Long distance shooting is a bit like meteorology. You can go by feel, or you can make predictions to help you plan ahead.
No plan survives the first contact, but it gives you a fighting chance at least!
If you want to “call your shot” before you make them, a ballistics calculator is in order. Ballistic calculators are an all or nothing sort of thing, you need to know exactly what you’re doing, or it’ll send your rounds way off.
If you’re willing to learn how to use them they can be the key that opens doors that were previously closed!
Purpose of a Ballistic Calculator
The purpose a ballistic calculator is important and is sometimes essential. Basically speaking, a ballistics calculator makes several calculations of given a data set.
That set includes the humidity, elevation, specifications of the round, and the expected velocity of the bullet given the rifle it’s fired out of.
The calculations are so specific every shot you ever fire will be completely different.
You won’t have to waste ammunition trying to find out if your calculations are accurate because as soon as you calculate the shot, the variables have most likely changed, mother nature is a fickle woman.
The purpose of a ballistics calculator is to just get you close enough you can manually dial in your shot. Many people think a high-tech calculator will make the shots for you, and it won’t.
A calculator will save you money and time by getting you close but it won’t have you hitting the bullseye at 1,000 yards on the first shot.
Don’t Forget to….
Take Good Notes
Every single shot you make will be influenced by the internal and external ballistics of the round, this is one of many reasons why quality control of your ammunition is so important – consistency is everything!
But it’s not just the ammo that you’re trying to account for – you also have things that while you can measure and attempt to account for, you won’t be able to get it perfect every time.
Temperature, wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure, elevation difference between you and the target, the list goes on and gets exponentially more complex the longer the shot is.
If you enter in all of this information into a ballistics calculator can give you a good idea of how the shot will ring out, but it is just an educated guess.
You should be taking good notes on pen and paper to log each shot and shooting session to get a collection of good data to help you set up your calculator.
This is especially important for users who opt for low features applications on a smartphone. Many application won’t keep data over a long period of time, the best will, but you should always have a backup and keep the data somewhere safe, otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of ammunition and money when it comes time to shoot!
Phone Vs. Handheld Calculator
With the widespread use of smartphones coming into the scene just as more and more people are hitting targets at range, naturally, people looked to the ever-loved smartphone for help nailing targets.
While an application on your phone can provide basic data to help dial in dope for the shot you’re facing, almost every application on the market is not going to give as in-depth information as a dedicated ballistics computer.
They’ll be much easier to use but are slower to use and can eat up your phone battery quickly but can be excellent for shooting at targets within 1200-ish yards.
The benefits of a ballistics calculator are important for a competitive shooter, you don’t have to use your phone and it’s often faster with deeper features than any app on the market.
They have a very steep learning curve and they go very in depth with high degrees of precision if you know how to use it.
The other major downside to a dedicated handheld calculator is the price…they aren’t cheap!
Kestrel Sportsman Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics
Bottom line: If you have the extra cash and want the hobby of learning to use a ballistics calculator, go for it!
If you’re a recreational shooter who wants a down and dirty solution to save ammunition when you hit the range, get a phone based solution and take good notes!
Best Ballistics Calculator Apps
KAC Bullet Flight
Knights armament is an American institution for the firearms industry. They make some of the finest precision, military grade, rifles and weapons that can be had.
In fact, they were one of the first companies to perfect the AR-10 with their KAC M110 – a rifle that is still in service with the military today.
They made this ballistic calculator app to help you dial in dope and get first round hits. It’s got a stripped-down version but is available in a detailed version, the Bullet Flight M, that is simply an excellent tool.
They factor in a ton of different data points and make it very easy to use the information when the time comes.
This application has the distinction of being one of the most counter-intuitive I’ve used.
The hardest thing to nail down about this application is working through the menus. however, once you get used to it, you can use it quickly – but it isn’t as fast as the other apps and definitely has a learning curve.
The trick to using this calculator is knowing what you need to get out of it and make sure you know what you’re doing when using that data. Trying to use the more advanced ballistic calculators like this one is a recipe for wasting ammo if you’re not used to working with the data.
Nosler pretty much owns the long-distance hunting industry. They were the first company to produce purpose-driven bullets and continue to innovate designs that eventually get copied later on by other companies.
