June 3rd, 2017

Interview with F-Class Ace Dan Pohlabel

Team Sinclair F-TR interview F-Class Reloading Load Development Training dry-fire
Team Sinclair F-Class

In response to many requests from Forum members who shoot F-Class, we are republishing this informative interview, which first appeared last summer. You’ll find many “solid good” tips that can help any long-range rifle competitor.

Dan Pohlabel is a member of the all-conquering Team Sinclair F-TR squad. This talented group of shooters hasn’t lost a team match in years. What’s the secret of Team Sinclair’s success? Well there is not one single factor. These guys have very accurate rifles, they work hard on load development, and they practice in all conditions. In this interview, Dan Pohlabel talks about F-TR competition, reviewing the hardware (and skill set) it takes to win. He offers some great tips on developing loads. You’ll find a longer version of this interview on the Sinclair Int’l website. CLICK HERE to Read Full Interview.

Q: What do you find most challenging in F-TR Shooting?
It has to be keeping up with the competition, our sport has grown so quickly with new talented shooters. Staying at the top requires having a laser of a rifle, perfect loads, near perfect wind reading, and, of course, breaking good shots.

Q: How can novice shooters improve their game?
Seek out the local F-TR shooters and go to matches with them, listen and learn. Attend team matches and offer to score for one of the teams. As a scorer, you will sit close enough to hear the coach make wind calls and see the results on the target. Through the spotting scope you will see changes in mirage and it’s the quickest way to learn the basics of wind reading. Choosing and buying equipment is relatively easy, learning to read the wind is a journey.

Q: What’s in your range bag for match days?
Rear bag, towel, shooting glasses, canned air, ear protection, data book, pen, rifle rain cover, hat, rifle tools, timer, ammo, and bug spray.

Q: What specialized gear can you not live without?

1. A good set of elbow pads. It’s hard to keep concentrating on shooting when your elbows are rubbed raw from days of competing on them.

2. Good bug spray. We shoot from the ground but our shooting mats aren’t that big. It’s hard to concentrate with bugs crawling or chewing on you.

Q: Load Development — How do you work up a load?
First, I call Derek Rodgers and get his load data, he is the best load development shooter I know! Otherwise, here is the procedure I recommend. Measure throat length with bullet of your choice, to determine how much room is left in the case. The above measurement determines what powders you can use. We use only Hodgdon Extreme powders. Shoot a ladder test, five rounds each in 0.2 grain increments, to find the accuracy node for that bullet/powder combination. Take the best two loads and do a jump test with five rounds each, test at .005″, .025″, .060″ jump. One of these groups will be significantly better than the rest, now you can tweak that measurement +/- .002” or .005” to get the best accuracy.

Test at least three different primers to determine which offers a little better ignition for your load, a 5-shot test will usually tell you which is the best. Go back and test the two best combinations in a 10-shot test at least twice, pick a cool overcast day and also a hot sunny day and compare results. Take your final “best load” back and do a “simulated match”, 20 shots, waiting at least 20 seconds between shots. If you like those results it’s probably a reliable and accurate load.

Q: What rear bag do you use?
I use a two-bag system, large bag on bottom with a smaller bag on top. I had the bags made of marine canvas, zippered and filled with plastic beads. I can adjust the amount of fill to make them a perfect height for my shooting position. Teammate Jeff Rorer uses a similar system and mine is nearly a copy of his rear bags.

Q: How often do you practice and how many rounds do you shoot per year?
In good weather I practice a couple times a week at the local range, a couple more dry-firing practices/week at home. I typically shoot between 2,000-2,500 rounds per year.

Q: How do you prepare mentally before a match?
[I do] lots of visualization — run the video in my head of what I expect to see and of my performance. I think about the correct strategy for the conditions, staying disciplined to the strategy.

Q: What do you avoid before a shoot?
No late nights or excessive alcohol. Very little caffeine in the morning. Leave your cell turned off. Avoid emotional people.

