American Rifleman - December 2013 - (Page 73)

T wo years ago, shooting alongside veteran Marine sniper Steve Reichert, I thought I'd accomplished something: Using handwritten ballistic data cards, I scored first-round hits on steel targets across a wooded valley at 1,000 and 1,400 yds. Despite his fancy handheld ballistic computer, Reichert missed both targets. Unperturbed, he punched two corrections into his Trimble Nomad computer and from then on, during several days of shooting, never missed- that is to say he didn't miss another target at any distance. I knew, then, it was time to take a closer look at today's advanced ballistic software. Unlike a desktop computer ballistic program that generates drop, wind drift and time-of-flight tables, modern ballistic software incorporates all the shooter's specifics-rifle, barrel length, twist-rate, scope details, ammunition details, etc.-and then, based upon the target (distance, angle up or down, moving or stationary) and the atmospherics (altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, wind direction and speed) it calculates the exact elevation and windage settings for a direct hit. Such precision is unattainable with handwritten cards or manual calculations. For example, most shooters equate one minute of angle (m.o.a.) to 1.047" at 100 yds.; however, some of today's software uses the more exact 1.047197580733" and similar precision for many other factors. Shooting less than 500 yds., many shooters don't need such computational assistance; beyond 500 yds., it becomes very useful; beyond 1,000 yds. it dramatically increases the likelihood of a hit. Field Firing Solutions The first program I examined was "Field Firing Solutions, Version Delta V," loaded in a fieldrugged Trimble Nomad handheld computer, the same as Steve Reichert used and with which he has fired his .338 Lapua Mag. rifle accurately to 2000 yds. Everything about the software demands and yields precision. Instead of lasing 100 yds. for my initial zero, I was instructed to tape-measure it-remember, a laser is accurate "only" to within one yard. And I was required to measure not from my muzzle but from my scope's elevation knob, the exact spot where a shooter applies elevation and windage changes. Elevation knobs are inherently inconsistent, I learned-which is what inspired the software developer, Blaine Fields. Back in 2002 he had problems matching his new scope's Bullet Drop Compensator to his rifle's trajectory. Devising a simple computer program, he found that instead of the knob rotating 1/2 m.o.a. per click, it was actually 0.489 m.o.a. After solving that discrepancy he just kept going. "The program just took on a life of its own," he explained. Following his procedures, I determined my scope's precise click-value. The Field Firing Solutions software contains a bullet database of nearly 3,500 entries, with room to enter custom loads, too. Many ballistic programs use only a bullet's G1 Drag Model to produce a Ballistic Coefficient (BC), A 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagle" sniper punches data into a Trimble handheld computer to determine the proper dope for a long-range shot. Long-Range Shooting DECEMBER 2013 AMERICAN RIFLEMAN 73

American Rifleman - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - December 2013

Contents
American Rifleman - December 2013 - Cover1
American Rifleman - December 2013 - Cover2
American Rifleman - December 2013 - 1
American Rifleman - December 2013 - Contents
American Rifleman - December 2013 - 3
American Rifleman - December 2013 - 4
American Rifleman - December 2013 - 5
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American Rifleman - December 2013 - Cover3
American Rifleman - December 2013 - Cover4
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