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Sniper's Paradise

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Ballisticard Systems Print
Product Reviews
Written by Jacob Bynum   

Ballisticard Systems

Jacob Bynum
Sniper's Paradise 1999

There are quit a few items on the market that we as shooters feel are necessary to make our life easier. Many of these do, in fact, make us better shooters. Take the telescopic sight for example. Scopes do not make us better shooters. They do, however, allow us to see our target more clearly. Triggers that are finely tuned, and break cleanly do not make our weapons more accurate. They just allow us to realize accuracy potential better.When all is said and done, hitting targets at extended distances is a game of math.

Exterior ballistics is the name of the game. Knowing exactly what the projectile is doing, and exactly where it will be is the item we all want to be extremely sure of. We want this certainty in all conditions and any wind.There are so many things that affect a well-made shot. Brass, primers, powder, barrels, and optics can only do so much for anyone. The human factor, sight picture, breathing, and trigger control play a huge factor. The slightest move or improper position that throws the natural point of aim is often the culprit when we stand there scratching our head after a blown shot. And you should at times, stand there after a blown shot and analyze what went wrong. If you are not doing that, then you aren’t shooting, you just talk about shooting.We all grew up knowing the stories of hunters that never missed, or of shots that were made under the most impossible conditions. Some of them are probably true.

As we ourselves begin to shoot and come to realize what it takes to do these amazing things, we realize that these stories, although amazing, are often just that, stories. Word often gets around to others that we are shooters that are better than most, that we shoot all the time, that our equipment is highly specialized, and that we are capable of extreme accuracy. To the professional, we may feel some pride in this. Often we do not. We do not because we know all the times we miss, blow a shot, or are just aware that this game is not easy, it takes practice, dedication, and most of all, time. We understand that there is much more involved than just going out, getting behind a rifle and making a shot. We know the variables. We know the difficulty, and we know what can, and often does, go wrong. We beat these difficulties by training. We reduce or eliminate the factors that cause those blown shots. We keep logbooks, our bibles to guide us. We watch the weather, and we watch the wind. We keep our positions consistent, and think all the time.Invariably, at some point, there will be a shooter or hunter that only looks at their rifle two times a year come up and tell us a story about a shot made at 500 or even 600 yards.

The story always has a few items in it that we recognize as untrue. Either the place they are shooting only presents a 300-yard possibility, or the caliber they are using doesn’t perform as stated, or we realize that, although possible, the shot was undoubtedly luck. We listen, and we are polite, and we keep our information to ourselves, because we do not want to discourage someone from shooting. We want them to continue and to improve. They are just trying to make conversation, and possibly, on some level, wanting advice.As we strive for better accuracy from our equipment and ourselves we learn our weaknesses. We get a good feeling about the fundamentals. Tactical shooting is a perishable skill, we realize that if we do not practice regularly, our skills drop off. If a month goes by without shooting, it is evident by our targets. They do tell a truthful tale. Almost by an automatic process, we evaluate and correct. We do this almost without thinking. We analyze our targets, and know instinctively what needs to be done to correct our shooting. It isn’t very long, and we are back to our old selves, shooting to our potential. We learn from it, and try to improve even more.There are so many things that we as tactical shooters have to keep up with.

On occasion, there comes along a product that actually does what it says. It can be something little, like the very popular Butler Creek Scope Covers. We all realize the importance of keeping our glass protected and free of debris. Almost all the shooters I know of use these for that purpose. They work well, and are inexpensive. It doesn’t take a college degree to operate them, and for that reason alone, I wouldn’t have a scope that didn’t have these installed as a necessary accessory.Another example is a bipod. It doesn’t really matter if you use the fine offerings from Harris Engineering or the more European style of the Parker –Hale. Bipods are almost indispensable. Sure, the Marines don’t use them, they use their butt-packs as a rifle rest. That is fine, but the utility of a well-made bipod is not an arguable item.About 6 weeks ago Mr. Lou Schwiebert contacted me through Jacob Gottfredson. Mr. Gottfredson is a writer for Precision Shooting, and Tactical Shooter Magazines. I have seen his articles in the flagship publication of Safari Club International. Jacob is a former Green Beret, and has over thirty years of competitive shooting under his belt. He is an engineer by trade, and an all around likeable guy. He has certainly answered some of my most difficult questions about shooting, and if he doesn’t go over my head (which is often the case) I learn something from him during every conversation we have. Anyway, Lou e-mailed and told me he would like to generate a set of ballistic tables for the rifle I am shooting now. Jacob had used a set during our recent Sniper Challenge, and he loved them. I agreed quickly, and became excited about a product that would simplify my shooting kit. If I could get away without carrying a calculator, I would be happy.

Getting these cards wasn’t quit as easy as waiting at the mailbox for them to arrive. Mr. Schwiebert required some pretty specific information from me.He needed the bullet manufacturer and velocity of the projectile, sight height above the bore (not a guess, but specifically, using calipers and a simple formula). He needed the temperature, humidity, and elevation (above sea level). He asked me more questions than I thought were necessary, but I am not the expert here, he is, and I gladly complied.Not too much longer, my cards arrived in the mail.

A side note is probably in order. I, along with many others, have used ballistic programs on my home computer. These are simple calculations done with generalities in mind. They are useful, and I have found them to be quite accurate. The problem is they are general. Wonderful for getting on paper at longer distances, but certainly needing some fine-tuning to get it exact. These programs are accurate to about 3 M.O.A. to about 700 meters. Good results for $29.95. Live fire is a necessity, however.When Lou’s cards arrived, I noticed the professional look they had. They were personalized for my cartridge of choice, had my name on them and a brief overview of their intended use.

The backs of the three-card set had the information on temperature, barometric pressure, elevation, humidity, sight height, and velocity that I had provided! My first thought was, "these were not just punched out of a computer for general accuracy" these were specific to my cartridge.The cards come in a set of three. Each reflects different temperature conditions in order to have more accurate data. This data can be cross-referenced for different altitudes to compensate for that eventuality as well.My cards are the version that has data to 1000 meters. They contain tables to compensate for uphill/downhill shooting, wind and moving targets.

The entire package is on 3x5-laminated cards that are easily carried. The lamination makes them waterproof, and they do not add any extra bulk to your field pack.I took them to the range for some testing, and found them to be within one M.O.A. to 1000 meters. I was excited. The only problem I could see was that the cards were in the language of "clicks" rather than the language of "minute of angle" that I was used to. In my mind, no problem. I would just make a mental calculation and go on down the road.I relayed my results to Mr. Schwiebert, and told him how happy I was with the cards. He had asked for a report, either negative or positive, I thought my report to him was wonderful. I did love the product. He took it a different way. He was not satisfied with the "within one minute" thing. Unbeknownst to me, he went back to the drawing board and sent me out a new set. He said there was en error in the math, and that this would fix the problem.

WHAT PROBLEM was this man talking about? I was completely satisfied.

I began to get the idea that Lou was a perfectionist. A quick e-mail to Jacob Gottfredson confirmed this. He said that Lou was, in fact, very concerned about getting it exactly right. Well, I can understand that, but I did not see how it could get much better. Lou seemed to so intent on my cards being easy for me that he thought it would be even better if the language was in minute of angle since that was what I am used to. Low and behold the new cards were in M.O.A.I pulled out my logbook, and started to do some comparisons to what my adjustments were in different conditions. Lou is within two-tenths M.O.A. this equates to 2 inches at 1000METERS. On my best day, with perfect conditions, the moon and sun in the right orbit, peace on earth, no bills to pay, and a Republican in the White House could I ever be good enough to shoot to that kind of accuracy.

My data book has numbers that cover many shooting sessions; I average them for the "hard" data that I use. Lou’s cards are right on the money. Accuracy beyond his data is not possible for most people. Certainly not me.Lou states on his cards that these tables are to be tested against live fire data. He is correct, never should a rifleman use someone else’s numbers to make a shot. We train snipers all the time, and we constantly harp that each shooter is an individual, never use someone else’s zero, never assume your rifle will be zeroed with another shooter operating it, get your own data book, the data is individualized. This is good advice when we say it. It is based on sound principals of training, and it a necessary exercise for all students. When Lou says it, however, I think he may be showing off a bit. His cards are that good.Schwiebert Precision offers these cards in configurations that will suit most needs. They are offered to 500 yards and 1000 yards. They can be in clicks or M.O.A., they come in a three-card set, laminated, and are either individualized or available for general use with a factory match load. They contain data most often used under field conditions and they are good.I guess next time a shooter tells me of some great shot he or she made and I assume that it is a tall tale, I will ask if they were using Lou’s cards. If they are, it may not be a "story" after all.Special Forces at Fort Bragg has placed an order with Lou as well, so his precision is being recognized. I feel comfortable with these cards, and I am sure anyone who uses them will feel the same way.

 


Lou began his Law Enforcement career in 1970. He has been a Detective, a Deputy, and a Private Investigator. He was a SWAT sniper trained by the Marines at Camp Pendleton, and the FBI at Quantico.He was a firearms consultant and instructor for The California Specialized Training Institute. He retired from Law Enforcement in September of 1998.Ballisticard SystemsSchwiebert PrecisionP.O. Box 74Atascadero, CA 93423

www.ballisticards.com

800-378-2174