As an avid long range hunter, I have used and attempted many different styles of shooting ranging from the traditional field data to extremely high tech ballistic applications. My previous experience has led me to thoroughly question how we as marksmen and hunters use and manipulate that data.
I began long range hunting by collecting my field data at the range and using the holdover method with a Mil reticle. I found this to be less than satisfactory for shots much past 500 yards as the holdover method can be difficult with a reticle with a whole lot of subtentions! But still, I enjoyed success on a wide range of game from coyotes to antelope.
As I wanted more and longer terminal performance, I started to get turned on to a new method requiring a more precise calculation. One of the most popular tools to get a precise solution has been the cell phone app. These applications exist on many platforms ranging from laptop computers to handheld PDAís, but the convenience of having the data on the phone is nice for us who most often hunt with our phones anyways.
So, what are the most popular apps? What features do they have? And, which one is right for me?
These are all extremely valid questions! And most people donít want to purchase a bunch of software before they know if they will like it. I will try to give you some insight as to what some of the major software has to offer us. I am going to stick with a brief overview of some and a more in depth analysis of the 2 most popular (at least, according to the number of downloads) of Shooter and Strelok programs
On my personal iPhone I have 7 ballistic apps, which are: Shooter, Strelok Pro, iStrelok, Winchester Ballistics, Federal Ballistics, NORMA Ballistics and Swarovski Ballistics. To be clear, the Winchester, Federal and Norma and Swarovski apps mostly offer data about the factory loads that they produce, and I find this very helpful in the sense that the apps are free and it helps me help other shooters at the practice range. Sometimes, all it takes is a good starting point, and, wellÖ the apps are free. Now the NORMA app has reloading data to offer as well, and I really like having that on my phone! Again, it is primarily a guide to NORMA powders, but MRP is becoming pretty popular at the range. Environmental conditions are not factored into these programs just mentioned, so letís instead analyze the Shooter, and Strelok apps.
Shooter offers an exceptionally wide range of functionality including velocity variation and powder sensitivity variables to help you plan your shot. Remember, as a long range hunter, you will likely get only one opportunity, so you have to make it count. Iím not going to list every single input function the program has, but itís substantial, and I have used this app personally to calibrate my ballistic curve and then used it to gain hits at distances I havenít shot before. That is why this program became my personal favorite.
Your solution can be displayed as an elevation value in MOA, Mils or inches and clicks on the same screen which is helpful when youíre spotting for someone with a different setup! You also have a table display with MOA, inches, and ft lbs of energy as well as a graphical display of your trajectory which tells you your drop as well as which portions of your data are validated.
My favorite functions of this program include the graphical display which allows you to compare multiple loads - even multiple cartridges on the same graph. The icing on the cake for me, as a long range hunter, is a slide wheel on the Solution screen which allows me to adjust yardage easily as my target may be moving.