Ballistic calculators are OK, but...

buck8541

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Jan 6, 2014
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Kalifornia
I have done a considerable amount of long range shooting both in the Marines and as a civilian and have found that nothing beats practice and record keeping when it comes ballistics and hitting the target when it matters most. Recently, I was shooting with a friend who is thoroughly convinced the his CDS dial that he ordered from Leupold should be dead on at every range out 600 yards. After all, he used his ballistic calculator and sent Leupold the data (disclaimer, my friends an engineer). Much to his disappointment, the CDS dial was off as much as three MOA at various ranges. After several attempts to get him to make a dope change on the elevation turret, I finally gave up trying to convince him that his ballistic calculator was slightly off or he input the wrong data.

This isn't the first time I have run into this problem. I have shot in the field and in competition with people who have failed to confirm their zero's at various ranges and insist on blaming their optics or the company that made the turret. If your turret is slightly off its OK, just record it and keep required dope changes handy. If you have experience shooting at long range and have moved past this issue then disregard this post. However, if you are just getting started, or thinking about getting into long range shooting and hunting then shoot, record, shoot, record... you will save yourself a lot of heartache. We'll talk about wind some other time...
 
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CaptnC

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Jun 21, 2017
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Found a 2' wide 8' long piece of cardboard that has a 2x2 frame around it.

I set it up at 600 yards (max yardage at the range I shoot at). I have it marked with a 6" diamond at the top, then marked inches starting at 50" down to 75" in 5" increments.

I can make adjustments to ballistics program to make the numbers match up.

My dial ups are now on the money!
 

Korhil78

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Jun 22, 2011
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New Mexico
Yup, I always think of it as I am molding my ballistic calculator around my real time drop verifications and not the other way around.

I have a 2 ft by 2ft piece of hard steel set up that I can shoot out past a mile. When I get a load that I want to use, I start out at 1000 yards and use my ballistic calculator to get me close and then shoot for groups and drop verification. I then adjust my ballistic calculator to make everything match up. Then I start working my way down in 100 yard increments and shooting for verification with my ballistic calculator. But yes sir, always verify.
 

idahoorion

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Mar 13, 2013
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103
Buck, you are correct in 1/2 the problem, the other unspoken half is not doing a tall target test on the scope and reticle to see if you are really dialingholding over what you think you are and if it will be repeatable. I had lan early cds scope. I don't have any anymore...
Idahoorion
 

buck8541

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Jan 6, 2014
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Location
Kalifornia
Yeh. What was you dope for 940? 10-3...

I still don’t think in mils though...does not compute...
10-3 or something like that, plus 4 or 8 minutes of maximum wind adjustment and holding additional mils for the wind. I am so glad those scope are gone, and I still think in MOA and 3.4 minutes per mil. I got pretty good at doing the math in my head after a while.
 
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buck8541

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Jan 6, 2014
Messages
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Location
Kalifornia
Buck, you are correct in 1/2 the problem, the other unspoken half is not doing a tall target test on the scope and reticle to see if you are really dialingholding over what you think you are and if it will be repeatable. I had lan early cds scope. I don't have any anymore...
Idahoorion
Great point, which is why I have 4'x10' vertical targets for load and dope development. It's a bit difficult to move around but better than wasting money on bullets, powder, and primers.
 
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jmcarrol

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Oct 31, 2010
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280
Location
NW Arkansas
Found a 2' wide 8' long piece of cardboard that has a 2x2 frame around it.

I set it up at 600 yards (max yardage at the range I shoot at). I have it marked with a 6" diamond at the top, then marked inches starting at 50" down to 75" in 5" increments.

I can make adjustments to ballistics program to make the numbers match up.

My dial ups are now on the money!

I am interested in learning how you do this. My range is limited to 800 and I would like to learn how to confirm with shooting too.
 

WildRose

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Feb 3, 2011
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N. Texas and S. Africa
Calculators are just one tool to help you get closer. If every bit of the dope you feed it is accurate you're going to get very close assuming your setup is correct to start with.

Shooting is both an art and a science and every shot is the result of the time, practice, and equipment you put into it and use.

Most of my shooting is done on varmints and predators on the move, often on the run so the calculations have to be done on the fly from reading the wind to estimating range to gauging the lead.

For each rifle I have a set load, and a drop/data card in the stock pack and I keep them all zeroed at the same range. As long as I know my range and have a decent read on the wind I have a very high percentage chance of making a one shot kill.

All of the tools we discuss here along with thousands of hours spent shooting over four plus decades add up to my being able to be successful most of the time. What is invaluable though is that when I do miss I spend as much time as necessary trying to figure out why I missed and I make either a physical or mental note, or both of same so that I will increase my odds of success in the future.

Calculators are great but just like any other piece of equipment they won't make a novice into a great shooter. They can however make any shooter more successful in the field than we would be without them.

I run all of my new loads through a ballistics program to get a starting point, then verify my drops at various ranges until I can come up with a decent drop chart for each rifle. Sometimes you need to do some tweaking with the BC's, Velocity etc to get your predictions to match your recorded data but it does get you there faster than starting off blind.
 

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