IBS Match Report: Piedmont 600-Yard Benchrest Match
In the spring of 2004, IBS 600-yard benchrest competition was born. Piedmont Gun Club in Rutherfordton, NC was one of the three initial ranges across the country to host this new competition. Bridgeville (DE) and the Bench Rest Rifle Club of St. Louis (MO) were the other two. 600-yard benchrest was the brainchild of several IBS and club officers, Dave Tooley and Joe Goforth among them. The idea was to have a new competition at a distance far enough that short-range cartridges would not dominate, but not so far that the new mid-range discipline would duplicate 1000-yard competition. After initial “test matches” at 500 yards, in late 2003, officers at Piedmont Gun Club decided to push the targets out another 100 yards. That was the beginning of the 600-yard benchrest game.
IBS 600-Yard Match at Piedmont Gun Club (June 8, 2013)
Report for IBS by Sam Hall
Piedmont Gun Club is a legendary venue in the 600-yard Benchrest game because so many records have been set at this range. Throughout the 600-yard seasons at Piedmont Gun Club, June has been one of the best months for shooting small groups and high scores. Most all records have been shot there in the summer months of June, July, and August. And speaking of records, more records have been set, broken, and re-broken at Piedmont than all other IBS 600-yard ranges combined! I know of 29 separate records that have been set by just three shooters. Joel Kendrick, Terry Brady, and myself, Sam Hall. Many, many more records have been broken there also.
After a couple of rainy days, the weather cleared up for our June 8, 2013 match. It was to be one of Piedmont’s IBS 600 Yard “Shooter of the Year” points matches also. 35 seasoned veterans showed up… plus a new shooter, Jimmy Norman. There were high expectations for more records to fall. Although the weather was fair with sun and the occasional cloud, a light wind, switching from right to left, kept any records from being set this day. Many small groups were shot in the morning in the Heavy Gun session, but the switching wind picked up in the afternoon during the Light Gun competition and the groups showed it.
Thomas Parker Wins HG with a Rem-Actioned Rifle
The day started with Heavy Gun shooting first at 09:00 sharp. The wind was very light from left to right at 2-3mph with temps about 70 degrees. Thomas Parker showed us that a Remington actioned benchrest rifle can still whip the all-out custom “Race Guns” in the hands of a good shooter. Thomas won the Heavy Gun overall placing first in score (193) and second in group (1.965″) for four targets. Note: a group Agg (or aggregate) is the 4 target groups added together and averaged (divided by four). Sam Hall snuck in the small group of the day 0.986″ to help him win the HG Group Aggregate with a 1.820″. This was the only first place that Thomas did not capture. Thomas shot the standard 6mmBR cartridge, pushing Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets. His rifle featured a Remington 700 action, Brux barrel, and a custom wood benchrest stock.
Watch Heavy Gun Winner Thomas Parker Shoot at Piedmont
Mike Hanes Captures Light Gun and Sam Hall Takes the Two-Gun
After the Heavy Gun segment concluded, as always, a great lunch was served by a local church group. Lunch is held in Piedmont’s new club located just beside the 600-yard range.The club house also has bathroom facilities for men and women, a kitchen and large banquet room. Light Gun (LG) started just after the break for lunch. The winds had picked up to 5-8 mph and switching left to right now. Temps were 80-84 degrees for the rest of the day. Groups were sure not as good as they were in the morning for Heavy Gun. Mike Hanes (2012 IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year) had small single target group of 1.423″ in LG to help him win LG Group Agg with a 2.371. Mike had second place in score with a 184 to help give him the “Overall” LG win. Mike was shooting a custom 6mm Dasher “Race Gun”. It featured a BAT dual port action, Shehane fiberglass ST-1000 stock, Jewell 2 oz. trigger, Brux barrel.
Sam Hall won the Two-Gun Overall with 8 rank points. Thomas Parker finished second in the Two-Gun with 29 rank points with Steve Jordan finishing a close third with 30 rank points. Sam said the match was great, and he invites readers to join the fun: “Come on out to Piedmont with us and give 600-yard benchrest a try. I guarantee you will be welcomed and will have a great time!”
Piedmont Gun Club — Home of the Record-Breakers
Piedmont has seven IBS 600-yard matches a year from March though September. Five matches are IBS “Shooter of the Year” matches where IBS points can be accumulated. Piedmont also has its own Shooter of the Year. All Piedmont’s 600-yard matches count toward it. They give a very nice standing trophy to the winner at the end of the year. Attendance at Piedmont for 600-yard competition is usually 30 to over 40 shooters. Most guys are regulars and have been at the 600-yard game for years. The competition is tough! I have heard many shooters say that shooting at Piedmont is like shooting at the Nationals every match. The atmosphere is very friendly though. We welcome new shooters. There is always someone there to help you when needed, whether it be a fellow shooter or range officer. On many occasions I have witnessed a fellow shooter lend his own rifle to a new shooter who wants to give it a try, someone who forgot ammo, or had equipment failures.
Not only does Piedmont Gun Club have IBS 600-yard competition, but the Club also hosts several other shooting disciplines. Piedmont has a 50-yard pistol range, trap and skeet range, 25-50-75-100 meter small bore silhouette rifle range and 50-600 yard rifle range. Piedmont hosts NRA Smallbore Rifle and 22 Cowboy Silhouette matches in March and ending in October. Piedmont also hosts three IBS 100/200 yard VFS (Varmint For Score) Benchrest matches a year including a NC State match in September 2013. They have 16 covered benches at their VFS range and 16 separate covered benches for their 600 yard range. Tommy Williams is the Club President and also is match director of the 600-yard matches to boot! Piedmont Gun Club is located in the beautiful foothills of western North Carolina.
Hardware Choices — Sam Hall Talks about 600-Yard Rigs
Over the years, 600-yard equipment has evolved. We now have a good idea of what works the best in 600-yard competition. Several varieties of long-range stocks work well so long as the geometry of the key surfaces in the fore-end and butt are parallel (or very close). Custom actions are desirable, with dual port (right bolt, left load port, right eject) or drop-port for faster shooting. The standard 6mm BR or any of its improved versions seem to be equally competitive and accurate at 600 yards. You’ll want a match-grade, stainless barrel, 26-30 inches in length, with a 1:8″ to 1:8.5″ twist rate (depending on your bullet and velocity).
Do you really need a true Heavy Gun? Both Mike Davis and I experimented with true Heavy Guns in 2007. Mine was a 61-pound, 6 Dasher built with a Shehane Aluminum Maxi-Tracker stock. Mike shot a 50-pound, 6 BRX in a massive, aluminum Bruce Baer stock. Both these “true heavies” (Mike’s and mine) had dual-port BAT actions and Brux 1:8″-twist barrels. Mike set the HG 4-target group aggregate record that year with a 1.467″ Agg and I set the HG 4-target score record with a 197. These true Heavy Guns shined when the mirage and/or wind were really bad. If they are tracking back on target well, you can rip off 5 shots in mere seconds! That said, I don’t think a “true heavy” is needed to be competitive.
Folks have certainly experimented with exotic equipment in the 600-yard game. But, for a new shooter it is good to know that fancy, ultra-expensive rifles are not necessary to win at 600 yards. You can shoot one rifle and do just as well as the man with several long-range rifles. You don’t need a separate rifle for Light Gun and Heavy Gun. Just look at what Richard Schatz has done over the years with one rifle. As the saying goes, beware of the man with one gun! To boot, matches are still being won with affordable, factory-actioned rifles. Never count out a skilled shooter with an accurate Remington- or Savage-actioned benchrest rifle — he may beat you! That was the case at our most recent match at Piedmont.
- 600-yard Records Broken at Piedmont
- Top Guns Duel at Piedmont 600
- Pending 600-Yard Score Record Set at Piedmont by Eric Wilson
- Sam Hall Sets New 600-Yard IBS Score Record
- IBS 2013 Shooters of the Year and New Benchrest Records