA clicks, as is the case on the Latitude 8-32×60, it’s easier to think of MOA only, not clicks yet at all; moreover, it’s easier to begin with considering 1 MOA as 1 inch and move on from there.
If 1 MOA is effectively 1 inch at 100 yards, then 1 MOA is 10 inches at 1,000 yards. That means it’s 2 inches at 200 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards and so on. To determine the value of a click simply divide the distance value by 4. For example, at 1,000 yards, we know 1 MOA is 10.47 inches. Dividing this number by 4 tells us each click moves the POI 2.6 inches. To further simplify to say 1 MOA is 10 inches and 1 click then moves us .25 inches. Even at the extreme range of 1,000 yards, considering 1 MOA as simply 1 inch only leaves a deviation of just under 5/8-inch at 1,000 yards—an incredibly minuscule deviation.
Windage: The KISS Method to Wind Calls and Adjustments
Windage, including spindrift and wind drift, is a bit more complicated, especially since there are forces working against bullet flight at varying velocities and equally varied angles. You’re essentially lucky if you’re only dealing with the effects of consistent head, tail or crosswind. For wind, I generally use a ballistic calculator. Absent of somebody, or something, doing the math for me, as a stubborn Jarhead, I revert back to my Marine Corps training with a decent degree of success. While my instruction was 30 years ago, little to nothing, I suspect in terms of Marine Corps marksmanship training, has changed; in fact, a retired Army major, John Plaster, also summarizes this information pretty eloquently in his article at RifleShooterMag.com. The information can also be found in the publicly available Marine Corps coach’s course on wind call, published August 2008.
In a nutshell, we took distance, divided it by 100, multiplied it by the wind speed (determined by range flags or other environmental elements affected by wind) and divided it by wind constant of 15 to determine MOA of adjustment, then made those adjustments based on the same distance-to-target per-click values we already know. Of course, there are two issues, first, this is more specifically accurate (if that’s even an appropriate term when it comes to wind) to 500 yards. Maj. Plaster (and the Marine Corps) asserts that the wind constant (15 up to 500 yards) is decreased (roughly—pay attention to 700-800 yards) by value of one per 100 yards. i.e. 14 at 600, 13 at 700 and 800, 12 at 900 and 11 at 1,000 yards—many long-range shooters simply use a wind constant of 10 with the expectation of at least minute-of-man accuracy in consistent wind.
Here is an example of a 10 MPH wind at 900 yards in MOA, using a reduced constant of 11:
Distance of 900 yards / 100 = 9
Wind speed of 10 mph
9×10 = 90
90 / 11 = 8.2 MOA adjustment
If you were shooting in mils, you would divide 8.2 MOA by 3.4377 (the conversion of MOA to MIL) to arrive at 2.4 mils of adjustment
*Even using a wind constant of 10 would have resulted in 9 MOA or 2.6 mils. When you’re talking about a sub-MOA variance at that distance, which is wrong, the adjustment or the wind call? It’s hard to say.
Of course, remembering that wind values are made up of full, half or zero, if your “clock” observation of wind direction falls into the half value, you simply cut the adjustment in half. You certainly could compensate even further, say ¼ value or ¾ value but doing can make your head explode and isn’t as friendly to work out on the fly when you’re on the range. Considering full value and half value, the half value ranges, as they relate to a clock face, are generally between 12.5 – 2.5, 3.5 – 5.5, 6.5 – 8.5 and 9.5 – 11.5. Using the example, everything equal except wind direction at half-value, the MOA adjustment would be 4 MOA rather than 8 MOA, or 1.2 mils rather than 2.3 mils.
With a grasp on elevation and windage adjustments, the only remaining manipulations to be made are to the Latitude’s variable magnification, fast-focus eyepiece (AKA: diopter), reticle illumination (0-5) and parallax (AKA: side-focus).
Adjust the magnification to your desired level. Adjust the diopter ring until your sight picture is crisp—this is often done at closer range (100-200 yards for me) and lower magnification to minimize mistaking mirage for lack of optic clarity. Thread the locking ring toward the scope tube to lock the diopter in place. Adjust the parallax (side focus) knob to closely match your target distance. Begin rocking your head up and down while continuing to hold your crosshairs on the target. At first the crosshairs may sweep across the target. As you continue to slowly adjust your parallax, the reticle will lessen its movement over the target center. Adjust the parallax until the reticle rests at center-mass even while continuing to rock your head up and down. Not only is your parallax set, you should notice your sight picture is now even more crisp. Adjust reticle illumination to off or to the lowest setting comfortable for your sight picture and identification of the reticle against the target.