Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.
1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).
Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also have a piece of tape that I’ve placed on the golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. Don’t have an old golf shaft? Go to Home Depot and buy an inexpensive piece of wood dowel.”
2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.
3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.
4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.
5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even with a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal shooting.
6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.
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Roy Hunter’s Brace of Two 30 Dashers by Jeff Stover, IBS President
Short range benchrest at 100 and 200 yards is the domain of the 6PPC. Since 1978 that has been the case. Yes, an occasional 30BR, the King of Score Benchrest, will sometimes punch with the 6PPC in group competition. But a .30-caliber benchrest rifle will put you at a disadvantage in group shooting over the long haul — that’s certainly the conventional wisdom. Apparently, no one told Roy Hunter.
6PPC Group vs 30 Dasher Group at 200 yards — the “Fat Dasher” is definitely competitive.
Roy brought two rifles to the 2015 Group Nationals. Both were 30 Dashers. He did not even go with the milder 30 BR. The Dasher boasts more case capacity and, thus, more velocity. (The 30 Dasher is a 6mmBR improved with the neck expanded to .30 caliber and the shoulder blown forward). Speed comes at a price. That price is recoil, especially in a 10.5-pound rifle, such as Light Varmint and Sporter (same as LV but with at least a 6mm bore). Roy can handle the Dasher even in a 10.5-lb gun. The target above shows a sub-.300” group at 200 yards compared to a 6PPC group at the same distance. The larger cartridge and .308 bore CAN compete with a 6PPC – at least in the hands of a benchrest ace like Roy.
Roy’s 30 Dasher in 10.5-lb trim boasts a 1:17″-twist Pac-Nor barrel. Roy shoots Euber 116gr .30-Cal bullets over 38 grains of H4198. That load is good for nearly 3300 fps. This rifle, shown above, has a distinctive stained Butternut finish.
The stocks on Roy’s rifles are his own, made in his shop near Gettysburg, PA. Before Roy Hunter was a premier benchrest stockmaker he built museum-quality 18th Century-style furniture, following Chippendale patterns and the like. Now he just makes benchrest-style stocks (benchrest only — there’s no time to make hunting stocks). The fit and finish are as good as it gets. Roy’s stocks combine old world craftsmanship with high-tech construction. Roy uses Butternut wood, English Walnut, and other woods laminated with carbon fiber. His 10.5-lb rifle is Butternut, while his 13.5-lb rifle is Walnut — and they both shoot superbly! If you are interested in a Roy Hunter stock, the best way to reach Roy is by phone: 410-259-7944.
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Report by IBS President Jeff Stover
The ancient benchrest alchemists once predicted a perfect storm for small groups. The recipe is: one part near ideal shooting conditions, 90 of the best benchrest shooters in North America and mix with the shooters’ best barrels and bullets. Place the entire concoction at the shooting benches for seven minutes at time. The result in Heavy Varmint (13.5-lb rifles) at 100 yards, for example, was that the top 17 shooters averaged under .200 for their five targets! Yes, nearly the entire Top 20 in HV100 shot a “teen agg”. Ten or fifteen years ago, that would have been unthinkable. Sure, the winners or top two or three would be in that rarefied air, but not half of an entire relay of 40 shooters. Remarkable.
Another landmark of the 2015 IBS Nationals was that 17-year-old Wyatt Peinhardt of Quarryville, PA won the 200-yard stage of Heavy Bench. That meant he earned his first point toward the U. S. Benchrest Hall of Fame (HOF). You need ten to get in, but young Wyatt has plenty of time to get the other nine. He is no ‘flash in pan’. The young Mr. Peinhardt has been shooting since 2009 and now runs full speed with the big dogs of the sport. He was in the Top 20 in this year’s Super Shoot 2-gun results. Frequently he battles his dad, Jeff for supremacy at the bench. Strangely enough, here at Weikert in the Sporter Grand Aggregate (average of five targets at both 100 and 200 yards) Wyatt and his father tied right down to four decimal places: 0.2317!
Six Days of Competition with Four Classes
Some say that the Group Nationals are a marathon — six long days of competition at both 100 and 200 yards with four classes of rifles: Light Varmint (10.5 lb); Sporter (10.5 lb – 6mm minimum caliber); Heavy Varmint (13.5 lb) and Heavy Bench (known as ‘Unlimited’ in NBRSA-land). The first three are simply known as the “bag guns”. Most competitors use a 10.5-lb rifle in 6PPC and compete in all three classes. The Heavy Bench (HB) class requires 10-shot groups as opposed to the 5-shot ones for the bag guns. There is no prohibition to shooting your 10.5-pound rifle in HB, but a shooter is simply outclassed by the rail guns, especially for 10-shot groups.
As mentioned, the week’s weather was very good. After what seemed like weeks of on and off rain, the central Pennsylvania weather gods smiled on what is considered one of the most beautiful ranges in the USA. The shooters had nice sunshine and instead of the usual Weikert blow, they were treated to light zephyrs. It was a glorious week to be at a rifle match.
Course of Fire — First 100, then 200
The sequence of competition groups has 100-yard targets shot the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. It is done this way to require only one change of wind flags. Nationals competition requires ‘full rotation’. That means that every time a shooter goes to the line for the next match target, he or she must move a requisite number of benches to the right. At the end of the day a shooter will shoot across the full width of the line. Some ranges offer unique properties that render some parts of the range harder or easier to shoot small groups. Bench rotation is important to even out those factors.
Monday morning saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling the big rail guns to the line. Old pro Jack Neary led the way at 100 yards with .2186 Aggregate. The 200-yard stage for HB would not be held until Saturday morning. The winner there, of course, was Wyatt Peinhardt with his .2993 (MOA conversion for 200-yard scores). On Tuesday the bags guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Conditions allowed for quite a few very good groups. The top thirteen shooters in Sporter shot ‘teen aggs’ with Bart Sauter leading the way at a .1666. In Light Varmint, Wayne Campbell shot a tiny .1556. Both his warm-up and first record target were in the ‘zeroes’ (.096 and .088)!
Wednesday’s 100-yard Heavy Varmint match enjoyed what were probably the best conditions of the week. You needed to average under .200 for five targets to finish in the Top 20 or nearly so. Harley Baker won with a .1616. The talk in the loading area was Baker’s fourth record target — a tiny 0.050 bughole centered right in the center ring (usually called the ‘mothball’). It was probably the prettiest target most had ever seen. Better yet, the standing IBS HV 100 record is a 0.052 shot way back in 1980. Harley’s target is being submitted to the IBS Measuring Committee as a potential IBS record.
Wednesday afternoon saw the moving of flags for the 200-yard stage of the competition. The SP and LV 200-yard targets were Thursday’s course of fire. In LV, Andy Shifflett shot a .1966 Aggregate to pick up a HOF point. At 200 yards, Aggregates are logged in MOA units. Therefore, Andy’s .1966 Aggregate translates to an average 200-yard target measurement of slightly less than .400″. The afternoon was reserved for SP targets. Billy Stevens shot a .2060 to win the afternoon’s contest.
Powderpuff Event at the IBS Group Nationals
For decades IBS has hosted an exhibition shoot on the afternoon of a day when only one Aggregate is contested instead of two. It is called the Powderpuff and is intended to allow family members and others that do not shoot competitively to give benchrest shooting a try. Each shooter is assisted by a coach who instructs the shooter. World-class shooters such as Gene Bukys and Lester Bruno give their time and talents to assist novice shooters. There is no time limit to rattle the inexperienced shooters.
2015 Powderpuff Winners Jaydin Johnson (left) and Pam Campbell (right)
Barbara Hottenstein continued as the Powderpuff chair and assembled a large array of awards and prizes. The competition is financially supported by the IBS President’s Fund. This year we had 12 youth and adult competitors. Pam Campbell won the adult category while Jaydin Johnson (shown above with coach Nancy Scarbrough) won the youth division.
On Friday, a single Aggregate of five record targets were shot-for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 200 yards. Harley Baker had his mojo working with a .1896 Aggregate. That performance, coupled with Harley’s .1616 at 100 yards meant that his average in the HV class was a .1756 Grand Aggregate. That is small. Really small.
On Friday afternoon, many of the awards for bag guns were given out. Saturday was reserved for HB 200. Since some of the bag gun shooters do not shoot a rail gun, a number of competitors left Friday afternoon. The rail guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. The winner was Wyatt Peindardt. His .2993 was the only Aggregate under .300. Wayne Campbell was second with a .3028. Winning the HB Grand Aggregate was two-time Super Shoot winner, Larry Costa.
IBS recognizes Aggregate performances as follows: Grand (100 + 200) Aggregates in each of four classes; Two-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 + 200); Three-gun (HV, LV, SP in 100 + 200) and 4-gun (HV, LV, SP and HB in 100 + 200). In the multi-guns, Harley Baker won the Two-Gun. Gene Bukys added more HOF points by winning the Three-Gun. In the Four-Gun, Virginia’s Wayne Campbell who took the overall four-class Agg with an excellent .2326.
Praise for the Range Crew and Sponsors
The IBS Group Nationals requires a ton of work to run smoothly. The Weikert range’s sparkplugs are Mark Trutt and Dale Boop. This shoot does not happen without those two. This year’s registration and general admin fell to Nancy Scarbrough, who ran a flawless operation. She was assisted by Will Baylor in the scoring and by Stacy Hynes. Steve Dodge oversaw the entire target crew while Larry Hertzog alternated with Mark Trutt as Range Officer.
The benchrest cottage industry should be commended for giving back to the shooters. This year’s sponsors included: BAT actions, Black Hills Shooters Supply, Boops Sporting Goods, Bruno Shooters Supply, Hart Rifle Barrels, Jewel Triggers, JDS Bullets, K&M Precision Shooting, Krieger Rifle Barrels, L. E. Wilson, Pacific Tool & Gauge, and Shilen Rifle Barrels.
Parting Shot — Some Competitors tried to keep up with work while reloading …
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Want to see new-born Pandas? No, not the furry kind — rather Stolle Panda actions produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. If you’ve ever wondered how precision benchrest, long-range, and tactical rifles are built, check out video from Kelbly’s. You’ll see actions finished, barrels chambered and crowned, pillars installed in stocks, barreled actions bedded, plus a host of other services performed by Kelbly’s gunsmiths and machinists.
CLICK Triangle to Launch Kelbly’s Video
If you’re a fan of fine machine-work, this video should be both informative and entertaining. You can see how precision gun work is done with 21st-Century technology. Tip of the hat to Ian Kelbly and crew for producing this excellent video visit to the Kelbly’s production center.
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Here’s the early morning view, looking down-range through Orland Bunker’s 6X Hunter Class scope.
21st Annual Bud Pryor Memorial Match: June 12-14, 2015 Match Report by Richard Grosbier for IBS
It was hot and humid for the 21st Bud Pryor Memorial match. Temperatures were in the high 80s with humidity in the high 90% range all three days. For once we never got rained on. Thunderstorms with high winds were forecast for both Saturday and Sunday. Luckily the storms materialized AFTER the shooting concluded on both days. Wind was not especially strong all weekend but it was tricky and could let off, pick up, or reverse in a heartbeat. Even at 100 yards (on Friday), good shooters lost points.
Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club, Thurmont, Maryland Click Photo above to see large image.
Three 750s Shot in Varmint for Score Grand Agg
In the Varmint for Score (VFS) 100-200-300 Grand Aggregate John Cascarino was the big winner with a 750-35X. This writer was very happy to see John win a big match. He is a great guy who does an enormous amount of work for all IBS shooters and clubs in his role as IBS Second Vice President. Ricky Read was second with a 750-31X followed closely by Wayne France with 750-28X. It is quite unusual for there to be three 750 scores shot at the “Bud”. I checked the IBS website for 11 years back and found no more than two and frequently there are no 750s shot at the event.
VFS Grand Aggregate Winner John Cascarino.
Top honors in Hunter Class went to Randy Jarvais (below) with a 742-23X. Second went to Gary Long with 742-22X and third to Orland Bunker with 737-25X. Most people had an enjoyable weekend, the threatened thunderstorms never materialized until after the shooting was over.
Hunter Class Winner Randy Jarvais.
Roy Hunter and his “Ugly Stock”
Roy Hunter crafts superb wood-composite, carbon-reinforced stocks. These great-shooting stocks are very popular among benchresters, particularly on the East Coast. Roy complained that every time he built himself a rifle somebody would offer to buy it at a price he could not refuse. That was frustrating so Roy built the odd-looking, calico rifle shown below. He deliberately made it “so ugly nobody that would want it.” At least it does (sort-of) match his multi-color prop-top hat. (Will propeller-top beanies become a hot “must-have” item at Benchrest matches, augmenting downrange wind-flags?)
Click Photo below to see large image:
Day by Day Results:
100 Yards on Friday
A large contingent of Southern shooters were competing at the Bud Pryor for the first time. Initially, it seemed that the southerners might take home all the marbles. At Friday’s 100-yard match, Richard Sissel took first with a nice 250-24X score, followed closely by Ronnie Milford with 250-23X. James Parham, also a Southerner, was third with the first of two 22X scores. Match Director Dean Breeden placed fourth.
In Hunter Class, “Mainiac” Orland Bunker turned in an impressive 250-18X score at 100 yards, shooting with a 6-power scope and 2-1/4″-wide fore-end. To put that in perspective, Orland’s score would have placed him ahead of 60% of the VFS shooters, all of whom benefited from using wider stocks and high-magnification optics.
200 Yards on Saturday
Saturday the targets were moved back to 200 yards and the fun continued. Hall-of-Famer Allie Euber from Vermont took top honors in VFS class with a 250-14X score from his LV rifle. In the Points Race for Score Shooter Of the Year (SSOY), it was another sweep for the Southern contingent. Under IBS rules, only the first rifle one shoots may garner SSOY points. Allie did, in fact, win the 200 VFS stage (with his LV). However, as he shot his HV rifle on the second relay and his LV on the third relay, Allie picked up no SSOY points.
Accumulating the most SSOY points was second place Jerry Powers with 250-13X, followed by third place Jim Cline also with 250-13X. In Hunter Class, Orland Bunker was still on a tear, logging a 248-4X score, followed closely by Gary Long with a 247-6X score. Gary’s score included a one-point crossfire penalty. Had he not cross-fired, Gary would have finished first.
300 Yards on Sunday
Sunday’s 300-yard competition is always the big equalizer at this event. Conditions were relatively mild at Thurmont for the 300-yard match but there was enough wind and mirage to keep scores down. Another Hall of Famer, Harley Baker from Pennsylvania, won the yardage with a nice 250-6X score. Dewey Hancock took second (also with a 250-6X score), followed by John Cascarino with the same score. VFS front-runner Richard Sissel shot well but two dropped points moved him down to 13th at 300.
In all there were only five 250s shot of the 44 guns in attendance. Veteran shooter Ricky Read shot 250-4X and Wayne France turned in a 250-2X performance. In Hunter class, the 100/200 front runner Orland Bunker struggled at 300 yards. K.L. Miller, who only shot the 300-yard stage, won Hunter class with a 249-5X. Miller was attempting to break the 300-yard Hunter record and almost did. Randy Jarvais was second with a 247-2X.
Target Cake is a Big Hit
Ready, Aim, Eat. A special hand-decorated cake featured a six-bull target (complete with sighter shots). Beautifully presented, the Bud Pryor bullseye cake was a huge hit with match attendees. Here is Sandy the food lady with the confectionery masterpiece. Sandy also provided wonderful home-cooked food to the shooters at Thurmont.
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Would you like to be a gun-writer and see your work published here on AccurateShooter.com? The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) is looking for an Editor to assist with match reports, competitor profiles, and gear spotlights.
This person would communicate with the IBS website and AccurateShooter.com. He or she would also do some short write-ups about equipment and personalities. Also, the Editor would oversee (but not necessarily write) the “IBS Featured Matches” on the accurateshooter.com website. Monthly salary is modest and negotiable. The IBS notes: “We would prefer a person involved with benchrest competition who has some related expertise.” If you are interested, please contact Jeff Stover, IBS President, via email: jstover33 [at] comcast.net. (Replace the [at] with the @ symbol).
Here is an example of a short shooter profile story the IBS Editor might prepare:
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We know that many of our readers have never seen a “Hammerhead” benchrest stock before. This is a design with an extra wide section in the very front, tapering to a narrow width starting about 6″ back. When paired with a super-wide front sandbag, the hammerhead design provides added stability — just like having a wider track on a racing car. Some folks think mid-range and long-range benchrest stocks can only be 3″ wide. Not so — IBS and NBRSA rules now allow much wider fore-ends. While F-Class Open rules limit fore-end width to 3″ max, there is not such restriction on IBS or NBRSA Light Guns or Heavy Guns for 600- and 1000-yard competition. Here’s a 5″-wide Hammerhead design from Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T).
Ray Bowman of PR&T sent us some photos of another hammerhead benchrest rig. Ray reports: “Here’s another benchrest rifle that Precision Rifle & Tool crafted. The customer shot this rifle at the 2014 IBS 1000-yard Nationals in West Virginia.” This IBS Light Gun sports PR&T’s “Low Boy Hammer Head” stock in red/black laminate. Other components are a 6mm BRUX 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel, Borden BR Action, and a PR&T 20 MOA scope rail.
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Our Aussie friend Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply recently filmed some interesting videos at the QTS range in Brisbane, Australia. Stuart told us: “I was shooting in an Air Gun Benchrest match here in Brisbane, Australia. I finished my target early and was awaiting the cease fire and took a short, slow-motion video of windflag behavior.” You may be surprised by the velocity changes and angle swings that occur, even over a relatively short distance (just 25 meters from bench to target).
Here are windflags in slow motion:
The flags show in the videos are “Aussie Wind Flags”, developed by Stuart Elliot. These are sold in the USA by Butch Lambert, through Shadetree Engineering.
On some internet shooting forums, self-declared “experts” advise new rifle shooters to stick to low-end factory rifles. These “experts” (many of whom don’t own a single really accurate rifle), claim that it will take years for a new shooter to learn how to shoot a rifle accurately. So, the argument goes, the accuracy offered by a precision-chambered rifle, with a custom barrel, is “wasted” on a new shooter.
We disagree with that viewpoint, at least when it comes to rifles shot from a rest. Certainly it takes time for a complete novice to learn how to handle the gun and to work the trigger smoothly. However, we’ve seen relatively new shooters, with help from a skilled mentor, do remarkably well with precision rifles right from the start. With a good bench gun, many new shooters can shoot well under 1 MOA on the first day. This editor has personally seen some inexperienced ladies try their hand at benchrest shooting, and within a month or two they are shooting on a par with the “good old boys” in serious competition.
Here’s a true “Blast from the Past”, a video featuring our friend Stuart Elliott of Brisbane, Australia. This 2011 video has now racked up nearly 680,000 views, making it probably the most-watched long-range benchrest video ever uploaded to YouTube. The video shows Stuart shooting a 10-shot Heavy Gun string at the Brisbane range, Queensland, Australia, in July 2011. In this example, Stuart elected to “run a condition” with his big, .300 WM Heavy Gun, shooting fast with slight hold-off adjustments as the wind increased during the string. The cartridge is a .300 Winchester Magnum, loaded with moly-coated 190gr Berger VLDs. Stuart has an unusual bolt configuration. After each shot, Stuart removes the bolt completely with his right hand, and then uses the bolt to “shuck” the fired cartridge while loading the new cartridge with his left hand. That sounds awkward, but Stuart makes it all look easy. Stuart runs BRT Shooters Supply, a leading vendor of precision shooting equipment (including March scopes), in Australia and nearby regions.
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Starting June 1, 2015, Bullets.com will take over distribution of March Optics scopes in North America, replacing Kelbly’s. You will soon be able to order March scopes from Bullets.com, which now has exclusive March Scopes importing and distribution rights for the USA, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. For a limited time, Bullets.com will offer March scopes at 15% below regular list pricing.
Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia is excited about the March scope deal. He himself uses March scopes on his target rifles, and he knows their quality: “We are very fortunate to have been appointed to be the exclusive distributors for the American continent of a very high end scope line like March. I have been a user of March scopes almost since they were first offered. Many major matches have been won with them.”
Some folks think you need a new (or nearly-new) barrel to win a benchrest match. That may be true in the centerfire game, but in the world of rimfire benchrest, things are different. Good barrels can remain accurate for a long, long time. That was demonstrated by our friend Joe Friedrich who recently set a new ARA 4-target Aggregate record. Joe was shooting his trusty old “Sweet Pea” rifle with a very well-worn barrel. In fact, Joe’s record-setting Benchmark barrel has logged well over 100,000 rounds. That’s right, a barrel with over 100K rounds shot the best 4-target ARA Agg ever. Will wonders never cease…
In this video, Joe talks about his rifle, the amazing longevity of his Benchmark barrel, and the ELEY ammo he used to shoot two 2500s on the same day (with a 2475 average for four targets):
Building your own portable shooting bench is a great do-it-yourself project. You can build a sturdy bench for well under $100 in materials. Compare that to some deluxe factory-built benches which may cost $500.00 or more.
FREE Bench Plans on the Web
You’ll find a wide assortment of home-built shooting bench designs (both portable and fixed) on the internet. Renovation Headquarters has links to FREE Plans and building instructions for fourteen (14) different shooting benches. There are all-wood shooting bench designs as well as benches that combine a wood top with a metal sub-frame or legs.
We first ran this story a couple seasons back. Since they we’ve received many questions about this gun, so we thought we’d give readers another chance to learn about this truly innovative, switch-barrel “convertible” rifle. This gun works for both short-range and long-range benchrest matches.
You interested in a really wild, innovative bench gun that can shoot both short-range and long-range matches? Check out Seb Lambang’s latest “do-it-all” rifle. It’s a switch-barrel rifle combining two very different chamberings: 6 PPC and .284 Winchester. With that caliber combo, Seb’s covered from 100 yards (LV/HV mode) all the way out to 1000 (LR Light Gun mode). But the dual chambering is not the rifle’s only trick feature. Exploiting the new long-range benchrest rules, Seb has fitted a 3″-wide, flat rear metal keel to the buttstock. That counter-balances his 30″-long 7mm barrel, improves tracking, and adds stability. Seb built the stock and smithing was done by Australian gunsmith David Kerr.
Detachable Hammerhead Wing Section Plus Fat-Bottom Keel
To further reduce torque and improve tracking, the stock features an 8″-wide, detachable fore-end fixture. This “hammerhead” fore-end section has extended “wings” on both sides, making the rifle super-stable. The hammerhead unit can be removed, leaving the stock 3″ wide for use in registered benchrest matches where 3″ is the maximum width. The photos below show Seb’s gun in .284 Win Long-Range (LR) Light Gun mode.
Over the years, noted gunsmith and a Benchrest Hall-of-Fame inductee Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez has learned a few things about “tuning” rear sandbags for best performance. On his Facebook page, Speedy recently discussed how sand bag fill levels (hard vs. soft) can affect accuracy. Speedy says you don’t want to have both your front and rear sandbags filled up ultra-hard. One or the other bag needs to have some “give” to provide a shock-absorbing function (and prevent stock jump).
SAND BAGS & HOW TO FILL THEMby Speedy Gonzalez
I was asked several times by competitors at the S.O.A. Matches and F-Class Nationals as to how I fill my sand bags for benchrest competition. Here is a copy of a reply I gave several years ago:
Back in the old days, about the time Fred Flintstone was still alive, I worked for Pat McMillan for free, from time to time to learn all his secrets. One day little Speedy was filling some new sand bags out behind Pat’s shop, stuffing them with more sand than Taco Bell put beans in their Burritos. When Pat stepped out the back door and inquired as to what in the hell was I doing packing them there bags the way I was.
I looked up at him with eyes like a kid with his hands in a cookie jar. My reply must have sounded like Homer Simpson “Doooh”. Finally I said “I don’t know, Boss. I just thought you were supposed to fill these babies up and go shoot. I got that ‘You dumb bastard look’ from Pat and I knew it was lecture time. This was what he told me:
You can not have two bags filled so hard that you gun bounces on them in the process of firing round at your target, especially if you have a rig with a very flexible stock. The bags must be set up in a manner for them to absorb the initial shock of the firing pin moving forward and igniting the primer. Then [they must] maintain their shape and absorb the second shock wave as well the rearward thrust and torque of the rifle. What happens to the rifle when this is not done? Well let me tell you. The rifles have a very bad tendency to jump and roll in the bags. This causes many of those wild, lost shots that one can’t explain.
Charles Huckaba, Ken Terrell, Larry Baggett, Ralph Stewart and some of us Texas shooters talk about this phenomena quite often. We have all agreed that:
1: You can not have two hard bags [i.e. both front AND rear] in your set-up.
2: Heavy sand magnifies these phenomena.
3: If you are a bag squeezer, pack ears hard and leave bag pliable enough to squeeze for the movement required. You may pack front bag as hard as rules permit.
4: Free recoil shooters pack both bags firm, but not so hard as to allow stock jump. Especially if you have a stock with a very flexible forearm.
5: We use play-ground sand, also know as silica sand. I sift mine to get any large impurities out then mix it with 25% to 50% with Harts parakeet gravel to the desired hardness that I am looking for. The bird gravel keeps the sand from packing itself into that solid as a brick state.
Speaking of bricks — another thing that happens when shooters employ that heavy zircon sand is the ears form a low spot under them from recoil and then tend to rock back and forth with the rifle causing many low shots to crop up. Edgewood makes an Edgewood/Speedy rear bag specially reinforced under the ears to eliminate this scenario.
One last note –If you use the Cordura bags keep them sprayed with a good silicon spray or “Rain-Ex”. This keeps them from getting sticky. Hey guys, try that and see if it helps. — Speedy
P.S.: I do not like the solid double-stitched leather bottoms. While this seems like a good idea, I see more shooters have problems because of them. They tend to slide around the bench and or slide with the rifle on recoil. The standard Protektor with Cordura rabbit ears and an Otto ring bag with a Cordura front would be what I would suggest to the new shooter or one of the Edgewood / Speedy rear bags, these mimic the “Donut” and feature a ring of leather around the bottom circumference that keep the bottom from rocking on the bench or ground if that is where you reside these days…
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This is the kind of family-friendly, “feel-good” story we like. Texan Richard King created a rimfire benchrest rifle using a classic Martini Mark III smallbore action. He fitted the gun with a new flat, wide forearm and a new buttstock, allowing the gun to sit steady on the bags and track smoothly. The narrow action was also fitted with a cantilevered top rail to hold a high-magnification scope.
Here is Vicki King, with Martini Mark III and her trophy.
But here’s the best part. Richard provided this updated classic to his wife Vicki, who proceded to win a rimfire benchrest match (Vintage class) with the old Martini. Richard reports: “Here is my lovely wife with her High Overall Vintage trophy. That is a Martini Mark III that I re-stocked in walnut for 50-yard, .22-caliber benchrest matches. It’s great to have her shooting with me again.” FYI, last summer Richard and Vicki celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!
Bravo Richard — kudos to you AND to your lovely bride. It’s great to see a couple shooting together. It’s also great to see a classic rifle brought back to the winner’s circle with some inspired stock-work and other upgrades.
Here is Richard King, with his handiwork — an updated Martini Mark III smallbore rifle.
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Our Irish Friend Enda Walsh has been working overtime on a new project, and it’s a beauty. Enda has produced some stunning wood stocks for long-range F-Class applications, and now he’s come up with a new design for the short-range rimfire game. Enda’s new stock combines an ergonomic, prone-style grip area with a stiff, carbon-reinforced fore-end. The very front of the stock features “winglets” for smooth bag-riding. Believe it or not, this stock weighs under two pounds!
Enda tells us: “This Benchrest stock was the most time-consuming job I’ve done in a while as there was a two-pound weight limit. I used black walnut and carbon fiber to achieve a very strong yet lightweight stock. The stock features a lacquer finish and the .22LR Anschütz action was pillar-bedded into the stock. I’m delighted to have ended up with a stock weight of one pound, 15 ounces.”
About Enda Walsh, Master Stock-Maker
There are few master craftsmen who can create a truly “bespoke” wood stock customized for the owner. Ireland’s Enda Walsh is one such talent. Through Custom & Precision Rifles Ireland, Enda creates high-quality stocks for hunters, prone shooters, and F-class competitors. Enda first started building stocks in 2001 for himself and friends, and grew the business over time. Enda explains: “Demand gradually increased until in 2009 the decision was taken to make it my full-time occupation. My goal with my business is to manufacture precise custom rifle stocks to the highest standard, tailored in every detail to best serve the shooters requirements.” Enda adds: “I started Guns Stocks Ireland (now Custom & Precision Rifles Ireland) to produce custom, individually-tailored gunstocks. I build from hand casts so your gun is genuinely an extension of your arm.”
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Report by Boyd Allen
This pistol belongs to Dan Lutke, a Bay Area benchrest shooter who publishes the results for the Visalia matches to the competitors and the NBRSA. He has been an enthusiastic competitor for an number of years, at various ranges, notably Visalia and Sacramento. The action is a Remington XP-100, to which a Kelbly 2 oz. trigger has been fitted. On top is an old Japanese-made Tasco 36X scope (these were actually pretty darn good). The Hart barrel (a cast-off from Dan’s Unlimited rail gun) was shortened and re-chambered for the 6x45mm, a wildcat made by necking-up the .223 Remington parent case. The custom stock/chassis was CNC-machined by Joe Updike from 6061 Billet Aluminum to fit the XP-100 action and mount a target-style AR grip with bottom hand rest. The gun was bedded and assembled by Mel Iwatsubu. In his XP-100 pistol, Dan shoots 65gr custom boat-tails with Benchmark powder.
TEN Shots in 0.303″ (0.289 MOA) at 100 Yards
How does Dan’s XP-100 pistol shoot? Look at that target showing TEN shots at 100 yards, with eight (8) shots in the main cluster at the top. The ten-shot group measures .303″ (0.289 MOA), as calculated with OnTarget Software. Not bad for a handgun! What do you think, can your best-shooting rifle match the 10-shot accuracy of this XP-100 pistol?
This diagram shows the most common 6x45mm wildcat, which is a necked-up version of the .223 Remington parent cartridge. NOTE: The dimensions for Dan Lutke’s benchrest version of this cartridge may be slightly different.
ACAD drawing by Peter Gnanapragasam CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Title Added.
Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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If you’ve tried one of the Chombart-designed, CG X-Treme Mod 22 triggers*, you know it is one of the best two-stage triggers you can buy. Now there’s a model, adjustable from 0.5 to 3.5 pounds pull weight, for shooters who prefer single-stage operation. This single-stage trigger will be offered by X-Treme Shooting Products (XTSP) in three versions, two with an integral lever-style safety. You can choose an adjustable trigger shoe (shown at right) or a conventional solid-style shoe. The trigger offers over-travel adjustment. That’s important — we’ve found some shooters like minimal over-travel while other shooters want to be able to pull smoothly past the break point. We expect to see this new trigger used in F-Class rifles as well as mid-range and long-range benchrest rigs.
No Lubrication Needed
The sears are nickel + Teflon coated, so the XTSP single-stage trigger can work smoothly with zero lubrication. That helps the trigger stay gunk-free even in dusty conditions. The new trigger boasts a rugged CNC-machined steel body, just like the two-stage Mod 22 trigger. This new trigger should be available before the end of the summer. Mod 22 two-stage triggers cost $300.00-$350.00. We expect the new XTSP single-stage triggers to retail at roughly the same price point, but that’s a guess.
*The CG Mod 22 trigger was originally designed by Robert Chombart of France and updated by X-Treme Shooting Products for the U.S. market. The Model 22 trigger is the successor to the popular CG Jackson trigger also known as the Mod 21. The Mod 21 was designed to be universal and fit a variety of popular actions. However, in the Remington action, the Model 21 had clearance issues when installed in repeater rifles. The Mod 21 trigger is no longer manufactured. The Mod 22 target trigger is a 2-stage, 4-lever trigger for Remington 700 actions and Rem 700 clones. The Mod 22 tactical trigger utilizes 3 levers to increase the final pull weight. Both Mod 22 trigger versions feature a re-designed upper frame to fit into the receiver with two cross pins. This eliminates clearance problems with internal box magazines or detachable box magazines.
Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Over the years, many different concentricity tools have been on the market. Various approaches have been taken to straightening rounds that exhibit poor concentricity. With extreme examples of excessive run-out, the bullet is is visibly crooked in the neck with the bullet tip clearly off-center. That’s never a good thing. Straight ammo shoots better.
Straighten-Up and Fly Right
If you could straighten up crooked rounds, accuracy should be improved. In the past, some tools promised more than they delivered. But now Bill Goad, a record-setting benchrest shooter, has invented a new tool that improves concentricity via an impact or “jarring” method. A vertical rod with a curved face mates with the case-neck. You spin the case to find the “high spot” of max eccentricity. Then just tap the rod a couple of times and the neck comes back onto centerline. You can then confirm the concentricity improvement with the dial indicator. Watch the video to see how this is done. Pay particular attention to times 01:25 to 01:45. The case starts at .004″ run-out (01:32). After correction (01:40) the neck shows less than .001″ (one-thousandth) run-out.
Bill Goad knows something about accuracy. He shot a 10-target 100/200 benchrest Combined Aggregate of 0.178″ (see video at 00:15-00:35). Bill Goad’s tool offers advantages over systems that clamp a cartridge at both ends and try to bend the case or tilt the bullet without straightening the neck. Goad’s new Fli-Right tool is available now from PremierAccuracy.com.
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