The Best Apps for Shooting Enthusiasts

Your smartphone can do more than play Among Us and control your Roomba—it can make you a better shooter.

by
posted on September 28, 2021
phone App

There’s more computing power in your smartphone or tablet than Apollo 11 had on board when it landed on the moon. Today’s handheld devices perform complex calculations weighted for environmental variables—in real time—and provide solutions at lightning speed. The technology is staggering, but not all of today’s firearm apps are about ballistics.

Precise firing-solution apps dominate headlines, but many of today’s gun-related releases improve practice, add convenience or keep you up to date at the firing line and work. As with all things in the sport, safety comes first. 

Tired of missing that important phone call when at the range, or prefer music instead of listening to the amplified curmudgeon conversation five lanes over? Walker’s Game Ear uses a free app for its Bluetooth-enabled models that solves the riddles. With four listening modes, auto shut-off settings and more, it runs the company’s latest models—including the Silencer BT 2.0—seamlessly.

The company released Walker’s Link 2.0 in June, an updated app that replaces the company’s Connect and Link 1.0. The earlier releases were, “[V]ery popular, but there were some back-end issues that were brought to our attention and we actively fixed for our users,” said Tiffani Hogan, Walker’s Game Ear marketing director. “Built from the ground up with improved connectivity and updated UI. Main functions and features are the same. Controls: volume, listening modes, auto-shutoff, etc.”

Axil Hearing Performance launched a Bluetooth line in 2019. “Our Bluetooth options, such as the GS Extreme ear buds, have been extremely popular since their release,” explained Collin Russell, Axil media relations brand strategist. “The added Bluetooth capability allows people to stay connected to their phone if needed or allows them to listen to music when they choose.”

Can’t make it to the range? MantisX uses a device that attaches to the Picatinny rail of any handgun or rifle and communicates via Bluetooth to a matching app. With each squeeze of the trigger, detailed information transmits to the app, which then analyzes it and issues a report on performance. Unbiased tips on precisely what needs polishing are available. The system also works with live fire, includes a shot timer and has a variety of skill tests.  

The list of shot timer apps currently available is extensive. It includes the IPSC Shot Timer, Dry Practice Drills—similar to MantisX without the attached device—PractiScore and many others. Look closely at features and reviews before you install.     

More and more trusted companies make resources available in an app. For example, ShootingIllustrated.com has its own to keep you up to date while you’re on the go, but there’s also Hornady’s Reloading Guide as well as the Sierra Bullets Reloading Manual.

Today’s apps shine when stretching the distance with precision. Doping the wind was once the exclusive realm of elite shooters, but enter the Kestrel Link Ballistics app. It doesn’t level the playing field, but there’s no denying the program tips things toward new enthusiasts. With it, information is shared via Bluetooth from a paired Kestrel into a phone or tablet. The information displays in real time and provides firing solutions determined by ambient conditions for your load and distance.

Ballistic: Advanced Edition takes the approach further. It also connects to a Kestrel but, “Within the app we have what we call advanced windage,” stated Shaun Steingold, general manager of Peak Studios, which developed the app. “You can add up to eight different wind variables … You can even introduce an updraft, like over water or side of a canyon.” It’s rare for breezes to be identical across distances of 1,000 meters or more, and subtle shifts can make a big difference. 

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