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Trijicon Ventus

Trijicon Ventus: Measuring Range AND WIND!

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:

Trijicon Ballistic App for Ventus
Trijicon Ventus Review

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!

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. Cal has an engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and the ability to present technical information in an unbiased and straight-forward fashion. For more info, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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15 comments

  1. This looks like the Torrey Pines Venom

    https://tplogic.com/venom-2/

    • Very cool, Nick. Thanks for sharing that. I wasn’t aware of that product. It also looks like a military-grade device, like the One Shot System. Honestly the fact that there isn’t much info or a price on it, probably means only governments can afford it and it isn’t intended for commercial/private use. I also noticed the Torrey Pines Venom LX, which offers “Continuous Wind Monitoring” and sounds very interesting. Here is some of the info on that product:

      Torrey Pines Logic has developed a robust crosswind measurement system for snipers that can be easily adapted to perform wind measurement from an aerostat platform or ground station out to 5-6 km.
      – VENOM LX wind measurement produces a low cost Wind LIDAR system capable of measuring winds out to 5-6 km from the aerostat
      – Crosswind and vertical wind measured to 2 mph accuracy
      – 360 degree scanning of the surveillance area provides operators with continuous monitoring of upcoming wind conditions, allowing for sufficient time to moor the aerostat
      Operator software visualizes the wind speed and vector. Trends, gusts, and wind speed predictions will provide the operator with sufficient information to decide to moor the aerostat or not

      Here is a brochure on that product, which has a few visuals: https://tplogic.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/venom_lx.pdf

      The fact that it calls out an accuracy of +/- 2 mph on what appears to be an extremely high-end device makes me wonder what the accuracy is of the One Shot System and this new Trijicon Ventus. I’d have to assume the Trijicon wouldn’t be better than that, and I’d actually expect it to be worse.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing this. It does seem very related to this whole conversation of wind measurement devices. Exciting stuff!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  2. If such a device could connect to a rifle scope via bluetooth real time windage updates would be possible.
    It is only a matter of time.

    • I agree, Alan. Connecting it to the rifle scope and firing system could cut down on that lag between measurement and the bullet in the air. You connect one of those to a system like the Tracking Point, and I’d think your hit probability would theoretically go through the roof.

      Now it would still need to predict what the wind would do a few seconds after the measurement, because the time of flight of the bullet for extreme long range (where this is most needed) can be 5-7 seconds. But, Nick (different Nick, not Vitalbo) shared in the comments a Torrey Pines product and I noticed they have some software that actually provides the operator with “trends, gusts, and wind speed predictions” it provides “continuous monitoring of upcoming wind conditions” … so I guess it’s even plausible that you could have a some degree of certainty on upcoming wind conditions.

      Honestly, it seems like all the technology is there to have a really cool system, but I’m sure the devil is in the details. First, I’d expect this kind of system to cost a fortune today, but cost will always go down over time. I also wonder if a system like this will be usable by the average shooter, or if you’d need a engineering degree to be able to run it properly. Could you abstract away all the technicalities? In time, innovative pioneers will likely work out those kinds of details, and eventually I bet we do end up with a compact product that is integrated into a scope like you are alluding to. It is only a matter of time!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  3. Will definitely make for a crowded SHOT Show booth later this month – Please get in line folks !!!

    • Ha! I totally agree. I actually had already pictured that there will probably be guys making a mad dash to Trijicon’s booth. While most manufacturers wait to announce new products at the show, releasing some teaser information 2 weeks prior to SHOT Show is a brilliant marketing strategy. Trijicon ain’t no fool! 😉

      Thanks,
      Cal

  4. Very promising indeed. Keep us posted, love your stuff. I honestly get excited when i see you wrote a new article. keep up the good work, we appreciate it.

  5. Wow! Game changer!!!
    Thanks for sharing this! I think this is all leading up to a “Digital Riflescope” that integrates all of our shooting “Must Haves” into one device. That is a rangefinder, spotting scope (looking at you 7-35X riflescopes ;), weather station, wind meter (evidently 2 separate things now), shot timer (no more, “time please???” shouts at the RO), digitally recording camera, bubble level, inclinometer, and ballistic computer. Once all of that is done, you might as well allow “modular upgrades” to accomodate NV and Thermal, because why not!? I think TrackingPoint has gotten closer to this than anyone I’ve seen so far. There have been a lot of awesome products around the fringes on this, but the first manufacturer to put it all together cohesively and inexpensively will be the pioneer of next generation optics. Based on current size and cost, I’d say we’re still 5 years out from that product being released and 7 – 10 years from it being “affordable” to the majority of precision rifle shooters. It will be interesting to see how competitive precision rifle leagues respond to “wind cheating devices”…

    • You’re probably right. I think the Revic scope with the integral heads up display and ballistic computer built into the scope field of view, and even the older Tracking Point scope are all precursors showing the way this is going to head. When I was at SHOT show about 3 years ago, I noticed enough new products to see that electro-optics and integration and interplay of all these devices was definitely the direction everything was heading. I remember that Schmidt and Bender had even added the ability to display simple data (like range distances) inside the field of view of their scopes. I told a buddy of mine on the way home from that trip that I was going to make the bold prediction that over the next 5-7 years we’d see an explosion of innovation and R&D in that area. I still think that’s true, and this is just another aspect that will eventually be integrated into the system. We may have to wait for them to become affordable and more compact, but it’ll happen over time.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      Cal

  6. Looks like an interesting device

  7. We’re pretty much getting to the point where it’s just tracking point for shooting with the added feature of compensating for wind.

    Give the computer consent to fire when you pull the trigger, just like a tank or a plane…

    But question is going to be

    MSRP?

    I’m going to guess north of $5k USD+

    And only 500 yards for wind detection? Why not farther? Technical limitation? Cost?

    • Rob, I’m guessing $12,000-$20,000. Torrey Pines has a similar wind laser for $25,000. Any 1550nm laser rangefinder sales for $9000+, without the fancy wind stuff.

      I bet there is some limitation on resolution to keep internal component cost down, so it doesn’t cost $25k or $90k like other devices like this … and that limited the range. If this is targeting the consumer market and hunters like a few guys have said … they have to keep the cost down. Honestly, if it’s a 5 digit number they will sell very few of these. Also I’m not sure how good the software is that interprets the results.

      I was originally really discounting the fact that it can only read wind to 500 yards. But today I am baselining my wind call based on the Kestrel reading at my position and then estimating how that might be different for the terrain I’m shooting over and adjusting based on what I’m observing downrange. So baselining on the average of the first 500 yards and not just my position is a big step forward. Then I just need to look beyond 500 yards and decide how to adjust that over the remaining distance. Of course its not as good as reading the full distance to the target, but it is very helpful and a big jump forward.

      Honestly, I see this as the first iteration of things to come. Like most things it’ll become better, cheaper, and more compact over time. The first rangefinders were huge, and now they fit in my pocket. They were too expensive for anyone but the military, and now basically anyone who wants one can own one. The same thing will happen here over time.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  8. What you are going to see in Prs is what I have seen in other shooting sports the guys with cubic dollars will make the sport non competitive for the average shooter and the sport will shrink rapidly. These are great developments but unless prs doesn’t establish a class system they Will lose a lot of average competitors

    • Brian, I can see how you’d get there, but I’m not sure we’ll see wide-spread use of these devices. My guess is they will run $12,000-20,000, so it’s not like even the sponsored shooters will be willing to invest that much. Honestly, some of the similar devices have accuracy of +/- 2 mph. I’d venture to say the top shooters can call the wind within 2 mph, especially if we’re just talking out to 500 yards. So I’m not sure this would even provide much benefit to the top shooters that practice and shoot thousands of rounds a year, which helps tune their wind calling ability. I see the primary benefit of systems like this being that of getting other shooters up to that level of wind calling without having to put in the time practicing. But, potentially investing $15,000 in one piece of equipment is probably going to be out of reach of 95% of shooters … at least until the technology becomes more affordable (which it will over time). I think within 5-10 years we may see wide-spread use of devices like this, but it won’t spring on us and be disruptive to competitive shooting quite yet. When it happens, I bet they’ll do something to level the playing field, like you’re suggesting. They will likely create Open and Limited classes like other shooting sports.

      I appreciate your thoughts.
      Cal