Christmas is coming soon. Books have always been popular holiday gifts. If you haven’t completed your holiday shopping, here are some recommended titles that should please the serious shooters and firearms enthusiasts on your shopping list. For shooting clubs, books also make great end-of-season member awards. Most of us would rather have a useful book than one more piece of wood to toss in a box in the closet.
Here Are TEN BOOKS Recommended for Serious Shooters:
Glen Zediker’s brand new book, Top-Grade Ammo, is hot off the press. Many folks believe this is Glen’s best book ever. This 314-page resource covers every aspect of the reloading process — component sorting, priming, sizing, bullet seating and more. With 430 photos, Top-Grade Ammo is a richly-illustrated, step-by-step guide to producing high-quality handloads. Unlike many reloading books, Top-Grade Ammo is truly current and up-to-date, so it covers modern practices and the latest precision reloading tools. While Zediker focuses on producing match-grade ammo for competition, this book will also help novice reloaders on a budget. It’s written for all hand-loaders — beginners through advanced. This book features a special “lay-flat” binding so it’s easy to use as a benchtop reference. To view Chapter List and sample pages visit ZedikerPublishing.com.
If you’re a serious long-range shooter, consider adding this book to your library. Relying on extensive ballistics testing, Modern Advancements contains some fascinating research results, including the effects of twist rate on muzzle velocity, BC, and precision. Other sections detail the evolution of modern rifle, bullet, and optics designs. And there is an important comparison test of chronographs. Laser rangefinders and wind measurement devices are explained in detail by contributing author Nick Vitalbo. This book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand the current “state of the art” in today’s shooting world. There is a ton of “hard science” in this book — not just opinions.
This book should be on the shelf of every short-range benchrest shooter. (Shooters in other disciplines will find the book helpful as well.) Butch Lambert says Mike’s book is “far and away the best Benchrest book written. Very comprehensive, it touches on every aspect of our game.” Mike’s 368-page book is dedicated to getting the most from modern rifle accuracy equipment with an emphasis on shooting 100-200-300 yard group benchrest tournaments. This book covers the most popular hardware plus new equipment offerings are covered, including external mount scopes, actions, triggers, stocks, wind flags, and more. Also covered are rifle handling techniques, note taking, tuning, bullet selection, goals, and match strategies. Mike provides many tips that will help active competitors update their own competitive program.
Nancy Tompkins is one of the greatest long-range shooters in American history. She has won five National Long-range Championships. Tompkins’ treatise is a must-read for serious Palma, F-Class, and High Power shooters. The revised Second edition includes F-Class equipment and techniques, and newly updated information. Color pictures. Topics include Mental & Physical training, Reading Wind & Mirage Shooting Fundamentals, International Competition, and Loading for Long Range. Nancy Tompkins is a 4-time winner of the National Long Range Championships, and has won countless other major events. Nancy has been on six Palma Teams (as both a shooter and a coach).
Ryan Cleckner is noted for his ability to explain complex topics in an easy-to-comprehend manner. Now Cleckner has authored a book, the Long Range Shooting Handbook, which expands on the topics covered in Cleckner’s popular NSSF video series. The Long Range Shooting Handbook is divided into three main categories: What It Is/How It Works, Fundamentals, and How to Use It. “What It Is/How It Works” covers equipment, terminology, and basic principles. “Fundamentals” covers the theory of long range shooting. “How to Use It” gives practical advice on implementing what you’ve learned, so you can progress as a skilled, long range shooter. You can view Sample Chapters from Ryan’s Book on Amazon.com.
Tony Boyer, the most successful shooter in the history of short-range benchrest competition, shares many of his match-winning tips in this 323-page book. The book covers all aspect of the benchrest discipline: loading, windflags, rest set-up, addressing the rifle, and match strategies. This is a high-quality publication, filled with valuable insights. Every serious benchrest shooter should read Tony’s book. Boyer has dominated registered benchrest in a fashion that will never be duplicated, having amassed 142 U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame points. The next closest shooter, Allie Euber, has 47 Hall of Fame points. This handsome, full-color book is 323 pages long, with color photos or color illustrations on nearly every page.
This book by 11-time National High Power Champion David Tubb focuses on position shooting and High Power disciplines. Section One covers fundamentals: position points, natural point of aim, breathing, triggering mechanics and follow-through, sling selection and use, getting started, getting better, avoiding obstacles. Section Two covers mechanics of offhand, sitting, and prone positions. Section Three covers shooting skills, including wind reading and mental preparation. Section Four covers the technical side of shooting, with extensive disuctions of rifle design, load development, reloading barrel maintenance, and rifle fitting. We consider this book a “must-read” for any sling shooter, and there is plenty of good advice for F-Class shooters too.
Bullseye Mind (Mental Toughness for Sport Shooting) by Dr. Raymond Prior, $17.95 (Softcover).
Having a Bullseye Mind means thinking in ways that create confidence and consistency, even under pressure. A “must-read” for competitive shooters, Bullseye Mind is a mental training book written specifically for the shooting sports. The book is well-organized, with handy highlighted lists and key “talking points”. Each chapter concludes with examples from a world-class shooters such as: Matt Emmons, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist; Vincent Hancock, 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist; Jamie Corkish, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist; Petra Zublasing, 2014 World Champion/ISSF Shooter of the Year; and Nicco Campriani, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2010 World Champion. This book has earned rave reviews from competitive shooters who found it really helped their “Mental Game”. One recent purchaser states: “This book is as though you had a coach in your back pocket…”
Many of our Forum members have recommended The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters by Linda Miller and Keith Cunningham. This 146-page book, published in 2007, is a very informative resource. But you don’t have to take our word for it. If you click this link, you can read book excerpts on Amazon.com. This lets you preview the first few chapters, and see some illustrations. Other books cover wind reading in a broader discussion of ballistics or long-range shooting. But the Miller & Cunningham book is ALL about wind reading from cover to cover, and that is its strength. The book focuses on real world skills that can help you accurately gauge wind angle, wind velocity, and wind cycles.
Steven Boelter’s 352-page book is a comprehensive study of all types of rimfire ammunition (including 17s and 22 mags), with over 600 photos. In a remarkable undertaking, Steven Boelter fired every brand and sample of rimfire ammo he could acquire (including .22 LR, 17 Mach 2, 17 HMR and .22 WMR), and recorded all the results. In all, Steven tested 11 brands and 137 different rimfire rounds, firing over 32,000 test rounds.
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Competitive shooting is one of the few sports where people with physical disabilities and handicaps can compete side-by-side with their able-bodied counterparts. The NRA’s Disabled Shooting Services Program helps disabled shooters participate in NRA rifle and pistol competitions. The NRA’s Special Authorization Card allows disabled competitors to shoot from a modified position or wheelchair based on the type of disability or handicap.
Jessi McClain, NRA Disabled Shooting Services Coordinator explains how allowances are made: “Physical limitations may prevent a shooter from getting into a certain position to compete. For example, a paraplegic person can’t shoot from the standing position, so [he] would use an adaptive shooting position to compete”.
To obtain a Special Authorization Card, competitors can download two forms online. The first is to be completed by the shooter, and the second by his/her doctor. Forms can then be sent to NRA Headquarters along with pictures of the modified shooting position and/or adaptive device being used to compete. The Manager of the specific shooting discipline (rifle, pistol, air gun, etc.) then reviews the request. If approved, a temporary card good for one year is issued. For juniors, Special Authorization Cards are issued for several years at a time so that re-evaluations can be completed as children’s bodies change.
The medical waiver application is fairly simple and consists of two documents. The first form, the Competitor Application, should be filled out by the shooter. The second document is a Medical Form that must be completed by the competitor’s physician.
Once received, the applications are reviewed by the NRA. After approving the application, the competitor will receive a card authorizing him/her to use the adapted position or equipment. The Authorization Card must be shown to the Match Director prior to the start of any competition.
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This video from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit focuses on two key fundamentals of marksmanship: 1) Sight Alignment; and 2) Trigger Squeeze. This video can assist any Service Rifle or metallic sights shooter. The USAMU instructor explains: “You’ve probably heard a lot about fundamentals — Breathe, Relax, Aim, Squeeze… Well that gives a shooter a lot to think about. Here we teach two main firing tasks: 1) align the sights, and 2) squeeze the trigger without moving the rifle. This allows the shooter a much more simplified format.”
The following tips are transcribed from the video:
Task One: Sight Alignment
Sight alignment is the process of putting the tip of the front sight post, the rear aperture, and the shooter’s eyeball all on the same plane. It’s very important to maintain the tip of the front sight post centered in the rear aperture. Just .002″ of deviation can cause a miss at 300 meters. Allow your eye to do its job. While firing, the focus should remain on the tip of the front sight.
Task Two: Trigger Control
Your second firing task is [to] fire the rifle without moving it. This is done through proper trigger control. You’ve probably heard a lot of words about trigger control — “surprise break”, “snatch”, “pull”, “squeeze”… well we teach one thing here: “smooth”. No matter the speed at which I engage the trigger, it’s always going to be smooth. Imagine trying to pull the trigger straight through the rear of the buttstock, holding it to the rear while the gun recoils. It’s important to constantly engage the trigger, never letting your trigger finger disengage from the trigger while firing. This is achieved through natural trigger finger placement.
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The digital archives of Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) features an Expert Forum on Wind Reading. This outstanding article on wind reading starts off with a section by ballistics guru Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting. Then four of the greatest American shooters in history share their personal wind wisdom. Lanny Basham (Olympic Gold Medalist, author, Winning in the Wind), Nancy Tompkins (Past National HP Champion, author, Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting), David Tubb (11-Time Camp Perry National Champion), and Lones Wigger (Olympic Hall of Fame) all offer practical wind-reading lessons learned during their shooting careers.
Shooting Sports USA magazine (SSUSA) has a modern, mobile-friendly website with tons of great content. Log on to www.ssusa.org. There you’ll find current news stories as well as popular articles from the SSUSA archives. The SSUSA website also includes match reports, gear reviews, reloading advice, plus expert marksmanship tips from the USAMU.
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In this article, three great champions reveal their wind-calling secrets in video interviews. We first published this “Three Champions” story a few years ago. If you are a competitive shooter, and you want to learn more about reading the wind, you should watch all three of these interviews. These guys are among the best shooters to ever shoulder a rifle, and they have much wisdom to share.
At the 2010 SHOT Show, we had the unique opportunity to corner three “superstars” of High Power shooting, and solicit their wind-reading secrets. In the three videos below (in alphabetical order), Carl Bernosky (10-Time Nat’l High Power Champion), David Tubb (11-time Nat’l High Power Champion and 7-time Nat’l Long-Range Champion), and John Whidden (4-Time Nat’l High Power Long-Range Champion) shared some of the wind-doping strategies that have carried them to victory in the nation’s most competitive shooting matches. This is GOLD folks… no matter what your discipline — be it short-range Benchrest or Long-Range High Power — watch these videos for valuable insights that can help you shoot more accurately, and post higher scores, in all wind conditions.
We were very fortunate to have these three extraordinarily gifted champions reveal their “winning ways”. These guys REALLY know their stuff. I thought to myself: “Wow, this is how a baseball fan might feel if he could assemble Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams in the same room, and have them each reveal their hitting secrets.” Editor’s Note: These interviews were conducted before Bernosky and Tubb won their most recent National Championships so the introductions may list a lower number of titles won.
Top photo courtesy Rifleman’s Journal.
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Thanksgiving is just four days away. What better way to celebrate the occasion than to blast away at some bearded gobblers (of the paper variety). Here’s our custom Turkey Day target, ready for some family fun. This special Turkey Bullseye Target was created by our friend and Forum member Pascal (aka “DesertFrog”). CLICK HERE for FREE Turkey Target.
Get a Full Set of Animal Targets
For your convenience, we’ve packaged the Turkey Target along with five (5) other varmint/animal-themed targets. These are all offered in .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format for easy printing.
This helpful video from our friend Kirsten Joy Weiss explains how to avoid “scope bite”. This can occur when the scope, on recoil, moves back to contact your forehead, brow, or eye socket area. That’s not fun. While common sense tells us to avoid “scope bite” — sooner or later this happens to most shooters. One viewer noted: “I have come close. I had a Win Model 70 in .375 H & H Mag and I was shooting over a large rock in a strange position. The scope hit my eye glasses hard enough to bend the wire frames and cause a little pain on the bridge of the nose from the nose piece. [That] made a believer out of me.”
Kirsten offers a good basic principle — she suggests that you mount your rifle-scope so that the ocular (eyepiece) of the scope is positioned at least three inches or more from your eyeball when you hold the rifle in your normal shooting position. From a technical standpoint, optical eye relief is a property of the scope, so you want to purchase an optic that offers sufficient optical eye relief (meaning that it allows you to see the full circle of light with your head at least three inches from the eyepiece). Then you need to position the optic optimally for your head/eye position when shooting the rifle — with at least three inches of eyeball-to-scope separation (i.e. physical eye relief).
NOTE: You should mount the scope to provide adequate eyeball-to-scope separation for the actual position(s) you will be shooting most of the time. For an F-TR rig, this will be prone. For a hunting rifle, your most common position could be sitting or standing. Your head position will vary based on the position. You can’t assume the scope placement is correct just because it seems OK when you are testing or zeroing the gun from the bench. When shooting from a prone or kneeling position you may find your eye considerably closer to the eyepiece.
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In this video, Anette Wachter (the 30CalGal) offers tips for shooting from bipod.
Our friend Anette Wachter, aka “30CalGal”, stars in a smart video from NRAWomen.TV. In this episode of Tips & Tactics, Anette talks about the “mental game” in competition. Specifically she explains how to “visualize success”:
I have found that a lot of my success in competition has come through what I call a ‘mental rehearsal’. I actually visualize every stage of the match and I visualize the success of the match and winning the match.
I actually visualize that round going downrange into the target, and the target coming up with a dead-center ‘X’. I visualize this over and over. If you visualize success you will achieve success.
Visualization is a process of mental preparation that is done before you get to the range. Many of the greatest shooting champions have used this technique to get ready for big matches, and to optimize their performance during record fire. If you want to enhance your “mental game” through pre-match visualization, we strongly recommend Lanny Bassham’s book, With Winning in Mind.
As a competitive smallbore 3P shooter, Bassham developed a mental management system. Using this system, Lanny Bassham won 22 world individual and team titles, set four world records, and captured an Olympic Gold Medal in Montreal in 1976. His techniques have been embraced by professional and Olympic athletes in many sports. With Winning in Mind covers a complete system of “mental management” techniques used by Olympians and elite champions.
About 30CalGal Life is short. Go Shoot! — Anette Wachter
Along with being a talented competitive shooter, Anette has her own Gun Blog, 30CalGal.com, and she writes for several gun publications including GunUp Magazine, Shooting Sports USA, Sure Shots Magazine, and Wide Open Spaces. She also designs and crafts custom jewelry items, sold through her AW Collections webstore.
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The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) invites young men and women shooters to apply for CMP scholarships for the 2017-2018 school year. The CMP offers $1,000 one-year scholarships to current high school seniors. Since 2005, CMP has awarded over $1 million in scholarship grants. Last year, the CMP received a record-setting number of applications and awarded over $150,000 in scholarship money. Winning scholarship recipients came from JROTC programs, 4-H groups and other shooting clubs.
CMP Scholarships are based on merit. Selected individuals are high school seniors who are currently enrolled in a team or club that is participating in rifle or pistol marksmanship competitions. Applicants must provide rifle or pistol competition history, list of awards, and future goals in the shooting sports. Applicants must also provide academic GPA and an official high school transcript (3.0 Minimum GPA Required).
Applications are Being Accepted Now for 2017-2018
The CMP is now taking scholarship applications for the 2017-2018 freshman college year. Scholarships are one-year awards that may be used to fund any accredited, post-secondary education or vocational program. (Note: Students planning to enroll in a military academy are not eligible).
The deadline for CMP Scholarship Application is March 20, 2017. Learn more about the program at the CMP Website Scholarship Page. If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Williams at 419-635-2141, ext. 709, or email kwilliams [@] thecmp.org.
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One of our Shooter’s Forum members recently built a new benchrest rifle. He was concerned because his groups were stringing vertically. This is a common problem that all precision shooters will face sooner or later. In addition to ammo inconsistencies, many other factors can cause vertical stringing. Accordingly, it’s important that you analyze your gun handling and bench set-up systematically.
Hall of Fame benchrest Shooter Speedy Gonzalez has written a helpful article that explains how to eliminate mechanical and gun-handling problems that cause vertical spread in your groups. Speedy’s article addresses both the human and the hardware factors that cause vertical. CLICK HERE to read the full article. Here are a few of Speedy’s tips:
• Front Bag Tension — Vertical can happen if the front sand bag grips the fore-arm too tightly. If…the fore-arm feels like it is stuck in the bag, then the front bag’s grip is too tight. Your rifle should move in evenly and smoothly in the sand bags, not jerk or chatter when you pull the gun back by hand.
• Sandbag Fill — A front sandbag that is too hard can induce vertical. Personally, I’ve have never had a rifle that will shoot consistently with a rock-hard front sandbag. It always causes vertical or other unexplained shots.
• Stock Recoil — Free-recoil-style shooters should be sure their rifle hits their shoulder squarely on recoil, not on the edge of their shoulder or the side of their arm. If you shoulder your gun, you need to be consistent. You can get vertical if your bench technique is not the same every shot. One common problem is putting your shoulder against the stock for one shot and not the next.
• Front Rest Wobble — You will get vertical if the top section of the front rest is loose. Unfortunately, a lot of rests have movement even when you tighten them as much as you can. This can cause unexplained shots.
• Stock Flex — Some stocks are very flexible. This can cause vertical. There are ways to stiffen stocks, but sometimes replacement is the best answer.
• Rifle Angle — If the gun is not level, but rather angles down at muzzle end, the rifle will recoil up at butt-end, causing vertical. You may need to try different rear bags to get the set-up right.
• Last Shot Laziness — If the 5th shot is a regular problem, you may be guilty of what I call “wishing the last shot in”. This is a very common mistake. We just aim, pull the trigger, and do not worry about the wind flags. Note that in the photo below, the 5th shot was the highest in the group–probably because of fatigue or lack of concentration.
When hunting or when competing in a field tactical match, you need to be able to shoot from a variety of positions. While the prone position is normally the most stable, hunters (and tactical marksmen) will encounter situations that demand the ability to shoot from a higher position.
In this NSSF Video, Ryan Cleckner, a former Sniper Instructor for the 1st Ranger Battalion, explains how to shoot from sitting, kneeling, and standing positions. Cleckner demonstrates both rested and non-rested variations of these three positions. Cleckner explains: “When you’re out hunting, often times you’re going to have grass or obstacles in your way, so [prone is] not practical — you’re going to have to get higher up off the ground. However, the problem with getting higher off the ground is that you are less stable. As a rule, the closer we are to the ground, the more stable we are… so we are going to [encounter] problems as we get taller up. I’m going to teach you some tricks to get you as stable as possible….”
Cleckner demonstrates the proper kneeling/sitting/standing body positions and he shows how to use your sling for extra support. This video also demonstrates the use of “field expedient” rests that provide a front support point for the rifle. Both hunters and field tactical shooters should find this 7-minute video very informative, and well worth watching.
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To get the best accuracy out of any benchrest rifle, you need to find the optimal position of front rest and rear bag. The important point to remember is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6BR sits in a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).
Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Many benchrest shooters spend a fortune on equipment and devote countless hours to meticulous handloading, but they never experiment with their rifle’s position/balance on the bags. This article explains why you should test your rifle in various positions. What you learn may surprise you (and improve your scores).
Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.
This competitor has the front rest positioned fairly far forward but not all the way out. Note the stop on the front rest — this limits forward stock travel.
Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.
Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.
Fore/aft stock position is important even with very wide fore-ends.
Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.
A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.
Here’s an example of world-class benchrest shooting. Charles Huckeba of Texas was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.
Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.
Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships
Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good
Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.
1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.
2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.
3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.
4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.
5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).
To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:
“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.
This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”
Be prepared to have your mind blown by Max Michel. This guy is FAST. In this video he puts 18 shots on three targets with two (2) reloads, in a total of 4.79 seconds. That’s right, drawing from holster, he sends 18 rounds in under five seconds, with two mag changes in the process. That works out to a rate of fire of 225 rounds per minute. Consider this — Max shoots faster than a 19th-century Gatling Gun (which had a rate of fire of roughly 200 rounds per minute). And Max is accurate as well as speedy — 16 of Max’s 18 shots were in the targets’ A-Zones, with the other two just barely outside.
At age 30, Max Michel is a legend within the world of competitive shooting. A four-time World Speed Shooting Champion, six-time USPSA National Champion, and three-time US National Steel Champion, Max is a dominant force in pistol shooting sports. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Max began shooting when he was just 5 years old. In 1999 Max joined the USAMU’s Action Pistol Team and served in the U.S. Army for 10 years as an Army shooter and trainer. Today, Max is recognized worldwide as a top-tier athlete and instructor.
PrecisionRifleBlog.com recently reviewed several video-based rifle training DVD sets. While instructional DVDs will never replace live “hands-on” training, they can be cost-effective ways to sharpen your skills. Watched periodically, these training DVDs can help reinforce the fundamentals.
PRB’s Editor Cal Zant has purchased several rifle training DVDs over the years. His recent Precision Rifle Blog DVD review looks at four different options:
Long Range Made Easy, Two-Volume Set, from Accuracy 1st The Art Of The Precision Rifle, with Todd Hodnett (Magpul Dynamics) Putting Rounds On Target, with Bryan Litz (Applied Ballistics) Rifles Only — Precision Rifle Instructional DVDs, with Jacob Bynum
Cal reports that each of these four titles offers a slightly different approach, with each instructor displaying his own focus, based on his background and expertise.
Accuracy 1st’s Long Range Made Easy Two-Volume Set seemed to win PRB’s Editor’s Choice Award. The tagline on the DVD is: “Go from basic to advanced with the guy that has trained our best military snipers for the past 10 years.” That’s a pretty good description. Todd Hodnett is the primary instructor, and Bryan Litz joins him in several segments.
It’s the best of both worlds. Todd Hodnett’s pragmatic “the-bullet-cannot-lie” approach (field-proven by hundreds of the world’s best snipers), is combined with Bryan Litz’s engineering approach and vast knowledge of external ballistics verified with carefully recorded live-fire experiments. The two styles complement each other well, and provide an extremely well-rounded and comprehensive overview.
The DVD set is split into two volumes, each of which includes two discs. All together there are almost four hours of instruction from the most respected guys in the industry. And they cover a lot of ground — you’d never be able to cover this much in a one- or two-day live class. Plus with the DVD you can easily repeat an important point, and watch the whole program more than once.
Cal paid $76.95 out-of-pocket for the Long Range Made Easy, Vol. 1 & 2 Bundle, so his review wasn’t a paid advertisement. He thought this set provides a ton of value, and could help a lot of shooters. Here are key topics covered in Long Range Made Easy:
■ Advice for Gear Purchases
■ Optimal Gun Setup
■ Technique for Position
■ Simple & Quick Wind Formula
■ Using the Applied Ballistics Kestrel
■ Truing Ballistic Algorithms, Drag Scale Factoring, and Custom Drag Models
■ WEZ Analysis
■ Wind Course
If you’re new to the long range game, or you’ve been doing it for a few years and want to learn directly from some of the most sought-after instructors in the world, then check out Cal’s write-up over at PrecisionRifleBlog.com. CLICK HERE for PRB Review of Training DVDs.
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The first-ever New England CMP Games were held at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site (CEATS) in Vermont, on September 14-18, 2016. This proved to be a great event at a stunningly scenic facility — a paradise for marksmen. Over 150 rifle and pistol competitors ventured to Vermont to enjoy the CMP’s inaugural New England Games, the latest in the CMP’s popular series of major, regional matches.
Here’s the view from the berm, looking back to the firing line…
The 2017 New England CMP Games included a Small Arms Firing School with expert instruction. Both novice shooters and experienced competitors benefitted from the training sessions.
Also featured at the New England Games was a preview of CMP’s electronic outdoor targets that are able to be transported and assembled across the country. For many shooters, this was the first time they were able to try electronic targets.
Competitors were mightily impressed by the breathtaking natural surroundings at the New England Games. “I was blown away by the facilities at Camp Ethan Allen,” said Steve Cooper, CMP North general manger. “The grounds were neatly manicured, our offices for registration and sales were very convenient and the classrooms were perfect for our clinics.”
He went on to say, “As beautiful as the surroundings were, the people were even better. They truly wanted us there and they enjoyed the matches, clinics, and other activities. It will be a pleasure to return next year for an even bigger and better event.”
Many awards were earned at the 2017 New England Games…
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true CMP Games event without a Rimfire Sporter Match.
The CEATS Pistol Range hosted both centerfire and rimfire matches in a lovely, tree-lined setting.
CLICK HERE for a complete list of New England CMP Games match results. Photos from the event are posted on the CMP’s Zenfolio website. Mark your calendars! Next year’s New England CMP Games are scheduled for September 20-24, 2017.
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Readers often ask us: “Is there an inexpensive way I can get started in position shooting?” The answer is “yes” — across the country CMP-affiliated clubs host Rimfire Sporter matches. You can use a wide variety of .22 LR rimfire rifles — manual actions (such as a Winchester model 52) or semi-automatics (such as a Ruger 10/22). There are prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing stages. CMP rules provide separate classifications for scoped rifles, open-sighted rifles, and aperature-sighted rifles. The matches are fun, the ammo is inexpensive, and everyone has a good time while improving their marksmanship.
The rapid-fire sitting or kneeling stage of a CMP-sanctioned .22 Sporter Match consists of two, 5-shot strings. A manually-operated or semi-automatic rifle may be used for this match.
The video shows the sitting/kneeling rapid-fire stage of a Rimfire Sporter match.
Our friend Dennis Santiago helps run CMP Rimfire Sporter Matches in Southern California. Dennis observes: “You want something challenging? Well that X-Ring 50 yards away is the diameter of a 50 cent piece, and there are people out there that can womp that thing with iron sights.”
Dennis notes: “There are six (6) stages of fire on a tough little target. Notice the rifles that can be used run the gamut from pump and bolt actions to variations on the semi-auto theme. All still require a good eye and a steady hold to earn one’s bragging rights for the day. A match takes about an hour and a half per relay. The slowest part of the match is initial sighting in. It’ll take longer than the allocated 5 minutes for the typical first timer coming to a club match.”
At Dennis’s Burbank Rifle & Revolver Club (BRRC), procedures are modified a little bit: “What we typically do at BRRC is run two relays. Experienced competitors shoot per the full rulebook. New shooters are afforded a bit more relaxed environment to make the experience more fun and inviting. We do the same thing in our M-1 Garand Clinic/Match series.”
Rimfire Sporter Match Basics
The CMP Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match is an inexpensive, fun-oriented competition using .22 caliber sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles) commonly owned by most gun enthusiasts. To compete, all you need is a basic rifle, safety gear, and ammunition. No fancy, high-dollar rifles are required.
The event is shot with standard sporter-type, rimfire rifles weighing no more than 7 ½ lbs, with sights and sling. Rifles may be manually-operated or semi-automatic. Shooters with manually-operated actions are given extra time in the rapid-fire stage to compensate for the difference. (See Video).
There are three classes of competition — the standard “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T-Class” for telescope-sighted and rear aperture-sighted rifles and “Tactical Rimfire” class, which is a .22 caliber A4 or AR15 style rifle. Firing for all classes is done at 50 and 25 yards on a target with a 1.78″ ten-ring and an 18″ outer one-ring. Even new shooters can get hits on this target, but it’s still tough enough that no one yet has fired a perfect 600×600 score.
Most bolt-action rifle shooters work the bolt with their trigger-pulling hand. This is because most rifles sold to right-handed shooters come with right-side bolts, while “lefty” rifles come with left-side bolts. This “standard” configuration requires the shooter to take his dominant, trigger-pulling hand off the stock to cycle the bolt, then re-position his hand on the stock, and “re-claim” the trigger. Often the shooter must lift or move his head to work the bolt, and that also requires him to re-establish his cheek weld after each and every shot. Not good.
This really doesn’t make much sense for precision shooting with fore-end support*. There is a better way. If you leave your trigger hand in position and work the bolt (and feed rounds) with the opposite hand, then you don’t need to shift grip and head position with each shot. All this requires is a weakside-placed bolt, i.e. a left bolt for a right-handed shooter or a right bolt for a left-handed shooter. The video below shows a “Lefty” working a right bolt. Note how efficient this is:
As our friend Boyd Allen explains: “If you think about it, if you are going to work with a factory action where your options are left bolt and left port or right bolt and right port, and you are building a rifle that will only be shot from a rest, using the left/left for a RH shooter or using a right/right for a LH shooter works better than the conventional configuration”.
Shoot Like a Champ and Work the Bolt with Your Weakside Hand
Derek Rodgers, the only person to have won BOTH F-Open and F-TR National Championships, runs this kind of “opposite” bolt set-up, shooting right-handed with a left bolt. Though Derek is a right-hander, he shoots with a Left Bolt/Left Port (LBLP) action. He shoots with his right hand on grip, while manipulating the bolt (and feeding rounds) with his non-trigger-pulling hand. He pulls the trigger with his right index finger, while working the left-side bolt with his left (weakside) hand. This allows him to stay in position, and maintain his cheekweld.
2013 National Championship-Winning Derek Rodgers Left Bolt/Left Port Rifle.
*For true standing, off-hand shooting (whether in competition or on a hunt), a conventional strongside bolt placement makes sense, since the non-dominant arm must support the front of the rifle all the time. When shooting from bipod or rest, it’s a different story.
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Today is practice day for the Mid-Range F-Class Nationals, which commence bright and early tomorrow morning in Lodi, Wisconsin. In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, reigning F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.
Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”
Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.
Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!
Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.
Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.
1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.
2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.
[Editor’s Note: The 2016 F-Class Nationals will employ electronic targets so conventional pit duties won’t be required. However, the following advice does apply for matches with conventional targets.]
3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.
4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.
5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”
Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!
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The 2016 F-Class National Championships commence today in Lodi, Wisconsin. The Mid-Range Championships will run through September 27th, followed immediately by the Long Range Championships which conclude on October 1st.
Hopefully, this article may provide a little inspiration for our readers who will be competing at the Nationals in the days ahead. Here are some motivational messages that shooters can use to stay calm and focused, and to tune up their “mental game”.
“Shoot Like a Champion”. Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting, says he often sees notes like this tucked in shooter’s gear (or taped to an ammo box) at matches. What “marksmanship mantras” do you use? Do you have a favorite quote that you keep in mind during competition?
On the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page, Bryan invited other shooters to post the motivating words (and little reminders) they use in competition. Here are some of the best responses:
“Shoot 10s and No One Can Catch You…” — James Crofts
“You Can’t Miss Fast Enough to Win.” — G. Smith
“Forget the last shot. Shoot what you see!” — P. Kelley
“Breathe, relax, you’ve got this, just don’t [mess] up.” — S. Wolf
“It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” — J. McEwen
“Keep calm and shoot V-Bull.” — R. Fortier
“Be still and know that I am God[.]” (PS 46:10) — D.J. Meyer
“Work Hard, Stay Humble.” — J. Snyder
“Shoot with your mind.” — K. Skarphedinsson
“The flags are lying.” — R. Cumbus
“Relax and Breathe.” — T. Fox
“Zero Excuses.” — M. Johnson
“SLOW DOWN!” — T. Shelton
“Aim Small.” — K. Buster
“Don’t Forget the Ammo!” (Taped on Gun Case) — Anonymous
PARTING SHOT: It’s not really a mantra, but Rick Jensen said his favorite quote was by gunsmith Stick Starks: “Them boys drove a long ways to suck”. Rick adds: “I don’t want to be that guy”, i.e. the subject of that remark.
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