“Long Range - Understanding Your Kestrel and Which Factors Matter Most???”

 

This Week’s Tips or Tricks…

 

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TIP:  Before you just go out and dump $5,000 into a custom rifle…you might want to start by adding a few other tools to your range bag first!!!  While custom rifles can really take your precision and accuracy to the next level, if you don’t have the correct equipment to compliment that custom rifle’s capability, then the “custom” part will be of little good no matter how accurate the rifle is!

This week we are going to take a detailed look at which factors matter MOST when analyzing and looking to improve your Long Range Shooting skills...and we are also going to enlighten you as to whether or not you REALLY think some of this equipment is optional or not!

 

Note: All of the referenced values below were derived from either a Kestrel 5700 Elite w/ Applied Ballistics integrated solver and/or all detailed profile analysis charts shown below were generated in the Applied Ballistics AB Analytics Software program.  If you are a long range shooter, but you don’t own either of these two products…you should!  Precision Rifle Shooters spend $1,000’s of dollars every year on tons of gear just to gain the slightest advantages over their fellow competitors and fellow sportsmen…so why not spend a mere $1,000 to give you the VERY BEST BALLISTICS ANALYSIS TOOLS AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET TODAY as far as we are concerned!?!?!? To check out any of the awesome products and work that Nick Vitalbo and the guys over at nVisti do or even to buy your copy of AB Analytics Software today, please click on the following icons below to access their websites:

               

 

 

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First, let’s cover which factors we primarily deal with most as precision rifle shooters:

 

·         Everyone typically wants a ¼ MOA or better capable rifle…who wouldn’t right!

·         Without a capable optic on this beast, we just have a really expensive rifle…so let’s put the best optic I can afford on it!

·         Next, but typically only if you are privileged enough to have the money for “extra” toys…H-E-L-L-O SUPPRESSOR!!!

·         Then we all want to ensure the VERY BEST ammunition money can buy or the VERY BEST handloads that we can press out in our Man Cave’s…because what good is a bad-ass rifle with junk ammo!?   

·         Now we need some steel to gong this baby on at 1,000+ yards…so it’s time to go see Austin over at AA Targets!

·         And then we have to have a nice case to put this awesome toy in, a pack to carry it in while in the field, a bipod, a monopod, a bubble level, scope caps, spotting scope and the list goes on-and-on…

 

 

BUT… what many shooters often overlook, primarily due to budget, is putting some other far less expensive, but yet equally bad-ass, tools into their shooters gear bag FIRST!!!  Now what on earth could you have possibly missed you ask???  We already spent nearly $10,000+ on everything we got above and we are ready to go shoot a mile right?  WRONG!!!  Unless you want to do it the very expensive, very time consuming, and highly inaccurate way, then sure you’re ready.  But if you are really serious about becoming a better long range shooter there are (2) things you need to have regardless of how much money you have spent…a damn good ballistics calculator and an accurate chronograph!  Without either of these two items, you might as well have spent $1,000 dollars on all your gear because you have already chosen to omit the two most important pieces of equipment that you could possibly invest in no matter what caliber you choose.

 

 

Now, why are these two tools so damn important???

 

 

First, I want you to imagine a picture for a second…you just went out and put a new 6” Lift and a gnarly set of 35” Mickey Thompson’s on your truck that will make every Prius you drive by change its own oil while still driving down the road next to you!  While you are still laughing about the “environmentally responsible” citizen which you just caused to soil their seat cover…then it happens…lights and sirens come on behind you, and you get pulled over by the local Crispy Cream Connoisseur (or 3C for short)…just freaking great!  Now why did this happen???  Because you put bigger tires on your truck and forgot to re-calibrate your speedometer after changing the radius of your tires which incidentally caused you to be doing 10 mph over the speed limit rather than just 2 mph over like you thought you were doing.  This is exactly what you are doing when you just go by the Muzzle Velocity published on the box of ammo or in the Reloading Manual you got your secret recipe from!        

