When one hears the word chronograph, they normally think of a watch. The type discussed in this article measures the speed of a projectile while it is in flight. Once the projectile, in this case, an arrow, passes through the sensors of a chronograph, it calculates the velocity of the arrow.
If you are interested in knowing the velocity of your arrow shots, then purchasing an archery chronograph would be a great investment for you. Not only does it tell you how fast your shot is, it can also calculate the average velocity, standard deviation, and also store the slowest and fastest shots that you make during a string of shots. Here are a few tips on what to look for in the best archery chronograph, and a few archery chronograph reviews to help you begin your shopping.
Quick Comparison: Top 5 Archery Chronographs
|#1: Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph
|#2: Shooting Chrony F-1 Chronograph
|#3: Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Pal
|#4: Ballistic Precision Chronograph
|#5: Shooting Chrony 7000143 Archery Master Chronograph
How to Choose an Archery Chronograph
An archery chronograph can come as basic as you need, or have a lot of fun features to play with. Choosing one is completely based on what you want to use it for, and how much you want to pay for it. There is an archery chronograph that works for any budget, so you should be able to easily find one that will work for you.
What are the Benefits of Archery Chronographs?
You may wonder why it is important to check the velocity of your shots. Well, you want to make sure that your arrow is hitting the target hard enough to take down your target. In order to find out your arrow’s velocity, you will need to shoot it over a chronograph, and then compare it to the necessary velocity at that distance to be effective. It’s difficult to have definitive signs that you have the correct rate of velocity without measuring it.
Besides measuring the velocity of your shots, one big advantage of an archery chronograph is that it can permanently store your shot data. This can be done either by printing the information off on a printer or transferring the information to your iPhone or tablet.
Features of Top Chronographs
Skyscreens are the function of a chronograph that starts and stop the clock. The Skyscreens have light sensors that work together when the skyscreen is pointed up to the sky. When an arrow passes over the chronograph, it can then sense the change in light by the arrow’s shadow and is triggered. The clock is a crystal oscillator with uniform rate vibrations that collects the number of oscillations between the start and stop screens, and then reports the number of oscillations it recorded as the distance the arrow has traveled. The onboard computer calculates the velocity, and the LCD screen will display the number.
To trigger each of the screens, the arrow must pass over an area of sensitivity above the skyscreen. You will see an error message when one screen is triggered, but not the other. The area of sensitivity records height and width, and it can vary in size with each size of an arrow.
Most often, the area of sensitivity is approximately the size and shape of the trapezoid that is formed when the diffusers in the skyscreen are mounted but these can differ from product to product. Specifically, the true area of sensitivity depends on the arrow size, and the lighting available, but it will always be a little less than the area that is created by the diffusers, and the wire stands. Strong sunlight can shine off of something shiny and create issues for the sensors. When you get readings that are hard to get, or they don’t make any sense, make sure to rethink your lighting first, and use diffusers when clouds are moving quickly overhead, or when you have very bright sunlight.
Some chronographs are more sensitive than others to the type of light used. If you know where you will be using the chronograph, make sure you have a product that will work well with that light. Also, make sure you have diffusers if you are using it in direct sunlight, or sun shades to help block the sun and provide consistently shaded light.
Using constant artificial light with your archery chronograph is acceptable. Normal regular incandescent house lights that flicker, like fluorescents, do not work well with archery chronographs. If you mix fluorescents and incandescents, this mix also does not give enough light for the sensors in the skyscreen to register the shadows from the arrow passing overhead. The best way to use your chronograph indoors is to place it right under the light and make sure to use the diffusers.
Your archery chronograph can also record the total number of shots per string, plus the slowest and fastest shots. It can also calculate many statistics including standard deviation, average velocity, and the extreme spread. There are also machines that will display your velocities in either feet or meters per second. The instructions tell you how to make the change.
Many of the chronometers also have apps that can be downloaded so that you can display your results on your iPhone or iPad, and also store information of past shoots. Some of them also have Bluetooth connectivity that can provide shot string velocity data to your iPhone or tablet.
Many of them also come with a threaded insert on the bottom of the housing for tripod mounting.
Another great feature you will see in archery chronographs is an optional printer. This can give you more than just records of your shooting session. Instead of using an LCD display, you will read your velocity from a paper tape. It also comes with a 16-foot cord that can also work as a remote control. This enables you to place your chronograph away from where you are shooting and still control it. The optional
Your chronograph should be able to read the speed of your shots, as well as their velocity maximum deviation (MD), which is the difference between the fastest and slowest shot. This is important in knowing if you have a consistent load. If it is more than 75 fps, your load is not very consistent. You need to have an MD less than 50 fps to have a consistent load.
Another important reading is the velocity standard deviation (SD) that shows the deviation from your average. Say your SD for 10 shots is 10 fps, then you know that every shot you fire should have an average velocity within 10 fps for the average velocity for that load. When you are shooting at long-range, small velocity deviations will negatively affect your point of impact. A good quality chronograph will be able to calculate the MD and SD average velocities for you.
What’s the Best Way to Use Archery Chronographs?
The best way to use the product is in even light. Skyscreens work well will overcast skies so the clouds won’t be causing the sun to appear and disappear. If you are in overcast or shady weather conditions, you will want to remove the diffusers, since you only need them when it is sunny out. Removing them actually allows more light into the chronograph.
If it is a really sunny day, the best thing to do is place the chronograph in the shadow of something, but make sure the sensors on the chronograph have a clear shot of the sky. Sun shields are also available to create a shadow to get the same effect.
Basically, you want to remove the direct sunlight from the chronograph, or even filtered sunlight that comes through the leaves of trees that will also cause error readings. You also do not want to use the chronograph during sunrise or sunset, as the low angle of the sun will cause error readings.
Make sure your skyscreen is clean so it is not picking up dust. Use canned air or Q-tips when cleaning the lenses, and make sure not to scratch them. And, most importantly, make sure your chronograph is level.
Top 5 Archery Chronograph Reviewed
The Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph is capable of measuring velocities in adverse light conditions creating more accurate measurements than your typical chronographs. Light sensors are spaced 18 inches to provide more accuracy, and the sunscreen comes equipped with self-contained LED lights when you need a little extra illumination. It is a compact and collapsible system that can be deployed fast and effortlessly from the included heavy-duty storage case. A high speed 48 MHz processor provides greater accuracy with a circuit design that includes advanced data interface with computer calibrated units. This makes it more accurate than other chronographs on the market, up to +/- .25%, and has measurements from 5 to 9,999 FPS.
The Caldwell G2 is very user-friendly, despite its technological advances, and displays velocity in feet per second, or meters per second, on its wide LCD screen. Through Bluetooth, it can provide shot string velocity data to your iPhone or tablet. It can also download velocity readings through a free app to your phone screen, plus it will record other data that identifies the load and environmental conditions. The app can compute the standard deviation, average velocity, min, max and velocity spread for the shot string, and the data is exported to your email, or stored so it can be referenced another time. It runs on a built-in rechargeable lithium-ION battery, plus it has a 1/4-20 threaded insert on the bottom of the housing for tripod mounting.
- Cost effective product
- Comes with a handy bag
- Has Bluetooth functionality
- Make sure to use in well-lit daylight conditions
- Tripod seems cheap but you need to read the directions and play with it a little to get it to stand up well
- The built-in LED lighting function does not help the lighting issues
#2 Shooting Chrony F-1 Chronograph Review
The Shooting Chrony F1 Chronograph is used to measure a bullet’s speed, or the speed of any other projectile. It is a great way to test the velocity of your weapon and is capable of measuring bullets, shotguns, air-pellets, arrows, and lots more. It has 0.5 percent accuracy, and it can be used with an optional Chrony Ballistic Printer that is sold separately.
The Chrony F1 Chronograph is very portable and works straight out of the box. Diffusers are used to put the sky screens in place, and you can start shooting right away. It is made from very durable 20 gauge steel and runs on a 9-volt alkaline battery that is sold separately. A large LCD readout is also included making the Chrony F1 Chronograph a convenient choice. It also provides numbered shot velocity in the low, average, and high ranges that stays on the display until you shoot again. The Chrony F1 Chronograph comes with an adjustable size, triangular shooting area of 8″ to 14-1/2″ that is made of wire-rods, with the triangle’s top formed by a 2″ wide and 1/8″ thick strip of durable, Hi-density polyethylene plastic. It also comes with a three-year warranty.
- Good investment for the price
- Great performance, accurate and reliable
- Straight forward, and easy to use
- It is possible to get a lot of error readings, you need to make sure you are using it in the correct light to get consistent readings
- May not work well in a covered area
- Screen may be a little too small if you are shooting larger projectiles
#3 Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Pal Review
The Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Pal has a velocity range of 22 – 7000 F.P.S., and it has a temperature range from 33 to 100 degrees. It displays the number of shots, the average velocity, plus the low and high velocities. It runs on a 9-volt battery that is sold separately. The Prochrono Pal Chronograph measures the velocity of whatever is shot within its large shooting area. It includes durable plastic light diffusers and has an optional lighting accessory that is needed for indoor use.
The Prochrono Pal Chronograph accurately measures the velocity of pistols, arrows, rifles, and shotguns, with +/-1 percent of measured velocity or better. It is easy to set up and features a large shooting area. The memory capacity holds 99 shots, and the minimum time in between the shots is 250 mSec and 500 mSec. it has a mounting hole thread of 1/4″ x 20″, and a guide wire size of 3/16″ x 16″. It works well with M100 Series Stands, and it can be used with additional M102 CamLock Receivers for setting multiple stand locations. The Prochrono Pal Chronograph is a must have for any Millennium hang-on tree stand owner.
- Great product for a great price
- It’s a basic unit but does everything you need
- Great inexpensive chronograph, better than some well-known brands
- Make sure you are using a lot of light when using this chronograph or you will get error readings
- Does not have a port hookup to a PC or printer
- Make sure to get the light kit so that it works well
#4 Ballistic Precision Chronograph Review
The Ballistic Precision Chronograph gives you precise velocity measurements with a variety of shooting conditions. It can give you better accuracy readings than other chronographs on the market at +/-.25%. It is very user-friendly, despite its technological advances, and it can display velocity in feet per second, or meters per second on its wide LCD screen. It provides the shot string velocity data with its included 15′ foot audio jack cable to your iPhone or iPad, and a free app is available for download that will display velocities of your shots onto your phone screen. It can also record other data including load and environmental conditions, and it can export it to email, or store if to be referenced later.
The Ballistic Precision Chronograph measures from 5 to 9,999 FPS, and it has a 1/4-20 threaded insert on the bottom of the housing for tripod mounting. It also comes with extra wide sunscreens for shading in full sun operation. It runs on a 9 Volt battery that is not included, and each unit is factory calibrated to within +/- 0.25% accuracy. It is the perfect way to measure the velocity of arrows, bullets, air guns, and paintball guns, and it is a must-have for a variety of shooters. It also comes with a carry bag.
- Good concept, design, and price
- Links up to an iPhone through an app
- Well-built, and the sunshades and rod are sturdy
- Make sure you are using it in plenty of lot to avoid error readings
- There are sometimes difficulties getting it to work with the iPhone
- Need to purchase the light kit for it to work properly
The Shooting Chrony Archery Master chronograph is a portable, convenient, and affordable chronograph. It provides numbered shot velocities, and it is capable of measuring the speed of arrows, bullets, and other projectiles from 30 feet per second to 7000 feet per second. It is made of 20 gauge steel but is lightweight making it easy to carry around. It runs on a single 9-volt battery, and it measures speed within 0.5-Percent accuracy.
The Shooting Chrony Archery Master Chronograph works right out of the box with just a switch on, and the diffusers putting the sky screens in place. It comes equipped with an LCD readout, gives numbered shot velocities, and provides low, average, and high velocities. It also comes with a three-year warranty.
- Works great, really user-friendly
- It is accurate, and reliable
- Great price, and great value
- Does not come with a carrying case
- Make sure you are using in well-lit sunlight to avoid error messages
- Does not connect to your iPhone or tablet
The clear winner of the Best Archery Chronograph for the money is the Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph. Not only is it capable of the basic functions of an archery chronograph, but it also has many technological features including light sensors that are spaced 18 inches to provide more accuracy and a sunscreen that comes equipped with self-contained LED lights. It has a high speed 48 mhz processor that provides greater accuracy with a circuit design that includes advanced data interface with computer calibrated units. This makes it more accurate than other chronographs on the market, up to +/- .25%, and has measurements from 5 to 9,999 FPS. It also has Bluetooth that can provide shot string velocity data to your iPhone or tablet, and it can also download velocity readings through a free app to your phone screen. This archery chronograph can do a ton of things, and it will definitely be a great addition to your arsenal. The winner of the Best Archery Chronograph is the Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph hands down.
Images credit: Amazon.com