Dealing With Data
Date: Jul 01 2009
All handloaders should be keeping some type of record system. Initially I used spiral notebooks, and the pages were tabbed to indicate the cartridge. This worked for a few years, but there were soon more notebooks than I had in high school. As I began to acquire multiple rifles and handguns, this system became cumbersome.
I graduated to three-ring binders with tabs for each firearm: handguns in one binder and rifles in another. This worked well for awhile too. It was when I realized there were 11 binders that I began to understand why I could never find the data I needed. I also had rifles that shot pistol cartridges, so there was data for the same cartridge in multiple binders. That bothered me about as much as when my salad dressing mixes in with my mashed potatoes.
This was also about the time I started tinkering with computer ballistic programs, designing my own cartridges and writing about guns and such. I’d accumulated a lot of handloading data for a wide selection of cartridges in a variety of firearms, but it had become as hard to find as a box of primers in this post-Obama climate. I decided to get with the times and computerize all my handloading data.
The first thing I did was set up a load development sheet that could be printed and used when working up handloads. I placed a stack of these forms at both loading benches, and as I worked up a load, I made notes on these sheets. When finished I just entered all the data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, as opposed to saving the form.
The spreadsheet was nothing fancy and has evolved over the years. It now contains imbedded formulas to calculate average velocities and average group size. Both speed up the process of data entry. The spreadsheet can also be used to record the performance of factory ammunition – I just leave some cells blank – and it can be printed on 81⁄2x11-inch paper.
Because I like to keep track of how many rounds are fired in each firearm I own or test, another spreadsheet was set up. After each range session or hunt, I
just enter the shots fired, and the spreadsheet automatically keeps a running total. As each “Handload Data Form” or “Shot Log” fills up, new rows are inserted and I keep inputting data.