 

Alright, this time let’s say you are out in the middle of B-F-E…nothing and nobody around you for miles.  Now you are getting ready to launch a ballistic missile at 3,500 fps to a target 1,500 yards down range…and you have ZERO clue as to what any of your atmospheric conditions are or even where your projectiles trajectory is going to be, you’re more of a “horseshoes and hand grenades” kind of guy, on a beer budget.  If this is you, then you might as well just be shooting an RPG instead of a Custom 6.5 Creedmoor because the RPG will likely get you closer and a lot faster!!!  Oh sure, you might get lucky once every now and again when the wind stops, but you sir have just officially waved goodbye to the precision and accuracy of your brand new custom rifle and you should now just call “the guy” at the custom barrel shop and order yourself another brand new replacement barrel right now because you are going to burn this one out before you even have a good DOPE chart established for it!

 

 

So what in the world am I referring too???  If you don’t know your Muzzle Velocity and Atmospherics...you can kiss Precision and Accuracy goodbye!!!

 

 

Now let’s refer to the AB Analytics software program for the “hard evidence” that you need to know…

 

 

First, since I have wrote all the previous articles using my .223, let’s just keep on trucking down that road shall we.  I took all the values of that .223 with just an SD of 6.3 fps using my Varget handloads with Lake City Brass and punched the numbers in to see what we got from the start…30.44% Probability of Hit at 1,000 Yards on a 1 MOA square target (10” x 10”)…not good, but doable.  Now let’s see what happens when I start to calculate “error” into this equation!

 

§  PRO TIP #1:  If you ever happen to see “NAN” displayed on your Kestrel, the Kestrel is NOT broken…your inputs are!  Check all of your input values especially caliber as the #1 reason why people see “NAN” on their Kestrel is because they don’t put the decimal place in front of the bore diameter and instead of inputting .243” they input 243” and thus you will get a “NAN”.

 

First error induction test, what would happen if I was just shooting a standard production rifle or the cheapest, straight-of-the-box, bulk ammo I could find?  You will notice that I cut my Probability of Hit by over 46% by shooting a standard rifle or bulk ammo…duh, right!  But the rifle is only part of the equation!

 

                                                                                               

         

 

 

Now, let’s take a look at what happens when you decide to forego the better rangefinder, the Kestrel 5700 Sportsman or Kestrel 5700 Elite AB Weather Meter, or that MagnetoSpeed Chronograph at extended shooting ranges…

 

 

·         By simply inducing what you might think to be a measly little (0.5) mph of cross wind error…we cut our Probability of Hit by over 45% already!!!

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 1,000 Yards = 2.52 MOA L/R

o   Actual: 2 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 1,000 Yards = 3.66 MOA L/R…Missed Your Wind Call by 11.4”!!!

 

§  PRO TIP #2:  Always ensure you either manually update or more preferably “Capture” your Target Heading BEFORE taking your wind readings!!!  If the Target Heading is NOT updated prior to capturing your wind readings…then your cross winds calculation will be calculated incorrectly based upon the last Target Heading specified and this will skew your L/R wind holds!!!

 

§  PRO TIP #3:  In order to achieve the most accurate wind direction capture and wind speed readings, slowly rotate the Kestrel in a circle while holding the unit upright until the impeller of the unit virtually comes to a stop.  Once the impeller has reached the position where it has essentially stopped, you have now determined the correct direction in which the wind should now be blowing directly square into your face as you are staring at the side of the Kestrel unit while the impeller is stopped.

 

·         Temperature was a lot more forgiving, but by inducing just (5) degrees of error for our temperature…we still cut our Probability of Hit by over 25%!!!

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 1,000 Yards = 43.96 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 80 degrees @ 1,000 Yards = 43.63 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 3.3”!!!

 

§  PRO TIP #4:  That lanyard that was included in the box with your Kestrel unit is for more than just keeping you from losing your Kestrel while in the field!  When taking temperature readings with your Kestrel, FIRST swing the Kestrel around by the lanyard a few revolutions in order to cycle airflow around the unit in order to normalize the ambient temperature to ensure the readings recorded are correct!!!  Why do we do this???...because if you are holding the unit in your hands/gloves or the unit has been exposed to prolonged periods of hot/cold due to the sunlight, contact with water, or etc. these exposures will all cause skewed readings to be recorded from your Kestrel if you do not normalize the ambient temperature of the unit first!

 

§  PRO TIP #5:  To optimize the effectiveness of your Kestrel’s ballistic readings while in the field, AFTER turning “Update On” from the Environment menu and capturing your atmospheric values and target headings, set the unit back to “Update Off” so that you may document all of the captured values statically without them continuously updating and varying as you re-expose the unit to the factors noted above in PRO TIP #3.

 

·         But if we miss our Station Pressure, or we accidentally configured for Barometric Pressure instead, by just (0.45) inHg error…it would drop our Probability of Hit by over 54%!!!

o   Entered Station Pressure of 24.88 inHg @ 7,205ft DAlt @ 1,000 Yards = 44.04 MOA Drop

o   Entered Barometric Pressure of 29.68 inHg @ 4,800ft @ 1,000 Yards = 52.05 MOA DropMissed Your Elevation Call by 80.1”!!!

o   DON’T CONFUSE STATION PRESSURE AND BAROMETRIC PRESSURE!!!

 

§  PRO TIP #6:  When using a Kestrel w/o Applied Ballistics Solver, if you are gathering Ballistics Data from Weather Mode…set your REFERENCE ALT to 0.00 as NOT to confuse these two!!!

 

§  PRO TIP #7:  When using a Kestrel w/ integrated Applied Ballistics Solver, you may enter the actual MSL into the Reference Alt setting in order to get your local Barometric Pressure populated under Weather Mode; however, note that when you switch back to Ballistics Mode the Kestrel will still be updating in Station Pressure for your ballistics calculations for the internal solver…pending you are using the latest firmware updates as of March 2016.  Best recommended practice to alleviate any confusion is to just set Reference Alt to 0.00 and leave it.

 

§  PRO TIP #8:  If you have a NEW Kestrel 5700 Series with the integrated Applied Ballistics Solver, there is now an additional Station Pressure screen in Weather Mode that allows users to clearly keep each of these settings separated, while still being able to track both Station and Barometric Pressures simultaneously while in Weather Mode.

 

                    

 

 

·         We could completely bomb our Relative Humidity guesstimate by (70%) and it would only drop our Probability of Hit by just over 15%!!!

o   Predicted: 75 degrees @ 5% RH @ 1,000 Yards = 43.96 MOA

o   Actual: 75 degrees @ 75 % RH @ 1,000 Yards = 44.21 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 2.5”!!!

 

·         Then let’s just say we forgot to calibrate for that NEW tire radius with an induced (10) fps of additional muzzle velocity error…we cut our Probability of Hit by 43% this time!!!

o   Predicted: 75 degrees @ 75% RH @ 2,522 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 44.33 MOA

o   Actual: 75 degrees @ 75 % RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 4.3”!!!

 

§  PRO TIP #9:  To get the most out of your Muzzle Velocity, you really need to understand the effects of temperature changes and how it can add or subtract velocity from your handloads!!!  AFTER you have established a good recipe for your handloads and you have a good ES and SD with the desired group…then it’s time to explore what temperature will do to your Muzzle Velocity by establishing a good, solid MV-Temp Table Calibration.  Knowing and accounting for MV variation due to temperature can either make or break a good DOPE if the variance is not appropriately accounted for.  Below is an example of the MV-Temp Table that was tested and established for the .223 tested in this scenario but with H4895 and Berger 77 gr. OTM’s:

o   28o F = 2,566 fps

o   53o F = 2,602 fps

o   74o F = 2,620 fps

§  The (54) fps ES of Muzzle Velocity variance for this load would easily ruin any chances of a long range cold bore shot at 1,000 yards seeing as just +/-10 fps creates a 4.3” error deviation in the example noted above…we are (5x) this error if we do not account for our Temperature variation and its effect on our H4895 powder burn rate in this example!!!

§  Note: the average ES’s and SD’s achieved with the H4895 while still under development were very poor ranging from 30-80 fps ES’s in many cases and at best just 15-20 SD’s with 5 & 10 round groups.  H4895 performance even with Lake City brass was still at 15.7 SD with 50 fps ES…so you can see very clearly why I ceased load development on H4895 and switched to Varget where I am now running an SD of only 6.3 with a 5 shot group.  Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article, I had yet to find the time to get out to the range and establish my MV-Temp table for the Varget handloads.   

 

§  PRO TIP #10:  When you are using the MV-Temp Table option to allow your Kestrel to auto-scale your Muzzle Velocity based upon the current Environment Temperature reading that the Kestrel is taking, you will not be able to update the Muzzle Velocity shown in the main settings screen because that Muzzle Velocity value is now being auto-scaled with the Temperature reading in accordance to the fps/degree temperature fluctuation that the powder you are using in your ammunition varies by as calculated from the MV-Temp Table input values.  If you want to be able to manually update the Muzzle Velocity, you will need to disabled the MV-Temp Table option in order to do so.

 

§  PRO TIP #11:  One of the other key factors to remember, understand the differences of, and keep in mind while configuring your Kestrel units is whether or not you have your Elevation units graduation set correctly!!!  Depending on the graduations of your scopes turrets and whether or not they are configured for SMOA at 1.00” @ 100 yards or TMOA of 1.047” @ 100 yards…you MUST ensure all your graduations in ALL devices are correctly configured!!!

o   ^^^This is one of the big reasons why some Kestrel users have so much trouble trying to get their Applied Ballistics Mobile App or their Kestrel to track true with their scope turrets.  It is imperative that you pay attention and set these correctly and not get them out of sync with one another or even with your scope!!! 

§  Note: when making comparisons between a Kestrel and other Ballistics Calculators, in order to “sync” the Elevation Holds of a Kestrel and for example the Applied Ballistics Mobile App, you must be configured for TRUE (TMOA) graduations in your Kestrel!  Additionally, if you are using a scope with turrets that are only graduated for SMOA (0.25” / click @ 100 yards)…your scope turret adjustments will actually be less than the Kestrel or Applied Ballistics Mobile App are calling for thus your bullet will impact LOW on the target unless accounted for!!!   

 

§  PRO TIP #12:  If you are still using one of those clumsy ole optical chronographs instead of a MagnetoSpeed…you also need to remember to ‘calibrate’ your Muzzle Velocity degradation from the end of the muzzle to the actual distance where the chronograph is taking the reading!!!  Failing to do this will instantly skew your Muzzle Velocity LOW by several feet per second!!!  In the example of this .223 we are using here…with 2,532 MV at the chronograph setup just (10’) from the end of the muzzle the ACTUAL Muzzle Velocity would be 2540 fps (8 fps FASTER)!!!

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75% RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75 % RH @ 2,540 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.56 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 3.4” already and you haven’t even touched your Kestrel or Applied Ballistics Mobile App yet!!!

§  ^^^But don’t worry…there’s an app for this too!!!  Just download the Applied Ballistics Toolbox App currently available for Android Mobile Devices!!!

·         https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hess.jacob.ballisticutilitiestoolbox&hl=en

 

 

·         And if we just picked out the cheapest Rangefinder we could buy or we are taking a REALLY good SWAG at the range with a mere (4) meters of error…Probability of Hit is cut by nearly 45%!!!

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75% RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 995 Yards = 43.47 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75 % RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 4.3”!!!

 

 

                    

 

 

·         What if we forget to account for our inclination or declination when shooting from a position and induced just (10) degrees of error…again Probability of Hit cut by over 47%!!!

o   Flat Plane: 0 degrees @ 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75% RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA

o   Predicted: +10 degrees @ 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75% RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.28 MOA

o   Actual: +20 degrees @ 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75 % RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 41.18 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 21”!!!

 

o   Flat Plane: 0 degrees @ 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75% RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA

o   Predicted: -10 degrees @ 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75% RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 43.03 MOA

o   Actual: -20 degrees @ 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 75 degrees @ 75 % RH @ 2,532 fps MV @ 1,000 Yards = 40.70 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 23.3”!!!

 

o   ALWAYS REMEMBER WHEN SHOOTING ON INCLINES/DECLINES YOUR BULLET IMPACT WILL BE HIGHER DUE TO LESS GRAVITATIONAL PULL DOWNWARD!!!

 

 

Now, let’s just say that either your internal compass is severely out-of-whack or you just had a temporary short-circuit malfunction in that melon between your shoulders and forgot to update your ballistics data since last DOPE…

 

 

·         If you got so confused that you misjudged your direction of flight by 85 degrees, or just forgot to update it from the previous engagement!!!, you would cut your Probability of Hit by nearly 37%!!!

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 0 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 90 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 43.50 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 4.0”!!!

o   Time of Flight (TOF):  1.860 Seconds

 

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 0 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 2.51 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 12 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 90 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 1.32 MOA…Missed Your Wind Call by 11.9”!!!

 

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 0 degrees Target Direction 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 270 degrees Target Direction 1,000 Yards = 44.30 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 4.0”!!!

o   Time of Flight (TOF):  1.860 Seconds

 

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 0 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 2.51 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 12 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 40.8 degrees Latitude @ 270 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 1.32 MOA…Missed Your Wind Call by 11.9”!!!

 

§  PRO TIP #13:  When capturing either the Target Heading or Wind Direction with your Kestrel unit, ensure you try to hold your Kestrel unit at least an arms-length or farther away from any objects/electronics that may be magnetic or produce a magnetic signature that may influence or even induce any potential error into the Heading captures.

 

§  PRO TIP #14:  Due to the Earth’s rotation, your shots will impact lower to the West whereas they will impact higher to the East if you used the very same elevation adjustment for both targets, thus you have the Coriolis Effect!  Why???...the Earth rotates from West to East while your bullet remains in flight thus actively changing your POI from the time of pulling the trigger to the time that the bullet impacts the target down range.

·         ^^^THIS IS WHY IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ALWAYS ZERO YOUR RIFLE AT EITHER 0o/360O OR 180O HEADINGS TO ENSURE TRUE BALLISTICS TRACKING IN ALL HEADING QUADRANTS!!!

 

 

 

·         Let’s just say you’re from northern Montana along the Canadian border and travel to southern Texas for a rifle match…let’s see what happens if you are EXTREMELY bad with a GPS and blow the Latitude by an amazing (20) degrees, basically missing by like ~1,380 miles!!!  If you forget to update your Latitude you would only reduce your Probability of Hit by ~3%!!!

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 48.5 degrees Latitude @ 0 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 28.5 degrees Latitude @ 0 degrees Target Direction 1,000 Yards = 43.90 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 0.0”!!!

 

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 48.5 degrees Latitude @ 90 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 43.55 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 28.5 degrees Latitude @ 90 degrees Target Direction 1,000 Yards = 43.44 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 1.1”!!!

 

o   Predicted: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 48.5 degrees Latitude @ 270 degrees Target Direction @ 1,000 Yards = 44.25 MOA

o   Actual: 1 MPH w/ 9 o’clock Wind @ 2,532 fps MV @ 28.5 degrees Latitude @ 270 degrees Target Direction 1,000 Yards = 44.37 MOA…Missed Your Elevation Call by 1.2”!!!

 

 

                    

 

 

Now, let’s go back and recap what we have found so far...

 

·         The variables that MUST absolutely be correct or they will hurt us the most: Station Pressure, Shooting Inclination, Rifle Precision, Wind, Temperature, Muzzle Velocity, and Range

 

·         The variables that will hurt us, but not as significantly: Target Heading and Temperature

 

·         The variables that have little to no effect on our Probability of Hit: Humidity and Latitude

 

 

 

 

 

So what is the moral of this story...as Bryan Litz, Doc Beech, or Nick Vitalbo would tell you…”garbage in equals garbage out” folks!!!  Above we only examined what happens when you make mistakes to just (1) single value at a time…but you can easily see how if you compound errors, you will only continue to further and more rapidly compound Probability of Hit loss even greater!!!  So, whether you are going to spend the money for a new custom rifle or you are just rebuilding an old one…if you want to go the distance you MUST have ALL the right tools…NOT just “some” of the right tools!!!  While luck may save your bacon on occasion, accuracy and precision cannot be replaced by luck and praying when you are just lobbing those projectiles out there!!!  

 

         

 

 

For any additional questions regarding information or to purchase your Kestrel 5700 Series Weather Meter or your MagnetoSpeed Chronograph, please click on the following link for Broken Box R LLC’s website as we are an Authorized Dealer for both the Kestrel and MagnetoSpeed product lines or give us a call at 888-869-3150 Ext. 1 today!

https://www.brokenboxr.com

 

 

 

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Do you have a Tip or Trick regarding reloading that you would like to see posted?  Please send us your Tip(s) or Trick(s) and we will see about getting them posted!

 

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Written By:  Kyle R. CEO of Broken Box R LLC

 

Copyright © 2016 Broken Box R LLC – All Rights Reserved

This article was first published on March 30th, 2016.