An Easier Speed Read

By Jeff John

Compiling chronograph data just got a whole lot easier with the new Bluetooth-equipped Competition Electronics Pro Chrono. My previous Pro Chrono has done yeoman duty for more than 10 years and, while it still works, the stray shotgun pellet and occasional errant shot has taken its toll and it has gradually become “quirky.” Having never acquired the printer, the remote string change was becoming a burden at the public range. It was difficult to read the screen at 10 feet unless light conditions were perfect.

The new Pro Chrono solves a wide variety of these problems, since it works with an Android or Apple smart phone (4S or newer) or an iPad4 (or newer). I never knew I needed an iPad until I got one, although it has been more toy than tool—at least until the Pro Chrono arrived. Since I’m old, the Bluetooth connectivity aspect gave me pause (there aren’t any 12-year olds within hail). To my great relief it connected without a hitch—almost as if I knew what I was doing! Although I never tested the range, the Bluetooth connects up to 50 feet away—about 40 feet farther away than I ever have my chronograph.

The basic unit hasn’t changed much. It still offers 9 strings each holding up to 99 shots each, and the new one seems less light-sensitive than my old one. Sunlight is pretty bright here, but I haven’t needed to tape a target over the screens to help the chrono “see” the bullet better like I used to do.

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The Competition Electronics Pro Chrono when used with an iPad4 displays
the velocity of the shot as it is recorded. It is just one of many
well-thought-out features. Your data is instantly accessible at the
range and is also saved for later retrieval
.

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The data is provided in a conventional list which includes standard deviation,
extreme spread, temperature and barometric pressure along with the power factors
of the average, high and low—very useful for competitors whose ammunition must
meet minimum levels of performance.

The chronograph runs on one 9-volt battery and the battery compartment has room for a spare (if you don’t turn off the Chrono before storage the battery will run down). The Bluetooth unit runs on three AAA’s and has its own on/off switch. My shooting kit now has spare 9-volt, CR 2032, AA and AAA batteries on hand. I guess batteries and guns are here to stay, since electronic ear muffs, Crimson Trace LaserGrips, rangefinders and illuminated scope reticles all run on one flavor or the other.

How did we ever get along without all these battery-powered gizmos? Well, in their defense, I do remember overhearing a couple of guys shooting .30-06 reloads at the range back in the 1970’s. After a shot, one guy said, “That sounds like 2,800 feet per second.” Unscientific? You bet. I think I’ll put up with the extra expense for those battery benefits.

The connectivity software is free, and Competition Electronics has such for smart phones, too, but the pads have a larger keyboard. Since you type in the caliber and load you are chronographing, it’s best to name the load well enough to easily match it up with the data later (especially if you’re working up handloads) and the larger iPad keyboard is easier to use. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll forget things if you don’t do something in the notes to match up the ammo with the right data.

The Pro Chrono sets up easily on a camera tripod and has a flat bottom in case only a table or fence post is available. Then it is simply a matter of shooting. The velocity is displayed in large high-contrast numbers easily seen at a glance. I find I can maintain my concentration better while shooting groups over this chronograph than with others.

The bigger benefit comes when you assess the data. You can choose to display the data as a list showing individual velocities (and power factor for competitors), and all the data as averages including number of shots, velocity, standard deviation, extreme spread, temperature and barometric pressure and average, high and low power factors. The graph shows comparative velocity of all the loads and is useful in assessing how your load performed shot-to-shot rather than just assessing standard deviation and extreme spread numbers—which are also provided.

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The graph feature allows you to see high, low and average shots as they occur in
the string. It provides a clear map of how loads performed in this Cimarron 1866
Yellowboy .44 Special.

Pro Chrono Chronograph
Competition Electronics
3469 Precision Dr.
Rockford, IL 61109
(815) 874-8001
www.competitionelectronics.com
Pro Chrono: $119.99, Bluetooth: $69.95

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