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The Basics of Ballistics
Submitted By: © 2007 Scott LaCoe on 10/26/2007

Anything that is worth doing is worth doing well. The same applies to hunting. Nobody wants to be just an average hunter; everyone wants to be a great hunter. Telling the story about the monster mounted on the wall rather that the big one that got away. A ballistics chart is just one of the tools you can use to become a great hunter.

Whether you hunt with a rifle, bow, muzzle-loader or shotgun slug you all have one thing in common, ballistic motion. Ballistic motion defines the path a projectile follows as it is affected by gravity and wind resistance. Everybody has watched a movie where a sniper is hidden in his ghillie suit getting ready for his shot, his sniper buddy is ranging the target and referencing a chart telling the marksman what adjustments to make to his scope to accommodate the range. This is all great, but most hunters don't have a scope that lends itself well to making these adjustments nor do we want to make adjustments to the scope in the field.

Fortunately most hunters do have access to Microsoft excel and a printer. This is all you need to make shots you never thought possible. Next season you can brag about the trophy buck or bull you bagged at 800 yards. Yes, just shy of half a mile.

When you site in your rifle, say for 100 yards don't pack up and leave when you have 4 shots inside a quarter pattern. Stick around and fire a few more rounds, specifically at ranges above and below 200 yards. Fire 3 shots at 50, 100 and 150 yards as well as 200. Record the data in 2 columns in excel. Record your yardage on the left hand column, and height on the right. If you hit above your mark the height value is positive, below is negative. A typical example would read as follows. Left hand column from top to bottom 50,100, 150, 200. Right hand column from top to bottom 1, 0, -1.5, -3.5. Insert an "xy scatter" plot. Right click the plot line and choose "add trend line" create a 3rd order polynomial and on the options tab check display equation and display r squared value. If the r-squared value is between .99 and 1 you are ready to proceed.

Create two new columns. The left column is yardage and should range from 0 to 1000 in 20 yard increments. The right hand column should have the equation from the previous graph and should use the yardage cell to the left in place of "x" in the equation.

Print this chart, trim it and stick it to the cheek side of you gun stock and you have a quick reference that is custom matched to your gun and ammo telling you exactly how high you need to aim at any range up to 1000 yards.

Apply this tool with knowledge of big game hunting and species vital zones and you are sure to become a great hunter too.

Happy Hunting.

Scott LaCoe is the owner of Ghillie Suit Source www.ghilliesuitsource.com and has been hunting and fishing the Dakotas and Canada for over 20 years.

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