February 13th, 2016

Individual Palma Competition on Day 3 of Berger SW Nationals

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW

The Individual Palma Match kicked off Friday at the Berger Southwest Nationals. While still mostly calm, conditions were more variable and tricky. James Crofts told us that you had to watch both the mirage AND the flags, because sometimes a change appeared on the flags before you could see anything in the mirage. The top shooters were scanning the range constantly for any velocity or angle change. If you don’t pay attention to the flags, James said, “you’ll be out in the nine ring”.

Watch Video with Highlights from Day 3 of Berger SWN, including James Crofts Interview:

Our good friend John Whidden, a past National Long-Range Champion, brought his “A Game” Friday, topping the Sling Division with 449-33X. Competition was fierce with five sling shooters finishing with the same 449 points, separated only by X-Count: Whidden (33X), Oliver Milanovic (31X), Rick Hunt (25X), Michael Barlow (25X), and Steven Powell (22X).

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW
John Whidden file photo from 2015

In F-Open, the top three shooters for the day were: Ken Padilla (448-25X), John Myers (447-32X), and Kenny Adams (447-24X). In F-TR Dan Lentz topped the Field with 447-24X, followed by Derek Rodgers and Justin Bertino (both at 445-23X). Ryan Pierce noted that Dan Lentz’s performance for the day beat all but three of the F-Open shooters: “Extremely impressive is Dan Lentz 447-24X F-TR score [which] tied Kenny Adams’s third-place F-Open Aggregate. Shooting .308 Win off a bipod and keeping up with the 7mms and 30 Cal magnums is outstanding. Good shooting Dan.”

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals SW

Interesting Hardware

New Speedy F-Open Stock (Jeff Reed, owner)

Speed Gonzalez F-Open Stock

Speed Gonzalez F-Open Stock

F-Open competitor Jeff Reed has a new F-Open rig with the brand new Speedy Gonzales laminated stock. Jeff says he loves the stock, saying it “tracks like a dream”. Jeff also likes the recoil-reduction system fitted at the rear of the stock. This really makes a difference for the big calibers says Jeff. If you’re curious, that’s an IOR Valdada 12-52x56mm scope with a 40mm main tube on top of Jeff’s rifle. It features 25 MOA of elevation in one rotation of the turret.

Spotting Scope Mounted to Front Rest

Speed Gonzalez F-Open Stock

Gunsmith Richard King of Texas has mounted his spotting scope directly to his Farley front rest. Very clever. This puts the spotter eyepiece just a few inches from his riflescope eyepiece so he can move easily from one optic to the other. This set-up also reduces the amount of gear Richard carries to the line. No separate spotting scope base, stand or horizontal mounting arm is required. This is a simple, elegant solution. We bet, with a little tinkering and design work, a similar system could be mounted to a SEB or Bald Eagle front rest. Note, it may appear that the lens is obscured by the front clamp, but that’s just the camera angle. We looked through the spotting scope and everything is clear.

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February 10th, 2016

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals Commence in Arizona

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Arizona AZ
Checking conditions at break of day. This week Phoenix will offer cool nights and warm days, with daytime temps in the mid- to high 80s (F).

2016 Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Arizona AZThe Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN), is the biggest, most prestigious long-range shooting match west of the Mississipi. The SW Nationals, which run February 9-14, 2016, kicked off on Tuesday the 9th with a shooting clinic at the Ben Avery 1000-yard Range. This gave competitors a chance to confirm their zeros, study the conditions at Ben Avery, and prep their “mental game” for the upcoming competition. This will be a huge event, with over 370 shooters from all over the USA and many foreign countries. The SW Nationals attracts top F-Class and Sling shooters, lured by the quality of the competition and a huge prize table. This is truly a “world-class” event.

Tuesday’s shooting clinic started with a class on Exterior Ballistics hosted by Bryan Litz. Following the ballistics class, shooters made their way to the firing line for one-on-one instruction with experienced shooters in each discipline (sling, F-TR and F-Open). During this segment of the clinic, champion shooters worked directly with novice and intermediate shooters. Bryan said: “It was great to see the ‘top guns’ sharing their knowledge.”

2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery
File photo from 2015.

Nat’l Mid-Range and Long-Range F-TR Champion Bryan Litz instructs during Tuesday’s Clinic at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.
2016 Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Arizona AZ

Eliseo Tubegun with Nightforce Competition scope. These versatile rifle chassis systems are produced by Competition Machine in Cottonwood, Arizona.
2016 Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Arizona AZ

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CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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Photos by Steven Fiorenzo.

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January 28th, 2016

Get Ready for Berger SW Nationals February 9-14, 2016

Berger Southwest Nationals

The Berger Southwest Nationals event is less than two weeks away… so get your bags packed and ammo loaded boys and girls. The SW Nationals run February 9-14, 2016, kicking off on Tuesday the 9th with a shooting clinic.


Photo by Phil Kelley at Ben Avery Range.

This prestigious rifle competition, hosted at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, outside Phoenix, Arizona, draws top F-Class and sling shooters from around the country. The Berger SW Nationals event is the premier long-range match of the year in the Western United States. Over 360 shooters have already registered for the SWN. NOTE: there are a few spots left. To register, go to the Berger SWN Entry Page.

CLICK HERE to Download Berger Soutwest Nationals Program and Entry Form.

Watch Highlights from Last Year’s Team Match at 2015 Berger SW Nationals:

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CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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berger southwest nationals 2016 Ben Avery Phoenix

Competition Tips from Bryan Litz

To help you prepare for the Berger SW Nationals, here are some competition tips from Bryan Litz. Bryan knows the Ben Avery range well. He won the Mid-Range and Long-Range F-TR National Championships there last year. And twice he has won the sling division at the Southwest Nationals. Here are wise words from Bryan:

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.

Competition TIP FOUR. If your long range ballistic predictions aren’t tracking, always come back and verify your 100-yard zero. Sometimes a simple zero shift can be misconstrued as errors in long range ballistics predictions.

Bryan Litz Tips

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October 31st, 2015

X-Men and Team Grizzly Win F-Class National Championships

2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

We have two new National Champion F-Class Teams. At the 2015 Long-Range Team Championships in Phoenix yesterday, Team Grizzly won the F-Open Division while the X-Men team secured the F-TR Title. The teams had to deal with tough conditions, requiring wind coaches to bring their “A Game”. James Crofts of the X-Men said: “The highest level of winds in recent nationals memory greeted all on the line today.” And Shiraz Balolia, who finished with the highest score (395-17X) among all shooters, observed: “High winds in the second match really made a huge difference in scores.”

Team Grizzly Wins 2015 F-Open Long-Range National Championship
Team Grizzly finished first in the F-Open Division with a 1560-49X score. In second, nine points back with 1551-49X, was the Tex-Mex Squad, while local favorites the Wide Nines team finished third with 1548-45X. Team Grizzly’s 9-point winning margin was impressive — Leo Ahern joked that: “9 points is more like a spanking than a win!”

Team Grizzly Captain Shiraz Balolia had the top score (395-17X) of all shooters participating in the team event. (This is a file photo from previous match).
2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

Team Grizzly’s Captain Shiraz Balolia said: “My hat is off to our coach, Trudie Fay, who has coached and won us the last three consecutive Team matches at the National Championships. I have been fortunate to have been a shooter and Captain of all three gold medal wins, three years in a row, one with Team USA and two with Team Grizzly. Trudie did a great job and my Team gun just hammered!” Along with Faye and Balolia, Team members included Kenny Adams, Emil Kovan, and John Myers.

2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

X-Men Team Tops F-TR Field
Hail the Orange and Green invaders. The X-Men are the 2015 US Long Range National F-TR Champions. The Team included shooters Tracy Hogg, Phil Kelley, Ian Klemm, and Dan Lentz, along with Wind Coach James Crofts and Captain Ken Klemm. Crofts said: “Big thanks to our remaining X-men teammates Joseph Conley, Mike Hardy, and Radoslaw Czupryna. Special thanks to Ray Bowman as we were all shooting PR&T hammers. We have great respect for Team Sinclair (that has motivated us for a long time) and Team Michigan, our friends from up North. Today was a good day!”

All four X-Men rifles featured Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) Low Boy stocks. PR&T’s Ray Bowman observed: “Ian Klem built his rifle on our stock, PR&T stocked Dan Lentz’s rifle and we built Phil Kelley’s and Tracy Hogg’s “HAMMER” rifles.” Gunsmith Ryan Pierce chambered two of the X-Men barrels.

It was sunny but quite windy on Friday for the Team Match (Sherri Judd Photo).
2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

Finishing second in the F-TR division was the Michigan Rifle Team, winners of the Mid-Range F-TR National Championship. The Team was coached by newly-crowned, Mid-Range F-TR Nat’l Champ Bryan Litz. Shooters include Doug Boyer, Jim Grissom, Bill Litz (Bryan’s father), and gunsmith John Pierce. Grissom shot a great match, finishing with 385-12X, but it was not enough to carry the Michiganders to victory. The squad finished with 1524-29X, six points behind the winning X-Men (1530-33X). Team Sinclair placed third with 1512-35X.

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October 27th, 2015

Litz Wins F-TR Mid-Range National Championship

F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

This past weekend, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC, topped a field of great shooters to win the 2015 NRA F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. Bryan shot very well, mastering conditions that were tricky and sometimes bewildering, particularly at the shortest range, 300 yards. Consider this, Lou Mudica had the top score on Day Two (all 600 yards), yet he was way down at 41st position on Day One (300/500/600 yards). Finishing Second Overall was Scott Harris. Bryan’s Michigan team-mate Jim Grissom was third, while Bryan’s father (and MI team-mate) Bill Litz was fourth.

F-TR Top Ten at Mid-Range National Championship
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

Bryan was using a low-profile, carbon/composite-stocked rifle built by John Pierce. Bryan told us: “This was the same rifle and almost the same load with which I won the Midwest Palma match in the summer of 2014. (Story HERE.) My gear consisted of Pierce rifle, Bartlein barrel, Nightforce scope, Berger bullets, Lapua brass, Hodgdon powder (All those companies are sponsors of the USA F-TR team as well as the Michigan F-TR team.) My load for the Mid-Range Nationals was 43.0 grains of Varget with the Berger 215gr Hybrid bullet seated 0.005″ off the rifling.”

Click Image for Full-Size Version:
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. — Bryan Litz

At the Mid-Range Nationals, wind conditions at the shorter yardages caught many competitors by surprise. As a result, many shooters, including 2014 F-TR National Champion James Crofts, shot better at 600 yards than at 300. That seems surprising… but there is a reason. Bryan Litz explains that conditions at shorter distances are sometimes more difficult to read than at 1000 yards.

Bryan Litz Talks about Mid-Range Wind-Reading Strategies
Mid-Range is marked by more uncertainty than long range shooting. At long range you can see more flags, more mirage, and conditions tend to be more readable although they have a greater effect. At mid range, the closer you are to the target the less readable the conditions tend to be. Often times at 300 yards there is no mirage and very sparse flags to get a read on. You can still get blown out at 300 yards! 500 yards can be a little better and at 600 sometimes you can get a pretty good read on it, but the majority of strategy for shooting Mid-Range is managing the uncertainty. What is your plan for shooting blind?

Suppose you’re shooting along pretty well centered up in the 10 Ring. Suddenly you shoot a 9 out the side and can’t see an indicator that explains why. Stop! Clearly something is going on which is not readable. It’s likely to be around for a period of time. Its best just to wait for that uncertainty to blow through and start shooting again when things settle out again. How do you know when things have settled out? When everybody else is pretty much back into the 10 Ring for a little while, then you know that a stable condition has settled back in. Take your best guess and get back into it.

A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. Good equipment is a must, and ballistic performance matters, but when it comes to winning a match versus placing in the top 10, it all comes down to who employs the winning strategy for the various different conditions. It can be more like a chess game then shooting. Competitive judgment is key.

Bryan Litz didn’t do too badly in the Mid-Range Team Match either, shooting a 200-10X. Bryan’s team-mate John Pierce shot a brilliant 200-15X. Looks like those low-profile Pierce-built rigs really hammer:

F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz, who is holding his Pierce-built F-TR rifle.
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

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October 25th, 2015

F-Class Nationals Kick Off at Ben Avery in Phoenix

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

The 2015 United States F-Class National Championships are underway now at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2015, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one week-long mega-match. The Mid Range F-Class Nationals take place 24-27 October 2015, with shooting at 300, 500, and 600 yards. The Long Range National Championships then run October 28 through 31, with all targets at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).

The wind arrived early on Saturday…
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

It started off somewhat windy on Saturday, October 24 for the 300-yard and 500-yard matches. Bryan Litz mastered the conditions to end up leading the F-TR division. (Guess that knowing a thing or two about ballistics helps when the wind is blowing). James Crofts, 2014 F-TR National Champion, shoot well at 500 yards, but struggled at 300 yards (the X-Ring is just 1.5″ at 300 yards). He observed: “Not a bad day today — overall 13th. Bryan Litz has the overall F-TR lead. I’m down 20 for the day but there are lots of shots left to go.”

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

All the shooting today (Sunday, October 25th), will be at 600 yards. Jim posted from Phoenix: “It’s time to start Day Two of the F-Class Mid-Range Nationals. All 600 yards today and I’m ready. Looks like it could be a tricky day with gusty winds but it will be the same for everyone.”

James Crofts at the 500-yard line. He had a tougher time at 300 yards.
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

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October 13th, 2015

View from the Pits at CMP Western Games

Ben Avery CMP Western Games Video SAFS Dennis Santiago target frames

Our friend Dennis Santiago was doing pits duty during the Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) phase of the CMP Western Games. Here are some views from the pits at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. Dennis also took a video from the pits during live fire. Listen to rounds zip over-head and impact into the berm beyond the targets, in the video below.

Watch Video with rounds flying over the pit zone:

Dennis reports: “Here’s a slice of life at the receiving end of live fire. This is a rapid fire stage as seen from the target pits at the 2015 CMP Western Games. The targets are placed up in the air. The bullets go through them over the heads of competitors protected behind an earth berm. The bullets land in a designated impact area (berm) beyond the target frames.”

Ben Avery CMP Western Games Video SAFS Dennis Santiago target frames

At the CMP Western Games, participants shoot, score and do pit service. The pit workers are positioned on a catwalk behind a concrete wall. There is a thick, earth-works berm on the other side.

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September 29th, 2015

2015 F-Class Nationals At Ben Avery Coming Soon

F-Class Nationals Phoeniz Berger Arizona
Here’s 2014 F-TR National Champion James Crofts, with his PR&T-built rig.

Are you ready? The 2015 F-Class Nationals event is just three weeks away. The combined mid-range and long-range F-Class National Championships will be held October 23 – 31, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.

CLICK HERE for 2015 F-Class National Championships Program and Entry Form.

For 2015, the Nationals will include both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions. The NRA F-Class Mid Range National Championship will be held 23-27 October 2015. The F-Class Long Range National Championship then runs from October 27 through 31. The competition consists of two different Divisions: F- Open and F-TR (Target Rifle). Each Division is made up of five different Categories: High Master, Master, Expert, Sharpshooter and Marksman. There will also be a series of four-person team matches. The event is limited to 320 competitors maximum. All matches will be held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility outside Phoenix.

You’ll see some serious hardware on the firing line at Ben Avery. Here’s a modern F-Open rig with a handsome maple stock. The gun, belonging to David Mann of Texas, shoots as good as it looks.

F-Class Nationals 2015 Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona AZ

Under Two Inches at 500 Yards
To be competitive at the Nationals, one needs a tack-driving rifle and an ultra-accurate load. Shown below is one of Paul Phillips’s F-TR load development targets at 500 yards. The total 5-shot group size is under two inches. Impressive. That’s with 200gr Bergers, Varget powder, and large primer Lapua brass. Paul tell us: “The X-Ring is 5 inches at 1000 yards (equivalent to 2.5 inches at 500). We strive to be all in the X-Ring. However, wind is the big obstacle. A gust of wind can move you 1-2 feet away.”

Fall foliage F-TR F/TR Nationals Paul Phillips .308 Win F-Class Phoenix 2014

F-Class National Championship Registration and Deadlines
Competitors must submit the official Registration & Entry Form (include NRA Membership ID#). Entries MUST be accompanied by check, money order or NRA Points. Make Check payable to Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club.

Fees are $375.00 for both Mid-Range and Long-Range matches (combined), or $200 for just one match only (either Mid-Range or Long-Range). Team Matches cost $60 per entry.

Mail Entry Forms and checks to:
Middleton Tompkins
P.O. Box 11684
Prescott, AZ 86304.
Phone: (928) 776-8576.

Entry Deadline: The deadline for entries is 6:00 PM Monday, 12 October 2015. Entries after this time are considered late entries and may be accepted to fill vacancies on existing relays only. An additional $20.00 will be charged for late entries, on top of the basic fees.

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Nightforce

2014 F-Class Nationals Photos copyright Nightforce Optics, used with permission.

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September 7th, 2015

Western CMP Games and Creedmoor Cup Matches Coming Soon

CMP Western Games Games Creedmoor Cup Ben Avery

Ready for some action in Arizona? The 12th Western CMP Games and Creedmoor Cup Matches will be held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona. The CMP Games run 9-13 October while the Creedmoor Cup Matches dates take place 14-18 October. All interested shooters are invited to participate in these unique, national-level competitions. NOTE: Registration for the Creedmoor Cup matches must be done online via www.creedmoorsports.com.

CMP Games Creedmoor Cup Ben Avery

Western CMP Games Entry Form | Western CMP Games Online Registration
Western CMP Games & Creedmoor Cup Program | Directions to Ben Avery Range

Western CMP Games Matches

  • Garand & Springfield Match Clinic
  • John C. Garand Match
  • Springfield Match
  • Vintage Military Rifle Match
  • Small Arms Firing School/M16 Match
  • Rimfire Sporter Match
  • Carbine Match
  • Vintage Sniper Match
  • Modern Military Rifle Match
  • Western Creedmoor Cup Events

  • High Power Rifle Clinic
  • Creedmoor Cup (2400 point aggregate)
  • 4-Man Team Match
  • Creedmoor EIC Match
  • To see a real pro shooting Service Rifle, check out the above video. That’s former National Champion (now Creedmoor Sports G.M.) Dennis DeMille, shooting 300-yard Rapids from the prone position. This was filmed at the 2010 Berger Southwest Nationals at Ben Avery. You’ll see Dennis adjusts his sights while looking through the spotter. Then watch how calm and steady Dennis stays from shot to shot. That comes with years of practice and training.

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    April 1st, 2015

    F-Class News: NRA Introduces New F-TRipod Classification

    NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

    F-Class shooting is the fastest-growing form of NRA rifle competition. While sling-shooting is in decline, the number of F-Class shooters grows every year. Recognizing this, the NRA Competitive Shooting Division has decided to expand the sport of F-Class with a new, third classification: F-TRipod. Like the current F-TR class, F-TRipod will be limited to .223 Remington or .308 Winchester chamberings. However, the rifle support can have three legs, and the weight of the tripod will NOT count in the rifle’s overall weight limit, which will be the same as F-TR, (8.25kg or 18.18 pounds). That way all current F-TR shooters will automatically “make weight” in the new F-TRipod class.

    Three-legged shooting platforms can be adapted from photo tripods using a variety of mounts.
    NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

    Why did the NRA create a new division for F-Class? According to Ryan Tromper of the NRA’s High Power Committee, “It’s all about improving the competitor’s experience. This new class should make the sport more popular among shooters of all ages and all levels of physical ability.” Ryan noted that many current F-Class shooters are not happy shooting on the ground: “At the 2014 F-Class Nationals in Phoenix, we polled F-Class shooters. The number one complaint was the shooting position. We heard many comments such as ‘I’m getting too old for this, I just can’t stay comfortable for a whole match anymore'”. After hearing many complaints about “eating dust all day on the ground”, the NRA realized there was a problem. F-TRipod is the solution.

    The addition of the F-TRipod division should make F-Class competition more accessible for older competitors and for the many “weight-challenged” Americans who have difficulty getting down into the prone position. “We want F-Class to be inclusive. No matter what your age, your size, your shape, or your weight, we want you to be able to shoot F-Class and enjoy the experience”, said Tromper. This should make a big difference to shooters who have limited mobility.

    With the advent of F-TRipod competition, shooters will no longer have to spend all day long on their belly in the dirt. Instead they can shoot from a comfortable seated position. F-TRipod competitors will be allowed to sit on the ground or in a portable chair.

    NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

    F-TRipod Competition Should Be More Affordable
    Affordability was another key factor in the NRA’s decision to create a new F-TRipod classification. As Derek Rodgers, the only man to win both F-TR and F-Open national titles, explains: “Let’s face it, F-Open has evolved into a hardware race. A complete F-Open rest set-up, with coaxial front rest, pad, and a couple custom rear bags, can run close to $1500.00. That’s not affordable for a lot of guys.” With the new F-TRipod division, all you need is a photo tripod and some kind of support head. With a used eBay tripod, and the $135.00 Pig Saddle, the whole system can be assembled for under $200.00. That’s half the cost of today’s most exotic F-TR bipods. Other than the tripod (with cradle) the only other accessory an F-TRipod competitor needs is a cushion for his or her posterior. (NRA rules will allow competitors to use cushions or camp chairs).

    Favored by PRS competitors (and military snipers), tripods will soon be seen at F-Class matches as well. In the video below, the 6.5 Guys review various F-TRipod options.

    Both current F-Class disciplines, F-Open and F-TR, are shot from the ground. Though rifle supports are permitted, this is essentially prone shooting (on your belly), and for many shooters, this is uncomfortable. Below, AccurateShooter’s Jason Baney demonstrates a modern rifle tripod system with a double cradle upper.

    NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

    NRA F-Class Rifle Rules
    3. EQUIPMENT AND AMMUNITION
    3.4 F-Class Rifle
    (c) F-Class Tripod Rifle (F-TRipod)
    – A rifle restricted to the chambers of unmodified .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO or unmodified .223 Remington/5.56mm x 45 NATO cartridge cases. The rifle must be fired off a tripod, on which the rifle rests, or to which the rifle is attached. Any three-legged support, meeting the definition of a tripod, may be used but the tripod may not weigh more than 10 kilograms (approximately 22 pounds) and it may not contain any powered adjustment mechanisms or leveling systems. The tripod support may employ rigid or sliding mounts or cradles and manually-adjustable tilting heads are allowed. Any safe, manually-operated trigger is permitted. Any sighting system is permitted, but it must be included in the rifle’s overall weight.
    (1) The rifle’s overall weight, including all attachments such as sights, sling, and rail(s), must not exceed 8.25 kilograms (approximately 18 pounds). The tripod and any mount or cradle permanently affixed to the tripod are not considered “attachments” if they can be separated from the rifle after the shooting sequence.
    (2) The rifle must be fired in the seated or kneeling position from the shoulder of the competitor using rifle as defined in 3.4.1(b).

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    February 15th, 2015

    Ben Avery Range Dedicated to Mid Tompkins Plus New Building

    Competitors at the 2015 Berger Southwest Nationals were treated to something special on Saturday morning. After a short address by Eric Stecker, fireworks boomed from downrange and a flight of three warbirds streamed overhead, trailing smoke. Watch these dramatic moments in the video below.

    This ceremony marked the dedication of Ben Avery’s 1000-yard range as the Middleton Tompkins Range. With his family by his side, Mid was recognized for his achievements in the shooting sports and his decades of service. This was a heart-warming event honoring Mid, a six-time National High Power Rifle Champion, and the leading member of America’s first family of shooting. Wife Nancy Tompkins and step-daughters Sherri Jo Gallagher and Michelle Gallagher have all been National rifle champions (High Power and/or Long-Range). This was an emotional day for Mid — he revealed to us that this was certainly one of the greatest highlights of his life.

    Berger President Eric Stecker speaks at range dedication ceremony. Mid Tompkins stands with his family members Sherri Jo Gallagher (to Mid’s left), wife Nancy Tompkins, and Michelle Gallagher.
    Middleton Tompkins, Ben Avery Berger Nightforce range dedication

    Along with the dedication of the 1000-yard range, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new multi-purpose facility at Ben Avery. Situated at the 1000-yard range, this facility was constructed with $420,000 in funding from Berger Bullets and Nightforce Optics. Mid Tompkins cut the red ribbon on the facility’s front doors, officially opening the multi-purpose center for public use.

    ben avery range dedication middleton tompkins

    Mid jokes with the crowd, showing his quick-witted sense of humor.
    Middleton Mid Tompkins

    Panorama of Middleton Tompkins 1000-Yard Range at Ben Avery (CLICK to ZOOM)
    satmid06x1600


    Interview with Past NRA President John Sigler at Ben Avery
    In the video below, we interview past NRA President John Sigler. An avid long-range shooter himself, John is the current chairman of the NRA High Power Committee. John was at Ben Avery this week competing in the F-Open Division. John says that the emergence of the F-Class discipline has extended his competitive shooting career. He had high praise for the Ben Avery Range and the new multi-purpose building dedicated on February 14th.

    satmid05

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    February 14th, 2015

    Friday the 13th at the Berger Southwest Nationals

    Today marked the third day of competition at the Berger Southwest Nationals. The superstitious types among the competitors viewed the day with some trepidation. There was actual bad luck for some folks, including Mid Tompkins, who broke his leg in a parking lot accident in the morning. But most shooters didn’t worry too much about the date — they were more concerned about calling the wind correctly. As Bryan Litz said: “I don’t believe in superstition. We make our own luck”. In the video below, you’ll see highlights of Day 3 at the SW Nationals from the break of dawn to the final shots on the 1000-yard line.

    accurateshooter.com Berger Southwest Nationals Palma sling Phoenix Ben Avery F-class

    accurateshooter.com Berger Southwest Nationals Palma sling Phoenix Ben Avery F-class

    accurateshooter.com Berger Southwest Nationals Palma sling Phoenix Ben Avery F-class

    accurateshooter.com Berger Southwest Nationals Palma sling Phoenix Ben Avery F-class

    accurateshooter.com Berger Southwest Nationals Palma sling Phoenix Ben Avery F-class

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    February 13th, 2015

    Team Match at Berger Southwest Nationals

    Thursday at the Berger Southwest Nationals was Team Match day. Teams of sling shooters as well as F-TR and F-Open marksmen competed at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Conditions on Thursday (Feb. 12) were much better than on Wednesday (Feb. 11) when strong, fish-tailing winds created big problems for the shooters. For the Thursday Team Match, the winds were variable, but generally the mirage was a good indicator of speed, and the flags were showing the angles. The wind coaches for the teams told us that the conditions “were quite readable”.

    Here is AccurateShooter.com’s video wrap-up of the Team Match on Thursday. F-TR shooters should watch carefully — Ray Gross, captain of the F-TR USA Team. talks about the latest equipment used by the top shooters. In addition, Ray announced a Team Try-Out Session on Monday February 16, 2015.

    In team competition, the shooter relies on his coach and spotter.
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

    This could be the most beautiful F-Open rifle we’ve ever seen. Look at the figure in that wood.
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

    Nancy Tompkins dials wind for Anette Wachter (aka “30 Cal Gal”).
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

    Matt Schwartzkopf excels despite lacking two lower legs. He works as a range manager at Ben Avery.
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

    Tube-gun chassis-maker Gary Eliseo shot in the Sling Division. His company, Competition Machine, is now based in Cottonwood, Arizona.
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

    Dan Polabel’s F-TR Rifle with Flex Bipod.
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

    Walt Berger enjoyed the Team Match. “Seems like the wind’s a bit better today” he joked.
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

    It was just a warm, beautiful day at Ben Avery….
    Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Walt Berger

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    February 13th, 2015

    Chariots of the (Gun) Gods

    Ben Hur

    Ben Avery

    Was this Ben Hur or Ben Avery? With all the wheels rolling around the place, the Berger SW Nationals looked a bit like the Chariot scene from the 1959 Hollywood blockbuster movie.

    Folks attending a big match such as the Berger Southwest Nationals must haul a lot of gear — both to the range and from vehicles to the firing lines (and then back again). This transportational necessity has inspired shooters to develop a wide variety of modern chariots. Here’s a selection of the “wheeled contrivances” we found at Ben Avery This week.

    Don’t mess with Texas. That kind of says it all…

    Folding carts were the favored mode of transport. Yes there are TWO carts in the back of this SUV.

    Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia, appropriately enough, customized his cart with ursine artwork.

    This rig had a custom bracket to support a rifle vertically. This clever invention preserves space in the main cargo section.

    Felix Solis of the U.S. Veterans’ Rifle Team customized his travel van’s interior. Rifles are secured upright in the left compartment, with shooting coats on the right.

    The little red wagon offers four-wheel stability. This one even has its own license plate.

    Wait a minute — is that a stroller? Actually these rigs can be easily adapted to hold rifles and rests. Check out Craigslist for low-cost, “previously owned” strollers.

    Past F-Class Nat’l Champ Larry Bartholome was seen rolling around with a familiar cart. This cart used to belong to our good friend German Salazar. Hey German, we all miss your presence at Ben Avery…

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    February 11th, 2015

    Berger SW Nationals — Tuesday Instructional Clinic

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    The Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) kicked off Tuesday, February 10th, with an instructional clinic at the Ben Avery 1000-yard Range. This combined a lecture/Q&A session with live-fire training. Ballistics “Professor” Bryan Litz reports: “The clinic was a big hit as usual, with lots of competitor participation. There was a big crowd this year, as you can see.”

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    The clinic started with a class on Exterior Ballistics hosted by Bryan. This focused on why ballistics is important to competitive shooters, and how to balance ballistic performance objectives against real world constraints. Topics included bullet weight options for F-TR (155 to 215 grains), barrel/chamber considerations, plus the real-world trade-offs involved with heavy bullets (yes the BC may be better but recoil becomes an issue). Many of the questions related to content from Bryan’s recent books, and discussions in AccurateShooter.com’s Ballistics sub-Forum and Daily Bulletin.

    Following the ballistics class, shooters made their way to the firing line for one-on-one instruction with experienced shooters in each discipline (sling, F-TR and F-Open). During this segment of the clinic, champion shooters worked directly with novice and intermediate shooters. Bryan said: “It was great to see the ‘top guns’ sharing their knowledge.”

    Last but not least, Mid Tompkins directed a wind clinic with live fire demonstrations. Bryan reports: “Mid has a way of getting your attention. Personally, I thought his 2 MOA wind call that put the very first shot in the 5 inch X-ring at 1000 yards got everyone’s attention!” After the demonstrations, clinic “students” went to the firing line to put wind-clinic lessons into practice, and to verify their zeroes.

    Mid Tompkins at the SWN Shooters’ Clinic
    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    Here are some more images from the instructional clinic held last year at the 2014 SW Nationals.

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

    2015 Berger Southwest Nationals Clinic Applied Ballistics High Power F-Class Phoenix Ben Avery

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    February 6th, 2015

    Ben Avery Beckons — Berger SW Nationals Start Soon

    It’s almost time for the Berger SW Nationals. Phil Kelley says he’s ready for this view…

    February in Phoenix… For many of us February is all about the Berger Southwest Nationals, which kicks off Tuesday, February 10th with a Shooting Clinic and runs through Sunday, February 15th. This prestigious match, hosted at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, draws top F-Class and sling shooters from around the country. One of those F-Class shooters, Phil Kelley, posted the above photo, saying he’s ready to make the trek from his North Carolina home to Arizona. Good luck to Phil and all the competitors. A record number of shooters should be on the firing line this year.

    CLICK HERE to Download SWN Match Program and Schedule

    Berger Nationals SW Ben Avery Phoenix

    Berger Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix

    Southwest Nationals Intro Video

    Berger SW Nationals Event Schedule

    Tuesday, 10 February 2015, 9:00 AM
    Shooting Clinic: Instruction in both classroom and live-fire settings. Lunch provided.

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015, 9:00 AM
    Mid-Range Match: Three 20-shot matches at 600 yards.

    Thursday, 12 February 2015, 9:00 AM
    4-Man Palma Team Match: 15 shots for record at 800, 900 and 1000 yards.
    Note – Practice available for those not shooting with a team.

    Friday, 13 February 2015, 9:00 AM – Start of Long-Range Grand Agg
    Individual Palma Match: 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards.
    Swap Meet at 1000-yard line after conclusion of match.

    Saturday, 14 February 2015, 8:30 AM
    Individual 1000-Yard Matches: Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards.
    Banquet Dinner at Indoor Range, at approximately 5:00 pm.

    Sunday, 15 February 2015, 9:00 AM
    Individual 1000 Yard Matches: Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards.
    Awards Ceremony at the Indoor Range.

    Click image to see full-screen panorama.

    CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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    November 5th, 2014

    F-TR Triumph — Team Sinclair’s Record-Breaking Performance

    Want to see how some of the best rifle shooters in the world operate in high-stakes, 1000-yard competition? This video shows Team Sinclair powering to victory at the 2014 F-Class National Championships in Phoenix. Scoring an impressive 792-38X, Team Sinclair topped the field, winning the 4-man team title and setting a new 1000-yard F-TR National Team Record in the process. It was a close match, with America’s “powerhouse” F-TR teams battling it out for the top three spots: Team Sinclair (Gold), Team X-Men (Silver), and Team Michigan (Bronze). Team Sinclair’s wind coach Ray Gross did a superb job. Ray also serves as the Captain of the USA F-TR Rifle Team.

    F-Class nationals Team video Sinclair X-Men

    Along with the Team Sinclair shooters, this video also features Team X-Men (orange shirts), and Team Michigan. Starting at the 2:05 time-mark, you can hear Bryan Litz calling wind for Team Michigan. Watch the mirage in the video and see if you can match Bryan’s wind calls with the movement of the mirage. This is a great opportunity to see F-TR Top Guns in action. Team score cards appear in the video, starting at the 3:01 time-mark.

    Watch Team Sinclair, Team X-Men, and Team Michigan at 2014 F-Class Nationals:

    Warning — Video starts with loud rock music. You may want to turn down your speakers if at work.

    F-Class nationals Team video Sinclair X-Men

    F-Class nationals Team video Sinclair X-Men

    Thanks to Paul Phillips for editing and uploading this video. Photos courtesy Nightforce Optics.
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    October 8th, 2014

    F-Class Video Reveals a Variety of Shooting Styles

    Ben Avery Shooting Facility Phoenix AZ Arizona

    Forum member Rick Curtis, a shooter from the Phoenix area, put together an interesting video showing some of the F-Class shooters at a recent club match at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. Rick notes: “As you can see (hear) at the beginning of the video the first relay was fired in a ‘frisky’ headwind.” (Don’t worry about the awful wind noise — it moderates 35 seconds into the video.) It is interesting to see the different shooting styles, and the wide variety of hardware on the line.

    Watch F-Class Shooting Video from Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, AZ

    One fellow who watched the video made an interesting comment: “A couple of those shooters sure do a lot of moving around before and after the shot. I shoot sling and jacket and definitely try to minimize my movement. Is minimizing movement as important in F-Class?”

    Rick Curtis replied: “I sent some of the individual videos back to the shooters who were in them with some recommendations that included minimizing movement, spotting scope placement, shot routine suggestions and a few other observations.”

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    September 13th, 2014

    Western CMP Games and Creedmoor Cup October 10-19

    Got plans for October? If you live in the western USA, consider a trip to Phoenix for the CMP Western Games. The 11th Western CMP Games and Creedmoor Cup Matches will be held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona, on 10-19 October 2014. The Western CMP Games Matches run 10-14 October 2014. The Creedmoor Cup Matches take place on 15-19 October 2014. All interested shooters are invited to participate in these unique, national-level competitions. NOTE: Registration for the Creedmoor Cup matches must be done online via www.creedmoorsports.com.

    Western cmp games creedmoor cup

    Western CMP Games Entry Form | Western CMP Games Online Registration
    Western CMP Games & Creedmoor Cup Program | Directions to Ben Avery Range

    Western CMP Games Matches

  • Garand & Springfield Match Clinic
  • John C. Garand Match
  • Springfield Match
  • Vintage Military Rifle Match
  • Small Arms Firing School/M16 Match
  • Rimfire Sporter Match
  • Carbine Match
  • Vintage Sniper Match
  • Modern Military Rifle Match
  • Western Creedmoor Cup Events

  • High Power Rifle Clinic
  • Creedmoor Cup (2400 point aggregate)
  • 4-Man Team Match
  • Creedmoor EIC Match
  • western cmp games creedmoor cup

    Small Arms Firing School
    CMP Rifle Small Arms Firing School offered at during the Western CMP Games in Phoenix, AZ, Friday, October 10th. This course is recommended for all new shooters and anyone that would like to learn gun safety and sound target shooting skills, regardless of previous experience. In this course you will learn about safety, positions, how to load and clear the rifle, how to loop a sling and prepare for practice firing. Rifle SAFS students are required to use the Rock River AR15 commercial rifles issued by the school. Personal rifles are not permitted. Ammunition will be issued for use during practice fire and the M16 EIC Match and coaches will be available to assist students. Junior competitors must be at least 12 years old.

    Western cmp games creedmoor cup

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    February 7th, 2014

    Team Grizzly Sets National Record at Berger SW Nationals

    The wind gods smiled on the shooters at the Berger Southwest Nationals on Thursday. For most of the day, the wind flags were hanging straight down or barely moving. Many shooters managed to go through the 800-yard stage without dropping a point. Conditions got tougher for the 900-yard and 1000-yard stages but it was still a day of low winds and high scores.

    F-Class Team Grizzly Shiraz Balolia

    F-Class Team Grizzly Shiraz Balolia

    Team Grizzly made the most of the good conditions in the F-Open Division. Coached by Trudie Fay, and anchored by 2013 World Champion Kenny Adams, the four-person team shot brilliantly, scoring 1786 with 104 Xs. That beats the existing 800/900/1000 Palma course National record by five (5) points and ten Xs. The previous record, 1781-94X, was set by Team Berger in 2008.

    F-Class Team Grizzly Shiraz Balolia

    During the match we had a chance to chat with Shiraz Balolia as he was getting his .300 WSM ready for the 1000-yard stage. Since stepping down as the captain of the USA F-Open Team, Shiraz had told us that he planned to shift his priorities, and devote more time to non-shooting activities. But here he was, back in the thick of competition. Shiraz smiled and said “You’re right, I was planning to get away from shooting a bit. But I just couldn’t miss this match … I guess I have the bug”. When a man’s this good at long-range shooting, you can’t keep him away from the firing line for long. Shiraz serves as Captain of Team Grizzly.

    F-Class Team Grizzly Shiraz Balolia

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