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Will Shooting Through Mesh Blind Affect Accuracy?


Will Shooting Through Mesh Ground Blinds Affect Accuracy?

By Jeff Johnston

Portable ground blinds are popular these days because they work. Instead of hacking and stacking a pile of leafy limbs to build a blind, only to have it blow away in the first stout wind, portable ground blinds offer an instant hideaway from the weather and the wary eyes of game. Portable ground blinds have revolutionized turkey hunting, especially with a bow.

Almost every blind comes with removable "windows" made of canvas or other tent material that block all vision, and in addition many blinds come from the factory with mesh window liners that do a good job of allowing the hunter to see out but prevent animals from seeing in. Many manufacturers of these blinds say hunters should shoot directly through the mesh without removing it first. This sounds great, but I want to know: Will shooting through the mesh affect accuracy of bullets, shotgun pellets or arrows? What about arrows tipped with expandable broadheads?

The Test
In the controlled environment of NRA's indoor gun range, I set up a Shooter's Ridge Sasquatch ground blind. Its mesh window liners are similar to most on the market. In separate tests with a rifle, a shotgun and a bow and arrow using three styles of popular broadheads, I first shot each implement from a rest, while inside the blind, through a fully open window. (Ranges were 50 yards for rifle, 25 yards for shotgun and 25 yards for bow and arrow.)

I averaged the groups for each. Then using the exact same setup, I shot each implement through the mesh-covered window and measured and averaged the resulting groups. Then I compared groups for each implement and noted the differences in group size to see if shooting through the mesh affected accuracy and/or point of impact.

Control Tests: To see if the expandables would open prematurely, I shot them through a mesh screen near the bow before passing through a sheet of paper placed just in front of the target. For a double-control test, I shot an expandable-style broadhead that had its blades permanently fixed in position and compared results to the working broadheads of the same type.

The Answer:
This test proved logical. The thin mesh proved to be a neglibible factor upon bullets and shotgun patterns; certainly not enough to worry about under hunting conditions. Although it is statistically irrelevant, the .308 Win. actually grouped slightly tighter when shooting through the mesh. So, if you have a turkey or deer in the sights of your rifle or shotgun, don't bother taking down the mesh window liner and risk spooking the animal. Merely line up the sights and pull the trigger.

It is advisable, however, to avoid shooting through the mesh with fixed blades whenever possible, just to be on the safe (accurate) side. It should be noted that firing a shotgun or rifle through the mesh panel destoys it after a couple shots, not so much due to the projectile as much as the explosion of burning powder and gases. At no time did the mesh catch on fire, but shots normally blew the mesh panel to smithereens!

Arrows, on the other hand, are slower, much longer projectiles, and are much more sensitive to interference during flight. With fixed-blade broadheads such as NAP Thunderheads, accuracy was affected somewhat, but not enough to warrant taking the mesh down at 25 yards. For expandable-blade broadheads, the mesh presented clear problems. Long slashes in the mesh after shooting through it indicate that the broadhead was opening most of the time while passing through the mesh and before reaching the target. Subsequent paper test confirmed premature opening. Premature opening destroys accuracy, as many expandables have huge cutting diameters that are prone to wind-plane if opened during flight. Perhaps the worst for accuracy, though, is the fact that on some shots they opened and on some they did not, and this was entirely unpredictable. If, for example, all opened consistently when passing through mesh, it might be possible to compensate with sight adjustments. But because they opened randomly, I struggled to hit the 15-inch target on many shots while shooting expandable broadheads through mesh. If you choose to use expandable broadheads, don't shoot through the mesh, mister! 

*This test used one bullet style, one shotgun load and three broadheads: therefore it is not comprehensive. Before shooting through a mesh blind, the best advice is always to first practice with your exact setup to see how it will affect your preferred projectile. Then make adjustments if needed.

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8 Responses to Will Shooting Through Mesh Blind Affect Accuracy?

Joe martin wrote:
November 11, 2014

i found using the extra rubber ring over the blades when using expendables they stayed closed upon impact an always make sure your mesh is pulled tight it also helps when shooting thru grass,beans briers ect. Different blades require different placement of the rings

James Sweeney wrote:
September 22, 2014

Hunting from a ground blind this coming weekend in Texas with my 6 year old son. We set the blind up together and will spend the next 4 weekends inside this large pop up blind bow hunting. I have never shot out of a ground blind so thanks for the tip. By the way the reason for the ground set up is so his mother won't worry about him up in a tree. If mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy .good hunting to all

crorkz matz wrote:
August 06, 2014

APesDs Very neat article post. Want more.

John Mathews wrote:
July 23, 2014

Thank You for taking the time to do this. You have saved a lot of people a LOT of time!

Smitha24 wrote:
May 02, 2014

Yeah bookmaking this wasn't a risky conclusion outstanding post! adccaegfeggfacce

Mike wrote:
January 29, 2014

I have killed about 15-20 deer and about the same number of turkey over the years from a ground blind and I always use the mesh down. When using a fixed blade broadhead I have never had a problem with accuracy. With expandable broadhead it is hit and miss. I have tried many different types but only two have preformed well enough for me to actually hunt with them. NAP bloodrunner 2 blade and Schwackers. Both worked very from a blind and I have hunted with both with no problems.

tlagios wrote:
December 05, 2011

Great article, I often wondered how those shoot through windows worked out. Thanks for doing the test

byoung wrote:
December 05, 2011

I would have to concurrent with this article. I have been a long time ground blind hunter. I have shot through the 'shoot through' mesh and had both success and failures. Biggest impact that I have found was the angle in relation of the arrow to the mesh. Perpendicular has little impact on flight; shoot through at a 45 degree angle and you will alter the flight path. SHOOT STRAIGHT - B. YOUNG