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Reloading: Keeping Records

Reloading: Keeping Records

No, this isn’t a rant about the sounds of the sixties… well, I suppose it might be if you’re as old as me and can remember your earliest shooting experiences. We’re returning to the issue of paperwork or, heaven forbid, computer work. Some call it record keeping. Just to be clear, we’re not discussing ballistics calculators again. So why bother to record your activities? Safety, repeatability, education, technical interest, interpolation, ammo quality and development. Need I go on?


There are just two aspects to our everyday shooting endeavours that need to be recorded, making ammo and using it. I’ll deal with the latter first. On range we need to take account of both the performance of our ammo and the two variables that (should) have the greatest impact on fall of shot… the weather and the shooter. The relative importance will vary depending upon the application. Long range precision shooting can be influenced by weather whereas accuracy in 25m Precision long barrelled pistol (LBR) is the responsibility of the pilot! Which leads to the first dilemma, a rifleman’s single shot plot book is hardly suited to LBR, Bianchi or Standard Pistol, or indeed any rapid fire, multi-shot event against the clock unless you have a spotter/record keeper.

I’ve yet to find a solution that fits all. For zero applications and all long range deliberate fire I use a boring, old fashioned slow fire rifle score book and add notes as appropriate. On a wet day it hides under a plastic sheet on the clipboard. However, I’m playing with a couple of Android cheapies, both designed for phones, but sort of work on my device. ShotView is not fully functional but does enough to justify the massive £1 investment. I’ve got it on a 10” tablet running Android Jelly Bean 4.2. https://play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=net.olmen.sport.ShotView&hl=en

I keep a numeric ticket in each box of ammo, the number referring to the row in my ammo loading spreadsheet. If the batch spreads over more than one box, each box gets the same number. Of late I have added factory ammo to my spreadsheet and add the row number to the box. However, for those of you who want to stay with tree based products there are a huge range of record sheet formats on offer from Impact Data Books Inc, try; http://www.impactdatabooks.com/


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A colleague is using a piece of data recording software designed for air and small-bore shooters who use iPhones, the TargetScan app by Thomas Gabrowski looks really neat. Try https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ targetscan-nra-issf-target/ id448045769?mt=8 There’s also an iPhone app called ShotPlot but as I’m Android-based I can only direct you to the impressive claims on their web site http://www.shotplot.ca/ For ISSF shooters the nearest current Android offering seems to be Shooting Score https://play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=com.app.shootingscore For phone, as opposed to tablet users, there is also the Shooting Results app from Christian Süßenbach https://play.google.com/store/ apps/details?id=de.sweety.shooting&hl=en It’s free, although a donation is suggested, so try it.


Up until a couple of years before our handgun mugging I had preached the virtues of a handwritten record containing as much information about each load as you could squeeze into a DPS accounts ledger. Students on the courses usually took one look at it and forgot the idea. I would also religiously complete the paper data sheets that were enclosed in each box of pills… and then lose them. Enter Mr Gates new product in 1990, Microsoft Office. It took a while to master Excel and longer to afford my own copy but it was a revelation. A limitless number of rows and column and the ability to do maths with any or all of them. My first attempt was naff but by the time the FREE Open Office Calc arrived I’d more or less mastered it.


Each row number corresponds to a batch of ammo. I start with the calibre, the date is next. Then comes the bullet brand, part number, weight and design. Later, I had to add an additional column with the weight only in order enable the muzzle energy calculation. Powder brand, charge weight and batch number are next. The make (headstamp) of brass, number of reloads and trim details follow. Then it’s COL, primer make/type and my chrono velocity. The next column takes the bullet weight and velocity and calculates muzzle energy for that entry. The firearm is listed and finally there’s a column for notes. For easy reading the top header row and left column are frozen on the screen. It would require little effort to add component price columns and a simple algorithm to calculate the annual cost of my ammo, the volume of powder used the number of primers, the longevity of different types of brass… and so on.

At a very practical level I can play with the parameters of my hunting loads to ensure that I’m minimising recoil and staying legal. This is possible because I have reference velocities for each of my rifles with several powders and a number of pills… all I need to do is interpolate for a different powder charge or type to obtain a practical starting load for new ammo development. The database makes life easy.


Having done the initial maths on the ammo record spreadsheet I use separate spreadsheets for actual ammo load development as there is a lot of chrono data to absorb from lots of small batches. Here you need to compare average velocity, standard deviation, pressure signs and so on. Another spreadsheet contains suites of scope settings, zero distances and my crude Kentucky calculations based upon drop and windage. As I find the need to log more performance parameters so I simply add more columns, it really is that easy. Not a DIY’er? Well, there are a couple of GT Spreadsheet apps around; Ammo Load from Titusville Armory is typical of the genre. https://play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=com.anthonyolive.ammoload

If you own more than one gun or fire more than one hand load recipe then you must keep records of one sort or another.

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