July 21st, 2018

Kevin Nevius Wins 2018 NRA Long Range Championship

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Our friend Kevin Nevius, best known for his smallbore skills, went head to head against the nation’s top long-range aces this past week, and emerged on top. Besting the likes of past multi-time Long Range Champions David Tubb and John Whidden, Kevin Nevius shot superbly at Camp Atterbury to win his first NRA National Long Range Championship. Kevin finished with 1245-64X, one point ahead of Phillip Crowe, 1244-74X. Bob Gill, shooting a .223 Rem with iron sights, was third on X-Count, with 1244-68X. Kevin built his own rifles for the match, using Kelbly centerfire actions in a Grunig & Elmiger smallbore stock. Here is Kevin’s first-hand report of his 2018 LR Championship victory.

Click Here for 2018 NRA High Power Long Range Championship Full Results

2018 NRA Long Range Championship — Rising to the Challenge

by Kevin Nevius
NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John WhiddenThis was my first opportunity to shoot the NRA Long Range Nationals since its relocation to Camp Atterbury, and it was great to see everyone and get back to the matches. It is always so humbling walking onto the range and seeing all of the people I read about and admire so much. I can’t think of another sport where people so accomplished will share so much and be so helpful.

Regarding the weather, we had generally great conditions with very mild winds in the mornings, building gradually as the days progressed. By the afternoon hours, there were certainly challenges as the air started moving. Obstructions to the wind on either side of this range vary, so you needed to pay attention for sure — it may be calm at the targets or firing line, only to show something to worry about on the mid-range flags. Mirage is my primary indicator shooting smallbore, but mirage over 5/8ths of a mile is a little less telling (and a lot more confusing, at least for me!). I think most competitors, including me, use some combination of mirage and flags to make corrections. At the start of the string, I try to gauge a predominant condition, and more importantly which indicator is the most reliable to look at to determine that condition.

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Smallbore shooting is where I learned to build a good position, and so much of that carries forward to Long Range High Power. It was a huge shock though, the first time I looked at a 44” aiming black through aperture sights at 1000 yards! Smallbore aiming blacks are twice as big, at one tenth the distance — the fact that we can hit something at 1000 yards with that sight picture still amazes me!

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Kevin’s Arsenal — 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win Barreled Actions in Smallbore Stock
I have always build my own rifles, and always struggled to get the individual rifles you need for the LR aggregate (Any and Palma) and smallbore to feel, balance and fit identically. This year for the first time, I machined bedding blocks that allowed me to put almost identical centefire barreled actions into my smallbore prone stock – effectively making the position and fit of all the rifles for all disciplines identical (it is, after all the same stock used for everything).

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana

I used two modified Kelbly Grizzly actions (one barreled in 6.5×47 for the any rifle matches, and one barreled in 308 for Palma) fitted to two identical aluminum bedding blocks. The bedding block footprint matches my smallbore barreled action – a Grunig & Elmiger Racer WC. The stock is a Grunig & Elmiger Hybrid, which is a composite aluminum skeleton and carbon fiber skin.

Championship-Winning 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win Loads
I was using a 6.5×47 Lapua in the “Any Rifle” matches. The barrel is a 1:8″-twist Benchmark medium Palma contour finished at 35 inches, throated +0.060″. My 6.5×47 load was Lapua brass, CCI 450 primers, VV N160 powder, and 140 grain Berger Hybrid bullets. For the Palma match, a .308 Win barreled action was fitted in the same Grunig & Elmiger smallbore stock. The .308 barrel was another Benchmark 35″ medium Palma, using the current Fullbore chamber throated +0.120″. I was using Lapua .308 Palma small primer brass, Federal 205M primers, VV N140, and 155 grain Lapua Scenar L bullets.

Shooting Between Champions — Tubb on the Left, Whidden on the Right
On the final day (the Palma Individual), we were squadded based on seed position, so David Tubb was on my left, and John Whidden on my right. I am not sure if a more intimidating position on the firing line exists, but it was so clear to me especially on that last day how blessed I was to be there. In every match, there is an element of luck — regarding weather, squadding assignment, target service, firing point condition, even equipment malfunction. A host of things can go wrong…

I lost my very first shot at 900 mostly due to elevation (I was coming a little unhinged with the realization I might be in the lead – just being completely honest!), and settled down to clean the remainder of the string. The wind had built by then, and would run both right and left with the small boils in between. At 1000 I lost two, and was pretty happy with that. It was getting pretty dicey, and I resigned myself to the fact that it was becoming one of those days where 10s were enough (and Xs were pure luxury!). John shot well at 1000, but he always does — I don’t think there is a better long range shooter in the country and it’s been that way for a bunch of years. I can’t say enough about him – he is a dear friend and everything a champion should be. (Editor: Whidden finished fourth overall, at 1243-78X, with high X-count for the event.)

To put it all together takes so many things — preparation, tuning, load development, position practice. And yes, it takes some divine intervention for sure. I will never forget this experience, and am so grateful to have been successful this year.

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks congratulated Kevin: “I was really proud of my friend Kevin Nevius and his fine shooting over the match. Kevin is respected both for his shooting and his character. The match went well and a number of improvements were made over last year. The targets were better, the number boards better, and the match ran very efficiently. Kudos to those who made these positive changes happen.”

