September 2nd, 2017

IBS Match Report: 2017 Group Benchrest Nationals in Michigan

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
The IBS Groups Nationals has a 4-man team competition based on the HV Grand Aggregate results. The 2017 winning team was a “Murderer’s Row” consisting of Wayne Campbell, Billy Stevens, Bart Sauter, and Larry Costa. Each boasts Hall of Fame and/or multiple World Team accomplishments. Hamming it up in the background is HOF shooter Jack Neary.

2017 IBS Group Benchrest National Championships

Holton Gun & Bow Club, Holton, Michigan
August 14-19, 2017

Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
This year the 2017 IBS Group Benchrest Championship was held at the Holton Gun & Bow Club, in Holton, Michigan. This is a pretty facility boasting an impressive firing line with forty (40) concrete benches. Monday morning in western Michigan saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling their big railguns to the line. Hall of Fame and multiple World Team shooter Wayne Campbell shot a nice .1858 aggregate for five 10-shot groups. The only other “Teen Agg” was Iowa’s Dave Coots with a .1978. Wayne’s win foretold what was to come the rest of the week.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

Wayne Campbell and Jeff Summers Put on a Show
On Tuesday, the bag guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Mr. Campbell maintained his mojo, shooting yet another “Teen Agg”. Wayne’s .1788 edged fellow HOF member Larry Costa’s .1854. The Light Varmint 100 was also contested on Tuesday. Peter Smith shot a very fine .1658 to beat out Canadian Bill Mitchell at .1960.

Wednesday was reserved for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 100 yards. Holton is Bob Scarbrough’s home range, but he can shoot “lights out” anywhere. Nevertheless, his .1518 had to be satisfying. Wayne Campbell, still on fire, laid down a .1694. In third place, Tennessean Jeff Summers posted a .1800. Mr. Summers is always near the top of any benchrest leader board. He is coming off another Super Shoot win. Most of the time Jeff does not win the small group of the day, but he wins many Aggregates. He is one of the most mistake-free shooters in the game.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
File photo courtesy Holton Gun & Bow Club

Benchrest for Group Basics — Four Classes at Nationals
IBS group competition is contested at 100 and 200 yards. At the National Championships, it takes thirty targets of five shots each and ten targets of 10-shot groups to win a “4 Gun Nationals”. That includes four (4) gun classes: Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, Sporter, and Unlimited. For all practical purposes, the first three are known as “bag guns” while the heavy bench rifles are “railguns”.

In fact, most competitors shooting a bag gun opt for a single rifle, which has been benchrest standard for decades: a 10.5-lb rifle chambered in 6PPC. This can compete in three classes: Sporter, Light Varmint, and Heavy Varmint. The fourth class shot at the Nationals is Unlimited (aka Heavy Benchrest or “HB”). This class features the big, heavy railguns — the most sophisticated Benchrest rigs of all which shoot 10-shot groups at 100 and 200 yards.

For the IBS Nationals, group-shooting competition features 100-yard targets for the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. Six days total. It is done this way to require only one change of wind flags. Nationals competition requires “full rotation”. That means that every time a shooter goes to the line for the next match target, he or she must move a requisite number of benches to the right. At the end of the day a shooter will shoot across the full width of the line. Some ranges offer unique properties that render some parts of the range harder or easier to shoot small groups. Bench rotation is important to even out those factors.

Thursday was set for 200 yards. Starting off was Heavy Bench (HB), the big railguns. Upper Midwest shooter, Mark Buettgen shot steadily for a .2406 Agg, aided by a small .378. His largest group was a .527. Consistency wins bench matches. Lee Hachigian drove in from the Detroit area with his railgun to be next to the winner with a .2608.

On Friday, two Aggs were shot, Light Varmint and Sporter. Larry Costa nearly nicked a Teen Agg to win LV 200 with a .2027. Lurking high in the standings once again was Jeff Summers and his .2352. Wayne Campbell was not asleep. He was merely third at .2480. The Sporter competition was won by the best benchrest shooter of all time, Tony Boyer. Tony shot a .2287 to edge Billy Stevens. Mr. Boyer added another Hall of Fame point. His 170 points are 120 more than the next shooter (Lester Bruno, no slouch!) in the ranking.

Benchrest legend Tony Boyer added another Hall of Fame point to his amazing total. (File photo from 2016 IBS Group Nationals in Weikert, PA)
IBS Benchrest Group Nationals Holton Michigan

The HV guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. Jeff Summers worked a .1868 to the winner’s circle. The always tough Larry Costa was close at .1929.

At the IBS Group Nationals, shooters compete for Grand Aggregate (100+200) honors in four classes: LV, HV, Sporter, and HB. In addition, there are multi-gun titles: 2-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 & 200); 3-gun (all HV, LV, SP in 100 & 200), and 4-gun (all HV, LV, SP and Heavy Benchrest in 100 & 200).

The Grand Aggregate (100+200) winners were:
Heavy Varmint: Bob Scarbrough, Jr. (.1824)
Light Varmint: Jeff Summers (.2313)
Sporter: Wayne Campbell (.2119)
Heavy Bench: Lee Hachigian (.2374)

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

In the prestigious multi-gun competition, Jeff Summers won the 2-Gun. Wayne Campbell added more HOF points by winning BOTH the 3-Gun AND the 4-Gun. With his impressive 3-Gun and 4-Gun victories, the talented Mr. Campbell claimed the title of Top Overall shooter after six days of trigger-pulling.

CLICK HERE for FULL IBS GROUP Nationals RESULTS »

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

2017 IBS Nationals Powderpuff Exhibition Shoot
For decades, IBS hosts an exhibition shoot on the afternoon of a day when only one Aggregate is contested instead of two. It is called the Powderpuff and is intended to allow family members and others who do not shoot competitively to give benchrest shooting a try. Each shooter is assisted by a coach who instructs the shooter. World-class shooters such as Billy Stevens and Bob Scarbrough give their time and talents to assist the novice competitors. There is no time limit to rattle the inexperienced shooters.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
File Photo from previous Powderpuff Event at 2015 IBS Group Nationals

The competition is financially supported by the IBS President’s Fund. This year, at Holton in Michigan, we had four youth and 11 adult competitors. Chris Jeffers won the adult category with a nice .204″ group, while Jake Henderson put his five shots into a .244″ to win the youth division. Congratulations to all the Powderpuff competitors — we hope this inspires them to get more involved in Benchrest shooting.

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September 2nd, 2017

Fore and Aft Rifle, Rest, and Bag Positioning for Accuracy

Benchrest stock

To get the best accuracy out of any benchrest rifle, you need to find the optimal position of front rest and rear bag. The important point to remember is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6BR sits in a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).

Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Many benchrest shooters spend a fortune on equipment and devote countless hours to meticulous handloading, but they never experiment with their rifle’s position/balance on the bags. This article explains why you should test your rifle in various positions. What you learn may surprise you (and improve your scores).

Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.

front rest Sally benchrest IBS
This competitor has the front rest positioned fairly far forward but not all the way out. Note the stop on the front rest — this limits forward stock travel.

Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.

Joel Kendrick

Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.

stock position benchrest forearm sandbag front rest
Fore/aft stock position is important even with very wide fore-ends.

Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.

A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.

Rifle photo courtesy Johnson’s Precision Gunsmithing (Bakersfield, CA).

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September 2nd, 2017

“Camo Tuesday” and Clothing Sales for Hunters

MidwayUSA Hunter Hunting Sale Camo Tuesday

Hunting season is coming up soon. To help hunters get outfitted with the proper hunting gear and clothing, MidwayUSA is running some big promotions. First, a wide variety of hunting clothing is now priced up to 50% off. Then on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, MidwayUSA conducts its Camo Tuesday One-Day Sale. Pitched as the “Hunters’ Black Friday”, Camo Tuesday will be a major, one-day Sales Event with huge discounts, starting at 12:01 AM on 9/5/2017. There is also a Camo Tuesday Contest with big product give-aways.

MidwayUSA Hunter Hunting Sale Camo Tuesday

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