The 146th National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia from April 27-30, 2017. This four-day event will be attended by over 80,000 patriots, feature 800+ exhibitors, and include a jam-packed schedule of seminars, workshops, special events and celebrity meet and greets. In and around the convention hall there will be 15 acres of firearms, shooting and hunting gear, and other exhibits. There will also be an on-site airgun range. For more information, including event tickets, visit www.nraam.org.
If you haven’t attended the NRA Convention before, this 2016 video offers a preview:
There will be nearly 700 Exhibitors displays products at the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits. You can see products from big name companies such as Berger Bullets, Leupold, Nightforce, Nosler, Redding, Remington, Ruger, Savage, Smith & Wesson, and Winchester. You can also meet with top hunting guides and outfitters.
The National NRA Foundation Banquet will be held April 27th in the Thomas Murphy Ballroom, Georgia World Congress Center Building ‘B’. The NRA-ILA Leadership Forum is slated for April 28th in Hall A3, Georgia World Congress Center. With the recent changes in the American national leadership, the ILA Forum should be popular this year.
Hank Williams Concert
Lifetime NRA member and multi-Platinum hit-maker and outdoor enthusiast Hank Williams Jr. will take the stage at the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits Saturday, April 29th! This is always a sell out event, so don’t wait to buy your tickets.
Location of NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta:
Firearms Policy for the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings
During the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, lawfully carried firearms will be permitted in the Georgia World Congress Center and the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center in accordance with Georgia law. However, firearms are not allowed in the remainder of the CNN Center, including the food court and shops. When carrying your firearm, remember to follow all federal, state and local laws.
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Here’s a triple-threat hardware package for long-range shooting. This cool set-up combines a folded-path spotting scope with a Laser Rangefinder (LRF) and a Kestrel Wind Meter. The LRF is mounted directly to the Hensoldt-Zeiss spotting scope ($4330.00 retail) so the two units stay aligned at all times. That makes it easy to spot and range your target quickly. LRF and weather data is piped into a PDA which automatically generates a firing solution (providing windage and elevation adjustments). That’s slick. Feeding the range and weather data directly into the Ballistics solver eliminates human input error and allows rapid updates to the ballistics solution.
Ashbury Precison Ordnance sent us these photos, noting: “The ingenuity of APO customers never ceases to impress us! This rig has a co-located LRF adjustable for azimuth and elevation, a Kestrel weather station (Bluetooth?) and Trimble NOMAD RPDA. Firing solutions are updated as data is transmitted to the PDA from the LRF and weather station. That Hensoldt Spotter 60 is a nice piece of glass for shooting at extremely long distances.” The spotting scope is mounted on a Manfrotto 410 3-axis geared head.
Click Image to View Full-Screen Version
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In our Shooters’ Forum, there was an discussion about a range that was threatened with closure because rifle over-shoots were hitting a farm building over two miles from the firing line. One reader was skeptical of this, asking “how’s that possible — were these guys aiming at the stars?” Actually, you may be surprised. It doesn’t take much up-angle on a rifle to have a bullet land miles down-range. That’s why it’s so important that hunters and target shooters always orient their barrels in a safe direction (and angle). Shooters may not realize how much a small tilt of the barrel (above horizontal) can alter a bullet’s trajectory.
How many degrees of muzzle elevation do you think it would take to hit a barn at 3000 yards? Ten Degrees? Twenty Degrees? Actually the answer is much less — for a typical hunting cartridge, five to seven degrees of up-angle on the rifle is enough to create a trajectory that will have your bullet impacting at 3000 yards — that’s 1.7 miles away!
Five degrees isn’t much at all. Look at the diagram above. The angle actually displayed for the up-tilted rifle is a true 5.07 degrees (above horizontal). Using JBM Ballistics, we calculated 5.07° as the angle that would produce a 3000-yard impact with a 185gr .30-caliber bullet launched at 2850 fps MV. That would be a moderate “book load” for a .300 Win Mag deer rifle.
Here’s how we derived the angle value. Using Litz-derived BCs for a 185gr Berger Hunting VLD launched at 2850 fps, the drop at 3000 yards is 304.1 MOA (Minutes of Angle), assuming a 100-yard zero. This was calculated using a G7 BC with the JBM Ballistics Program. There are 60 MOA for each 1 degree of Angle. Thus, 304.1 MOA equals 5.068 degrees. So, that means that if you tilt up your muzzle just slightly over five degrees, your 185gr bullet (2850 fps MV) will impact 3000 yards down-range.
Figuring Trajectories with Different Bullets and MVs
If the bullet travels slower, or if you shoot a bullet with a lower BC, the angle elevation required for a 3000-yard impact goes up, but the principle is the same. Let’s say you have a 168gr HPBT MatchKing launched at 2750 fps MV from a .308 Winchester. (That’s a typical tactical load.) With a 100-yard zero, the total drop is 440.1 MOA, or 7.335 degrees. That’s more up-tilt than our example above, but seven degrees is still not that much, when you consider how a rifle might be handled during a negligent discharge. Think about a hunter getting into position for a prone shot. If careless, he could easily touch off the trigger with a muzzle up-angle of 10 degrees or more. Even when shooting from the bench, there is the possibility of discharging a rifle before the gun is leveled, sending the shot over the berm and, potentially, thousands of yards down-range.
Hopefully this article has shown folks that a very small amount of barrel elevation can make a huge difference in your bullet’s trajectory, and where it eventually lands. Nobody wants to put holes in a distant neighbor’s house, or worse yet, have the shot cause injury. Let’s go back to our original example of a 185gr bullet with a MV of 2850 fps. According to JBM, this projectile will still be traveling 687 fps at 3000 yards, with 193.7 ft/lbs of retained energy at that distance. That’s more than enough energy to be deadly.
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Newly-Appointed IBS Executive VP Josh Shrum was IBS 2016 Score Shooting Rookie of the Year.
The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) organization has appointed Mr. Josh Shrum of Whitney, PA to be its Executive Vice-President (EVP), effective March 1, 2017. Josh will work with the IBS Executive Board to promote the IBS, expand IBS membership, boost match attendance, and grow Benchrest shooting in general.
“With Josh on-board, we will take IBS to new levels to achieve visibility, results and growth that a group of volunteers simply cannot achieve.” said IBS President Jeff Stover. While Josh’s EVP position is part-time, Josh will bring a full-time amount of energy and a passion for Benchrest shooting in all its disciplines. Working under the direction of the President and IBS Board, Josh will complement the existing IBS staff of webmaster Dick Grosbier and recording secretary Joan Borden.
Josh will greatly expand IBS’s association with the AccurateShooter.com website. In recent years, the IBS partnered with this popular precision rifle shooting site which draws over 500,000 unique visitors per month, a very large audience focused on rifle accuracy. “By far, Accurateshooter.com is the world’s largest stage for accuracy shooters. The IBS needs to take full advantage of this opportunity to grow Benchrest.” added Stover.
You can expect to see Josh shooting in all the disciplines: Score, Group, 600 and 1000. In 2016, he was IBS Score Shooting Rookie of the Year and solidified his benchrest shooting bona fides by snagging a 25X 100-yard aggregate in his first full year of shooting.
Josh, just 31 years old, brings a youthful perspective to the IBS. For his “day job”, he manages a 1,600-acre estate owned by the Benedictine monks of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. He holds a degree in History and English from St. Vincent College. “I am excited and looking forward to working to promote the IBS. I already have a list of ideas to present to the Board” Josh said after hearing of his selection.
International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) was formed in 1970 to foster uniform competition to achieve the ultimate accuracy in firearms, ammunition, components, equipment and shooting methods. Benchrest disciplines contested include group and score at 100, 200 and 300 yards. The Long Range program is especially active with competitions at both 600 and 1000 yards. IBS Registered matches are held from Maine to Missouri and from Montana to Georgia.
In the near future, there could be changes in the way the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) treats sound suppressors (aka “moderators” or “silencers”). An official government White Paper, dated 1/20/17, was recently leaked to the press and revealed by the Washington Post.
The ATF White Paper makes some key points about suppressors:
1. 42 States currently allow silencers.
2. Silencers are not a threat to public safety, and are rarely used in criminal activities.
3. The inclusion of suppressors in the NFA is “archaic” and should be reevaluated.
4. The definition of regulated suppressor components should be narrowed, so that only key items are regulated as opposed to “any combination of [silencer] parts”.
5. A change in Federal law removing silencers from regulation under the NFA would save resources, allowing the ATF to focus on reducing actual gun-related crime.
Here is the operative text of the ATF White Paper:
Current Federal law requires ATF to regulate silencers under the NFA. This requires a Federal tax payment of $200 for transfers, ATF approval, and entry of the silencer into a national NFA database. In the past several years, opinions about silencers have changed across the United States. Their use to reduce noise at shooting ranges and applications within the sporting and hunting industry are now well recognized.
At present, 42 states generally allow silencers to be used for sporting purposes. The wide acceptance of silencers and corresponding changes in state laws have created substantial demand across the country. This surge in demand has caused ATF to have a significant backlog on silencer applications. ATF’s processing time is now approximately 8 months. ATF has devoted substantial resources in attempts to reduce processing times, spending over $1 million annually in overtime and temporary duty expenses, and dedicating over 33 additional full-time and contract positions since 2011 to support NFA processing. Despite these efforts, NFA processing times are widely viewed by applicants and the industry as far too long, resulting in numerous complaints to Congress. Since silencers account for the vast majority of NFA applications, the most direct way to reduce processing times is to reduce the number of silencer applications. In light of the expanding demand and acceptance of silencers, however, that volume is unlikely to diminish unless they are removed from the NFA. While DOJ and ATF have historically not supported removal of items from the NFA, the change in public acceptance of silencers arguably indicates that the reason for their inclusion in the NFA is archaic and historical reluctance to removing them from the NFA should be reevaluated.
ATF’s experience with the criminal use of silencers also supports reassessing their inclusion in the NFA. On average in the past 10 years, ATF has only recommended 44 defendants a year for prosecution on silencer-related violations; of those, only approximately 6 of the defendants had prior felony convictions. Moreover, consistent with this low number of prosecution referrals, silencers are very rarely used in criminal shootings. Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating NFA classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the [Gun Control Act] (GCA].
If such a change were to be considered, a revision in the definition of a silencer would be important. The current definition of a silencer extends to “any combination of [silencer] parts”, as well as “any part intended only for use in” a silencer. Compared to the definition of a firearm, which specifies the frame or receiver is the key regulated part, any individual silencer part is generally regulated just as if it were a completed silencer. Revising the definition could eliminate many of the current issues encountered by silencer manufacturers and their parts suppliers. Specifically, clarifying when a part or combination of parts meets a minimum threshold requiring serialization would be useful.
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This is something we really like to see — big-time support for youth marksmanship programs. It’s vital that we get young people involved because they are the future of recreational and competitive shooting. We want to see future generations of Americans enjoy the fun and challenge of shooting just as we do, and as previous generations did.
Over $2 Million Paid to 700+ Teams
The MidwayUSA Foundation recently paid over $2 million to youth shooting teams across the country, wrapping up the December grant cycle. This team grant payout is the largest to date for the MidwayUSA Foundation and 719 youth shooting teams will benefit from these team grant funds.
“We couldn’t be more excited to get these grant dollars from the MidwayUSA Foundation and into the hands of team leaders around the country to benefit their shooting teams. These team grant funds will help them purchase ammunition, pay for entry fees, targets, travel and more. It is our hope that teams will continue to grow their endowment and every grant payout exceeds the previous payout. The more funds teams add to their team endowment, the more they can receive in grant funding,” said MidwayUSA Foundation Executive Director, Randy Moeller.
The Queen Creek 4H Trap Team received a MidwayUSA Foundation Grant
Grants are provided through the Team Endowment Account Program, offered by the MidwayUSA Foundation. Teams with a balance in their Team Endowment Account are eligible to apply for a grant once per year by completing the MidwayUSA Foundation grant application. Grant deadlines are June 15 and December 15 and teams can receive 5% of their account balance to use for shooting team expenses.
The MidwayUSA Foundation is a public 501(c)(3) charity, founded by Larry and Brenda Potterfield, working to sustain the shooting sports industry by providing permanent, long term endowment funding to over 3,000 youth shooting teams. For more information about the MidwayUSA Foundation, Inc. and its Team Endowment Account Program, please visit midwayusafoundation.org or call 1-877-375-4570.
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If you’re planning a spring Prairie Dog adventure, it’s time to load up a big supply of ammo. On a 4-day varmint safari you can easily shoot 800 rounds or more in a prime P-Dog location. To save on ammo costs for high-volume shooting, it makes sense to buy components in bulk. Here’s a super deal on bullets for your .224-caliber varmint rig.
Right now Midsouth Shooters’ Supply is running a special on Varmint Nightmare XTreme Bullets. Available in both hollow point (HP) and lead-tip soft point (SP) styles, you can get these bullets for under $50.00 for 500. The .224 55gr Flat Base Soft Point variety is on sale this week for just $42.92 for 500 bullets (that works out to just $8.58 per hundred). We’ve loaded these in .223 Rem, 22 Dasher, and 22-250 cartridges and they worked well (considering the really low price).
Powder Suggestion for High-Volume Varmint Loads
For high-shot-count varmint safaris, you want a clean-burning powder that minimizes barrel fouling. While there are many great powders for the .223 Rem, we like Hodgdon CFE 223 for our high-volume varmint loads. This powder really seems to keep barrels cleaner. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE 223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time. You may want to check it out.
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The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) for tactical bolt guns has become hugely popular. Capitalizing on that success, the PRS has approved a new Gas Gun series for semi-auto rifles such as AR15s and AR10s. Since the launch of the PRS a few seasons back, Gas Gun shooters have wanted to play. Recognizing the interest among semi-auto shooters, the PRS ran two “prototype” Gas Gun matches last year.
PRS Director Shawn Wiseman Explains New Gas Gun Series in this Video:
Based on positive feedback from the 2016 test matches, PRS founders approved a full 2017 Gas Gun series which kicks off this week. The 2017 PRS Gas Gun Series opener will be held February 17-19, 2017 at the CORE Shooting Solutions range in Baker, Florida. Here’s a video showing CORE’s facility:
For the new PRS Gas Gun Series, rules and scoring procedures needed to be developed. Accordingly, a committee of top PRS shooters, Multi-Gun shooters, and Match Directors was assembled to develop the PRS Gas Gun Series Rule Book. Highlights of the Rules are listed below.
SSUSA: What will be the format of the 2017 PRS Gas Gun Series matches?
Wiseman: The matches will be a two day format with 8 to 10 stages per day. No more than 50 percent of the stages can be unlimited round count and 25 percent of the targets must be 2 MOA or smaller. The scoring will be overall time plus penalties with the winner being the shooter with the fastest time including all penalties. There are three Divisions; Tactical Light for 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Rem. rifles, Tactical Heavy for 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Win., and Open for everything else up to .30 cal. The maximum distance will be 800 yards.
SSUSA: What guns do you expect to be popular?
Wiseman: In the Open Division, I expect to see a lot of 6.5 Creedmoors for two main reasons; it’s an inherently accurate cartridge and Hornady makes great ammo for the folks that aren’t into reloading. I think the Tactical Light Division will probably be the most popular. It is hard to say specifically what rifles will be the most popular but there are a few AR companies that are known for the accuracy. Armalite, GA Precision, LaRue and Seekins will all be very popular rifles in this Series. I think we will continue to see high-end optics with 5 to 6X zoom range on the rifles. Bushnell, Kahles, Leupold, Nightforce and Vortex will continue to be the most popular.
Scoring and Penalties
The Gas Gun Series utilizes a time plus penalty-based scoring system for all match scoring. This means the score is the shooter’s total combined time on all stages plus any penalties accrued.
Penalties are as follows:
30 seconds for any rifle targets not engaged or neutralized.
15 seconds for any pistol targets not engaged or neutralized.
15 seconds for hitting a “No Shoot” target.
No more than 50% of the stages at a match can utilize an unlimited round count. At least 25% of the targets in Gas Gun Series match must be 2 MOA or smaller. Maximum distance is 800 yards.
Open Division: The Open Division rifles will not exceed a caliber of .30 or a velocity of 3,200 fps. A match DQ will result any rounds over the speed limit of 3,200 fps (+/- 32 fps for environmental factors and equipment discrepancies). Match Officials may request at any point during a match that a competitor fire their rifle through chronograph. If the bullet exceeds the 3,200 fps speed limit, the shooter will receive an automatic match DQ.
Tactical Light Division: Intended to allow competitors the opportunity tocompete using traditional military and law enforcement caliber. This promotes Active Duty military and law enforcement competitors use of their Service and Department-issued rifles. Tactical Light Division rifles are restricted to 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington calibers only. Bullet weight cannot exceed 77 grains and muzzle velocity cannot exceed 3,000 fps.
Tactical Heavy Division: Intended to allow competitors the opportunity to compete using traditional military and law enforcement caliber. This promotes Active Duty military and law enforcement competitors use of their Service and Department issued rifles. Tactical Heavy Division rifles are restricted to 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester calibers only. Bullet weight cannot exceed 178 grains and muzzle velocity cannot exceed 2,800 fps. No modified wildcat rounds permitted to shoot in the Tactical Divisions Anyone discovered violating this rule will receive an automatic Match DQ. Tactical Division shooters will shoot the exact same COF as Open Division shooters.
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The most hotly-anticipated cartridge brass, the new-for-2017 6.5 Creedmoor cases from Lapua, arrived late last week at Graf & Sons. With the strength and uniformity for which Lapua brass is famous, this new brass should definitely “raise the bar” for 6.5 Creedmoor and 6mm Creedmoor shooters. Note — the new Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass features a small flash hole and small primer pocket. As of 9:00 am Monday morning this brass is in stock at Grafs.com priced at $119.99 per 100-ct box, with a max order of five (5) boxes.
UPDATE: The 6.5 Creedmoor brass sold out after we posted this story. But there will be more coming. You can ask Graf’s to be notified as soon as the next shipment arrives.
TECH TIP: For those who have been loading Hornady or other-brand 6.5 Creedmoor brass with large primer pockets and large flash holes, you may need to reconfigure your reloading tools. Check your sizing die — you may need to change to a smaller-diameter decapping rod. In addition you’ll need to use a small primer size “pusher” on your priming tool.
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The 2017 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) are now history. This was a great match, with extremely close competition, and record-setting scores. For the first few days, conditions were very mild. That allowed the “top guns” to shoot “cleans” and even set a few new National records. In individual competition, there were familiar faces among the Top Ten, but also some rising stars. In the F-Open and Sling team events, two new squads topped some of the experienced “all-star” teams. Overall it was a great match — one of the most tightly contested ever. Even with 400 competitors, everything ran smoothly. For those who attended the 2017 Berger SW Nationals, this has been a truly memorable week at Ben Avery. F-Open and F-TR Final Results Posted HERE.
This is our final Berger SW Nationals video for 2017, with interviews with the three class winners: John Whidden (Sling), David Gosnell (F-Open), Donald Erpenbach (F-TR).
Top Five Competitors in Each Class
John Whidden, 1248-84X
Adrian Harris, 1243-74X
Allen Thomas, 1242-65X
Justin Skaret, 1242-59X
Erik Rhode, 1241-59X
David Gosnell, 1247-84X
Jay Christopherson, 1246-74X
Keith Glasscock, 1245-79X
Pat Scully, 1243-71X
Dan Bramley, 1243-70X
Donald Erpenbach, 1230-53X
James Crofts, 1225-43X
Alan Barnhart, 1224-32X
Ian Klemm, 1222-55X
Bryan Litz, 1222-49X
Bryan Litz congratulates Sling winner John Whidden. John is reigning National Long Range Rifle Champion.
Below are SWN F-Open Champion David Gosnell (left) and F-TR Winner Donald Erpenbach (right).
Record-Setting Performances in 2017
This year Ben Avery conditions were very good — calm mornings, and little wind in the afternoons for the first three days. With the very calm Day 1-3 conditions, we witnessed some spectacular individual and team performances. Lester Bruno shot a brilliant 200-23X at 600 Yards, setting a new National record. Ian Klemm set a new 60-shot, 600-yard National record of 599-38X. The Cluster Ducks set a new National F-Open Team Record for 800/900/1000 yards with their 1789-100X Score. And the talented North-by-Southwest F-TR squad set both a National Record and an overall SWN match record.
The North-by-Southwest team won the 2017 SWN F-TR team event in fine fashion, setting new National and range records in the process.
And here is Team Longshots, winner of the F-Open Team Title. Individual F-Open Champ David Gosnell is at far right. The winning Sling Team was Scotland Thistle.
Forum Admin Finishes a Very Close Second in F-Open
Hats off to AccurateShooter.com’s very own Systems Admin, Jay Christopherson. A talented tech expert, Jay runs our web servers and manages our Forum software. His skills and dedication keep the Forum running smoothly, even as we approach 35,000 members. Jay shot a brilliant match at Ben Avery this week, finishing second in F-Open, just one point behind F-Open winner David Gosnell. We’re proud of Jay, and we want to recognize his achievement. It’s interesting to note that Jay shot the entire match with the new SEB Mini rest, and he was using a Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle scope. Here’s a short video of Jay shooting his .284 Win rifle on Saturday.
The show’s over — it’s time to pack up the gear and head on home. We’re already looking forward to the 2018 Berger SWN. See you next year!
Big News for Berger Bullets
Big news in the Industry is that Berger Bullets is becoming part of the Nammo Group, parent of Lapua, Vihtavuori, SK and other companies. This major acquisition will combine Nammo’s resources and advanced engineering with Berger’s match-winning bullet designs and strong focus on competition. Yes, you can expect to see factory-loaded ammunition with Berger projectiles and premium Lapua brass. To learn more about the big Berger/Nammo deal, watch this interview with Berger President Erik Stecker.
Eric Stecker, Berger’s President, says the exact timing of the move has not yet been set, nor has the location been chosen. Arizona is high on the list of potential sites, but Berger is considering other states as well. Once the new factory location is determined, Eric says he expects the move to be completed “by December 2018 at the latest”.
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We saw a change in weather on Saturday. It dawned warm and relatively calm, but the winds picked up in the afternoon as clouds rolled in. There wasn’t any rain though, and for shooters who were sunburned after many days in the Arizona sunshine, the overcast was a bit of a relief. On Saturday, Ben Avery hosted both individual and team matches. All three classes (Sling, F-Open, F-TR) shot two 1000-yard individual matches. This was followed by 4-person Team Matches at 1K. Here are the top five performers in Saturday’s individual matches:
Top Five Competitors in Each Class
Kevan Hoffarth (P), 400-19X
Jerry Iliff (A), 400-18X
John Whidden (A), 399-23X
Peter Church (A), 399-22X
Gary Rasmussen (A), 399-16X
Dan Bramley, 399-28X
Robert Hoppe, 399-27X
Pat Scully, 399-24X
Erik Cortina, 399-22X
John Meyers, 399-20X
Ian Klemm, 394-16X
Bryan Litz, 393-16X
Nancy Tompkins, 392-19X
Peter Ricci 392-13X
Alan Barnhart, 392-9X
In a great individual performance, Kevan Hoffarth, shooting a Palma Rifle, shot clean to beat ALL sling shooters, including those in the “Any Rifle” sub-class. In fact, “Any” shooters took the next four sling places. In the F-Open Division, it was a very tight race, decided by X-Count for the top five places, with Dan Bramley edging Robert Hoppe for the win by one X.
Watch Highlights of Day 4 at the Berger SW Nationals:
What the Berger SW Nationals is All About
When folks usually talk about shooting matches they focus on the obvious — scores and hardware. But the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) is about much more than putting holes in paper with bangsticks. We’d say this match has become so popular (with 400 entrants) because it offers the whole experience — fun, challenge, a warm-weather escape, and above all, camaraderie.
Some shooters come to Ben Avery for the swag (the prize table is amazing). Others come for the sunshine (think warm 75-85° weather). And even more folks come to try out their shiny new toys and to test their skills against the nation’s best shooters.
But we’d say the number one reason most folks make the pilgrimage to Ben Avery every year is the camaraderie — the chance to connect with friends, rekindling connections that may go back decades. Fundamentally, then, the Berger SWN is about the people. For this Editor, the chance to meet good friends such as John Whidden, Gary Eliseo, Doan Trevor, Nancy Tompkins, Anette Wachter, Shiraz Balolia, Adam Braverman, Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina, Scott Harris, and so many others, gives me plenty of motivation to make the 7-hour drive from California.
For many of us, this is the only time of the year when we get a chance to meet fellow shooters from distant corners of the USA. And where else will you find a past NRA President (John Sigler) on the firing line, and have a chance to chat with him during a lunch break. The SWN is very special.
The Brain Trust — Experts Galore
The best minds of the shooting world come to Ben Avery every year. Got a question about ballistics? Well, Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz will be happy to answer your questions between relays. Want some expert advice about wind reading? Seek out Mid Tompkins (usually found hanging around the club-house) or Emil Praslick, one of the most knowledgeable wind coaches on the planet (Emil was shooting and coaching this year). And if you have a gunsmithing question, you’ll find some of the top barrel-fitters and stock makers, including Doan Trevor and Gary Eliseo.
Emil Praslick III heading out to the firing line…
Tubegun Chassis-Maker Gary Eliseo was at the match
Compete against the Best
If you want to test your mettle against some of the best shooters in the world, get yourself to Ben Avery in February. Here you can compete, shoulder to shoulder, against the best Sling and F-Class shooters on the planet. Guys like John Whidden (reigning Long Range National Champion) and Kenny Adams (reigning World F-Open Class Champion). If you want to play with the “Big Boys”, Ben Avery is the place. Having said that, novice shooters will enjoy the experience as well, because you’ll find that these top shooters are (almost universally) happy to share their knowledge.
Learn from Top Talents
If you want to improve your game, this is the place. Walk down the firing line and you’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with many national champions. There is no question that you can improve your techniques by watching top shooters, and you can get ideas about hardware by looking at the rigs campaigned by the best. Where else will you find a half-dozen national F-Class champs seated around a table. Or an 11-time National High Power Champion (David Tubb), hanging out at the Lapua trailer in the parking lot.
2015 F-TR National Mid-Range and Long-Range Champion Bryan Litz helps a Junior shooter
Mid Tompkins at Shooters’ Clinic
Gun Gear Candy Store
If you are thinking about upgrading your match rifle, you’ll find plenty of inspiration at Ben Avery. On the firing line you’ll fine the newest actions from Barnard, BAT, and Borden, the latest/greatest optics (see Vortex Golden Eagle below), and the newest most advanced stocks. F-TR guys will find a wide variety of exotic bipods plus the latest generation of sandwich-construction bipod “mats”. (NOTE: These are becoming rigid, elevated platforms with low-friction tops — will the rules be tightened?).
Warm Arizona Weather
When we arrived in Phoenix on Tuesday it was a relatively mild 76°. By Friday it had warmed to a balmy 84°. We didn’t hear any complaints from the Canadians who fled ice and snow to shoot the match. Even while California was getting soaked with rain it was sunny and warm in Arizona. And you can even have a balloon ride right over the Ben Avery range.
Enjoy a Desert Escape
The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located in a scenic corner of Arizona, north of Phoenix. Get here early in the morning and watch the balloons take off. Head northwest and you can visit the historic town of Prescott. Two hours north is Sedona, famed for its stunning Red Rock scenery. A few hours south you can visit Tombstone and the OK Corral. There’s a lot to see and do in the Phoenix area that makes the trip worthwhile in addition to the gun fun at the range.
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Friday at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, hundreds of competitors shot the individual Palma Match, a three-yardage (800/900/1000) day-long event. Competition was tough. The first four F-Open competitors didn’t drop a single point, all finishing with 450-point “cleans”. In F-TR it was equally close. Phil Kelley won with 447-23X, but the next three finishers were just one point behind at 446. In the sling division, John Whidden topped a very strong field with his 449-31X score, showing why he is the reigning National Long-Range Champion. But the next four Sling competitors were just one point behind at 448 points.
Top Five Competitors in Each Class
John Whidden, 449-31X
Anette Wachter, 448-26X
Randy Teissedre, 448-24X
Robert Stekette, 448-23X
Allen Thomas, 448-22X
David Gosnell, 450-38X
Keith Glasscock, 450-34X
Danny J. Biggs, 450-32X
Jay Christopherson, 450-25X
Gilber Lucero, 449-27X
Philip Kelley, 447-23X
Donald Erpenbach, 446-21X
Richard Dixon, 446-20X
Alan Barnhart, 446-16X
Daniel Lentz, 445-16X
Berger SW Nationals DAY THREE Highlights Video:
The match can’t happen without the dedicated folks doing pit duty — it’s all part of the experience.
Aussie Tim Lawrence’s stock was custom-built from Rosewood in New South Wales, Australia.
The state of the art in F-Open rifles is very high indeed. Check out this handsome F-Open rig with a Speedy-designed Shurley Brothers ARK series wood stock.
Four F-Open Competitors All Shot Clean
Remarkably, the four top F-Open Competitors all shot “clean” 450s, not dropping a single point. That’s mighty impressive for a 45-shot match at three yardages. AccurateShooter’s Systems Manager Jay Christopherson, who finished fourth, said: “Shooting clean today doesn’t suck. Shooting clean and still taking 4th place is a little harder to accept. Extremely tough crowd of competitors, as always.”
Checking the wind at the beginning of the day. Dawn at Ben Avery is beautiful. (Photo by Steve Fiorenzo).
Interview with Multi-Time Champions David Tubb and John Whidden
We had a chance to chat with David Tubb and John Whidden. Between the two of them, David and John have won 21 National Rifle Championships. David has 11 National High Power titles plus 6 Long-Range titles. Reigning National Long Range Champion John Whidden holds 4 Long-Range titles, having won his latest LR championship in 2016. David is truly a living legend in the world of competitive shooting and John is one of the best sling shooters in the game today, a man capable of winning any match he enters. In fact he did win Friday’s match in the Sling division, topping the field with a 449-21X.
Berger SW Nationals Gallery of Competitors
At the Berger SW Nationals we have the opportunity to meet old friends from all over the country and make new friends. Here are some folks we saw at yesterday’s match.
Here’s Friday’s Sling Class winner John Whidden (449-31X) buckling up right before his relay.
Noma Mayo, one of our great senior shooters. She’s always smiling and helping others…
Tom Whitaker (left) chats with Emil Praslick III (right), one of the best wind coaches in the world.
Like father, like daughter. This smiling twosome is from Texas. Father David, an Accurateshooter Forum member, tells us: “Claudette turned 15 on the day we drove out, Tuesday, and this is her first Berger SWN match. She and my son Royse (17) have won Texas junior championships, but this match is the largest we’ve attended.”
We caught past F-Open National Champion (and past SWN winner) Larry Bartholome logging his score at the 900-yard line. Larry is one of the greatest F-Open shooters ever. Larry posts in our Forum as “LBart”.
And here’s the man who started it all, Walt Berger himself. Without his dream to build better bullets, and his hard work over many decades, there wouldn’t be this wonderful match each year. The popularity of this event is testimony to Walt’s dedication and passion for the sport. Walt still competes in Benchrest matches.
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Thursday was TEAM DAY at the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). In the Sling, F-TR, and F-Open classes, dozens of 4-person teams shot under coaches at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. The key difference between the team game and individual competition is that (for the most part) shooters function as trigger pullers only. Wind and elevation calls are typically made by the coaches, who sometimes even dial clicks for the shooters. In the above photo Bryan Litz is just about to click his shooter’s elevation turret.
This year the Scottish Thistle Team won the Sling division, lead by a strong 449-27X performance by Angus McLeod. The Hayes Rays of Sunshine Team finished second, six points back. In the highly competitive F-TR class, North by Southwest took the team title, with Da Bulls in second.
In the F-Open class, the Cluster Ducks (clever name) took the win, edging out second place The Longshots by a single point. Third in F-Open was Tex-Mex #1. Kudos to AccurateShooter’s own Jay Christopherson, our site systems manager, who lead 4th Place Team Lapua/Brux with a strong 448-25X. Jay keeps our servers running smoothly — and he’s a great shooter in his own right.
Here’s Team Krieger (foreground) getting ready on the 1000-yard line.
Anette Wachter (in chair) shot a 450-36X in the Team Match — not dropping a single point. Outstanding!
TEAM EVENT TOP THREE in SLING, F-OPEN, and F-TR
1st Place — Scotland Thistle 1786-100X
Angus McLeod, 449-29X
Sandy Walker, 447-27X
Ian Shaw, 445-24X
Michael Barlow, 445-21X
2nd Place — Hayes Rays of Sunshine 1780-97X
3rd Place — Sabine 1775-88X
NOTABLES: Annette Wachter, 450-36X (4th Place Team High)
1st Place — The Cluster Ducks 1789-100X
James Laney, 450-27X
Kevin Shepherd, 448-24X
Norman Harrold, 448-21X
Joe Meyer, 443-28X
2nd Place — The Longshots 1788-103X
3rd Place — Tex-Mex #1 1781-93X
NOTABLES: Jay Christopherson, 448-25X (4th Place Team High)
1st Place — North by Southwest 1773-74X
Daniel Lentz, 445-22X
Ian Klemm, 445-17X
Daniel Pohlabel, 443-18X
Ken Klemm, 440-17X
2nd Place — Da Bulls 1770-81X
3rd Place — Michigan F-TR Team 1764-85X
NOTABLES: Mike Plunkett 447-16X (4th Place Team High)
NEW F-OPEN TEAM Record: The Cluster Ducks set a new National Team Record for 800/900/1000 yards with their 1789-100X Score. In fact, the second-place Longshots also broke the previous 1786-104X record, set by Team Grizzly in 2014. Because the Cluster Ducks edged The Longshots by one point the Ducks will go down in the record books. But both teams can rightfully say they broke the then-current 1786-point F-Open record. Well done shooters!
Team Thunder-Struck from the Land Down Under brought along an inflatable mascot.
GUNS and GEAR HIGHLIGHTS
Interesting Competition Hardware at Ben Avery
Eliseo F-Class Chassis with Two-Piece Barrel Block
Christine Harris was shooting a new prototype Eliseo F-Class stock with a two-part barrel block. This is similar to the Eliseo F1 stock but the bolt-together barrel block allows easier exchange of barreled actions.
Stunning F-Open Rig from Cerus Rifleworks Cerus Rifleworks showed us a jaw-dropping new F-Open rifle. This is an amazing combination of beauty and advanced performance. The CNC-milled stock is stiff and straight, with tolerances that put most wood stocks to shame.
A Lady Soldier’s Coat and Rifle
This Monard shooting coat belongs to SSG Amanda Elsenboss, a shooter with the USAMU Team. The rifle features a Barnard action in what appears to be a classic Robertston Composites H&H-style prone stock. Nice hardware for a talented lady soldier.
Pair of ‘Pods
We saw many SEB Joy-Pods on the front end of F-TR rifles. These light-weight bipods offer quick and easy aiming via a joystick-controlled coaxial head. The large flat feet allow the rifle to move back smoothly on recoil, and then slide right back on target.
Gear-Hauler for Many Seasons
This cart has seen countless matches over the years. Those stickers are markers in time, recording decades of shooting matches in many venues. How many stickers can you identify?
Distinguished Rifleman’s Spotting Scope
The stories this old spotting scope could tell — how many targets has it seen over the years? The most important sticker, “Distinguished Rifleman”, bears witness to its owner’s skill and commitment to the sport.
Nightforce Optics Competition Scopes
Nightforce, a major sponsor of the Berger SW Nationals, had a variety of scopes mounted on viewing rigs. You could quickly compare one scope vs. another. We’d like to see more optics makers demo their scopes at major matches.
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At the Berger SW Nationals this week many of the nation’s top sling shooters will be competing in the Palma (full-bore) class. You’ll see a scores of .308 Win Palma rifles on the firing line in Phoenix. However, we doubt any of those Ben Avery rigs will be more eye-catching than this Barnard-actioned beauty in an stunning Turkish Walnut stock…
In our Shooters’ Forum, there’s a long-running thread entitled Pride & Joy Rifles. There you’ll find dozens of fine firearms — from hunting handguns to long-range benchrest rigs. A while back, Forum member John L. (GunDog64) posted this handsome Palma rifle, built by Chad Dixon.
John reports: “Here is my new ‘Pride and Joy’ Palma rifle. The action is a chrome-moly Barnard supplied by MT Guns. The gun is set up for switch-barrel use with two Medium Palma-contour Bartlein barrels, one chambered in 6CM, the other in .308 Winchester. Both barrels feature 5R rifling. Up front is a Riles 30mm front sight, while the rear sight is a Warner. The stock was crafted from a superb Turkish walnut blank supplied by Luxus Gunstocks in Mt. Orab, Ohio.
Gunsmithing by Chad Dixon — Stock Finish by Owner
All gunsmithing and assembly work was performed by Chad Dixon at Long Rifles Inc., Sturgis, South Dakota. Chad designed the trigger guard, handstop rail, recoil lug, and cheek-piece adjuster. John, the rifle’s proud new owner, completed the finish work on the stock. John reveals: “This project was a year in the making but well worth the wait”.
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Alliant’s Powder for 50-Caliber Applications
In 2009 Alliant unveiled Reloder 50, a new powder designed for long-range, 50-caliber rifle shooters. According to Alliant, the burn rate is “a little slower than Winchester 860″ and the powder is showing excellent lot-to-lot consistency. Load density is optimized for the 50 BMG and similar cases. Like Reloder 17, Reloder 50 employs a process which penetrates the kernels with the burn-rate-controlling chemical. This should allow a longer, flatter pressure curve, yielding more velocity than conventional powders can deliver. Alliant says that Reloder 50 offers “superior velocity and the ability to burn cleaner (with less residue).” Reloder 50 comes in both 1-lb (#150527) and 8-lb (#150528) containers.
Giraud 50 BMG Case/Bullet Comparator Giraud Tool makes a comparator for 50-Cal cartridges. The double-ended comparator is quite versatile. In one orientation you can measure base-to-ogive bullet length and also measure cartridge OAL from rim to bullet ogive. When reversed, you can use the comparator to measure cartridge headspace. The $30.00 Giraud 50 BMG Comparator gauge is constructed of 303 stainless and fits most any vernier, dial, or digital caliper. CLICK HERE for more info.
Forster 50 BMG Trimmer
50 BMG enthusiasts asked for a dedicated 50 BMG case trimmer, so Forster created a trimmer specifically for that cartridge. Forster’s cutter tip is much sharper than the cutter on the Lyman 50 Cal. AccuTrimmer. However, with the Forster tool you will pay more for that superior cutting ability — Forster’s 50 BMG trimmer costs $95.99 at Sinclair International. Yes, Lyman also makes a dedicated 50 BMG Case trimmer ($66.49 at MidwayUSA), but the Forster cutter head is much sharper, and we prefer the Forsters collet-style case-holder. Bottom line — the Forster gets the job done more quickly, with less effort, so it’s worth the extra money.
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The competition phase of the Berger SW Nationals kicked off today with a 600-yard match for Palma, F-TR, and F-Open rifles. Today’s star was Lester Bruno, who drilled a 200-23X with a 6mm BRX F-Open rifle he built himself. This rifle features a BAT Action, Krieger barrel, and presentation-grade Bastogne Walnut stock. Loaded with Berger 105gr Hybrids, Varget Powder, and Federal 205m Primers, this rifle absolutely hammered at Ben Avery on Wednesday — Lester put 23 shots in a row in the half-MOA X-Ring at 600 yards. Under NRA rules, if you shoot all Xs through the designated string of fire (here 20 shots), you are allowed to keep shooting until one shot falls outside the X-Ring. Lester drilled three extra Xs after shooting all Xs for his designated 20-shot string.
Lester Bruno Sets Pending National 600-yard Record with 200-23X in F-Open Division
Lester was excited to set a pending National record, breaking the previous 600-yard record by one X: “Conditions were in my favor, and it was a lot of fun.” However, Lester revealed the record string was nerve-wracking: “I was nervous after I shot 20 and they told me I could keep shooting to try to break the record. I had no knowledge I was able to do that.” Lester took his time, watched the conditions, and shot carefully: “I held off probably at least half of my shots but never held out of the X-Ring. It depended on the condition. A left to right condition was pushing the bullet down so I was holding a little high but when it went right to left I held a little low. I was very patient.”
Lester was all smiles after his 200-23X performance this morning. He told us: “This will be my first record in this discipline though I’ve set records in short-range benchrest.” (Lester is a member of the Benchrest Hall of Fame).
How’d You Like a Rifle That Can Shoot 200-23X
NOTE: If you want a rifle that shoots like this, you may be lucky. Lester says this is a working prototype of a new line of match rifles he’ll be offering for sale through Bruno’s Shooter Supply. These will be high-end rifles for guys who want the very best. The Bastogne wood for Lester’s own gun cost over $1500.00 (that’s just for the blank), but it’s a beauty.
Calm Conditions — But You Needed to Watch the Mirage
Conditions were very good most of the day, with very little wind. However, there WERE subtle directional changes you need to monitor. Bryan Litz, who won both mid-range and long-range F-TR National Championships here at Ben Avery in 2015, said that he did have to hold one side or the other though the wind was very calm. With the mirage roiling and distorting the view through his scope, Bryan said the Bullseye looked like a Medusa head rather than a concentric circle.
F-TR competitor Ian Klemm also had a Mid-Range match for the ages, dropping just one point for the whole day, to finish at 599-38X, and win the F-TR class. We’re told this 599-38X was also a new National F-TR record. Ian was shooting a new McMillan XiT stock.
Here are the Top Five Competitors for Each Divsion:
Allen Thomas, 600-40X
Benjamin Lucchesi, 600-37X
Erik Rhode, 599-49X
Anette Wachter, 599-45X
Trudie Fay, 599-39X
Dwayne Draggoo, 600-44X
Danny Biggs, 600-43X
Dan Bramley, 600-35X
Todd Hendricks, 600-34X
Don Nagel, 599-37X
Ian Klemm, 599-38X (New Record)
Phil Kelley, 599-32X
James Crofts, 598-41X
John Moreali, 598-28X
Bryan Litz, 597-33X
Note: Results are prelminary, subject to final tabulation.
Watch Highlights from the SWN Mid-Range Match:
Ben Avery Bling — Stunning Paint Job and New SEB Mini
Jay Christopherson, AccurateShooter’s Systems Manager, had a stunning metallic flame paint job on his F-Open rifle. Up front, that beautiful stock is resting on the new SEB Mini coaxial pedestal rest. This looked very stable and Jay said the joystick works perfect. Jay is very impressed with this new coaxial front rest. We expect to see more Minis on the line in future F-Open matches.
Sling Shooters in Palma Division
There were many Eliseo tubeguns in the hands of the sling shooters. For the Palma division, the cartridge of choice is the .308 Winchester. This old cartridge is still capable of extreme accuracy. Never underestimate a skilled sling shooter with a good Palma rifle.
Wickenburg High School Rifle Team
While most of the competitors at this match shooters were middle-aged or older, it was nice to see a youth contingent from Wickenburg High School in Arizona. These young folks shot well — Ben Avery is their “home range”, so they felt confident with the conditions.
Disaster Averted by British Ingenuity
British competitor Tom Rylands had his rear sight break during the middle of a string. Undaunted, Tom secured the sight with some electrical tape and finished the string with a good score. We applaud Tom’s “never say die” attitude. Have tape, will travel…
Ladies Love Ben Avery…
The T-Shirt says it all — there were many female competitors at the mid-range match, including some “all-girl” teams. There were some great lady shooters competing on Wednesday, including Nancy Tompkins and Trudie Fay.
First Lady of Shooting — Nancy Tompkins
It was great to see Nancy Tompkins on the firing line. A strong argument can be made that Nancy is the greatest female long-range competitive shooter in the history of the sport. We chatted with Nancy between relays. She revealed she had not shot sling “in quite a while” so she need to readjust some items on her gun. So… even the great ones need to tweak their gear now and then.
The True Spirit of Competition
The team at the Berger SW Nationals encourages all participants, even those with disabilities. Here competitor Bob Depp shoots from a bench because he cannot hold his rifle normally, due to injuries sustained while serving as a U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper in Vietnam. It’s all about participating.
The Smell of Victory…
With the wind flags hanging straight down most of the day, perhaps the best wind indicator of all was the smoke coming from the Barbeque pit. You have to love the Berger SW Nationals at Ben Avery — where else can you get delicious, hot BBQ on the 600-yard line?
Long-Range Matches Run Thursday through Sunday
All the relays Wednesday were held at 600 yards. Starting Thursday, the shooters will compete at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. If conditions hold similar to today (with very little wind), we could see some impressive performances at the longer yardages. But as with any shooting venue, things can change quickly at Ben Avery. We’ve seen morning calms followed by afternoon gales. Good luck to all the competitors.
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For you guys competing at the Berger SW Nationals this week, we’re repeating an excellent article by Steven Blair on wind reading. Steven, a top F-Class shooter, talks about mirage, topography effects, tail winds, and other subtle factors that can cause frustration for shooters. Steve explains that wind effects can be complex — there’s more going on than just velocity and angle. You need to notice things like berm locations and effects of temp changes over the course of the day.
Wind Reading Tips for Competitive Shooters by Steven Blair, 2012 California State Long Range F-Open Champion
Assess the Terrain and How the Wind Will Interact with It
Before you begin a match, take a few minutes to look around the range at the terrain, any obstructions, range topography (berms and backstop), and trees, buildings or structures that could affect wind flow over the range. Imagine what might happen if the wind was from the left or right, headwind or tailwind. Depending upon the direction, significant effects may be seen on range. A head or tail wind may ripple across the berms, causing elevation changes, both high and low. A tall side berm, like the east side berm at Ben Avery, may cause turbulence when the wind comes from that direction. Blocking features might shield most of the wind but a break along the range can funnel strong gusts through the gap with no other indications. Take a few notes about the effects of different wind directions and refer to them if the prevailing direction changes. (Tip courtesy Tony Robertson.)
Use a Spotting Scope, Even When Shooting a Scoped Rifle
A good spotting scope can “see” mirage much more clearly than even an expensive rifle scope. Take your spotting scope to the line and position it as sling shooters do, close enough to use without much movement. Focus the scope approximately 1/3 of the way down range or where the most significant wind effects are likely to occur. Take a quick look while waiting for pit service, glance at the flags and compare to your scope sight picture. I often see ambiguous indications at the target through the rifle scope, but see a clear indication of wind direction and speed through the spotting scope at the shorter distance. When shooting the Arizona Palma Championship at Ben Avery last weekend, I was scoring while the wind was coming from the east. Shooters up and down the line were out to the left, losing points. Mirage at the target looked moderate and the flags weren’t indicating strong wind. As I focused the spotting scope back, the mirage suddenly looked like it was flowing twice as fast around 500 yards than it was closer or farther. It wasn’t until I realized that the access road cut through the berm there that I understood what was happening. (Tip courtesy Gary Eliseo.)
Don’t Over-React to Something That May Be an Anomaly
On ranges with sizable berms, a headwind or tailwind can cause significant elevation problems. It is generally not possible to see or predict when this will occur. When the conditions exist that cause elevation changes and other competitors are experiencing the same problem, the best strategy is to ignore it. Certainly, avoid shooting when the head or tail wind is gusting, the same as you would in a crosswind. But, if you react to random, range-induced elevation changes, the only likely result is to make it worse. Whether the problem is caused by range or ammunition, maintain your waterline hold until you have evidence that something has fundamentally changed.
My .284 Shehane will usually require a click or two down during a string as the barrel warms. That is normal and manageable. But, if your shots are just bouncing up and down in the 10 ring, leave it alone. The same is also true of an occasional gust pushing a shot into the 9 ring. If the conditions have not changed and one shot just went out, it may be the result of a random occurrence that was not predictable. (Tip courtesy “School of Hard Knocks”.)
Adjust Spotting Scope Focus and Magnification as Needed to View Mirage vs. Target Details
In F-Class we only need to see mirage, spotters, and scoring disks. That does not take a lot of magnification. My scope is a Nikon 25-75x82mm ED. It is a superb scope for the money and makes it trivial to see minor variations in mirage. It is good to have the high magnification available, and it can always be reduced if necessary. I use different power settings for different situations.
Setting Magnification Levels
During a match, in very good viewing conditions, I set my spotting scope at 75X, full power. The mirage is more subtle in the morning and greater magnification is needed.
During a match with heavy mirage I set my spotting scope at about 40X. I have no problem seeing mirage, even at this magnification.
When practicing at 300 yards or closer I set my spotting scope at max power (75X) so I can see the little 6mm holes from my 6BR rifle. I usually need to focus back and forth between shots to see both bullet holes and mirage.
Steven Blair, 2012 California State Long Range F-Open Champion, has been shooting since childhood and competing for over 30 years. Before retiring, Steve spent 16 years in Engineering and IT with General Atomics. He has held Engineering and Marketing positions with several firearms companies and worked on projects from pistols to 155mm howitzers.
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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.
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.
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The latest 7th Edition of the Firearms Guide is now available as a handy USB Flash Drive, as well as DVD. In addition, you can access the information on the web via an online subscription. (NOTE: the DVD Edition is FREE in combo with a 1-Year Online Database subscription.)
“We listened closely to the market,” says Firearms Guide editor Chris Mijic, “and saw that our online users still want to have a tangible backup copy of Firearms Guide. A lot of them like the DVD Edition which is free with the Online Edition but some of them don’t have a DVD drive in their new computers any more so we created a super-fast USB Flash Drive edition for them.” The Firearms Guide 7th Edition is also published on DVD-Rom for Windows and there is an online subscription service at www.firearmsguide.com.
Choose Multiple Options
USB Flash Drive Edition comes in combo with a 1 Year Online Edition with free updates for only $39.95.
1-Year Online Edition with free updates is only $29.99.
DVD Edition is FREE in combo with a 1-Year Online Edition.
The Firearms Guide 7th Edition represents the world’s largest, fully-searchable firearms, air guns and ammo database, covering 920 manufacturers from 50 countries. Published since 2009, the Firearms Guide covers over 64,000 antique and modern guns, with gun values, photos, and high-resolution gun schematics and blueprints. The Firearms Guide allows up to 14 different search criteria: caliber, year, country, manufacturer, stock, action, price, and more.
The amount of imagery is amazing — there are tens of thousands of photos and over 6300 schematics, which help you work on a firearm or identify key components/parts. Guns and ammo are presented with prices, specifications, features, ballistics, and up to 12 high-rez zoom-able color pictures.
GUN VALUES are provided for dealers and gun collectors. You can access thousands of printable and zoom-able GUN SCHEMATICS (diagrams or exploded views) with parts lists and blueprints for professional gunsmiths.
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H.R. 788 will help States build and maintain shooting ranges with Federal funding assistance.
Federal Legislation has been introduced that will help build and maintain shooting ranges. H.R. 788, the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017, was introduced in Congress by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and a bipartisan group of 23 co-sponsors. The provisions of H.R. 788 will help States fund public shooting ranges with Federal Firearms Excise tax revenues.
“This legislation [H.R. 788] would provide state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman Robertson excise taxes dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior V.P. and General Counsel. “Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight-in rifles and shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses, and for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport.”
Since 1937 almost $11 billion has been raised for wildlife conservation through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition. States are permitted to use some of those funds for hunter education courses and for public shooting ranges under a restrictive formula that has largely discouraged state agencies from building and enhancing public shooting ranges. H.R. 788 will help states use Pittman Robertson revenues by increasing the limit on Federal funding of shooting ranges from 75 to 90 percent. This means states could begin work on range facilities with 10 percent State-supplied funding, instead of the current 25 percent. It would also allow Federal Excise funds to be made available and accrue for five years for land acquisition or range construction.
In addition, the legislation would limit frivolous lawsuits arising from the use of Federal land for target practice and encourage Federal agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities for maintenance of ranges on federal lands.
Story by NRAHuntersRights.org and NRAblog.com
Shown above is the Belfast Wildlife Area rifle range in Kindards, SC. Belfast was the first public, unmanned shooting range opened and paid for completely with funds raised by NRA Grants and the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program … an act made possible through Pittman-Robertson grants. Several other state Natural Resource Departments have followed suit.
Legislative History: The Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act was previously introduced as H.R. 2406, the SHARE Act (Title II), and the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act in the last Congress, as well as a stand-alone bill H.R. 2463 in the 113th Congress.
Photo Credit: Top photo shows Mainville Sportsman Club (PA) and Union Co. Sportmen’s Club (PA), both sites of IBS Matches.
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