February 23rd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: The Klemm Clan — Father and Son F-TR Aces

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian Klemm won back-to-back 2017/2018 USA F-TR National Championships. His next big challenge will be the 2021 World Championships, where his father Ken Klemm will be one of his teammates on Team USA.

Over the last 30 years, a family saga has been playing out in rural Wisconsin: a father fosters within his son the joy of competitive target shooting. It started in a basement shooting range of a small-town elementary school, shooting single-shot rimfire target rifles while cementing the fundamentals of sight alignment, breathing, trigger control, and safety. With a background of competitive smallbore shooting in school and the U.S. Navy, Ken Klemm coached his son, Ian, in a father/son indoor winter shooting league. Ian was determined to shoot as well or better than his Dad and would pursue that goal for the next 30 years. Even after his engineering career took him to the Washington DC area for defense-related work, Ian continued to compete with his Dad by mailing “postal match” targets back and forth for many years.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian and Ken Klemm have shot successfully together as members of Team X-Men.

Ken even came to visit Ian out east, with rifle in tow, where they entered the Virginia State 1000-yard Benchrest Championship on a whim with their entry-level (factory) F-Class rifles. Ken’s record target measured 0.003″ smaller than his son’s but Ian was getting closer to matching his Dad. Ian eventually moved back to Wisconsin after taking a design job with Vortex Optics, only a few miles from his hometown, and now he and his Dad could compete in earnest, both against each other and as teammates on the X-Men F-Class club team.

ian klemm rifle

Ian’s trigger time increased significantly with his new vocation and he was lucky enough to design a new competition scope, the Vortex Golden Eagle, for both to use. Armed with two nearly identical new rifles and their new optics, Ian and Ken began traveling cross-country together to compete alongside their X-Men teammates, winning multiple National F-Class Championships together.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion

Matched F-TR Rifles with Kelbly Actions, McMillan X-It Stocks, Bartlein Barrels
Both Ken’s and Ian’s match rifles are built using the same winning hardware — Kelbly actions, McMillan X-It stocks, and Bartlein barrels. Also, Ian and Ken both run similar loads: Lapua .308 Win Palma brass, Vihtavuori N150 Powder, and Berger 200-20X bullets. In addition to the components listed below, they use some special equipment: bipod lowering kits from FClassProducts.com, large rear bigfoot bags from Seb Lambang (SebRests.com), and “Dri-Gun” rain protection from BarrelCool.com.

Gun Specifications
Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm scopes
Kelbly Panda actions
McMillan X-It stocks
Bartlein 1:10″-twist, 30″ barrels
Phoenix Precision Bipods
Load Specifications
Lapua .308 Win Palma (small primer) Brass
VihtaVuori N150 Powder
CCI BR-4 Primers
Berger 200-20X Bullets
Seating: 0.015″ jump

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion

Father and Son Share their Winning Strategies
Having each other to share tips and techniques and confirm winning strategies with has certainly helped Ken and Ian compete successfully together over the last few years. Common between them are the strategies of bracketing wind conditions with sighters as well as using the Golden Eagle’s aperture stop ring (ASR) to more effectively observe mirage and ultimately quantify wind value. They both try to shoot in a building wind condition as it more slowly increases in velocity while challenging each other to stop during a string at the first sign of a potential “let off” or sudden decrease in wind velocity.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian and Ken competed successfully as teammates on Team X-Men. They shared winning strategies, such as bracketing wind conditions with sighters.

The only significant difference in how each of them wins is in their gun handling. Ken maintains the most consistent form and smallest groups by assuming very light shoulder pressure and virtually no grip contact with his rifle. In contrast, Ian is most competitive with a medium-firm pressure on both the grip and forearm of the McMillan X-It stock as well as medium shoulder pressure. Both techniques have proven themselves during competition when employed consistently.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion

Unlike many F-TR shooters, two-time F-TR National Champion Ian Klemm grips the fore-end of this rifle when he shoots. Ian explains:

“I use a piece of Kydex thermoplastic (commonly used in holsters) that I formed around the forearm (see photo above). I index off it when gripping the stock with my weak hand to ensure that I’m always contacting [the stock] in the same spot. I grip this while shooting, for every shot. It was quickly assigned to my subconscious since I was so used to gripping the fore-end after years of hunting. It felt unnatural to me to not be doing anything with my off-hand. By letting my subconscious do what comes naturally, I am able to achieve a higher level of consistency that if my conscious mind was ‘trying’ to accomplish something with that other hand. The relatively stiff McMillan X-IT stock feels like it benefits from more contact in terms of vibration during the shot as well.”

Father and Son Will Shoot for Team USA in 2021 World Championships
The United States F-Class Rifle team has just completed a 2-year tryout period consisting of multiple tests and scored drills designed to determine which developmental candidates would be named to the final travel team ultimately representing our country against the rest of the world during the next quadrennial World F-Class Championship in South Africa, April 2021. Ken and Ian were just recently informed that they had both been named as shooters on that Final Team USA Selection. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a father and son have shared that honor as teammates on a USA Rifle Team.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Here are Ken and Ian on the 2019 FCNC Team. Both father and son have been selected to shoot with the 2021 USA National F-TR Team which will compete at the World F-Class Championships South Africa.

The level of competition from the leading countries around the world is expected to be even stronger this cycle than in previous ones, with correspondingly slimmer margins of victory. Along with the rest of their US teammates and coaches, they will practice and prepare as a dedicated team over the next year to build a sense of confidence and trust in one another. Ken and Ian are thankful for the opportunity to share this experience of a lifetime together and for the 30-year long practice session leading up to it.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian Klemm and Ken Klemm at 2017 Berger SW Nationals.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Optics 1 Comment »
February 23rd, 2020

The 6mm-223 — A Wildcat Worth Considering

6mm 223 sinclair

Intro: Ron Dague wanted a new gun that was similar to his trusty .223 Rem rifle, but which fired 6mm bullets. There is a superb choice of bullets in this caliber, and Ron found that the 95gr Berger VLD could be driven to a healthy 2,604 fps by the small .223 Rem case. This 6mm wildcat based on the common .223 Rem offers excellent accuracy and very low recoil — something very important in the cross-the-course discipline. In addition, Ron’s 95gr load with Reloder 15 delivered an ES of just 4 fps over ten shots. That exceptionally low ES helps achieve minimal vertical dispersion at 600 yards.

6mm 223 Across the course McMilland stock Ron Dague Sinclair InternationalBy Ron Dague, Sinclair Reloading Tech
From Sinclair’s The Reloading Press

I already had a .223 Remington match rifle, and I wanted the 6mm-223 to be as close to the same as I could make it. I installed the barreled action in a wood 40X stock to work up load data and work out any magazine feeding issues. While I was working on that, I looked for a McMillan Baker Special stock and finally found one to finish this project. I bedded the action and stock, then took the rifle to the range to check zeros on the sights and scope. I was surprised that I didn’t have to change anything on the sights. I thought changing the stock would cause sight changes. The thought went through my head, “Maybe the 40X stock isn’t all that bad”.

Here’s line-up of 6mm bullets. The Berger 95gr VLD is in the middle.
berger 6mm bullet hornady sierra line up 6mm 233

I took the new rifle to the first match of the year, a National Match Course match, and my off-hand score was 83, rapid sitting 95, rapid prone 95, and slow fire prone 197 — for total aggregate 470. This may not be my best work, but on match day the wind was blowing about 15 mph and the temp was around 40° F, with rain threatening. This was a reduced course of fire — we shot at 200 and 300 yards on reduced targets.

I used 70gr Berger bullets for this match, loaded in Remington brass with 25 grains of VihtaVuori N540 and Federal 205M primers. When I worked up loads for this rifle, N540 gave the best accuracy with the best extreme spread — 2,950 fps with an extreme spread of 20 fps on a 10-shot string. The load for 600 yards was with a 95gr Berger VLD bullet, with 23.0 grains of Reloder 15, Lapua cases, and the same Federal 205M primers. This load is 2,604 fps, with an extreme spread of 4 fps over a 10-shot string. I’ve shot this load at several 3×600 yard matches, and the accuracy has proven to be very good. At the last 3×600 match, my scores were as follows: 199-10x and 198-11X with scope, and 193-10X with iron sights. Best 600-yard score so far with iron sights was 198-12X.

6mm-223 Rem Rifle Specifications: 700 BDL action and floor plate, Bartlein 6mm 1:8″ twist, McMillan Baker Special stock in Desert Camo, Centra front and rear sights, Ken Farrell bases with stripper clip guide, Sinclair hand stop, and Jewell trigger. Gunsmith Neil Keller helped me with the metal work and instructed me on the action work and re-barreling.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
February 23rd, 2020

Become a Range Safety Officer — The World Needs More RSOs

Range Safety Officer Course Online NRA Training

A few good men (and women) — that’s what the shooting sports need these days. We need skilled, trained personnel to serve as Range Safety Officers (RS0s). Without RSOs, there would be no shooting matches — no F-Class, no High Power, no Smallbore Matches — you get the idea. Thankfully there are now ways to get requisite RSO training without costly travel far from home.

The NRA now offers an online training course for its Range Safety Officer (RSO) program. The online course teaches the skills needs to conduct and supervise safe shooting activities and range operations. Online RSO Course students can access the electronic course materials for 90 days. You can complete the course in multiple sessions. The program will save your progress so you can return later.

NRA RSO Course OnlineThe Online RSO Course consists of SIX LESSONS:

• Introduction to the NRA Basic Range Safety Officer Course
• The Role of the NRA Range Safety Officer and
Range Standard Operating Procedures
• Range Inspection and Range Rules
• Range Safety Briefing
• Emergency Procedures
• Firearm Stoppages and Malfunctions

Who Can Take the Course?: The Online RSO Course is available to anyone who currently possess a valid NRA Firearms Instructor certification or NRA Coach appointment. Course cost is $125.00. Individuals without a trainer rating must attend the in-person Range Safety Officer course consisting of both classroom time and practical exercises on a range.

Range Safety Officer Course Online NRA Training

NRA RSO Course OnlineCertification Procedure: Students must complete all six lessons and a short electronically administered test in order to become a certified Range Safety Officer. Once the test has been passed, newly certified Range Safety Officers will receive an electronic completion certificate that can be printed or saved to a computer.

The NRA RSO program was developed in response to the demand for a nationally-recognized range safety officer certification. More than 54,000 NRA Range Safety Officers are involved in aspects of target shooting, training, and range supervision around the USA.

Berger SW Nationals
Range Safety Officer supervises the line at Berger SW Nationals. Without dedicated RSOs, we could not have matches like these.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »