In fast-paced precision rifle competitions, the match directors love to throw in a curveball or two in the form of multiple targets that have to be engaged under time. To do well you have to have a good handle on the fundamentals of marksmanship but also an efficient means of data management. Unless you have an eidetic memory you’re going to have to have a way to reference your data during the stage. I’ve used a lot of different methods but the best way that I’ve found so far is the Rifle Mounted Data Holder from Hawk Hill Custom. It’s actually a quite simple description of an incredibly engineered product.
Data Management Woes
Back when I started shooting precision rifle competitions, there was nothing like this data holder around. I was either trying to remember the holds that I needed or using a bit of masking tape inside my rear scope cap to have some basic data written down. The problems that I encountered though were that sometimes my memory was crap or I had to break my position to read the inside of my flip cap.
A quarterback arm board solved those two issues for a time, allowing me to keep my data in my peripheral vision while I was shooting. It was revolutionary, to me, but I didn’t really like wearing it because it got hot and would end up slipping around my forearm.
Of course, one way around that is to have something attached to the rifle and I ended up making my own rifle mounted dope holder from some hardware store bits. It worked until it didn’t, I had to rebuild it once, and I longed for something more sturdy and refined.
Seeing The Light
Made from 7075 aluminum, hard coat anodized, and using stainless steel hardware the Hawk Hill data holder is easily the most refined and high-quality data holder of its kind on the market.
The unit articulates so that the Kydex panel can be positioned in three ways within your line of sight or folded out of the way for transport or storage. The movements are smooth and heavy detents keep the panel in place at any position.
In the package with the dope holder came a blank “credit card”, grease pencil, alcohol wipes, and some 3M Dual Lock fastener material. There are two versions of the data holder, a Picatinny mount version like the one that I have and a direct mount version for Sphur mounts.
The Picatinny mount version is low profile enough to mount underneath most of the optics that I have. More often than not I run it forward of the front scope ring since this keeps it out of the way of the parallax knob.
I use my data holder in one of two ways, with the credit card and painter’s tape or by directly mounting my Kestrel 5700 Elite.
I prefer to use the painter’s tape instead of the grease pencil because it’s easier for me to write neatly on the tape and I feel I can fit more data on it. Also, if I need a clean writing surface I don’t need to have a cloth to wipe it off, I just stack another section on the one I just wrote on. If there is concern about the data holder blocking your field of view and reducing your situational awareness found that running it in the “panel down” position works best. This keeps the data still well visible but also lets you see beyond the rifle with your non-dominant eye.
Straight up, the $120 cost is salty and it’s going to turn some people away from it. It took me a while to come to terms with the cost of this thing but I don’t regret it now that I have it and have been using it for the past year. Beyond the precision rifle competition origins of this product, it does have applications for hunting, law enforcement, and military use. Anywhere you’ll need long-range data within eyeshot and a product that’s basically bombproof.