October 22nd, 2020

2020 F-Class National Championships in Arizona NOTICE

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

The 2020 United States F-Class National Championships commence Sunday October 25, 2020 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2020, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one exended mega-match. The Mid-Range U.S. F-Class Nationals take place 25-28 October 2020, with all shooting at 600-yard targets. The Long Range National Championships then run October 29 through November 1st with all matches at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).

CLICK HERE for 2020 F-Class Nationals Match Program »

For health reasons, F-Class Nationals competitors will be required to follow a number of important health and safety protocols. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Here are the 2020 protocols as issued by the host Desert Sharpshooters club:

2020 NRA F-Class National Championships — Safety Protocols

We have had to implement several measures for the 2020 F-Class Nationals due to COVID-19. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, a state government agency. Therefore, all state and local guidelines and measures regarding COVID-19 must be followed on the property. Unfortunately, the local guidelines include a mask mandate, among other measures. We were hoping for the measures to be relaxed as the Nationals grew closer, but that is not the case. The COVID-19 measures that must be implemented during the match are below.

COVID-19 measures for the 2020 F-Class Nationals include:

– Reduce the total number of entries to 180.
– Use every other target for a total of 45 targets.
– Food and drinks, including water, will NOT be provided or for sale.
– Only one person pulling a target.
– Wearing mask/face cover is required when 6 feet distancing cannot be obtained. This includes:

    Using the restroom.
    During all team matches, except the shooters. Only the shooter and coach will be permitted on the firing line. All other team members must be 6 feet from the shooter and coach.
    On the people movers traveling to and from the pits.
    Walking up/down the ramps/stairs at the 1000 yard line, or traveling to or from one’s assigned firing point.

– No banquet dinners.
– Award ceremony will be held each day on the firing line, with shooters in the parking lot social distancing.
– While scoring, the scorer will be at least 6 feet from the shooter.
– Shooters on the firing line will set up on each side of their assigned target marker with 6 feet separating them.
– Shooters not pulling targets, scoring, or shooting must remain off of the firing line and in their vehicles or socially distancing in the parking lot.
– Only the scoring and shooting relays will be permitted on the firing line. During pit changes, the previous scoring and shooting relays must vacate the firing line before the next scoring and shooting relays approach the firing line.
– All scores and squadding will be posted online. Those with no access to the internet can obtain their squadding on the bulletin boards on the east and west side of the building. Only one person will be permitted to be at the bulletin board at a time.
– No one is permitted to enter the Berger Building.
– Refunds will be given to those that wish to not participate in the event.

Failure of individuals to follow any of the above guidelines may result in disqualification and being asked to leave. If we do not comply with these regulations, we risk the Ben Avery Shooting Facility canceling the event without prior notice.

We would also like to remind shooters that if they are feeling sick or have any symptoms to please not come to the range, and notify us immediately at fclassnationals@gmail.com.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Located on 1,650 acres in north Phoenix, BASF is one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities. A City of Phoenix “Point of Pride,” the facility has received a five-star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges.

Firing line at 2015 F-Class Nationals at Ben Avery Shooting Facility.
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts


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October 22nd, 2020

Gun Sales Up 95% in 2020 — Nearly 5 Million First-Time Buyers

2020 gun buyers NICS survey 5 million new womens African American

2020 has been the year of the gun. Firearm sales are up 95% in 2020. And, according to the NSSF, there were nearly 5 million first-time-ever gun buyers in the USA this year. A NSSF dealer survey estimates that 40% of all gun sales were conducted to purchasers who have never previously owned a firearm. Women accounted for 40.2% of all first-time gun purchases. Notably, firearm purchases among African American men and women increased 58% over last year, the largest such increase of any demographic group.

2020 gun buyers NICS survey 5 million new womens African American

Gun Sales Up 95%, While Ammo Sales Are up 139% in 2020
Sales of guns and ammo have skyrocketed in 2020. Retailers noted that they are seeing a 95% increase in firearm sales and a 139% increase in ammunition sales over the same period in 2019. Several factors are contributing to the huge surge in firearm purchases. There were fears over the COVID-19 Pandemic and lock-downs. Then riots and social unrest followed. And many Americans believe they must “buy now” before Democrat-party politicians enact severe gun restrictions and national licensing schemes.

NSSF reports that nearly 5 million Americans purchased a firearm for the very first time in 2020.

Retailers reported a huge increase of first-time gun buyers, estimating that 40% of sales were to this group. (In the past just 24% of gun sales were to first-time gun buyers.) Semiautomatic handguns were the primary firearm being purchased by first-time buyers, outpacing the second-most purchased firearm, shotguns, by a 2:1 margin. Modern sporting rifles, revolvers, and traditional rifles rounded out the top five types of firearms purchased by first-time gun buyers.

Semi-Auto Handguns Are the Top Choice of First-Time Buyers
2020 gun buyers NICS survey 5 million new womens African American

Retailers noted that these new customers were spending $595 on an average sale and that 40% of first-time gun buyers in the first four months of 2020 were female. The main purchase driver among the group was personal protection, followed by target shooting, and hunting. Also of note was that 25% of first-time buyers had already taken some form of firearms safety course.

Record Numbers of Gun Sales by Month
For most of 2020, the month-by-month levels of firearm sales have set new records, based on FBI NICS checks. For example, in July 2020, firearms sales were up 122.5% over July 2019, based on NSSF-Adjusted* background check numbers. And, previously, in March 2020, gun purchases were up 80.4% compared to the year before (based on Adjusted NICS checks).

NICS background checks NSSF adjusted 2020March 2020

Many New Gun Buyers Are Women and Minorities
NSSF surveys revealed a 58% increase in firearm purchasing among African American men and women, the largest increase of any demographic group. Women comprised 40% of first-time gun purchasers. Gun sales have set records in 2020 — retailers reported a 95% increase in firearm sales and a 139% increase in ammo sales over the same period in 2019.

2020 gun buyers NICS survey 5 million new womens African American

Several factors are contributing to the sustained surge in firearm purchases. Sales spiked in March, with a record-setting 2.3 million NICS background checks conducted for a firearm sale, the same month the coronavirus pandemic struck. There were also major concerns after protests lead to large scale rioting and social unrest. Additionally, Americans are concerned that, if Joe Biden is elected, and the Democrats capture the U.S. Senate, there will be draconian gun control measures enacted, including outright bans on semi-automatic rifles.

* The adjusted NICS data sets were derived by subtracting out NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016.

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October 22nd, 2020

Suppressor Myth Busting — Do Silencers Degrade Accuracy?

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

Shooting Sports Suppressor SoundAre sound suppressors useful in competition shooting? In some disciplines, and in venues where sound “moderators” are permitted, the answer is “yes”. Some years ago Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA), published an interesting article about the use of sound suppressors (aka “cans”). The article explores the use of suppressors in Europe and in tactical matches in North America. You’ll also find an explanation of the rules and regulations governing suppressor ownership and use in the United States.

Former SSUSA Editor Chip Lohman tested three rifles from the bench and found that suppressors did not harm accuracy (at least with these rigs). In fact, all three test rifles (.223 Rem, .308 Win, and .338 Lapua Magnum), shot slightly better 5-shot groups at 200 yards with a suppressor than without. However, the suppressors did alter point of impact. Interestingly, velocity standard deviation (SD) values were lower with suppressors in place for all three test rifles. This observation calls for further study.*

CLICK HERE to Read Suppressor Article in Shooting Sports USA.

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

So the use of suppressors in competition could be a good thing. However, in the United States, current NRA High Power rules prohibit the use of sound suppressors. NRA Rule 3.16.1 subsection (a) states: “Sound Suppressors are not authorized for use in High Power competition.” In addition, there are some practical problems with suppressors — the heat rising off of a naked suppressor can create mirage problems (that’s why some shooters wrap their cans with a cover).

Despite such issues, it is now common to see moderators on rifles used in non-NRA-sanctioned tactical matches such as the Precision Rifle Series. For example, many competitors in the popular Steel Safari field challenge match use suppressors. The photo below shows our friend Zak Smith competing in the Steel Safari with his suppressed Accuracy International rifle.

Zak Smith Thunder Beast Steel Safari Suppressor

Commentary — What Can We Conclude?
Obviously, this three-rifle SSUSA test was not definitive. One well might observe different results with different types of suppressors, fitted to different kinds of rifles. Mounting a suppressor to any barrel will certainly affect harmonics and “tune”. But this SSUSA study does suggest that tactical shooters, who are allowed to use suppressors in competition, may find that the benefits of suppressors (significantly reduced recoil and less noise) outweigh any meaningful accuracy loss, at least in PRS-type matches.

*The article cautions that one should not extrapolate too much from the SD numbers, given the low number of test shots. Chronograph-maker Ken Oehler, when asked to comment on the SD values stated: “[You should] report the observed SDs, but draw no conclusions until… you can do more testing with larger sample sizes.”
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