Today Trijicon unveiled a new product that is sure to have the shooting community talking. They call it the Trijicon Ventus, and claim it can measure wind up to 500 yards away, and range non-reflective target out to 5,000 yards. Here is Trijicon’s description:
The world’s first handheld device with advanced wind mapping and range detection. Powered by WindPro™ Technology, the Trijicon Ventus™ provides shooters and hunters with previously unattainable data about their environments to improve long-range accuracy. The Ventus™ is designed with a Doppler LIDAR engine that can measure headwind, tailwind, crosswind and vertical wind components at six different distances in front of the user. In any weather condition. Coming in the second-half of 2020.– Trijicon
Trijicon really hasn’t released many details at this point, in fact the product page isn’t up yet. The videos below are really all that has slipped out at this point, although they have this URL in them that I assume will eventually lead to more details: https://www.trijicon.com/ventus
Trijicon will also be releasing a new ballistic app for iOS and Android that will be able to pair with the Ventus, and give you further insight into the data it collects. A look at a preview of the app gives you an idea of the type of information the Ventus is able to provide from the wind readings it takes:
The news about the Ventus immediately brought to mind a very, very interesting chapter from Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting Volume 1. The Chapter was called “Wind Measurement” and it was written by Nick Vitalbo, who is arguably the world’s leading expert when it comes to lasers and wind measurement.
Trijicon says “The Ventus is designed with a Doppler LIDAR engine that can measure headwind, tailwind, crosswind and vertical wind components at six different distances in front of the user.” Nick actually talks about similar devices in that chapter, and here is what he says:
“Over the past several years though, handheld models were introduced by a company called Catch the Wind. This man-portable LIDAR unit has been used in applications of wind farms for wind observation and also in America’s Cup sailboat races to help monitor wind activity up to a kilometer in front of the boat.”
Here is a one of the LIDAR based laser wind sensors made by Catch The Wind, which sells for $90,000!
However, Nick goes on to explain, “Although the unit is man-portable, it has not seen widespread adoption in the shooting community. Because it is a Doppler LIDAR based system, the laser must have open space in front of it and not reflect off of a target. Additionally, the laser beams must be continually scanned across the field of view in order to measure the crosswind component. As a result, other methods of measuring the wind optically have been developed over the past several decades using scintillation based methods which this chapter describes in detail.”
Through the rest of the chapter, Nick explains the science behind how you can accurately measure the wind downrange using a technique called Laser Beam Scintillation. It is fascinating! The diagram below shows the basic concept.
The wind speed is measured by essentially computing how quickly the specular pattern is moving across the target. Nick does a great job explaining it, and I would do him a disservice if I tried to share much more here – but I’d highly, highly recommend buying that book if you’re interested in learning more about how this works. Honestly, if you’re reading this I can guarantee you’d love that book!
Nick wrapped up that chapter by sharing a little about a cutting-edge research project he led related to this:
Studying the wind and its effects on small arms weapons fire has been the focus of my career for the past six years. In conjuction with my team members, Bryan Litz and Todd Hodnett, we are actively working to develop downrange crosswind sensor technology that is weapon-mounted and at an affordable price. Recently we were awarded a US Army SBIR contract to develop such a system that is capable of measuring the crosswind conditions along an 800 to 1500 meter path. Although the results of the first phase of the effort cannot yet be published for public distribution, the results are extremely promising.
Here is a photo of the One Shot system Nick helped develop, which was originally “attached and coaligned” with a spotting scope:
The next iteration of that project was referred to the DARPA One Shot XG System:
Nick closed the chapter in Modern Advancements saying, “Over the past several years many vendors have been involved with the development of such systems and variations thereof. Over the next 5 years, I believe such systems will become mainstream for the military and eventually into the commercial marketplace.” Modern Advancements Volume 1 was published in 2014 … so Nick, I’d say you called it! 😉
I’ve talked to Nick about this in-depth, because it fascinates me! I’ve told him that I have to believe the ability to directly measure the wind downrange could very well represent the largest leap in small arms of our generation. Most factors that affect bullet trajectory are deterministic, meaning they can be calculated and quantified with a relatively high degree of certainty before you lay down behind the rifle. However, as any long range shooter knows, wind is a massive non-deterministic factor. There is a lot of science that drives trajectory prediction, but wind calling is more of an art than science. I’ve personally watched some of the best wind callers in the world, like the wind coach for the US Rifle Team, and even the experts among experts get it wrong fairly often at extreme long range. The fact is, a wind call is an educated guess at best – I guess up until this point, at least. A device that can measure and quantify the net effect of the wind downrange has the potential to make that final variable deterministic. That could drastically increase the odds of first-round hits at distance, especially in tough conditions.
Now before we get too excited, that doesn’t mean this technology will magically cause all our bullets to find their intended target. That’s because we would still be measuring the wind at a specific point in time, reading the output of the device, applying the correction, and then firing the shot a couple seconds later. The wind may or may not be the same as the bullet flies through the air as when we measured our sample, and that is especially true in gusty or changing conditions. I guess what we really need is a device that can see into the future, and tell us what the wind is about to do. 😉 [Update: See comments for some interesting info related to devices that actually predict the upcoming wind.] But, even with that in mind … WOW, this kind of technology could be a game changer for small arms!
Please understand, the Trijicon Ventus is NOT the DARPA One Shot XG System. Trijicon is only claiming that it can “map the wind” out to 500 yards, not 1500+ meters like the One Shot XG System. The wind reading technology in the Trijicon Ventus was reportedly developed with the help of Phil Rogers, president of Optical Air Data Systems (OADS). Prior to founding OADS, Phil was a former Lockheed “Skunk Works” aero engineer and department manager, and also the former CEO of Catch The Wind (yes, the same company that made the $90,000 device I shared earlier).
I’m honestly not sure if the Trijicon system even uses the same technology as the One Shot XG System, because Trijicon hasn’t released many details at this point – but some of the basics sound similar. I’m sure since one was funded by the Department of Defense and the other is a commercial product, they are very different in a lot of ways. But it is super-exciting to see the first iterations of these devices finally come onto the commercial market!
How Much Will The Trijicon Ventus Cost?
Great question! Trijicon has yet to release the price, and it may not be out until the product is officially available in the second half of 2020. However, in one video the Trijicon Product Manager says the Ventus has “a series of four 1550nm lasers.” I know that is the type of laser that military-grade laser rangefinders use, like those made by Vectronix. Commercial-grade laser rangefinders use 905nm lasers, because they are a fraction of the cost. 1550nm laser rangefinders have significantly higher performance (like ranging 5000+ yards as the Ventus claims), but I’m unaware of any that sell for under $5,000. Most 1550nm laser rangefinders have a price closer to $10,000, even without the advanced wind reading technology. With that in mind, I’d be shocked if the Ventus isn’t priced over $10,000, but we’ll all have to wait for Trijicon to announce more details to know for sure.
I will DEFINITELY be trying to learn more about this product at SHOT Show in a couple weeks, and I’ll pass on what I learn to you guys. I just wanted to try to get the word out to my readers the same day it was released, because it’s fun to think about!