Ballistic FTE: Field Tactical Edition Software
By: Don Brunt
Whilst planning a trip to a long range steel plate shoot, I started to think about software that would allow me to run real-time ballistic data for both distance and wind. I chose a piece of software called Ballistic: Field Tactical Edition (FTE) that seemed to offer what I needed. The program itself used the JBM ballistic mathematical programming that I had always found reliable on pre-printed range cards and the price was a very reasonable £11.99. This application (App) was easily available from iTunes for the iPod touch or iPhone. Was it too good to be true?
It only took a few minutes to download and install the software on my iPod. It was very intuitive to use and I was immediately impressed, which is quite rare for me! I’m not much of an instruction reader so I just tinkered and within minutes had data sets installed in it for three of my rifles. The output generated agreed exactly with previously verified results and over the course of the next few days I continued to tinker with the numerous extra features.
Easy input data
The program required all the usual data to be input: bullet, calibre, ballistic coefficient (BC), muzzle velocity etc., along with the desired output values, such as scope clicks in MOA, Mils or cm and the desired unit for range (metres or yards). If you wanted to be more precise and specify more variables, all atmospheric data, global location and altitude could be entered along with further rifle-specifics such as scope height and barrel twist rate. I was not too sure how my shooting skills were going to benefit from coriolis effect compensation though?
As well as offering full custom specifications of your load, the program also has a database of a large number of factory loads for calibres from .17 rimfire up to African big game and military cartridges too. The data held for all specific bullets for handloading had manufacturers G1 BC given. Some of the more popular match bullets had secondary, more modern G7 BCs, more appropriate to their longer range use.
The program features five main operational functions, all with shortcut keys at the bottom of the screen. After you have chosen a factory load or entered your own load using the trajectory function, this can then be saved and entered into favourites. Here all specific rifle and scope data is integrated into one file, along with other information and notes you may want to record, such as zeroing range, temperature, location and the atmospheric conditions at the time.
The distance function allows you to estimate ranges using either a standard Mil-Dot or MOA (minute of angle) reticule. The input and output can be entered and displayed in either metric or imperial units. A range log allows you to record any useful data including scoring in competition.
The last of the five shortcut functions titled is HUD (head up display) is perhaps the most useful for giving real time data. Again, any factory or custom load can be chosen, along with any previously saved favourites. Once the load is chosen the screen alters to a minimally clear functional display, which is, as the rest of the program, extremely user-friendly and intuitive.
The display is similar to a fruit machines with three, vertical wheels - range, wind direction and wind speed. The dials are simply and easily rolled to the desired settings with the tip of a finger, e.g. 870 yards, 3 O’clock wind direction at 15mph. The screen can also be set for altitude, pressure and temperature, as well as humidity, but I left these set as standard for now. Once the data is input after a couple of seconds the drop and windage are displayed, both in inches and MOA although you can of course select whatever units you prefer.
The functionality and simplicity of the unit is great and quick to use, but the biggest surprise came last. The iPod has built-in sensors that detect the angle it’s held at once calibrated. This angle detection can be turned on or off and can also be entered manually but is incorporated into the calculation for extra accuracy for uphill and downhill shots.
My overall impressions were excellent, as for just £11.99 it’s amazing value for money. The big pros for me are the speed, simplicity and intuitive functionality. The cons as I see them are really just my paranoia, I still use printed range cards to take with me and use in the hunting environment. This is no criticism of the device, but nothing is ever as simple or quick as a waterproof card attached to the scope lens cap, time is often a luxury when hunting. But for longer range and more calculated use you have a massive and versatile ballistics resource literally at your fingertips.
The iPod touch or iPhone has many uses that would take weeks to cover and the software did more than I expected with accuracy and simplicity and is a delight. I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested. There are many more functions than I have listed, and, like any computer software, you can immerse yourself into them as deeply as you want or need to and no further if that suits you.
If you only want to input 90% of the data that is all you need to do for 99% accurate results. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable or experienced to use some of the more advanced functions so I didn’t and did not feel I lost out. Some of the functions are automatic when used with the GPS-equipped iPhone such as coriolis compensation and global location. The iPhone will even use internet data to enter your weather information for you if you want it to. It is now a constant part of my range kit and is always handy when you want to dispel a myth about some new ballistic holy grail calibre.
|Name||Ballistic FTE: Field Tactical Edition Software|
|For||A neat, practical and workable system|
|Against||You need an IPhone or Itouch|
|Verdict||Accurate ballistics resource literally at your finger tips|
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