Terminal Ballistics Research (TBR) is a business that was formed to educate hunters and shooters worldwide. This is delivered via our online cartridge knowledge base, our tutorial books, hunting tutorial services and rifle accurizing services (including self learning via our bedding products and tutorials).
My hunting career started when I was a young boy with my father. I started with the .22 magnum, graduating to the Lee Enfield .303 at age 12. We came from a poor background and our firearms and ammunition were always of equally poor quality. We wounded a lot of game. When I left home at the age of 16, I bought a Lee Enfield and used this for several years, moved on to the .243 but later settled on the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser.
When I shot my first deer with the 6.5x55, contrary to the Swede's reputation of producing deep penetration, the bullet I was using suffered blow up. The wounded deer evaded my attempts to locate it as night approached. In the morning, I found the animal which had died slowly from a small portion of lead which had reached its lungs. Later I changed to a new style of bullet and was off after a trophy pig for the annual NZ Deerstalkers contest. Again, perhaps by sheer coincidence, bullet blow up caused my pig which was hit squarely in the shoulder, to break into a run and take off for several hundred yards.
It was these early negative experiences that sparked my passion for full experimentation with all of the various calibers and velocity parameters. I hunted with light bullet/ high velocity cartridges, slow heavy cartridges and the largest of magnum cartridges, discovering both strengths and limitations within each cartridge design. I had always recorded and cataloged results and gradually amassed a pile of information. At the same time, in the books and magazines that I read and had once idolized, I was now beginning to notice many contradictions. The authors used the word "should" a lot which hinted that perhaps some of the information I was reading was based largely on assumption.
Within our own district, hunters began to bring rifles to me to either accurize or for help with reloading and load selection. Through these early encounters I discovered that some of the solution to effective game killing was teaching hunters about game anatomy and the importance of suitable shot placement. A major problem however, was the quality of both factory rifles along with some of the ammunition I had encountered. For each hunter whose rifle I worked on, I found it useful to write a report, not just on work done, but also ways in which to optimize the usage of the hunters chosen cartridge, optimal sight settings and an effective game killing with prescribed loads.
Outside of my hunting career, my work roles centered around either farming, stainless steel engineering or nightclub security work which was an ongoing role. I eventually spent some time in the U.K, managing night club security teams and body guarding. It was during my time in the U.K, that I decided it was far nicer being at the butt end of a firearm rather than the muzzle end. My wife Stephanie and I eventually came home to concentrate on hunting research.
In early 2004, I sat down with Steph and discussed writing a helpful, useful text book about cartridges, a book to rival much previous literature. The book would be written for hunters from all walks of life with information transferable internationally. The goal of the book would not primarily be to rank one cartridge against another but instead to help hunters achieve optimum performance from their cartridge of choice on differing game. With Steph's support and input, the mammoth project began.
Further to my previous research, I set about investing in rifles of every caliber, factory ammo and reloading components of every brand. Every bullet was tested on game, over and over again, from every angle. Factory ammo was chronographed through my rifles as well as rifles that I had repaired or accurized for customers. I would then spend 12 to 16 hours per day cross referencing my results with the results of others to ensure that my recordings were not biased. The same went for reloading, just because my test rifles could achieve X amount of feet per second velocity, didn't mean the same for everybody else. Using Internet forums and from the encounters I had previously had with hunters and their rifles, I was able to research issues that hunters were having with bullets on game or issues with prices and availability of ammo worldwide. I also gave lectures at local hunting clubs on game killing and basic ballistics. The feedback from the forums, the lectures and hunters whose rifles I worked on helped build a picture of what questions hunters were asking and where I needed to concentrate my testing and research.
I started typing the first lines of the book later in 2004, Steph and I putting our lives on hold as we committed all of our finances to research. I cannot thank my wife enough for her efforts in the development of this project. During the course of writing, Steph has helped, whether it be editing, hand loading or autopsying game in the field. As I write these lines, Steph and I have accounted for over eight thousand head of medium to large game since we first started hunting together way back in 1991.
In 2007, we started operating guided hunts and by 2010, rationalized the hunting packages to suit hunters wants and needs. The hunts were focused on tutorial hunting with an emphasis on precision shooting, both intermediate and long range. The pig stalking / sniping combined with goat shooting proved to be the most popular hunting as opposed to the wild cattle and fallow deer hunts which we later stopped operating based on these trends.
In 2009, we had a significant breakthrough successfully developing and launching our MatchGrade bedding compounds which are used to accurize rifles. These took the better part of 12 months ongoing research to develop. The stabilizer and bedding products have been well received by shooters worldwide. We use these compounds ourselves on a day to day basis due to their superior qualities.
Although I had planned on writing a hard copy hunting cartridge book, in 2008 we made the bold (but nerve-racking!) decision to publish all our research online for free as the TBR online cartridge knowledge base. The original book project was such a mammoth undertaking that we were concerned that if we did not make our research public, we might never complete the book and our research might never see the light of day. We felt that by publishing our research online for free it would be of benefit to both the reader (and the hunting community), as a valuable free resource, as well as to ourselves as we would have the ability to continually update the knowledgebase as our research continued into the future. To finance the free online knowledge base, we have utilized a donation system. At the same time, I have also steadily developed a line of products including our bedding compounds and ironically - our current book series which have both proved popular.
If you find the TBR online cartridge knowledgebase a valuable resource we would be sincerely grateful if you consider helping us fund the costs of this website and continue our research by making a donation or by purchasing our products.
The tutorial hunts remain an important source of research and feedback for us as we watch hunters using their chosen cartridges on game. Because this service is vital to our own learning as much as to our clients, we strive to offer our hunting service at a reasonable price.
The TBR website is now recognized internationally as an information resource that provides useful and meaningful research that is firmly grounded in reality. The site currently receives over 100,000 new visitors per month. If I can say anything about this experience, it is that the hunting community of the world contains many, many kind, warm and supportive people. Steph and I feel very grateful for having met and communicated with so many of you, from such far away places.
Far from the red necks often displayed in current Hollywood movies, hunters often remain attuned to the land and to their mortal limitations which instills both compassion and humility. In an age where such qualities are of utmost importance, hunting can provide a positive moral compass. We believe this is something worth nurturing.