How your smartphone can make you a better shooter
Just about everyone in the world has a cell phone in their pocket and most of those are smart phones. The presence of powerful computers used in today’s smart phone opens a whole world of possibilities. Everything from simple web surfing to augmented reality is an option, so it’s no surprise that some applications (or apps) target the firearms community. Here is a look at a few of the most relevant.
Hornady 4DOF: Dial in For Long-Range
Hornady 4DOF is the shooting app that I use the most, probably because I spend a lot of time with rifles and I like to shoot things that are far away. 4DOF is a ballistic calculator that tells the shooter what to dial on the elevation turret to hit at the target distance. It also allows the shooter to input wind direction and speed, and then gives a hold to correct for the wind as well.
Of all the ballistic calculators, 4DOF gives the most accurate information. The best part is it’s free. Some of the more well-known ballistic calculators charge hundreds of dollars and are difficult to use. 4DOF is simple, free, and Hornady has a series of videos up on their YouTube channel that teach you how to use it. If long-range rifle shooting interests you even a little, start with this app.
Ballistic-X: Measure Your Groups
The next app that I use often is Ballistic-X. This app measures group sizes. The first step is to take a photo of the group. The group has to be on paper that has one-inch reference lines, like most targets available in the store or at the range. The app uses those reference lines to provide an accurate group size, and then displays the group size in inches and MOA. The app can calculate the group size in MOA at any yard line because the shooter enters the distance to the target in one of the steps. The app drops a graphic on the photo of the group with all relevant information and makes it easy to store for future reference. The days of digging a scrap of paper out of your wallet to show your buddies a killer group are no more.
Far from just making it easy to share groups with friends, Ballistic-X offers a readily-accessible way to keep data on how rifles and ammunition perform. Because it is so easy to keep multiple groups handy and to store a rifle’s groups in a photo album, the shooter can track a rifle’s performance across the life of the barrel, or with various loads. An in-app purchase also allows the shooter to see the group’s mean radius and elevation and windage standard deviations; however, I’ve never needed that information.
Leica Ballistics: Powering Best-In-Class Binoculars and Rangefinders
The final app the I use fairly often is Leica Ballistics. This app works in conjunction with Leica’s Geovid Pro binoculars and provides two key capabilities. The first is it allows the ballistics calculator in the binoculars to function accurately. Push the button to range the target and the elevation and windage holds pop up in the binocular’s field of view. The second capability is geo-locating with a smart phone. Most smart phones have global positioning built into them and, once a map of the area is downloaded on the phone, no cell service is required to navigate. The Leica app uses the range and direction from the binoculars to drop a pin to the ranged target (the last location where you saw an animal, for example) and then the shooter can use the map to navigate to that point. Leica is not the only one with this type of app. Sig products work with Basemap and Swarovski has their own app as well. If you spend time in the field, I highly recommend an app like these that works with your binoculars.
Technology is creeping in to just about everything. In the case of these applications available for today’s shooter, we all benefit from this leap ahead.