On some internet shooting forums, self-declared “experts” advise new rifle shooters to stick to low-end factory rifles. These “experts” (many of whom don’t own a single really accurate rifle), claim that it will take years for a new shooter to learn how to shoot a rifle accurately. So, the argument goes, the accuracy offered by a precision-chambered rifle, with a custom barrel, is “wasted” on a new shooter.
We disagree with that viewpoint, at least when it comes to rifles shot from a rest. We’ve seen relatively new shooters, with help from a skilled mentor, do remarkably well with precision rifles right from the start. With a good bench gun, many new shooters can shoot well under 1 MOA on the first day. Certainly it takes time for a complete novice to learn how to handle the gun and to work the trigger smoothly. However, this editor has personally seen some inexperienced shooters try their hand at benchrest shooting, and within few month they are doing very well indeed at club shoots.
Accurate Rifles Reward Progress As Novices Build Skills
For bench shooting, we think a highly accurate rifle is a much better training device for a new shooter than a typical, cheap factory sporter. With a gun capable of 1.5-2.0 MOA at best, you can never really determine if a “flyer” is you or the gun. Conversely, when a novice shoots a gun that can put 5 shots through one ragged hole, if a shot goes way high or low, the shooter knows his aim, trigger control, or gun-handling is to blame. He (or she) can then correct the problem. And when the shooter does everything right, he or she will see a nice tight group on the target. The accurate rifle provides more meaningful feedback and it rewards progress. That helps the novice become a better shooter in a shorter period of time.
A while back, Forum Member Preacher and his “bunny hugger” niece from California proved this point. The young lady, with almost no shooting experience, took Preacher’s 6-6.5×47 and shot a sub-quarter-MOA, 3-shot group at 350 yards. Don’t tell her she needs to stick to a cheap factory rifle. Preacher reports: “My niece flew in from the west coast and came up to visit. When she saw a few of my full-blown varmint rifles, she wanted to shoot one. She did a super job even if she IS a ‘bunny hugger’. She pulled the 1.5 ounce Jewell on a few fired cases to check out the trigger pull and then got in behind the gun and put three shots into a 350-yard target with a one-inch circle.” We measured her group at 0.822″ (0.224 MOA). Don’t tell Preacher that accuracy is “wasted” on novices. He joked: “I sure don’t want her shooting at me ….”
Rifle Features BAT Action, Krieger Barrel, and Russo Laminated Stock:
For those who are interested, Preacher’s rifle features a BAT 3-lug action, 30″ Krieger 7.5-twist heavy contour barrel, and Russo stock (with clear coat by Preacher). Chambered in 6-6.5×47 Lapua, this gun “shoots the 108gr Bergers very well” according to Preacher. Yep, we agree with that — even when a novice “bunny-hugger” does the trigger-pulling.
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Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011
There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.
Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…
Miss a 5 mph Shift and Double Your Group Size
The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.
Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.
If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.
Our friend Kirsten Joy Weiss is a modern-day Annie Oakley. A very successful competitive shooter in the collegiate ranks, Kirsten now produces a popular YouTube Channel focusing on the “Joy of Shooting”. In her videos, Kirsten offers shooting tips and performs a variety of trick shots — such as splitting cards with a .22 LR rimfire. This young lady can shoot, that’s for sure.
In this video, Kirsten shoots at some tiny reactive targets — “Pop-Its”. These pea-sized targets “pop” audibly when hit. They make a very challenging target, even when bunched together. Kirsten secured three (3) Pop-Its with a clothespin, and then placed the clothespin in the ground.
It took a couple tries, but Kirsten did manage to light off a Pop-It or two. Kirsten reports: “Basically a small exploding target, Pop-Its, also known as ‘Bang Snaps’, snaps, snappers, party snaps, etc., are a fun firework trick noisemaker — but will they make a good target? Let’s put it to the test to see if these poppers are gun range-worthy targets. These little Pop-Its make for some challenging shots with reactive targets.” Enjoy the video:
Equipment Report: For this video, Kirsten shot Lapua .22 LR ammo in a Volquartsen Ultra-lite semi-auto .22 LR rimfire rifle, fitted with a C-More Red-Dot sight. She was using Oakley eye protection.
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In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics focuses on training. Bryan says that training is key for success in Long Range shooting: “Training in the sense that you want to want to refine your fundamentals of marksmanship — your sight alignment, your trigger control. You should practice those things enough that they become second nature and you don’t have to think about them. Keep in mind, it’s not just good enough to train, you have to learn how to train. You need to learn how to practice effectively, to get the most out of everything you do.”
Bryan says that success in Long Range shooting is not just about the hardware. It’s what’s between your ears that really counts: “The most important element in Long Range shooting is your knowledge — your understanding and practice of fundamentals of marksmanship, as well as your understanding of ballistics. You have to be able to fire the rifle, execute good shots that will put your rounds on target, but you also need to make intelligent sight corrections that will accurately account for the effects of gravity drop, and wind deflection, to center your group on those targets”.
Litz Competition Shooting Tips
Competition TIP ONE. Improving your scores in long range competition is a constant process of self-assessment. After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. Veteran shooters will lose far fewer points to a smaller list of mistakes. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues. Sometimes the weak links that you need to work on aren’t your favorite thing to do, and success will take work in these areas as well.
Competition TIP TWO. Select your wind shooting strategy carefully. For beginners and veterans, most points are typically lost to wind. Successful shooters put a lot of thought into their approach to wind shooting. Sometimes it’s best to shoot fast and minimize the changes you’ll have to navigate. Other times it’s best to wait out a condition which may take several minutes. Develop a comfortable rest position so you have an easier time waiting when you should be waiting.
Competition TIP THREE. Actively avoid major train wrecks. Sounds obvious but it happens a lot. Select equipment that is reliable, get comfortable with it and have back-ups for important things. Don’t load on the verge of max pressure, don’t go to an important match with a barrel that’s near shot out, physically check tightness of all important screws prior to shooting each string. Observe what train wrecks you and others experience, and put measures in place to avoid them.
Article based on report in NRABlog.com.
Want to get young people involved in the shooting sports? Through organized training programs youngsters learn safe firearms handling, improve marksmanship skills, and meet other kids with similar interests. They also learn important life skills such as teamwork and goal attainment. There are several youth marksmanship programs available. All these programs let you share your joy of shooting with the younger generation. Remember today’s juniors are the future of our sport.
NRA National Junior Shooting Camps
File photo from NRA Smallbore Rifle Championship
The NRA’s National Junior Shooting Camps provide high-quality training opportunities in rifle, pistol and shotgun disciplines. Instruction is directed by highly qualified, top-level coaches. NRA offers camps for advanced and intermediate juniors. There are also Junior Olympic Shooting Camps, hosted by USA Shooting and supported by the NRA and the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
National 4-H Shooting Sports
The National 4-H Shooting Sports Program was created to teach marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, and much more. State level 4-H clubs offer programs for individual training as well as team competitive shooting. There is also a National 4-H Shooting Sports Championship each summer which hosts Shotgun, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, Smallbore Rifle, Smallbore Pistol, Compound Archery, Recurve Archery, Muzzleloading Rifle and Hunting Skills events.
Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) offers several marksmanship opportunities for new and intermediate shooters. Programs provide training for marksmanship badges and there are a variety of other competitive and recreational programs. Check with your local Boy Scout organization to learn about the range offerings for scouts in your region.
American Legion Junior Program
Thousands of male and female junior shooters have participated in the American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program, which has a perfect safety record. The Junior Program includes a Basic Marksmanship Course, Qualification Awards and Air Rifle Competition. To learn more, visit www.legion.org/shooting.
Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC)
The NRA’s Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) program helps kids 18 and under to learn hunting, marksmanship, and safety skills. From rifle, bow, and muzzleloader shooting, to wildlife identification, map & compass orienteering and more, YHEC participants get hands-on training in eight skill areas. This is a great program for parents and kids who want to go on family hunts together.
Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program
From a young shooter’s first BB gun to sophisticated air rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, pistols, and rifles, the year-round Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program offers a pathway to excellence for young shooters. Qualification shooting provides incentive awards for developing and improving marksmanship skills. Progression is self-paced and scores are challenging but attainable. Performance is measured against established par scores and any shooter who meets or exceeds those scores is entitled recognition awards for that rating.
Brownells / NRA Day
Brownells / NRA Day events provide adults, youth, families, hunters, sportsmen, competitors – literally everyone – the opportunity to come together under a formal program to learn, experience, share, and grow in appreciation of the shooting sports. The event themes offered in the program are designed for discovery. They provide exposure to the many different activities available in shooting sports and offer participants the opportunity to explore them in a safe, controlled environment.
John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks won his fourth Long Range National Championship at Camp Perry this month. In this article, the first of a three-part series on Long Range competition, John shares his thoughts on wind strategies and keeping one’s composure in pressure situations. John tells us Camp Perry was very challenging this year: “The 2016 Long Range Championship will go down in my memory as one with quick wind changes that made it very easy to shoot a 9.”
How to Win at Long Range Shooting
(Or at least what worked at the 2016 National Championships)
by John Whidden, 2016 National Long Range Champion
The NRA Long Range National Championships at Camp Perry Ohio are now in the history books and the competitors are home and reflecting on what they could have done to improve their score. I think anyone who has ever competed always knows they could have done even better if they had changed this detail or that aspect. This is the case regardless of where a shooter places in the standings, even for the winners.
This year the winds were reasonably tough. We mostly have either headwinds or winds from the 2-3 O’clock positions with speeds often in the 9-11 mph range. The changes came quickly and we had to be on our toes. Fortunately the course of fire allows the shooters some options. For the 1000-yard matches, we typically have 33 minutes for preparation, an unlimited number of sighter shots, and then 20 shots for record. Many shooters will shoot about 3-5 sighters and complete the task in about 15 minutes.
The 2016 Long Range Championship was definitely a match where you had to fight for every point during the whole event.
In preparation for shooting by watching the wind, I realized that the quick changes were going to add to the difficulty. Given the conditions, I chose a strategy of choosing only one condition to shoot in and waiting during any changes away from my desired condition. This plan meant that I would have to be very patient and plan to use all of my 33 minutes allotted time if needed.
The sun was shining for most of the matches so we had mirage to look at. There are plenty of flags at Camp Perry and I was glad for them!
As the wind speeds get higher I think a shooter should study the appearance of the flags. Some people look at the flag, and some really LOOK at the flags. The difference is observing things like how many ripples are in the flag, how far the flag stands off the pole, the angle of the flag in a headwind or tailwind, and how high the tip of the flag is relative to where the flag is attached to the pole. These details make all of the difference.
Time Management and Patience
Patience in wind reading can be a virtue. Choosing a condition and being patient has probably yielded more success in my long range wind reading than any other method. It’s not the only way to go, but on a day when you have time available and patience on your side it can yield a win! It should be obvious now that keeping a timer and managing the available time along with the number of shots remaining is an important part of this.
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Do you have a friend or family member who is just getting started in handgunning? The NSSF has created five Handgun 101 videos that cover the basics of handgun shooting, starting with key principles of firearms safety. Hosted by Top Shot Season 4 Champion Chris Cheng, these videos explain the important fundamentals of pistol shooting. If you will be taking a youngster (or novice adult) to the range for the first time, it would be a good idea to have him or her watch one or both of these videos. CLICK HERE to view all Handgun 101 videos.
Handgun 101: Rules for Safe Firearm Handling
Handgun 101: Single Action vs. Double Action Explained
Here are cool new reactive metal targets that spin rapidly when hit (watch video above). Birchwood Casey’s new Diamond Spinning Targets are fun to shoot. And, after each hit, the diamond automatically resets to face the shooter. That’s handy. There are three versions — all feature a durable metal frame that’s easy to place in the ground
Choose the Jack, King, or Ace of Diamonds depending on your intended use (and type of guns):
The Ace of Diamonds™ is constructed of ½” AR500 steel. That’s tough enough for centerfire handguns and rifles. The King of Diamonds™ is designed for .22 rimfire pistols and rifles. The least expensive variant, the Jack of Diamonds™, is rated for airguns up to 1000 fps. These Diamond Spinning Targets are made in the USA. For more info, visit www.birchwoodcasey.com or call 800-746-6862.
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Yes, there are ten (10) shots. In the lower left (7 o’clock) of the group, two shots overlap!
Stunning 1000-Yard 10-Shot Group
You’re looking at a stunning feat of rifle accuracy. That’s a sub-3″, ten-shot group shot at 1000 yards, all 10s or Xs. Measured at 2.856 inches, this group by shooter Mike Gaizauskas works out to 0.2727 MOA. Nearly quarter-MOA for ten shots at 1K! And the vertical for 7 of 10 shots is under an inch. Now that’s impressive. This was done with an IBS Heavy Class Benchrest gun, chambered for the 6.5×47 Lapua, a mid-sized cartridge originally designed for 300m competition.
Gun Specs: 6.5×47 Lapua chambering, Krieger 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel, Lapua 139 grain Scenars, Hodgdon H4350, CCI BR4 primers, Nightforce NSX scope. Smithed by Mark King, stock by Mike Gaizaukaus.
This amazing group, which establishes new IBS world records, was shot at the Harry Jones Memorial 1000-Yard Gun Club range in Fairview, West Virginia. Set in wooded, rolling hills, this range is shielded on all sides by thick stands of trees. It’s a beautiful facility, and you can see why, when conditions are right, the Harry Jones range can be about as close to shooting in a “tunnel” as you’ll ever get at 1000 yards. The Harry Jones Club in WV hosted the 2014 IBS Long-Range Nationals.
Mike’s remarkable 10-shot performance may be a Score Record as well as a group record, because all ten shots were in the 10-Ring and, under IBS rules, group size is the tie-breaker, rather than X-Count. Mike’s target was scored 100-3X, with two of the three Xs just clipping the outside of the X-Ring. Match directors reported: “On 7/24/2016, two new pending IBS 1000-yard world records were shot by Mike Gaizauskas with a 6.5X47 Lapua: 1) Heavy Gun Group (2.856″) and 2) Heavy Gun Score (100-3X). Congratulations Mike!” Here are the listed IBS records that will be broken, when this target is certified:
► Current IBS 1000-Yard Heavy Gun 10-Shot Single Group Record: 3.044″, Joel Pendergraft, 4/18/2009.
► Current IBS 1000-Yard Heavy Gun 10-Shot Single Group Score Record: 100 points, with 3.353″ group size tie-breaker, Gary Nicholson, 7/27/13.
Best 1000-Yard 10-Shot Groups Ever
This jaw-dropping 2.856″ group by Mike Gaizauskas also handily breaks the current NBRSA 1000-Yard, ten-shot Heavy Gun Record, which was 3.9912″ set by Bill Johnston on November 17, 2015. FYI: IBS and NBRSA Light Guns only shoot five-shot groups, so there is no equivalent IBS or NBRSA Light Gun 1K ten-shot record.
Only one other 10-shot, 100-score 1000-yard group was better than this in the history of rifle competition on this planet. Back in 2010, at a Williamsport match, Matt Kline shot a 2.815″ 100-4X. Depending on how Mike’s 2016 2.856″ group is finally measured, it could end up smaller than Matt’s. The difference (before final IBS verification) is only 0.041″, a mere four hundredths of an inch.
In 2014, Jim Richards fired a 10-shot Light Gun group at 1000 yards initially measured at 2.6872″. Shot under Williamsport Rules at the Deep Creek Range in Montana, that 10-shot group may be the smallest ever at 1K. However, the whole group was out in the 8 Ring, for a score of 80, not 100.
About the 6.5×57 Lapua Cartridge
To learn more about the record-setting 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge, including bullet and powder options and reloading tips, visit our comprehensive 6.5×47 Lapua Cartridge Guide.
The 6.5x47mm Lapua was developed in 2005 as a precision cartridge for 300m CISM rifle matches. Lapua (of Finland) and Swiss rifle-maker Grünig & Elmiger created this new cartridge to match the “pure accuracy” of the 6mmBR, but with even better ballistics. Following its debut as a 300m match cartridge, the 6.5×47 has proven to be a popular “jack of all trades”. Shooters have adopted this efficient, mid-sized cartridge because it offers excellent accuracy, mild recoil, good ballistics, and ample barrel life (plus it feeds well from a magazine). The 6.5×47 Lapua has won two NBRSA 600-yard Nationals. Now that this modern, mid-sized cartridge has set an all-time record for grouping precision at 1000 yards, we expect more shooters to experiment with this cartridge in the mid- and long-range benchrest disciplines.
Story Tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions
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Earlier this week, on July 27th, the CMP held the 2016 Vintage Sniper Rifle Match at Camp Perry. This unique event is a two-man team competition using scoped rifles of WWI and WWII Vintage. This has become of of the most popular rifle matches held at Perry, with 259 teams competing this summer. Many competitors use some version of the M1903 Springfield, but you’ll also see scoped M1 Garands, K31s, Mausers, and even a Lee-Enfield or two. (Semi-Auto shooters are scored separately). This year the Vintage Sniper Match was won by the “Yogi & BooBoo” family team of Silas Fentress and Wesley Fentress, with a 396-13X score. Close behind was runner-up duo Donald Schedler and John Watson (394-13X). Winning the semi-auto division were Brian Dobish and Clayton Maugans (373-8X).
Two-person teams will fire 10 rounds in 20-second intervals from scoped vintage military rifles set on sand bags. One team marksman shoots from the prone position at 300 and 600 yards, while the other serves as a spotter to relay shot position. Marksman and spotter switch positions on the firing lines, allowing each teammate to play both roles. Scores are then combined for an Aggregate team total.
Two M1 Garands, fitted with scopes and lace-on cheekpads.
Who can identify this rifle, with its unusual scope mount?
Our friends at Criterion Barrels have written an interesting article about the 2014 Vintage Sniper Rifle Match. It you want an “insider’s perspective” on the 2014 Match, plus Vintage Sniper gunsmithing tips, read this article. Here are some highlights:
About the Match and the Rifles
The Vintage Sniper Match was the brainchild of Hornady’s Dave Emary. The competition was inspired by his father, a World War II scout sniper, who carried a rifle similar to the 1903A4 rifle builds that can be found today on the Camp Perry firing line. Bob Schanen worked alongside Dave and the CMP staff in establishing the various competition rules prior to the first official Vintage Sniper Match in 2011. The match developers made a point to offer some level of flexibility in rifle configuration, allowing specific types of non-issue optics and rifle rebuilds. This helped make the match more inclusive.
Hornady’s Dave Emary and “Gunny” R. Lee Ermey (right):
Camp Perry — The Venue
The hallowed grounds of Camp Perry have hosted some of the nation’s finest shooters each summer for more than a century. Some of the world’s greatest marksmen have accomplished remarkable feats on the ranges of this lakeside military outpost. Located on the coast of Lake Erie, Camp Perry is positioned just outside of the scenic town of Port Clinton, Ohio. It is our firm belief that every shooter should make the pilgrimage to the Camp Perry at least once in their lifetime. If not participating in an event, visitors should at least make an attempt to meet the competitors, witness the wide selection of firearms used by participants, and pay a visit to the various vendors on base.
Did you know that American women are the fastest-growing segment of gun owners? Whether it’s for self-protection, hunting, or target shooting, women are showing more interest than ever in owning firearms. Moreover, women are taking steps to train and educate themselves, and to get involved in hunting, recreational shooting, and firearms competition. This is now a significant trend — women are becoming an important and vital part of the shooting community. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of American women now own at least one firearm.
The numbers of women participating in the shooting sports has grown dramatically in recent years. in fact, in the decade from 2001 to 2010, the number of female target shooters has risen 43.5%:
Extreme Long Range — 2477 Yards
Notably, two Applied Ballistics team shooters made hits at 2477 yards. Just how far is that? Take a look at the photo above — that shows the location of the 2477-yard target with the firing line in the far distance. Now THAT is truly long range!
By Paul Phillips
I wanted to share a video that I made. This was from the King of 2 Miles event held recently in Raton, New Mexico. I was fortunate enough to be apart of an amazing team with Bryan Litz and Mitchell Fitzpatrick. We had some awesome sponsors: Berger Bullets, Nightforce Optics, McMillan Group International, Lethal Precision Arms LLC and Applied Ballistics LLC. Team Applied Ballistics took First, Second, and Fourth places out of 38 teams in this competition. Our Team highlight was working together to make first-round hits on a 24×36 inch plate at 1.4 miles. With me as coach, both Mitchell and Bryan made their first-round hits at 1.4 miles (2477 yards to be exact).
Video Shows Team Accomplishing Hits at 2477 Yards in Raton, NM
This event has been a personal goal of mine for a long time and I wanted to thank Bryan Litz and Mitchell Fitzpatrick for having me on the team. I call them quiet professionals. I also wanted to thank Kelly McMillan for sponsoring our team and being involved. Kelly has been an amazing sponsor and advocate for shooting sports and providing stocks and rifles for our military snipers for the past 40 years. I can’t forget to thank Ian Klemm for loaning me his Vortex Spotting scope with the MOA milling reticle. It worked great and was very fast to make corrections along with good glass.
Mitchell Fitzpatrick won the KO2M finals to earn the title “King of Two Miles”. He had a dominant performance shooting a .375 Lethal Precision Arms LLC rifle loaded with prototype solid 400gr Berger bullets. Mitchell built this rifle himself using a McMillan A5 Super Mag stock. Note: Berger has no current plans to market this .375-caliber bullet — it is still in the prototype stage.
Editor: Paul Phillips asked to make a special dedication, remembering a family member: “My brother Daniel Phillips passed away with brain cancer last year and this event was one that he wanted to video for me. I know he is smiling in heaven.”
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In the Olympics (and other top-level shooting events with electronic scoring), a 10.9 is the highest possible single shot value. A 10.9 is the best of the best — the numerical equivalent of a perfect shot. Olympian Brenda Silva says “shooting a 10.9 is like a hole in one[.]” The 2016 Olympic Games are coming up soon, so many of the world’s best shooters are focusing on producing 10.9s in Rio next month. Here are some comments from top shooters on what a 10.9 means to them:
“A 10.9 is more than a shot value — it’s an idea, a goal, something that pushes us…” — Lauren Phillips
“Shooting 10.9s is not an accident, it’s what you’re supposed to do.” — Tom Csenge
Excellence is shooting a 10.9 “When it Counts — When a Medal … is on the line.” — Sarah Scherer
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In response to many requests from Forum members who shoot F-Class, we are republishing this informative interview, which first appeared last summer. You’ll find many “solid good” tips that can help any long-range rifle competitor.
Dan Pohlabel is a member of the all-conquering Team Sinclair F-TR squad. This talented group of shooters hasn’t lost a team match in years. What’s the secret of Team Sinclair’s success? Well there is not one single factor. These guys have very accurate rifles, they work hard on load development, and they practice in all conditions. In this interview, Dan Pohlabel talks about F-TR competition, reviewing the hardware (and skill set) it takes to win. He offers some great tips on developing loads. You’ll find a longer version of this interview on the Sinclair Int’l website. CLICK HERE to Read Full Interview.
Q: What do you find most challenging in F-TR Shooting?
It has to be keeping up with the competition, our sport has grown so quickly with new talented shooters. Staying at the top requires having a laser of a rifle, perfect loads, near perfect wind reading, and, of course, breaking good shots.
Q: How can novice shooters improve their game?
Seek out the local F-TR shooters and go to matches with them, listen and learn. Attend team matches and offer to score for one of the teams. As a scorer, you will sit close enough to hear the coach make wind calls and see the results on the target. Through the spotting scope you will see changes in mirage and it’s the quickest way to learn the basics of wind reading. Choosing and buying equipment is relatively easy, learning to read the wind is a journey.
Q: What’s in your range bag for match days?
Rear bag, towel, shooting glasses, canned air, ear protection, data book, pen, rifle rain cover, hat, rifle tools, timer, ammo, and bug spray.
Q: What specialized gear can you not live without?
1. A good set of elbow pads. It’s hard to keep concentrating on shooting when your elbows are rubbed raw from days of competing on them.
2. Good bug spray. We shoot from the ground but our shooting mats aren’t that big. It’s hard to concentrate with bugs crawling or chewing on you.
Q: Load Development — How do you work up a load?
First, I call Derek Rodgers and get his load data, he is the best load development shooter I know! Otherwise, here is the procedure I recommend. Measure throat length with bullet of your choice, to determine how much room is left in the case. The above measurement determines what powders you can use. We use only Hodgdon Extreme powders. Shoot a ladder test, five rounds each in 0.2 grain increments, to find the accuracy node for that bullet/powder combination. Take the best two loads and do a jump test with five rounds each, test at .005″, .025″, .060″ jump. One of these groups will be significantly better than the rest, now you can tweak that measurement +/- .002” or .005” to get the best accuracy.
Test at least three different primers to determine which offers a little better ignition for your load, a 5-shot test will usually tell you which is the best. Go back and test the two best combinations in a 10-shot test at least twice, pick a cool overcast day and also a hot sunny day and compare results. Take your final “best load” back and do a “simulated match”, 20 shots, waiting at least 20 seconds between shots. If you like those results it’s probably a reliable and accurate load.
Q: What rear bag do you use?
I use a two-bag system, large bag on bottom with a smaller bag on top. I had the bags made of marine canvas, zippered and filled with plastic beads. I can adjust the amount of fill to make them a perfect height for my shooting position. Teammate Jeff Rorer uses a similar system and mine is nearly a copy of his rear bags.
Q: How often do you practice and how many rounds do you shoot per year?
In good weather I practice a couple times a week at the local range, a couple more dry-firing practices/week at home. I typically shoot between 2,000-2,500 rounds per year.
Q: How do you prepare mentally before a match?
[I do] lots of visualization — run the video in my head of what I expect to see and of my performance. I think about the correct strategy for the conditions, staying disciplined to the strategy.
Q: What do you avoid before a shoot?
No late nights or excessive alcohol. Very little caffeine in the morning. Leave your cell turned off. Avoid emotional people.
Q: What’s your procedure on a Match day?
I arrive early, get squadding card, move gear, watch wind speed/direction, check over rifle and gear, sit and relax, visualize and focus on the most important goal of the day. Most days we shoot three relays of 20 shots. It’s important to eat and hydrate continually all day. My focus and concentration are better when I snack all day with fruit and energy bars, and lots of water. While taking my turn in the pits, I try to relax and only focus on what is ahead of me and [not] what’s already happened.
Q: What is your favorite reloading product?
My favorite reloading product is the Sinclair Premium Neck Turning Tool with Handle, I also use the expander mandrels provided by Sinclair for sizing the brass in preparation for the turning process. Correct and repeatable neck tension begins with turning necks to a uniform thickness. Sinclair also has mandrels to size the necks after neck turning that accurately size the necks for a specific neck tension.
Q: What is your preferred scope?
The scope I find the most useful is the Nightforce Competition Scope. This scope is very light-weight, has 15-55X magnification, world-class quality glass, 10 MOA per revolution on the turrets, 1/8 moa adjustments. It’s perfect for F-Class competition.
Q: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into the sport?
Find a local club with some F-TR shooters and ask for their help. Most shooters will be happy to take you with them to a match, listen and learn while you’re there. You may find out it’s not what you thought, or you may be hooked. If you decide to jump in, start with an inexpensive rifle. This sport is expensive and you don’t need a $5000 rifle to learn good wind-reading skills. Start with a used Savage F-TR rifle and learn the basics, shoot for a year at least before making a larger investment. The money you saved buying a used Savage rifle will help pay for your divorce lawyer, LOL.
Q: What training drills do you use?
Dry-firing the rifle at home is a good way to practice when you can’t get to the range and shoot. It allows me to practice set-up, rifle handling, and position. When I can practice at a local range, I also dry-fire between shots to increase the amount of repetitions and increase the time spent in position.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence in shooting?
Eric Bair, 2006 F-Open National Champion helped me get started and gave me great advice. Most of the shooters on Team USA and Team Sinclair help each other, nobody knows all the answers but we share what we have learned. Danny Biggs, 2008 and 2009 F-TR National Champion also helped me when I was struggling to learn some of the ranges. I learned a lot from Danny.
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There are important safety and behavior rules you need to follow at a gun range. Sometimes bad range etiquette is simply annoying. Other times poor gun-handling practices can be downright dangerous. The NRA Blog has published a useful article about range safety and “range etiquette”. While these tips were formulated with indoor ranges in mind, most of the points apply equally well to outdoor ranges. You may want to print out this article to provide to novice shooters at your local range or club.
8 Tips for Gun Range Etiquette
Story by Kyle Jillson for NRABlog
Here are eight tips on range etiquette to keep yourself and others safe while enjoying your day out [at the range]. Special thanks to NRA Headquarters Range General Manager Michael Johns who assisted with this article.
1. Follow the Three Fundamental Rules for Safe Gun Handling
ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
This NSSF Video Covers Basic Gun Range Safety Rules:
2. Bring Safety Gear (Eye and Ear Protection)
Eye and Ear protection are MANDATORY for proper safety and health, no matter if “required” by range rules or not. It is the shooter’s responsibility to ensure proper protection is secured and used prior to entering/using any range. Hearing loss can be instantaneous and permanent in some cases. Eyesight can be ruined in an instant with a catastrophic firearm failure.
3. Carry a Gun Bag or Case
Common courtesy and general good behavior dictates that you bring all firearms to a range unloaded and cased and/or covered. No range staff appreciates a stranger walking into a range with a “naked” firearm whose loaded/unloaded condition is not known. You can buy a long gun sock or pistol case for less than $10.
4. Know Your Range’s Rules
Review and understand any and all “range specific” rules/requirements/expectations set forth by your range. What’s the range’s maximum rate of fire? Are you allowed to collect your brass? Are you required to take a test before you can shoot? Don’t be afraid to ask the staff questions or tell them it’s your first time. They’re there to help.
5. Follow ALL Range Officer instructions
ROs are the first and final authority on any range and their decisions are generally final. Arguing/debating with a Range Officer is both in poor taste and may just get you thrown out depending on circumstances.
6. Don’t Bother Others or Touch Their Guns
Respect other shooters’ privacy unless a safety issue arises. Do NOT engage other shooters to correct a perceived safety violation unless absolutely necessary – inform the RO instead. Shooters have the right and responsibility to call for a cease fire should a SERIOUS safety event occur. Handling/touching another shooter’s firearm without their permission is a major breech of protocol. Offering unsolicited “training” or other instructional suggestions to other shooters is also impolite.
7. Know What To Do During a Cease Fire
IMMEDIATELY set down your firearm, pointed downrange, and STEP AWAY from the shooting booth (or bench). The Range Officer(s) on duty will give instructions from that point and/or secure all firearms prior to going downrange if needed. ROs do not want shooters trying to “secure/unload” their firearms in a cease fire situation, possibly in a stressful event; they want the shooters separated from their guns instantly so that they can then control the situation as they see fit.
8. Clean Up After Yourself
Remember to take down your old targets, police your shooting booth, throw away your trash, and return any equipment/chairs, etc. Other people use the range too; no one wants to walk up to a dirty lane.
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New month, new targets. These free, printable fun targets feature classic games: Bingo, Dice, and Tic-Tac-Toe. Use the targets for marksmanship training, or just have “challenge matches” with friends. The targets can be used for rimfire or centerfire. We use the targets at ten yards for pistol practice, and at much farther distances for precision rifles. Try the Tic-Tac-Toe target at 300 yards with your best benchrest, tactical, or varmint rifle. Click on each target to load a printable, high-rez PDF file.
There are a variety of ways to use each of these game targets. Here are some suggestions — or you can make up your own rules for each target type.
Bingo: You and a friend can take turns calling out a number for BINGO and if you hit it, you get a point! Or, you can call a number you intend to hit. Hit the number, get that many points. You can also just shoot for the bulleyes. Get creative.
Dice: At 50 yards with a rimfire rifle, use the white sports on the dice as targets. Or do the same with a pellet gun at 10 meters. We’ve used these targets at 400 yards when practicing with an F-Class rifle, shooting the read squares in sequence: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. There are many options.
Tic Tac Toe: The NRABlog suggests that you print out TWO targets and see who can be the first to get three in a row. That’s a good pistol challenge. Or place this target out at 200 yards for slow-fire precision rifle training. For a variation, shoot just the bullseyes, with a score deducted if you hit any one of the red Xs.
Daisy is an iconic name in the air gun industry. Founded in 1886, Daisy Outdoor Products is the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of air guns. Most of us grew up with a Daisy BB gun or air rifle. Now Daisy has a new owner, Gamo, which will make Daisy a part of Gamo Outdoor USA. Earlier this week, Gamo® Outdoor SL, an affiliate of New York-based private equity investment firm BRS, along with its U.S. subsidiary, Gamo® Outdoor USA, announced the acquisition of Daisy Outdoor Products.
Daisy is one of the most recognized brands of airguns and accessories in the world, producing air rifles for 130 years. No company has introduced more young people to recreational shooting and plinking than Daisy, which began operations way back in 1886.
From Windmills to BB Guns
The company that was to become Daisy actually got its start as the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company. The enterprise only began making air guns to help sell windmills, as a sales promotion. The company offered a free BB gun with the purchase of any Plymouth Iron windmill. And so an iconic American product was born.
Outdoor Hub reports: “Eventually, the demand for the BB guns far eclipsed Daisy’s windmill business and the company switched over to producing BB and air guns exclusively. Following a comment from General Manager Lewis Cass Hough, who remarked that the guns shot like a ‘daisy’, the company rebranded itself and changed its name.” Daisy’s Red Ryder BB guns are now, probably, the most recognizable line of air guns ever made.
“We cannot begin to express the excitement we feel with the addition of Daisy to our family of shooting and outdoor brands,” stated Keith Higginbotham, President of Gamo Outdoor USA. He continued, “We believe this to be a great relationship with complementary brands. Gamo’s roots run deep in the outdoors, while Daisy is a part of Americana. We both share a passion for the shooting sports and are excited for the future[.]”
Daisy products include the Daisy, PowerLine, Winchester® Air Rifles and AVANTI training and match competitive airguns, Precision Max® ammunition and AirStrike brand soft air guns, ammo and accessories. View the full Daisy product-line at www.daisy.com.
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Old Gun… New Gadget. A while back, our friend Dennis Santiago has been practicing with his trusty old Springfield, in preparation for the CMP Western Games in Phoenix. To help improve his off-hand hold, Dennis utilized a laser training device that plots shot location on a laptop computer. Here’s a report from Dennis on his laser-enabled dry-fire practice:
Laser Dry-Fire Practice with Vintage Rifle
Something old, something new. Take a M1903A3 Springfield, put a laser in its nose, and practice your off-hand shooting until staying on focus with the front sight throughout the shot process becomes a reflex.
If the last thing you see is the front sight, the shot is in. If the last thing you see is the bull, it’s out. Simple as that. If you had told someone in the 1920s or 1930s that this much tech would one day be available to aid in training … come to think of it, it’d have made real riflemen smile.
Here is the receiving end of the laser beam:
About the Hardware and Software
Dennis was using the BeamHit 190 series Personal Marksmanship Training System. This interactive dry-fire training system uses a laser detecting device to transmit hits directly to a computer in real time. The BeamHit 190 software allows shooters to choose from multiple targets and even create timed scenarios. You can save strings of fire for later review directly on the connected computer. The included software is compatible with Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7. It seems like the system Dennis used is out of production, though EoTech still offers a 190-3 system through Amazon.com. The BeamHit 190 system has been replaced with the simpler Insight/Beamhit MDM1001 Portable Target System. This is less sophisticated and does not require a connected computer.
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This 3rd-year junior shooter uses a “hand me down” shooting coat that has earned many honors.
Report by Johnny Fisher
The California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team recently completed its annual summer training session. Some 22 talented California junior shooters prepared for next month’s National Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio. Affectionately called “Camp O’Connell”, this training program offers up to nine straight days of instruction, practice and full-course shooting with veteran coach Jim O’Connell. To learn more about the California Grizzlies Rifle Team visit: www.teamgrizzlies.org.
Coach Jim O’Connell moves to New firing yardage with his young shooters.
This year’s team captain is Forrest Greenwood, shooting in his sixth and final year as a junior with the Grizzlies. A superb shooter, Forrest will be joining the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit this fall. When asked about the 2016 California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team’s prospects at the National Championships, Forrest commented:
“I feel like we have a really strong team going back this year for all of the junior matches. Our first-year juniors have been very open to trying new and different things and learning correctly. They’re very good at listening to our coaches and our more experienced junior shooters. Our experienced shooters are performing very well too. We have some good depth this year — good pairings of comparable experience for the 6-man teams through the 2-man team matches. The California Grizzlies are all about teamwork. We go back to Nationals to keep our heads in the game and shoot our averages. Personal bests are great — but so is a good team, shooting their averages.”
Help Support the California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team
Right now the Grizzlies Grizzlies are seeking donations to support their effort to attend the 2016 National Matches at Camp Perry. You can make a secure PayPal donation through the Grizzlies’ website, www.TeamGrizzlies.com.
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The NRABlog recently polled seven prominent lady shooters, asking them for tips for other lady shooting sports enthusiasts, particulary new shooters. Top female competitors such as 2016 Bianchi Cup Winner Tiffany Piper and Team S&W Co-Captain Julie Golob offer good advice on competitive shooting as well as using firearms for self-defense. Read the full article here.
Here Are Some of the Top Tips from Leading Ladies:
Tiffany Piper (Action Pistol): The best piece of advice I would give is practice makes perfect. In New Zealand, we barely get enough range time with our noise restrictions so muscle memory and technique are key.muscle memory and technique are key. Study up on shooting techniques, watch YouTube videos of other professional women shooters, and try out what you see. Don’t get intimidated thinking it’s a male’s sport[.]”
Julie Golob (Team S&W, 3-Gun and Pistol): “If something isn’t clear, just ask about it! Shooters are some of the best people you’ll ever meet, but we can be confusing and use a lot of shooter slang and lingo. When in doubt, ask!”
Tori Nonaka (Team Glock): “I always recommend to new shooters to first concentrate on the basics of gun safety. That way they will be more comfortable when they next learn about the particular gun…. Their confidence will grow as they familiarize themselves with their specific weapon. Then, it’s all about practice at the range.”
Corey Cogdell (Olympic Trap Shooter): “It’s empowering for women to know how to use a firearm in a sporting atmosphere as well as for self-defense. So if you are new to firearms, check out your local gun club and take a lesson! There you’ll find instructors and other shooting sports enthusiasts who will be more than willing to help you.”
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