February 1st, 2020

Aussie Teen Wins Heavy Gun in Big Benchrest Match Down Under

100 200 Benchrest group Australia Canberra Aussie brush fires Cameron teen Heavy gun winner

It’s great to see young people involved in benchrest competition. Young competitors are truly the future of our sport. While in the USA the average age of 100/200-yard benchrest shooters seems to be getting older every season, down under in Australia, there is a youth movement. A very talented young man, 15-year-old Cameron Bailey, took top Heavy Gun honors in the prestigious 40th Australia Day match in Canberra, Australia. This big 100/200-yard competition is one of the most important matches on the Aussie Benchrest calendar.

100 200 Benchrest group Australia Canberra Aussie brush fires Cameron teen Heavy gun winner

40th Anniversary Australia Day Match
The Australia Day Benchrest Match is one of Australia’s largest and longest-running Benchrest shooting competitions. The 25th and 26th of January 2020 marked the 40th anniversary of the Australia Day Benchrest Match. This year conditions were extremely challenging. Leading up to the match, Canberra was hit by a number of bushfires, with some competitors struggling to get to the match when Canberra Airport was closed due to nearby fires just days before the 2020 match.

100 200 Benchrest group Australia Canberra Aussie brush fires Cameron teen Heavy gun winner

Challenging Conditions with Smoke from Bushfires and High Winds
Weather on both days saw temperatures in the low-mid 90s, with wind gusting up to 30 miles per hour. Mirage can often add to the challenge when shooting at the Majura Range in Canberra, but during the Light Gun class held on Saturday, a layer of smoke from the local fires reduced the sunshine enough that visibility at 200 yards was much better than normal. However by Sunday morning, most of the smoke had blown through, so mirage was much more of an issue for the Heavy class. Conditions on both days were extremely switchy and unsettled, with the wind continually changing direction. Many competitors shot small 4-shot groups, but lost one of their 5 shots to the continually shifting winds.

100 200 Benchrest group Australia Canberra Aussie brush fires Cameron teen Heavy gun winner

15-Year-Old Cameron Bailey Tops Field in Heavy Gun
Cameron had a great preformance in the Heavy Gun Glass, beating all Heavy Gun competitors (of any age) to win the Heavy Gun Grand Agg — the combined HG group size Aggregate for 100/200 yards. And Cameron also finished 7th overall in the Two-gun Championship. Very impressive performance for a teenager. This was not his first competition though — Cameron has been shooting benchrest in Australia since he was 12, the legal minimum age to use firearms in most Australian States. Cameron shoots off the left shoulder, so is able to use one of several left-hand rifles owned by his father, Fergus Bailey.

Here is Cameron shooting LV at 200 yards. Note the whirring windflags.

Cameron had a slow start on Saturday morning in the 100 Light, finishing 34th with a .4226″ Aggregate. But Cameron generally shoots better at 200 yards, so went into the Aggregate that afternoon confident that he could significantly improve his results. Cameron worked hard throughout the afternoon, and finished in 6th position with a .3833 aggregate at 200 yards. This left Cameron 14th in the Grand Aggregate. Cameron came into the Heavy Class on Sunday with confidence, and worked hard to avoid getting caught by the difficult conditions. While Cameron did not shoot many small groups, he was able to avoid the occasional lost shots that could kill an Aggregate. In the Heavy 100, Cameron finished 4th with a .2774 Aggregate, and in the 200 Cameron finished 2nd with a .3668 Aggregate. On the day, Cameron was the most consistent across the two yardages, giving Cameron the win in the Heavy Grand with a .3221 aggregate.

100 200 Benchrest group Australia Canberra Aussie brush fires Cameron teen Heavy gun winner

Young Cameron Even Loads His Own Ammo
Cameron employed some new gear at the match, including a new Lensi rear bag, a new 3M-covered bag on his NEO rest, and a new March High Master scope. The whole weekend, Cameron shot Barts Ultra flat-base bullets, loaded with Vihtavuori N133 powder. The cartridge was 6PPC with 0.269″ neck. And yes, Cameron loaded all his own ammunition during the match. Cameron’s hot-shooting rigs used the following components:

Krieger 1/14″-Twist Barrel – Heavy Gun Class
Krieger Gain Twist Barrel – Light Gun Class
BAT Model B Multi-flat Stainless Action
Scarborough Stock
Flavio Trigger
March 48X High Master Scope
Morr Accuracy High Scope Rings

100 200 Benchrest group Australia Canberra Aussie brush fires Cameron teen Heavy gun winner

Congratulations Cameron on Your Australia Day HG Win!

Canberra in State of Emergency
EDITOR’S Note: Canberra, Australia’s Capital city, has declared a state of Emergency, as bushfires threaten. The entire Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which includes the city of about 400,000, is under a state of emergency due to the Orroral Valley Fire burning in Namadgi National Park, about 30 miles south of the city. Authorities are concerned that predicted hot weather and high winds could drive the fire north. It is the worst threat the Canberra area has faced in 20 years. See Canberra News Report.

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February 1st, 2020

Varminters’ Debate — Cranking Elevation or Holding Over/Under

IOR Scope elevation knob one revolution

Leuopold Varmint Hunters' ReticleA varmint shooter’s target is not conveniently placed at a fixed, known distance as it is for a benchrester. The varminter must repeatedly make corrections for bullet drop as he moves from closer targets to more distant targets and back again. Click HERE to read an interesting Varmint Forum discussion regarding the best method to adjust for elevation. Some shooters advocate using the scope’s elevation adjustments. Other varminters prefer to hold-over, perhaps with the assistance of vertical markers on their reticles. Still others combine both methods–holding off to a given yardage, then cranking elevation after that.

Majority View–Click Your Scope
“I zero at 100 yards — I mean really zero as in check the ballistics at 200 and 300 and adjust zero accordingly — and then set the scope zero. For each of my groundhog guns I have a click chart taped into the inside of the lid of the ammo box. Then use the knobs. That’s why they’re there. With a good scope they’re a whole lot more accurate than hold-over, with or without hash marks. This all assumes you have a good range finder and use it properly. If not, and you’re holding over you’re really just spraying and praying. Try twisting them knobs and you’ll most likely find that a 500- or 600- or 700-yard groundhog is a whole lot easier than some people think.” — Gunamonth

Varmint hunter 22 BR elevation scope hold-over

“I have my elevation knob calibrated in 100-yard increments out to 550. Range-find the critter, move elevation knob up…dead critter. The problem with hold-over is that it is so imprecise. It’s not repeatable because you are holding over for elevation and for wind also. Every time you change targets 50 yards, it seems as if you are starting over. As soon as I got completely away from the hold over method (I used to zero for 200), my hit ratios went way up.” — K. Candler

“When I first started p-dog shooting, I attempted to use the hold-over method with a 200-yard zero with my 6mm Rem. Any dog much past 325-350 yards was fairly safe. I started using a comeups table for all three of my p-dog rifles (.223 Rems and 6mm Rem). 450-yard hits with the .223s are fairly routine and a 650-yard dog better beware of the 6mm nowadays. An added benefit (one I didn’t think of beforehand) with the comeups table (elevation only), is that when the wind is blowing, it takes half of the variables out of the equation. I can concentrate on wind, and not have to worry about elevation. It makes things much more simple.” — Mike (Linefinder).

“I dial for elevation and hold for wind. Also use a mil-dot reticle to make the windage holds easier. For windage corrections, I watch for the bullet strike measure the distance it was “off” with the mil-dot reticle, then hold that much more the other way. Very fast once you get used to it.” — PepeLP

Varmint Hunting ScopeMinority View–Hold-Over is Better
“I try to not touch my knobs once I’m zeroed at 200 meters. Most of my varmint scopes have duplex reticles and I use the bottom post to put me on at 300 meters versus turning knobs. The reason I try to leave my knobs alone is that I have gone one complete revolution up or down [too far] many times and have missed the varmint. This has happened more than once and that is why I try not to change my knobs if at all possible.” — Chino69

“I have been using the hold over method and it works for me most of the time but the 450 yards and over shots get kinda hard. I moved to a 300 yard zero this year and it’s working well. I do want to get into the click-up method though; it seems to be more fool-proof.” — 500YardHog

Compromise View–Use Both Methods
“I use both [methods] as well — hold over out to 250, and click up past that.” — Jack (Wolf)

“I use the target knobs and crank-in elevation. I also use a rangefinder and know how far away they are before I crank in the clicks. I have a scope with drop dots from Premier Recticle and like it. No cranking [knobs] out to 600.” –Vmthtr

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