Winter in the northern regions brings with it a new set of problems and difficulties you have to surpass. I have shot in -25°C (-13 ° Fahrenheit) temperatures, during snow storms and high winds and it is a lot more difficult than during the summer.

Effects on ballistics

  • Lower powder temperature will cause a drop in pressure, affecting bullet speed and point of impact.
  • Colder air is denser than hot air, again varying the point of impact.
  • Storing ammunition inside your coat is not a good idea. Mixing hot and cold equipment will affect your consistency. Condensation will create humidity in your bore which can freeze.

Effects on you

  • Some references suggest cutting your gloves to expose your index finger. This allows for better trigger control. DO NOT do that in freezing temperatures! You will freeze your index, which can be dangerous. Practice with different gloves until you find one you can use with that frozen trigger.
  • Trigger control will be a lot more difficult, practice, practice, practice!
  • Stay warm, shivering is not recommended for long range precision.
  • Your hot breath can fog up your scope lenses. This will usually happen at the worst possible time. Practice different methods of deflecting your breath away from the scope. Remember that certain wind directions will push your breath right back at the scope even if you modify your shooting position.
  • In winter everything is white and reflects a lot of light into your scope. I use sun glasses. But again these will fog up, so be careful how you breathe! You can tape the scope front lens to reduce the amount of light that reaches your eye.
  • Cold wind will make your eyes watery, impacting your ability to observe and aim at targets.
  • Stay dry! Wet = freezing!
  • Beware of hypothermia, frozen limbs, dehydration.

Effects on the equipment

  • Do not move your rifle inside / outside when on an operation. Your scope will fog up and will not be usable for long minutes!
  • This fogging up will also impact your rifle. That small amount of condensation will freeze if you move back outside before it is dry.
  • Cold causes metal contraction. I have notice that my bolt is harder to operate when it is very cold.
  • After shooting, your barrel will be hot which can melt nearby snow or cause hazing in the cold air. This will affect your visibility.
  • Resist the urge to blow away snow off your scope lenses.
  • Make sure your barrel is unobstructed and free of snow and ice. Shooting a blocked barrel can have deadly consequences!