Celebrity Shooter February 2011
This months Celebrity Shooter is ROBERT MEIJER
A multi-talented shooter from the Netherlands.
I discovered Robert's website BfX, while searching for ballistic formulas I could use in Excel. After looking at his website and downloading his incredible BfX ballistic functions for Excel, I realised he was a shooter with an extraordinary passion for ballistics. Robert shoots in a number of disciplines and has competed in F-Class events. He also competes in ISSF 300m prone, 300-400-500m big bore prone, 100-300m military service rifle and 50-100m small bore. He trains at an indoor 50m range which is only 100m away from his home.
Robert has a PhD in physics and has worked on particle accelerators as a theoretical physicist, so creating ballistic functions for Excel probably didn't present him with too many problems. Does a thorough knowledge of ballistics make for a better shooter? Lets put this question and nine others to our Celebrity Shooter, Robert Meijer...
Q1. The Dutch were the first Europeans to discover the continent of Australia and in some ways I feel as though I am the first Australian internet explorer to discover your incredible website. How did your interest in shooting and ballistics come about?
I started shooting and experimenting with all kinds of Stone Age weapons as bows, spears, bolas when I was a young kid. Television and Tarzan comic books were a great source of inspiration. Later I got air rifles. At 18, in 1977, I received the SR52 programmable Texas Instruments pocket calculator for finishing high school and going to university to study physics. That was the first moment I was thinking of ballistic programs and during the holiday I spent many hours in the library in the town of Zwolle (then 100,000 inhabitants) to see if there was anything about bullet trajectories. There wasn’t. What a difference now, internet, online bookstores and people also interested in ballistics. At university I won several matches with the bow. I stopped shooting at 20 due to a lack of nearby facilities. I got a PhD in nuclear physics, worked at particle accelerators, skipped over to computer science and telecommunications and became professor in that field. In 2003, at 44 I bought a home 100m from a place where an indoor shooting facility would be build. I joined the club. I am now the president of the foundation that owns the range – it is certainly not a job to be jealous of, but things are going well.
Q2. How popular is long range shooting in the Netherlands?
Practically there is only one place in the Netherlands where you can shoot beyond 300m. The place is called “The Harskamp” and is a huge and beautiful area with a lot of shooting ranges.
Fig 1. The India range at the Harskamp military shooting facility. The first row of targets is at 100m.
Due to a technical legal issue related to ricochets, civilians are not allowed to shoot there anymore. However, I was a regular user when it was open and met the other long range shooters. There a group of, say 100 shooters that is engaged in long range shooting, from a total of 50,000 shooters in the Netherlands. Ten to twenty of them shoot abroad. However, here in Europe, another type of long range shooting, a rather regulated sport, is the 300m “standard rifle” according to ISSF rules. In the Netherlands about 200 people are engaged with that sport. We have some Dutch variations on that, e.g. the 300, 400, and 500m match, held once a year.
Q3. What calibre rifles do you use for F-Class and big bore prone events and are these events conducted under ICFRA rules?
We follow the ICFRA rules. We have F-TR and F-O. Hence, in F-TR we use the calibers .223 and .308, bipods and rear bags. F-Open allows any calibers till 8mm – the legal limit. We even put the targets at 300, 500 and 600 yards – no metric system, here. F-class is a kind of wild cat match in the Netherlands. Our association, KNSA, does not support F-class matches. In 2008 I won the first prize, in 2009 I became third in F-TR.
Fig 2. Robert Meijer at the yellow post shooting F/TR at 600 yards in 2008. Picture taken at the Golf range of the Harskamp.
Q4. The BfX ballistic functions you have written and made available on your website represent considerable effort and research. How did your interest in ballistics transform and evolve into such a comprehensive work and website?
A few years ago I endorsed also in shooting “field target” with a 16 foot-pound 4,5 mm air rifle. The match involves all kinds of distances between 7 and 50m. It is extremely important that you have calibrated your telescopic sight and that you know the curved trajectory of the bullet in detail. To do so I started using Excel to analyze my measurements. Excel is a great tool for that, and the desire to have an integrated ballistics function in that grew.
Fig 3. Robert shooting a field/target match with an air rifle
Likewise, to calculate your sight settings for the scarce long distance events, you need your own tables. At a certain moment I decided that I would pick up what I stopped as a high school kid and started to look for ballistic theories. As a physicist I was not satisfied with formulas derived by somebody else, I needed the complete derivations. It took not long to find the book of Pejsa, saw the formula´s that I could have entered in my SR52 Texas instruments calculator of 30 plus years ago, and started to follow his derivations. As can be expected from a professor in computer science I can program rather well. However, time, some Excel issues and cross checking kept me from finishing it and it took more than two years before I dared to put the results online.
Q5. Does a thorough knowledge of ballistics make for a better long range target shooter?
Yes it does, and it saves money. It shines some light in the otherwise invisible world between muzzle and target; it associates an impact with the properties of sights. When I prepare for a match I look up the weather expectations to see how much cross wind to expect and how that affects impact. At the range I check the conditions and have an expectation for what the wind does. One of the latest spreadsheet I have published (WhatDoIShootToday.xlsx) contains a general purpose multi- distance match simulator, ideal for visualizing the effects of wind and to play with other aspects of ballistics. I have demystified, at least for myself, stories of the effects of special winds envisioned at Harskamp as BfX is able to calculate the effects of non-constant winds along the flight path. BfX saves money too as one becomes rather rational in evaluating the stories told by other shooters that attribute certain outstanding capabilities to new and rare calibers.
Q6. You make reference to Pejsa and in part Litz on your website for providing the material your BfX functions are based on. Do you agree with Litz's championing of the G7 drag function over the G1 for long range projectile application? Do the European manufacturers of projectiles provide both G1 and G7 data on their boxes of projectiles?
If Litz says use G7, use it! I certainly trust the measurements of Litz more than my own calculations. I know that any ballistic theory contains approximations. On the other hand, I have a spreadsheet called `Getting Started` that investigates the effects of various drag functions. It compares the point of impact of G1, G7 and Pejsa´s drag function, GP:
Fig 4. Part of the GettingStarted spreadsheet that can be downloaded from www.bfxyz.nl that, amongst others, shows the effects of various drag functions
GP and G7 give close results because the shape of GP and G7 for bullet velocities between 1000m/s and 500 m/s is more or less the same – Pejsa certainly knew what he was doing. The advantage of GP is that you can use the widely published G1 drag coefficient. According to the table G1 suffices for many purposes. I would expect that the accuracy of the G7 function is only noticeable at extreme long distances, say beyond 1000m for a .308.
But what is a G1 coefficient? How comparable are the values that bullet manufacturers publish? Here the Brian Litz´s book is very valuable, by presenting G1 and G7 coefficients that are determined on a consistent way. I always use the values of that book. Lately Lapua published for each of its bullets an empirical drag function on basis of radar measurements of the speed and position of the bullet. It is tempting but time consuming to put these in BfX. On the other hand, somebody could produce a spreadsheet in which BfX calculations with G1, GP, G7 are compared with ones based on the radar measurement. Hmm, I am very tempted again to ….
European bullet smiths do provide G1 coefficients and RA4 (for small bore). However, reloaders mostly use Lapua, Hornady and Sierra bullets.
Q7. What are your favourite shooting events and guns and what are you most competitive in?
I like the service rifle matches most. It is childish; the reason is that I regularly end up in the top. I rank 5 now in the Netherlands.
Fig 5. Typical service rifle match at 100m. The 10 is about 2cm. Regulary 285 plus points with 30 shots are achieved. Picture taken at the Westerheide III range at Harskamp
I have an extremely accurate JP15 M16A2 service rifle (http://www.jprifles.com/1.2.2_JP15.php) – its accuracy is below a half MoA!
Fig 6. Roberts JP M16A2 service rifle
In principle I like precision shooting and value rifles most that do it well. My Dutch made ISSF 300m standard rifle in .308 won the 2008 F-class 300, 500, 600 yard match (147-23V). This rather robust rifle (see picture near the end’, which I usually shoot with iron sights, is certainly below .3 MoA. On his dying bed, I bought from my friend his Keppeler standard rifle, in the caliber 6mm NormaBr. A few months before that, already extremely ill with cancer, my friend complained that he couldn´t shoot it anymore. We blamed it on his illness as quick tests I conducted showed no problem.
Fig 7. My friend in April 2010, one of the best target shooters in the Netherlands, in his last 100m Standard rifle match, exactly half a year before cancer became fatal. The rifle is a Keppeler 6mm NormaBR in an Anschutz stock.
Yet there was something wrong, my friend, one of the best shooters around, still won the Dutch championship small bore in the kneeling position and countless M1 matches. After half a year of competing with this rifle and noticing statistically significant unsatisfactory results, I brought the rifle to the gunsmith that produced my Dutch .308 – it is not accurate enough! In computer terms, the gunsmith is debugging the rifle that was produced by the well known company Keppeler.
Fig 8. Robert KK300 small bore rifle
Furthermore I have a Walther KK300 small bore rifle. I like it because it is accurate, I like it because it teaches you how to shoot, I like it because matches take 60 shots and are very competitive, but I do not like its small bullets – I like to control fire power. With my big and small bore match rifles a combination of a bad luck cascade and most probably a wicked combination of small things prevent me from shooting at the Dutch top!
Q8. Australian rifle clubs are looking to change over from manual to electronic target systems for 300-1000 yard events. It seems that most European events are scored electronically and I am hoping you can offer some insights into the pros and cons of these systems. Electronic target systems free club members from the burden of pulling and marking targets but how are things like a target not detecting a bullet passing through it picked up? What methods are used on ranges with electronic target systems to detect target errors from shooter errors? What systems are in use in the Netherlands?A8.
Mostly we shoot paper targets. Occasionally I have shot at electronic ones. The army uses Sius Ascor electronic targets and a new 300m civil range that opens in the summer of 2011, also. I think they are reliable if kept well; however, there is one issue I really would like to sort out. If one hits, according to the electronics, the center of the electronic target, does that also mean that one hits the black piece of material at 300m in the center? Does the electronics shifts the electronic target around in order to save the target a bit?
Fig 9. The Sius Ascor electronic shot registration system at the 2008 Dutch 300m national championship. Picture taken at the Westerheide II range at Harskamp
Fig 10. Robert Meijer in front of the 300m target in 2008. The 10 has a diameter of about 10cm.
Fig 12. The 300m shooting range at Harskamp, the Netherlands.
Q9. What has been your most memorable sport shooting moment so far?
Well the 2008 F-class match that I won.
Fig 13. The Dutch made .308 rifle used for f-class and big bore prone iron sight matches.
Q10. What does the future hold for target shooting in the Netherlands and what, if any, changes would you like to see in the sport?
Our biggest issue is that Harskamp is closed for civilian shooters. The reason for that is that civilian shooters do not have calculations dubbed `template unsafe area (TUA)`. This template is required for shooting at Harskamp. It is a combination of the maximum range a bullet can fly and how it can ricochet. As civilians reload shooting all kinds of rifles, standard TUA´s do not exist for them. I offered to create a website that calculates the TUA. Although BfX does not calculate the bullets maximum range, I have developed software that do that accurately. And if you want to know the distance with a better than 10% accuracy, there is an easy formula
Max distance [m] = 224,32*v0^0,512*bc^0,747, v0 is the muzzle velocity [m/s] and bc is the G1 ballistic coefficient.
However, nobody was able to specify the conditions and assumptions that go in the calculation of ricochet distance! However, I am convinced that we will clear this issue with the military authorities.
For the rest I expect a continuous growth in shooting sports, especially ones that are television inspired. As people see all kinds of gun fights and sniping, as people experience that on the game consoles, they want to do it for real! IPSC and Dynamic Service Rifle are becoming popular. And, yes, F-class will grow as it resembles ´sniping´.
Thanks for participating as the Celebrity Shooter and answering the 10 questions. The shooting community owes you a debt of gratitude for your BfX website and the ballistic functions you have made available. Its always a pleasure putting together a Celebrity Shooter article, as our sport has a great many talented people who are always willing to pass on what they have learned.
Read the article on safclass.com.au about using the BfX functions: BfX Functions
Visit Robert Meijer's website BfX and download his brilliant Excel spreadsheet functions.
Article for safclass.com.au - Ian Pavy - 7-1-2011