November 13th, 2017

IBS Match Report: 2017 600-Yard Nationals in Memphis

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Executive VP
The 2017 IBS 600-Yard Nationals were held October 20-21 at the Memphis Sport Shooting Association (MSSA) Range. There was a good turn-out for the event, with 80 shooters. Conditions were challenging Saturday afternoon — strong winds that put some shooters right off the target. But those who mastered the conditions earned glory. The “Top Gun” at this year’s Nationals, earning the title of IBS 600-yard National Champion, was Andy Ferguson. In winning the Two-Gun Overall, Andy turned in a truly dominant performance, recording First Place Score in both Light Gun and Heavy Gun classes, along with second in HG group and fourth in LG Group. Finishing second Overall was Gaylan Breyans, while Jim Bauer was third.

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR

Top Shooters (L to R): Steve Wilson, Scotty Powell, Seth Wooten, Gene Ford, Lindsey Talley, Andy ”Who” Ferguson, Gaylon Breans, Jim Bauer, Justin Dale, Darrell Jones, James Lederer, Robby Miles, Jeff Godfrey, Jason Wolfe, Mike Hanes. NOTE: CLICK PHOTO for large image of top shooters.

Top Ten Competitors
IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR

CLICK HERE for Complete 600-Yard IBS Nationals Results »

Today’s 600-yard benchrest rigs are capable of remarkable accuracy. Even with tough conditions in the afternoons, there was some pretty impressive shooting. Out of 640 targets that were shot by 80 competitors there were 27 scores of 50, 56 groups of 2” or less, 14 of 1.50” or less, 3 groups of 1.25″ or less, and one of 1” or less. See the FULL Results for more details.

Demonstration of Winning Form — Smooth and Fast
How do you win a 600-Yard National Benchrest Championship? Here’s a video answer to that question. To see how a top shooter handles his rifle on the bench, watch the short clip below of Two-Gun Winner Andy Ferguson shooting one of his targets with his 6BR Light Gun. Andy demonstrates smooth “table manners”. He keeps his head down, running off five shots in under 15 seconds. Note how well the gun tracks, returning to Point of Aim.

Match Winner Andy Ferguson Drills Five Shots in Under 15 seconds with his Light Gun

Notably, Andy won the match shooting the “plain vanilla” 6mmBR Norma — not a Dasher, not a 6 BRX, not a 6 BR Ackley. The parent 6mmBR cartridge can still do the job, particularly in the hands of a smooth shooter like Andy Ferguson. At the Memphis range, the usual strategy is to shoot on the sighter gong just before the switch to the record and then fire all shots on the record target as rapidly as possible to stay in the same wind condition.

600-Yard Benchrest Competition — The Basics

Two Classes — Light Gun and Heavy Gun
For those that are not familiar with this 600-yard Benchrest competition, the equipment rules are the same as for 1,000-yard Benchrest. There are two classes of rifles. The Light Gun (LG) rifles are limited to 17 pounds with no stock width or buttstock angle restrictions. The front and rear of these rifles must rest on sand bags. The rear bag may not have any provision for aiming the rifle.
Heavy Gun (HG) rifles have no weight limit. Like the LGs their stocks are not limited as to width or butt stock shape. HG rear sand bags may be supported by “mechanical” rests. Return to battery rests are not allowed for either class. Both HG and LG classes may use muzzle brakes.

Match Procedures at Memphis
In 600-yard IBS Benchrest competition, targets are measured for group size and there is also a score value based on shot placement in the target rings. Prizes are awarded for group, score, and combined. Before the first record target of an Aggregate, the sighter period is six minutes. For subsequent targets in that Agg, it is reduced to two minutes. At the end of sighter period, upon command, shooters have 10 minutes to complete their record target. Aggregates consist of eight targets. Shots that do not print on the target result in that target being disqualified (DQ), as well as the applicable Aggregate.

At this year’s Nationals, shooters rotated four benches to the right after every pair of targets was shot, continuing that rotation through both days. LG was shot on Friday, HG on Saturday. Thanks to an efficient target crew and recorded match commands, shooting was over by 2:25 pm both days.

Equipment List for Top Ten Shooters

The Top Ten Shooters all ran 6mm cartridges (6BRs and Dashers) loaded with similar components. All of the Top Ten who listed their components ran Varget powder and CCI 450 primers in Lapua brass. BAT Actions were predominant, and both Nightforce and Sightron scopes were popular. The top projectiles were Vapor Trail 103s and Berger 105s.

Top Ten Equipment List
IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR
CLICK HERE for longer Equipment List.

A Well-Run Match
According to all reports the entire event ran like a well-oiled machine. The target crew was quick and skilled and all of the other details were handled efficiently. Prizes and trophies were in abundance. There was even some originality. Much to everyone’s amusement, instead of the usual (boring) plaque or trophy for the Two-Gun winner, a professional wrestling-style Prize Belt was awarded. Great idea! Showing off the Champ’s Belt is Two-Gun winner Andy Ferguson (Right) with past Shooter-of-the-Year Richard Schatz.

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Andy Ferguson Prize Belt Two Gun Winner

Wicked Winds Challenge Shooters on Saturday
The conditions were variously described as “horrible”, the “worst for any match on this range this year”, and so on. Conditions were worse on Saturday than Friday, blowing like stink by the end of the day. Friday morning it was cool, humid and breezy, with a wind speed of a little over 3 mph. By mid-afternoon, when the match finished, it was 20 degrees warmer and the wind had increased significantly to about 9 mph. Saturday morning was warmer, less humid, and the wind speed was about the same as Friday afternoon. But by mid-afternoon, at the end of the match, the wind was blowing 15 mph having peaked an hour earlier at 17 mph!

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR

Doing a little research on the Berger Bullets website, with a 105gr VLD running 2950 fps, and a 15 mph wind coming from 5 O’Clock, the bullet deflection at 600 yards would be over 17.5 inches. There were a fair number of shooters with good records that missed targets.

Good Deed by Match Director Mike Moses
Match Director Mike Moses “paid it forward” this year in Memphis. Mike learned that his friend, bullet-maker Bart Sauter, had invited a young barrel-maker, James Lederer, to the Nationals. As this would be Lederer’s first 600-yard experience, Bart was going to lend Lederer one of Bart’s rifles. But it had another maker’s barrel installed. Mike decided Lederer should, fittingly, use a barrel Lederer made himself. So Mike then chambered up one of two Lederer barrels Mike had recently purchased, and fitted it to one of his own rifles. Mike then fire-formed cases, worked up a load, and assembled ammo for the match.

Mike prepared three complete rifles (and ammo) for the match — one for himself, one for his daughter (Lindsey Talley, ace photographer), and one for James Lederer. It’s hard enough to prepare a Nationals rig for one shooter. Mike did it for three people, PLUS he ran the match.

How did it work out? James Lederer finished mid-pack on Friday, and put what he had learned to good use on Saturday, taking a solid fourth place in Heavy Gun.

Both Bart and Mike have been impressed with the quality of Lederer barrels. James has several years’ experience working for a well-known barrel-maker before designing his own computer-controlled cut-rifling machine, and opening his own one-man shop.

Bauer Power — Jim and Sally Bauer at IBS 600-Yard Nationals

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

Jim Bauer sends 5 record rounds down range with his “Eagle” HG in Maxi-Tracker stock.

Sally Bauer shoots sighter rounds with her Stars & Stripes HG Maxi-Tracker.

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

The Bauers have a great transport set-up, with custom, slide-out rifle carriers fitted to their van. You can see the two Heavy Guns featured in the videos in the lower drawer.

The Memphis Sport Shooting Association Facility
The Memphis Sport Shooting Association operates an impressive facility with ranges for rifle, pistol, and shotgun. The 600-yard benchrest range, with covered firing line, is nicely sited, with thick stands of trees left and right. There are 24 very solid concrete-top benches. Plentiful rain and sunshine provide ideal conditions for trees and grass. For those of us in the arid West, the Memphis range seems green and lush. The trees on either side offer some (but obviously not complete) protection from wind.

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy
2012 Photo by Birdog for

The range was built on land that had been an across-the-course High Power range, and the raised berms for intermediate firing lines are still present. That makes the wind bit more “interesting” when head- or tail-wind angles prevail. There are no pits. For each bench, at 600 yards, two record targets are posted one above the other with a 20” square steel sighter gong directly below. The sighter plates are repainted throughout the day during target changes. CLICK HERE for a 360-degree video view of the range from the covered firing line.

To the IBS Membership — Thanks for Helping with Match Reports
Putting together these match reports for the IBS page on is challenging and enjoyable work. The hard part is coming up with pictures and videos. This time I have been lucky and I am thankful for that. The best part is that I get to talk to some very fine people. Thank you all for taking the time to make my work possible. I appreciate it. — Boyd Allen

Credit Randy Dawson (Birdog) for most of the images and videos used here.

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