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 rifle and used this for some time but my interest in ballistics grew quickly, and I soon had a small but diverse collection of rifles and cartridges.
Young and keen.
I shot my first deer with a 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 cemented 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.
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 fully concentrate on hunting research.
Browns nightclub, London. Steph and Nathan with two of Nathans crew.
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.
Steph and Nathan, South Island Thar hunting.
To begin this momentous task we needed to attain rifles of every caliber along with factory ammo and reloading components of every brand. Because we were working with severe financial limitations, the quality of the rifles we purchased for the purposes of testing were subpar. Second hand rifles, sold by previous owners because of accuracy issues.
The very nature of testing requires repeatable results. For example, to test the effect of a bullet striking the shoulder, just behind the shoulder and then at the rear of the lungs, an accurate rifle is required. The rifles also needed to be accurate in order to test a bullet at low velocities (extended ranges) after an initially high muzzle velocity (high temperatures). Overhauling inaccurate test rifles day in and day out allowed me to gain a true understanding of the fundamental principles required to get every vestige of accuracy out of a rifle.
I really began to understand how critical the bedding platform is to rifle accuracy and as my shop skills increased so did my expectations and requirements of the bedding products available. In 2009, after a year of research and development and with the help of an industrial chemist, I successfully developed and launched our MatchGrade bedding and Stabilizer compounds which are now used to accurize rifles by customers all over the world.
I had managed to take my cheap inaccurate rifles and turn them into extremely accurate testing tools. Word spread and hunters began to bring rifles to me to either accurize or for help with reloading and load selection. This allowed me the opportunity to study rifle designs that we did not ourselves own and so my understanding of rifle brands and brand idiosyncrasies continued to be developed.
Working with hunters I discovered that often the greatest hindrance to their hunting success was a poor understanding of game anatomy versus the importance of suitable shot placement. After working on customer rifles, I found it useful to write a report, not just on work done, but also tips on such subjects as sight settings and effective game killing. I also gave lectures at local hunting clubs on game killing and basic ballistics.
In the years after making the decision to write the book, our time was consumed by testing, 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. During this time, I worked 12 to 16 hours per day - this included time spent cross referencing my results with other outside sources. I hunted for possums by night and sold the fur, although Steph took a shift when she could but we had a baby as well.
In 2007, to try to generate income we began offering guided hunts, this served the twofold purpose of giving us some much needed money and also further opportunities for cartridge research as clients brought their own rifles for hunts. These hunts afforded me an even greater understanding of all the components at play when ethical, clean killing is the desired result - rifle accuracy versus human understanding of game anatomy, versus shooting technique, versus cartridge selection, bullet performance and so it goes on. In 2010, we stopped our regular guiding services and started our hunting and shooting tutorials with an emphasis on precision long range shooting.
Spotting for a client on a tutorial.
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. Our initial plan was to utilize advertising for revenue but after launching the site, we could not bear the spam type look and feel so the ads were stripped from our website less than a week later. With the information now live, we decided to commit this to the public. 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 employed 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.
I cannot thank my wife Steph 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. Our wonderful daughter Riley also helps in the field and is always a pleasure to work with. We have been infinitely blessed to have such a magnificent soul in our lives.
Riley and Nathan on a dad and daughter hunting trip.
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 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.
FOUND THIS ARTICLE HELPFUL?If you find the resources on this website to be valuable, we would be sincerely grateful if you would consider making a donation to help us cover the costs of the website and to assist us to continue our research and testing into the future. It doesn't matter whether your donation is big or small - it makes all the difference!