February 4th, 2020

How to Avoid a Train Wreck at Berger SW Nationals This Week

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

The 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals kicks off 2/5/2020 at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, AZ. The big event starts with a 600-yard Mid-Range Match. Many of the nation’s most talented F-Class and sling shooters will be there. But no matter what your skill level, it is still possible to make major mistakes that can spoil the day and/or put you out of the running for the entire match. This article aims to help competitors avoid the big errors/oversights/failures, aka “train wrecks”, that can ruin a match.

Berger SW Nationals mid-range match
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Berger SW Nationals mid-range match

In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, past F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Berger SW Nationals Train Wreck Bryan Litz

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

Berger SW Nationals
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 4th, 2020

Can’t Find H4350? Consider Alliant Reloder 16 — It’s Excellent

Hodgdon H4350 Reloader reloder 16 powder sale Varget

Forum members are lamenting that they can’t find Hodgdon H4350 at local gunstores or through major online Vendors. There ARE a few shops that do have H4350 (and Varget) on the shelves. But the nearest H4350 may be in another state, far away. Therefore, you may want to consider using Alliant Reloder 16 (RL16). We highly recommend Reloder 16 for shooters who can’t find H4350. RL16 has a very similar burn rate, excellent accuracy, and is VERY temp stable. Some ace F-Class shooters (among Top 10 at Nationals) tell us that, with hot ambient temps (80-100+° F), RL16 is even more temp stable than H4350.

Powder Availability at Online Vendors — H4350, Reloder 16, Varget
Vendor Hodgdon H4350 Alliant Reloder 16 Hodgdon Varget
Brownells Out of Stock In Stock $207.99 8 lbs. Out of Stock
Bruno Shooters Supply Out of Stock In Stock $28.50 1 lb. Out of Stock
Midsouth Shooters Out of Stock In Stock $221.31 8 lbs. Out of Stock
Sportsman’s Warehouse In store $229.99 8 lb.* In store $31.99 1 lb.* In store $229.99 8 lb.*
Powder Valley Out of Stock In Stock $26.05 1 lb. Out of Stock
Precision Reloading Out of Stock In Stock $26.67 1 lb. Out of Stock

*This is available in-store only at a few locations. You need to search store locations near you for availability. For example, H4350 8-pounders are available in a couple locations including Show Low, AZ and Midvale, UT. Varget 8-pounders are available in AZ, NM, and WY and a couple other states.

Alliant Reloder reloader 16 powder

Do You Like H4350? Then You Should Try Reloder 16 — It Is Accurate and Temp Stable
Alliant Reloder 16 is used now by many top shooters for cartridges that work well with Hodgdon H4350. In fact, we’d say that Reloder 16 is the best substitute for H4350 on the market. Alliant’s RL 16 is very temp stable, offers good velocity, and the accuracy is top tier. Some guys report slightly better accuracy than H4350 in the .284 Win, .260 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, and 6XC cartridges. If you currently use H4350, you should definitely give Alliant Reloder 16 a try. The powder also boasts excellent lot-to-lot consistency and contains a proprietary de-coppering additive.

Alliant powder Reloader Reloder 16 RL16 load data 6.5 Creedmoor .243 Win WinchesterThis is NOT just a slower version of Alliant’s double-based Reloder 15 (which words great in the 6mmBR and Dasher cartridges). Reloder 16 is a completely new formulation, produced in Sweden by Bofors for Alliant. Reloder 16 utilizes TZ technology, which manipulates the response of the propellant and resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures. As a result, Alliant’s Reloder 16 offers truly outstanding temperature stability.

Reloder 16 Load Recipes »

Reloder 16 Load Data PDF »

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 4th, 2020

Eliminate Copper “False Positives” with Aluminum Jags

Aluminum jag copper eliminator Dewey

Conventional brass jags work great — except for one thing. They can react to solvents, leaving a blue “false positive” on patches. In recent years, jag-makers have experimented with many different materials in an effort to cure the solvent-reaction problem. Today we have polymer jags, nickel-plated jags, and stainless steel jags. And the latest innovation is the aluminum jag from Dewey.

Aluminum jag DeweyJ. Dewey Mfg. offers a series of “Copper Eliminator” jags and brush adapters made from aircraft-grade aluminum with the same hardness as brass. Dewey claims that its aluminum jags will not become embedded with grit or particles that could harm your bore. At the same time, Dewey’s aluminum jags will not react to ammoniated bore solvents that can turn patches blue green when used with brass jags. Dewey aluminum jags are offered with either male OR female 8/32 threads. The $5.25 aluminum jags and $3.70 brush adapters are offered in a wide variety of calibers. You can order these products from Dewey Mfg. or Brownells.

Story Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome submissions from our readers.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »