Some folks say you haven’t really mastered marksmanship unless you can hit a target when standing tall ‘on your own hind legs’. Of all the shooting positions, standing can be the most challenging because you have no horizontally-solid resting point for your forward arm/elbow. Here 10-time National High Power Champ Carl Bernosky explains how to make the standing shot.
Carl Bernosky is one of the greatest marksmen in history. A multi-time National High Power Champion, Carl has won ten (10) National High Power Championships in his storied shooting career, most recently in 2012. In this article, Carl provides step-by-step strategies to help High Power shooters improve their standing scores. When Carl talks about standing techniques, shooters should listen. Among his peers, Carl is regard as one of the best, if not the best standing shooter in the game today. Carl rarely puts pen to paper, but he was kind enough to share his techniques with AccurateShooter.com’s readers.
If you are position shooter, or aspire to be one some day, read this article word for word, and then read it again. We guarantee you’ll learn some techniques (and strategies) that can improve your shooting and boost your scores. This stuff is gold folks, read and learn…
How to Shoot Standing by Carl Bernosky
Shooting consistently good standing stages is a matter of getting rounds down range, with thoughtfully-executed goals. But first, your hold will determine the success you will have.
1. Your hold has to be 10 Ring to shoot 10s. This means that there should be a reasonable amount of time (enough to get a shot off) that your sights are within your best hold. No attention should be paid to the sights when they are not in the middle — that’s wasted energy. My best hold is within 5 seconds after I first look though my sights. I’m ready to shoot the shot at that time. If the gun doesn’t stop, I don’t shoot. I start over.
2. The shot has to be executed with the gun sitting still within your hold. If the gun is moving, it’s most likely moving out, and you’ve missed the best part of your hold.
3. Recognizing that the gun is sitting still and within your hold will initiate you firing the shot. Lots of dry fire or live fire training will help you acquire awareness of the gun sitting still. It’s not subconscious to me, but it’s close.
4. Don’t disturb the gun when you shoot the shot. That being said, I don’t believe in using ball or dummy rounds with the object of being surprised when the shot goes off. I consciously shoot every shot. Sometimes there is a mistake and I over-hold. But the more I train the less of these I get. If I get a dud round my gun will dip.* I don’t believe you can learn to ignore recoil. You must be consistent in your reaction to it.
5. Know your hold and shoot within it. The best part of my hold is about 4 inches. When I get things rolling, I recognize a still gun within my hold and execute the shot. I train to do this every shot. Close 10s are acceptable. Mid-ring 10s are not. If my hold was 8 inches I would train the same way. Shoot the shot when it is still within the hold, and accept the occasional 9. But don’t accept the shots out of the hold.
6. Practice makes perfect. The number of rounds you put down range matter. I shudder to think the amount of rounds I’ve fired standing in my life, and it still takes a month of shooting standing before Perry to be in my comfort zone. That month before Perry I shoot about 2000 rounds standing, 22 shots at a time. It peaks me at just about the right time.
This summarizes what I believe it takes to shoot good standing stages. I hope it provides some insight, understanding, and a roadmap to your own success shooting standing.
— Good Shooting, Carl
* This is very noticeable to me when shooting pistol. I can shoot bullet holes at 25 yards, but if I’ve miscounted the rounds I’ve fired out of my magazine, my pistol will dip noticeably. So do the pistols of the best pistol shooters I’ve watched and shot with. One might call this a “jerk”, I call it “controlled aggressive execution”, executed consistently.
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If you look at that 5-round group you might think it was shot with a 6 PPC or maybe a 6mmBR. But no, this was done with heavy 180gr Berger Hybrid bullets and the .284 Shehane, an improved version of the .284 Winchester. In fact, this impressive sub-quarter MOA group was shot while fire-forming with a very well-worn barrel!
Here’s a 5-shot 0.191″ group at 100 yards with my .284 Shehane fireforming loads. This barrel has 2200 rounds through it. It had 2000 as a straight .284 Win and then I set it back to .284 Shehane to form brass with. This was the first five rounds through it after I cleaned it after the last match. [The load was] 180 Hybrids with 54.0 grains of H4831 SC.
Ya, I figured why not I had some old barrels laying around so I just chopped 2″ off the back and 1″ off the front and chambered it up as a Shehane. Had 1000 pieces to fireform and didn’t want to do all that on a brand new barrel.
My fireform loads are going 2765 FPS. I have a 29″ barrel also though since it’s a setback. Once you get it formed I would push it faster than that or I wouldn’t even bother with the Shehane. My old straight .284 load at 2890 fps had ES spread in single digits for 10 shots. I figured if I get it up to 2935-2950 fps that will be a point or two saved in a several day match.
Fellow .284 Shehane shooter Erik Cortina notes that the .284 Shehane has a velocity edge over the straight .284 Win because it holds more powder: “The Shehane has more capacity than the .284 Winchester. Ryan is using 54.0 grains simply as a fire-forming load. Typical load for a Shehane is around 57.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831 SC.” By blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc, with long barrels.
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Field Target (FT) and Hunter Field Target (HFT) airgun disciplines are popular outdoor shooting sports that simulate the challenges of hunting small game. One of the unique aspects of FT competition is target range-finding using parallax and optical focus. (HFT is limited to lower power scopes, so this type of range-fiding is not used in HFT.) Range-finding is very important because the pellets shot by FT airguns drop rapidly once they leave the muzzle (pellets can drop roughly 5″ at 50 yards). If you don’t have your scope set to the correct distance, you’ll probably miss the target high or low.
FT competitors employ high-magnification (35-55X) scopes to sight targets placed from 10 to 55 yards (7.3 to 50m in the UK). Because these scopes have very short depth-of-field at high-magnification, the target will be out of focus unless you have the scope focus/parallax control set very precisely. But competitors can use this to their advantage — once the target is precisely focused, you have effectively established its distance from the shooter. FT scopes often have large-diameter wheels on the side parallax control so the focus can be set very precisely. You can then read marks placed on the scope to adjust the amount of elevation need to put the pellet on target.
To simplify the adjustment of elevation on FT rifles, competitors will place tapes on the windage knobs with marks that correspond to distances in 3-5 yard (or smaller) increments. These marks allow you to quickly spin your elevation to the setting matching the target range established with your focus/parallax control.
Field Target Accessories
There are a variety of specialized products for FT competitors that help you set up your scope for precise ranging. First, Compufoil offers a computer program, ScopeKnob, that lets you easily create accurate elevation knob tapes for your scope. ScopeKnob even comes with a built-in Ballistics Module that will calculate the pellet trajectory for you and plot range settings for your tape. Chairgun.com also offers ChairGunPRO, specialized airgun ballistics software that lets you simultaneously compare four different pellets, or different scope heights.
In the past, the A-Team offered replacement elevation knobs optimized for use with yardage marking tapes. These were offered in two versions, one which replaced the existing turret altogether and a second which clamped OVER the factory turret. Shown at right is the larger-diameter version in place over the factory turret. Unfortunately we don’t know a current source for this product, but this may help you crate something similar on your own.
Last but not least, Pyramid Air offers large-diameter parallax control wheels. According to Pyramid: “The enlarged sidewheel is the most popular FT scope accessory of all. It lets you put white artist’s tape around the rim to mark the actual distances at which the scope focuses”. A 6″ sidewheel provides over 18″ of space on which to inscribe yardage, and that means you can have a meaningful separation between 18 yards and 20 — where there is a huge parallax and trajectory difference. Though the ranges are already engraved on the rim of the wheel, field target competitors will measure them again on an actual range and write the markings on a strip of white artist’s tape.
Tips on Field Target Scope Set-Up
The creator’s of the A-Team knobs suggest taking your time when setting up a scope for Field Target competition: “We normally take from three to four hours preparing a scope to be mounted on a gun. We mark the scope in 1-yard increments from 9 to 40 yards, then to 55 yards by 3 or 5-yard increments depending on the scope being calibrated.”
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Guest Article By Michelle Gallagher, Berger Bullets
Let’s face it. In the world of firearms, there is something for everyone. Do you like to compete? Are you a hunter? Are you more of a shotgun shooter or rifle shooter? Do you enjoy running around between stages of a timed course, or does the thought of shooting one-hole groups appeal to you more? Even though many of us shoot several different firearms and disciplines, chances are very good that we all have a favorite. Are we spreading ourselves too thin by shooting different disciplines, or is it actually beneficial? I have found that participating in multiple disciplines can actually improve your performance. Every style of shooting is different; therefore, they each develop different skills that benefit each other.
How can cross-training in other disciplines help you? For example, I am most familiar with long-range prone shooting, so let’s start there. To be a successful long-range shooter, you must have a stable position, accurate ammunition, and good wind-reading skills. You can improve all of these areas through time and effort, but there are other ways to improve more efficiently. Spend some time practicing smallbore. Smallbore rifles and targets are much less forgiving when it comes to position and shot execution. Long-range targets are very large, so you can get away with accepting less than perfect shots. Shooting smallbore will make you focus more on shooting perfectly center shots every time. Another way to do this with your High Power rifle is to shoot on reduced targets at long ranges. This will also force you to accept nothing less than perfect. Shoot at an F-Class target with your iron sights. At 1000 yards, the X-Ring on a long range target is 10 inches; it is 5 inches on an F-Class target. Because of this, you will have to focus harder on sight alignment to hit a center shot. When you go back to the conventional target, you will be amazed at how large the ten ring looks.
Also, most prone rifles can be fitted with a bipod. Put a bipod and scope on your rifle, and shoot F-TR. Shooting with a scope and bipod eliminates position and eyesight factors, and will allow you to concentrate on learning how to more accurately read the wind. The smaller target will force you to be more aggressive on your wind calls. It will also help encourage you to use better loading techniques. Nothing is more frustrating than making a correct wind call on that tiny target, only to lose the point out the top or bottom due to inferior ammunition. If you put in the effort to shoot good scores on the F-Class target, you will be amazed how much easier the long-range target looks when you return to your sling and iron sights. By the same token, F-Class shooters sometimes prefer to shoot fast and chase the spotter. Shooting prone can help teach patience in choosing a wind condition to shoot in, and waiting for that condition to return if it changes.
Benchrest shooters are arguably among the most knowledgeable about reloading. If you want to learn better techniques about loading ammunition, you might want to spend some time at benchrest matches. You might not be in contention to win, but you will certainly learn a lot about reloading and gun handling. Shooting F-Open can also teach you these skills, as it is closely related to benchrest. Benchrest shooters may learn new wind-reading techniques by shooting mid- or long-range F-Class matches.
Position shooters can also improve their skills by shooting different disciplines. High Power Across-the-Course shooters benefit from shooting smallbore and air rifle. Again, these targets are very small, which will encourage competitors to be more critical of their shot placement. Hunters may benefit from shooting silhouette matches, which will give them practice when shooting standing with a scoped rifle. Tactical matches may also be good, as tactical matches involve improvising shots from various positions and distances. [Editor: Many tactical matches also involve hiking or moving from position to position — this can motivate a shooter to maintain a good level of general fitness.]
These are just a few ways that you can benefit from branching out into other shooting disciplines. Talk to the other shooters. There is a wealth of knowledge in every discipline, and the other shooters will be more than happy to share what they have learned. Try something new. You may be surprised what you get out of it. You will certainly learn new skills and improve the ones you already have. You might develop a deeper appreciation for the discipline you started off with, or you may just discover a new passion.
This article originally appeared in the Berger Bulletin. The Berger Bulletin blog contains the latest info on Berger products, along with informative articles on target shooting and hunting.
Article Find by EdLongrange.
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St. Thomas Groundhog Shoot, Report by Jonathan Trivette
Nestled at the base of a mountain in south-central Pennsylvania is the St. Thomas Sportsmen’s Association. On a cool Saturday morning you’ll find some of the area’s best shooters at the monthly Groundhog Match. The match attracts shooters from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and of course Pennsylvania.
It may not be the longest-yardage match in the area, but it can be the one of the toughest. The range is sloped up the mountain a little so the winds can be very tricky. Often times the three wind flags at 200, 300, and 400 yards will all be blowing in different directions.
A Class for Everyone
St. Thomas’s Groundhog match has five different classes: Heavy (Unlimited) Custom, Light Custom, Heavy Sporter, Light Factory Sporter, and an AR Class. The Heavy Custom is any gun over 17 pounds while Light Custom is any gun up to 17 pounds. The Heavy Sporter is any factory gun that has a heavy/varmint barrel on it. The Sporter class is any factory rifle that has a light profile barrel on it. And the AR class is any AR style rifle. CLICK HERE for Match Rules.
Groundhog Match Format
Signups start at around 7:00 am the day of the match. During sign-up you’ll choose a bench from the 20 available benches. The cost is $15 per gun and you can shoot as many guns as you would like. I’ve shot as many as four different guns but that makes for a busy day. For the Heavy Custom and Light Custom you will shoot 5 shots for score at 200, 300, and 400 yards. In the Heavy Sporter class you will shoot 5 shots for score at 100, 200, and 300 yards. In the Sporter and AR class you will shoot 3 shots for score at 100, 200, and 300 yards.
The Targets feature a groundhog with scoring rings on the left side and 5 practice rings on the right side. Shooters get as many practice shots as they want, subject to a time limit. The three relays run 6 minutes, 6 minutes and 9 minutes respectively.
The match is very well-organized yet has a “laid-back” feel. The first relay starts at 9:00 am and the match is usually over around 1:30 pm. There’s a covered picnic table area for socializing with fellow shooters while waiting on your relay. They have doughnuts and coffee in the morning and usually have some very good chili and hot dogs (for lunch) in the concessions area.
Groundhog Match Results April 16, 2016
On Saturday the weather was perfect and conditions were very good early on. However, by the time the last relay rolled around, mirage made it difficult to see. Ben Brubaker obviously had less trouble than most finishing 1st (143.02) and 2nd (143.02) in the Heavy Custom Class and 1st (144.04) and 3rd (142.04)in the Light Custom class using a 6mm Dasher in both classes. Bob Daron won the Heavy Sporter class with a score of 144.04 followed by Fred Kaminsky with a 142.06. Sporter class proved to be a family affair, with the Bollinger brothers, Glenn (87.01) and Bob (83.02) finishing first and second. We had one junior shooter on Saturday, 7-year-old Lydia Funk. The talented yound lady shot a 68 in Sporter class with her .223 Rem.
You may have missed the first Groundhog Shoot of the year, but there are several other chances for you to get out and test your skills against some of the best shooters in the region. St. Thomas Sportsmen’s Assn. has one shoot a month until October on the second Saturday of each month. Don’t think you have to be a professional shooter to come to these matches. Take it from me as I started shooting these matches about five years ago with a $270 Savage sitting on top of homemade sand bags. The guys here are great to shoot with and are always willing to help out a fellow shooter. They made me feel right at home and always helped me when I have any questions. I started doing this to become a better shooter for deer hunting. I continue to do it because I fell in love with the sport. So if you are looking for something to do on the second Saturday of the month come out and test your shooting skills and enjoy the fellowship of like-minded shooters.
CREDIT: We want to thank Jonathan Trivette for supplying this story and the photos. We welcome reader submissions such as this.
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Are you trying to decide what components to use for your next F-Class build, or are you looking to upgrade your current rig? Wonder what the “big dogs” in the sport have selected as their hardware? Here’s what United States F-Open team members are using. The most popular chambering is the .284 Winchester, followed by the 7mm Walker (a 40° .284 Winchester Improved). Kelbly and BAT actions are the most popular, and nearly all team members are using cut-rifled barrels. A wide variety of stocks are used, with PR&T holding a slight edge over second-place McMillan.
How would you like to be able to locate any rifle range in North America in a matter of seconds? That it now possible with the mobile Where To Shoot App, available FREE for both iOS (Apple) and Android devices.
The Where To Shoot App quickly locates shooting ranges near you, drawing on North America’s most comprehensive directory of shooting ranges. Users can search by current location, state, or zip code and find specifics about each range, including shooting activities offered. And once you locate a range with the App, you can call up a summary of range facilities and get driving directions to the range.
The app is modeled after NSSF’s popular WhereToShoot.org® website and is updated frequently with range information in every U.S. state and Canadian province. Once you’ve location a place to shoot, the App helps you get directions to the range. The App also includes video tips for shooters, news, and firearm-safety information.
Download the app via the links above or by visiting wheretoshoot.org on your mobile device.
The NSSF’s Where To Shoot mobile App has topped 100,000 downloads. The app, which rose to No. 4 on the Apple App Store’s list of free sports Apps, has been a hit with target shooters and gun owners nationwide.
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To succeed in long-range shooting matches, given the high level of competition these days, you’ll need solid wind-reading abilities. We’ve found an article by SFC Emil Praslick III, retired USAMU Service Rifle coach and U.S. Palma Team Coach, that can help you make better wind calls in competition.
Emil Praslick, now retired from the U.S. Army, is considered one of the best wind gurus in the United States, if not the world. During his service with the USAMU he authored an excellent two-part article on wind reading that is available on the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) website. Both articles contain helpful illustrations, and are “must-read” resources for any long-range shooter–not just Service Rifle and Highpower competitors.
Part One covers basic principles, tactics, and strategies, with a focus on the 200-yard stages. Emil writes: “There are as many dimensions to ‘wind reading’ as there are stages to High Power competition. Your tactical mindset, or philosophy, must be different for the 200 and 300 yard rapid-fire stages than it would be for the 600 yard slow-fire. In the slow-fire stages you have the ability to adjust windage from shot to shot, utilizing the location of the previous shot as an indicator. Additionally, a change to the existing conditions can be identified and adjusted for prior to shooting the next shot.”
In Part Two, Praslick provides more detailed explanations of the key principles of wind zeros, wind reading, and the “Clock System” for determining wind values: “The Value of the wind is as important as its speed when deciding the proper windage to place on the rifle. A 10 MPH wind from ’12 o-clock’ has No Value, hence it will not effect the flight of the bullet. A 10 MPH wind from ‘3 o’clock’, however, would be classified as Full Value. Failure to correct for a Full Value wind will surely result in a less than desirable result.”
Praslick also explains how to identify and evaluate mirage:
Determine the accuracy of the mirage. Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air that have different temperatures than the ground. These layers are blown by the wind and can be monitored to detect wind direction and speed.
Focus your scope midway between yourself and the target, this will make mirage appear more prominent. I must emphasize the importance of experience when using mirage as a wind-reading tool. The best way to become proficient in the use of mirage is to correlate its appearance to a known condition. Using this as a baseline, changes in mirage can be equated to changes in the value of the wind. Above all, you must practice this skill!
Click HERE for more excellent instructional articles by Emil Praslick and other USAMU Coaches and shooters.
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The 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Marksmanship will be an important part of the Rio Olympics. Nearly 400 top shooters from around the world will compete in rifle, pistol, and shotgun events. The shooting competitions will take place in a large, modern sports complex originally created for the 2007 Pan-American Games at a cost of $53.5 million. This complex, located within the Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio, offers roughly 30,000 square meters of improved areas on the 125,000 square meter site. Brazil’s Olympic Shooting Center (also known as the National Shooting Center) is an impressive facility. In size, scale, cost, and capabilities, Rio’s Shooting Center is without rival in the Southern Hemisphere.
Video Showcases Brazil’s Modern Olympic Shooting Center:
ISSF World Cup Underway at Shooting Center Now
If you want to learn more about the Olympic Shooting Center in Rio, there is an good article on the Shooting Sports USA website. This covers the history of Brazil’s Olympic shooting teams, and explains what competitors can expect this summer. Right now the Olympic Shooting Center is being used for the ISSF World Cup.
2016 Olympic Dress Rehearsal
“The 2016 Olympic Games this August will be one of the largest sporting events ever held. There will be another contest this year in the wonderful city of Rio de Janeiro that will function as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the big show. On April 14-25, the Olympic Shooting Center will host the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup. During the 11-day competition, 700 athletes from dozens of countries will showcase their skills at the biggest shooting sport event in Brazil before the Olympics.” — Read more at Shooting Sports USA
The 10th Annual Eastern CMP Games and Creedmoor Cup Matches will be held at Camp Butner, North Carolina, April 29 through May 8, 2015. The Eastern CMP Games run April 29 through May 3, while the Creedmoor Cup Matches will follow the Eastern Games, May 4-8. Events will include a 4-Man Team Match, Creedmoor Cup Match and EIC Match. All interested shooters are invited to participate in this popular event, which includes: Rimfire Sporter Match, M16 Match, M1 Garand Match, Springfield Match, M1-Carbine Match, Vintage Military Match, Modern Military Match, Vintage Sniper Match, Pistol Matches and more.
There will also be skills training seesions throughout the week, including a High Power Shooting Clinic, Pistol Clinic, and GSM New Shooter Clinic. The free Team Remington High Power Shooting Clinic will offer instruction by some of the nation’s top High Power service rifle competitors. This will feature lectures, dry fire training, plus lots of hands-on coaching with a large squad of instructors. The Eastern CMP Games will also conduct a Small Arms Firing School (SAFS). The SAFS instruction is geared toward new shooters, so no previous firearm experience is required.
The Vintage Sniper Match is a two-person team match, utilizing scoped rifles from the Korean War, World War II or earlier, upon sandbags. Teammates take turns as both shooter and spotter.
Garand-Springfield-Military New Shooter Clinic
The Garand-Springfield-Military (GSM) New Shooter Clinic is recommended for all new shooters to the CMP Games, as well as those who may not be firing, but simply would like to learn more about the events. The clinic includes classroom instruction, demonstrations and dry-fire position practice – all led by CMP GSM Master Instructors.
Great Place to Get Started in Competitive Shooting
The CMP Games matches are ideal events for shooters who have not participated in previous competitions. Shooters are permitted to coach or assist each other in these matches. Experienced shooters are encouraged to assist new shooters with positions, slings, loading and the rules.
To learn more about the Eastern CMP Games, email croguski [at] thecmp.org or call (888) 267-0796, extension 714. If you have questions about the Creedmoor Cup contact Dennis DeMille, demille [at] creedmoorsports.com or call (800) 273-3366 M-F, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm Central Time.
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Kruger of Germany produces match targets for the ISSF and major World Championships. Kruger’s quality control is second to none. Now officially-licensed NRA targets are available from Kruger Premium Targets in the USA. With elite competitions being decided by thousandths of an inch in shot placement, shouldn’t your club use the best-quality targets available? Kruger targets are made from premium-grade paper to permit precise, reliable measurements. For example, to ensure that target holes do not have irregular edges, Kruger’s NRA Air Rifle and Air Pistol targets are printed on machine-smoothed 210 gram board made from short-fiber materials. Mike Krei, Director of the NRA’s Competitive Shooting Division, has stated: “It is generally accepted that Kruger has the best heavy pulp target paper in the world and that directly relates to the excellent clean bullet holes which are essential for precise scoring.”
Kruger offers the full array of official NRA air rifle, air pistol, international pistol, and smallbore targets. In addition, Kruger sells photo-realistic Animal Targets, plus a cool series of Fun Targets for plinking and informal practice. Kruger targets can be ordered online through www.Kruger-US-Targets.com or you can call Kruger’s USA distributor, MK Tactical, at (503) 746-6816. MK Tactical is located in Hillsborough, OR.
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This past Saturday, April 2nd, the Hickory Groundhog Shoot was held in Vale, North Carolina. One of the nation’s most popular varmint competitions, the Hickory Shoot offers a host of valuable prizes. Here’s a report from Jonathan Trivette, who attended the Hickory Shoot for the first time this year.
A First-Timer’s Experience at the Hickory Shoot, by Jonathan Trivette
The Bullseye Groundhog Shoot, aka The Hickory Shoot, is one of the most unique groundhog shoots that I have ever attended. This event, held the first Saturday of April every year, is very well-organized — it runs like clockwork. This year was my first time attending this Shoot and I was impressed. There were 215 shooters and the match was over by 1:00 pm. After the main match they sell chances to shoot at an egg at 500 yards. Shooters that hit the egg receive a cash award and get their name on the Egg Hall of Fame Perpetual Trophy.
The shoot starts at 8:00 am and you are allowed to sign up the day prior and that morning until the match starts. The range is open the week prior to the match for practice so you can get familiar with the venue. The match has two classes: Custom (Open) and Factory. Entry fee is $25.00 per gun. The Custom Class permits any gun and caliber you would like to use and you can use most any type of rest. Some of the Custom Class guns can weigh 40 pounds or more. The Factory Class is limited to factory guns, and the only rest(s) you are allowed are bi-pods and sandbags. This year Clifton Odell won the Custom Class with a 95 score while Kevin Philbeck won the Factory Class with a 75 Score.
The scoring is done in a different fashion than what I am used to but it works and eliminates any debate as to shot score value. A shot must fall completely inside a scoring ring in order to count as that score — it cannot touch the next farther ring at all. [Editor: The Hickory employs “worst-edge” scoring, meaning if you cut a scoring line you get the next lower score.]
Back in 2010, father and son Terry Brady (L) and Chris Brady (R) topped the Custom Class:
In years past over $7,000 worth of prizes and cash has been awarded. The normal course of fire consists of three sets of paper groundhog targets at 100, 300, and 500 yards, and NO Sighters. Shooters can also compete in an Egg Shoot for cash and other prizes. The basic entry fee is just $25.00 per gun. That’s cheap for a chance to win a bundle of cash, plus valuable prizes such as Shehane stocks and Nightforce optics.
Hickory Shoot Course of Fire
The course of fire is three (3) shots at the groundhog target from the prone position at three different distances, 100, 300, and 500 yards. They do have a bench for handicapped shooters that can not get down in the prone position. Most competitors will shoot at the head at 100 yards because the points are higher. The other two distances that are normally shot are 300 yards and 500 yards.
Relays Run Like Clock-Work
The shoot is run very smoothly with one relay shooting while the next relay waits outside the shooting area, ready to go. Once a relay is done, shooters grab their items and exit on one end of the shooting platform while the next relay comes in from the other end. You must quickly set up and get ready because as soon as the target pullers get back they are ready to shoot. When the fire command is given you have two minutes to get your three shots off at that distance. When the cease fire is called you quickly grab your gear and get off the shooting platform because the next relay is coming in.
Acknowledging the Winners
At the prize ceremony Larry Willis presents the awards to the top shooters. He also acknowledges the Junior Shooters and even gives out prizes for best-looking male and female shooter and who drove the farthest. I had a chance to speak with Larry after everything was over on Saturday and you could tell that he really enjoys being able to put on this event for his fellow shooters. So whether you are looking to kick off your groundhog season or your summer shooting season, if you find yourself looking for something to do the first Saturday of April next year, make the trip to Vale, North Carolina for the annual Groundhog Shoot. The range is located at 8216 Will Hudson Road, Lawndale NC 28090.
Report based on story by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
Registration for the 2016 National Trophy Pistol and Rifle Matches will open April 1, 2016. The National Matches will take place at Camp Perry, Ohio, six miles west of Port Clinton, during the months of July and August. Starting April 1st, you can register on the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) website to claim your spot at this year’s event.
2016 National Match Schedule Includes Legacy Series
The 2016 Match Schedule will be different from the 2014-2015 National Matches, returning to the original schedule of years past. Events featured will include the John C. Garand, President’s Rifle, Hearst Doubles, Vintage Sniper, as well as a multitude of prestigious pistol events. New this year, the CMP will introduce its Legacy Series — an extra week with competitions featuring both vintage and modern military rifles. Each event has been named to honor the memories of important figures in marksmanship history, as well as to commemorate the spirit of past and present National Matches.
Shooting Clinics at Camp Perry This Summer
The Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) will also be held for rifle and pistol enthusiasts this summer. Participants will be taught firearms handling and competition skills by some of the top military shooters in the country. The SAFS courses have been a staple in the National Matches at Camp Perry since 1918. Many other clinics and learning opportunities, taught by qualified professionals, will also be available during the National Matches.
Spectators Are Welcome at the National Matches
Events are open to the public, and spectators are welcome to observe firing on the Camp Perry ranges at any time. Guests are encouraged to visit Camp Perry and watch the many events held during Match season. The photo below shows spectators watching Pistol events at the 1956 National Matches. That was quite a crowd…
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.
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The Cactus Classic is a prestigious benchrest competition held every year in Phoenix, Arizona. On March 16-20, many of the nation’s top short-range benchresters came to Ben Avery to vie for glory and prizes. There were some impressive performances at this year’s Cactus Classic, hosted by the Arizona Benchrest Shooters. Top Gun was Larry Costa who won the Two-Gun Grand Aggregate as well as the Light Varmint (LV) 200-yard Agg. Lou Murdica (shown below) won the Heavy Varmint (HV) 200-yard Aggregate. At the shorter range, Larry Baggett won the Heavy Varmint 100-yard Aggregate and Gary Bristow won the Light Varmint 100-yard Agg. For full results, click the link below. To see hundreds of high-rez photos from the match, visit the Berger Bullets Flickr Photo Gallery.
This week’s episode of Shooting USA TV features the 2015 Palma World Championships. The World Fullbore Championships and ICFRA World Long Range Palma Team Championship were held at Camp Perry this past summer. The last time the USA hosted the Palma Championship was 1992 in Raton, New Mexico. The event won’t return to the USA for another 28 years. If you want to see the world’s best sling shooters in action, tune in to this episode of Shooting USA on the Outdoor Channel.
This Team Championship is a prestigious match at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards with national squads competing for the prized Palma Trophy (see below). The 2015 Team Championship was secured by the talented United Kingdom squad.
Palma Team World Championships
The Team Palma match is the oldest, continuously-running rifle match in the world. This event was first held in 1876 in Creedmoor, New York as a challenge match to mark America’s Centennial. British Commonwealth nations were invited and the American team won the first title. The Palma World Championships currently take place every four years. This summer the event was held in the USA, with the top eight teams in the world competing at Camp Perry in Ohio. The next Palma Team World Championships will be held in New Zealand in 2019.
“It’s fantastic. It is the greatest honor you could ever get to represent your country. We wouldn’t give it up for anything,” says Australia Palma Team Member, Ben Emms. The match itself takes place over two days, with each team shooting at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. Competitors shoot a modern target rifle with iron (aperture) sights. All rifles are chambered for the .308 Win (7.62×51) with 155-grain bullets. Wind calls are made by each team’s Wind Coach. “His job is very complex. He’s up there, he’s watching the mirage, the wind flags, and paying attention to the other targets down range,” says American Team Member Amanda Elsenboss.
The top individual shooter in the 2015 Team match was Great Britain’s Toby Raincock, who dropped only one point over two days to finish with 449-55V, a new record individual score that will be very hard to surpass. The next best individual score was the 447-49V by fellow Brit Jon Underwood. The top American shooter was John Whidden, who finished with a 445-45V.
The Palma Team Trophy
Originally named the Centennial Trophy, in honor of the Centennial celebration of the independence of the United States of America, the Palma Trophy was commissioned from Tiffany’s at a cost of $1,500. The trophy was a full-sized replica of a Roman Legion standard, executed in bronze with silver and gold inlay. On the banner of the standard was the legend, “In the name of the United States of America to the Riflemen of the world”. Above the banner was an eagle, bearing in its talons a wreath of palm leaves and a plaque on which was the single word, “PALMA”, the Latin word for palm tree, which was used by the Romans to signify victory, or the ultimate in excellence.
Because the word Palma was so easily seen, the trophy soon became known as the “Palma Trophy”, and by 1878 was referred to officially by that name. The sriginal seven and one-half foot trophy is now lost, having not been seen since at least 1954. Serving in its place is a copy which was commissioned by Dr. Herbert M. Aitken of Eau Claire, WI. The copy was made from the original Tiffany blue-prints at a cost of $32,500. Dr. Aitken has given this copy of the Palma Trophy to the NRA for use in the Palma Match. The trophy is retained by the winning team until the next Palma Match.
In 2008, the Palma Trophy was returned to the NRA, and it was decided that the trophy, once refurbished, will travel to the host nation for the match every four years, then returned to the NRA for safekeeping.
The first competition for the Palma Team was a challenge match for which the British Commonwealth nations were invited. The match was fired in 1876 at the old Creedmoor Range on Long Island as part of the Centennial celebration of the United States. Teams representing Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States took part. The match is currently fired on a four-year interval.
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Criterion Barrels Inc. (CBI) has a policy of rewarding excellence. As a way of supporting top shooters, Criterion will provide a new, free barrel to any shooter who sets or ties a national record when using a Criterion product. To explain, you get a new Criterion barrel for free if you set (or tie) a national shooting record using a Criterion barrel on your rifle.
Criterion Barrels hopes to increase awareness of its free barrel for record sectors program. Over the last few years a number of F-Class and vintage military competitors have benefited from this program, receiving a complimentary barrel of their choice after setting a new national record in their shooting discipline. Past record breaking shooters have included David Mark Honeycutt (with a 300-yard F-Class score of 600-50X), Samantha Huhtala (four records set in 600-yard F-TR competition), and Victor Betzold (M1 Carbine with a score of 375-6X).
Criterion may, in the future, create a rewards program for winners of national, regional, and local rifle matches. Potential earned rewards by match winners could include equipment sponsorships, barrel discounts, and free apparel items.
Set a Record with a Criterion Barrel? Then Give Criterion a Call…
If you or someone you know has set a pending national record with a Criterion barrel, have the shooter contact Criterion Barrels. Send email to contact[at]criterionbarrels.com or call (262) 628-8749.
Once the shooter’s information is verified and the record is confirmed by the governing body of their appropriate shooting discipline, the order will be processed and shipped to the new record-holder.
About Criterion Barrels, Inc.: Criterion Barrels, Inc. was founded in 1999 as a division of Krieger Barrels, Inc. in response to demands of rifle builders and firearms manufacturers for quality match grade barrels at a lower cost. Our company is now completely independent from Krieger Barrels, featuring a separate facility, personnel, and ownership.
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Report by Johnny Fisher
The Civilian Marksmanship Program has just finished temporary installation of 15 traveling electronic Kongsberg Targets at the Oklahoma City Gun Club in Arcadia, OK. These high-tech targets will be employed during the Oklahoma CMP Games, slated for April 6-10, 2016. All the High Power rifle events during this year’s Oklahoma Games will be run exclusively on these electronic targets. Competitors will be scored electronically with match results being processed in real-time. Notably, this means High Power competitors will not have to do “pit duty” the entire week since manual target-pulling and shot-marking is no longer required.
The majority of shooting at the Oklahoma CMP Games will be fired at the 200-yard line for the Garand / Springfield / Vintage & Modern Military (GSMM) matches. However, the electronic targets have also been readied for use in the scheduled Excellence In Competition (EIC) and Vintage Sniper matches. Those events require additional firing from 300 yards and 600 yards.
Electronic Target Technology — How Kongsberg Targets Work
CMP Targets technician Bryan Parris explains what makes these targets so special: “These targets were designed by the experts at Kongsberg Targets exclusively for the CMP to fit the standard US target dimensions of 72″ square target backers. What shooters discern as the black of the aiming bull is actually black rubber sheeting that is the entire size of the backer. A layer of white corrugated plastic then covers this rubber with a center hole having been cut out to reveal the appropriate sized bull for that yard-line. All that is required as competitors move further back through the course is to change out the plastic cover to reveal a larger aiming black.”
This acoustically-scored target system uses four microphones to locate the bullet as it passes through the target. The microphone closest to the bullet traveling through the target actuates the remaining three to triangulate the exact shot location for the scoring system and simultaneously display the shot on the shooter’s monitor.
Behind the coroplast face and inside the foam insulation, the target is wrapped with rubber to form a type of chamber. This helps insulate the target’s four microphones stay insulated from extreme temperature changes and also helps keep out ambient noise. This chamber need only exist to the extent that it separates itself from the other targets. Parris states: “We’re building these targets to last a great long while. They are extremely durable and can have anywhere from 3000 to 5000 rounds fired through them before any maintenance is required whatsoever.”
The entire system can be powered via battery, generator, or combination of both. The target line communicates wirelessly with the firing line computer system for timing courses of fire and recording scores. And of course, there is virtual real-time communication with monitors set up on each firing point to display shot / group location and value.
When fully assembled, each target weighs about 200 pounds. They are a little cumbersome in their current form, but the CMP’s target technicians are “still working some things out [for] potential future travel games.”
Registration Still Open for Oklahoma CMP Games
The 2016 CMP Oklahoma Games will be held at the Oklahoma City Gun Club in Arcadia, OK from April 6 – 10, 2016. Registration is still available. For more information about these Kongsberg Electronic Targets, contact Bryan Parris of CMP Targets at (256) 835-8455 or email@example.com.
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From the late ’70s through 1983, a huge, concrete-walled warehouse in Houston was used for benchrest testing. Virgil King and Bob Fisher set up a bullet-catching backstop at the end of a 30-yard-wide, 325-yard-long fire lane that remained unobstructed even when the warehouse was in use. This allowed accuracy tests in virtually perfect “no wind” conditions. Over a six-year period, about 30 shooters were invited to test their rifles. The results were amazing, with numerous “zero groups” being shot in the facility. Many of the lessons learned in the legendary Houston Warehouse still help benchresters achieve better accuracy today.
Dave Scott explains why the Warehouse was so unique:
“Over a period of six years, the levels of accuracy achieved in the Houston Warehouse went beyond what many precision shooters thought possible for lightweight rifles shot from sandbags and aimed shot-to-shot by human eye. For the first time, a handful of gifted, serious experimenters — armed with the very best performing rifles (with notable exceptions) — could boldly venture into the final frontiers of rifle accuracy, a journey made possible by eliminating the baffling uncertainties of conditions arising from wind and mirage. Under these steel skies, a shooter could, without question, confirm the absolute limits of accuracy of his rifle, or isolate the source of a problem. In the flawlessly stable containment of the Houston Warehouse … a very few exceptional rifles would display the real stuff, drilling repeated groups measuring well below the unbelievably tiny .100″ barrier. The bulk of rifles, however, embarrassed their owners.”
Scott’s article also reveals some interesting technical points: “One thing that IS important is that the bullet be precisely seated against the lands. T.J. Jackson reported this fact in the May 1987 issue of Precision Shooting. In a letter to the Editor, T.J. wrote, ‘…in all our testing in that Houston warehouse… and the dozens and dozens of groups that Virgil King shot in there ‘in the zeroes’… he NEVER fired a single official screamer group when he was ‘jumping’ bullets. All his best groups were always seated into the lands, or at the very least… touching the lands. Virgil said his practice was to seat the bullets so the engraving was half as long as the width of the lands. He noticed an interesting phenomenon with rifles that could really shoot: if the bullets were seated a little short and the powder charge was a bit on the light side, the groups formed vertically. As he seated the bullets farther out and increased the powder charge, the groups finally became horizontal. If he went still farther, the groups formed big globs. He said the trick is to find the midway point between vertical and horizontal. That point should be a small hole.”
You should definitely read the complete article, as it provides many more fascinating insights, including shooting technique, barrel cleaning, neck-turning, and case prep.
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No doubt you’ve heard the term “reticle” before, but it probably brings to mind the cross-hair you see through a rifle-scope. This term “reticle” can also describe an optical aid used to score targets. This story discusses a new scoring reticle with precisely-defined circles etched on clear plexiglass. This scoring reticle (as attached to a magnifying crystal) is used to determine whether bullet holes fall inside or outside the scoring circles on targets. This unique new scoring reticle allows match scorers to “equalize” the shot placements of all popular calibers from .204 up to .308. This way, there’s a “level playing field” for all calibers, and any caliber rifle can compete on an equal basis with the 30s.
New ‘Equalizer’ VFS Scoring Reticle
by Ron Goodger
The ubiquitous controversy over the advantage of larger caliber bullets in VFS (Varmint for Score) matches still rages, but there is a simple solution that is being embraced by all to whom I have shown it. The concept is simple, and it accomplishes the same thing the UBR (Ultimate Benchrest) targets do with the advantage that it can be used on any target a club happens to have on hand.
I had heard shooters complain about the advantage that larger calibers have many times and wish there was a fair way to score targets that would level the playing field for all calibers. The UBR concept came along and I read up on it. When a match was held close enough that I could enter, I did so and observed first hand what it was all about. The UBR targets essentially make the distance from the bullet hole center to the scoring ring edge the same for each caliber by using different-sized rings on the caliber-specific targets. After seeing the accompanying disadvantages of using this method (the chief one being the large number of targets required by UBR rules and the resulting increased time required to hold a match), I began searching for a simpler way to accomplish the same thing. I was aware of a number of mid-West clubs wanting to make scoring fair but unwilling to use the UBR method because of the disadvantages.
I came up with an idea late in 2015 and designed a scoring reticle that would do the job. The following diagrams graphically explain how UBR and my scoring reticle accomplish the same thing. The illustration above shows how different caliber bullets hitting the same center point of impact will each just score the 10 ring edge on the different-sized, caliber-specific UBR 10 Rings . It is clear that it is the distance from the center of the bullet to the scoring ring that is made uniform by the different 10 Ring sizes.
The illustration below shows how my VFS scoring reticle accomplishes the same thing by scoring every shot with an .308-equivalent ring that circumscribes the inner caliber-specific ring. The dotted line shows that the center of each bullet hits the same distance from the edge of the scoring ring. It is clear that, using current VFS scoring techniques, the .224, .243, and .257 bullets would score misses. However, scoring each bullet with the .308 ring around the hole illustrates that all calibers would be scored the same.
Scoring Reticle Converts Any Caliber Shot to a .308-Equivalent Hole
The above photo of an IBS 100-yard target has a 6mm hole that is clearly a nine (9), using current scoring methods. But consider that, if a .308 bullet from a 30 BR hit in the very same location, that .30-caliber shot would score in the Ten Ring. Why should the 6mm bullet, whose center was just as close to the middle of the target, be penalized because of the bullet diameter? The image on the right shows the scoring reticle with the 6mm scoring ring centered on this hole. With this scoring reticle, the .308 ring around the 6mm hole clearly scores the 10 Ring, just as a 30-caliber bullet centered in the same spot would do. That is as fair as it can get.
The above image (two shots per frame) from a Hillsdale Michigan varmint target has two 6mm holes that scored a 16. Score values are 10 points for a shot in the white, 5 points for a shot in the orange, and 1 point for hitting the center dot. This was a match that had 30BRs shooting in it. The next photo shows how scoring this frame with the VFS reticle would have resulted in a 21 because the left side of the reticle’s .308 circle just extends into the 10-point white bulls-eye region. So, in effect, there were two (2) shots in the white for 2×10 points (based on the .308 equalizer effect of the reticle). This shows how the reticle will level the VFS playing field regardless of what target is being used.
VFS Scoring Reticle Features and Specifications
The 6mm circles have been placed in the center of the reticle because it is expected to be the most commonly-used caliber, and that makes it easier to see in the crystal. Any of the ring sets can be used for a .308. The sizes of the circles are guaranteed accurate to within .001″ on the outside edge of the circle by the reticle’s manufacturer. I have found the best magnifier crystal to use is a genuine Badash crystal that measures 3.25″ in diameter. They are available from several eBay sellers and are easily attached using a piece of packing tape about 3/4-inch wide around the edge of the reticle (visible on the crystal in the lower part of the photo). That makes the Plexiglas reticles easy to replace in the event they become scratched up from frequent use.
A number of Midwest rifle clubs have already purchased these scoring reticles. The Plexiglas reticles are available for $15.00 each plus $2.04 shipping from the author (does not include the crystal). Email him at LRGoodger [at] gmail dot com for more information.
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In the archives of On The Mark magazine, DCM Emeritus Gary Anderson, an Olympic Gold medal-winning shooter in his younger years, offers sage advice for competitive shooters.
In his article Ten Lessons I Wished I Had Learned as a Young Shooter, Anderson provides ten important guidelines for everyone involved in competitive shooting. Here are the Ten Lessons, but you should read the full article. Anderson provides detailed explanations of each topic with examples from his shooting career.
LESSON 1 – NATURAL ABILITY WILL NOT MAKE YOU A SHOOTING CHAMPION.
(You also need hard work, training effort and perseverance.)
LESSON 2 – ANGER IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD SHOOTING.
(The key to recovering from a bad shot is to stay cool, no matter what happens.)
LESSON 3 – BAD SHOTS CAN TEACH YOU MORE THAN GOOD SHOTS.
(Today, error analysis is one of the most powerful tools for improving scores.)
LESSON 4 – NEVER GO WITHOUT A SHOT PLAN.
(A shot plan is a detailed breakdown of each of the steps involved in firing a shot.)
LESSON 5 – PRACTICE IN BAD CONDITIONS AS WELL AS GOOD CONDITIONS.
(Most competitions are fired in windy conditions or where there are plenty of distractions.)
LESSON 6 – CHAMPIONS ARE POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE.
(Negative shooters expect bad results; positive shooters expect to train hard to change bad results.)
LESSON 7 – IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE.
(It’s about how hard you try to win.)
LESSON 8 – YOUR DOG WON’T BITE YOU AFTER SHOOTING A BAD SCORE.
(Hopefully your coach, parents and friends won’t bite you either.)
LESSON 9 – YOUR PRESS CLIPPINGS CAN HURT YOU OR HELP YOU.
(Winning can go to our heads. We start thinking we are so good we don’t have to work hard any more.)
LESSON 10 — YOU NEVER SHOT YOUR BEST SCORE.
(Great champions are always looking for ways to improve.)
About Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999-2009, and is now DCM Emeritus. As a Nebraska farmboy, Gary grew up hunting and shooting. Dreams of winning an Olympic Gold Medal in shooting led Gary to the U.S. Army. In 1959, he joined the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Just two years later, he won his first national championship.
At the 1962 World Shooting Championships in Egypt, Anderson stunned the shooting world by winning four individual titles and setting three new world records. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Gary won the 300m free-rifle Gold Medal, setting a new world record in the process. At the 1966 World Shooting Championships in Germany, Anderson won three additional world titles. At the 1968 Olympics, Gary won a second gold medal in the 300m free-rifle event.
Gary retired from active international competition after the 1969 World Championships in Spain, where he set a 50m, three-position world record. After his “retirement” from international competition, Gary competed in the National High Power Championships, winning the President’s National Trophy in 1973, 1975 and 1976. Over his competitive career, Anderson won two Olympic Gold Medals, seven World Championships, and sixteen National Championships. No American has ever won more major shooting titles.
Gary’s influence on shooting sports extends beyond the United States. Gary has attended eleven Summer Olympic Games, three as a competitor and eight as technical delegate or a jury member. Gary is the first American ever elected as Vice President of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), and still serves in that capacity. In 2012, Gary received the International Olympic Committee’s highest honor, the Olympic Order.
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