August 28th, 2020

Arizona Collegiate Marksmen Teach New Shooters

University Arizona Wildgats NSSF new shooter
Top photo taken before COVID-19 pandemic. Now training is conducted with face masks and social distancing protocols as shown in lower photo.

Arizona SASP Team Introduces New Shooters With First Shots Program
The Wildgats is the University of Arizona’s talented Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) Team. The Wildgats team got its start in 2015 thanks to an NSSF grant, and now the Wildgats members are training new shooters in conjunction with the NSSF’s First Shots and +ONE initiatives. With August being declared National Shooting Sports Month, the Wildgats conducted a training session on August 22, 2020. The event was hugely successful — drawing a “full house” of 127 trainees.

“We had a 127 sign up in one hour before we could announce that it was full,” said WildGats Head Coach, Bill Perkins. “Talking to our guests, I was surprised. At our first five events, we have had about 50% new shooters. When I asked for a show of hands at our latest First Shots event, aLL the hands went up in all three groups. We also saw very high participation by women. I would guess over 80% this year.”

University Arizona Wildgats NSSF new shooter

The training sessions began with a body temperature check for health compliance. Then there was a First Shots powerpoint session followed by gun safety rules. From there, the University of Arizona WildGats athletes taught new shooters the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment, and trigger squeeze with visible laser SIRT trainers. After this instruction, First Shots participants were taken to the live fire range, receiving one-on-one guidance with a Coach, Instructor, or RSO.

The Wildgats have run First Shots events for several years. With partners Southeast Regional Park Shooting Range and Pima County Parks & Recreation, the WildGats hosted a successful event in August, 2020.

About the Wildgats SASP Team
The WildGats squad is the University of Arizona collegiate shooting team for the Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP). The team’s Facebook page declares: “We are proud to represent the University of Arizona at the collegiate level in rimfire and centerfire pistol, as well as rimfire rifle divisions. We regularly practice steel shooting in timed courses of fire, emphasizing on safety and accuracy for both beginners, intermediate, and advanced athletes. The Wildcats team members are University of Arizona students who are committed to improving their shooting skills through regular training and personal responsibility. With the same dedication we apply to our studies, we work on the fundamentals of marksmanship, seeking new ways to gain more accuracy, speed, and consistency.”

University Arizona Wildgats NSSF new shooter

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June 19th, 2020

Arizona Teen Excels at CMP Western Games Competition

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle

Report based on story by Serena Juchnowski for CMP Newsletter
This 15-year-old kid is a shooting prodigy. Young Tyler Fisher from Arizona shot superbly at the 2020 CMP Western Games Match in Phoenix (Ben Avery). His impressive marksmanship secured second place overall (and High Junior) at the Western Games M16 EIC Match. Talented Tyler shot a 383-11X, only one point short of the match winning score, a 384-9X. Impressive performance for a young man with less than two years of High Power experience!

Tyler Fisher Western Games CMP

Tyler started shooting for fun with his dad when the Fisher family settled in Arizona in 2012. “Don’t start this sport trying to compete”, Tyler said, “have fun at first”. Tyler was born in Italy, while his dad, a member of the U.S. Air Force, was stationed there. Tyler is now in his high school’s Air Force ROTC program. Tyler joined the Arizona State Rifle & Pistol Association (ASRPA) smallbore rifle program in 2018. His talent was soon recognized, and he was invited to join the Arizona Scorpions Junior High Power Rifle Team.

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle

Tyler says his AZ Scorpions teammates have really had an impact on his shooting experience: “My favorite thing are the people that I have met along the way,” he said. “My coaches have taught me everything they know, and my teammates encourage me on the way and have become great friends.” Discipline is the number one thing Tyler has taken from his training,

Tyler Fisher CMP Western Games
Can you spot Tyler on the firing line at the Western Games?

About Tyler’s High Power Equipment — White Oak Upper and Aero Precision Lower
Tyler started out with a team rifle, but his family acquired his own service rifle for him to use. This features a White Oak Armament upper with an Aero Precision lower and a Magpul UBL generation 1 stock. He uses one of the AZ Scorpion’s team Hi-Lux scopes. Tyler borrows a jacket from the team, but loves his customized David Tubb-style shooting hat with his last name and team name on its sides.

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle
Tyler Fisher (right) competes against his father, Matt Fisher (left).

Having less than two years of experience as a High Power Power competitor, Tyler is proud to represent the state of Arizona and to have earned his first four Excellence-in-Competition points at the Western CMP Games. He hopes to shoot for at least the next three years as a junior competitor and hopes to earn the Distinguished Rifleman Badge.

Tyler Still Prefers Smallbore, Though He has Excelled at Service Rifle
Though High Power is now his primary discipline, Tyler admits that he enjoys smallbore more. He finds it easier than High Power, and shooting rimfire is a “very relaxing thing to do”. Tyler is now on the last levels of the NRA/Winchester Marksmanship Qualification Program for four-position smallbore at his home club. Regardless of what discipline he is shooting, Tyler enjoys the competition.

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle
Tyler first attended the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio in 2019 as a member of the Arizona Scorpions Junior Team.

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May 23rd, 2020

2020 Berger Southwest Nationals Equipment Lists

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

The best F-Class and Sling shooters in the nation compete each year at the Berger Southwest Nationals at the Ben Avery range in Arizona. Walk down the firing line and you’ll see the absolute “best of the best” in equipment — from $3500 optics to $2000 stocks and $400 triggers. Berger SWN shooters have some of the best equipment you can buy. In this game, where just 1 or 2 points can separate first from third place (considering X-Count), it’s important to have top-flight equipment. That means a custom action, custom barrel, and high-end stock or chassis system.

Matt Schwartzkopf, a range supervisor at Ben Avery, and member of the USA F-TR Team, has collected comprehensive gear reports from the 2020 Berger SW Nationals. Matt has created charts showing competitors’ choices for Actions, Barrels, Stocks, Riflescopes and Spotting Scopes. In addition, Matt has compiled bullet choice data for all classes and Cartridge rankings for F-Open Division.

There is a discussion of the 2020 SWN Gear Selection in our Shooters’ Forum. CLICK HERE to follow that Forum thread. Many top SWN shooters, including past F-Open National Champion Larry Bartholome, have contributed to this Forum discussion about gear options.

ACTIONS Listed by Division (Sling, F-TR, F-Open)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

ACTIONS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

BARRELS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

BULLETS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

CARTRIDGE BRASS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

POWDER by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

STOCKS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

RIFLESCOPES by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

SPOTTING SCOPES Listed by Class (Sling, F-TR, F-Open)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

Cartridge Selection in F-Open Division

In addition, Matt produced an interesting listing of cartridge/caliber types for the F-Open division. This is helpful because cartridge choice is unrestricted in the F-Open class. By contrast, the F-TR division is limited to .223 Remington (5.56×45) or .308 Winchester (7.62×51). You can see that the .284 Winchester (and variants) currently dominate F-Open.

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

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May 12th, 2020

Ben Avery Range in Arizona Re-Opens May 13, 2020

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19Ben Avery Re-Opens with Online Reservations
The Ben Avery Shooting Facility (BASF) in Arizona will soon be open for business again. However some key operational changes will affect customers. To ensure public health and safety, only online reservations will be accepted and shooters must observe social distancing rules and special range guidelines. BASF will at 7:00 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Reservations canbe made online now at Bookben.azgfd.com. Ammunition and safety gear can be reserved online, as well. NOTE: Reservations cannot be canceled or rescheduled.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

At this time, the shooting facility is unable to accommodate walk-in customers on its rifle and pistol ranges, as well as the Clay Target Center (CTC). Any changes will be based on gradual reopening guidelines for businesses and customers, as outlined by the Governor’s Office.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

“BASF’s implementation of a new online reservation system is two-fold: We want to maximize the shooting opportunities that this world-class facility has to offer, while maintaining common sense health practices,” said Mike Raum, shooting sports branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Located on 1,650 acres in north Phoenix, BASF is one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities. A City of Phoenix “Point of Pride,” the facility has received a five-star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges.

Firing Line at Berger SW Nationals. Click to Zoom Image:
Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19


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May 3rd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Berger SWN F-Open Champ Jay C’s 284 Wheeler

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Report by Jay Christopherson
2020 Berger SW Nationals F-Open Champion

Team Member, Team Lapua-Brux-Borden
I’ve been shooting F-Class for about 9 years now. In fact, I shot my very first match, a 600-yard mid-range match, using a 6mm Dasher, on March 19, 2011. My first relay was a 188-4X and my overall score was 582-19X. I remember shooting a really nice group in the 9-ring, because I dialed the scope the wrong way and I shot lots of “verification” shots before making adjustments. I also remember wondering if that was a good score for that range in those mostly calm conditions (it wasn’t). I’ve tracked every match I’ve ever shot and I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve always been a competitive person and F-Class gave me an outlet to indulge both my competitiveness and my fondness for details. In what other individual sport does a thousandth of an inch (or less!) become important? Or a tenth of a grain?

Some of my greatest pleasures in this sport come not necessarily from winning a match (though I won’t turn that down), but in identifying something small in what I am doing that has a material effect on paper. Maybe it’s a tiny change in seating depth. Maybe it’s a slightly modified strategy for making wind calls. Maybe it’s a tiny position or hold change. Whatever it is, when it works, there’s no better feeling.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I have a full-time job to go with this hobby, so finding the time for productive training is difficult. You have to really plan ahead to maximize the time you spend reloading, developing loads, and training at the range. To that end, I invest a lot of time in reducing the things that I do at the loading bench. I load ammo on a progressive press, though modified to produce ammo to my standards. I don’t clean brass. I don’t do a lot of things that most shooters would call traditional in the loading room. Because frankly, I don’t have the time between family, work, and other interests.

If it doesn’t make a difference on paper, I mostly don’t do it. Still, there are one or two loading habits I’m trying to get rid of. I also pre-seat all my ammo for matches — whatever I show up at the match with, is what I have. I don’t clean my rifle between days at the match. I had well over 200 rounds without cleaning by the time the last shot was fired at the 2020 SWN. It took a lot of time for me to get comfortable with that. That works for what I do, but I wouldn’t dare try it with any other loads or rifles, at least, not without a lot of testing to be comfortable. My original 6MM Dasher shooting Reloder 15 couldn’t go that many rounds without cleaning and building up a carbon ring. Unfortunately, I learned a tough lesson on that one my first year.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profileI do all my own gunsmithing, including chambering, bedding, and stock work. I’m no Keith Weil, Alex Wheeler, or some of those other guys, but I feel pretty good about the work I do. I know that when there’s a mistake or imperfection, it’s MY mistake and I can live with that. I like to keep things as minimal as possible, so I shoot off a SEB Mini (no mods) and SEB rear bag.

I also shoot with a spotting scope at Long Range, using a Kowa TSN-663 with 25X LER eyepiece and a relatively new spotting scope stand by Rod Brakhage who is a fine F-Class shooter himself. I really like how smooth and adjustable it is on the ground compared to some other rigs I’ve used.

The 284 Wheeler — Slightly Modified .284 Win
This year at the SWN, I shot a 284 Wheeler, which is a straight .284 Win that has some small modifications designed by Alex Wheeler. I think that the work and experimentation that Alex does with reamer design really shows up on paper. In 2019 I was testing the reamer in a couple barrels, looking for the right load. I shot some great relays and team practices with it that year, but this was the first time I brought enough ammo to shoot the entire week with it. Coupled with Berger’s 7MM 180 grain Hybrid Target bullets which I point to increase BC consistency, and Lapua brass, it’s an effective combination. In particular, the brass has lasted me for 13 firings with no signs of fatigue, so I expect I’ll be able to use it at Worlds in 2021 and beyond.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I also shot the entire 2020 SWN with a Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm scope, my preferred scope for individual matches. It’s a rock-solid reliable scope in my experience, with a great eye box, reliable and repeatable mechanical controls. The Vortex ECR-1 reticle has quickly become my favorite reticle. All four of my Open rifles are built on Borden BRMXD actions, Brux barrels, and sitting in X-Ring F-Open stocks, which are Robertson clones (more on that below). I’ve tried to make each of my rifles as much of an identical clone as possible.

I am not sponsored by anyone as an individual shooter, only through team sponsorship with Lapua-Brux-Borden. Which means that for individual matches, I am free to use what I think gives me the best opportunity to win for individual matches. In practice, the only difference tends to be the scope that I use, as mentioned above.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Jay Christopherson F-Open Rifle Specifications:
Cartridge: 284 Wheeler (variant of .284 Winchester)
Optics: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm
Stock: X-Ring F-Open Stock with R.A.D.
Barrel: Brux 1:9″-twist, 32″-long barrel
Action: Borden BRMXD action
Trigger: Flavio Fare

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Q: What was your biggest challenge at the 2020 Berger SWN?

Jay: The biggest challenge for me at this year’s SWN was purely mental. At past SWN matches where I had done well, I was trying to focus on not thinking about the different things going on around me. Where I was ranked on the score sheet. How well other shooters were doing. How many points or Xs I was ahead (or behind). Being worried about conditions or whether my ammo would hold up. And so on. And sooner or later, I think those things break your focus.

Going into a relay calculating the points or Xs that you can’t afford to drop is a recipe for losing. It’s like trying NOT to picture a pink elephant with purple dots when somebody challenges you try to not think of a pink elephant with purple dots. In previous SWN events, I came up just short three times in a row, for one reason or another. So, in 2020 I went in with a mental game plan.

Mental Game Plan — Envisioning Success
I pictured what it would take to be successful and what winning would feel like. First relays, then days, and then the match. I started that process months before the match actually happened. I thought about who I was shooting against and how much pressure there was to make every shot count. I thought about how I had performed or reacted in similar situations in the past. And I planned out what I would do and how I would handle those things. I strived to be neither negative nor positive — I wanted to be neutral. I wanted to be ready to win, instead of being surprised by it.

Q: What gear/hardware items give you an edge over the competition?

Jay: There’s no single piece of gear that I can think of that gives someone an edge over somebody else. It all sort of works — it’s more about being consistent with whatever hardware you have. But one piece of new gear that I tried out at the SWN was a single-piece scope mount called the Alphamount (photo below), by Richard Near of NEAR Manufacturing.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I think scope mounts are the most overlooked piece of equipment in F-Class right now — whether they be improperly aligned, improperly torqued, or just plain junk. I think people put a lot of blame on their scopes that can be traced back to mounts. The Alphamount (and single-piece mounts in general) are something that I believe in now, having done a lot of testing. It worked out OK for me at the SWN.

Action for Back-Up Rifle Is Glued and Screwed into Stock
One of the new things I am trying this year is a “glue and screw” action set-up. At the 2019 US F-Class Nationals in Raton, we got rained on a little and when I pulled my rifle apart, I found water between the bedding and action (the bedding is about 2 years old). At the SWN, I found that something had moved enough that I could torque the front action screw and bind the bolt. Not good, but luckily this was my backup rifle that I shot for Mid-Range (badly) and not my lead rifle. There could have been stock movement or other factors as well, but there was no question the bedding had shrunk when I stuck a dial indicator on it and found that my pillars were now standing proud.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Some people had been goading me to try a “glue-and-screw” procedure. Since I had nothing better to do during the COVID-19 lockdown, I pulled out the Dremel, scuffed up the action and bedding, removed the recoil lug, and glued the action into the stock. I’ve had it out a couple times since and it seems to be shooting well, but we’ll see how it holds up and what sort of difference it might make as time goes on.

Q: What is your advice to newcomers in F-Class and Long Range competition?

Jay: Find a nemesis. Someone local who puts in the same effort that you do and is as competitive as you are. Be friends, share info, but work your behind off to make sure you win on match day. I guarantee you someone reading this knows what I’m talking about. The best thing you can do is have someone who pushes you to perform better each time out. You love to win against them, but not as much as you hate to lose to them.

Q: What do you like most about Long Range and F-Class competition?

Jay: I like the challenge of F-Class — it’s a nice blend of working to get the most out of your equipment and the most out of yourself as a shooter. You can have the greatest shooting rifle in the world and it won’t matter a bit if you can’t be consistent pulling the trigger or making good wind calls. By the same token, you can be the greatest wind caller and most consistent trigger puller in the world — but it won’t matter a bit if you can’t wring the best possible performance out of your rifle for that tiny little target at 1000 yards. I like Long Range because everything is magnified — there are rarely easy shots.

Q: What do you prefer, individual events or team matches?

Jay: Team matches. No contest. Most of the reason I travel to matches is for the team events. But just throwing together a team of great individual shooters is not enough to consistently win. You have to operate as a team, which at times means subsuming your own individual goals for the good of the team. I’ve gone into big matches knowing that my team rifle is my best rifle by a mile — but knowing that the best thing for the team’s current and future success is for me to not burn that barrel out (or burning up known good components) in the individual events. And that’s fine with me. Being part of a team of shooters with the same goal, with the same drive, the same focus on team rather than individual — and able to deliver the goods — that’s the reason why I do this.

Team Lapua Brux Borden

Q: What kind of stock do you use and how does it behave?

Jay: I use an X-Ring Open stock, which is basically a Robertson clone. I’ve been using X-Ring for about 4 years now. I’ve been through a lot of different stocks to find the one that fits me and the way I like to shoot, and X-Ring has done that for me. There’s a lot of focus recently on lowering the center of gravity and extending the stock length through various methods to solve problems like torque, jump, etc. — those are just problems that I don’t experience or, at least, that don’t bother me while I’m shooting. So, I don’t tend to worry about them. The X-Ring fits nicely and runs very well in the bags that I use. I do think that you have to spend some time finding the right bag setup for the stock you are using. I have at least 9 different rear bags that I have tested at one time or another until I settled on my current bag.

Q: Do you have any specific Gun Handling Tips for F-Open shooters?

Jay: As for gun handling, I prefer a light hold — my cheek indexes off the stock with a very light touch and my trigger hand indexes off the stock also with a light touch so that I have a consistent trigger finger position. What I do is in the style of “free recoil”, but is NOT fully “free recoil”, since I DO lightly touch the stock. For the butt, I run the R.A.D. recoil reducer at its lowest setting, which means that I can barely touch off for indexing purposes and still not interrupt the recoil pulse because the R.A.D. absorbs it. This was a suggestion that Will McCloskey made to me a couple years ago in place of leaving space.

This video, from a past Berger SWN, illustrates Jay Christopherson’s shooting style. He employs a very light touch on the gun. The front rest is a SEB Mini. If this Facebook video doesn’t load, CLICK HERE.

My hold for F-Class has evolved over time into what it is now. There are lots of successful shooters that are using varying degrees of holds, from light to hard. Again, It all sort of works — the most important part is that whatever you do is consistent and repeatable, hence my touch points that ensure my head, shoulder, and trigger finger are in the same position every time. There are shooters out there that will rant about “the fundamentals of shooting” and insist that your legs have to be a certain way, your cheek has to be a certain way, your breathing has to be done a certain way. I’m sure that’s valid for what they do and I’m fine with them looking down on me for it, but I do what produces results for me. For certain, my position and hold when shooting sling is completely different. All it means is that you have to be prepared to adapt.

PARTING SHOT — Have Guns, Will Travel

Here is one of Jay’s other F-Open Rifles. When traveling he separates the stock from the barreled action. He uses a custom-cut foam piece that holds the components very securely. Note the separate slots for barreled action, stock, scope (in rings), bolt assembly, and spotting scope.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

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April 14th, 2020

CMP Western Games a Success Despite Shortened Schedule

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

Here’s some good news about rifle shooters enjoying an early March competition before Executive Orders forced people to stay at home. We can report that the first-ever springtime CMP Western Games were well-attended. Nearly 300 shooters enjoyed the event, though the High Power matches and clinic phase was cancelled due to official social distancing mandates.

By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
With the first run in its new March time slot, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) annual Western CMP Games and HP Rifle Matches event was met with greatly-increased registration and attendance compared to recent years, despite social distance restrictions that led to a premature end to the event.

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

Competitors completed the entire schedule of CMP Games rifle events and schools at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility under brilliant Arizona skies and comfortable temperatures. Unfortunately, the 5-day CMP High Power Rifle Matches and clinic, scheduled in the second half of the schedule, were cancelled due to health concerns — “social distancing” mandates for participants and staff.

CMP Western Games Arizona phoenix

The Western CMP Games portion of the event held in Phoenix is one of many travel events conducted by the CMP across the country each year. It includes specially designed vintage and modern rifle matches and clinics affording opportunities for marksmanship enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels.

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

A spike in early registration of 283 participants led to an impressive number of 664 scheduled event entries for the early Spring event in Phoenix. Since its first Arizona appearance in 2008, the Western CMP Games events have been conducted in the month of October. Due to recurring inclement weather at the CMP’s annual Oklahoma Games, the decision was made to trade seasons with those in Arizona beginning in 2020.

Here are some photo highlights from the 2020 CMP Western Games. View hundreds more Western Games images on the CMP Zenfolio Photo Archive.

Vintage Sniper Match

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

Marksmanship 101 Training and M16 Match

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

Rimfire Sporter Match

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

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March 16th, 2020

Challenging Conditions at 2020 Cactus Classic in Arizona

Arizona is warm, dry, and sunny right? Well not always. This past weekend, rain fell in droves on the Friday practice day for the 2020 Cactus Classic 100/200 yard Benchrest event. Yes, it was Friday the 13th! But then the rain clouds receded, and visitors were greeted to a stunning rainbow.


Rainbow photo by Michelle Gallagher.

The two-day match got underway on March 14th in relatively dry but windy conditions. That created challenging conditions for the competitors — even with windflags set up to show wind velocity and angles.

One of the best matches of the year, the Cactus Classic attracts many of the nation’s top “point-blank” shooters. These aces compete with 10.5-lb Light Varmint and 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint rifles, nearly all chambered for the 6PPC cartridge. Many shooters run their LVs in HV classes as well, for simplicity (and to save money — one rifle costs less than two). In this game, the vast majority of shooters load at the range between relays. That lets them tune their loads to the condition — something that can help when you’re trying to shoot tiny dots.

Cactus Classic Benchrest LV HV Ben Avery Phoenix Berger

With all the interest in F-Class, PRS, and ELR, we sometimes forget that plenty of folks are still competiting in Short-Range Benchrest disciplines, with standards of accuracy we can only envy. For a PRS shooter, a good 100-yard, five-shot group would be half-MOA. For a benchrest shooter, a good group at 100 would be in the “Ones”. That’s smaller than 0.200″ center to center for five shots. And the small group of a Relay is often in the “Zeros”.


Conditions were wet on Friday the 13th before the 2020 Cactus Classic.

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February 17th, 2020

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden — Big Winners at Berger SW Nationals

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod Hendricks

Dominators — that’s what these blue-shirted guys were at the 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). For the third straight year, Team Lapua-Brux-Borden won the coveted F-Open Team Grand Aggregate award at the Berger Southwest Nationals, finishing with a score of 2584-160X (out of a possible 2600). And Team Member Jay Christopherson (AccurateShooter’s System Admin) won the F-Open Overall title, while Team Member Tod Hendricks won the 600-yard Mid-Range Event. Mighty impressive…

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod Hendricks

Team members are Jay Christopherson, David Christian, Tod Hendricks, Pat Scully, and Jeremy Smith (alternate), with Bob Sebold serving as Coach and Erik Cortina as Captain. Remarkably Jay (1247-83X), Pat (1247-72X), and Tod (1245-81X) placed first, second, and third respectively in the F-Open Grand Aggregate individual awards. That’s right, three team-mates secured ALL the podium places. And all three were separated by only two points!

Record-Setting Performances by Team
Notably Team Lapua-Brux-Borden established a new Ben Avery range record along the way to winning the Palma Team Match with a score of 1791-113 (out of a possible 1800). We’re told that the Team’s 793-47X LR score was also a new match record. Jay set a LR Aggregate Record with 799-50X, while Tod set a LR individual relay record of 200-18X.

Berger SW Nationals 2020
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden — Winning “Team First” Philosophy
Commentary by Jay Christopherson
For Team Lapua-Borden-Brux, winning gold is the entire focus. To that end, ego is the only enemy. Sure, we all have egos as individual shooters, but as a team, ego is subsumed into that one overriding goal. If you can’t do that, then you can’t shoot on Lapua-Borden-Brux. No matter how good you think your rifle is or how well you are shooting individually, the coach is the only arbiter — no exceptions. Every job on the team is focused towards that single goal of gold and no job is more or less important than another. Our plotter saves points by spotting high or low trends and calling that out, and ensuring we don’t lose points when a scorer misses a shot. Our back-coach saves points by spotting upcoming condition changes or making observations. Our target-puller strives to provide an example of the best possible target service. And our scorer focuses on providing attentive service to the team next to us. A failure in one job is a failure in all and we either win or lose together as a team. That is only possible when each individual understands that there is only one goal.

The Berger Southwest Nationals, hosted by the Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club, took place February 5-9, 2020 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ with a sold-out roster of 400 competitors. America’s biggest rifle match west of the Mississippi, the Southwest Nationals is a “must-attend” event for long-range shooters competing in F-Open, F-TR, and Sling disciplines. Competitors from at least nine different countries were in attendance. The Grand Aggregate is the total score from firing points of 600, 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod HendricksPraise from Team Captain
“I am very proud of the team”, stated Team Captain, Erik Cortina: “From setting a new range record to placing first in the F-Open Grand Aggregate, our success is directly attributed to Lapua’s premium components.”

About Lapua — Premium Brass, Bullets, and Ammunition
Lapua produces the highest-quality small caliber cartridges and components for civilian and professional use. Lapua is a part of the Capstone Precision Group, exclusive U.S. distributor for Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori, and SK-Rimfire products. For more information, visit Lapua.com.

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February 5th, 2020

Berger Southwest Nationals Event Commences Today in Phoenix

Berger SW Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery 2020 F-Class F-Open F-TR

The 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals, one of the biggest (and best) rifle competitions of the year, kicks off Wednesday, February 5, 2019 at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. The big match continues through Sunday, February 9th. This match attracts the top F-Class and sling shooters in the country, along with many talented foreign competitors. See Desert Sharpshooters SWN Facebook Page.

Here’s a state-of-the-art F-Open rig with sleek, low-profile, Speedy-designed Shurley Brothers stock:
2020 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN

Talk to the competitors and many will tell your that the SWN is their favorite match of the year. For those in Northern states, the chance to enjoy some Arizona sunshine is a big draw, along with the quality of the competition, and the camaraderie.

Berger 2020 SW Nationals

The 2020 Berger SWN event commences today with a Mid-Range, 600-yard Match:

berger southwest nationals F-Class 2020 Ben Avery Mid-Range Berger SWN

Capstone Precision Group Makes This Event Possible
The Berger SW Nationals are made possible through the principal support of Berger Bullets and Lapua, both part of the Capstone Precision Group, which also distributes Vihtavuori powder and SK Ammunition in the USA. Berger and Lapua both generously donate prizes for 2020 SWN competitors.

Berger SW Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery 2020 F-Class F-Open F-TR

Bird’s Eye Ben Avery — A Look at the Range

If you’ve never visited the Ben Avery Facility north of Phoenix, Arizona, here is a video shot in 2016 that shows the 1000-yard range (including drone footage). The desert range at Ben Avery is something special — check out this “birds-eye view”. This video also includes an interview with Derek Rodgers, F-TR World Champion, King of 2 Miles, and the only man who who has earned both F-Open AND F-TR USA National titles.

Event Schedule for 2020 Berger SWN

Wednesday, 5 February 2020, 9:00 AM
Mid-Range Match – Three 20-shot matches at 600 yards. (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)

Thursday, 6 February 2020, 9:00 AM
4-Man Palma Team Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divisions – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)

Friday, 7 February 2020, 8:30 AM – Start of Grand Agg
Individual Palma Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divs – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)
Swap Meet at 1000-Yard Line after conclusion of Day’s Match

Saturday, 8 February 2020, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
4 Man Team Match – 20 shots at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Banquet Dinner – Approximately 5:00 pm at Indoor Range.

Sunday, 9 February 2020, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Any Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Awards Ceremony at the Indoor Range.

Sling Shooters in Palma Division
For the Palma division, the cartridge of choice is the .308 Winchester (7.62.x51). This versatile cartridge is still capable of extreme accuracy. Never underestimate a skilled sling shooter with a good Palma rifle. Below is multi-time NRA National Long-Range Champion John Whidden in action. John’s rifle features a centerfire action in an aluminum Anschutz small-bore stock.

John Whidden Berger 2020 SW Nationals

CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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October 15th, 2019

Wind Wisdom from Experts Bryan Litz and Emil Praslick III

Wind reading coaching bryan litz Ben Avery Phoenix wind video

Wind effects are complex. In trying to access wind speeds and angles, you’ll want to watch multiple indicators — mirage, dust, wind-flags, grass movement, and more. You’ll also need to be concerned about wind cycles. In the video below, Bryan Litz talks about variable wind speed along a bullet’s flight path. A respected ballistics guru, Bryan is the founder of Applied Ballistics and a designer of Berger’s Hybrid Match projectiles. He is also a past F-TR National Champion and a High Master Palma ace.

In this video, Bryan discusses how wind effects can vary in intensity at different points along the bullet’s flight path to the target. Sometimes the firing line is sheltered, and the strongest winds come into effect in the middle of the trajectory. Bryan concludes: “Wind matters everywhere … but the best thing you can do is try to get a handle on the wind [velocity and angle] where you are. That may or may not represent the wind down-range — that’s when you have to look downrange and make a judgment[.]”

Litz Competition Tip: 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.

More Wind Tips from Wind Wizard Emil Praslick
In these two short videos, Emil Praslick III, former coach of the USAMU and USA National long range teams, explains how to find the wind direction and how to confirm your no-wind zero. Praslick is widely considered to be one of the best wind coaches in the USA.

When Winds Are EXTREME — Near Gale Force at Ben Avery

This video shows INSANE winds at NBRSA 100/200 Benchrest Nationals. This was filmed at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, AZ during the recent NBRSA 100/200 yard National Championships. Extreme to say the least. Based on what we’re seeing here, there are 20-25 mph crosswinds, with gusts to 35 mph — near Gale Force. Video by Hall-of-Fame Benchrest competitor Gene Bukys.

Texas gunsmith Mike Bryant reports: “This video shows the Unlimited Class 200 at the Nationals in Phoenix. I had three 10-shot groups in the low 2″ range with a 2.228″ being my big group and was glad they weren’t bigger. Thursday and Friday were the worst of the windy days. Unfortunately those were the days for the UL 200 and it was about as windy through most all of the Sporter 200.”

Excellent Wind Reading Resource

The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters covers techniques and tactics used by expert wind-readers. The authors provide a wind-reading “toolbox” for calculating wind speed, direction, deflection and drift. They explain how to read flags and mirage, record and interpret your observations, and time your shots to compensate for wind. Here are two reviews:

This is a must-have book if you are a long-range sport shooter. I compete in F-Class Open and when read it from cover to cover, it helped me understand wind reading and making accurate scope corrections. Buy this book, read it, put into practice what it tells you, you will not be disappointed. — P. Janzso

If you have one book for wind reading, this should be it. It covers how to get wind speed/direction from flags, mirage, and natural phenomenon. This is the best book for learning to read wind speed and direction. — Muddler

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March 16th, 2019

Lady Scorpion — Marksmanship Builds Confidence and Focus

Arizona Junior Shooter Madison Rovelli Lady Scorpion black belt pilot
Madison Rovelli shoots in competition with the Arizona Scorpions Junior Team

We like to showcase young shooters — as these young people are the future of our sport. This article features a talented Arizona shooter, Madison Rovelli, a 17-year-old member of the Arizona Scorpions team. Over the last four years Madison has become one of Arizona’s top junior high power shooters. Here’s the story of how she developed in the sport. Madison says her marksmanship training has boosted her confidence and focus, with positive results for her academics and other activities.

Marksmanship Builds Confidence
Rovelli cites confidence as the primary thing she has learned from marksmanship. She states that, “believing in yourself is important when you’re on the firing [line]. Shooting is a mental game that often challenges self-confidence, and it has only made me a stronger person.”

Madison outlines the tenants of what marksmanship has taught her: safety, responsibility, patience, and confidence. Firearm safety is always of utmost importance, but Rovelli indicated that shooting has made her more situationally aware than she was previously.

Arizona Junior Feature: Madison Rovelli
Report based on sotryy Serena Juchnowski, CMP Feature Writer

Madison Rovelli of the Arizona State Junior High Power Rifle Team discovered one of her passions by asking. Madison explained: “When I was 13, I begged my parents to take me to Ben Avery Shooting Facility since I had never been, and it looked so cool. While we were there, my mother asked the Range Safety Officers if they had any junior shooter programs.”

After attending an open house hosted by the Arizona Scorpions Junior High Power squad, Rovelli received an invitation to join the team. Fast forward three years and Rovell is still “very grateful to her coaches for seeing potential in her.” Though she did not join the Arizona Scorpions until she was 13, she enjoyed casual shooting with family and friends since the age of nine.

Arizona Junior Shooter Madison Rovelli Lady Scorpion black belt pilot

Advice for New Shooters
Madison Rovelli says young shooters shouldn’t worry at the start — everyone begins as a novice: “Do not join shooting sports thinking that you do not have what it takes to be like the top shooters that you’ve seen or heard about. Every top shooter started at the bottom; you are no different. As long as you take good advice from other competitors, try different positions (when you need to), practice quite often, and believe in yourself; you can become a top shooter”.

One reason Madison loves shooting is the camaraderie: “Competitive shooters are the friendliest, tightest knit group of people that I have ever met. Shooting is the only sport, that I know of, where your competition will come to your aid when needed and help you to become a stronger, better shooter.”

Arizona Junior Shooter Madison Rovelli Lady Scorpion black belt pilotShe has taken on increased responsibilities as she has been with the Scorpions team, “loading her own ammo, cleaning and taking care of her rifle and equipment.” She admits that she is not, by nature, a patient individual, and comments, “I learned the hard way, but the wind isn’t always your friend so you need to slow down and roll with it,” referring to spending the time to read the wind and conditions rather than just shooting through it.

Madison Rovelli Is Working for Black Belt
and Private Pilot’s License

Madison keeps busy playing volleyball for her local public high school and as a Brown Belt and Student Instructor in Krav Maga self-defense, working towards her Black Belt. She also is studying for her private pilot’s license. Even with so many ambitions, Rovelli notes that “I can’t think of anything else that I want to do more than shoot”.

In return for all of the help she has received, Rovelli hopes to give back in the future by returning to the Arizona Scorpions team to coach, to “carry on this great legacy”. First, though, she plans to get her pilot’s license and attend a military academy.

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February 21st, 2019

Ireland vs. USA — 2019 Creedmoor Cup Competition

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

The Creedmoor Cup is an historic challenge match between American and Irish marksmen. The first match was held in in 1874 between American and Irish Teams in Creedmoor, New York. (Read Match History). The Match was revived in 2011 and is now held every four years.

In 2019, the match was held this week at the Ben Avery Range in Arizona, following the Berger Southwest Nationals. It proved to be a great match, with Team USA coming out on top. Erik Cortina stated: “What a great experience this has been. Team USA won the 2019 Creedmoor cup vs Ireland. It had been over 100 years since match was shot in the United States. Glad to see this tradition continue.”

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Congrats to the Members of Winning Team USA:

F-TR Riflemen
Alan Barnhart
Ellis Berry
David Conrath
Tracy Hogg
Ian Klemm
Matthew Schwartzkopf
Ed Shelley
Keith Trapp
F-Open Riflemen
Larry Bartholome
Erik Cortina
Ken Dickerman
David Gosnell
Rick Jensen
Jim Murphy
Pat Scully
Keith Weil
Coaches
Kent Reeve (Head Coach)
James Crofts
Scott Fulmer
Bob Seabold
Nancy Tompkins
Team Staff
Captain Phil Kelley
Vice-Captain Dan Bramley
Adjutant Stephen Ireland

Team USA Captain Phil Kelly told us this was a great match: “USA wins the Creedmoor Cup in a great competition with Team Ireland! Two days of cold and windy conditions challenged both 16-shooter teams. Final ceremonies included Native American dancers and great camaraderie among all the competitors. Thank you to all from Team Ireland who made the trip! The best of competitors and friends.” Phil added: “Special thanks to additional Creedmoor Committee members including Michelle Gallagher, Pete Ricci, and Mark Walker. We look forward to the next gathering in four years. Safe travels all.”

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Nancy Tompkins looks down-range. With the wind-chill, competitors and coaches dressed warm.
Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Not Your Typical Warm Arizona Days at Ben Avery
There were variable conditions at the match — first easy, then tough. USA Captain Phil Kelley reported: “On Day 1 of the 2-day match, things started good then got tougher. The morning and 800-yard line saw 34° and light winds leading to high scores.

That changed as the 16-shooter teams made their way to the 900-yard line as sun, moderate wind and building mirage hit the range providing more challenging conditions.

After an excellent lunch both teams were in for a challenge. Winds of 12-16 mph with constant angle changes and surging mirage made communications and coordination among five coaches critical. The wind chill also dropped as teams stayed on the line for the majority of allotted time.”

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

The First-Ever Creedmoor Challenge Match in 1874
The Irish International Shooting team arrived in New York on the 16th of September and proceeded to “take in the sights”, which was understandable, before some practice at the Creedmoor range. On September 26th they presented themselves for the match with confidence and in high spirits. The crowds that day were reported to be between 5,000 and 10,000 strong, which showed the huge support already growing for the fledgling sport in America.

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

The course of fire was 15 shots to each man at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Unfortunately, the details of each mans scores at the individual distances have been lost to time but we do know that the Americans were well ahead after the 800-yard shoot. The Irish then caught up after the 900-yard and finished the 1000-yard shoot ahead by 1 point. The Americans still had one man left to shoot and it came down to his very last shot with which he scored a 4 giving the American team the win over the Irish by 3 points.

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Post-Competition Camaraderie and “Craic” at the Pub
“Craic” is an Irish term referring to positive interaction among people through conversation, stories, and music. The Craic was strong after the 2019 Creedmoor Match.

Desert Sharpshooters posted: “The ‘Craic’ is amazing tonight with the Irish rifle team to finish the Creedmoor. Thank you to the USA team members that came out tonight to show the Irish a good time. This is truely what the Creedmoor Cup is about, Friendship and good times.”

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February 12th, 2019

How to Avoid a Train Wreck at the Berger SW Nationals

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

Today is Day One of the Berger Southwest Nationals, at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, AZ. There will be a 600-yard mid-range match. Many of the nation’s most talented F-Class and sling shooters will be there. But no matter what your skill level, it is still possible to make major mistakes, that can spoil the day and/or put you out of the running for the entire match.

Berger SW Nationals mid-range match
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Berger SW Nationals mid-range match

In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, past 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.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC.

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.

Berger SW Nationals
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

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.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

[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.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. 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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February 11th, 2019

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals — This Week in Arizona

The 2019 Berger Southwest Nationals, one of the biggest (and best) rifle competitions of the year, kicks off Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. The big match continues through Sunday, February 17th. This match attracts the top F-Class and sling shooters in the country, along with many talented foreign competitors.

Talk to the competitors and many will tell your that the SWN is their favorite match of the year. For those in Northern states, the chance to enjoy some Arizona sunshine is a big draw, along with the quality of the competition, and the camaraderie.

berger southwest nationals Berger SWN

The Berger SW Nationals are made possible through the principal support of Berger Bullets and Lapua, both part of the Capstone Precision Group, which also distributes Vihtavuori powder and SK Ammunition in the USA. Berger and Lapua both generously donated product prizes for 2019 SWN competitors.

Berger SW Nationals

Here’s a cool video from the 2016 Berger SW Nationals. This includes drone footage of the range:

Berger SW Nationals 2019

Berger SW Nationals 2019

Berger SW Nationals Southwest Arizona

Event Schedule for 2019 Berger SWN

Wednesday, 13 February 2019, 9:00 AM
Mid-Range Match – Three 20-shot matches at 600 yards. (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)

Thursday, 14 February 2019, 9:00 AM
4-Man Palma Team Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divisions – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)

Friday, 15 February 2019, 8:30 AM – Start of Grand Agg
Individual Palma Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divisions – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)
Swap Meet at 1000 Yard Line after conclusion of Day’s Match

Saturday, 16 February 2019, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
4 Man Team Match – 20 shots at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Banquet Dinner – Approximately 5:00 pm at Indoor Range.

Sunday, 17 February 2019, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Any Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Awards Ceremony at the Indoor Range.

Sling Shooters in Palma Division
There will be many Eliseo tubeguns in the hands of the sling shooters. For the Palma division, the cartridge of choice is the .308 Winchester (7.62.x51). This versatile cartridge is still capable of extreme accuracy. Never underestimate a skilled sling shooter with a good Palma rifle.

Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN

Click image to see full-screen panorama.

CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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Packing for the Match — Protecting Precious Cargo

Forum member David Christian will be attending the Berger SW Nationals this week. He has an impressive new F-Open rig and a top-flight SEB rest to bring. David’s Open-class rifle features a beautiful laminated stock, with Borden action and Kahles optic. With rest, and spotting scope, you’re looking at $6K easy, so David has packed his gear very carefully:

Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN
Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN
Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN

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October 16th, 2018

Western CMP Cup and CMP Games Start Today in Phoenix

CMP Western Games Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona

The 2018 Western CMP Cup and CMP Games Event kicked off today at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. The event runs through Monday, October 22, 2018. For 2018 the CMP takes over what were the Creedmoor Cup Matches, and all matches will now follow CMP High Power Rifle Competition Rules. Notably, this year the Cup and Games matches on the High Power range will be fired on the CMP’s electronic targets. That means less time in the pits, and faster cyeling of relay. Also new this year, the CMP will be adding more smallbore events at Ben Avery. Click HERE for full schedule of events.

Western CMP Cup/Games Program | Cup/Games Entry Form | Online Registration

CMP Western Games

The CMP Cup Matches include two CMP 1000 Aggregate Matches followed by a 4-Man Team Match and an EIC Service Rifle Match. Following the CMP Cup Matches will be the CMP Games Matches, which will include Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), Garand/Springfield/Vintage/Modern Military Matches, Carbine Match, Rimfire Sporter match and Vintage Sniper Team Match.

In past years, Dennis DeMille, former Creedmoor Sports General Manager, served as an instructor for the Small Arms Firing School at the Western Games. Below, Dennis shows a young competitor at the CMP Western Games how to adjust his leather sling.

Dennis DeMille Creedmoor Sports Rifle Sling video training set-up

Sling Shooting Tip — The Benefits of Leather
“Many shooters shy away from using a leather sling because they have never been taught how to use one. That’s unfortunate. A leather sling offers more support than a web sling, which is important when competing with the heavier than normal rifles.” — Dennis DeMille

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
Once you set up your sling properly, you’ll need practice. Dennis DeMille stresses the importance of dry-fire practice with sling and shooting coat. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines. DeMille, a past National Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

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September 22nd, 2018

Shooting Range Locator Maps Ranges Around the Country

Desert Tech Range locator mapping tool map

Looking for places to shoot — out to 1000 yards and beyond? Well the folks at Desert Tech have created a very powerful web-based, Range Locator System. Simply type in town name or Zip Code, and the Desert Tech Range Locator plots the nearest ranges on a Google Map interface. Use plus/minus controls to zoom in and out. This handy, online mapping tool includes thousands of shooting ranges, with max target distances for each. As Shooting Sports USA explains, you can find “the exact mileage and directions to the range, then call the contact for information about hours and protocol. Pretty simple.”

Desert Tech Range locator mapping tool map

How to Use Range Locator
All ranges are marked with “ice cream cone”-shaped markers. Ranges which allow shooting at 500 yards or greater have orange icons. Other ranges limited to shorter distances are marked in blue. When you click on a range icon, the name, address, phone number, and website are displayed. Simply click on the web link to get more info.

SEE RANGE LOCATOR HERE »

NOTE: The system works remarkably well. This Range Locator is our first stop when we are looking for a rifle range in another part of the country. The connection with Google Maps makes this database way more user-friendly than other options. In seconds, you can find rifle ranges anywhere in the nation, including those that specialize in Long Range, and Extreme Long Range shooting. If you are traveling to a shooting match, this will also help you get to your destination. Many undeveloped shooting ranges may not show on your GPS or on AAA maps.

Are there shortcomings? Yes — there are some notable omissions. We searched the Phoenix, Arizona area, and for some reason the Ben Avery Shooting Facility did not show up. Considering that Ben Avery may be the most important outdoor range West of the Rockies, that’s troublesome. That just shows the range locator needs some updates. Overall it is still very impressive. See Ben Avery Map Omission.

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September 19th, 2018

Western CMP Cup and CMP Games at Ben Avery October 16-22

CMP Western Games Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona

The 2018 Western CMP Cup and CMP Games Event will be held October 16-22 at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. For 2018 the CMP takes over what were the Creedmoor Cup Matches, and all matches will now follow CMP High Power Rifle Competition Rules. Notably, this year the Cup and Games matches on the High Power range will be fired on the CMP’s electronic targets. That means less time in the pits, and faster cyeling of relay. Also new this year, the CMP will be adding more smallbore events at Ben Avery. Click HERE for full schedule of events.

Western CMP Cup/Games Program | Cup/Games Entry Form | Online Registration

The CMP Cup Matches include two CMP 1000 Aggregate Matches followed by a 4-Man Team Match and an EIC Service Rifle Match. Following the CMP Cup Matches will be the CMP Games Matches, which will include Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), Garand/Springfield/Vintage/Modern Military Matches, Carbine Match, Rimfire Sporter match and Vintage Sniper Team Match.

CMP Western Games Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona

All Competitors firing on the High Power range will be firing on Kongsberg Electronic Targets (KTS). The KTS system registers each shot and relays the location and score value to a monitor beside each shooter on the firing line. CLICK HERE for Electronic Target Scoring Rules.

CMP Western Games

M1 Carbine Match is always very popular.
CMP Western Games

There will be shade for the Rimfire Sporter Match, at least during the prone stage.
CMP Western Games

Eye, Ear, and Cranial (Sun) Protection

CMP Western Games

Vintage Sniper Rifle Match competitors try to keep cool
CMP Western Games

A Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) will be held on Friday, October 19, 2018.
CMP Western Games

In 2014, two competitors sported vintage U.S. Marine Corps uniforms. Semper Fi!
CMP Western GamesCMP Western Games

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September 19th, 2018

CMP Western Games and GAP Grind PRS on Shooting USA

GAP Grind G.A. Precision Precision PRS CMP Western Games

Shooting USA will broadcast a great episode today, September 19, 2018. There are three segments worth watching. First the TV show spotlights the popular GAP Grind, a Pro-Am PRS event at the K&M Precision complex in Tennessee. Then this episode covers the CMP Western Games at Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. Finally John Scoutten reviews two new 6.5 Creedmoor Savage rifles.

AIR TIMES — NOTE possible changes this week during the Outdoor Channel’s Deer Week promotion. Check Outdoor Channel TV listings in your cable menu. Shooting USA Episode normally airs Wednesdays at 9:00 PM Eastern and Pacific, and 8:00 PM Central.

Part One: GAP Grind Pro-Am PRS Match

Lots of Action, with 20+ Stages
The GAP Grind, the biggest PRS match in the country, is a notoriously challenging, “high tempo” match with minimal down-time between stages. Over the course of 20+ stages, competitors will fire 200+ shots at a variety of steel, paper, moving, and reactive targets out to 1,200 yards. Targets vary in size/difficulty based on the shooter’s position, distance, and time allotted. Most stages include “stressors” — i.e. time limits or required movement(s).

GAP G.A. Precision Grind K&M tennessee

Part Two: CMP Western Games

CMP Western Games ben avery phoenix garand vintage sniperThe Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) was established by act of Congress in 1903, with the purpose of teaching shooting skills to American citizens. The Western Games at the Ben Avery Facility North of Phoenix draws enthusiasts from many Western states for competition with Service Rifles, vintage military rifles, M1 Carbines, and Rimfire Sporter rifles. Along with numerous matches (including the Vintage Sniper Team match), the Western Games features Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) shooting clinics.

“Our mission is to teach marksmanship and give the citizens of the United States the opportunity to learn marksmanship, with an emphasis on youth”, states Mark Johnson, CMP Chief Operating Officer.

Part Three: Savage 6.5 Creedmoor Rifles Review

Shooting USA Savage MSR 10 BA Stealth model 10 6.5 CreedmoorIn this review segment of today’s Shooting USA episode, John Scoutten reviews two new 6.5 Creedmoor rifles from Savage Arms. The Model 10 BA Stealth is a short action bolt gun priced at $1,207 MSRP. The MSR 10 Long Range is am AR-platform semi-auto priced at $2,284 MSRP. Both rifles showed good accuracy with factory ammunition. For this test both Savage rifles were topped with Bushnell Elite LRTS optics.

Shooting USA Savage MSR 10 BA Stealth model 10 6.5 Creedmoor

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February 18th, 2018

Winter Range Cowboy Action Event in Phoenix This Week

winter range ben avery phoenix

Earlier this month the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix hosted America’s top long-range shooters at the Berger SW Nationals. This upcoming week, 1000 cowboys and cowgirls take over Ben Avery during Winter Range, the SASS National Championship for Cowboy Action Shooting. Winter Range, which runs February 19-25, 2018, is the second largest Cowboy Action event of the year, after End of Trail, the annual Single Action Shooting Society World Championship held each year in Edgewood, New Mexico.

winter range ben avery phoenix

This video, produced a few seasons back by the Arizona Fish and Game Commission, covers the full Winter Range experience, including the main shooting competitions, the side matches, the Western costumes, the socializing, and more. Worth watching if you like action shooting or are just a fan of the Wild West.

winter range ben avery phoenix

Hundreds of cowboy action shooters, ages 12-80, will compete in multiple classifications based on age, and type/caliber of firearms. In addition, this year the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association and the SASS Mounted Shooters held the exciting Winter Championship in nearby Queen Creek, Arizona. The 3-day event, held February 14-17, drew more than 100 competitors mounted on horses. You’ll see this kind of action:

winter range ben avery phoenix

Cowboy Action Shooting requires that contestants compete with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West: single-action revolvers, lever-action rifles, and period shotguns. Participants each have a registered cowboy shooting alias (such as “Deadeye Dave”), used in SASS events. Competitors, organized in “Posses”, shoot a series of multi-gun stages. This is a fun shooting sport that draws multiple generations of the same family. In addition to the primary competitions, Winter Range 2018 will feature displays of period militaria, exhibitions of western skills and crafts, a fast-draw contest, and nearly 100 vendors selling vintage-style clothing and “sundries”.

winter range ben avery phoenix

winter range ben avery phoenix

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February 12th, 2018

Berger SW Nationals 2018 — Looking Back at a Great Event

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher

The 2018 Berger SW Nationals are now history. The fun, action, challenges, and rewards now pass into memories. Once again, the Berger SWN was a great shooting match — a great way to advance your shooting skills, reconnect with old friends, and enjoy warm weather. If you are a serious long-range shooter, this is definitely one of the best-managed, most rewarding matches on the planet. In 2018 the match “sold out” in a matter of hours. If you plan to go next year, watch for the registration notices. You don’t want to be left out.

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

2018 Berger Southwest Nationals Long Range Results

The SWN has three new individual champions. Congratulations to the three divisional Match Winners: Bob Sebold (F-Open), Phillip Kelley Jr. (F-TR), and Allen Thomas (Sling).

Top Five Overall – F-Open
Bob Sebold, 843-49X
Keith Glasscock, 843-38X
Jay Christopherson, 841-45X
Stephen Potter, 841-37X
James Crofts, 841-34X
Top Five Overall – F-TR
Phillip Kelley Jr., 838-35X
Ellis Berry, 837-42X
Niklas Montin, 836-35X
Peter Johns, 835-36X
Edward Shelley, 832-33X
Top Five Overall – Sling
Allen Thomas, 844-37X
Oliver Milanovic, 843-45X
Trudie Fay, 842-32X
Nancy Tompkins, 840-43X
Angus McLeod, 840-43X

View Complete SWN Match Results on McMillan Facebook Page »

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

The Berger SW Nationals are made possible through the principal support of Berger Bullets and Lapua, both part of the Capstone Precision Group, which also distributes Vihtavuori powder and SK Ammunition in the USA. Berger and Lapua both generously donated product prizes for 2018 SWN competitors.

Berger Southwest Nationals Berger Lapua Capstone

Today’s Champions… And Tomorrow’s New Talent

Here is the Sling Winner, Allen Thomas, with Bill Gravatt, President of Capstone Precision Group. (Bill was formerly the President of Sinclair International).

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Bob Sebold, of Team Lapua/Brux/Borden also won the individual F-Class SWN Title. He’s definitely one of the nation’s top F-Open pilots.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

There were a dozen or so talented juniors competing at the Berger SW Nationals. Some of the youngsters posted scores that would put the “old guys” to shame. We definitely expect to see some of these young shooters standing on the podium at future Berger SWN events. We asked them to strike a “cool pose” and the Harris boys delivered…

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Berger SW Nationals Gallery — Parting Shots

Does this competitor know something we don’t know. Perhaps he is testing a new “Stealth” rifle stock from McMillan. Or maybe this is some kind of Zen body/mind melding practice. We do advocate “dry firing”, but that normally involves holding a real rifle…

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Look carefully and you’ll see quite a lot reflected in this SWN competitor’s shooting eyewear. Can you identify the type of rifle?

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Michelle Gallagher — She’s probably smiling at an ‘X’ — or maybe she just nailed a tough wind call. The SW Nationals is a great event because of the hard work and dedication of talented folks like Michelle.

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

Can you name all the pieces of hardware in this image? We see at least a dozen. Don’t forget the little items like the bubble level and mirage shield.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

How do you anchor a SEB MINI coaxial rest in under ten seconds? With MAXI feet of course! These over-size hooves belong to shooter Mark Fairbairn, a very tall, MAXI-sized Australian. Who needs to pound those F-Class feet into the ground with a mallet when you can simply “stand and deliver”.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

We think some competitors came to Ben Avery just for the great Barbecue lunches — well that plus the great weather and the amazing prize table. Everyone goes home a winner in one way or another.

Berger Southwest Nationals food barbecue BBQ

Texas gunsmith Richard King showed us the biggest rifle action we’ve ever seen. This 13-lb monster is the BAT .50 BMG Action. Honestly it was HUGE — with the bolt fully extended it was the size of your forearm (to the finger tips). Richard joked “This weighs almost as much as an F-TR rifle (before optic) all by itself”.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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