Ballistic Computers

Spec Ops Shooting

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Given the great amounts of ballistic data a sniper must consider, and the variances of wind, altitude, and temperature and dicir effects on a long-range shot, it should not be a great surprise that software programs have been designed specifically for sniping. Acnially, the first time I ran across such a program was in the early 1990s, in a discussion with an old Special Forces friend then serving in a "black" Spec Ops unit. While I calculated elevation settings with a stubby pencil, he laughed and told me about his handheld Hewlett-Packard that included every possible consideration that could affect a long-range shot, to include uphill/downhill angles. His Hewlett-Packard's program was restricted to a tiny number of Spec Ops snipers, but that same capability has sincc become available to every police and military sniper.

Nightforce> maker of high-quality rifle scopes and mounts, offers sophisticated ballistic calculation software for handheld PCs that produces settings and corrections as Minutes of Angle, mils, or centimeters-per-hundred-meters. Using this program, you can print graphs, charts, and data cards and plot exact holds on your reticle.

CheyTac, the cutting-edge builder of the .408 CheyTac heavy sniper rifle, has its own ballistic software for handheld PCs that offers amazing possibilities. This program not only considers wind—at the gun, at the target, and in-between— but also temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, latitude—even the Coriolis effect and rotation of the earth, which affect extreme-range, 2,000+ yard shots. The CheyTac program serves up corrections for every small-arm caliber from 5.56mm to .50 and varies the results according to the precise height of a reticle above the center of the bore.

While I welcome all these impressive capabilities, when it finally gets down to taking the shot, it's still marksmanship fundamentals that count the most. And that's what we're covering in the next chapter.

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