Click Calendar above to download large-size 2016 National Match Calendar PDF.
It’s never too early to start planning for the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. Here is the official calendar for next year’s National Matches to be held in the summer of 2016. Registration for the CMP National Trophy Rifle & Pistol Matches and CMP Games Events will open on April 1, 2016. Competitors should note that most events and matches have returned to the previous dates before the adjustment for the Palma (Fullbore) World Championships in 2014 and 2015. However, the Smallbore National Championships will be held at the Wa-Ke-De facility in Bristol, Indiana, rather than at Camp Perry.
To get the best accuracy out of any benchrest rifle, you need to find the optimal position of front rest and rear bag. The important point to remember is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6BR sits in a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).
Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Many benchrest shooters spend a fortune on equipment and devote countless hours to meticulous handloading, but they never experiment with their rifle’s position/balance on the bags. This article explains why you should test your rifle in various positions. What you learn may surprise you (and improve your scores).
Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.
This competitor has the front rest positioned fairly far forward but not all the way out. Note the stop on the front rest — this limits forward stock travel.
Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.
Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.
Fore/aft stock position is important even with very wide fore-ends.
Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.
A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.
What’s wrong (or right?) with this picture? Does the “F” in F-class stand for “Fauna”? Look carefully at this Bisley Range photo taken by Australian R. Hurley while looking downrange through his March 8-80X scope. The photo was taken earlier this year at the Bisley National Shooting Centre in the UK.
The Story Behind the Photo
British shooter T. Stewart reports: “I was there when this photos was taken. All I can say was that Mr. Hurley was firmly reminded that should said deer accidentally jump in front of his bullet … he would spend five years “At Her Majesty’s Pleasure”. That morning we had five deer moving across the targets, literally blocking the V-Bull. Since we were on the 900-yard Firing Point, and elevated for such, obviously the bullet would pass well above them. But they do NOT move or flinch at the noise or passing bullets since they are not hunted on the Bisley Ranges. Earlier this year we saw a herd of 20 or so deer grazing slowly across the Range.”
More Fauna Findings…
Apparently Bisley is not the only place were “the deer and the antelope play”. In Canada, on the Connaught Ranges near Ottawa, Ontario, shooters often encounter a variety of wildlife. William McDonald from Ontario says: “Animals are a common sight on the Range. Along with deer we see geese, turkeys, and coyotes on a daily basis.”
Likewise, E. Goodacre from Queensland, Australia often sees ‘Roos on his home range: “I shoot at Ripley, Australia, and shooting is regularly interrupted by kangaroos. Our last silhouette match was delayed by an hour while 30 ‘Roos dawdled across — silly buggers!”
R. Hurley wasn’t the first fellow to view deer through his F-Class rifle’s scope. After seeing Hurley’s photo from Bisley, B. Weeks posted this image, saying: “Been there, done that!”
We congratulate Rebecca Richards of Australia for her incredible shooting in the recent RBA Benchrest Grand Prix at the Sydney International Shooting Centre. Consider this, out of the five (5) benchrest classes competing (two air rifle, and three rimfire) Rebecca won four classes outright while placing third in the fifth class. Wow — that represents complete and total domination. Remarkably, Rebecca dropped only 10 points in four days of shooting.
Rebecca’s amazing 4-day performance was near perfection. Overall, she scored 2740 out of a total of 2750 possible points. She shot four of 11 targets with perfect 250/250 scores, and six more with 249/250. Over the course of the event she hit 152 “dots” (center bulls) out of a total possible 275. That’s pretty amazing if you understand how small those center bulls really are. Take a look at the target photo below — the center dot is tiny.
All in all, this was a performance for the ages — one of the best combined airgun/rimfire benchrest performances in Southern Hemisphere history. Kudos to Rebecca for her brilliant performance.
Here’s the modern Sydney International Shooting Centre…
Sam (L.E.) Wilson actively competed in benchrest matches until he passed. He’s shown here with an Unlimited benchrest rifle of his own design.
If you’ve used hand dies with an arbor press, chances are you’ve seen the L.E. Wilson company name. You may not know that the founder of L.E. Wilson Inc. was an avid benchrest competitor who pioneered many of the precision reloading methods we used today. Known as “Sam” to his friends, L.E. Wilson was one of the great accuracy pioneers who collected many trophies for match victories during his long shooting career.
The photo above shows Sam (foreground) with all of his children at a shoot. Behind Sam are Jim, Jack and Mary, shooting in the Unlimited Class. What do they say — “the family that plays together stays together”? Note the long, externally-adjusted scopes being used. Learn more about Sam (L.E.) Wilson and his company on the L.E. Wilson Inc. Facebook Page.
Unlimited Class was Sam’s favorite discipline, because in the “good old days” top competitors normally would craft both the rifle and the front/rear rests. This rewarded Sam’s ingenuity and machining/fabrication skills. In the “build-it-yourself” era, one couldn’t just order up an unlimited rail gun on the internet. How times have changed…
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Midsouth Shooters Supply, a long-time supporter of AccurateShooter.com, has launched a Newsletter for shooters, the SHOT Report. The SHOT Report will provide product reviews, reloading tips, sales notices, industry news, and more. To view the premiere issue of the SHOT Report, CLICK HERE.
The first-ever SHOT Report newsletter features an article about the million-dollar American Sniper Shootout. Tracking Point, makers of “Intelligent” rifle systems, is sponsoring a challenge match pitting World Shooting Champion Bruce Piatt against Taya Kyle, Chris Kyle’s widow. Taya will be using Tracking Point’s precision-guided firearms, while Bruce will compete using basic military squad-level and sniper firearms. If Bruce wins, he takes home a $1,000,000 prize. The landmark event is set for Saturday, December 5, 2015 in Mason, Texas. Proceeds will benefit the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.
The American Sniper Shootout is the first of its kind to pit a novice shooter armed with TrackingPoint rifle systems against a World Champion-level shooter in a head-to-head competition featuring a variety of shooting scenarios at multiple distances.
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On this Veterans Day, we thought we would reprise this inspirational profile of SGT Robert Evans, a U.S. Army veteran who lost his right hand in combat in Iraq. Remarkably, despite his injury, SGT Evans obtained the Distinguished Rifleman Badge. Read on to learn more about this remarkable young soldier.
Wounded Warrior Goes Distinguished Report based on story by Ashley Brugnone, CMP writer
At the 2013 Western CMP Games, SGT Robert Evans attained what many shooters seek their entire shooting careers — a Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge. Evans earned his DR badge with just one hand, after losing his right hand while serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army.
SGT Robert Evans: Defying the Odds, Single-Handedly
AFter joining the Army in 2003, SGT Robert Evans served two tours in Iraq, suffering a spinal injury on the first tour. On his second tour, his life changed forever. On May 31, 2007, Evans was commanding a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Iraq. As the Bradley drove under an old Fedayeen guard shack, an IED on top of the guard shack detonated while Evans was reaching out of the turret. The blast amputated Robert’s right hand at the wrist.
Even as a young boy, Evans had always enjoyed shooting. He vowed to stay involved with the sport despite his injury: “I couldn’t give up shooting after I lost my hand. It’s always been too important to me,” he said. “No matter what is going on in my life, when the sights are aligned and the hammer is about to fall, nothing in the world matters at that second. It’s my nirvana.”
Evans worked his way back into the sport by starting in F-Class. The position allowed him to hold hard and pull the trigger, while also being able to use his optics. Then he got involved with J.J. O’Shea’s M1 for VETS Project. The project helps transition wounded combat veterans back into the world of shooting, with equipment arrangements, position training and mental preparations.
Working with the M1 for Vets group, Evans started shooting again. But there were challenges: “The first time I shot after my amputation, it was very frustrating,” he said. “I couldn’t hold still, and shooting left-handed was so foreign.” Being extremely right-eye dominant his entire life, the loss of his right hand caused him to relearn many things, including how to shoot. Learning how to reload and adjust for wind while slung up became a pain for Evans….
In 2008, after several months and rigorous hours of dry firing, Evans found himself crossing the threshold of Camp Perry — a dream he had waited to fulfill his entire life. He scored around 50 points standing, out of 100, on his first trip. Though not bad for someone with an amputation, that wasn’t enough for Evans. He wanted to become a Distinguished Rifleman.
SGT Evans during Team Match at 2013 CMP Western Games.
He began to realize his dream as he earned his first 10 points (towards Distinguished) at Camp Perry in 2012. It took him 15 months to LEG out. His next 6 points came at the 2013 Eastern Games in Camp Butner, NC, followed by 10 more points at the 2013 National Matches. There, hoping to “bronze out,” he managed to one-up himself to actually earn a silver medal.
Then came the 2013 Western Games at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ. Never giving up hope and remembering his long journey from the hospital bed to the firing line, he received his final 8 points. SGT Robert Evans had become a Distinguished Rifleman.
“There was a lot of pressure, speculation and competition as to who would be the first Combat Wounded Veteran to ‘Go Distinguished’ within M1 for VETS,” he said. “I’m very proud to have earned my badge, but more importantly, I hope that more wounded veterans will realize that it is within their grasp. It’s not an impossibility anymore. I hope it motivates everybody to train a little harder and hold a bit tighter – not just wounded veterans. If I can do it, anybody can.”
IBS Match Report by Bob White
The “Mainville Mania” match marked the last International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) group shoot of 2015 on September 26-27, 2015. It was held at the Mainville Sportsman Club in Mainville, PA, and was attended by 30 shooters. Shooting conditions were good, with light winds and temperatures ranging from the upper 50s to high 70s both days. The “Mainville Mania” Two-Gun Aggregate winner for 2015 was Al Auman who recorded an impressive .2294 Overall Agg. There was some very tight competitition this year — second to sixth place in the Two-Gun Agg was separated by only 0.008. Jeff Peinhardt was the Two-Gun runner-up with 0.2545, while Harley Baker placed third with 0.2569.
The Mainville Sportsman Club is a very scenic venue, set in wooded countryside. Here is the view of the covered rifle benches, as seen from the target bays.
Saturday Start to a Great Event
The Saturday morning warm-up began with Light Varmint (LV) class. Sarah Dolinsky, a first-year rookie, shot the smallest group: 0.111 inch. With the start of the record matches, Barney Small jumped out in front with a 0.139 but his lead was short-lived as Howie Levy shot his second sub-0.2 group in match Two to take over first place. Bill McIntyre’s 0.114 placed him on top after match Three. Bill maintained his lead through match Four with a slightly larger Agg. Following match Five and completion of the yardage, by virtue of his 0.121 final group, Wyatt Peinhardt won with a superb 0.1830 LV Aggregate.
Following lunch in the clubhouse (the “Mainville Cafe”), the Heavy Varmint 100-yard event began with record match number One. Al Auman took the lead with a 0.122 group. After match Two, Auman was still on top. But Harley Baker took the lead with a 0.158 after match Three. A new leader emerged after match Four as Howie Levy posted a 0.217 to take the number one spot on the leader board. On the fifth and final group, Bob White, who had been in third to seventh place all afternoon, fired a 0.121 to steal the HV 100-yard Agg. White’s final group edged out Howie Levy by a mere .002 for the win.
More Mirage on Day Two
Sunday’s weather conditions had more mirage, but were still quite shootable. Once again Sarah Dolinsky claimed small group on the warm-up in the Heavy Varmint (HV) class. Not content with a 0.277, she shot a 0.263 in match One. The lead changed to Al Auman in match Two following his first and second groups in the “threes”. However, Al wasn’t done — he improved with a 0.283 in match Three, giving him a 0.1637 Agg (as corrected for 200 yards). It appeared that a record Agg might be possible. Al maintained his lead throughout the match, finishing with a 0.2068 Agg for a solid win.
In the Sunday Afternoon Light Varmint event, Barney Small’s 0.277 in Match One had him on top. He maintained this spot through match Three, but Bob Brushingham was nipping at Barney’s heels. After match Four, Brushingham took the lead with a 0.2011. The final group gave Bob Brushingham the yardage win with a flat .2100 followed by Barney at 0.265 and first year Rookie Jason Brown in third with his 0.2707.
LV and HV Grand Agg Top Guns
Looking at Grand Agg standings in Light Varmint, Wyatt Peinhardt took third with a 0.2595. In second was Al Auman at 0.2476 and Top Dog was Bob Brushingham with a 0.2366. In the Heavy Varmint Grand Agg, Al Auman was the winner with a fine 0.2112. Harley Baker was second with 0.2395 and Howie Levy placed third with a .2423.
As awards were ending Brian Dolinsky (patriarch of the famous shooting Dolinskys) offered a $100 cash prize for the best Mainville three-match Two-Gun Agg average for the 2016 season. Bob Brushingham won the special award for best three-match Aggregate in 200-yard Light Varmint. The $100 award was donated by Kent Harshman to reward the shooter who excels in what are usually the last five targets shot in two-day match. The Mainville Club welcomes other cash award offers for its 2016 season.
The Mainville Sportsman Club (MSC) was founded in the mid-60s to promote pistol and rifle shooting. With over 400 members, the Club hosts benchrest rifle competitions, pistol matches, Cowboy Action events, Buffalo Shoots, and an annual Ground Hog Shoot.
The Club operates a covered 40-bench rifle range, a 6-lane Cowboy Action Shooting area, plus an indoor meeting facility. The rifle range has targets set at 100, 200, and 300 yards. The club also offers Hunter Safety Courses. The facility is located in the Northeast corner of Pennsylvania near Bloomsburg, PA, about 5 miles east of exit 242 on I-80 near Mainville, PA.
The Mainville Sportsman Club has a rich history. In the early years the organization held Dinner-Dances which were popular throughout the community. MSC also held Beef Shoots featuring 6″ black targets shot off-hand at 100 yards. These events were well-attended, with as many as 100 shooters.
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Report based on Story inNRABlog.
It’s official — Indiana is IN and Ohio is OUT. The Chief Wa-Ke-De Range in Bristol, Indiana, is now the permanent home of the NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships. The Smallbore Championships will no longer be contested at the historic Camp Perry facility on the shores of Lake Erie near Port Clinton, Ohio. After the Smallbore Nationals were relocated to Indiana for the past two years to facilitate the 2015 World Long Range Championships, many competitors expected a return to Camp Perry. However, the NRA Smallbore Committee has decided to make Bristol, Indiana the permanent venue for the Smallbore Championships.
Situated about three hours west of Camp Perry, the Wa-Ke-De Range has some advantages over the Camp Perry facility. First, the 100-point firing line is covered in asphalt instead of grass. In addition, the range sits in a large grove of trees that provide a beautiful setting and shelter from the wind — practically the opposite of Camp Perry’s notorious wind and open fields.
Despite this, many smallbore competitors wished for the Nationals to return to Camp Perry. One poll of shooters ran roughly 3:1 in favor of returning to Perry. On his personal website, Bill Dutton has posted an Open Letter to the NRA which states many reasons why the Smallbore Championships should be returned to Camp Perry. Among other things, Bill notes: “The facilities are perfect for a large Regional but The Chief Wa-Ke’-De Rifle Range lacks the grand scale which a Camp Perry provides. Competitors and parents look forward to browsing vendor row at Camp Perry in order to replenish supplies for the coming season… in addition to trying out the latest shooting equipment. The nearest hotel [was] in Elkhart, about 15 minutes away. Camp Perry has sufficient onsite lodging for hundreds of competitors and their families. I personally had a bill for $1,400 for the hotel I and my daughter stayed in. Compared to a Hut at Camp Perry where four people can sleep for $12.50 per night, translating to equivalent cost of $175 per person for two weeks.”
View Photo Gallery from 2014 Smallbore Championships
2016 Championships Scheduled for July 10-18, 2016
The 2016 Smallbore Championships will be held 10-18 July, 2016, with registration opening on April 1, 2016. As before, the Metric and Conventional Position Championships will fall under the umbrella of the NRA Smallbore 3-Position Championship. Note: The Metric Prone Championship was removed but the 50-yard match was added to the NRA Smallbore Prone Championship. From these two main championships (3-Position and Prone), an overall NRA National Smallbore Rifle Champion will be crowned.
Team championships in both position and prone will still be awarded. 3-Position team matches will be shot as “paper matches,” meaning the scores will be taken from a shooter’s individual performance in the 3-Position Championship. Prone team matches will still be shot on their own and will be held following each day’s individual prone matches.
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The movie “The Patriot” gave us the phrase “Aim small, miss small”. While that’s a good mantra, aiming strategies for long-range competition are a bit more complicated, as this article explains…
In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Front (first) Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.
In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:
Aiming Methods for F-Class (and Long-Range) Shooting — by Monte Milanuk
F-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of Front (first) focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.
Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.
Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.
Others use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.
Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte
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Here’s a very interesting spotting scope stand, from Forum member (and ace F-Class shooter) Monte Milanuk. You can see this stable rig can be adjusted super-low for prone shooting. The components are from Italian photography accessory maker Manfrotto (but it’s not as expensive as you might think).
Monte tells us about his spotting scope stand, which is really a conventional photography tripod adjusted to a very low position, with a special head:
This stand has a Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol-grip head to make positioning easier. It actually goes even lower, and much, much higher. Both the head and the tripod are about $170-ish each, so it’s a bit more expensive than a Ray-Vin, a little less than a Creedmoor Polecat, and a whole lot more flexible overall.
This Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod is actually a little on the big side – probably should have gone with a Manfrotto 190 model (couple inches shorter on the legs) so it can be a bit of a hassle to set up when you have to shoot two-to-a-mound a la Fullbore.
It’s probably not as [expensive] as you might think… a Ray-Vin F-Class stand (without head) is about $170 from Creedmoor Sports. A Ray-Vin stand head is $150, plus the outrigger attachment is another $100+. I’ve got two of them downstairs for when I used to shoot conventional prone[.]
Comments from Facebook Fans: Pretty high end setup, should work well for prone, not sure about other positions. — John T.
An excellent and sturdy Manfrotto stand. I have one that I use not only for a spotting scope but to mount the rifle on when allowed for unknown distance tactical matches.–Dennis Santiago
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Thinking of getting started in 3-Gun competition? In this NSSF video, Top Shot Finalist Chris Cerino reviews the hardware you’ll need for multi-gun matches. Chris talks about carbine configurations — including barrel, handguard, and optics options. In reviewing shotguns, Chris discusses shotshell caddies and the high-capacity extended tubular magazines now available. Cerino also demonstrates pistol techniques and explains the key features of a belt/holster rig for 3-Gun competition.
Gun Control — Tips on AR Shooting with Jerry Miculek
In another NSSF video, pro shooter Jerry Miculek provides tips on handling an AR-type rifle in 3-Gun matches. First, Jerry recommends a slightly forward stance, with your nose over your front toe. Second, it is important to have a consistent trigger pull. No matter how good your sight alignment, Jerry cautions, you can miss the target with a sloppy trigger pull. Finally, Miculek recommends placing your non-trigger hand well forward on the handguard. That provides better balance, tames muzzle rise, and gives you better control over the rifle for quick follow-up shots. Some shooters use a low hand position on the magwell, but Jerry says that makes the AR-15 feel top-heavy. Having your support hand out front on the handguard lowers the AR’s perceived center of gravity, allowing faster transitions for better stage times.
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The 2015 Long-Range F-Class National Championships were tough, with brutal winds on the last couple of days. Two men triumphed over the tough conditions with impressive performances. David Gosnell won the F-Open Division, while Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics won the F-TR Long-Range title. Both men were coming off strong showings in the Mid-Range Nationals held earlier in the week in Phoenix. Bryan won the F-TR Mid-Range Championship, while David (1792-100X) was a close second in the F-Open Mid-Range event, finishing just two points behind Mid-Range Champ John Myers (1794-111X). Obviously both Litz and Gosnell brought their “A Game” to Ben Avery this year.
Ray Gross, Captain of the USA F-TR Team, observed: “The conditions at this year’s National Championships seemed more challenging than in the past few years. The final couple of days seemed to be the toughest, with the many competitors changing position in the last two matches.” Newly-crowned F-Open Champ David Gosnell said the last couple of days saw “some of the toughest conditions” he’s ever experienced in a match in the United States.
Below, Bryan Litz checks out the conditions…
F-TR Long-Range Championship — Litz Wins Again
Bryan Litz won the Long-Range Championship with a 1558-55X. That was the second big win for Bryan at the Nationals, as he also captured the Mid-Range F-TR Championship. (READ Story HERE.) Bryan was shooting a low-profile John Pierce-built rig with a high-tech Scoville carbon-composite stock. Bryan was shooting Berger 215gr Hybrid bullets with Hodgdon Varget powder. CLICK HERE to learn more about Bryan’s Rifle and his winning strategy. There were a half dozen countries represented at the U.S. Nationals and many of them did quite well. Australia’s Mark Fairbairn came in second in the F-TR division at 1556-56X. Ray Weaver was third, and past F-TR Champs Derek Rodgers and James Crofts were fourth and fifth respectively.
David Gosnell Wins F-Open Long Range Championship
A popular, yet modest, Champion, David Gosnell has been on a tear this year. He recently set a pending F-Open 1000-Yard record at the Deep Creek Range, a masterful 200-17X. At this year’s Mid-Range Nationals, David rode his fast-shooting technique to a solid second place, then it all came together for Gosnell (aka “Zilla” in our Forum) at the Long Range Nationals.
Click above photo to see large version.
David had accuracy to spare at the LR Nationals — he finished with way more Xs (91) than anyone else. David says the stock is part of the secret to his rifle’s exceptional performance: “David Bailey made the stock for me, and it is really, really straight. It tracks beautifully.” David also wanted to credit his gunsmith, Jack Leather of Leather-Built Custom Rifles in Texas.
David was not shooting a super-hot cartridge. His rifle was chambered for the standard .284 Winchester. He pushes pointed 180gr Berger Hybrids to moderate velocities with Hodgdon H4350 powder, loaded to the kernel on a Sartorius force-restoration scale. At the Nationals he used both the new Norma .284 Win brass as well as necked-up Lapua 6.5-284 brass. The action is a BAT MB (RBLPRE), while David’s barrel is a Brux, 32″, 1.25″-diameter straight contour. David says his Brux has proven to be exceptionally accurate, and it cleans up nicely.
Speaking of cleaning up — David employs a conservative barrel cleaning regime. He cleans at the end of the day, so he may have as many as 80 rounds through the barrel (with three strings plus sighters). He does one pass with a bronze brush and Boretech Carbon cleaner followed by wet patches with a copper cleaner.
When asked for the secret to his success at the Nationals, David told us: “You have to have a really flat-shooting gun. When I do my load testing, all I care about is vertical.” David also advised shooters that “consistency is key — you need to address the gun the same way every time, pull the trigger the same way, and make sure the gun is tracking the same from shot to shot.”
David also advises competitors to stay calm and don’t change things near the end of the match. He told us: “In 2011 in Lodi, I was in contention going into the last string. And of course I shot terrible and blew it. But the reason was, I tried to get careful and was trying to ‘guide’ the shots in instead of just shooting my normal style. This past Saturday, going into the last string, I was thinking about that a lot. So I just shot it the way I had been doing all week and it turned out good. So, the moral here I guess is, shoot your normal game.”
That’s good advice David — thanks for sharing. And congratulations on your outstanding performance in Phoenix this past week. AccurateShooter.com is proud to see you holding that big trophy. Well done!
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We have two new National Champion F-Class Teams. At the 2015 Long-Range Team Championships in Phoenix yesterday, Team Grizzly won the F-Open Division while the X-Men team secured the F-TR Title. The teams had to deal with tough conditions, requiring wind coaches to bring their “A Game”. James Crofts of the X-Men said: “The highest level of winds in recent nationals memory greeted all on the line today.” And Shiraz Balolia, who finished with the highest score (395-17X) among all shooters, observed: “High winds in the second match really made a huge difference in scores.”
Team Grizzly Wins 2015 F-Open Long-Range National Championship
Team Grizzly finished first in the F-Open Division with a 1560-49X score. In second, nine points back with 1551-49X, was the Tex-Mex Squad, while local favorites the Wide Nines team finished third with 1548-45X. Team Grizzly’s 9-point winning margin was impressive — Leo Ahern joked that: “9 points is more like a spanking than a win!”
Team Grizzly Captain Shiraz Balolia had the top score (395-17X) of all shooters participating in the team event. (This is a file photo from previous match).
Team Grizzly’s Captain Shiraz Balolia said: “My hat is off to our coach, Trudie Fay, who has coached and won us the last three consecutive Team matches at the National Championships. I have been fortunate to have been a shooter and Captain of all three gold medal wins, three years in a row, one with Team USA and two with Team Grizzly. Trudie did a great job and my Team gun just hammered!” Along with Faye and Balolia, Team members included Kenny Adams, Emil Kovan, and John Myers.
X-Men Team Tops F-TR Field
Hail the Orange and Green invaders. The X-Men are the 2015 US Long Range National F-TR Champions. The Team included shooters Tracy Hogg, Phil Kelley, Ian Klemm, and Dan Lentz, along with Wind Coach James Crofts and Captain Ken Klemm. Crofts said: “Big thanks to our remaining X-men teammates Joseph Conley, Mike Hardy, and Radoslaw Czupryna. Special thanks to Ray Bowman as we were all shooting PR&T hammers. We have great respect for Team Sinclair (that has motivated us for a long time) and Team Michigan, our friends from up North. Today was a good day!”
All four X-Men rifles featured Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) Low Boy stocks. PR&T’s Ray Bowman observed: “Ian Klem built his rifle on our stock, PR&T stocked Dan Lentz’s rifle and we built Phil Kelley’s and Tracy Hogg’s “HAMMER” rifles.” Gunsmith Ryan Pierce chambered two of the X-Men barrels.
It was sunny but quite windy on Friday for the Team Match (Sherri Judd Photo).
Finishing second in the F-TR division was the Michigan Rifle Team, winners of the Mid-Range F-TR National Championship. The Team was coached by newly-crowned, Mid-Range F-TR Nat’l Champ Bryan Litz. Shooters include Doug Boyer, Jim Grissom, Bill Litz (Bryan’s father), and gunsmith John Pierce. Grissom shot a great match, finishing with 385-12X, but it was not enough to carry the Michiganders to victory. The squad finished with 1524-29X, six points behind the winning X-Men (1530-33X). Team Sinclair placed third with 1512-35X.
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Ben Avery 10/30/2015 panorama photo by Tracy Hogg. CLICK HERE to zoom image.
Today is the Team Match Day at the F-Class Long-Range National Championships. F-Open and F-TR team shooters will have to deal with damp conditions on the range, as a storm front recently dropped rain at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility outside Phoenix. James Crofts says: “The 2×1000 Team match today is going to be a good day. Wind will be up to 10 mph and quartering.”
In the F-TR division, competition will be fierce. The Michigan F-TR Team, winner of the Mid-Range Championship earlier this week, looks to add a matching 1000-Yard National Team victory today. The shooters of Team X-Men, lead by 2014 individual F-TR Champion James Crofts, hope to reverse their fortunes, and win at the longer distance. And Team Sinclair, the “winningest” squad in F-Class history, looks to grab another title. Team Sinclair boasts multiple champions on its squad, including Derek Rodgers, the only man to have won both the F-TR and F-Open National Championship.
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Trijicon Challenge Champion Jerry Miculek with wife Kay (left) and daughter Lena (right).
The legendary Jerry Miculek earned top honors at the 2015 Trijicon Shooting Challenge, winning a $50,000 grand prize. This year’s match, held October 21-24 at the Rockcastle Shooting Center, turned out to be a family affair — Jerry’s talented daughter Lena Miculek won the 2015 Womens’ Title. Todd Jarrett finished second overall, while Tim Yackley secured the Junior Division title.
Over $300,000 worth of Cash and Prizes Were Awarded
The 2015 Trijicon Challenge was a rich event. Shooters competed for over $100,000 in match cash, and over $200,000 in prize table awards. Some 180 professional and amateur competitive shooters from around the world traveled to the Rockcastle Shooting Center in Kentucky to compete.
This grueling event featured three days of action shooting in evenly weighted disciplines, with pistol, rifle, shotgun and combined arm segments. All firearms and ammunition were provided for the competitors, leveling the playing field.
With top five finishes in the final six stages of competition, Jerry Miculek showed the skills (and speed) that have made him one of the greatest action shooters in history. Jerry out-shot some very skilled competitors, including recently-crowned NRA World Shooting Championship winner Bruce Piatt, who finished sixth overall. Todd Jarrett took second, and Greg Jordan finished third. Rounding out the Top 5 were Tony Holmes (fourth) and BJ Norris (fifth).
Miculek Celebrates by Carving a Pumpkin with a Barrett .50 BMG
To celebrate his recent Trijicon Challenge victory, Jerry Miculek decided to do some pumpkin carving — with a .50 BMG Barrett Rifle.
Shooting the 30-lb rifle off-hand, Jerry blasted some serious holes in Mr. Pumpkin. Needless to say, the results were dramatic, if somewhat messy. Advancing the science of terminal ballistics, Jerry (not surprisingly) confirmed that “the 663-grain bullet did manage to penetrate the pumpkin all the way.” Thanks Jerry!
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Yes, “Old Guys Rule” — at least at Mid-Range. At the NRA Mid-Range F-Class Nationals, a squad of seasoned veterans outshot their younger competitors, taking the F-Open Team Title with a 1598-102X score. The SEB/Berger Team Aggregate of 1598-102X is believed to be a new National Mid-Range Team Record. Think about that — the entire squad dropped only two points (out of 1600 possible) over the entire event. That’s superb shooting by a talent-loaded team.
The winning SEB/Berger team features shooters Larry Bartholome, Danny J. Biggs, Robert Bock, and Don Nagel, along with Coach Jim Murphy and Captain/sponsor Sebastian Lambang. Remarkably, all the “Three Bs” (Bartolome, Biggs, and Bock) shot 400s (not dropping a single point), and Danny Biggs totaled a superb 400-31X to finish as high man for the event.
Finishing second in F-Open team competition, with 1590-96X, was the local favorite, Team Wide Nines. Coached by Scott Harris, this squad features shooters Dan Bramley, Milton Gillette, Christine Harris, and Allan Rosenthal (also Captain). Dan Bramley finished the match with 400-24X, not dropping a point.
Individual F-Open Results
The individual Mid-Range F-Open Championship was a tightly-fought affair. Just six points separated the Top 10 shooters. John Myers took the title with a very impressive 1794-111X. Runner-up David Gosnell (1792-105X) edged third-place Danny J. Biggs (1792-100X) on X-Count. Jeff Cochran (1790-110X) was fourth, while Jim Murphy (1790-100X) finished fifth. While gains have certainly been made in the F-TR division, the Open-Classers proved that they still have the edge, shooting larger cartridges from a front rest. The best F-TR score, 1782-96X by Bryan Litz, was still 12 points and 15 Xs shy of Myer’s F-Open-winning performance.
Michigan Squad Wins F-TR Team Championship
In F-TR Team competition, the Michigan F-TR crew took top honors. Lead by newly-crowned Mid-Range F-TR Champion Bryan Litz, the Michiganders finished with an impressive 1597-89X, nine points ahead of runner-up Team Sinclair (1588-83X). Along with Bryan, Michigan shooters included Doug Boyer, Jim Grissom, and gunsmith/action-maker John Pierce. As a historical footnote, we believe this is the first time Team Sinclair has been beaten in a major match. However Team Sinclair’s Paul Phillips posted the top individual performance in the team event. Paul shot a superb 400-25X, not dropping a single point.
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This past weekend, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC, topped a field of great shooters to win the 2015 NRA F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. Bryan shot very well, mastering conditions that were tricky and sometimes bewildering, particularly at the shortest range, 300 yards. Consider this, Lou Mudica had the top score on Day Two (all 600 yards), yet he was way down at 41st position on Day One (300/500/600 yards). Finishing Second Overall was Scott Harris. Bryan’s Michigan team-mate Jim Grissom was third, while Bryan’s father (and MI team-mate) Bill Litz was fourth.
F-TR Top Ten at Mid-Range National Championship
Bryan was using a low-profile, carbon/composite-stocked rifle built by John Pierce. Bryan told us: “This was the same rifle and almost the same load with which I won the Midwest Palma match in the summer of 2014. (Story HERE.) My gear consisted of Pierce rifle, Bartlein barrel, Nightforce scope, Berger bullets, Lapua brass, Hodgdon powder (All those companies are sponsors of the USA F-TR team as well as the Michigan F-TR team.) My load for the Mid-Range Nationals was 43.0 grains of Varget with the Berger 215gr Hybrid bullet seated 0.005″ off the rifling.”
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A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. — Bryan Litz
At the Mid-Range Nationals, wind conditions at the shorter yardages caught many competitors by surprise. As a result, many shooters, including 2014 F-TR National Champion James Crofts, shot better at 600 yards than at 300. That seems surprising… but there is a reason. Bryan Litz explains that conditions at shorter distances are sometimes more difficult to read than at 1000 yards.
Bryan Litz Talks about Mid-Range Wind-Reading Strategies
Mid-Range is marked by more uncertainty than long range shooting. At long range you can see more flags, more mirage, and conditions tend to be more readable although they have a greater effect. At mid range, the closer you are to the target the less readable the conditions tend to be. Often times at 300 yards there is no mirage and very sparse flags to get a read on. You can still get blown out at 300 yards! 500 yards can be a little better and at 600 sometimes you can get a pretty good read on it, but the majority of strategy for shooting Mid-Range is managing the uncertainty. What is your plan for shooting blind?
Suppose you’re shooting along pretty well centered up in the 10 Ring. Suddenly you shoot a 9 out the side and can’t see an indicator that explains why. Stop! Clearly something is going on which is not readable. It’s likely to be around for a period of time. Its best just to wait for that uncertainty to blow through and start shooting again when things settle out again. How do you know when things have settled out? When everybody else is pretty much back into the 10 Ring for a little while, then you know that a stable condition has settled back in. Take your best guess and get back into it.
A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. Good equipment is a must, and ballistic performance matters, but when it comes to winning a match versus placing in the top 10, it all comes down to who employs the winning strategy for the various different conditions. It can be more like a chess game then shooting. Competitive judgment is key.
Bryan Litz didn’t do too badly in the Mid-Range Team Match either, shooting a 200-10X. Bryan’s team-mate John Pierce shot a brilliant 200-15X. Looks like those low-profile Pierce-built rigs really hammer:
John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz, who is holding his Pierce-built F-TR rifle.
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The 2015 United States F-Class National Championships are underway now at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2015, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one week-long mega-match. The Mid Range F-Class Nationals take place 24-27 October 2015, with shooting at 300, 500, and 600 yards. The Long Range National Championships then run October 28 through 31, with all targets at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).
The wind arrived early on Saturday…
It started off somewhat windy on Saturday, October 24 for the 300-yard and 500-yard matches. Bryan Litz mastered the conditions to end up leading the F-TR division. (Guess that knowing a thing or two about ballistics helps when the wind is blowing). James Crofts, 2014 F-TR National Champion, shoot well at 500 yards, but struggled at 300 yards (the X-Ring is just 1.5″ at 300 yards). He observed: “Not a bad day today — overall 13th. Bryan Litz has the overall F-TR lead. I’m down 20 for the day but there are lots of shots left to go.”
All the shooting today (Sunday, October 25th), will be at 600 yards. Jim posted from Phoenix: “It’s time to start Day Two of the F-Class Mid-Range Nationals. All 600 yards today and I’m ready. Looks like it could be a tricky day with gusty winds but it will be the same for everyone.”
James Crofts at the 500-yard line. He had a tougher time at 300 yards.
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The CMP has just released proposed 2016 Competition Rules. There are a number of important proposed changes, some quite controversial. Topping the list are rule changes that would allow optics for service rifles and “modern military rifles” (MMR). If these changes are adopted, Service Rifle shooters and modern military rifle shooters will be able to use scopes up to 4.5X power. Rifle weight limits will be increased slightly to allow for the optics and the definition of “Service Rifle” will be liberalized to allow more AR variants. In addition, collapsible or adjustable-length stocks will be allowed.
We want to stress that these new rules have NOT been set in stone — not yet at least. The CMP issued its notice of Proposed 2016 Rule Changes to inform competitors and invite feedback. The CMP asks that comments/questions be sent to competitions @ thecmp.org, not later than November 13, 2015.
Major Proposed Rule Changes
1. Optical Sights For Service Rifles
The CMP states: “For several years, the CMP has recognized that optical sights are the wave of the future for Service Rifle shooting. Military recruits today do all of their training with optical sighted rifles. Service Rifle rules have traditionally tried to keep abreast of military rifle and training developments so opening Service Rifle shooting to optical sights became an inevitable change.” The 2016 rules will, for the first time, permit M16/AR15-type rifles to have optical sights (fixed power or zoom) with a maximum magnification of 4.5X and an objective lens no larger than 34 mm. There will not be a separate class for scope-sighted rifles. Instead, competitors will have a choice of using either a scope-sighted rifle that weighs no more than 11.5 pounds or a metallic-sighted rifle that will continue to have no weight limit.
2. More Options For M16/AR15-Type Rifles
Since accurized Service Rifles first came into popular use in the 1950s and 1960s, those rifles, whether M1s, M14s, or M16s and their commercial equivalents, have been rigidly defined. Legal M16-type service rifles had to retain the external profile of an M16A2 or M16A4 rifle and could only have modifications that were explicitly permitted in the rules. All this will change in 2016. The CMP plans to liberalize the Service Rifle rules to encourage greater participation. A wider variety of commercial AR-platform rifles will be allowed so long as they meet basic requirements, such as 20″ max barrel length, 5.56x45mm (.223 Rem) chambering, and a trigger pull of at least 4.5 pounds. Notably, the rifles can have either a gas-impingement system or a piston-operated gas system. Collapsible stocks will be allowed. However butt-plates and cheek-pieces may not be adjustable. (See all Requirements HERE).
3. Optical Sights for Modern Military Rifles (CMP Games)
One of the fastest growing rifle competition categories is for Modern Military Rifles. There are two classes, one for M16/AR15 platform rifles and one for a broad range of other military rifles. Competitors who compete in Modern Military Rifle Matches will now have the option of using optical sights with a maximum magnification of 4.5X. To make allowance for the increased weight of telescopes, the weight limit for AR-type rifles was increased to 8.5 pounds and for M-14/M1A rifles to 10.0 pounds. (This is a CMP Games limit — a different Rule than the Service Rifle Rule).
4. Stocks for Modern Military Rifles
Butt-stocks on these rifles may vary in length and collapsible or adjustable-length stocks will be allowed. Butt-stocks, however, may not have butt-plates or cheek-pieces that adjust up or down.
No Changes for Pistol, Vintage Sniper, or Rimfire Sporter Competitions
While big changes are slated for the Service Rifle and MMR disciplines, the CMP is not making significant rule changes for other popular CMP shooting sports.
Pistol Rules Are Unchanged
Except for permitting service pistols to have a Picatinny rail below the barrel, the Service Pistol and 22 Rimfire Pistol rules adopted in 2015 are unchanged.
Vintage Sniper Rifle Team Match Rules Are Unchanged
According to the CMP, Vintage Sniper Rifle Match rules “have stabilized nicely in the last two years” so there will be no 2016 rule changes for the Vintage Sniper two-man team event.
Rimfire Sporter Rifle Rules Are Unchanged
The most popular rimfire rifle match in the country continues to attract impressive numbers to its matches. Like the Vintage Sniper Rifle Team Match, these rules have now stabilized so that there are also no 2016 rule changes in Rimfire Sporter.