Benchrest Hall-of-Famer Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez has teamed up with the Shurley Brothers on a new ARK series of wood laminate competition stocks. Speedy has combined the best features of various popular F-Class and Long-range Benchrest stocks into new designs to be produced by Shurley Brothers Custom in Austin, Texas. These stocks should be very straight and geometrically correct as they will be crafted on the Shurley Brothers’ new CNC mills. These stocks will be made with new-generation precision technology, not old school duplicating machines.
Initially two models will be offered: the “Hand of God” (HOG) and the “Spear of Destiny” (SOD). Both are designed for multiple shooting disciplines, so they should work well both for benchrest and for prone F-Open shooting. (FWIW, John Myers used a Speedy-crafted stock to win the 2015 Mid-Range National Championship). The forearm is 76mm (2.99″) to comply with F-Open limits. A wide variety of options will be available including adjustable Cheek Piece, adjustable length of pull, carbon fiber inserts, and exotic woods.
We like many aspects of the new stocks. First, the front of the stock is low profile, placing the barrel close to the bags for better tracking (and less hop). However, a deeper (top to bottom) section extends forward of the action — this is important. We have seen some low-profile stocks that suffer from forearm flex/hinging because they don’t leave enough wood under the action area. Speedy’s design eliminates this problem. Another nice feature of this stock is the subtle curve from the back of the action to the buttpad mount. Speedy calls this the “scooped cheek”. This allows the “driver” to shoot without face contact if he prefers, but it also allows for a higher buttpad position — which is useful when shooting heavy recoiling chamberings such as the .300 WSM.
Note how the comb area has a curve to provide clearance. For those shooters who prefer to have face contact on the gun, an adjustable Cheek Piece is offered.
Shurley Brothers Custom says these new ARK stocks are fully customizable for competition shooters with optional carbon fiber, adjustable R.A.D. systems, and many other features. The stocks, uninletted, will run $750.00. CNC-inletting (for action of your choice) is an additional $100.00. Here are some of the many available options:
— Pillar Bed and Inlet: $425.00
— Custom Wood Upgrade (Price Dependent On Wood): $100.00 – $500.00
— Full-length Carbon Fiber Stringers: $200.00
— Cheek Piece Addition: $100.00
— Cooling Ports (Buick Vents): $60.00
— R.A.D. System #2A: $335.00 (plus $100.00 to install)
— 3-Way Butt Plate: Call for Price
— Adjustable Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: Call for Price
— Install Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: $150.00
— Stock Finish & Clear Coat: $350.00
— Carbon Fiber Forearm Tunnel: $300.00
The underside of the forearm is relieved in the center, leaving twin outboard rails. This helps stabilize the rifle and aids tracking. (A conventional, flat forearm without rails tends to rock if there is any hump in the middle of the sandbag). Between the rails is a carbon-fiber stiffening insert.
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Here’s a simple solution for lumpy front sandbags. Cut a small block the width of your fore-end and place that in the front bag between matches. You can tap it down firmly with a rubber mallet. This will keep the front bag nice and square, without bunching up in the center. That will help your rifle track straight and true. Rick Beginski uses wood (see photo), while our friend John Southwick uses a small block of metal. The metal block might work a little better, but the wood version is easier to make with simple tools. John Loh of JJ Industries offers a slick Delrin block with a built-in bubble level. Loh’s block helps ensure that the actual top surface of your front bag is level, as distinct from the front rest assembly.
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Did you know that, since 2009, Canada has had its own dedicated website for short-range benchrest: www.Benchrest.ca? Founder/webmaster Rick Pollock notes: “As Benchrest up here in the great white north has little or no web presence, a website was long overdue. It is non-commercial and not affiliated with any one sanctioning body. The only aim is to get more people into Benchrest in Canada.”
The site is a valuable resource. You’ll find upcoming BR matches (in Benchrest.ca online forum), a list of clubs, recent news, and, of course, match reports. In addition there is a buy/sell “classifieds ads” section, as well as a photo gallery. Benchrest.ca also has a YouTube Video Archive with clips showing many of the legends of the sport. Here’s a 2010 Benchrest.ca video showing Tony Boyer at the 2010 NBRSA Nationals:
If you live “North of the Border” and shoot benchrest for score and/or group, definitely visit (and bookmark) www.Benchrest.ca.
