Shooting Apps Review
By Nate Demiter
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 PDA’s, 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 don’t 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, well… 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 let’s 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. I’m not going to list every single input function the program has, but it’s substantial, and I have used this app personally to calibrate my ballistic curve and then used it to gain hits at distances I haven’t 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 you’re 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.
Shooting Apps ReviewStrelok Pro
Strelok Pro offers the exact same functionality and possibly a more precise ballistic solution over Shooter. Strelok also includes a reticle picture customizable to all of the major long range scopes like Vortex, Nightforce and Schmidt and Bender. That is a great feature to have as well. The solution displays as MOA, Mil, inches and clicks on the same screen, but you have to manually input yardage in numerical values i.e. 1000 yds or 1025 yds. This may not be a big deal to a lot of shooters, and frankly, the ease of use may be a negligible tradeoff to those who prefer the more accurate solution.
Where I really think that the Strelok app shines above Shooter is the environmental fields, I have found it to be more accurate on multiple occasions with multiple rifles giving me a solution that is almost ½ MOA different than the other app at ranges past 750 yards. Strelok Pro has a trajectory calibration feature as well as a blue tooth link to Kestrel 5500+Vane. It also has multiple target screen if you are engaging multiple targets at known distances in a match, it will display all of those solutions on the same screen in MOA or Mils with your wind correction for those distances.
Strelok is a great program. I feel that the designer is taking his feedback seriously and he keeps improving this program and updating versions time and time again.
iStrelok, the free version, is slightly different. It offers basic functionality with weather and shot angle corrections, but you lose the ability to link with Kestrel as well as losing Coriolis corrections, moving target corrections and the multiple target screen. iStrelok is the most basic of the “good” programs, but it does the basics and gets shooters to their target with no issues.
Shooting Apps ReviewNow, Applied Ballistics, the program that I have not mentioned yet, is a $29.99 app and includes pretty much all of the functions that I really like having, like reticle placement, graphical display, table and a solution screen (without MOA and Mils on the same screen). This program does all of this flawlessly and produces as accurate of a result as the data you put into it. My greatest regret about this program is not merging my iTunes accounts and putting this on my new phone!
Deciding which of these programs is right for you depends on what you want out of the program. I have already stated the reasons for my preference. It simply suits me as a long range hunter and allows me to do what I need to do in the amount of time I have to do it in.
As technology improves, I have already seen a changing of the tides with platforms like the G7 BR2 and the Leica HD-B. For me, the Leica HD-B will be the platform to go to as a field aid, but that does not replace what is available on the mobile apps. There is far more information available on the apps as training aids and they will always be a huge part of my data process.
I appreciate any questions about things that you feel are relevant about long range hunting and how it pertains to these apps.
About The Author:
Nate Demiter is a passionate big game hunter and thrill seeker. Having spent time living (and hunting) in Alaska and Wyoming he now manages his time between being a Bridge Foreman at a railroad and owning a small ranch in Kansas. He still finds plenty of time to travel to the western states in pursuit of elk, mule deer, antelope and has high hopes of being kicked out of the