Beta Shooting Chrony
There is something very natural about archery, even though modern bows come loaded with carbon and string materials are a world away from animal or vegetable fibres, using a bow still gives you the sense of the ancient past and the way our ancestors would have lived day to day. But I'm a modern man and my time away from archery is usually spent in front of a computer, either at work or at home. I therefore love the most scientific side of archery, arrow speed, trajectory, kinetic energy and so on, while the feel of a bow is all important I just love looking at the raw numbers.
With that in mind no modern archer and certainly one doing reviews of bows can be without a Chronograph. There are a few on the market but when it came to buying one it seemed to be that everybody was using something from the Chrony range. There are 4 basic models, F1 which is the more budget version, Alpha, Beta and finally Gamma. Each of those can also come with a remote control and those versions have a Master suffix. I went for the Beta as that has more than enough functionality for me, this includes numerous memory strings, high, low and Average Velocities, extreme spread and standard deviations.
I got the Chrony from the US via ebay and at the time it was around £50. The various different models only cost an extra $10 more unless you go for the Gamma which is an additional $80, but this comes with a printer. The great thing about the Chrony is that it folds up on itself into a small box, this means that carrying it around is no problem at all, however to use it you really need a photographic tripod so that adds to the over all bulk. Once unfolded there are 4 arms which have a dual purpose, give a guide on where to aim the arrow and also hold the light shields which improve the light for the sensors when the weather isn't so great. The are a ton of functions, mainly based around the ability to switch to the various memory areas, it comes with an instruction manual which you need as it's not exactly intuitive. Once switched on you need to wait for it to display a square, this means it's ready to record the speed, the most important thing when using it is to get the arrow to fly over the sensors, you need to stand back enough so that the arrow is totally clear of the bow before it reaches the front sensor.
However this is where the frustration starts, it's really difficult to get more than 2-3 shots out before it complains with an error code, this is normally Err 1 or Err 2 which are related to the sensors. I have tried it every which way but I can't seem to use the thing without some sort of error which is then followed by frantic button pressing to get it reset.
When it does work however it's great flashing up the arrow speed in either feet per second or meters per second. Personally I don't bother with all the memory functions, I just use a pen and paper to record the figures. The more expensive including this Beta model retain the arrow speeds even when the unit is switched off but the F1 and Alpha doesn't this means you will at some point need to write the numbers down any way.
I think it's a case of all or nothing, either get the very base model or the very top one and take advantage of the printer. It's great fun to play with but in all honesty is a bit of a novelty unless you are making bows or reviewing them.
One great feature of the Chrony range is that each step up the ladder is really just an upgrade of the previous one, and the models can be added to to raise them up to the functionality of the more expensive models.
In general I'd say it's only really worth buying one if you can't find one to borrow, but rest assured that if you do plenty of people will want to borrow it.
Features & Design
Folds up to a really small unit, looks great and feels very well made.
When it works it's great, but it's a frustrating process at the best of times.
Value for Money
Not that expensive really, but do you REALLY need one?In terms of cost per use it might work out a little expensive.
A fun bit of kit, but in no way is it essential. Go for the base F-1 Shooting Chrony and save yourself $10