May 23rd, 2020

2020 Berger Southwest Nationals Equipment Lists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cartridge Selection in F-Open Division

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

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

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

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May 3rd, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Lapua Brux Borden

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

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

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

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

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

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

PARTING SHOT — Have Guns, Will Travel

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

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

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February 23rd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: The Klemm Clan — Father and Son F-TR Aces

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian Klemm won back-to-back 2017/2018 USA F-TR National Championships. His next big challenge will be the 2021 World Championships, where his father Ken Klemm will be one of his teammates on Team USA.

Over the last 30 years, a family saga has been playing out in rural Wisconsin: a father fosters within his son the joy of competitive target shooting. It started in a basement shooting range of a small-town elementary school, shooting single-shot rimfire target rifles while cementing the fundamentals of sight alignment, breathing, trigger control, and safety. With a background of competitive smallbore shooting in school and the U.S. Navy, Ken Klemm coached his son, Ian, in a father/son indoor winter shooting league. Ian was determined to shoot as well or better than his Dad and would pursue that goal for the next 30 years. Even after his engineering career took him to the Washington DC area for defense-related work, Ian continued to compete with his Dad by mailing “postal match” targets back and forth for many years.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian and Ken Klemm have shot successfully together as members of Team X-Men.

Ken even came to visit Ian out east, with rifle in tow, where they entered the Virginia State 1000-yard Benchrest Championship on a whim with their entry-level (factory) F-Class rifles. Ken’s record target measured 0.003″ smaller than his son’s but Ian was getting closer to matching his Dad. Ian eventually moved back to Wisconsin after taking a design job with Vortex Optics, only a few miles from his hometown, and now he and his Dad could compete in earnest, both against each other and as teammates on the X-Men F-Class club team.

ian klemm rifle

Ian’s trigger time increased significantly with his new vocation and he was lucky enough to design a new competition scope, the Vortex Golden Eagle, for both to use. Armed with two nearly identical new rifles and their new optics, Ian and Ken began traveling cross-country together to compete alongside their X-Men teammates, winning multiple National F-Class Championships together.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion

Matched F-TR Rifles with Kelbly Actions, McMillan X-It Stocks, Bartlein Barrels
Both Ken’s and Ian’s match rifles are built using the same winning hardware — Kelbly actions, McMillan X-It stocks, and Bartlein barrels. Also, Ian and Ken both run similar loads: Lapua .308 Win Palma brass, Vihtavuori N150 Powder, and Berger 200-20X bullets. In addition to the components listed below, they use some special equipment: bipod lowering kits from FClassProducts.com, large rear bigfoot bags from Seb Lambang (SebRests.com), and “Dri-Gun” rain protection from BarrelCool.com.

Gun Specifications
Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm scopes
Kelbly Panda actions
McMillan X-It stocks
Bartlein 1:10″-twist, 30″ barrels
Phoenix Precision Bipods
Load Specifications
Lapua .308 Win Palma (small primer) Brass
VihtaVuori N150 Powder
CCI BR-4 Primers
Berger 200-20X Bullets
Seating: 0.015″ jump

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion

Father and Son Share their Winning Strategies
Having each other to share tips and techniques and confirm winning strategies with has certainly helped Ken and Ian compete successfully together over the last few years. Common between them are the strategies of bracketing wind conditions with sighters as well as using the Golden Eagle’s aperture stop ring (ASR) to more effectively observe mirage and ultimately quantify wind value. They both try to shoot in a building wind condition as it more slowly increases in velocity while challenging each other to stop during a string at the first sign of a potential “let off” or sudden decrease in wind velocity.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian and Ken competed successfully as teammates on Team X-Men. They shared winning strategies, such as bracketing wind conditions with sighters.

The only significant difference in how each of them wins is in their gun handling. Ken maintains the most consistent form and smallest groups by assuming very light shoulder pressure and virtually no grip contact with his rifle. In contrast, Ian is most competitive with a medium-firm pressure on both the grip and forearm of the McMillan X-It stock as well as medium shoulder pressure. Both techniques have proven themselves during competition when employed consistently.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion

Unlike many F-TR shooters, two-time F-TR National Champion Ian Klemm grips the fore-end of this rifle when he shoots. Ian explains:

“I use a piece of Kydex thermoplastic (commonly used in holsters) that I formed around the forearm (see photo above). I index off it when gripping the stock with my weak hand to ensure that I’m always contacting [the stock] in the same spot. I grip this while shooting, for every shot. It was quickly assigned to my subconscious since I was so used to gripping the fore-end after years of hunting. It felt unnatural to me to not be doing anything with my off-hand. By letting my subconscious do what comes naturally, I am able to achieve a higher level of consistency that if my conscious mind was ‘trying’ to accomplish something with that other hand. The relatively stiff McMillan X-IT stock feels like it benefits from more contact in terms of vibration during the shot as well.”

Father and Son Will Shoot for Team USA in 2021 World Championships
The United States F-Class Rifle team has just completed a 2-year tryout period consisting of multiple tests and scored drills designed to determine which developmental candidates would be named to the final travel team ultimately representing our country against the rest of the world during the next quadrennial World F-Class Championship in South Africa, April 2021. Ken and Ian were just recently informed that they had both been named as shooters on that Final Team USA Selection. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a father and son have shared that honor as teammates on a USA Rifle Team.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Here are Ken and Ian on the 2019 FCNC Team. Both father and son have been selected to shoot with the 2021 USA National F-TR Team which will compete at the World F-Class Championships South Africa.

The level of competition from the leading countries around the world is expected to be even stronger this cycle than in previous ones, with correspondingly slimmer margins of victory. Along with the rest of their US teammates and coaches, they will practice and prepare as a dedicated team over the next year to build a sense of confidence and trust in one another. Ken and Ian are thankful for the opportunity to share this experience of a lifetime together and for the 30-year long practice session leading up to it.

Ian Klemm Ken Klemm F-TR Rifle Father Son USA Team F-Class champion
Ian Klemm and Ken Klemm at 2017 Berger SW Nationals.

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February 17th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Berger SW Nationals 2020
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

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

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

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

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

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February 4th, 2020

How to Avoid a Train Wreck at Berger SW Nationals This Week

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

The 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals kicks off 2/5/2020 at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, AZ. The big event starts with a 600-yard Mid-Range Match. Many of the nation’s most talented F-Class and sling shooters will be there. But no matter what your skill level, it is still possible to make major mistakes that can spoil the day and/or put you out of the running for the entire match. This article aims to help competitors avoid the big errors/oversights/failures, aka “train wrecks”, that can ruin a match.

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

Berger SW Nationals mid-range match

In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, past F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

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

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Berger SW Nationals Train Wreck Bryan Litz

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

Berger SW Nationals
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

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January 4th, 2020

Bargain $60 Welding Cart Works as High-Capacity Gear Hauler

Welding Cart Range Cart

Creedmoor Sports Range Cart CRC-1The Berger Southwest Nationals is coming up next month. That means you want to upgrade your hauling capabilities. SWN F-Class and High Power shooters have a ton of gear they need to carry out to the firing lines. To do the hauling, you can certainly purchase a factory-made, purpose-built cart that folds up and has all the bells and whistles. The Creedmoor Sports CRC-1 (photo right) is a proven, quality product that works great. You’ll find these used by top shooters at Camp Perry. But the Creedmoor CRC-1 cart costs $475.00, even on sale.

For a fraction of that price ($59.99), plus a few dollars more for do-it-yourself enhancements, you can have a heavy-duty cart that will haul all your gear just fine, though it doesn’t fold up. In the top photo is a Harbor Freight Welding Cart we saw at the Berger Southwest Nationals. This rig is carrying a rifle in hard gun case, bipod, folding chair, shooting mat, tripod, spotting scope, rear sand-bag, and ammo box — that’s a lot of gear!

Welding Cart Range CartWelding Cart Range Cart

Check out the Harbor Freight Welding Cart, item #65939. This cart is ON SALE right now for just $59.99. Overall size is 29-1/2″ L x 20″ W x 49″ H, and width between side rails is 18″. The wheels (with tires) are 20 3/4″ in diameter for smooth rolling. Consider that, if you made your own cart from scratch you could easily pay $30.00 or more just for the large-diameter wheels and axle. Do note — this cart has air-filled tires. Be sure to inflate before you go to the Range!

As sold, the Harbor Freight Welding Cart can benefit from upgrades for range use. But with a few bungee cords (and some creativity), the cart can be adapted pretty easily to hauling your gun gear. If you want to enhance the basic cart, it’s easy to add plastic side-panels on the bottom unit, and fit a barrel-holding system on the cross-tube. This ensures rifles and gear won’t flop forward. (A small piece of wood under the bottom panel provides a bit of extra lift that will keep the bottom plate out of the dirt and gravel.)

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February 11th, 2019

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals — This Week in Arizona

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

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

berger southwest nationals Berger SWN

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

Berger SW Nationals

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

Berger SW Nationals 2019

Berger SW Nationals 2019

Berger SW Nationals Southwest Arizona

Event Schedule for 2019 Berger SWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN

Click image to see full-screen panorama.

CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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Packing for the Match — Protecting Precious Cargo

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

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

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February 7th, 2019

Budget Hauler — Transport Your Gear with $56 Welding Cart

Welding Cart Range Cart

Creedmoor Sports Range Cart CRC-1The Berger SW Nationals is coming up in a couple weeks. At that match, the sling shooters and F-Class competitors need to haul lots of gear from parking lot to the firing line, and then move from yardage to yardage. Along with their rifles, shooters need to bring mats, front rests or bipods, spotting scopes (with stands), rear bags, ammo boxes, log sheets, tool kits, and heavy coats (for the sling shooters).

To do the hauling, you can certainly purchase a factory-made, purpose-built cart that folds up and has all the bells and whistles. The Creedmoor Sports CRC-1 (photo right) is a proven, quality product that works great. You’ll find these used by top shooters at Camp Perry. But the Creedmoor CRC-1 cart costs $499.95. For a fraction of that price ($55.99), plus a few dollars more for do-it-yourself enhancements, you can have a heavy-duty cart that will haul all your gear just fine, though it doesn’t fold up. In the top photo is a Harbor Freight Welding Cart we saw at the Berger Southwest Nationals. This rig is carrying a rifle in hard gun case, bipod, folding chair, shooting mat, tripod, spotting scope, rear sand-bag, and ammo box — that’s a lot of gear!

Welding Cart Range CartWelding Cart Range Cart

Check out the Harbor Freight Welding Cart, item #65939. This cart is ON SALE right now for just $59.99. Overall size is 29-1/2″ L x 20″ W x 49″ H, and width between side rails is 18″. The wheels (with tires) are 20 3/4″ in diameter for smooth rolling. Consider that, if you made your own cart from scratch you could easily pay $30.00 or more just for the large-diameter wheels and axle. Do note — this cart has air-filled tires. Be sure to inflate before you go to the Range!

This Cart is now on sale for just $55.99 — GREAT DEAL!

As sold, the Harbor Freight Welding Cart can benefit from upgrades for range use. But with a few bungee cords (and some creativity), the cart can be adapted pretty easily to hauling your gun gear. If you want to enhance the basic cart, it’s easy to add plastic side-panels on the bottom unit, and fit a barrel-holding system on the cross-tube. This ensures rifles and gear won’t flop forward. (A small piece of wood under the bottom panel provides a bit of extra lift that will keep the bottom plate out of the dirt and gravel.)

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Tech Tip No Comments »
February 12th, 2018

Berger SW Nationals 2018 — Looking Back at a Great Event

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

2018 Berger Southwest Nationals Long Range Results

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

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

View Complete SWN Match Results on McMillan Facebook Page »

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Berger Lapua Capstone

Today’s Champions… And Tomorrow’s New Talent

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Berger SW Nationals Gallery — Parting Shots

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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

Berger Southwest Nationals food barbecue BBQ

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

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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August 27th, 2017

Berger Southwest Nationals 2018 — Registration Opens

Berger Bullets SWN SW Nationals Southwest Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona

Registration has opened for the 2018 Berger Southwest Nationals at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. This is a GREAT match, the best in the West by far. The match runs February 5-11, 2018. By all means, attend if you can. The Grand Agg filled up last year, so we recommend you register soon.

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger’s SWN team reports: “Registrations for the 2018 Southwest Nationals open on Sunday, August 27th, at 6:00 am (PST). CLICK HERE for the Match Program (it is also available on the Desert Sharpshooters website and Berger Bullets website). We are also moving to an online registration this year, and entry fees will be paid online. Please note that due to our capacity limitations, each stage of the match is listed as a separate event. Please be sure to enter each of the stages you plan to participate in. This will allow us to include as many people as possible. If you have any questions, send email to michelle.gallagher [at] bergerbullets.com.”


2018 SWN Match Program PDF | 2018 SWN Online Registration

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Rekindle Old Friendships and Meet New Friends
Some shooters come to to the SW Nationals for the swag (the prize table is amazing). Others come for the sunshine (think warm 75-85° weather). And even more folks come to try out their shiny new toys and to test their skills against the nation’s best shooters.

But we’d say the number one reason most folks make the pilgrimage to Ben Avery every year is the camaraderie — the chance to connect with friends, rekindling connections that may go back decades. Fundamentally, then, the Berger SWN is about the people. For many of us, this is the only time of the year when we get a chance to meet fellow shooters from distant corners of the USA (and other nations).

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Compete Against the Best
If you want to test your mettle against some of the best shooters in the world, get yourself to Ben Avery in February. Here you can compete, shoulder to shoulder, against the best Sling and F-Class shooters on the planet. Guys like Derek Rodgers (newly-crowned F-TR World Champion), John Whidden (reigning Long Range National Champion), Nancy Tompkins (the first women to win the National High Power Championship), and Kenny Adams (past World F-Open Class Champion). If you want to play in the Big Leagues, Ben Avery is the place. Having said that, novice shooters will enjoy the experience as well, because you’ll find that these top shooters are (almost universally) happy to share their knowledge.

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Just to whet your appetite, here are videos from recent Berger SW Nationals. Yes, this match is as much fun as it looks!

Berger SW Nationals 2017

The North-by-Southwest team set new National Records in winning the 2017 F-TR team event.
Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger SW Nationals 2016

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger SW Nationals 2015

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

The Brain Trust — Experts Galore
The best minds of the shooting world come to Ben Avery every year. Got a question about ballistics? Well, Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz (photo below) will be happy to answer your questions between relays. Want some expert advice about wind reading? Seek out Mid Tompkins (usually found hanging around the club-house) or Emil Praslick, one of the most knowledgeable wind coaches on the planet. And if you have a gunsmithing question, you’ll find some of the top barrel-fitters and stock makers, including Doan Trevor and Gary Eliseo.

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

Berger Southwest South West SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona F-Class Palma Registration

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February 13th, 2017

Berger Southwest Nationals — 2017 Match Wrap-Up

Berger SW Nationals Final Report Match Results

The 2017 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) are now history. This was a great match, with extremely close competition, and record-setting scores. For the first few days, conditions were very mild. That allowed the “top guns” to shoot “cleans” and even set a few new National records. In individual competition, there were familiar faces among the Top Ten, but also some rising stars. In the F-Open and Sling team events, two new squads topped some of the experienced “all-star” teams. Overall it was a great match — one of the most tightly contested ever. Even with 400 competitors, everything ran smoothly. For those who attended the 2017 Berger SW Nationals, this has been a truly memorable week at Ben Avery. F-Open and F-TR Final Results Posted HERE.


This is our final Berger SW Nationals video for 2017, with interviews with the three class winners: John Whidden (Sling), David Gosnell (F-Open), Donald Erpenbach (F-TR).

Top Five Competitors in Each Class
SLING
John Whidden, 1248-84X
Adrian Harris, 1243-74X
Allen Thomas, 1242-65X
Justin Skaret, 1242-59X
Erik Rhode, 1241-59X
F-OPEN
David Gosnell, 1247-84X
Jay Christopherson, 1246-74X
Keith Glasscock, 1245-79X
Pat Scully, 1243-71X
Dan Bramley, 1243-70X
F-TR
Donald Erpenbach, 1230-53X
James Crofts, 1225-43X
Alan Barnhart, 1224-32X
Ian Klemm, 1222-55X
Bryan Litz, 1222-49X

Bryan Litz congratulates Sling winner John Whidden. John is reigning National Long Range Rifle Champion.
North by Southwest

Below are SWN F-Open Champion David Gosnell (left) and F-TR Winner Donald Erpenbach (right).
North by Southwest

Record-Setting Performances in 2017
This year Ben Avery conditions were very good — calm mornings, and little wind in the afternoons for the first three days. With the very calm Day 1-3 conditions, we witnessed some spectacular individual and team performances. Lester Bruno shot a brilliant 200-23X at 600 Yards, setting a new National record. Ian Klemm set a new 60-shot, 600-yard National record of 599-38X. The Cluster Ducks set a new National F-Open Team Record for 800/900/1000 yards with their 1789-100X Score. And the talented North-by-Southwest F-TR squad set both a National Record and an overall SWN match record.

The North-by-Southwest team won the 2017 SWN F-TR team event in fine fashion, setting new National and range records in the process.

North by Southwest

And here is Team Longshots, winner of the F-Open Team Title. Individual F-Open Champ David Gosnell is at far right. The winning Sling Team was Scotland Thistle.

North by Southwest

Forum Admin Finishes a Very Close Second in F-Open
Hats off to AccurateShooter.com’s very own Systems Admin, Jay Christopherson. A talented tech expert, Jay runs our web servers and manages our Forum software. His skills and dedication keep the Forum running smoothly, even as we approach 35,000 members. Jay shot a brilliant match at Ben Avery this week, finishing second in F-Open, just one point behind F-Open winner David Gosnell. We’re proud of Jay, and we want to recognize his achievement. It’s interesting to note that Jay shot the entire match with the new SEB Mini rest, and he was using a Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle scope. Here’s a short video of Jay shooting his .284 Win rifle on Saturday.

Berger SW Nationals Final Report Match Results

The show’s over — it’s time to pack up the gear and head on home. We’re already looking forward to the 2018 Berger SWN. See you next year!

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery

Big News for Berger Bullets

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery

Big news in the Industry is that Berger Bullets is becoming part of the Nammo Group, parent of Lapua, Vihtavuori, SK and other companies. This major acquisition will combine Nammo’s resources and advanced engineering with Berger’s match-winning bullet designs and strong focus on competition. Yes, you can expect to see factory-loaded ammunition with Berger projectiles and premium Lapua brass. To learn more about the big Berger/Nammo deal, watch this interview with Berger President Erik Stecker.

Eric Stecker, Berger’s President, says the exact timing of the move has not yet been set, nor has the location been chosen. Arizona is high on the list of potential sites, but Berger is considering other states as well. Once the new factory location is determined, Eric says he expects the move to be completed “by December 2018 at the latest”.

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February 12th, 2017

Berger SW Nationals — Day 4 Report from Saturday

Arizona Berger SW Nationals Southwest Nationals F-Class Palma F-TR Phoenix travel

We saw a change in weather on Saturday. It dawned warm and relatively calm, but the winds picked up in the afternoon as clouds rolled in. There wasn’t any rain though, and for shooters who were sunburned after many days in the Arizona sunshine, the overcast was a bit of a relief. On Saturday, Ben Avery hosted both individual and team matches. All three classes (Sling, F-Open, F-TR) shot two 1000-yard individual matches. This was followed by 4-person Team Matches at 1K. Here are the top five performers in Saturday’s individual matches:

Top Five Competitors in Each Class
SLING
Kevan Hoffarth (P), 400-19X
Jerry Iliff (A), 400-18X
John Whidden (A), 399-23X
Peter Church (A), 399-22X
Gary Rasmussen (A), 399-16X
F-OPEN
Dan Bramley, 399-28X
Robert Hoppe, 399-27X
Pat Scully, 399-24X
Erik Cortina, 399-22X
John Meyers, 399-20X
F-TR
Ian Klemm, 394-16X
Bryan Litz, 393-16X
Nancy Tompkins, 392-19X
Peter Ricci 392-13X
Alan Barnhart, 392-9X

In a great individual performance, Kevan Hoffarth, shooting a Palma Rifle, shot clean to beat ALL sling shooters, including those in the “Any Rifle” sub-class. In fact, “Any” shooters took the next four sling places. In the F-Open Division, it was a very tight race, decided by X-Count for the top five places, with Dan Bramley edging Robert Hoppe for the win by one X.

Berger SW Nationals Sling

Watch Highlights of Day 4 at the Berger SW Nationals:

What the Berger SW Nationals is All About

When folks usually talk about shooting matches they focus on the obvious — scores and hardware. But the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) is about much more than putting holes in paper with bangsticks. We’d say this match has become so popular (with 400 entrants) because it offers the whole experience — fun, challenge, a warm-weather escape, and above all, camaraderie.

Berger SW Nationals Sling

Some shooters come to Ben Avery for the swag (the prize table is amazing). Others come for the sunshine (think warm 75-85° weather). And even more folks come to try out their shiny new toys and to test their skills against the nation’s best shooters.

But we’d say the number one reason most folks make the pilgrimage to Ben Avery every year is the camaraderie — the chance to connect with friends, rekindling connections that may go back decades. Fundamentally, then, the Berger SWN is about the people. For this Editor, the chance to meet good friends such as John Whidden, Gary Eliseo, Doan Trevor, Nancy Tompkins, Anette Wachter, Shiraz Balolia, Adam Braverman, Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina, Scott Harris, and so many others, gives me plenty of motivation to make the 7-hour drive from California.

For many of us, this is the only time of the year when we get a chance to meet fellow shooters from distant corners of the USA. And where else will you find a past NRA President (John Sigler) on the firing line, and have a chance to chat with him during a lunch break. The SWN is very special.

Berger SW Nationals Competition

The Brain Trust — Experts Galore
The best minds of the shooting world come to Ben Avery every year. Got a question about ballistics? Well, Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz will be happy to answer your questions between relays. Want some expert advice about wind reading? Seek out Mid Tompkins (usually found hanging around the club-house) or Emil Praslick, one of the most knowledgeable wind coaches on the planet (Emil was shooting and coaching this year). And if you have a gunsmithing question, you’ll find some of the top barrel-fitters and stock makers, including Doan Trevor and Gary Eliseo.

Emil Praslick III heading out to the firing line…
Berger SW Nationals Emil Praslick

Tubegun Chassis-Maker Gary Eliseo was at the match
Berger SW Nationals Gary Eliseo

Berger SW Nationals

Compete against the Best
If you want to test your mettle against some of the best shooters in the world, get yourself to Ben Avery in February. Here you can compete, shoulder to shoulder, against the best Sling and F-Class shooters on the planet. Guys like John Whidden (reigning Long Range National Champion) and Kenny Adams (reigning World F-Open Class Champion). If you want to play with the “Big Boys”, Ben Avery is the place. Having said that, novice shooters will enjoy the experience as well, because you’ll find that these top shooters are (almost universally) happy to share their knowledge.

Berger SW Nationals through lens

Learn from Top Talents
If you want to improve your game, this is the place. Walk down the firing line and you’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with many national champions. There is no question that you can improve your techniques by watching top shooters, and you can get ideas about hardware by looking at the rigs campaigned by the best. Where else will you find a half-dozen national F-Class champs seated around a table. Or an 11-time National High Power Champion (David Tubb), hanging out at the Lapua trailer in the parking lot.

2015 F-TR National Mid-Range and Long-Range Champion Bryan Litz helps a Junior shooter
Berger SW Nationals Bryan Litz

Mid Tompkins at Shooters’ Clinic
Berger SW Nationals Mid Tompkins

Gun Gear Candy Store
If you are thinking about upgrading your match rifle, you’ll find plenty of inspiration at Ben Avery. On the firing line you’ll fine the newest actions from Barnard, BAT, and Borden, the latest/greatest optics (see Vortex Golden Eagle below), and the newest most advanced stocks. F-TR guys will find a wide variety of exotic bipods plus the latest generation of sandwich-construction bipod “mats”. (NOTE: These are becoming rigid, elevated platforms with low-friction tops — will the rules be tightened?).

Arizona Vortex Seb Rest Borden Action SW Nationals Phoenix travel

Arizona Vortex Seb Rest Borden Action SW Nationals Phoenix travel

Warm Arizona Weather
When we arrived in Phoenix on Tuesday it was a relatively mild 76°. By Friday it had warmed to a balmy 84°. We didn’t hear any complaints from the Canadians who fled ice and snow to shoot the match. Even while California was getting soaked with rain it was sunny and warm in Arizona. And you can even have a balloon ride right over the Ben Avery range.

Arizona Sedona SW Nationals Phoenix travel

Enjoy a Desert Escape
The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located in a scenic corner of Arizona, north of Phoenix. Get here early in the morning and watch the balloons take off. Head northwest and you can visit the historic town of Prescott. Two hours north is Sedona, famed for its stunning Red Rock scenery. A few hours south you can visit Tombstone and the OK Corral. There’s a lot to see and do in the Phoenix area that makes the trip worthwhile in addition to the gun fun at the range.

Arizona Sedona SW Nationals Phoenix travel

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February 11th, 2017

Berger SWN Day 3 Report — Individual 800, 900, 1000 Yards

Berger SWN 2017  match palma

Friday at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, hundreds of competitors shot the individual Palma Match, a three-yardage (800/900/1000) day-long event. Competition was tough. The first four F-Open competitors didn’t drop a single point, all finishing with 450-point “cleans”. In F-TR it was equally close. Phil Kelley won with 447-23X, but the next three finishers were just one point behind at 446. In the sling division, John Whidden topped a very strong field with his 449-31X score, showing why he is the reigning National Long-Range Champion. But the next four Sling competitors were just one point behind at 448 points.

Top Five Competitors in Each Class
SLING
John Whidden, 449-31X
Anette Wachter, 448-26X
Randy Teissedre, 448-24X
Robert Stekette, 448-23X
Allen Thomas, 448-22X
F-OPEN
David Gosnell, 450-38X
Keith Glasscock, 450-34X
Danny J. Biggs, 450-32X
Jay Christopherson, 450-25X
Gilber Lucero, 449-27X
F-TR
Philip Kelley, 447-23X
Donald Erpenbach, 446-21X
Richard Dixon, 446-20X
Alan Barnhart, 446-16X
Daniel Lentz, 445-16X

Berger SW Nationals DAY THREE Highlights Video:

The match can’t happen without the dedicated folks doing pit duty — it’s all part of the experience.
Berger SWN 2017 Litz Dawn Kestrel

Aussie Tim Lawrence’s stock was custom-built from Rosewood in New South Wales, Australia.
Berger SWN 2017 Australia F-TR

The state of the art in F-Open rifles is very high indeed. Check out this handsome F-Open rig with a Speedy-designed Shurley Brothers ARK series wood stock.
Berger SWN 2017 F-Open

Four F-Open Competitors All Shot Clean
Remarkably, the four top F-Open Competitors all shot “clean” 450s, not dropping a single point. That’s mighty impressive for a 45-shot match at three yardages. AccurateShooter’s Systems Manager Jay Christopherson, who finished fourth, said: “Shooting clean today doesn’t suck. Shooting clean and still taking 4th place is a little harder to accept. Extremely tough crowd of competitors, as always.”

Checking the wind at the beginning of the day. Dawn at Ben Avery is beautiful. (Photo by Steve Fiorenzo).
Berger SWN 2017 Litz Dawn Kestrel

Interview with Multi-Time Champions David Tubb and John Whidden
We had a chance to chat with David Tubb and John Whidden. Between the two of them, David and John have won 21 National Rifle Championships. David has 11 National High Power titles plus 6 Long-Range titles. Reigning National Long Range Champion John Whidden holds 4 Long-Range titles, having won his latest LR championship in 2016. David is truly a living legend in the world of competitive shooting and John is one of the best sling shooters in the game today, a man capable of winning any match he enters. In fact he did win Friday’s match in the Sling division, topping the field with a 449-21X.

Berger SW Nationals Gallery of Competitors

At the Berger SW Nationals we have the opportunity to meet old friends from all over the country and make new friends. Here are some folks we saw at yesterday’s match.

Here’s Friday’s Sling Class winner John Whidden (449-31X) buckling up right before his relay.

Berger SWN 2017 Noma Mayo palma

Noma Mayo, one of our great senior shooters. She’s always smiling and helping others…

Berger SWN 2017 Noma Mayo palma

Tom Whitaker (left) chats with Emil Praslick III (right), one of the best wind coaches in the world.

Berger SWN Praslick

Like father, like daughter. This smiling twosome is from Texas. Father David, an Accurateshooter Forum member, tells us: “Claudette turned 15 on the day we drove out, Tuesday, and this is her first Berger SWN match. She and my son Royse (17) have won Texas junior championships, but this match is the largest we’ve attended.”

Berger SWN Praslick

We caught past F-Open National Champion (and past SWN winner) Larry Bartholome logging his score at the 900-yard line. Larry is one of the greatest F-Open shooters ever. Larry posts in our Forum as “LBart”.

Berger SWN father daughter

And here’s the man who started it all, Walt Berger himself. Without his dream to build better bullets, and his hard work over many decades, there wouldn’t be this wonderful match each year. The popularity of this event is testimony to Walt’s dedication and passion for the sport. Walt still competes in Benchrest matches.

Berger SWN Walt Berger

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February 10th, 2017

Team Match Day at the Berger Southwest Nationals

Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

Thursday was TEAM DAY at the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). In the Sling, F-TR, and F-Open classes, dozens of 4-person teams shot under coaches at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. The key difference between the team game and individual competition is that (for the most part) shooters function as trigger pullers only. Wind and elevation calls are typically made by the coaches, who sometimes even dial clicks for the shooters. In the above photo Bryan Litz is just about to click his shooter’s elevation turret.

This year the Scottish Thistle Team won the Sling division, lead by a strong 449-27X performance by Angus McLeod. The Hayes Rays of Sunshine Team finished second, six points back. In the highly competitive F-TR class, North by Southwest took the team title, with Da Bulls in second.

In the F-Open class, the Cluster Ducks (clever name) took the win, edging out second place The Longshots by a single point. Third in F-Open was Tex-Mex #1. Kudos to AccurateShooter’s own Jay Christopherson, our site systems manager, who lead 4th Place Team Lapua/Brux with a strong 448-25X. Jay keeps our servers running smoothly — and he’s a great shooter in his own right.

Here’s Team Krieger (foreground) getting ready on the 1000-yard line.
Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

Anette Wachter (in chair) shot a 450-36X in the Team Match — not dropping a single point. Outstanding!
Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

TEAM EVENT TOP THREE in SLING, F-OPEN, and F-TR
SLING
1st Place — Scotland Thistle 1786-100X
Angus McLeod, 449-29X
Sandy Walker, 447-27X
Ian Shaw, 445-24X
Michael Barlow, 445-21X

2nd Place — Hayes Rays of Sunshine 1780-97X

3rd Place — Sabine 1775-88X

NOTABLES: Annette Wachter, 450-36X (4th Place Team High)

F-OPEN
1st Place — The Cluster Ducks 1789-100X
James Laney, 450-27X
Kevin Shepherd, 448-24X
Norman Harrold, 448-21X
Joe Meyer, 443-28X

2nd Place — The Longshots 1788-103X

3rd Place — Tex-Mex #1 1781-93X

NOTABLES: Jay Christopherson, 448-25X (4th Place Team High)

F-TR
1st Place — North by Southwest 1773-74X
Daniel Lentz, 445-22X
Ian Klemm, 445-17X
Daniel Pohlabel, 443-18X
Ken Klemm, 440-17X

2nd Place — Da Bulls 1770-81X

3rd Place — Michigan F-TR Team 1764-85X

NOTABLES: Mike Plunkett 447-16X (4th Place Team High)

NEW F-OPEN TEAM Record: The Cluster Ducks set a new National Team Record for 800/900/1000 yards with their 1789-100X Score. In fact, the second-place Longshots also broke the previous 1786-104X record, set by Team Grizzly in 2014. Because the Cluster Ducks edged The Longshots by one point the Ducks will go down in the record books. But both teams can rightfully say they broke the then-current 1786-point F-Open record. Well done shooters!

Team Thunder-Struck from the Land Down Under brought along an inflatable mascot.
Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

GUNS and GEAR HIGHLIGHTS

Interesting Competition Hardware at Ben Avery

Eliseo F-Class Chassis with Two-Piece Barrel Block
Christine Harris was shooting a new prototype Eliseo F-Class stock with a two-part barrel block. This is similar to the Eliseo F1 stock but the bolt-together barrel block allows easier exchange of barreled actions.

Eliseo F1 Stock Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

Stunning F-Open Rig from Cerus Rifleworks
Cerus Rifleworks showed us a jaw-dropping new F-Open rifle. This is an amazing combination of beauty and advanced performance. The CNC-milled stock is stiff and straight, with tolerances that put most wood stocks to shame.

Cerus Rifleworks Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

A Lady Soldier’s Coat and Rifle
This Monard shooting coat belongs to SSG Amanda Elsenboss, a shooter with the USAMU Team. The rifle features a Barnard action in what appears to be a classic Robertston Composites H&H-style prone stock. Nice hardware for a talented lady soldier.

CEBRUS Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

USAMU Amanda Robertson stock competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

Pair of ‘Pods
We saw many SEB Joy-Pods on the front end of F-TR rifles. These light-weight bipods offer quick and easy aiming via a joystick-controlled coaxial head. The large flat feet allow the rifle to move back smoothly on recoil, and then slide right back on target.

SEB coax coaxial JoyPod Joy-PodTeam competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

Gear-Hauler for Many Seasons
This cart has seen countless matches over the years. Those stickers are markers in time, recording decades of shooting matches in many venues. How many stickers can you identify?

Cart Ben AveryTeam competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

Distinguished Rifleman’s Spotting Scope
The stories this old spotting scope could tell — how many targets has it seen over the years? The most important sticker, “Distinguished Rifleman”, bears witness to its owner’s skill and commitment to the sport.

Spotting Scope Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

Nightforce Optics Competition Scopes
Nightforce, a major sponsor of the Berger SW Nationals, had a variety of scopes mounted on viewing rigs. You could quickly compare one scope vs. another. We’d like to see more optics makers demo their scopes at major matches.

Spotting Scope Team competition Berger Southwest Nationals SWN team match

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February 9th, 2017

Ballistics Brain Power — Take Our Ballistics Quiz

Ballistics Quiz Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

At the Berger SW Nationals this week in Phoenix, the nation’s top long-range shooters will try to put all their shots in the 10-Ring at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. A good foundation in ballistics is vital if you want to succeed in the long-range game.

How much do you know about BCs, Bullet Shapes, Trajectories, Wind Drift, and other things in the realm of External Ballistics? You can test your knowledge of basic Ballistics principles with this interactive quiz. The questions and answers were provided by Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC. Bryan is the author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting and other popular resources in print, DVD, and eBook format. Have fun with our Quiz.

The Quiz contains ten (10) questions. When you complete all ten questions, you can see your results, along with the correct answers.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
February 8th, 2017

Berger SW Nationals Report — Mid-Range (600-Yard) Match

600 yard mid range Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

The competition phase of the Berger SW Nationals kicked off today with a 600-yard match for Palma, F-TR, and F-Open rifles. Today’s star was Lester Bruno, who drilled a 200-23X with a 6mm BRX F-Open rifle he built himself. This rifle features a BAT Action, Krieger barrel, and presentation-grade Bastogne Walnut stock. Loaded with Berger 105gr Hybrids, Varget Powder, and Federal 205m Primers, this rifle absolutely hammered at Ben Avery on Wednesday — Lester put 23 shots in a row in the half-MOA X-Ring at 600 yards. Under NRA rules, if you shoot all Xs through the designated string of fire (here 20 shots), you are allowed to keep shooting until one shot falls outside the X-Ring. Lester drilled three extra Xs after shooting all Xs for his designated 20-shot string.

Lester Bruno Sets Pending National 600-yard Record with 200-23X in F-Open Division
600 yard mid range lester bruno Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Lester was excited to set a pending National record, breaking the previous 600-yard record by one X: “Conditions were in my favor, and it was a lot of fun.” However, Lester revealed the record string was nerve-wracking: “I was nervous after I shot 20 and they told me I could keep shooting to try to break the record. I had no knowledge I was able to do that.” Lester took his time, watched the conditions, and shot carefully: “I held off probably at least half of my shots but never held out of the X-Ring. It depended on the condition. A left to right condition was pushing the bullet down so I was holding a little high but when it went right to left I held a little low. I was very patient.”

Lester was all smiles after his 200-23X performance this morning. He told us: “This will be my first record in this discipline though I’ve set records in short-range benchrest.” (Lester is a member of the Benchrest Hall of Fame).

How’d You Like a Rifle That Can Shoot 200-23X
NOTE: If you want a rifle that shoots like this, you may be lucky. Lester says this is a working prototype of a new line of match rifles he’ll be offering for sale through Bruno’s Shooter Supply. These will be high-end rifles for guys who want the very best. The Bastogne wood for Lester’s own gun cost over $1500.00 (that’s just for the blank), but it’s a beauty.

600 yard mid range lester bruno Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Calm Conditions — But You Needed to Watch the Mirage
Conditions were very good most of the day, with very little wind. However, there WERE subtle directional changes you need to monitor. Bryan Litz, who won both mid-range and long-range F-TR National Championships here at Ben Avery in 2015, said that he did have to hold one side or the other though the wind was very calm. With the mirage roiling and distorting the view through his scope, Bryan said the Bullseye looked like a Medusa head rather than a concentric circle.

F-TR competitor Ian Klemm also had a Mid-Range match for the ages, dropping just one point for the whole day, to finish at 599-38X, and win the F-TR class. We’re told this 599-38X was also a new National F-TR record. Ian was shooting a new McMillan XiT stock.

Here are the Top Five Competitors for Each Divsion:

SLING (Palma)
Allen Thomas, 600-40X
Benjamin Lucchesi, 600-37X
Erik Rhode, 599-49X
Anette Wachter, 599-45X
Trudie Fay, 599-39X
F-Open
Dwayne Draggoo, 600-44X
Danny Biggs, 600-43X
Dan Bramley, 600-35X
Todd Hendricks, 600-34X
Don Nagel, 599-37X
F-TR
Ian Klemm, 599-38X (New Record)
Phil Kelley, 599-32X
James Crofts, 598-41X
John Moreali, 598-28X
Bryan Litz, 597-33X

Note: Results are prelminary, subject to final tabulation.

Watch Highlights from the SWN Mid-Range Match:

Ben Avery Bling — Stunning Paint Job and New SEB Mini
Jay Christopherson, AccurateShooter’s Systems Manager, had a stunning metallic flame paint job on his F-Open rifle. Up front, that beautiful stock is resting on the new SEB Mini coaxial pedestal rest. This looked very stable and Jay said the joystick works perfect. Jay is very impressed with this new coaxial front rest. We expect to see more Minis on the line in future F-Open matches.

flame paint SEB mini pedestal rest Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

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

Eliseo Tube gun chassis tubegun Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Wickenburg High School Rifle Team
While most of the competitors at this match shooters were middle-aged or older, it was nice to see a youth contingent from Wickenburg High School in Arizona. These young folks shot well — Ben Avery is their “home range”, so they felt confident with the conditions.

Wickenburg High School Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Disaster Averted by British Ingenuity
British competitor Tom Rylands had his rear sight break during the middle of a string. Undaunted, Tom secured the sight with some electrical tape and finished the string with a good score. We applaud Tom’s “never say die” attitude. Have tape, will travel…

Tom Rylands Tape Fix Berger Southwest Nationals

Ladies Love Ben Avery…
The T-Shirt says it all — there were many female competitors at the mid-range match, including some “all-girl” teams. There were some great lady shooters competing on Wednesday, including Nancy Tompkins and Trudie Fay.

Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

First Lady of Shooting — Nancy Tompkins
It was great to see Nancy Tompkins on the firing line. A strong argument can be made that Nancy is the greatest female long-range competitive shooter in the history of the sport. We chatted with Nancy between relays. She revealed she had not shot sling “in quite a while” so she need to readjust some items on her gun. So… even the great ones need to tweak their gear now and then.

Nancy Tompkins Berger Southwest Nationals

The True Spirit of Competition
The team at the Berger SW Nationals encourages all participants, even those with disabilities. Here competitor Bob Depp shoots from a bench because he cannot hold his rifle normally, due to injuries sustained while serving as a U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper in Vietnam. It’s all about participating.

Mid-Range 600 Disable Shooters Berger Southwest Nationals

The Smell of Victory…
With the wind flags hanging straight down most of the day, perhaps the best wind indicator of all was the smoke coming from the Barbeque pit. You have to love the Berger SW Nationals at Ben Avery — where else can you get delicious, hot BBQ on the 600-yard line?

Mid-Range 600 bbq cooking wind flags smoke Berger Southwest Nationals

Long-Range Matches Run Thursday through Sunday
All the relays Wednesday were held at 600 yards. Starting Thursday, the shooters will compete at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. If conditions hold similar to today (with very little wind), we could see some impressive performances at the longer yardages. But as with any shooting venue, things can change quickly at Ben Avery. We’ve seen morning calms followed by afternoon gales. Good luck to all the competitors.

Mid-Range 600 bbq cooking wind flags smoke Berger Southwest Nationals

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February 7th, 2017

Berger Southwest Nationals Event Starts with Shooting Clinic

The Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) kicked off with a two-day shooting clinic held Monday and Tuesday, February 6-7, 2017. Competition at the Ben Avery range begins with a 600-yard Mid-Range Match on Wednesday, followed by long-range matches Thursday through Sunday. Three classes of competitors will be on the firing line: Palma (.308 Win sling), F-TR, and F-Open. This is one of the most popular matches of the year, drawing competitors from around the nation (and a few foreign countries).

The Berger SW Nationals event has become the premier long-range match of the year in the Western United States. This prestigious rifle competition, hosted at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, outside Phoenix, Arizona, draws the nation’s top F-Class and sling shooters. Over 360 shooters have already registered for the SWN.

CLICK HERE to Download Berger Southwest Nationals Program

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix Arizona

2017 Berger Southwest Nationals Schedule of Events

Monday, 6 – Tuesday, 7 February 2017, 9:00 AM
Shooting Clinic: Two-Day clinic includes instruction in both classroom and live fire settings. Instruction will start at 9:00 AM.

Berger Shooting Clinic SW Nationals

Wednesday, 8 February 2017, 9:00 AM
Mid-Range Match – Three, 20-shot matches at 600 yards.
Divisions: Palma, Any Rifle/Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR

Thursday, 9 February 2017, 9:00 AM
4-Man Palma Team Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900 and 1000 yards.
Divisions: Palma, F-Open, F-TR
Practice available to those not shooting with a team.

Friday, 10 February 2017, 8:30 AM – Start of Grand Agg
Individual Palma Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900 and 1000 yards.
Divisions: Palma, F-Open, F-TR
Swap Meet – after conclusion of fire at 1000-yard line.

Saturday, 11 February 2017, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000-Yard Matches – Two 20 shots matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
4 Man Team Match – 20 shots at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Banquet Dinner – Approximately 5:00 pm at Indoor Range.

Sunday, 12 February 2017, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000-Yard Matches – Two 20 shots matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Any Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Awards Ceremony at the Indoor Range.

Click image to see full-screen panorama.

CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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Competition Tips from Bryan Litz

To help you prepare for the Berger SW Nationals, here are some competition tips from Bryan Litz. Bryan knows the Ben Avery range well. He won the Mid-Range and Long-Range F-TR National Championships there in 2015. And twice he has won the sling division at the Southwest Nationals. Here are wise words from Bryan:

Competition TIP ONE. Improving your scores in long range competition is a constant process of self-assessment. After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. Veteran shooters will lose far fewer points to a smaller list of mistakes. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues. Sometimes the weak links that you need to work on aren’t your favorite thing to do, and success will take work in these areas as well.

Competition TIP TWO. Select your wind shooting strategy carefully. For beginners and veterans, most points are typically lost to wind. Successful shooters put a lot of thought into their approach to wind shooting. Sometimes it’s best to shoot fast and minimize the changes you’ll have to navigate. Other times it’s best to wait out a condition which may take several minutes. Develop a comfortable rest position so you have an easier time waiting when you should be waiting.

Competition TIP THREE. Actively avoid major train wrecks. Sounds obvious but it happens a lot. Select equipment that is reliable, get comfortable with it and have back-ups for important things. Don’t load on the verge of max pressure, don’t go to an important match with a barrel that’s near shot out, physically check tightness of all important screws prior to shooting each string. Observe what train wrecks you and others experience, and put measures in place to avoid them.

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February 15th, 2015

U.S. Team Blue Wins F-TR Title at Berger SW Nationals

Breaking news from Ben Avery — the U.S. FT-R Team Blue, consisting of Phil Kelley, Dan Pohlabel, Derek Rodgers, Matt Schwartzkopf, and coach Jim Crofts, won the F-TR team event at the Berger Southwest Nationals. The “Blues” scored an impressive come-from-behind victory, finishing at 784-24X on Team Day 2 to secure the overall Berger SWN F-TR Team Championship. Well done gentlemen. Show in the photo, left to right are: James Crofts, Derek Rodgers, Ray Gross, Matt Schwartzkopf, Phil Kelley, and Dan Pohlabel.

F-TR Blue Berger SW Nationals

U.S. F-TR Team matt schwartkopf ray gross

Team member Matt Schwartzkopf is a double amputee below the knee, having had his lower legs removed due to a birth defect. Matt is an inspiration to us all. He told us: “This condition has not held me back from anything.” Jokingly, he added, “I may not have ‘a leg to stand on’, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still shoot 10s and Xs at 1000.” Matt is living proof that competitive shooting is a sport for all individuals — young and old, able-bodied and physically challenged.

matt schwartzkopf

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February 10th, 2014

Record-Setting 7mm RSAUM Ammo from Berger SW Nationals

For top-level competitors, hand-loading is truly the “relentless pursuit of perfection”. To build ammo capable of winning major long-range matches, you’ll need the best tools — and an almost obsessive attention to detail. The bullets must be ultra-consistent, powder charge weights must be “dead on”, seating depths (as measured from base of case to ogive) must be precise, and neck-tension must be the same for every round that goes in the chamber.

When you get it all correct, when every phase of the reloading process has been carried out perfectly, then you have rounds that can set records and win world titles. So what does championship-grade ammo look like? Take a look at the photo below. This is the 7mm RSAUM ammunition used by Kenny Adams at the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). Kenny is the 2013 F-Class World Champion. And he was also a member of Team Grizzly which won the SWN F-Open Team Grand Aggregate, setting a new National record in the process. Does your ammo look this good?

Kenny Adams ammunition Berger Southwest nationals

Kenny’s World-Beating 7mm RSAUM Load
For his 7mm RSAUMs Kenny loads Hodgdon H4350 powder and Federal 215m primers into Nosler or Norma RSAUM brass. In the RSAUM he runs Berger 180gr Hybrid bullets seated “just touching” the lands. Kenny is very precise with his charge weights. Using a Sartorius Magnetic Force Restoration scale, Kenny tries to hold his powder charges to within 1-2 kernels charge-weight consistency.

Kenny Adams ammunition Berger Southwest nationals
Kenny Adams ammunition Berger Southwest nationals

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 8 Comments »
July 15th, 2013

New Applied Ballistics DVD Set: “Putting Rounds on Target”

Applied Ballistics Rounds on Target DVD accurateshooter.comBryan Litz, author of two leading books on practical rifle ballistics, has produced a 3-disc multi-media DVD: Putting Rounds on Target. We’ve previewed this new DVD set from Applied Ballistics. The DVDs are very thorough and very well-made. This is an important product release — there is nothing like it on the market. If you are a serious long-range shooter, put this DVD set on your wish list. Even if you own one or both of Bryan’s books, we know you can benefit from this product. The DVD format provides many graphic aids and video clips that illustrate key principles being covered. The three DVDs deliver as much information as a weekend shooting seminar… at a fraction of the cost.

Applied Ballistics Rounds on Target DVD accurateshooter.com

The 3-disc DVD set costs just $39.95. That’s a bargain. Many shooting-related DVDs, with much less information, cost as much (or more) for a single disc. Putting Rounds on Target includes THREE discs, with a total run-time of 3 hours and 37 minutes. Plus, in addition, Bryan is tossing in a fourth, BONUS disc with 40 minutes of match coverage from the Berger SW Nationals. This documentary-style DVD highlights individual and team competition in Sling, F-Open and F-TR classes.

Watch Video Preview of Applied Ballistics 3-DVD Set

Interested? Pre-orders for Applied Ballistics’ new 3-disc instructional DVD set are now being accepted on the Applied Ballistics website for an expected ship date of August 15, 2013. CLICK HERE to Pre-Order.

Bryan tell us that his new DVD set was designed to give shooters the technical knowledge that will improve their scores on the target: “We explain the science involved in putting rounds on target at long range. After a classroom-type presentation (on video), we demonstrate the principles in live fire at the range with three different rifles (.308 Win, .284 Win, and .338 LM). In the end, DVD viewers will have the information and techniques required to master this technical subject matter. Follow along as the science is applied on the range to hit targets from 100 yards to a mile (1760 yards) with different rifles and ballistic solutions.”

Applied Ballistics Rounds on Target DVD accurateshooter.com

Disc 1

  • Accuracy & Precision
  • Tall Target Test
  • Chronographs & Statistics
  • Ballistic Coefficient
  • Trajectory Terms
  • Run Time: 1 hour, 4 min
  • Disc 2

  • Primary Elevation Influences Wind
  • Secondary Effects
  • Using Ballistics Solvers
  • Short & Long Range Equipment
  • Run Time: 1 hour, 11 min
  • Disc 3

  • On The Range: .308 Win
  • On The Range: .284 Win
  • On The Range: .338 LM
  • Extended Range Shooting
  • Equipment for Extended Range Shooting
  • One Mile Shooting
  • Run Time: 1 hour, 22 min
  • Applied Ballistics Rounds on Target DVD accurateshooter.com

    Applied Ballistics Rounds on Target DVD accurateshooter.com

    FREE BONUS DISC

    The Applied Ballistics instructional DVD set also includes a fourth BONUS disc: Long Range Competition: It’s Worth It. Filmed at the 2013 Berger SW Long Range Nationals, this 40-minute video DVD shows NRA long-range target shooting in Sling, F-TR, and F-Open divisions. Both individual and team competition are featured. If you like competitive shooting, you’ll enjoy this bonus disc.

    About Bryan Litz
    Champion shooter and Ballistician Bryan Litz explains and demonstrates the science of external ballistics for use in long range shooting. Bryan Litz is a well-known expert in the field of external ballistics. His books, Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting and Accuracy and Precision for Long Range Shooting are considered “required reading” for serious long range shooters — both recreational and professional.

    Permalink - Videos, New Product, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »