June 20th, 2019

One Dollar DIY: Make a Mirage Shield from a Venetian Blind

make your own mirage shield for rifle

make your own mirage shield for rifleWant to shoot better scores at your next match? Here’s a smart, inexpensive do-it-yourself project from the good folks at Criterion Barrels. For less than one dollar in materials, in just a few minutes you can create a handy, effective mirage shield, custom-fitted to your favorite rifle.

All precision shooters should be familiar with mirage, a form of optical distortion caused primarily by variations in air temperature. Savvy shooters will use mirage as a valuable tool when gauging wind speed and direction. Natural mirage is unavoidable, but there are many techniques designed to limit its influence in long-range marksmanship.

A form of mirage can be produced by the barrel itself. Heat rising from the barrel may distort sight picture through your optics, leading to erratic results. Mirage caused by barrel heat can be reduced dramatically by a simple, light-weight mirage shield.

How to Make a Mirage Shield

A mirage shield is an extremely cost-effective way to eliminate a commonly-encountered problem. Making your own mirage shield is easy. Using old venetian blind strips and common household materials and tools, you can construct your own mirage shield for under one dollar.

Materials Required:
1. Vertical PVC Venetian blind panel
2. Three 1”x1” pieces adhesive-backed Velcro
3. Ruler or tape measure
4. Scissors or box cutter
5. Pencil or marker

1. Measure the distance from the end of the receiver or rail to the crown of the barrel.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

2. Using a pencil and ruler, measure the same distance and mark an even line across the blind.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

3. Cut across the line using scissors or a box cutter, shortening the blind to the required length. (Remember, measure twice, cut once!)

4. Expose the adhesive backing on the loop side of the Velcro. Center and apply the Velcro strips on the barrel at regular intervals.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

5. Expose the adhesive backing of the fuzzy side of the Velcro.

6. Place the blind on the upper side of the barrel. Apply downward pressure. Once the Velcro has secured itself to the barrel, separate the two sides. Proceed to mold both sides of the Velcro to fit the contour of their respective surfaces.

7. Reaffix the blind. Barrel related mirage is now a thing of the past!

make your own mirage shield for rifle
NOTE: You can attach the Velcro on the opposite side of the blind if you want the blind to curve upwards. Some folks thinks that aids barrel cooling — it’s worth a try.

How to Remove and Re-Attach the Mirage Shield
Removal of your mirage shield is accomplished by simply removing the blind. You can un-install the Velcro by pulling off the strips and then gently removing any adhesive residue left behind using an appropriate solvent. (Simple cooking oil may do the job.) Caution: With fine, high-polish blued barrels, test any solvent on a non-visible section of the barrel. Before storing the gun, re-oil the barrel to remove active solvents and residual fingerprints.

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June 17th, 2019

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge in Wyoming — Photo Essay

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM
Alpha Unknown, which had two shooters in the match, reported “This was the coolest place we’ve ever shot from… we’ll see you next year.”

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WMJoe Burdick, owner of Rock Solid Shooting Solutions, provides this report from Wyoming: “I’m having a blast at the Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge at the Q Creek Ranch south of Casper, WY. Made my longest hits ever in competition at 1800 and some change. This 300 Winchester Magnum is absolutely PUNISHING the steel. The short targets here are at a thousand yards. I had multiple hits and clean runs on stages with targets from 1200-1800 yards. I missed the longest target of the match (2100 yards) by about 0.2 Mils.”

All photos by Joe Burdick other than as indicated by Alpha Unknown and Mitchell Fitzpatrick.

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM
Target locations are indicated with red dots.

Burdick had high praise for the match and the venue: “This is a super cool match in an incredible location. It is remote but the size and beauty of the venue make it well worth the trip. The range is covered with life-size elk, wolf, ram, antelope, and even kangaroo targets with plenty of circles and squares as well.” The vast Q Creek Ranch encompasses 560,000 acres of scenic Wyoming landscape.

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

rock solid solutions rifle shotgun coversBurdick, whose company Rock Solid Shooting Solutions runs matches and sells custom gun covers, wanted to acknowledge his sponsors and equipment suppliers: Bushnell, Kelbly’s, WildEar, Precision Rifle & Tool, Huber Concepts, The Heritage Flag Company, Armageddon Gear, MasterPiece Arms, Kahntrol Solutions, BEST Targets, and Patriot Cases.

“Incredible location. It is remote but the size and beauty of the venue make it well worth the trip.”

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

mitchell fitzpatrick Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

Confirming Elevation Dope Is Essential for ELR Competition
Prior to the match, Joe verified his long-range “dope” at the Q-Creek Ranch shooting at distant targets. Joe reports: “Shooting my 300 Winchester Magnum, I made my longest hit ever with any rifle at 2086 yards.”

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

The 2086-yard target is marked with the red dot on the photo. The yellow dots represent the location of the 1000, 1409, 1725, and 1816 yard targets for reference.

And the Winners Are…
Chris Gittings and Brent Wood tied for Overall and Hunter Class honors at 115 points with Brent taking the tie-breaker. Notably, Brent’s son Tyler won the Junior Division. With 114 points, Mitchell Fitzpatrick took First Place in Open Division at the Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge. Congrats to all four marksmen on their great shooting! Fitzpatrick works with Applied Ballistics in the AB Weapons Division. He was shooting an AB Weapons Division M30TS rifle chambered for AB’s new .338 EnABELR cartridge, running 300gr Berger Hybrid OTM bullets at 3160 FPS. The scope was a 5-25x56mm NF ATACR with T3 reticle.

mitchell fitzpatrick Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

Parting Shot: ELR Shooting Organization supplied edible ELR rewards for participants.
Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Q Creek Ranch Casper Wyoming WY 300 WinMag WM

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June 15th, 2019

Norway Mad Minute — Shockingly Fast Bolt-Action Rifle Shooting

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

Think you can shoot fast with a bolt gun? Bet you can’t beat these Norwegian speed-demons. Inge Hvitås recently set a new Mad Minute World Record, putting 39 rounds inside a 16″ circle at 200 meters, all in a single minute. Another Norwegian ace fired 48 rounds in a minute, with 38 in the bullseye. Now that’s spectacular speed and accuracy.

Watch Inge Hvitås Set New Mad Minute World Record:

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

New Mad Minute World Record — 39 Hits in One Minute (60 seconds)
At the Haga shooting range in Norway, spectators witnessed spectacular speed shooting earlier this month. On June 4th, Norwegian shooter Inge Hvitås set a new Mad Minute Challenge World Record with 39 hits in ONE MINUTE at 200m. The target was a 40cm (15.75″) bullseye placed at 200m (218 yards). Fellow Norwegian Jesper Nilsstua also shot brilliantly, sending 48 rounds down-range in one minute. Jesper had 38 hits, missing the record by just one. Both shooters were using iron-sighted Sauer 200 STR target rifles, which are normally chambered for the 6.5×55 cartridge. For this event, magazines are limited to 5 rounds and shooters may use slings but no bipods or other support.

Amazing Bolt-Gun Cycling Speed — 48 Rounds in One Minute

Another Norwegian ace, Jesper Nilsstua, missed the Mad Minute Challenge record (by one hit), but boy was he fast. Dennis Santiago (who has done his own Mad Minute drill), was dazzled: “This dude didn’t get the new world’s record of 39 hits in 60 seconds. He ‘only’ got 38 hits after getting off an amazing 48 shots in 60 seconds. Watch the smoothness of his shooting. It’s amazing.”

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army electronic targets
For the Mad Minute Challenge in Norway, a standard 200m DFS target was used, with 1 point per hit within the black area which is 40cm (15.75″, or 6.9 MOA) in diameter.

Norwegian Mad Minute Challenge — Event Rules
The organizers of the event posted: “The Mad Minute Challenge [is] a modern edition of a old military drill. This is a place for sport shooters to … share experiences on the subject of speed shooting with bolt-action rifles. The Mad Minute Challenge is all about the sport! To make a attempt for the record everyone must follow these five simple rules:”

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army rules

Mad Minute Norway Haga 6.5x55 speed shooting marksmanship British Army

About the Original MAD MINUTE
“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits on a target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits.

Mad Minute Lee Enfield

Listed as “Practice number 22, Rapid Fire” of The Musketry Regulations, Part I, 1909, this drill required at least 15 shots on the Second Class target at 300 yards. The exercise was just one of several annual tests to classify a soldier as a sharpshooter, first or second class shooter depending on the points achieved.

Made Minute Second Class targetResearch indicates the Second Class target was a 48″ x 48″ square with 24″ inner circle and 36″ outer circle. The sight mark was a central 12″ x 12″ shape representing a soldier. ALL hits scored points (3 for center circle, 2 for outer circle, 1 for outer square). NOTE: Though some sources say the Mad Minute drill used a 12″-diameter round target, this appears to be a mistake from Ian Hogg’s book “The Encyclopedia of Weaponry”. No other source mentions a 12″ circle, which would be a mere 3.82 MOA. In reality the true drill target was a 48″ x 48″ square, roughly 15 times larger. (From No.WikiPedia.)

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June 15th, 2019

Go Big This Summer — As in Fifty Caliber Big

50 BMG cartridge FCSA

34th Annual Fifty Caliber Championship Coming Soon
The 34th Annual Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) 1000/600 Yard World Championship will be held July 4, 5 and 6, 2019 at the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, a beautiful facility. The FCSA Championship takes place right after the 2019 King of 2 Miles event, running June 29 – July 1, 2019.


Match Information | Match Registration | Photo Gallery

Fifty Caliber shooter association fcsa national championship raton whittington NM new mexico
Looking downrange at the 1000-yard line. Note the fan and air hose for cooling the barrel.


Competitor’s POV perspective from a FCSA Match. Note the mirage.

By James Patterson
This article first appeared in Sinclair International’s Reloading Press Blog

For a number of years I drooled over every .50 BMG caliber rifle that I came across, I read every article I could find and determined that ‘Someday’ I was going to have one. Well I finally took the plunge and in 2002 I purchased my first ‘Big 50’. Almost immediately I joined the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) and I have since come to immensely enjoy shooting this challenging cartridge and associating with some of the best people on earth.

Dierks 50 BMG Light Class

FCSA Founded in 1985
FCSA Fifty Caliber ShootersThe FCSA, started in 1985, is an international organization with members in 22 countries. Headquartered in Monroe, Utah, the FCSA has a membership of approximately 4000. While the FCSA provides a service to military and law enforcement with research and instruction as well as an active liaison in both communities, the primary charter of the FCSA is the promotion of the sporting use of the 50 BMG cartridge and its wildcat derivatives. It has been the FCSA and its members who have lead the way in refining .50-caliber cartridges, rifles, and 1000-yard plus shooting know-how. Members enjoy a quarterly magazine, a suppliers directory, an active website with great photo galleries, and access to literally the best repository of 50 BMG information on the planet. If you are interested in Mr. John Browning’s big 50, you should seriously consider joining the FCSA.

Fifty Caliber shooter association fcsa national championship raton whittington NM new mexico
This interesting .50 Cal rig features a liquid-cooled barrel and unusual scope mounting arrangement.

While all aspects of the 50 BMG are promoted by the FCSA, the primary sport is 1000-yard competition. In 2010, there were 16 separate official matches scheduled across the USA, and many more ‘fun-shoots’. This sport is an incredible mix of the science, skill, and art of extreme long range accuracy. I had been actively shooting rifles and hunting for well over 40 years and had always considered myself a “rifle man”. But I had no idea of the learning curve that [faced me] when I first joined the FCSA.

FCSA 50-caliber shooting association

Historically, 1000-yard shooting has been primarily a benchrest activity but in the past several years we have seen a tremendous interest in ‘Hunter Class’ competition; this is shot prone using a bipod. This form of long range match shooting is excellent preparation for long range hunting. The required skill set [for ultra-long-range hunting] is guaranteed to humble even the most experienced rifleman.

FCSA 50 caliber Fifty Cal world championships

Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a 50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $8000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. A premium long-range scope will set you back $1800 to $3500. And while excellent .50 BMG commercial ammo is available, it runs $5 to $6 per round! Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo.

BAT 50 BMG Action

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June 9th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: 1000-Yard Prone Rifle — Corbin’s “Maple Marvel”

.243 Win 1000 yard Maple rifle

“I have molested that rifle on several different occasions over the years. It is more beautiful in person if that is possible. Fine craftsmanship in every aspect.” — Forum Member Matt K.

.243 Win prone rifle Corbin ShellToday’s Sunday GunDay feature is a “blast from the past”, part of our big Guns of the Week archive. Some years back, Forum member Corbin Shell told us he had a new, full-custom 1000-yard prone rifle. When he sent some photos of the maple-stocked masterpiece, our collective jaws dropped. Check it out — this is truly a “Maple Marvel”.

.243 Win 1000 yard Maple rifle

Corbin’s GunDay rig is an eye-catcher for sure. This is one handsome rifle, built with all-premium components and a stunning Curly Maple thumbhole stock with adjustable cheekpiece. The rifle is chambered in .243 Winchester. It features a custom stainless RBRP action Nesika R action, with keycuts in the bottom instead of recoil lug. A Grünig & Elmiger trigger has been specially modified (milled and pinned) to work with the Nesika action. The primary barrel is a 30″ Broughton 5R Palma-contour tube. Interestingly, Corbin has a second 30″ Broughton barrel chambered in 6mmBR for use at shorter ranges.

The trigger guard, fore-arm rail, cheek adjuster, and 4-way adjustable butt assembly are all custom metal, designed by Dan Gleason. The stock is cut from exhibition-grade fiddleback maple (from Cecil Fredi Gunstocks in Las Vegas) with a Gaboon Ebony tip wood and butt-plate spacer.

.243 Win Maple rifle

Fast and Accurate
Corbin tells us the gun will put five shots into the size of a quarter at 300 yards “when he does his part.” Corbin shoots pointed Berger 105gr VLDs and 45.5 grains of H4831SC. That load runs 3180 fps. He can push it faster, but “that’s where the node was and where it shoots best”, according to Corbin.

Forum member Jim Hardy has seen (and shot against) this beautiful rifle. Jim reports: “A casual observer might think that the trigger guard, cheek plate and butt plate hardware are Anschutz — as the stock takes on the Anschutz prone pattern. However, this is ALL custom metal. The G&E trigger breaks like a glass rod and will makes my BR triggers feel inferior at best. I had the pleasure of holding, shouldering, and lusting over this gun at Camp Perry last year, and it is even more impressive in person. The killer is that there is yet ANOTHER one in a beautiful, dark figured walnut owned by Corbin’s shooting partner. BTW, both guns will hammer at 1000 yards prone.”

.243 Win 1000 yard Maple rifle

Long Range Prone Shooting with the .243 Winchester
Is the .243 Winchester capable at 1000 yards? Absolutely. John Whidden has used the .243 Win to capture multiple NRA National Long-Range Championships. John selected the .243 Win because it offers excellent ballistics with manageable recoil. John says that, at least for a sling shooter, the .243 Win is hard to beat at long range. John explains that, while you CAN get somewhat better ballistics with a .284 Win or .300 WSM, you’ll pay a heavy price in increased recoil with those bigger cartridges.

John Whidden .243 Winchester Win National Championship Long Range Reloading Caliber Barnard Action Anshutz

Running at an impressive 3275 FPS from his .243 Win, Berger 6mm 105 grain Hybrids are hard to beat, according to Whidden: “My .243 Win shoots inside a 6.5-284 with 142-grainers. Nothing out there is really ahead of [the .243], in 1000-yard ballistics unless you get into the short magnums or .284s and those carry a very significant recoil penalty.” John has tried bigger cases: “In the past I did shoot the 6.5-284. I went to the .243 Win because it had similar ballistics but had much less recoil. It doesn’t beat me up as much and is not as fatiguing.” READ Whidden .243 Winchester Report.

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June 8th, 2019

Camp Perry Marksmanship Camp for Young Shooters

CMP Junior Camp Perry 2019 Petrarca Range 3P, three-position

Here’s a great opportunity for junior shooters who want to improve their three-position game. The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) will conduct a great training camp this summer at Camp Perry. Open to junior athletes who shoot both three-position smallbore and standing or international precision air rifle, the National Matches Junior Camp will be held July 17-22, 2019 at Camp Perry. Training will be conducted outdoors at the Petrarca Range and indoors at the CMP Competition Center air range. Camp signup information is available on the CMP Junior Camp website.

The $275.00, week-long Camp specializes in training intermediate and advanced athletes who are striving to shoot in collegiate programs. Participants must be between the ages of 12 to 20, and shooters under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

CMP Junior Camp Perry 2019 Petrarca Range 3P, three-position

CMP Junior Camp Perry 2019 Petrarca Range 3P, three-positionThe Camp is well-staffed, wtih 17 certified coaches, eight safety officers, and four support staff. Camp begins with a basic safety review, a reinforced understanding of the fundamentals, along with teaching the smallbore prone, standing, and kneeling positions.

Also included within the camp will be a 50- and 100-yard prone “Dewar Match” on the Petrarca Range, as well as a 60-shot International Air Rifle event within the air gun range. Both ranges offer state-of-the-art electronic targets.

Participants Must Supply Their Own Smallbore Rifle and .22 LR Ammo
Campers must provide their three-position smallbore target rifle (equipment and ammunition), though the CMP has sporter air rifles available for use in the air range. The Camp costs $275.00 for the week, which includes hut/barracks lodging at Camp Perry.

Questions? Call Head Coach Russ Evans at 330-534-5344, or send e-mail to: nmcampheadcoach@gmail.com .

CMP Junior Camp Perry 2019 Petrarca Range 3P, three-position

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June 8th, 2019

Eye Dominance — Experts Explain How Dominance Affects Vision

6.5 Creedmoor Annealing

6.5 Creedmoor AnnealingThe digital archives of Shooting Sports USA contain many interesting articles. A few seasons back, Shooting Sports USA featured a “must-read” expert Symposium on Eye Dominance, as it affects both rifle and pistol shooting. No matter whether you have normal dominance (i.e. your dominant eye is on the same side as your dominant hand), or if you have cross-dominance, you’ll benefit by reading this excellent article. The physiology and science of eye dominance is explained by Dr. Norman Wong, a noted optometrist. In addition, expert advice is provided by champion shooters such as David Tubb, Lones Wigger, Dennis DeMille, Julie Golob, Jessie Harrison, and Phil Hemphill.

EDITOR: We highly recommend you read this article, particularly if you think you may be cross-dominant — meaning your dominant eye is on the opposite side as your dominant hand. For example, this Editor is right-handed, but my left eye is dominant.

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June 7th, 2019

Get Ready for 2019 CMP National Matches at Camp Perry

Camp Perry 2018 M1A Garand Calendar National Matches

Competing at the Camp Perry National Matches is a “bucket list” item for every serious marksman. The National Matches were first held in 1903, moved to Camp Perry, Ohio, in 1907 and continue to take place every summer at Camp Perry. The National Matches have become a huge, national shooting sports festival with well over 6,000 annual participants.

Here’s the information you need. Below is the 2019 National Matches Calendar for Camp Perry. We’ve also got the complete 2019 National Matches Program for you. Plus you’ll find links to REGISTER ONLINE.


2019 Nat’l Matches Calendar | 2019 Nat’l Matches PROGRAM

Click 2019 Calendar for full-screen version.
Camp Perry National Matches Calendar 2018 NRA CMP

Year 2019 Camp Perry NM Competition activities begin with NRA/CMP pistol matches on July 8-14, 2019. The CMP Junior Rifle Camp, USAMU SAFS, and Smallbore matches run the next week, with the hugely popular Rimfire Sporter Match on July 21. High Power Rifle events kick off on July 23 with the 4-Man Team Match and rifle events run continuously for the next two and a half weeks.

Here are some key dates for RIFLE events:

July 27 – CMP/USAMU Rifle SAFS
July 29 – President’s 100 Rifle Match
July 30 – National Trophy Individual Rifle Match
July 31 – National Junior Team Match
August 1 – National Trophy Team Match, National Carbine Match
August 2 – National Trophy Infantry Team Match (“Rattle Battle”)
August 3 – M1 Garand Match, Springfield/Vintage Bolt Rifle Match
August 4 – M1A Match, Springfield/Vintage Bolt Rifle Match
August 5 – CMP Vintage Sniper Rifle Match
August 5-8 – CMP Long Range Individual Matches
August 9 – Camp Perry Palma Match

PISTOL Registration | SMALLBORE Registration | RIMFIRE Sporter Registration | HIGH POWER Registration

Camp Perry National Matches Calendar 2018 NRA CMP

Camp Perry CMP Small Arms Firing School
At the Small Arms Firing Schools, rifles and ammo are supplied to trainees.

Camp Perry summer 2018 CMP National Matches
The John C. Garand match is a Camp Perry classic. Note the signature Garand clip in the air.

Camp Perry 2019 rimfire sporter Calendar National Matches
The Rimfire Sporter Match attracts hundreds of competitors of all age levels.

Vintage Sniper Team Match
The Vintage Sniper Rifle match is a very popular event with two-person teams.

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June 7th, 2019

TECH Tip: Empty Chamber Indicator for Rimfire Rifles

Medler Rimfire Empty Chamber Indicator

Larry Medler has come up with a smart little invention — a simple, inexpensive Empty Chamber Indicator for rimfire rifles. It is made from a section of plastic “weed-wacker” line and a wooden ball from a hobby shop. Larry says he was inspired by Juniors who used something similar for their 17-Caliber Air Rifles.

rimfire sporter
At a Rimfire Sporter match like this, all shooters must have an Empty Chamber Indicator.

Construction Method: First, drill a 7/64″ diameter hole all the way through the 1″-diameter wooden ball. Then enlarge half of that 1″-long hole using a 13/64” diameter drill. Next insert an 8″ piece of heavy duty (0.095″ diameter) weed wacker line through the ball, leaving about 2″ on the side with the bigger-diameter hole. Then, with the short end of the line, fold over the last half-inch so the line is doubled-over on itself. Then slide the line into the ball, stuffing the doubled-over section through the 13/64″ (large) hole. Finally, pull the longer end of the line until the doubled-over section is flush with the outside of the ball. This gives you a sturdy line attachment without messy adhesives. When the assembly’s complete, hold the ECI by the tail and dip the ball in yellow paint. If you’re making more than one ECI, you can drill horizontal holes in a spare block of wood and use that as a drying rack.

The Empty Chamber Indicator for Smallbore Rifles
Larry explains: “At all Highpower rifle matches, silhouette matches, and other shooting events I have attended, Open Bore Indicators (OBI), or what are now called Empty Chamber Indicators (ECI) have been mandatory. The NRA’s yellow ECI for Highpower rifles is easy to use and has been well-received by the shooters. However, I had not seen a truly workable ECI for 22 rimfire rifles — until I visited Michigan’s Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club where I saw juniors using ECIs for their 17 Caliber Air Rifles. Someone at the club made the empty chamber indicators by attaching an 8″ piece of weed wacker line to a 1″-diameter wooden ball, painted bright yellow. I now make similar ECIs for the 22 rimfire silhouette matches I run.”

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June 5th, 2019

All-American Field Target Championship June 21-23 in NY

Field Target Championship Crosman Rush New York
Shooters from across the nation and many foreign competitors will compete this year at the CAAFTC held at the Rochester Brooks Int’l Skeet and Trap Club.

Field Target Championship Crosman Rush New YorkUpstate New York heats up in the summer with the largest field target event in the country — the Crosman All-American Field Target Championship (CAAFTC). This very popular airgun event takes place June 21-23, 2019 in upstate New Yorkat the Rochester Brooks International Skeet and Trap Club in Rush, New York. 0ver 100 air rifle and air pistol competitors will participate in the big event hosted by Crosman. This event attracts top Airgunners from across the nation (and some foreign countries). Along with regular Field Target matches, there will be specialty side matches, plus a factory tour. The event is free to the public.If you are a Field Target Shooter and want to attend, don’t hesitate — registration closes soon.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER Online »

After getting squared away with check-in and some practice rounds on Friday, take part in the pistol match and the Quigley Bucket Challenge (see video below). For the Quigley Bucket Challenge, competitors must try to hit a 1.75″ target from 55 yards away, using open sights (no scopes).

The three-day competition features multiple shooting matches including the main two-day rifle event. There are four divisions for competitors: Open, Hunter, WFTF, and Pistol. In addition to the main rifle event, this year will also feature a pistol match, the Quigley Bucket Match and the Pyramyd Air Gunslinger match. The Bucket match re-creates famous scene in the movie Quigley Down Under in which the lead character shoots a bucket at 700 yards. Here the distances are scaled down a wee bit (wink). Competitors, using iron sights only, get 5 shots at a 1.75″ bucket placed at 55 yards.

Tech Talk: Why the Big Side-Wheels on the Scopes?
Field Target rifles shoot pellets propelled by compressed air. These light-weight, low-BC projectiles drop very quickly, with a looping trajectory. In order to hit targets at distances out to 50 yards or so, you have to adjust your scope to compensate for pellet drop. But you can’t set the scope correctly without knowing the precise range to the target. This is the function of the big wheels on the side of the scope. Field Target Competitors use the parallax adjustment on high-magnification scopes to determine target range. The big wheel allows quick, yet precise parallax adjustment. Markings on the wheel show the shooter the scope settings required for the distance “dialed-in” via the over-size parallax wheel.

Field Target Championship Crosman Rush New York

The CAAFTC is sanctioned by the American Airgun Field Target Association and is a featured AAFTA Grand Prix event. The 120-shot match has competitive rifle divisions based on allowable gun and support equipment. Here are the main air rifle classifications:

Hunter Division – rifle fires at a maximum 20 foot pounds of energy (FPE), shooter may use a non-attached bipod, non-restrictive clothing, and sitting stool.
Open Division - maximum 20 FPE maximum rifle, shooter may wear a body harness, no bipod, 6″ maximum height seat.
World Field Target Federation (WFTF) – similar to Open but shooters compete according to international standard of maximum 12 fpe for rifles.
Freestyle Division – 20 FPE maximum rifle, no other restrictions. (This is new for 2016).

The pistol competition includes similar divisions based on shooting styles. Both rifle and pistol divisions include sub-classes based on the air rifle powerplant: piston driven or pre-charged pneumatic.

“If you want to see some of the country’s finest airgun shooters, this is the hottest event of the summer and it’s free for the public,” says Chip Hunnicutt, Marketing Manager for Crosman. “Alongside the world-class shooters, we’ll have enthusiasts simply having a good time and even parents bringing their kids for some good fun outdoors.” (NOTE: Click framed images below to zoom.)

Field Target Championship Crosman Rush New York

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June 4th, 2019

Quick History of Silhouette Shooting

Silhouette Centerfire high power history formation Mexico Ram Pig Chicken livestock

The NRA Blog ran an feature on Silhouette shooting by NRA Silhouette Program Coordinator Jonathan Leighton. Here are selections from Leighton’s story:

NRA Silhouette Shooting
The loud crack from the bullet exiting the muzzle followed by an even louder ‘clang’ as you watch your target fly off the railing is really a true addiction for most Silhouette shooters. There is nothing better than shooting a game where you actually get to see your target react to the bullet. In my opinion, this is truly what makes this game so much fun.

Metallic Silhouette — A Mexican Import
Silhouette shooting came to this country from Mexico in the 1960s. It is speculated that sport had its origins in shooting contests between Pancho Villa’s men around 1914. After the Mexican Revolution the sport spread quickly throughout Mexico. ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ uses steel silhouettes shaped like game animals. Chickens up front followed by rows of pigs, turkeys, and furthest away, rams. Being that ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ was originally a Mexican sport, it is common to hear the targets referred to by their Spanish names Gallina (chicken), Javelina (pig), Guajalote (turkey) and Borrego (ram). Depending on the discipline one is shooting, these animals are set at different distances from the firing line, but always in the same order.

Before Steel There Was… Barbeque
In the very beginnings of the sport, live farm animals were used as targets, and afterwards, the shooters would have a barbeque with all the livestock and/or game that was shot during the match. The first Silhouette match that used steel targets instead of livestock was conducted in 1948 in Mexico City, Mexico by Don Gonzalo Aguilar. [Some matches hosted by wealthy Mexicans included high-ranking politicians and military leaders]. As the sport spread and gained popularity during the 1950s, shooters from the Southwestern USA started crossing the Mexican border to compete. Silhouette shooting came into the US in 1968 at the Tucson Rifle Club in Arizona. The rules have stayed pretty much the same since the sport has been shot in the US. NRA officially recognized Silhouette as a shooting discipline in 1972, and conducted its first NRA Silhouette Nationals in November of 1972.

Now There Are Multiple Disciplines
The actual sport of Silhouette is broken into several different disciplines. High Power Rifle, Smallbore Rifle, Cowboy Lever Action Rifle, Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, and Hunter’s Pistol are the basic disciplines. Cowboy Lever Action is broken into three sub-categories to include Smallbore Cowboy Rifle, Pistol Cartridge Cowboy Lever Action, and regular Cowboy Lever Action. Black Powder Cartridge Rifle also has a ‘Scope’ class, and Hunter’s Pistol is broken into four sub-categories. Some clubs also offer Military Rifle Silhouette comps.

Here is a rimfire silhouette match conducted by the Sporting Shooters’ Assn. of Australia.
Silhouette Centerfire high power history formation Mexico Ram Pig Chicken livestock

Where to Shoot Silhouette
NRA-Sanctioned matches are found at gun clubs nation-wide. There are also many State, Regional, and National matches across the country as well. You can find match listings on the Shooting Sports USA website or contact the NRA Silhouette Department at (703) 267-1465. For more info, visit SteelChickens.com, the #1 website dedicated to Silhouette shooting sports.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 13 Comments »
June 2nd, 2019

Sunday GunDay: .308 Win for PRS and NRL Tactical Division

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

This .308 Win was purpose-built for PRS/NRL tactical competition. With all the focus on the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, and smaller 6mm cartridges, it’s easy to forget that the PRS has a Tactical Division limited to .223 Rem and .308 Winchester. This gun was built by Jim See of Elite Accuracy LLC to compete in that class, which also has a .308 bullet-weight limit of 178 grains, and a velocity limit of 2800 fps.

With those restrictions, this is truly a Tactical Tack-Driver, as you can see from those 100-yard targets in the photo above. This gun seems to shot great with everything Jim has tried. He started the season with Sierra 168gr Tipped MatchKings. Later he switched to 168gr Berger Hybrids. For both bullet types he uses Varget powder, CCI 200 primers, and Lapua large primer .308 Win brass. His current match load runs about 2765 FPS, with impressive 5-7 FPS standard deviation. The gun hammers — even at very long range. Jim told us: “That soda bottle was shot at one mile with a 168gr Berger Hybrid on top of Varget.” Jim says the 1:9″ twist rate helps deliver a “clean sub-sonic transition” at that distance.

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger
With its heavy-contour barrel, the gun weighs in at a hefty 22 pounds, including optics and bipod. If you like this rig, Jim See can build you one just like it, or with the chambering of your choice. Visit EliteAccuracy.com to learn more about Jim’s gunsmithing services.

This rig features a RBRP Impact Precision 737 Action which was designed specifically for PRS-type tactical applications. This action features an integral lug, and built-in +20 MOA Picatinny rail. Both receiver and bolt are black-nitrided for slickness and durability. Jim loves the action: “It is really slick operating. It functions really well and doesn’t get gummed up with dirt or grit, so it has caught on for the PRS/NRL game. This action has won a major share of 2-day PRS matches this past season.”

Barrel Is a Resurrected .300 WSM
This rifle has one “resurrected” component — the barrel. The 1.25″ straight-contour, 1:9″-twist Brux was originally chambered as a .300 WSM finished at 30 inches. As acquired from Pat Scully, the barrel had 1200 WSM rounds through it. See then re-chambered the Brux as a .308 Winchester, finished it at 25 inches, and attached a 4-baffle side-discharge muzzle brake. Jim says the brake really helps control muzzle lift.

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

Jim See .308 Win Tactical Rifle Specifications:

Action: Impact Precision 737R
Action Finish: Black Nitride (bolt + body)
Barrel: Brux 1:9″ twist, 25″ finished
Chambering: .308 Win, PT&G Std. Match Reamer
Muzzle Brake: Custom 4 baffle, side discharge
Trigger: Trigger-Tech Diamond, straight shoe
Magazine: Accuracy International

Scope: Vortex Razor HD Gen II, 4.5-27x56mm FFP EBR reticle
Scope Base: Integral +20 MOA rail
Stock: J. Allen Enterprises (JAE) chassis
Front Rail: JAE Swiss ARCA rail
(extends bipod mount 2″ forward)
Bipod: Atlas PSR

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

Running the Rifle in Competition
Jim says this rifle performed well right out of the gate: “For about three years I wanted to shoot Tactical division and in 2018 it happened to work out. I decided it was a good year to test the .308 Win waters and see how the .308 could stack up competitively against the Open Class rifles.

I dug around the shop and found an 11-twist 30″ M-24 from an old F-class rifle and chopped it down to 23″ and fit it to an Impact action. [EDITOR: This barrel was later replaced with the 1:9″ Brux finished at 25 inches.] I had not received my 168gr Berger Hybrids yet so I ran the Sierra 168gr Tipped MatchKings in the first couple matches of the season. Those SMKs were used for the target and chrono pictures here.

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

The first spring match was ‘The Battle for Breakneck’ in Nebraska. This is a true field match with mostly prone stages with a few natural rock barricades thrown in for positional shooting. The yardages went out to a little over 1400 yards. I went in feeling good and shot very well in the windy conditions, hitting targets out to 1350 yards. I finished with a score of around 105 out of 135 points. The Open Class winner shot a 117 score I believe. I ended up being First-Place Tactical and 16th overall in a field of 100 shooters.”

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

Consistency and Preparation — Keys to Success in PRS/NRL Competition
Through his Elite Accuracy LLC company, Jim offers skills training for tactical shooters. When we asked Jim if he had any advice for PRS/NRL competitors, Jim replied: “Consistency is what will continually put you at the top of a match. In addition, your gear needs to be prepared (100% sorted out) and your mind needs to be prepared and ready. Don’t let your mind get in your own way. Mental preparation and confidence will be key to success.”

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

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June 2nd, 2019

.284 Shehane — Winning Wildcat for F-Open Competition

7mm .285 shehane improved f-class f-open caliber cartridge chambering

High-BC 7mm Bullets7mm (.284) remains the caliber to beat in F-Class Open Division (though some shooters have had success with .30-Cal short magnums.) With a standard .284 Winchester, or better yet, a .284 Improved, you can drive the high-BC Berger 180gr and 184gr bullets to competitive velocities.

The straight .284 Win is an excellent cartridge, quite capable of winning F-class matches. However, in most barrels, it can’t push the 180s at 2900-2950 fps velocity levels*. A lot of barrels will top out at about 2850 fps. That’s where the .284 Shehane comes into play.

The .284 Shehane is a slightly modified wildcat that retains the same 35° shoulder as the parent case. However, 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 N560 or Reloder 17 you can go even faster.

Norm Harrold Won 2018 F-Class Open Division Nationals with .284 Shehane Rifle
F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Norm Harrold (above) won the 2018 USA F-Class Nationals shooting a .284 Shehane. Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norm revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video.

F-Class 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.

Forum member Jim Hardy has shot the .284 with great success. He tells us: “In my humble opinion, the .284 Shehane is the best balanced long-range round there is — bar none. Here is why:

You have to shoot a 30 Cal Magnum with a 240gr bullet to equal the performance of most 7mm chamberings with the 180 Berger VLD. With the .284 Shehane, you have a .308 bolt face, medium action, and Lapua brass. You use less powder than the 7 mags, and have great accuracy and ballistics even while fire-forming. The .284 Shehane shoots inside the 6.5 AND the straight .284, the .300 WSM, and the .300 Win Mag with less recoil. What is not to love about the 284 Shehane? It is a no-brainer for long range — F-Class or Prone or 1000-yard Benchrest.”

Scotland’s Grant Taylor. who used the .284 Shehane to finish third at the 2009 F-Class Worlds in England says the .284 Shehane is “very accurate with superb vertical spreads at 1000 yards. [This] caliber… has awesome accuracy. I’m getting 2930-2950 fps with spreads in the 3-5 fps range. I use Hodgdon H4831sc powder, CCI BR2 primers, and pointed 180gr Bergers.”

.284 Shehane Shines in 1K Benchrest Competition Too
The .284 Shehane has won in Benchrest as well as F-Class competition. In 2013, Henry Pasquet won the IBS 1000-Yard Nationals shooting a .284 Shehane. Henry’s Championship-winning rig is shown below. Note the 5″-wide fore-end which is not legal for F-Class. Henry also runs a combo tuner/muzzle-brake.

.284 Shehane Henry Pasquet ibs 1000 yard championship

.284 Shehane Henry Pasquet ibs 1000 yard championship

Amazing Accuracy When Fire-Forming .284 Shehane

7mm .285 shehane improved f-class f-open caliber cartridge chambering

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. In fact, this impressive sub-quarter MOA group was shot while fire-forming with a very well-worn barrel! Gun builder Ryan Pierce of Piercision Rifles explains: “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. [The load was] 180 Hybrids with 54.0 grains of H4831 SC.”


*Some exceptional barrels chambered in straight .284 Win can reach 2900 fps with the 180s. Ryan Pierce has a 32″ Brux barrel that is delivering 2900 fps with the straight .284. However, Ryan acknowledges that his velocities are not typical: “A lot of .284 Win barrels top out at around 2850 fps with the 180s”.

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May 30th, 2019

D-Day Match at Talladega Marksmanship Park

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

TALLADEGA, Alabama — The Annual D-Day Anniversary Matches will be held June 6-9, 2019, at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park in Alabama. The event commemorates the Anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy in June, 1944. In 2015, the $20-million-dollar Talledega Park celebrated its Grand Opening with its first D-Day Match. That was a great success, and the 2019 D-Day Match promises to be even better. This has become a hugely popular event — recently there were over 250 competitors. For many, this match was their first opportunity to shoot on electronic targets. That speeds up relays AND eliminates the need to do Pit Duty.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

It’s not too late to join the fun — there are still slots available for the event. You can register online. For more information, email shall [at] thecmp.org or phone 256-474-4408 ext. 414.

REGISTRATION FORM | Match PROGRAM with Rules | MAP to Facility | Online Registration

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

Watch Highlights from 2017 Talladega D-Day Match:

EDITOR: Worth Watching! Guys, this nicely-produced video shows multiple disciplines (including Service Rifle, Carbine, Pistol, and Vintage Sniper) and lets you see how the electronic targets work. We highly recommend you watch this video.

Electronic Targets + No Pit Duty = More Fun
Competitors will be firing all matches on electronic targets. The John C. Garand Range has a huge firing line with monitors at all shooting stations. These connect to three banks of electronic targets positioned at 200, 300, and 600 yards. Spectators can view the results in real time on large monitors.

Talladega CMP Marksmanship Park D-Day match

INVITATION: The CMP’s John C. Garand D-Day Anniversary Match is a big event with many different competitions for rifle and pistol shooters. Along with the signature M1 Garand event, a Vintage Sniper Match, EIC Service Rifle Match, .22 Rimfire Pistol Match, EIC Service Pistol Match, and .22 Rimfire Pistol matches will be conducted.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

State of the Art Shooting Facility in Alabama
The 500-acre CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is one of the most advanced outdoor shooting facilities in the Western Hemisphere. The facility includes a 600-yard rifle range, a 100-yard multi-purpose range, and a 50-yard pistol range, equipped with Kongsberg electronic targets and scoring monitors that allow shooters to see their shot locations/scores in a matter of seconds. Since the 54 targets at each line register hits and calculate the scores, no pit duty is required at Talladega.

Permalink Competition, News, Tactical No Comments »
May 29th, 2019

Super Shoot Top 20 GEAR — BATs, Kriegers, and Lots of Tuners

Kelbly Kelbly's super shoot benchrest 100 yard 6mm 6PPC
Firing line at 2019 Super Shoot. Photo courtesy Armeria Regina.

What components do world-class, short-range group benchrest shooters use? BAT actions, Krieger barrels, and Bix’n Andy triggers (and Jewells) are the components of choice. And barrel tuners are now widely used by the top shooters. As for powder, Vitavuori N133 is still the choice of virtually all top competitors. And yes the 6PPC definitely rules the roost. Every Top 20 shooter at the 2019 Super Shoot shot a 6PPC. Every one. Read on to learn more about the Top 20 Equipment used at this year’s Super Shoot.

Kelbly Kelbly's super shoot benchrest 100 yard 6mm 6PPC
Click Image to view FULL-SIZE Equipment List.

We recently reviewed the Top 20 Equipment List for the 2019 Super Shoot at the Kelbly’s Range in Ohio. This Top 20 List reveals the gear choices for the 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint Class and the 10.5-lb Light Varmint/Sporter Class (20 entries for each division). Here are notable gear choices for Top 20 Competitors (both divisions) at the 2019 Super Shoot:

Actions: 14 of 20 HV and 16 of 20 LV/SP shooters used BAT actions. So there were 75% BATs for both classes combined.
Barrels: 10 of 13 listed HV barrels and 9 of 12 listed LV/SP barrels were Kriegers. Overall, of the barrels identified in the Top 20 Equipment lists, 76% were Krieger. That’s dominance! [Note: We have been informed that entries with no barrel-maker listed may have been Bartlein barrels.]
Triggers: Notably 10 of 20 HV triggers were Bix’n Andy — 50%. For the other class, 7 of 19 listed triggers were Bix ‘N Andy. All others were Jewells.
Tuners: In HV Class, 12 of 20 shooters used tuners, mostly Bukys. 11 of 20 LV/SP shooters had tuners. Overall that is 57.5% tuner usage for both classes combined.

Barrel Tuner Gene Bukys Shadetree Engineering

Cartridge: For both classes, every single Top 20 competitor shot the 6PPC. ‘Nuf said.
Powders: 19 of 20 HV Shooters used Vihtavuori N133. Likewise 19 of 20 LV/SP shooters used VV N133, with one not reporting. That is total dominance for N133.

Kelbly Kelbly's super shoot benchrest 100 yard 6mm 6PPC

Bullets: There was a wide selection of bullets used in both classes. Custom bullets by “boutique” bullet makers were certainly favored by Top 20 shooters. Sta Moy 65s were popular, as were Hottenstein 68s and Bart’s bullets among others.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gear Review 6 Comments »
May 27th, 2019

‘Sights, Wind and Mirage’ in Shooting Sports USA Archives

Wind Reading Quadrant High Power

Vand Zande wind readingIn the digital archives of Shooting Sports USA, we’ve found some great features that deserve a second look. A few years back, Shooting Sports USA published Sights, Wind and Mirage, an outstanding article that explains how to judge wind speed/direction and adjust your sights accordingly. Authored by highly respected shooter Ernest (Ernie) Vande Zande, this article is a definite “must-read” for all competitive rifle shooters — even those who shoot with a scope rather than irons. Vande Zande’s discussion of mirage alone makes the article well worth reading. Highly recommended.

CLICK HERE to Read “Sights, Wind and Mirage”
by Ernie Vande Zande

Invaluable Insights from a World-Class Shooter
The article covers a wide variety of topics including Wind Reading, Mirage, Effects of Sight Canting, Quadrant Shooting, and Sight Adjustment Sequencing. Vande Zande offers many jewels of insight from his decades of experience shooting and coaching in top level tournaments. U.S. Shooting Team Leader at the 1996 Olympics, Vande Zande has set more than 200 records in National and International competition. He was the Smallbore Rifle Prone Champion at Camp Perry in 1980. An International Distinguished shooter, Ernie has been on nine Dewar teams and he was a member of the USAR Shooting Team from 1982. No matter what your discipline, if you are a competitive rifle shooter, you should CLICK HERE to read Sights, Wind, and Mirage.

Vand Zande wind reading

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
May 26th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Old Savage Becomes 300M Match Rifle

300m meter Savage BVSS .260 Remington Shilen barrel Chassis prone rifle

Editor: This story by Tommy C. (aka “dc.fireman”) comes from our Shooters’ Forum. It’s fascinating to see how a relatively inexpensive Savage M12 BVSS varmint rig was transformed into a sophisticated 300M match rifle with a modern chassis, Shilen barrel, and top-of-line sights. With some ingenuity, and careful parts selection, Tommy created a rifle that can compete with match rifles costing many thousands of dollars more. American ingenuity at work!

300m meter Savage BVSS .260 Remington Shilen barrel Chassis prone rifle

Savage Reborn — Old BVSS Transformed into 300M Match Rifle

by Tommy C. (aka “dc.fireman”)
So, I began the project of building a 300M International competition gun, about a year ago, intending to compete at the 300M Nationals this year in Minnesota at the Minneapolis Rifle Club. Realistically, I didn’t want to pay the price-tag demanded of the Bleikers, Grunig & Elmigers, Hammerlis, or Tanners that (infrequently) pop-up for sale from time to time. So I decided to build my own 300M Match rifle with an American action, barrel, chassis, and trigger.

300m meter Savage BVSS .260 Remington Shilen barrel Chassis prone rifle
Here is Tommy’s completed 300M Match rifle with Savage action in PDC Custom chassis.

I had decided on the .260 Remington (aka 6.5-08) as the caliber choice. This beat out 6.5×47 Lapua simply due to the cost/availability of brass. The .260 Rem cartridge is based on the .308 Win parent. I made my first batch of brass by necking down some Federal .308, and it worked great. [Editor: We do recommend Lapua .260 Remington brass for match purposes for those who don’t have a supply of good .308 brass.]

300m meter Savage BVSS .260 Remington Shilen barrel Chassis prone rifle

I had an older Savage M12 stagger-feed action, originally from an old .22-250 BVSS. I contacted James at Northland Shooter Supply, and he walked me through the game plan and equipment I needed: Shilen Select Match 26″ barrel, NSS Stainless recoil lug and nut, a set of Forster headspace gauges, and the NSS action wrench.

300m meter Savage BVSS .260 Remington Shilen barrel Chassis prone rifle
Catalog photo of current Savage M12 BVSS in .22-250 Rem.

A few months later, I replaced the original Accu-trigger with a Rifle Basix SAV-II trigger, and immediately wondered why I waited so long to do that. The Rifle Basix is perfect for my application. Mind you the he safety DOES NOT work now, but, I don’t need it for my application.

Another member on the AccurateShooter Forum sold me a BVSS stock that has been re-worked by Alex Sitman of Masterclass Stocks, and it served as a placeholder, until I could find a maker who could nearly replicate my Feinwerkbau 2700 Alu stock in my smallbore match gun.

After scouring the AccurateShooter Forum, and multiple internet searches, I found PDC Custom in Michigan. I spoke with Craig Kierstadt a few times, before finally deciding to pull the proverbial trigger on his chassis. He had a few of the older chassis stocks with spacing for the Savage stagger-feed action. He machined an Anschutz rail into the fore-end for my hand stop and sling. Then he powder-coated the chassis black, and sent it to me sans grip and butt plate.

300m meter Savage BVSS .260 Remington Shilen barrel Chassis prone rifle
Photo of action/chassis. Tommy says: “It locks up really tightly, and you can tell Craig spent some time on the CNC work need to make this all fit.”

There are a few minor issues with the PDC chassis, but overall, I would rate this a 9.5 out of a possible 10. The price, and the features built into it, plus the ease of which everything fit together, far outweigh any minor issues. And two of the issues I quickly corrected with Teflon tape. I will need to make a walnut cheek piece — a curved one isn’t conducive to aperture iron sight shooting.

Savage Action .260 Rem 300M Match Rifle Components:

Action, Barrel, Stock, Grip
Savage M12 stagger-feed action, 4.27″ spacing
Shilen Select Match Barrel, 26″
Rifle Basix SAV-II Trigger
PDC Custom Chassis — tool-less adjustments
Bobsled SLED for single loading (required)
MEC Contact III Butt plate (German)
MEC handstop/sling swivel (German)
Walnut Target grip for AR-15 (eBay sourced)

Sight Components and Hardware
MEC Spy Long rear sight (German)
Centra front sight tunnel (German)
Centra adjustable aperture (German)
Medesha sight extension tube + collar
Champion’s Choice front sight base
Champion’s Choice mirage band

For his practice load, Tommy shot 123gr Hornady ELD-M bullets with H4831 powder and CCI BR2 primers. This load performed well — Tommy posted: “My 25-shot initial prone test today shows promise. There are five sighter shots, and 20 record shots. One of the 9s at 9 o’clock is my first sighter, the other one I own. The 8 out at 4 O’clock was a round that was difficult to chamber. My initial scoring puts me somewhere in the vicinity of 193-7X.”

300m meter Savage BVSS .260 Remington Shilen barrel Chassis prone rifle

The target used is the NRA C2, “300M International Rifle Target, reduced for 200 yards”.
The 10 Ring is 2.40″ in diameter, while the Inner 10 (X-Ring) is 1.24″.

Varget powder 300m .260 RemingtonMatch Load — Varget and Nosler Bullets
For his match load, Tommy switched to Varget and Nosler bullets: “My match load uses 37.9 grains Hodgdon Varget with a Nosler 123gr bullet. This was a recommendation by a gentleman with a lot of experience in 300M shooting.”

Tommy adds: “The amount of knowledge gained via the AccurateShooter Forum has made this all a reality, instead of just a passing thought.”

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
May 26th, 2019

Six Tips for Better Results at Local Fun Shooting Matches

tip advice training prep club varmint groundhog match

Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip No Comments »
May 24th, 2019

ELR Shooting at Raton, New Mexico — Out to 1.55 Miles

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

While 100/200 yard benchrest competitors have been drilling tiny groups at the Kelbly Super Shoot this week, other folks, with MUCH bigger rifles, have been shooting at very long range in Raton, New Mexico.

This week the NRA Whittington Center at Raton hosts the Fifty Caliber Shooting Association (FCSA) annual Extreme Long Range (ELR) Record Match. Some of the most talented long-range shooters on the planet are there, including past King of Two Miles Derek Rodgers, along with his Team Global Precision team-mates Mark Lonsdale and Paul Phillips.

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

Here is Mark preparing to shoot on the first day of the FCSA 1.5 Mile ELR Match with Paul and Derek spotting and calling wind. The cold bore 10″ gong was at 1,040 yards and all three men nailed it. From there the six steel targets ranged from 1,180 yards, up the side of the mountains, to over 2,600 yards.

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett
Site of Day 1 for the FCSA ELR match at Raton, NM. Targets at 2,300, 2,585, and 2,725 yards. Weather cleared up but wind was brutal.

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 BarrettAfter Day 1 of the FCSA 1.5 Mile ELR match, Derek was in 2nd place, Mark in 3rd, and Paul in 5th. Mark reported: “Today we had winds gusting well over 15 mph from 6 o’clock, but as they hit the base of the mountains, they created an updraft that caused shots out past 2,000 yards to go high. But just when you had that wind doped, it would switch to a gusting 9 o’clock (left to right) pushing bullets 20 feet to the right. A very challenging day but good practice for Ko2M next month.”

These gents are shooting big rigs with jumbo-sized cartridges. Mark is campaigning a .416 Barrett with Cutting Edge Bullets. Below is his ELR rifle, which features jumbo BAT action, Bartlein barrel (with brake), McMillan stock, and Nightforce scope. Mark posted: “Getting the .416 Barrett ready to shoot in the FCSA 1.5 Mile ELR Match. Weather is definitely warmer than yesterday’s match but wind is howling today.”

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

TECH TIP — Barrel Life in the ELR Game

Mark Lonsdale posted this interesting commentary on barrel life in the ELR game: “How long a barrel lasts has a lot to do with how hot you run your loads and resultant chamber pressures, but it can also be poor cleaning technique. That said, if you are into ELR or long range precision shooting, and you shoot a lot, you need to think of match-grade barrels as a consumable item — just like the tires on your car. You change your tires when they show excessive wear, so you change your barrel when the accuracy drops off. Similarly, you buy tires that best suit your needs, street or off-road, so you buy a barrel that meets your requirements for weight, accuracy and muzzle velocity.”

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

“Accuracy is also subjective based on the needs of the shooter. Hunting big game does not require the same pin-point accuracy as long range varmint hunting, and having fun at local club matches does not require the same accuracy as aspiring to be a national champion. With accuracy comes cost, but when compared to the cost of ELR ammo in .338, .375 or .416, a new barrel is actually an affordable consumable. Just remember, ‘the only good rifle is an accurate rifle’.”

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

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May 23rd, 2019

Super Shoot Underway in Ohio at Kelbly’s Range

Kelbly Kelbly's Super shoot supershoot Ohio benchrest PPC group light heavy varmint

The 47th Annual Firearms Industry Super Shoot is underway right now at the Kelbly’s Range in North Lawrence, Ohio. This major annual event, held May 21-24 this year, attracts hundreds of the world’s top short-range benchrest-for-group shooters. At the Super Shoot, you’ll find the world’s best on the long firing line, including legends like Tony Boyer and Lester Bruno, and many other Hall of Fame PPC pilots.

Kelbly Kelbly's Super shoot supershoot Ohio benchrest PPC group light heavy varmint

The weather has been cold and blustery this year. But the group sizes have still been impressively small. Photo from Kelbly’s Range in Ohio courtesy Berger Bullets.

Past Super Shoot Highlights Video (Watch This — It’s Very Well Done!)

If you’ve never attended the Super Shoot before, and don’t know what to expect, Capstone Precision Group President Bill Gravatt offers some insights into this great event:

Super Shoot — What It’s All About

The excitement and anticipation leading up to a Super Shoot can be hard to explain to those who haven’t been to one. Every year, some shooters arrive at the Super Shoot a week early to dial in their rifles, learn wind conditions for the range, and enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow shooters. As the match draws closer, campers and RVs fill the area behind the range, and shooters stake out turf all over the property with their reloading and cleaning equipment setups.

Many shooters choose to load cartridges in the main barn directly behind the 60-bench firing line, while others decide to work in pop-ups, campers and other outbuildings around the facility. Benchrest shooters tend to load in small batches, and some most load cartridges between each match. Many shooters clean their rifles after each match, while others sometimes go two or three matches between cleanings, depending on the number of rounds they fire.

Another part of high-level benchrest competition that will amaze first-time attendees is the quality and amount of equipment benchrest shooters use. Just in front of the shooting benches and the targets, range flags of all kinds sprout up, from the typical “daisy wheel” flags to very sophisticated velocity indicators that show varying wind intensity. Shooters adjust their flags to align with the particular target in front of a specific bench, just slightly below the path of the bullet but still partially visible in the high-powered scopes.

Kelbly Kelbly's Super Shoot Benchrest IBS Tony Boyer Light Varmint Heavy

The rifles represent a variety of actions, usually custom, with heavy benchrest barrels by various barrel makers. The most popular cartridge used is the 6mm PPC, but occasionally you will run into someone using a Grendel necked to 6mm or 6mmBR-based case. Rifle rests used are typically heavy tripods or plate rests. You see a lot of Sinclair rests, Farley rests, SEB Rests, and a variety of others, including a few homemade rests. Bags are typically Edgewood, Protektor, and now some Lenzis.

Super Shoot — Runners, Pickers and the Pursuit of Perfection
The techniques vary between shooters, and they are interesting to observe. Some shooters “run” their targets and will shoot a quick sighter and then run all 5 shots as fast as they can before conditions change. Others are “pickers” and shoot each shot carefully, going back and forth between the record target and the sighter target to verify wind conditions and bullet drift. These guys will sometimes shoot up to 10 sighters and use the full seven minutes. Both styles of shooting work and many shooters use both techniques depending on the match conditions[.]

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