Competition marksmen are constantly testing and tuning. This volume of shooting yields a tremendous amount of data. All of this data is important and needs to be organized. The goal of this writing is to share an organizational style that will act as a template for you.
This Blog was developed in regards to an email asking; how do I organize the shooting data? I like to think of my organizational system as data insurance. Stated simply, insurance is a way to manage risk. Most of the time, we think of insurance as managing the financial risk of situations. For example; when we have car insurance we pay the deductible in a fender bender. Without insurance, one would be responsible for the total cost of repair.
However, not all insurance is financial. Family pictures backed up on an SD card is an example of data insurance. Having an organizational system for information regarding our firearms is like the SD card for family pictures. This system is our data insurance.
Although this may not be the most glamorous topic, it is important. Taking the time to design a system that provides full coverage could save hours in recreating forgotten data, lead to fewer components being used, extend the life of a barrel, and make the transition easier when passing the firearm on to a new owner. Most importantly, this system acts like a glue that holds all the pieces of the precision puzzle together. Just like financial insurance, the benefit of data insurance will not be noticed until it is used.
This concept is especially true for hunting weapons. In order to be competitive, competition rifles need to be constantly being practiced with and tuned. Those repetitions stick the information in the gray matter. However, some hunting firearms may only strike a primer a handful of times in a season. Furthermore, it may be several years before that ammunition is reloaded. It is important to have a sustainable program that will act as a reliable resource in the future.
I would like to share my insurance system with you. For over a decade, this living map has been fine tuned to its present form. Admittedly, this approach may be tethering on the obsessive edge of notetaking. However, I have cashed in on this insurance claim countless times.
Experience Tip: The amount of data insurance needed is directly related to the Precision Ladder. In other words, as one progresses up the ladder, the more detailed the notes should be.
All the data insurance is stored in binders. These binders are labeled by use; Competition, Hunting, Pistols, etc. At the front of every binder is an inventory list. Complete firearms, custom actions, barrels, and optics are the main items inventoried. Any serial number is logged next to the item.
Behind the inventory is a copy of my wishes if I should happen to pass away. Most of the equipment is to be sold. However, I currently possess firearms that have been in our family for several generations. Those are not for sale. Even though we have discussed this, I can not expect my family to remember which firearms they are.
Information for each firearm is placed inside the appropriate binder and separated by dividers. Included in each divider is the cover sheet, load development targets, seating depth worksheets, drop charts and other important information. This conglomerate of information composes the data insurance for a particular firearm.
Click on the GREEN icons to go to the Blog: Reproducibles. Here you can find the specific file you want to download to your device. Feel free to use as is or make adjustments to fit your style.
Click on the BLUE icons to get more in-depth information on certain topics.
For the remainder of the Blog I will use my rifle sheets as examples. These can easily convert to other types of firearms.
I will use the Factory information worksheet if the rifle is a level 1; factory rifle that shoots factory ammunition. (See Precision Ladder if that terminology is new to you) This page lists all pertinent information regarding the firearm and factory ammunition. Not a whole lot of explanation is needed, as the data is straight forward.
Experience Tip: Knowingthe twist rate of the barrel will expedite the bullet selection process. To learn more about this process see the blog titled Tuning: Part 3 = Store Bought Ammo
The Handload information sheet will be used for rifles on levels 2, 3, and 4. Much of the data is repetitive from the cartridge box information (explained below). However, there are some additional blanks that may be useful at some point.
Handloaded ammunition is placed in cartridge boxes. Each box has the Cartridge Box information sheet taped to the inside lid.
Experience Tip: The pre-made stickers found in many bullet boxes have the right idea. Yet, many of them leave out critical information.
Key to Cartridge Box Handload Info
Rifle: List the Brand and model of action
C Color: (Case Color) Coloring the cases is an easy way of keeping “batches” of cases separated. I like to color the top of the extractor groove instead of the case head. The color lasts longer and does not get on the bolt face.
Barrel: Manufacturer and chamber
C.Neck: (Chamber Neck) dimension
Powder: Manufacturer and Type of powder used
Grains: Powder Charge
Bullet: Manufacturer, grain, and ogive of bullet used.
Primer: Manufacturer and type of primer used
Depth: Seating depth of bullet. Just touching point = .000. (+) = jam (-) = jump
B-O: (Base to Ogive measurement) Measured with a bullet comparator and caliper
COL: (Cartridge Overall Length) Measured with a caliper.
The Blog Reloading: Measuring Equipment will give more detailed information on measuring equipment used while reloading.
Bushing: The number printed on the bushing used.
B Color: (Bushing Color) Not all bushings resize to their printed dimensions. Using freshly annealed brass; resize the case using the desired bushing. Then, using a micrometer, measure and record the actual dimension of the Resized Case Neck (RCN). Multiple bushings of the same printed diameter are given a color. A “cheat sheet” correlating the bushing color to the actual dimension is then placed inside the bushing box.
OBM: (Over Bullet Measurement) Using a micrometer, measure the case neck when the widest part of the bullet is inside the resized portion of the neck (this may not be the actual seating depth)
Clear: (Total Clearance). Subtract the OBM measurement from the C.Neck dimension. .0015 to .003 is the ideal range.
Ten: (Neck Tension) Subtract the RCN from the OBM. The rifle will tell you what neck tension it likes.
The mission of Connect The Dots is to share proven methods that work. This system works for me. However, that does not mean it will work for you to the same degree. Feel free to copy this entire system or, bet yet, maybe there are one or two items that can make your system a little bit better. Until next time, enjoy the experience.