When I got started in shooting long range your D.O.P.E. book was your bible. We meticulously recorded as much information as we could. We used the information to try and figure out what our bullet was going to do down range. We often visited the JBM website to enter information and consult its predictions. This was a great resource for many of us. At this time hand held ballistic computers were still expensive and bulky, but it would not remain that way for long.
My first ballistic calculator was a program (now called “app”) I downloaded to my phone. The app allowed me to keep multiple profiles for different loads and rifles. I could also use the bullet information from its library and pull weather information from the nearest station, as long as I had wifi or cell reception. The combination of a ballistic calculator and portable device made it a lot easier to generate reliable data when shooting in unfamiliar conditions. They also greatly aided in making wind calls and helped me increase my first round hit probability.
Portable devices and ballistic apps were great but many of us would still run into issues. We would often be shooting or hunting in areas without any cell reception. This made it common to use two devices, the first being the ballistic calculator loaded on a portable device and the second was a portable weather station like a Kestrel. We would use the portable weather station to populate the condition fields in our ballistic program (down the road some did it automatically via Bluetooth). This was great and now we were not dependent on a cellular or wifi connection.
That demand was answered and eventually you could purchase a Kestrel Personal Weather Station with Applied Ballistics or Horus ATRAG. I personally own a Kestrel 4500 with Horus ATRAG ballistic software and think it’s a good piece of equipment to have, but they are not cheap. The cost of a Kestrel combined with ballistic software is going to run you $500.00-$700.00+ depending on which specific model you choose.
GeoBallistics are the makers of the BallisticARC app for your iPhone, and soon to be available for Android devices. The BallisticARC app is powered by JBM Ballistics and includes many of the features we liked in other programs, like the bullet library, ability to “sync” conditions with nearby weather stations and keep multiple profiles for different rifles and cartridges. The guys at GeoBallistics then added a GPS based ranging feature that allows you to designate your shooting position and targets. The program will give you the distance to the target and integrate your rifles ballistic information for that distance. The GPS ranging feature is very useful for ranging multiple targets and having the information right in front of you. The program also integrates visual cues for energy on target and supersonic flight.
The BallisticARC compatible weather meter is made by WeatherFlow. WeatherFlow is a US company with a long history in the weather community building large-scale weather stations for multiple government entities as well as specializing in wind forecasting for customers such NOAA. They are, however relatively new to the consumer products space, but they have been well received by industries such as wind sports and HVAC for their smart designs and value pricing. GeoBallistics saw the potential for the WeatherFlow products in the shooting industry, and they are in the process of introducing the products in conjunction with their new app, BallisticsARC. The flagship product is the WeatherFlow weather meter that measures temperature, pressure (station pressure), relative humidity, wind speed, and wind direction. Because the device detects station pressure, altitude is irrelevant to the shooting equation. In addition to these measured variables, GeoBallistics programmed BallisticsARC to also derive density altitude (from temp, pressure, and humidity), dew point (from temp and humidity), and apparent temp (wind chill or heat index) to allow long range shooters, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts to get the most out of these smart devices without the need for cell reception or a wifi connection.
GeoBallistics and WeatherFlow have entered the market as clear partners in providing the industry with a new solution for ballistic calculations, target ranging, and atmospheric data. This relationship appears to be similar to that of Kestrel and Applied Ballistics, but we won’t see that type of partnership here. While they entered the scene with mutual exclusivity, the guys at GeoBallistics have informed me that both WeatherFlow and GeoBallistics will expand compatibility very soon. It won’t be long before we see more apps that will integrate with the WeatherFlow hardware, and we will also see new atmospheric hardware options available for those who prefer to stick with BallisticsARC.
The guys at GeoBallistics are members of the shooting community and they want to provide options to shooters rather than push them into the confines of proprietary compatibility. I was reassured that this is a purely mutual decision and both companies will continue to promote the other as their premier partner offering free compatibility and ongoing support. This partnership brings the capability of a weather station and intergraded ballistic program together, but at a much lower cost than a Kestrel. I am excited to spread the word to shooters who may be looking for this capability without spending a substantial amount of money. You can purchase the WeatherFlow weather station, download the BallisticARC app for free then enable the GPS ranging feature with an in app purchase of $15. For a total of $100 you can have the complete GeoBallistics: BallisticARC app and WeatherFlow personal weather station.