Snipers weaponize math. To do this, they use Data on Personal Equipment (DOPE). However, that is not to be confused with Data From Previous Engagement (DOPE). So no matter what kind of DOPE you use, killing bad guys with math is pretty dope.
Although, if you think mastering ballistics, and their solvers, requires Jedi like training then Chris Wiencke is your YODA. It’s no secret that Applied Ballistics ® (AB) is THE place to go to get information on how your bullets fly through space. Chris is the person within Applied Ballistics who demystifies how to get, enter and use the many data points needed to maximize the capability of your ballistic solver. Chris was also a second place finisher in Mammoth. So, you can be confident he knows the rigors of the event. Hence, if you’re going to learn something you may as well learn from the best.
Below is part 1 of 2 of Chris’ essential tips for ballistic solver set up. Chris generously shared these with me and I figured I’d pay it forward. These are his words:
“I will start by saying: short-range work is paramount for long-range success. Many LR shooters view the short-range portion of weapon setup as a boring. It is however a necessity for accuracy, precision and success in competitions. Shooters tend to disregard the many benefits a solid short-range setup regimen can offer. You must first understand what the weapon, scope, and ammunition are doing at short range to understand what your ballistic solver is calculating at long range.
Verify your gun profile inputs by understanding the rifle, scope, and ammunition
I use a similar weapon and gun profile setup process each time, regardless of the long-range shooting objective. I confirm the short-range zero, then immediately proceed to a tall target test to verify the elevation turret tracking and can’t.
At the same time, I measure and record all muzzle and downrange velocities. The end result of the short-range process is a solid zero, verified turret tracking and cant device installation, calculated sight scale factor, and muzzle velocity data. These are all necessary for accurate trajectory prediction at longer ranges.
Establish and use a solid short-range 100 yard or meter zero
The primary objective of zeroing is to get a foundation from which you can dial in or hold over to compensate for the effect of external ballistics on your bullet. This is done most effectively with a solid short range zero. Using a 200 or 300 yard/meter zero is not conducive to achieving a good baseline for sniper competitions. The short-range zero is a lot less susceptible to any zero-shift due to changes in atmospheric conditions. Additionally, a short-range zero gives shooters a flexible baseline to begin dialing or holding for targets at increased distances, whereas a longer range zero requires the shooter to hold under for targets at closer distances.
Conduct a tall target test as part of the short-range weapon setup
Tall target testing offers peace of mind in the best of cases, or heartbreak and frustration in the worst of cases. The outcome of a tall target test is a Sight Scale Factor (SSF) input, which allows the AB solver to account for the variation in turret adjustment. I typically employ high-quality scopes for competition use, and I expect the turrets to track within a 0% to 3% error. The tall target testing process is even more important for entry level scopes. Both high or low quality scopes are prone to tracking error, but I expect it is uncommon in more expensive scopes. Most AB software integrated devices allow for SSF input. Even if the turret doesn’t track as expected, you can account for that error if the tracking is repeatable.
It is not necessary to tall target test during every setup. It IS necessary to re-verify your SSF in the time leading up to a comp. Bryan Litz posted a detailed YouTube video outlining the testing process.
Collect and analyze ammunition velocity data
There are multiple benefits for collecting velocity data aside from a cold bore muzzle velocity (MV) and refined MV average. Continuously running a device like a LabRadar doppler radar during the short-range process facilitates the collection of a larger data sample size. It also provides a better overall indication of the MV average, standard deviation, and extreme spread. That velocity spread data will also allow you to determine the expected vertical dispersion by manipulating the gun profile MV input. LabRadar also determines velocity decay.
If you are using a Magneto Speed, I’d recommend employing a mounting bracket at a point other than the muzzle. This mitigates any point of impact interference the chrono imparts when attached directly to the barrel.”
What tips or tricks do you have to share? Sound off in the comments! Look for Part 2 coming soon.