Had some time with the Rowan DSW this weekend at the Castle GP. First off lets get the controversy out of the way... there's always going to be a debate where the grey tide mark of technology should sit with the black and white rules... and there's plenty of opinion on all bits on bobs strapped to the rifle and their use in sport. But having had a play with the thing, I really think that's missing the point. Lets go worse case scenario and say it's banned everywhere, well, I think even then this is a valuable bit of kit if it reaches it's seeming potential.
Firstly the big thing about shooters is that they aren't very objective and scientific. They're generally swayed by feeling and impression over cold hard data, and this is where I think the device would score... as an objective training aid.
The device itself is small. Smaller than I thought from the pics i'd seen. Probably due to them being aimed at making the screen look big. From memory it's about as big as cutting a credit card in half. It works by reading a magnetic strip around your sidewheel, so it means you have to do the work in setting up the ranges. This is where one of it's strengths comes into play. It can record and datalog your ranging attempts. I played with it on the plinking range, and with the Sightron on Costello's rig I was getting really tight repeat ranges all within 3" at 20 yds, time after time. At 55 I was probably around a yard, but every now and then I got 1-2-3-4 yds out. By using a different part of the board to focus on which had a cobweb on it, I was getting pretty much on the yard on all attempts... but this is something you don't have to think and try and remember after you left the range, the device will tell you if you are more consistent ranging on some part of your target than on another by recording the data. I may suggest a feature that could be useful would be to add a bookmark function, so you can say "bookmark 1 plate", "bookmark 2 string" etc and see how those sessions compare. It will provide you with the cold hard facts that ranging on say the plate may not be as consistent as on the string, or whatever. It will also tell you if that changes with light (assuming you have a fixed target to play with in different lights), or colour, or even temperature. With the temperature it's possible to dial in another set of ranges as well. So you can scientifically address your ranging and work out what's best for you with proper data. Might lend more help to the conversations of "I think she shifts at 8 degrees" etc.
I ranged a target at an unknown distance, dialled what it said, sent the shot and it was bang on the level. Repeated it twice and it never wandered. So if anything it could just let you get those in between ranges right. The beauty of it is you don't need to work on fixed ranges. Once you've done them you can point it at something unknown, fire the shot, and if it's not right, correct it at that range, giving the machine more data to work with.
But the ranging is just a small part. Yep it's got an inclineometer in it, and a cant meter, all of which can show you the effect of that angle on your shot. So something else you can learn from. It's also got a wobble meter which there's the potential to log against your shot... so you can see if shifting position is better, adding weight here or there is better, if you're steady, or just lucky or whatever. Even if the thing is banned, you could still have this on the rifle to record your performance without the display, compared to how you do in practice. Logging all sorts of data blind to you in competition still is pretty valuable.
With that data you could do like the GPS and performance loggers in various sports, compare and contrast against other users. It might even be possible for the device to measure recoil of springers. Apparently it's possible to GPS track around the course. How well that would work in woodland I don't know. But it may help someone.
I think it's a really interesting bit of kit, has potential for other shooting sports as well, and perhaps the competition aspect is a red herring... think of it as a matchbox sized training aid and I think that's probably a better path. I can see those who perhaps don't have time to set up a scatt or don't have a range at home being able to just switch this on and do some practice indoors at very short ranges, just seeing if things seem to be better or not.
Definitely very interesting and something to keep an eye on. I wouldn't let the competition aspect muddy the water.
Oh and it has a setting for 50ft adapters...