September 21st, 2018

IBS Match Report: 2018 200/300-Yard Score Nationals

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
Photos by Hillary Martinez
Many of the nation’s best Score Benchrest shooters came to Maryland last month for the IBS 200/300-Yard Score Nationals. This is a one-shot-per-bullseye discipline dominated by accurate 30-caliber cartridges such as the 30 BR. Over the weekend of the 4th and 5th of August, 42 shooters participated in the 2018 IBS 200/300-Yard Score Nationals, held at the Thurmont Conservaton & Sportsman’s Club, in Thurmont, Maryland. Forty-one competitors shot Varmint for Score (VFS). Between the two 6X disciplines there were six competitors, equally divided between Hunter (H) and Varmint Hunter (VH). Dewey Hancock was “Top Gun” for the match, winning the VFS 200/300 Grand Agg with 500-23X, a possible new record.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

VIEW Complete Match Results on IBS WEBSITE »

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
There are six bullseyes on an IBS Score target. Competitors take one shot per bull for five scored shots. The sixth (bottom right) bullseye is reserved for sighter shots.

Rising River After Rain
This match had some unique challenges — caused by a river that overflowed after a rain. Thankfully, the match proceeded without major problems once needed equipment was moved. It rained nearly half an inch the Friday night before the match, as it had for several days. Given the flooding, there was a slight delay Saturday morning. The scoring trailer had to be moved because it been parked (before the rain) in a low area adjacent to where Big Hunter Creek empties into the Monocacy River. (In the satellite view, the firing line cover is in the middle, about one-third up from the bottom.)

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Hot and Humid in Maryland — The match director described the weather as very hot and humid. On Saturday, the temperature varied from 66 to 81 degrees, the humidity from 62 to 100 %, and the wind speed from 0 to 9 mph. On Sunday, things warmed up a bit, the humidity was reported as a little lower, as was the wind speed.

The Green Fields of Thurmont — With recent rains at Thurmont, lush green grass stretched from firing line to targets. This elicits envy from a shooter who has spent all of his time on ranges that do not have a single blade of green anywhere, except for a few weeks during a short rainy season. To my eyes, this range is beautiful.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont shooters are blessed with a truly outstanding facility that serves all types of shooting. There are fifteen covered benches of mixed construction under a sturdy cover, with plenty of parking both for vehicles and RVs. Learn more about the Thurmont Club at TCandSC.org.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

TOP TEN Match Results, and Equipment List

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Can anyone identify that big gold-tone coaxial rest on the right?

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPCThe VFS Grand Aggregate Top Five were: Dewey Hancock (1st Place), John Bosley (2nd), Ronnie Milford (3rd), Brian Fitch (4th), and Jim Cline (5th). VFS winner Dewey Hancock shot a possible new 200/300 yard record with a 500-23X.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Top shooters left to right: Dewey Hancock, Nick Breeden, Brian Fitch, Glen Olenick, Robert Brooks, Steve Cameron, Dean Breeden (arms raised), KL Miller, Jim Cline, Ronnie Milford, John Bosley.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Wayne France — with the “I just won a Nightforce” smile!

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Steve Eller smiling — BIB Bullets from Randy Robinette are always a good choice.

Dean Breeden, Match Director and Competitor

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Match directors do not get the appreciation they deserve. The match calendar would be blank without them. Score Nationals Match director Dean Breeden ran a great show here. In addition to rescuing a trailer from flood waters, and running the 200/300 Score Nationals, Dean also himself competed at the Nationals, shooting two rifles. He did well, with Top Ten finishes at both distances, in both VFS and Hunter classes (3rd in Hunter at 300 yards).

While Dean may be under-appreciated as a match director, Dean is widely recognized as one of the best IBS score shooters out there. Dean holds six (6) current IBS Score Shooting records.

In his Match Report, Dean acknowledged and thanked the generous match sponsors:

BIB Bullets
Brunos Shooter Supply
Brux Barrels
Dave Short Customs
Eddie Harren
Krieger Barrels
Nightforce
PMA Tool
Redding Reloading
ShadeTree Engineering
Wilson Dies

Parting Shot — Down by the Riverside…

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
January 13th, 2017

Perfection at the Core — Bullet Making Tips from BIB Bullets

Randy Robinett, founder of BIB Bullets, is a highly respected custom bullet-maker. In recent years, Randy’s 30-caliber projectiles have won countless benchrest-for-score matches, and captured many National titles. If you want to “run with the big dogs” in score competition, campaigning a 30BR with BIB bullets is a very smart way to go. In this article, Randy talks about the process of creating highly uniform cores for benchrest bullets.

This article originally started as an exchange of posts in Stan Ware’s Bench-Talk Forum. Stan, a gifted gunsmith, converted the Forum posts into an article, which first appeared on Stan’s Bench-Talk.com Website.

How to Make Benchrest-Quality Bullet Cores
by Randy Robinett, BIB Bullets

OK, Stan “made me do it”! A while back, Stan Ware asked if I’d submit a ditty on bullet-making. Here is the “picture is worth a few words” version. Below is a photo of a spool of lead wire. This is the first step in making benchrest-quality bullets. This spool of .250″ diameter lead wire will be cut into approximately 130 pieces, each about thirty inches long.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

The Core Cutter
Here’s a really neat machine built by my Uncle and BIG MIKE. This is the core cutter. We made it using scrap steel and borrowed the crank shaft out of a 1966 Yamaha motorcycle to get the desired reciprocating-motion slide. When properly “juiced”, this machine can cut more than 3000 cores per hour.

As you doubtless deduced, the “sticks” are inserted, then fed via gravity — straightness is a virtue here! The crank, for now, is powered by the human hand. The bucket contents are the result of loading the cutter and turning the crank wheel. This photo shows cores for 112 grain, .30-caliber bullets. There are about 2500 cores to the bucket.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

Here’s a close-up of the business end of the core cutter. Using recorded micrometer settings, this clever design allows us to get very repeatable length when changing through the length/weight cycle.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

The photo below provides a closer look at the just-cut cores. Note the relatively clean shanks and square, unflared ends. This bucket contains roughly 2500 cores. By contrast, a tour of the Hornady plant will reveal cores being cut and squirted via a single operation, and deposited into 50-100 gallon livestock watering tanks!

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

Upon my first tour of a commercial plant, I lost all feelings of guilt about the cost of custom, hand-made bullets. When one totals the amount of labor, “feel” and “culling” that goes into them, custom hand-made bullets represent one of the best bargains on the planet!

At Hornady, each press produces 50-55,000 finished bullets per 10-hour shift. By contrast, a maker of hand-crafted bullets, at best, may make 3% of that number during a 10-hour span! Yep, hand-made benchrest-quality bullets are a labor of love and should be purchased with these criteria in mind: 1) QUALITY; 2) availability; 3) price. There is no reason for a maker of hand-made benchrest-quality bullets to negotiate on price. His time is worth what one receives from the bargain!

Core-Making Q & A
Randy’s original Bench-Talk Forum posts inspired some questions by Forum members. Here are Randy’s answers to spedific questions about core-making.

Question by Stan Ware: Randy, a post or two back you said the cores were cut into 30″ lengths first and straightened. Why do you cut to 30″ lengths? What is the reason for this?

Answer by Randy: Stan, the wire is cut into 30″ lengths (sticks) and then straightened, following which it is fed into the core cutter and cut into the individual individual “cores”. If you look at the core cutter photo above, you’ll see a stick of lead wire sticking up -it’s toward the right hand end of the contraption. The cut cores are also “ejected” by gravity — the white “tickler” brushes the cores as the slide moves forward and dislodges the core from the cutter bushing.

Q by GregP: Randy, How do you straighten the 30″ sticks? Roll them between metal plates?

Answer by Randy: Greg, BIG MIKE may kill me for letting out the secret. WE “roll” the wire between an aluminum plate, which is equipped with handles, and the “plate” which you can see in the pic of cutting the wire. The straightening is really a drag. Eventually, we will have the new cutter hooked up to a “feeder/straightener” and the wire will be cut into core slugs right off the roll! Well, that’s the Dream….

Question by Jim Saubier: How much of a nub do you use at the end of the 30″ section? I imagine that every section you will lose a little from the feed end. Your cutter looks real slick, we are using the manual deal and it isn’t quick by any means.

Answer by Randy: Jim, Since I cut all of the sticks using diagonal-cutting pliers, the ends are, indeed, waste. However, only about 1/8th inch on the beginning end — the final core may be too short. I have attached a pic of my old reliable CH cutter. I still use this cutter for .22-cal and 6mm cores and, occasionally, an odd lot of thirties. The CH cuts very square ends which are free of bulges and/or flaring.

Robinett benchrest bullet spool lead BIB score 30 caliber

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August 15th, 2013

Inside Look at World Record .0077″ Group — The Gun and Ammo

We reported two weeks ago that Texas shooter Mike Stinnett nailed a .0077″ group in competition — the smallest 5-shot group ever shot at 100 yards. This has now been officially recognized as a new NBRSA record, eclipsing the .009″ record group shot 40 years ago by Mac McMillan. Congrats to Mike for breaking the “unbreakable record”. As Glenn C. posted on Benchrest Central: “They said it couldn’t be done. Hats off to Mike for an awesome personal achievement in a Sport/Hobby where getting your name in the record books is a rarity.”

kelbly speedy shorty panda action

Stinnett Sets .0077″ Record with a .30-Caliber Modified Grendel Cartridge, Pre-Loaded
Many folks have asked about the gun and ammo that produced the .0077″ group. The rifle was chambered as a .30-caliber wildcat, the 30 Stewart, which is based on the 6.5 Grendel case necked up. Mike was using Hodgdon H4198 powder behind BIB 114gr, 10-ogive bullets. Notably, the record-setting ammo was pre-loaded before the match. Unfortunately, we don’t have a photo of the target yet — it is still in the hands of the official NBRSA certification committee. However, Mike has been kind enough to tell us about his rifle and his load.

Mike Stinnett .0077″ Record Group Equipment Report

Mike reports: “Several guys have asked so here is my equipment listing. The hardware build actually started in 2008 with the goal of building two identical Benchrest rifles which could be used for both group and score. The idea was to shoot 6PPC and a 30 Cal without a base rifle change.”

Action: Kelby Panda “Speedy Shorty” with solid bolt and PPC-diameter bolt face. Kelby was asked to build several actions which were identical with the intent to eliminate any variance in head space between the two new rifles. This helped me use a single set-up on sizing dies for both rifles and ammo is interchangeable. Both actions were sent to Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez to be blue-printed and have Jewell triggers installed.

Reamer: 30 STEWART (I just call it a 30 PPC as that is what everyone expects, but it is in fact a custom design and Ralph deserves about 99% of the credit).

Barrels: Krieger was selected for the barrels. After discussions with Randy Robinett of BIB Bullets, a 1:17″ twist was identified as the correct, safe solution. Ralph Stewart has cut all my chambers using a custom-designed reamer. [Our goal] was consistent headspace and Ralph has been able to keep my barrels within .0002 variance. The barrel tuner also comes from Ralph Stewart.

  • Stock: Larson (including action bedding)
  • Scope: Leupold 45X Competition in Kelby Single Screw Tall Rings
  • Brass: Lapua (Base case is 6.5 Grendel)
  • Bullets: Randy Robinett (BIB) 30 Cal. 114gr, 10 Ogive (secondary bullet; primary is 112gr BIB)
  • Powder: H4198 – Stout Load with 2980 FPS Velocity
  • Front Rest: Farley Coaxial
  • Bags: Micro Fiber
  • Flags: Graham Wind Flags (large)

About the Cartridge — 30 Stewart (Based on Lapua 6.5 Grendel Parent Brass)
Mike explains: “Our goal was to shoot H4198 as the optimal powder for stability. There were several versions of the reamer before we settled on the current configuration. I am optimized for the 10 Ogive BIB bullet, powder to the base of the bullet. I found in testing the small 30-cal case did not like compression at all. The bullet is seated only 0.12″ into the case with zero freebore.

Cases were initially created with the .220 Russian (like a PPC) but I later decided it was better to build from the 6.5 Grendel. I size the brass and bump the shoulder back until it will fit into the chamber, fill to shoulder with International Clays, cotton wad packed on top. I have a fire-forming barrel. (I would not recommend this Clays and cotton wad method in a good barrel.) After initial fire-forming, I then mandrel the neck up the rest of the way to .30 caliber, turn the necks and trim.

It takes at least 8 firings to fully form a case! If you fire only three loads I find the brass does not have a sharp shoulder or any pressure on the bolt so any die selection is incorrect. Brass continues to harden well past 25 firings. I have match brass with well over 500 rounds fired, and I have never blown a case or neck yet (using my forming method).

For loading I use a Hornady Custom Shop Sizing Die and a Ralph Stewart Custom Seating Die. For those who are curious, yes the small group was fired with pre-loaded rounds. I do this now and then with local matches or may load 50 in a batch for one match.”

Mike wanted to thank his smiths, Randy Robinett, and all the folks involved in running the matches: “A big THANKS — as these are the guys that make our matches possible and without question maintain the integrity of the targets and record system. I was very fortunate to have all the right people in the right places for this match and my record. As for measurement – I only saw the target for about 10 seconds up close and can say I’m very happy I did not have to measure that group! Thanks again to everyone!” — Mike Stinnett

kelbly speedy shorty panda action

Permalink Competition, News, Reloading 5 Comments »
June 2nd, 2013

12-Year-Old Kevin Donalds Jr. Wins Score Match with 250-25X

Well it looks like there’s some real talent in the next generation of IBS Benchrest shooters. Watch out for those young guns — they can give seasoned veterans a run for their money — and then some. Young Kevin Donalds Jr. fired a perfect 250-25X score to win a 100-yard IBS score match at the Thurmont, Maryland range on May 18th, 2013. At just 12 years of age, Kevin is already showing he has the focus, talent, and determination to win. And, yes he managed to beat his proud father Kevin Donalds (Sr.) who finished second with a 250-23x. Like father, like son. It’s great to see a father and son who shoot together — and share the podium together.

Above, 12-year-old Kevin, match winner, is shown flanked on his left by his father (second place), and on his right by third place finisher Larry Fritz. Young Kevin was shooting a 30BR (no surprise), with a BAT action, Krieger barrel, and an affordable Sightron 8-32X scope (about $860). The rifle was smithed by Sid Goodling and stocked by Roy Hunter. The load was a stout charge of Hodgdon H4198, fired by Federal primers, pushing BIB 112gr bullets.

For more information on this Match and other IBS competitions, visit InternationalBenchrest.com and the IBS News Magazine Archive.

IBS international benchrest shooters

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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