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At the 2015 F-Class National Championships, nearly three-quarters of the F-Open shooters were using SEB coaxial front rests. And the man who makes them, Sebastian Lambang, was on the firing line too. Seb shot very well, finishing in second position in the F-TR division for the Saturday (Oct. 31) session. For those shooting F-Open or benchrest matches, Seb’s joystick rests really do represent the current state-of-the-art in front rest design. Courtesy of Seb, here are some photos that illustrate the “inner workings” of the SEB NEO Front Rest.
If you’ve ever wondered how a joystick front rest works, and how the parts go together, study the photos below. In addition, for those who use a NEO rest in competition, Benchrest Champion Mike Ratigan offers some PRO USER Tips that will help you get the best results from your NEO.
Unique Features of the SEB NEO Front Rest:
Lots of Travel — 43 MOA Vertical and 48 MOA Horizontal via joystick alone. The NEO offers more joystick travel than any other coaxial rest.
Variable Joystick Movement — The NEO is the only rest that can be configured for reverse action mode. That means you can optionally set it to lower the rifle with an up movement of the joystick if you prefer. (Standard setting raises rifle with up joystick movement.)
Rack & Pinion Risers — The NEO has dual support columns with Rack & Pinion system, offering a very broad vertical adjustment range.
Optional Counter-Weights — The NEO comes standard with a spring-loaded top mechanism to help hold up the rifle. Optional counter-weights allow you to reduce spring “pre-load”. Many people feel the counter-weights also allow a smoother, less jerky movement.
Reversible Base — The NEO’s base can be set-up with either the long leg in the rear or the long leg in the front. Putting the long leg in front gives more room under the rifle.
NEO Packs Flat — The SEB NEO is easily dismantled for transport, and can pack nearly flat. This is a big advantage when traveling.
Counter-weight Function and Calibration: “With the Seb NEO, equipped with the optional static counter-weight, the shooter can calibrate the counter weight to the rifle weight. The counter-weight is used to hold up the rifle. Clamping pressure of the sliding plates is NOT used to hold up the rifle like other coaxial rests on the market today. Other coaxial rests apply enough clamping force to the rest top mechanism sliding plates to resist the downward movement of the top when the rifle weight sets on the rest. This one feature of the Seb NEO almost completely eliminates bullets falling out of the bottom of your groups because the rest moved (or falls) down when you fired the rifle. This function is very important.”
On Hand Position: “I try to keep the palm of my hand grounded to the bench at all times. To do this at the closer distances, the handle will be laying flat (bend to the side) while shooting on the bottom of the target. To move to the top up (for right-handed shooters) I rotate the handle counter clockwise, which [raises the top] while maintaining my palm grounded to the bench.”
On Front Bag Fill: “Give some coarse sand blasting sand a try with the small stuff screened out. This will help reduce compaction from daily use.”
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IBS Report by Randy Jarvais
The 2015 IBS 100/200 Score Nationals were held August 22-24 in Augusta, Maine at the Capitol City Rifle and Pistol Club. By all accounts, the 2015 Score Nationals event was another success. Fifty-three guns participated in this year’s Score Nationals, with 38 Varmint for Score (VFS) and 15 Hunter rifles registered. Nine shooters competed for the 2-Gun award. Mike Niblett shot great to win the Varmint for Score (VFS) Grand Agg, while finishing first at 200 yards and second at 100 yards. Mike’s impressive 500-39X Grand Agg total was just one point shy of the current IBS record. Kudos to Mr. Niblett! Dean Breeden won Hunter Class with Randy Jarvais in second — and that was also the result for the 2-Gun Grand Agg (Breeden first, Jarvais second).
Among the Top 10 VFS shooters, nine shot a 30 BR, while the 10th campaigned an unidentified 30-caliber cartridge. Six of the Top 10 VFS shooters used Hodgdon H4198 powder, three used Vihtavuori N130, and one loaded with Hodgdon H322. Krieger barrels were used by five of the Top 10, with two Bruxes, two Liljas, and one Rock Creek. There were a wide variety of bullet choices. VFS Winner Mike Niblett used a Hillbilly 118-grainer while 2-Gun winner Dean Breeden used 115gr “10X” bullets in both his rifles (VFS and Hunter).
Southerners Shine in Augusta
From a Maine perspective, every USA destination is south, but the true South was well represented in both number and quality of shooters. To illustrate, in the 100-yard leg of VFS class only one person north of the Mason/Dixon line was able to crack the top seven positions, and he had the home field advantage. For match One, five shooters shot 5X targets, but from then on it was the Jerry Powers show. Powers, from North Carolina, put together a string of three 5X targets before faltering with a 3X during match four. Undaunted, Powers finished strong with another 5X. He needed to, as his 23Xs were but one better than both Mike Niblett of Kentucky and Jim Cline of South Carolina.
Eight VFS Shooters Post 500-Point 100/200 Grand Aggregates
At the Capitol City Range, the 100-yard targets are downhill, while the 200-yard targets are near level with the benches. While the benches are covered there is little covered area aft for equipment in waiting. With the prospect of showers for the entire weekend, Club members rigged tarps, hoping to provide a dry haven if needed. For the most part, ‘Tarp City’ worked sufficiently well. Fortunately, after Friday’s rain, the remainder of the weekend was mostly free of any heavy precipitation.
Score Nationals competitors line up for the Rifle Weigh-In process. The blue tarps provided a little extra protection from the elements.
Thunder and Lightning, then Drizzle on Sunday
Although the weather was very nice while shooting the 100, shortly thereafter the sky opened up with an impressive display of thunder and lightning. Although that front passed, Sunday’s weather started as overcast with drizzle and showers, but no lightning. Winds started mild but as the day unfolded and the sun was able to break through, so did the wind — it became down right gnarly during some relays. The wind was gusty, and constant switching from 11:30 to 12:30 was problematic, creating vertical issues. Even so, nine shooters were able to shoot 250s at 200 yards on Sunday, all from the VFS class.
Tough Competition in Hunter Division
In IBS, Maine is the last stronghold of hunter classification shooters, thus it was no surprise that the Hunter class was the National’s largest in recent memory. At 100 yards, five Hunter shooters shot perfect 250s on Saturday. Dean Breeden nailed a 250-19X followed by Randy Jarvais with 250-18X. Third place went to K.L. Miller who out-dueled Peter Hills and Tim O’Mara who were the other two 6-power shooters to shoot the coveted 250.
In the 6-power Hunter class, the battle between Breeden and Jarvais continued on Sunday. Breeden started better and maintained a 2X lead through match three. Skip Plummer, a long-time 6-power shooter (with a very “stock”-locking rig), shot three straight 50-point targets (on targets 2, 3, and 4) to threaten the two leaders.
Breeden shot a 50-1X on his fifth and final 200-yard target and watched through his spotter, while Jarvais dropped one point on his very last shot for record at 200. The order of finish for the five-target, 200-yard leg was Breeden (249-6X), Jarvais (248-5X) and Plummer (247-8X). Sweeping both the 100- and 200-yard legs gave Breeden (499-25X) the Hunter Grand Agg with Jarvais (498-23X) placing second.
Breedan Wins 2-Gun Aggregate… Again
The 2-Gun is a recent award and as yet has been contested but a few times. That doesn’t diminish the feat that there has been but one winner of the award, Dean Breeden. Prior to match 5 on Sunday, Jarvais had the Xs to dethrone Breeden from the 2-gun award, but this is a score game. Match 5 is now a nightmare memory for Jarvais, losing the last shot with each gun. So close yet so far! Breeden on the other hand proved again why he is the competitor to beat. With all the chips on the table, Dean did what he needed to do — dropping just a single point in the entire match. Breedan finished with 999-50X (for both guns) to secure another 2-Gun title, followed by Randy Jarvais (997-55X) two points back. That was tough for Randy, but as Orland Bunker observed: “All the Xs in the world means nothing if you don’t have the points.”
Every Shooter Was a Winner
The Capitol City Rifle and Pistol Club offered a rich prize table. Thirty Benchrest vendors donated nearly $9000.00 worth of hardware and shooting supplies. That generosity allowed each shooter to receive a door prize. In addition, a Nightforce Competition scope was raffled off, with the proceeds earmarked for new concrete benches. Wyatt Fox of New Hampshire was the lucky winner of the Nightforce.
All shooters received a door prize. Lucky Wyatt Fox (above right) received a Nightforce scope.
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Report by Clint Johnson, ACWLC
The 2015 IBS 200/300 Yard National Championships were held September 12-13 at the Ashe County Wildlife Club (ACWLC) outside Jefferson, North Carolina. Fifty shooters from 13 states attended. Nightforce was the major event sponsor, donating a $2,400 rifle scope. While rain threatened to mar the 200-yard match on Saturday, none fell. By Sunday, the day of the 300-yard shoot, the first cold front of the fall had passed, leaving mostly sunny conditions.
Conditions Keep Scores Low At 200/300 Yard Nationals
The rain that fell on Friday night started drying Saturday morning when the sun rose. That slow evaporation created mirage that plagued shooters looking northeast down the two-year-old, 300-yard range with a 50-foot high backstop. The wind that came in with the cold front also hampered shooters on both days.
Mean Conditions at Ashe County
“Shooters told me the conditions were as bad as they have ever shot”, said Steve Eller, the IBS chair for the Wildlife Club. “We all had a hard time seeing the rings through the mirage blur. No one shot clean, and no records were set.”
Shooters came from as far away as Maine, Indiana and Florida to Ashe County, “the coolest corner of North Carolina”. The ACWLC range is located in the mountainous northwest point of the state with Virginia to the north and Tennessee to the west. Some of those shooters have made every one of the four IBS-sanctioned matches held at the club this year and last year. The Club hosted the 100 and 200 Yard National Championship in 2014, the first full year since the opening of the club house in 2013 with its 30 benches protected by an overhang.
“I love coming here. It is my favorite place to shoot,” said Hillary Martinez of Damascus, Maryland. Hillary, shown below, was one of the four women shooters this year.
Danny Hensley of Jonesville, Virgina, won the Grand Aggregate Varmint for Score (VFS) with a score of 493 (10X), followed by David Richardson with 492 (11X) and Randy Jarvais with 491 (12X). Danny talks about his victory in the audio clip linked below. To listen, click on the black arrow in the white circle.
AUDIO FILE: Danny Hensley Talks about the Conditions at the 200/300 Nationals.
Here are all the Class Winners at the IBS 200/300 Yard Nationals:
Wayne France of Burke, Va. won the 200-Yard VFS with a score of 250 (11X), followed by rookie Ken Habedank with score of 250 (8X), and David Richardson with a score of 250 (8X).Morris Williams of Eden, Maryland, won the 300-Yard VFS with a score of 244 (3X), followed by Danny Hensley with a score of 243 (4X), and David Richardson with a score of 242 (3X).
There were just five (5) shooters in the Hunter Class. Dean Breeden topped the small field to win the Hunter Grand Aggregate with a score of 483 (10X), followed by Randy Jarvais with a sore of 480 (7X), and K.L. Miller with a score of 478 (12X). Randy Jarvais won the 200-Yard Hunter with a score of 248 (6X), followed by K.L. Miller with a score of 246( 8X), and Dean Breeden with a score of 246 (7X). Orland Bunker of Damariscotta, Maine, won the 300-Yard Hunter with a score of 238 (2X), followed by Dean Breeden with a score of 237 (3X), and K.L. Miller with a score of 232 (4X).
Dean Breeden (Frederick, Maryland) had a beautifully-figured wood composite rifle.
Barbecue North Carolina Style
Some shooters remarked that they drove to Ashe County not only to shoot, but to eat as well. A 300-pound hog was slow-cooked all Friday night by Club members. Corn was also roasted on the grill. The cost of this distinctive North Carolina pork barbecue was included in the registration fee.
Ashe County Wildlife Club maintains a website, www.acwlc.org and a public Facebook page. The Club hosts rifle, pistol, and shotgun sports (skeet, trap, sporting clays) events at its range facility located about 15 miles east of West Jefferson at 3220 Big Peek Creek Road, Laurel Springs, NC (turn north off NC Highway 88). Visit www.acwlc.org to learn more about the club or obtain Membership applications.
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Barney M. Auston of Tulsa, OK with rifle he built to break NBRSA record and win $250 cash award from Sierra Bullets. (From cover of Precision Shooting magazine. May 1956).
Way back in 1955 Sierra Bullets offered a $1000 prize for anyone setting a new Aggregate benchrest record with a 6mm (or larger) bullet. At the time the .222 Remington ruled the roost, and Sierra wanted to promote the larger caliber. Sierra also offered a $250.00 prize for a record-breaking performance with any size caliber (including the .22s). Here is the story of how a Tulsa shooter claimed the $250.00 award with a world-record-setting Aggregate involving 10-shot groups at 100 and 200 yards.
Barney Auston’s record-setting rifle was built on an FN Mauser action with double set trigger, with a Hart stainless steel barrel, 30″ x 1 1/8″, chambered for the .222 Remington cartridge. The stock, made by Auston, has a hydraulic bedder as made by L. F. Landwehr of Jefferson City, MO. The scope is a 24X, 2″ inch Unertl. Mr. Auston shot 50gr bullets, custom made by W. M. Brown of Augusta, Ohio, with .705″ Sierra cups and soft swedged. His powder charge was 21 grains of 4198. The rifle rests, both front and rear, were also made by Auston.
On August 20, 1955, shooting at night in a registered shoot on the John Zink range near Tulsa, Oklahoma, Barney M. Auston of Tulsa broke the existing National Match Course aggregate record and, as the first to do that in 1955, won the Sierra Bullets $250 cash award. Here is the original Sierra Bullets prize offer from 1955:
10-Shot Groups at 100 and 200
Mr. Auston’s winning Aggregate for the National Match Course (five 10-shot groups at 100 yards and five 10-shot groups at 200 yards) was .4512 MOA. He also broke the 200-yard aggregate with an average of .4624 MOA, beating the .4801 match MAO record set by L.E. Wilson only a month earlier.
Barney Auston was a custom rifle maker in Tulsa who fabricated the rifles used by many of the leading benchrest competitors in the Mid-Continent and Guild Coast Regions. Auston was himself one of the top benchrest shooters in those regions during his shooting career.
Editor’s Note: Both of Mr. Auston’s records were broken before the end of the 1955 shooting season, but Auston was the first to win the Sierra Prize. Interestingly, in setting his record, Austin broke the existing Agg record by L.E. Wilson of Cashmere, Washington — yes, the same L.E. Wilson that now makes dies.
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The NBRSA short-range Group Benchrest Nationals commenced this week at the St. Louis Benchrest Club Range in Wright City, Missouri. This will be followed, next week, by the World Benchrest Shooting Federation (WBSF) Championships at the same venue. Lapua staffer (and Forum member) Kevin Thomas trekked to Missouri for this combined National/International event. Kevin reports: “The best benchrest shooters [on the planet] will fight it out over the next two weeks to see who can shoot the smallest groups possible. And I’ve got to say, many of these shooters are truly amazing. It doesn’t hurt a bit that virtually all of them are shooting Lapua brass, either.”
The WBSF event has attracted shooters from around the world. Benchrest aces from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa are already in St. Louis, with other international competitors set to arrive next week. On Monday, Day One of the NBRSA Nationals, the Unlimited Class rigs showed off their capabilities. As shown below, these heavy rail guns represent the pinnacle of precision in the 100/200-yard benchrest game.
Here’s living legend Walt Berger, founder of Berger Bullets. Now in his late 80s, Walt is still competing at a very high level. Walt is proof that Benchrest shooting is truly a “sport for a lifetime”.
Here’s a beautiful Missouri sunrise captured as Kevin Thomas drove to St. Louis for the 2015 NBRSA Benchrest Championships.
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Forum member Evan K. (aka “Katokoch”) has crafted a nice rimfire benchrest rig using a Suhl action fitted into a handsome home-built cedar and carbon fiber stock. This shows what a skilled hobbyist wood-worker can create in his garage. Evan tells us: “Here is my Suhl 150-1 with a factory 1:19″ twist barrel, Leupold 36X scope, Harrell tuner, and my handmade cedar/carbon fiber stock. I started working on the laminate blank a couple years ago and finally finished it earlier this year. I’ve been using it in my IR 50/50 matches this summer. I haven’t shot a 250 with it yet but I know the rifle is very capable — as usual, I am the weak link!”
We think Evan did a great job on his stock, though he has limited stock-building experience. Evan explained: “The stock is my first attempt at making a very lightweight laminate and also gluing both vertical and horizontal seams in a blank. The wood is Spanish and Red Cedar and I made the trigger guard and buttplate with carbon fiber too (great use for small scrap pieces). The finish is hand-rubbed spar urethane and the action is semi-glued-in with Devcon 10110 and stainless pillars.”
USRA-IR50/50 is a popular .22 rimfire benchrest discipline with three (3) classes: 13.5 lb., 10.5 lb., and 7.5 lb. (Sporter). The matches are shot at 50 yards and 50 meters.
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As far as we can tell, the first-ever formal benchrest shooting match took place in 1944 at the Tacoma Rifle & Revolver Club in Tacoma, Washington. Known today as the “Sniper King Competition”, this is still a popular event, drawing top shooters from around the country.
Our friend Lou Murdica bested the competition this year to win the Sniper King competition and Benchrest shooting’s oldest trophy. Take a look at that target. That’s a TEN-Shot group at TWO hundred yards. That works out to 0.1299 MOA for ten shots. That’s might impressive…
We have to give Lou credit for his shooting skills and loading spectacularly accurate ammo. Lou was running a Kelbly action, Shilen Barrel, and March scope. He loaded 6mm Berger 65gr BT bullets driven by Accurate LT 30 powder.
Have you ever shot a smaller TEN-shot group, even at 100 yards? If so, tell us about that, by posting a comment below.
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Deep Creek 1000-yard line: 46°55’35.03” N 114°14’45.40” W, elevation 3355′.
The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) welcomes the Montana NW 1000 Yard Benchrest Club as a newly-affiliated club hosting registered IBS matches. The Montana club’s origins go back to 1996 when the Whitefish (Montana) Rifle and Pistol Club affiliated with the Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Benchrest Club (Williamsport) to conduct 1000-yard matches. Early in 1998 the Northwest 1000-Yard Benchrest Association was formed to promote 1000-yard benchrest competition in affiliation with Williamsport. The Club now operates at the Deep Creek Range as the Montana NW 1000 Yard Benchrest Club (www.MT1000yd.com), an IBS-affilated organization.
2015 Championships at Deep Creek
The 2015 Championships were held this past weekend, August 7-9. The video below features the winners from this year’s championships, Tom Mousel (Two-Gun Overall), Leo Anderson (Heavy Gun Overall), and Bill Johnson (Light Gun Overall). The three winners describe their equipment. Tom shot a pair of 17-lb 6mm Dashers, running Vapor Trail Bullets pushed by CCI 400 primers and Hodgdon H4895 powder. The brass is Lapua 6mmBR hydro-formed to Dasher with lightly-turned necks.
Here is one of Tom Mousel’s match-winning rifles, and an impressive 100-3X, 10-shot target:
The Club holds 12 shoots per year over six weekends that count towards the 6- and 10-shot Aggregates for the year. The Championship Shoot held in August is match number 11 and 12 and does not count for Aggs. More than $20,000 worth of prizes were donated by major sponsors this year. The prize table featured scopes from Nightforce and Vortex, actions from DeFrance, Borden, BAT, Kelbly, and Stiller, plus barrels from Bartlein, Benchmark, Brux, Caliber, Krieger, and McGowen.
The Deep Creek Rifle Range is located near Missoula, Montana. Club members are continually upgrading the 1000-Yard Range, which has become one of the best long-distance benchrest shooting facilities in the country. The Deep Creek Rifle Range invites shooters to visit this scenic shooting facility. Participation in club matches continues to grow, and club members hold several 1000-yard World Records for group, score, and Aggregates of both. For more information on club shoots and joining the club, contact Alex Wheeler: zfast_malibu [at] yahoo.com.
Here’s “Bunker Buster”, a metal-stocked Heavy Gun (HG):
At Deep Creek, competitors shoot three (3) classes: IBS Light Gun (LG), IBS Heavy Gun (HG), and a special 11-pound class. At registered matches, Light Gun shoots five shots per relay, Heavy Gun shoots 10 shots, while the 11-pound class shoots five shots. For more information on classes and courses of fire, visit MT1000yd.com or send email to: northwest1000ydbenchrest [at] gmail.com.
New World Records Set at July 2015 Match:
Important 1K records were set at the Club’s July 9-10 match earlier this summer. Tom Mousel broke the Light Gun 10-match score record and Heavy Gun 10-match group record. Jim Williams broke the HG 10-match score Agg record. In the video below, Tom Mousel talks about his record-breaking performances.
Missoula, Montana Travel Tips
The City of Missoula is nestled in the Northern Rockies of Montana, at the confluence of three rivers. Surrounded by seven wilderness areas, Missoula is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. You can kayak, raft or tube through downtown, or take a relaxing hike in 60,000 acres of wilderness minutes from your hotel. Missoula is known for blue-ribbon trout fishing (made famous by the movie A River Runs Through It) and spectacular natural beauty.
Missoula is a popular destination for shopping and dining, featuring three shopping districts and an abundance of restaurants, cafes, and brew-pubs with something to fit all budgets and palates. Known for its eclectic culture, Missoula offers a wide variety of entertainment including theater, film festivals, college sports, ballet, and even roller derby.
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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.