Q: What’s your procedure on a Match day?
I arrive early, get squadding card, move gear, watch wind speed/direction, check over rifle and gear, sit and relax, visualize and focus on the most important goal of the day. Most days we shoot three relays of 20 shots. It’s important to eat and hydrate continually all day. My focus and concentration are better when I snack all day with fruit and energy bars, and lots of water. While taking my turn in the pits, I try to relax and only focus on what is ahead of me and [not] what’s already happened.

Q: What is your favorite reloading product?
My favorite reloading product is the Sinclair Premium Neck Turning Tool with Handle, I also use the expander mandrels provided by Sinclair for sizing the brass in preparation for the turning process. Correct and repeatable neck tension begins with turning necks to a uniform thickness. Sinclair also has mandrels to size the necks after neck turning that accurately size the necks for a specific neck tension.

Q: What is your preferred scope?
The scope I find the most useful is the Nightforce Competition Scope. This scope is very light-weight, has 15-55X magnification, world-class quality glass, 10 MOA per revolution on the turrets, 1/8 moa adjustments. It’s perfect for F-Class competition.

Q: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into the sport?
Find a local club with some F-TR shooters and ask for their help. Most shooters will be happy to take you with them to a match, listen and learn while you’re there. You may find out it’s not what you thought, or you may be hooked. If you decide to jump in, start with an inexpensive rifle. This sport is expensive and you don’t need a $5000 rifle to learn good wind-reading skills. Start with a used Savage F-TR rifle and learn the basics, shoot for a year at least before making a larger investment. The money you saved buying a used Savage rifle will help pay for your divorce lawyer, LOL.

Q: What training drills do you use?
Dry-firing the rifle at home is a good way to practice when you can’t get to the range and shoot. It allows me to practice set-up, rifle handling, and position. When I can practice at a local range, I also dry-fire between shots to increase the amount of repetitions and increase the time spent in position.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence in shooting?
Eric Bair, 2006 F-Open National Champion helped me get started and gave me great advice. Most of the shooters on Team USA and Team Sinclair help each other, nobody knows all the answers but we share what we have learned. Danny Biggs, 2008 and 2009 F-TR National Champion also helped me when I was struggling to learn some of the ranges. I learned a lot from Danny.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
December 13th, 2015

In Memoriam: Jerry Tierney — A Great Shooter, A Great Friend

Jerry Tierney obituary memorial NBRSA Sacramento

I am very sad to announce that a good friend (and a brilliant shooter) Jerry Tierney, has passed away at age 77. I have worked on this site for 11 years, and Jerry was one of the most helpful and talented men I’ve met along the way. Though he won many championships, Jerry was a modest man who always was there to help other shooters. I will really miss him. AccurateShooter.com owes a debt of gratitude to Jerry. With his technical expertise, he helped me greatly with my understanding of rifle accuracy. Jerry was small in stature, but big in talent. Rest in Peace Jerry. We’ll miss your smarts, your good humor, and your love for the sport. — Paul McM, Editor in Chief.

Jerry Tierney shot competitively for nearly 50 years and won multiple championships in various rifle disciplines. Fellow shooter Donovan Moran noted: “Jerry was the leading member of the NBRSA ‘Long Range Hall of Fame’ — well deserved! He was a very friendly man, a mentor to the sport, and one of the best Long Range competition shooters there’s ever been.”

With great natural talent and the mind of a scientist, Jerry could win events in ways not thought possible. He is certainly the only man I know who won a Benchrest Championship shooting a prone-type tube gun. He pioneered the .284 Win as an F-Open weapon. A self-declared “iron-sight prone guy”, he competed for many seasons in the full-bore and Palma disciplines, but in the last decade he turned his attention to 600-yard and 1000-yard benchrest and F-Class. He won multiple NBRSA Nationals, due in no small part to superb wind-doping skills and mastery of the “mental game”.

Jerry Tierny memorial

A former computer engineer with IBM, Jerry was an extremely bright guy who took a systematic approach to the sport. He made decisions based on hard data. He did things many shooters once considered radical (such as cleaning his barrels infrequently), but he always had the data to back up his methods. He was a forward thinker who wasn’t afraid to depart from conventional wisdom if he found a better way to do things. For me, Jerry Tierney was an important mentor — he showed me how the “state of the art” could be pushed to higher levels with careful experimentation and a willingness to try new things.