Tough Time for Tubb on Last Day
Kevin noted that it was intimidating to be squadded between David Tubb and John Whidden, two multi-time Champions. Unfortunately Tubb, who had shot brilliantly (800-50X) throughout the Long Range event, had issues with his .308 Palma rifle on the final day. Kevin noted: “Yes David had some problems with his .308. When we arrived at the range on the last day, for the Palma Individual, David was in the lead with 800-50X, having shot ‘clean’ (not dropping a point). Bob Gill was second with 798-43X, and I was in third place with 798-42X. As we started the 800-yard string, there was some commotion going on to my left, and all I know is that as we finished and started moving to 900 yards, David was not happy. I believe he had lost 4 points at 800. We went to the pits, and he said his rifle was not shooting well, and he was pretty unhappy to say the least. He tried to adjust the seating depth of his ammunition before heading back out to the 900-yard line, in the hopes the gun would shoot better”. But it ended up a very tough day for David, as his chances for another LR Championship vanished.

Editor: With a 800-50X total, David Tubb was the Winner of the Canadian Cup Trophy, earned before the last day.

Bob Gill Proves the .223 Remington (and Iron Sights) Can Be Competitive
There were many interesting stories at this year’s Long Range Championship. The .223 Rem Eliseo Tubegun belonging to Californian Bob Gill proved to be “the little rifle that could”. Gill shot his .223 Rem Palma rifle for the entire Long Range Championship cycle. And yes Bob shot irons the whole way, even during the Remington and Wimbledon “Any Sight” matches where scopes are allowed. Kevin observed: “Bob Gill was amazing, and that rifle must be pretty awesome too. I don’t think I have ever seen someone shoot a .223 Rem at 1000 yards that well — ever. I believe Bob was shooting 80 grain bullets. As I pulled for Gill on the third day, I can testify that his bullets were still plenty supersonic!”

Editor: Gill finished 3rd overall, just one point down from Kevin, and six Xs behind runner-up Phillip Crowe. Gill also won the Sierra Trophy.

CLICK HERE for all NRA 2018 National Championships Results

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March 1st, 2016

Bob Gill Wins CA Fullbore Championship with .223 Palma Rifle

Bob Gill California Fullbore elesio R1 .223 Rem championship

Report by Johnny Fisher
Here’s something you don’t see very often — a fullbore shooter with a .223 Remington topped a field of talented .308 Win shooters. Not only that, he scored more points than any F-Class competitor (however, F-Classers shot a smaller target). Bob Gill’s performance proves that, even in an era of high-BC .308 bullets, the little .223 Rem cartridge can still hold its own in the hands of a great shooter.

At last weekend’s California State Fullbore Championships, Bob Gill bested over 30 competitors for the championship with a .223 Palma rifle, only dropping 7 points over the weekend for a 993-56X. The event was sponsored by the California Rifle & Pistol Association and hosted by the Coalinga Rifle Club.

Bob Gill California Fullbore elesio R1 .223 Rem championship

Bob Gill Talks about the ‘Mental Game’
Conventional wisdom when shooting any match is to just stay focused on each and every shot and let the scores work themselves out after all firing is complete. “Two To The Mound” shooting changes all of that, as each competitor is not only aware of their own standings throughout the course of the match – but also of their closest competitor during these pair-fire strings. With this championship never further out than a 2-point lead throughout the weekend, stress was high and every once of mental focus needed to be tapped.

Bob recalls, “The entire match was neck and neck. After a few mental mistakes and a few wind mistakes, with three shots remaining the thought is three shots and a 1X lead. I need to shoot three 10s. Everything else goes away. Shoot three 10s and he can’t catch me.”

Three 10s later, Bob won the CA State Fullbore Championship by one point and one X. Well done!

Gun Specifications
Bob was shooting a 1970s-era .223 Remington B-40X action inside a Competition Machine R1 chassis. The barrel is a 30.5″ Heavy Palma taper, 1:7″-twist Brux with a Wylde chamber and .220 freebore done up by Randy Gregory at Accuracy Unlimited. The Tubb 7T7 two-stage trigger was set at 1 + 1 pounds.

.223 Remington Accuracy Load — Berger 90gr VLDS, Varget and BR4s
Gill loaded 90gr Berger VLDs in front of 25.0 grains of Hodgdon Varget powder, jumping 15 to 20 thousandths for a 2.708 COL with a BR4 primer inside Lapua brass. Bob uses a Redding Full-Length S-Die to push the shoulders back .004 to match that of new Lapua brass and a bushing chosen to achieve .004 neck tension. He sorts his brass by weight into 0.5 grain lots and each piece is trimmed on a Giraud trimmer after sizing because he says “it grows like crazy”.

Bob Gill California Fullbore elesio R1 .223 Rem championship

Fullbore Course of Fire — Pair Firing on Day 2 at Coalinga
The Fullbore Course-Of-Fire for this match was squadded on the first day by classification for 15-shots string-fire at each yard-line: 300 / 600 / 900 / 1000 yards. These scores were then used to determine “two to the mound” squadding for the second day, when each competitor pair-fired with his closest competitor, and also kept score in between his own shots. In this “pair fire” arrangement, only 45 seconds are allowed between shots after a shooter accepts his shot score. This forces competitors to shoot through condition changes as opposed to waiting for a more favorable pattern.

CLICK HERE for CA Championship Individual Results | CLICK HERE for Team Results

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