Keeping good records on our shooting hobby is an important practice that all of us should do a better job of. We produce all kinds of logbooks for recordkeeping at Sinclair International, but we constantly have to remind ourselves to keep up with our own recordkeeping. It is important for insurance reasons, inheritance protection, reloading, and sight management. What lies below is just a snapshot of a few observed practices that many do in the area of recordkeeping.
First, it is extremely important to keep accurate records on your firearms themselves. Record model #’s, serial #’s, who you purchased it from, when you purchased it, how much you paid for it, original equipment notes, changes or repairs you have made to the firearm, and your best opinion on the current value of your firearm. This last item is important for some insurance policies and to protect the person who inherits the firearm from you. Go through your list each year or at least every two years and update the current value. We have seen several cases where a trusting widow or other non-gun owner family member gets swindled by a family friend with respect to the true value of a particular firearm. We met a lady a couple of years ago that had a gun shop take her deceased husband’s collection of pristine pre-64 Winchester Model 70’s off her hands for $300 to $400 apiece. Good recordkeeping with current values would have protected this lady and produced a little more retirement funds for her. Make sure the trusted members of your family know where you keep this log. Now some of you may not want to have your significant other see how much you have spent on your firearms so you’ll have to decide how important this part of keeping records is to you.
Use a Logbook for recording load data for each of your firearms.
Many shooters swap scopes, use more than one load in their firearm (various bullets, target loads vs. hunting loads, long and short range loads, etc.), change open sights to scopes, or swap barrels on and off (mainly competition shooters). If you keep good records on your sight/scope settings you can save an incredible amount of time when you go back to something you had previously zeroed and dialed in. Sinclair International makes a pocket sized Sight Record Book that is great to utilize for recording your sight or scope settings for different guns, loads, and yardages. Make sure you keep recordings of scope/sight settings if you visit a range that sits at a different altitude than you normally shoot at. At long-range you will see serious changes in your elevation adjustments. If you have adjustable front sights, make sure you accurately record those settings as well as your rear sight settings. You have to be disciplined at this practice for this to pay off. If you are a competitive shooter, record your sight settings on the line or as soon as you exit the firing point. Recording your sight settings should be a priority before you case your firearm.
Keeping good reloading data will be hugely beneficial to you. Get an inexpensive Reloading Logbook and keep track of the brass you use, lot numbers if you have it, how many times you have loaded it, trimmed it and fired it. Keep your brass segregated with proper load labels and containers. The following is just some of the items you should keep track of.
Powder type, lot #, powder charge, and powder measure setting
Bullet brand, type, weight, and lot #
Brass Manufacturer and lot # (if available)
Primer manufacturer, type, and lot #
Case trim length
Overall length of loaded rounds (seating depth)
Number of times case has been loaded, trimmed, and fired.
Shooting Diary and Other Data
Keeping a diary or shooting logbook of some sort is nice to have to keep track of shooting conditions such as weather, light conditions, and range aspects. I keep names of people I meet at shooting competitions, the range, or in hunting camps. You may want to keep notes of what you did at the range or on a hunt.
Another important piece of information to keep track of is the number of rounds fired through your firearms. You can use this to remind you when to adjust your seating depth due to throat erosion or replace the barrel. Record this in a log like our Sinclair Rounds Fired Logbook or in either of our Reloading Log Books.
The Sinclair Rounds Fired Logbook provides an easy method to keep track of cumulative rounds.
This article wasn’t meant to answer everything with respect to the specific recordkeeping you need for your particular shooting discipline. It was meant to get you thinking and remind you of the importance of good recordkeeping. As always, feel free to let others know what methods work for you. With more shooters having home computers, a lot of shooters build elaborate Excel Worksheets to keep track of a variety of data. If you keep your records on a computer make sure you get in a good habit of backing that data up on a regular basis.