Jerry Tierney NBRSA

We did a lengthy interview with Jerry way back in 2005, when Jerry won the NBRSA 1000-yard Nationals. That performance helped proved the worth of the .284 Win in 1K competition, a cartridge that now is a leading choice for F-Open. Read this interview carefully — even ten years later, Jerry offers many nuggets of advice that can help with your reloading and shooting:

READ Interview with Jerry Tierney with Discussion of Wind Reading and .284 Winchester.

Jerry Tierney Danny Biggs Memorial F-ClassDanny Biggs Remembers Jerry Tierney
Past National F-Class Champion Danny Biggs wrote: “Our long-time shooting friend, Jerry Tierney, left the range last night. Jerry was 77 years old, and was overtaken by bad health over the past year…cancer and other ailments. An accomplished Palma Rifle shooter, his home range was the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center, near Sacramento, CA, and, just 16 miles from his front door, outside Plymouth, CA.

Jerry was a frequent contributor to [Rifle Blogs] in past years. In particular, about 7 years ago, he published considerable results of his testing of the Winchester .284 cartridge. This testing convinced several of us to transition from the venerable 6.5-284 to the straight .284 for both long range ‘sling’ and F-Class Open. Jerry’s testing was primarily in the realm of F-Open; wherein, he fell ‘in cahoots’ with a young F-Open shooter, Charles Ballard, who set an F-Class Open National record that stood for many years. (By the way, Incahoots is the name of Jerry’s favorite restaurant in Plymouth, CA, near his home; where I’ve enjoyed many an evening meal with him.)

Many others have contributed to the legacy of the Winchester .284… but, if you happen to be shooting a .284 in F-Open today, you might just give a thought to Jerry at your next trigger-pull. More than likely, you are shooting some of his data.” — Danny Biggs

Forum Member Killshot added:
“I only new Jerry for a few years, as I began shooting F-Class in 2010 — but he always answered my questions, helped me with my first Wildcat chambering and I never, ever, saw or heard of him ‘Big Timing’ anyone. I’ll miss his gap-toothed grin, like he knew something you didn’t. (and probably did!)

We’re better off for knowing him and worse off for not having him around any longer. So, appreciate your friendships and shoot small… Jerry would.”

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
February 26th, 2013

Using the NP-2DD Reticle — F-TR Champ Danny Biggs Explains

The Nightforce NP-2DD (Double Dot) reticle is popular with both match shooters and long-range varminters. The uncluttered reticle gives you an unobstructed view of the target — and that’s especially important for 1000-yard shooting. You can also use the “gap” between center dot and horizontal lines to judge wind hold-off (this “gap” is 1.1 MOA at 42X and 2.0 MOA at 22X). Some guys use the lower dot for hold-overs when shooting at different distances. At 22X the second dot is 8 MOA lower than the top dot. At full 42X power, the lower dot is 4.3 MOA lower than the top dot.

Nightforce NP-2DD reticle

Clicking Elevation vs. Hold-Over with Double Dots
Danny Biggs F-ClassIf you have a Nightforce scope with NP-2DD reticle should you click for elevation changes, or hold-over using the second dot? The answer is: “It depends”. Danny Biggs, multi-time U.S. F-Class F-TR National Champion, offered this advice is our Shooters’ Forum: “There is nothing wrong with [using] the NP-2DD ‘over and under’ dots. Try it, and if it works for you, fine. However [in most situations] I would not bother to use it. Rather, I just click up/down the elevation going from 600 to 1,000 yards.

There is one exception though where I regularly use the lower dot! That is for 1,200-yard shooting — a fad at the Midwest Palma Championships held annually up at Lodi, WI. Here I fully employ [the hold-over method].

Following the 1,000-yard match, I click up 2-3 minutes of elevation depending on the load being used for my 7mm RSAUM, go to 42 power, and use the ‘lower’ dot. For me, the lower (and smaller diameter dot) at 42 power provides a preferable aiming dot for the much diminished size/appearance (at 1200) of the 1,000-yard target face. In this instance, I’m really not too lazy to just ‘click up’. By using the smaller aiming dot I ‘uncover’ the 10/X rings as much as possible as they are obscured by the larger upper dot. [This also allows] a better hold on the rings horizontally for windage purposes.” — Danny

Nightforce NP-2DD reticle

Permalink Competition, Optics 1 Comment »
September 18th, 2011

2011 Spirit of America Results from Raton, NM

September 11-17, the Bald Eagles Rifle Club hosted the 2011 Spirit Of America rifle match, at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. This match serves as U.S. National Fullbore Championships, but there are also F-Class divisions. The match consists of conventional sling (TR) class, as well as F-Open and F-TR, and the event is shot at distances of 300, 500, 600, 800, 900 and 1000 yards. Approximately 80 shooters, including about 20 F-classer attended the event.

Bryan Litz won the Fullbore TR (sling) competition with a 1782-105X overall score, with runner-up Andrew Wilde (1780-101X), just two points behind. Sean Morris finished third with 1776-85X, and Jim O’Connell shot 1772-81X to claim the High Senior title.

F-Class SOA Bryan Litz Fullbore
Photo by Randy Pike

In F-Open Class, familiar names topped the leaderboard. Larry Bartholome earned his chair ride as F-Open winner, shooting an impressive 1776-98X. Second in F-Open, five points back at 1771-96X, was past F-Class National Champion Danny Biggs. In the F-TR division, Michael Smith topped the field with a 1738-69X, followed by John Killen, who shot a 1720-52X. NOTE: F-Open and F-TR competitors shoot a target with smaller-diameter scoring rings than the Fullbore Target.

F-Class SOA larry Bartholome michael smith

Conditions Were Mild… Then Wild
Bryan Litz tells us the conditions weren’t so bad … until the final day: “We dodged some rain throughout the week, but wind conditions were easy to moderate for the most part. That is until the last 1000-yard string of the last day when Raton finally showed its evil side! The most wind I had used all week was just over 3 MOA. That last relay on Saturday, it was running between 7 and 12 MOA with very quick changes. There were many misses, and just keeping all shots in the black was an accomplishment.” Rick Hunt concurred that the conditions were arduous on the final 1K stage: “At 1000 yards, there was a 9:00 o’clock wind running between 9 1/2 and 13 1/2 MOA. As seen by the scores, two shooters really nailed it. Other than that, it was pretty disastrous for most shooters with the really fast velocity changes.”

Raton New Mexico

When the smoke had cleared, the standings were all jumbled up compared to what they were the rest of the week. Litz added: “An experience like that really drives home the importance of wind shooting skills. To be honest, I had no particular strategy going in other than to stay calm and positive no matter what. A big part of shooting in adverse conditions is managing yourself mentally. I dropped 10 points that last relay, more than I’d lost in the entire tournament up to that point. But given the conditions, I felt good about it, knowing I’d done my best.”

Berger 155gr Hybrids Work Well in Fullbore Competition
Bryan Litz credits his 155gr Berger .308-cal Hybrids for his strong performance: “I was shooting the new Berger 155 grain Hybrid bullets which played a part in saving some points in that nasty wind (on the last day). Due to their length, these bullets require a 1:12″ twist to stabilize and have a higher BC than any other .30 caliber 155 grain bullet. The hybrid ogive makes them length tolerant (insensitive to seating depth) and as the results of this tournament show, they are very effective”.

Complete Final Scores On SOA Blog
You’ll find complete interim and final SOA Match Scores linked from the Bald Eagles Match Blog.

Saturday and Final TR (Fullbore Sling) Class (PDF).

Saturday and Final F-Open and F-TR Class Results (PDF).

At the match the USA Young Eagles unveiled the new uniforms the American team will wear at the World Fullbore Championships in Australia next month. On opposite sleeves, the uniforms feature logos from both major bullet sponsors — Berger and Sierra. Bryan Litz observerd: “Historically teams have been sponsored by ‘one or the other’, but there’s no reason a team can’t enjoy sponsorship by multiple brands, and this is a very positive step in that direction.”

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »