I have played with computer generated ballistics programs for over 13 years and seen many good programs. While no computer generated program with be exactly on the money in the real world, many are close enough for the intents and purposes of exterior ballistics study and to get a shooter into the ballpark and on paper, or metal.
The ability to run a program, and change variables such as zero ranges, projectile Ballistic Co-efficients, wind speed, STD atmospheric conditions, and elevation changes can be of great assistance. Some of the P-C based versions even allow for calculations for recoil.
It can also be a GREAT tool for learning comparitive ballistics between different bullets and cartridges at the long range. Remaining energy, projectile momentum, bullet drop, time of flight, can all be charted and studied.
The ExBal ballistics program from Gerald Perry of Perry Systems is without a doubt the best program geared to the Tactical or UKD shooter. I'm gonna "name drop" here on some of the users of this program: Lou Schweibert, Jacob Bynum, and Jacob Gottfredson, are but a few on the list.
After receiving a copy from Gerald, I began to tinker with it, and compare it to many other programs that I have en'PC.
Preliminary data entry of the usual things such as Description, Projectile weight, Ballistic Co-efficients , Muzzle velocity, Sight Height, Wind Speed, altitude, Temperature, Air Pressure, Relative Humidity, and Zero Range, are done in the usual "plug in the values" method by tabbing from each entry point.
The Maximum target distance using ExBal is set for 2000 Yards (or Meters), more than 90% of us are incapable of shooting accurately to such an extent but "It is In There" should you need it.
The next step is to click on the "Calculate" button, and a data table is generated for your perusal. It can be saved to floppy disk, hard drive, printed, or simply deleted.
The "Options" button on the toolbar allows for even more creativity, but more on this in just a moment.
The initial version was pretty darn good in a generic sense and I made a few minor suggestions that Gerald has incorperated that have made Exbal into what I consider to be a SUPERLATIVE revision or upgrade.
He is on the right flight path by listening to the end users and modifying even for a small niche like we fill in the shooting community. In fact I will go as far as to give it a Tango-India-Tango-Sierra rating, this lowly scribe's highest accolade for a product. The second product in over a decade of writing to earn this praise.
These were seemingly simple things like allowing the user to select either 1/4 MOA, 1/2MOA, or full MOA values for elevation adjustments, and the same adjustments for wind "clicks".
I am currently using a Remington 700 Police .300 Win. Mag. /Badger Ordnance/Leupold 3.5-10x40mm M-3 Tactical scope equipped rifle shooting a handmade "clone" of the NSWC DODIC A-191 load, and this program pleases me to no end. e.g.- The scope has 1 MOA elevation and 1/2 MOA windage, and ExBal saves me the trial by ordeal of having to "do math" conversions.
The moving target speeds were bumped from a fixed 1 mph to a variable parameter of 1-25 MPH, a Big- Big smile for shooting the "movers". And the end user has the option to select EITHER to choose MOA or Mil Dot leads for shooting at moving targets.
Wind direction is around the clock, and not a fixed 90 degrees to compute for head, tailwinds or crosswinds. The printout also designates wind direction via an icon at the top right of the page for the handful of printed page test experimenters out thar in the field.
And Oh yes, it will be "upgradeable" over the internet with a simple download.