This is their basic ballistic calculator application that does a good idea of getting you on target and helping you sight in your rifle.
It’s available for all smartphones and was intended to work well for their reloading manual as a way to predict trajectory when reloading, it works well for any bullets though.
The nice thing about this calculator is that it gets you on target with the least amount of fuss and confusion. It does an excellent job of just using the data you’re likely to have, and producing data you’re likely to use. It’s excellent for your first time figuring out a rifle, scope, and bullet combination.
This calculator is best for people who want a basic set of features and have access to accurate data about the load they’re shooting.
You can account for any factors other than velocity and ballistic coefficient, but for the majority of shooters and hunter shooting below 700 yards, this is plenty accurate and do a great deal of the work of zeroing for you.
The Applied Ballistics mobile app is certainly my favorite ballistics calculator application for Android and iOS available.
Yes, it’s expensive, costing $30 but in my experience, no other ballistics calculator comes close to the functionality you get with this application.
By far the greatest feature of this calculator is the HUD display, meaning head-up display.
This is just a snapshot of all the information that the calculator displays in an Easy-to-Read format that cuts out everything you don’t need to read when it comes time to make the shot.
This makes it much faster to call Corrections with a spotter because you’re not bogged down with plucking out information from a table. It’s all multicolored and displayed for you in an easy-to-read format.
This feature alone makes it the best in the field, but this calculator is also by far the best designed to be used with a touchscreen. Most of the other calculator suffer from having too many buttons or forcing you to use a scrolling menu to input data into the calculator.
This calculator is much faster simply because it was designed around using a touch screen and not designed around traditional calculators where you press buttons.
It does however suffer and that you can’t use it well with gloves on, even with “touch compatible” gloves. If you need to shoot with gloves on getting convertible gloves that you can still use your trigger finger to work the calculator.
This is one of the original ballistic calculators that was put onto the market for turning your smartphone or iPod touch into a ballistic computer. You can count on this as being one of the most refined, and detailed applications for ballistic calculators out there.
iSnipe generates data for bullet trajectories, based on data calculated for pitch, yaw, the wind, Coriolis effect, spin drift and atmospheric condition.
This is a very advanced calculator and the one I’d recommend for serious shooters and competitors that need a complete data set they can get their hands on.
It has a learning curve and you need to have a requisite level of understanding behind the math before you can quickly use this calculator but you can certainly learn it in an afternoon or two of shooting and read the instructions.
If you’re a nerd, you’ll love this calculator. If all you want is put holes in targets, get one of the simpler options that aren’t as in depth.
Make sure if you plan on using your phone as your calculator you factor in battery life. Especially if you plan on using a cell phone in your car as a GPS, music, or emergency contact device, make sure using your calculator at the range won’t result in you getting lost. Have a charger or extra battery back up at the ready so you don’t get left up a creek.
Consider Going Larger
My favorite way to display ballistics readout is to put the apps onto a tablet and prop it up so I can see and make notes while in the prone position. This is by far the easiest and most comfortable way to log and calculate data on your shots.
Having full color can help you more easily read the screen. Especially is the resolution is low. On almost every application for iPhone and Android, you have full-color options, but most ballistic computers aren’t color.
Waterproof & Ruggedness
Make sure you know your equipment’s limitations. If it’s your phone, get a good case. If you bought a purpose made calculator, it’s probably decently rugged, but you’ll want to baby it a little bit and carry it in a case. As always, ziplock bags are your friends!
Where You Place your Calculator
A pro tip from someone who’s been there, if you have a muzzle brake on your rifle, don’t put your notebook and phone, and calculator up near the barrel of the rifle. You’re putting it in the blast zone!
When you head to the range with hard data about your file set up, good ammunition in your gun, and shiny new targets to lob rounds at, it’s a good day! Having a good dope is a perfect start and a ballistics calculator gives you a head start and ultimately saves time and money- as long as you know how to use them!
There’s a lot of good options on the market but here are the best on the market you can’t go wrong with if you trust them with your next competition.
Do you use a ballistic app? Record your dope on paper or on a tablet? Let us know in the comments!
[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]Meet Revolver Speed-shooter Brian Schrock[/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAMES DAVIS
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]I [/su_dropcap]recently had the pleasure of watching competitive shooter Brian Schrock in action. I’ve known Schrock for years, but had never actually watched him shoot. Schrock is an unassuming-looking guy from Arizona, but he is a dynamo on the range. His shooting and reloading speed is a sight to behold, and he shoots exclusively with revolvers.
Brian Schrock didn’t set his sights on competitive shooting until later in life. But once the timer went off, he and his revolver trio have been unstoppable.
Everyone who knows Schrock likes him, and this is because he always has the positive mental attitude, pure talent and sheer determination to make it to the top. We conducted his ﬁrst-ever interview on his road to glory in the competitive shooting world.
American Shooting Journal Brian, how long have you been shooting?
Brian Schrock When I was about 7 or 8 years old I started shooting a .22. I came from a family of hunters, so that was my ﬁrst introduction to ﬁrearms. I started squirrel hunting and then graduated to deer and elk. I’ve taken a javelina with my S&W 500, as well as an elk at 103 yards. I started competing in August 2011 east of Phoenix in Mesa, Ariz., at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club during their Tuesday night steel shoots, and in March 2012 I started shooting in the United States Practical Shooting Association.
Schrock demonstrates a winning combination of natural skill, hard work and determination. Needless to say, it’s working.
ASJ What sparked your interest to start competing?
BS I was working at Sportsman’s Warehouse, and one of the associates who worked there competed. I had a S&W 627 and a Glock 21 at the time, so I ﬁgured I would just try it out. Before I actually started competing, I attended a couple of matches and just learned by watching what and how people shot. I noticed that there were very few people shooting revolvers, so I decided to use the 627. I fell in love with competing by the second match, and that’s when I started looking for a broader outlet, like the USPSA. I love it, and there is nothing I would rather be doing.
(Top to bottom) Schrock’s current Jerry Miculek Signature series S&W 929 eight-shot 9mm, six-shot S&W Model 625 and the eight-shot Model 627 he started competing with.
ASJ Is USPSA the only type of competition you shoot?
BS I made Master class on March 14, 2015, and Grand Master in the USPSA revolver division on October 16 (top 95 to 100 percentile).
ASJ A congratulations is in order. The USPSA has over 25,000 members, so being in the top ranking is not an easy feat.
BS Thank you. I appreciate it.
ASJ What are some of your best accomplishments and accolades in competitive shooting so far?
BS Well, I came in ﬁrst place of C-Class at Revolver Nationals in 2013. After that I took ﬁrst place in revolver in the 2013 Area 2 Desert Classic, and then I went on to win ﬁrst place in the A-Class for the Midwestern regional ICORE shoot in Nevada that same year.
I didn’t do much shooting in 2014 because of school, but so far in 2015 I came in fourth overall in the Area 2 Desert Classic for USPSA.
Although Schrock used to send his guns out to be honed and gunsmithed, he now does all of the work himself, with the exception of chamfering.
ASJ Obviously you are a dedicated revolver shooter. What are you shooting in competition?
BS For competition I use only Smith & Wesson. I started out with the Model 627, which is an eight-shot .357 Magnum, but when I switched to USPSA, an eight-shot revolver was not legal for their sport at the time, so I bought the model 625, which is a six-shot .45 ACP. I shot that for about a year and then the USPSA made eight-shot revolvers legal, so I switched back to my 627. As of October 2014 I’ve been shooting the new Jerry Miculek Signature series S&W 929 eight-shot 9mm.
The only thing that sidetracks Schrock from shooting and competing is the manufacturing and engineering degree that he is currently working towards at Arizona State University.
ASJ Do you do work on your own revolvers, or do you send them off to have work done?
BS My ﬁrst two competition revolvers, the 627 and 625, I sent to Apex Tactical Specialties, Inc., in California. They do excellent work, but on my 929 I did my own work except for chamfering the titanium cylinder.
ASJ How often do you shoot?
BS For practice, about once a week, and I shoot about 200 rounds. I usually compete twice a month, and shoot about 150 rounds in each competition.
ASJ Did you follow competitive shooting at all before you got into it?
Schrock competes in United States Practical Shooting Association, as well as International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts.
BS No, I honestly didn’t know about the world of competitive shooting until I started working at the sporting goods store.
ASJ So you never had any heroes or people to look up to who were in the shooting world?
BS Not particularly. I remember seeing videos of Jerry Miculek shooting revolvers. He was my inspiration to pick the S&W 627 over the Glock when I started. I was watching videos of guys shooting semiauto pistols who were basically pretty slow. They couldn’t shoot that well either. When I ﬁrst saw Jerry shooting, I thought, “Man that guy can shoot fast!” It wasn’t until I started shooting revolvers that I realized how much talent, blood, sweat and tears you had to put into it to become halfway decent. Jerry was my ﬁrst inspiration, but if I had to pick my shooting hero, it would be Rob Leatham. I had an opportunity to shoot with him in a couple matches, and have even taken a class with him. He is a good guy. One day before a revolver nationals match, Rob and I showed up at registration at the same time. He changed out of his single-stack rig and into his revolver rig. We shot the match together, and I thought it was really cool that a 20-something-time national champion and umpteen-time world champion would switch out his gear and shoot with a C-class revolver shooter.
Schrock’s reloads during competition are lightning fast.
ASJ Brian, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
BS You’re very welcome. I’ll see you at the range.
Brian is currently attending school for manufacturing and engineering technology at Arizona State University. He wants to be on the top of the mountain, and he will get there. I’m calling it right now, people: 2016 is going to be the year of the Schrock. ASJ
[su_heading size=”24″ margin=”0″]JUMPING THE GUN GAP[/su_heading]
World Record Dirt-bike Champion, Cam Zink Is A Brother In Arms
Interview by Danielle Breteau
One of Cam’s favorite ﬁrearms is his Tikka T3 Tactical .308. (ADRIAN MARCOUX PHOTOGRAPHY)
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]S[/su_dropcap]o, why would a shooting magazine reach out for an interview with a world-record-holding mountain bike rider/jumper/guru? Well, because he also totes a gun and hunts. In fact he comes from a family of hunters and totes many guns.
That’s why! Another reason we reached out to this young man was to demonstrate that gun owners, CCW carriers and hunters come from some of the most unlikely places. Think of the new generation of youth shooters who are paving the way for an ever-growing ﬁrearms-friendly community. Cam Zink represents that new generation, and while his livelihood is not in the industry, he is a brother in arms. I would like to introduce the shooting community to Cam Zink who made the Guinness Book of World Records – the ﬁrst time – by completing a 100-foot, dirt-to-dirt backﬂip jump on a mountain bike. However, that wasn’t enough, so he followed that up by completing an astounding 120-foot straight-air jump, at the same location, earning him a second world record title for the longest dirt-to-dirt jump. Stand by for a second – just announcing that feat left me out of breath. Enjoy getting to know Cam Zink.
American Shooting Journal Hello, Cam, thanks for talking to us.
Cam ZinkMy pleasure.
ASJ Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with guns, or where the inﬂuence came from?
CZWell, it was a family thing. My father was an avid shooter and started taking us out hunting when I was pretty young. The ﬁrst gun I ever shot was a .22, but the very ﬁrst deerhunting riﬂe I ever owned was a .243 Winchester.
When he is not shooting, Cam and his brother Howie run YT USA, a mountain bike manufacturing company based in Reno. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)
ASJ What did you think about hunting when you ﬁrst started?
CZLike I said, it was a family thing. It’s just what we did together. My brother Howie and I were just happy to be out with our dad.
ASJ What does your father do?
CZHe used to run a T-shirt, embroidery and screen-printing business, but is now semiretired. He is currently remodeling the house they live in to ﬂip it. He has done everything in his life, including being an electrician, which helps with his new semivocation.
ASJ And your mother?
CZMy mom was a real estate agent, so she couldn’t take oﬀ work to take us to races like my dad could, but she came when she could, and we loved it!
ASJ How did you get started with mountain bikes?
CZI started out like any other kid, riding bikes around the neighborhood. We had some school yard jumps, and I guess I realized around then that I had a bit more of a natural talent for riding. Later, one of my dad’s friends, Stan Fail, started a bike-component company called Kooka. He brought some high-end bikes into my dad’s shop, and my dad was super intrigued. That’s when my dad bought us our own mountain bikes, and Stan brought us to some races. The rest is history.
ASJ Does your brother hunt and ride as well?
CZHe does, and is currently the chief operating oﬃcer for YT USA, the North American franchise for YT Industries, which is the bike company that also sponsors me. Howie was always my hero growing up because he was so naturally gifted in all types of riding. When he got older and bought his ﬁrst car, he started hanging out with girls. Bike riding took a back seat for him then.
With a father who was an avid hunt, Cam (left) and Howie were raised to love the outdoors and be shooters. This and mountain biking was always a part of family outings. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)
CZYT is a German-engineered mountain bike manufacturer that was solely in Europe until recently. They have now expanded to North America, Australia and New Zealand. What sets them apart is their bikes are sold directly to the public via the internet. No middleman, which keeps costs low. My brother and I run the North American franchise for them out of Reno, Nev.
ASJ So, when you say low prices, what are we talking about?
CZPrices range from around $900 to $5,400.
ASJ Wow, it sounds like there is a full range of bikes for all levels. Tell us about your favorite guns, or better yet, the guns you own.
CZI have several diﬀerent models, all for diﬀerent reasons. My daily carry is a Ruger LC9, but the trigger is a bit annoying. Other than that, I have a S&W .40-caliber handgun and .22 revolver, a Remington 20-gauge shotgun and .243 riﬂe, a Tikka T3 Tactical .308, an H&K .45 and, of course, an AR-15.
Cam and Howie on one of their family’s camping and outdoor trips. (CAM ZINK)
ASJ What type of guns are you looking to add to the family?
CZI really want a Kimber Solo. My dad has one, and it is the best subcompact I’ve ever seen. I also want to get a .300 AAC Blackout as well, especially now that I am sponsored by SilencerCo., an industry leader in silencers for ﬁrearms.
ASJ You mentioned that you have hunted. Tell us about that. What have you hunted so far?
CZI have only successfully shot one deer with my dad under a junior tag, and have been on several antelope and deer hunts with friends. I love duck hunting too, and in the next few years I’m going to make it up to Montana to hunt deer again.
Among activities such as extreme mountain biking, film making, shooting and his new family. Cam works hard running his and his brother Howie’s business. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)
ASJ I know you are involved with the creation of a charity that means a lot to you. Can you tell us why you started it and what it oﬀers?
CZIt’s called Sensus RAD Trails, and I simply started it to build better bike trails. There are many organizations out there that build questionable trails, and take an
ASJ You have a huge following of fans who look up to you. Who inspires you?
CZI look up to many diﬀerent people, all for diﬀerent reasons. I have a lot of diverse goals with my business, riding, life, family, writing, ﬁlm making, shooting, etc. The people I look up to most are: Shaun Palmer, a professional snowboarder, skier, mountain biker and motocross rider who USA Today once put on the cover titled The World’s Greatest Athlete; Hunter S. Thompson, the late journalist, author and founder of the gonzo-journalism movement;Corey Bohan, an Australian BMX X-Games superstar; Rob Dyrdek, a professional skateboarder who founded Street League Skateboarding and holds 21 separate Guinness Book Of World Records for skateboarding; Travis Pastrana, X-Games gold-medal champion in several events, including supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross and rally racing, but mostly known for being an outrageous daredevil; and Johnny Knoxville, who is an actor, comedian, ﬁlm producer, screenwriter and stunt performer.
Cam’s daughter, Ayla Zink, is on her way to a world championship dirt-bike title. We might have to wait a couple more years, though. (CAM ZINK)
ASJ Do you have any regrets in life so far?
CZI try not to have regrets, but if I did, it would be some of the stupid things we did as teenagers. It’s impossible to change the past, so it’s hard to harbor regrets if you plan on changing the future [grin].
ASJ Do you have any new projects up and coming or anything we should be watching for?
CZI completed a movie that just came out called Cam Zink: Reach For The Sky, and you can see it on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Video and a few other places.
ASJ We will deﬁnitely check that out, Cam. Thanks for talking to us.