September 30th, 2019

Raton Remembrances — Photos from the F-Class Nationals

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher is one of the nation’s top rifle shooters and team coaches. A past Long Range National Champion, Michelle is part of America’s “First Family” of Shooting, being raised by Mid Tompkins and Nancy Tompkins, both rifle champions in their own right.

Michelle, who works for Sierra Bullets, was at the 2019 F-Class National Championships in Raton, New Mexico. At the event, Michelle captured some great photos of the competitors and the New Mexico countryside at the NRA Whittington Center. This year’s Nationals were very challenging competition, with truly brutal winds on some days. Here is Michelle’s Photo Essay on the 2019 F-Class Nationals.

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR
Father Ken Klemm and Son Ian Klemm shot together in F-TR Team Matches. Individually, Ian was second overall in the 1K F-TR Nationals, while Ken finished as High Grand Senior.

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR
Three talented lady shooters: Michelle Gallagher (L), Nancy Tompkins, and Madison Bramley.

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September 25th, 2019

F-Class National Championships in Raton, NM

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Mid-range team day. Team jerseys and tons of additional gear adorned the firing line. Most of the top teams had headsets so they could communicate in private.

The 2019 F-Class National Championships took place September 16-22 at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. The Mid-Range Championships ran Sept. 16-18, while the Long-Range Championship finished the week, running Sept. 19-22. This year’s F-Class Championships were well-attended and memorable — as there were some of the most challenging winds many competitors had ever witnessed. Winds were strong, gusty, and shifty — with rapid and unpredictable direction and speed changes. Some seasoned, “world-class” F-TR and F-Open competitors dropped 20 points or more on a single relay — conditions were that bad at times.

F-Class Nationals Long Range Results | F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Results

Nonetheless, through skill, patience, and perseverance there were some outstanding performances at both the 2019 Mid-Range and Long-Range Nationals. Brian Bowling won the F-Open Long Range Championship with a 1573-78X score, ahead of second-place Keith Glasscock (1570-72X). Shiraz Balolia was F-Open High Senior, while Cindi Baudhuin was the top female shooter. In the other division, Jade Delcambre (Master Classification), won the F-TR Championship with a 1549-53X. Ian Klemm was a close second in F-TR with a 1548-44X. Skip Barkley was F-TR High Senior, while Jennifer Bondur was High Lady competitor.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
F-Open “Top Shots”. Brian Bowling, F-Open LR National Champion, is the chap with the beard.

In LR Team Competition, Team Lapua-Borden-Brux won F-Open, scoring 1585-86X to beat runner-up Team Roadrunners by 9 points and a bunch of Xs. In the F-TR Team Match, Team USA Freedom (1555-58X) took first, ahead of second-place Team USA Independence (1546-55X).

Here are some quotes from competitors, posted in our Shooters Forum:

“Today was, in a word, brutal.” — Turbulent Turtle

“I was on relay 1 and I don’t think I have ever shot in these types of conditions! I came off the second string and had dropped 14 points and people were saying “good shooting”!! Playing ping pong with the 7 ring was common. There was no chasing the spotter as every shot was a new condition.” — Shiraz Balolia

“Some relays were very easy wind-wise, and some were monsters! Relay 1 today got hosed like I’ve never seen! 35 mph winds, gusty and switching had most the top shooters doing their best to just stay in paper!” — Falconpilot

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

Report from Mid-Range F-Class Nationals

The Mid-Range Nationals were closely fought also. Congratulations to Timothy Vaught, 2019 Mid-Range F-Open Champion, and to Luke Ramsey, 2019 Mid-Range F-TR Champion. Both victors took their titles by a single point, although Luke had a huge ‘X’-count edge, with 101 Xs compared to 77 Xs for runner-up Tracy Hogg. Here are Top Five Mid-Range individual Results.

Mid-Range F-OPEN Top 5
TIMOTHY VAUGHT 1794-119X NAT’L CHAMPION
TOD HENDRICKS 1793-111X SILVER
DAVID GOSNELL 1789-103X BRONZE
PATRICK SCULLY 1789-99X 2ND BRONZE
JOHN MYERS 1787-107X 3RD BRONZE
Mid-Range F-TR Top 5
LUKE RAMSEY 1784-101X NAT’L CHAMPION
TRACY HOGG 1783-77X SILVER
RANDY LITTLETON 1781-100X BRONZE
ALLEN TAMPKE 1779-88X 2ND BRONZE
JEREMY NEWELL 1779-79X 3RD BRONZE

In the Mid-Range Team Competition, Team Roadrunners, coached by Scott Harris, won the F-Open Team Division (1592-87X), edging Team Berger-Bartlein-SEB-Kelbly (1591-94X) by one point. The winning F-TR Mid-Range Team was Team Independence (1585-88X), coached by past Nat’l Champ James Crofts. Team Texas (1581-85X) finished second in the Mid-Range F-TR event.

The F-Class Nationals Experience — Report from Raton

By John Masek (aka F-Class John, AccurateShooter Weekly Deals Editor)

“The winds were by far the most challenging I have ever encountered, but I learned so much from that. I definitely came home a better shooter after the 2019 Nationals.”

Four of us from Tri-County Gun Club in Sherwood, Oregon loaded up and headed down to shoot two weeks of Spirit of America (SOA) plus the F-Class Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals. The first week of SOA was pretty straight-forward although the nearly 7,000-foot altitude had an immediate effect on our bodies, forcing us to hydrate like never before. We were going through upwards of 10 bottles a day of water and sports drinks to quench our thirst.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Here is a view of the 1000-yard range seen from the Founders Cabins up on the opposing hill. Raton is truly one of the most spectacular places you could ever shoot a match like this.

SOA is a Fullbore match so you shoot two to a mound and only have 45 seconds to take a shot. That requires you to make quick decisions based on ever changing conditions. I was fortunate enough to shoot for two days with Scott Harris who was an amazing partner. Scott even shared some of his amazing wind-calling wisdom with me. I was fortunate enough to win a couple medals during SOA and missed out on a second gold because of a stupid mistake — cross-firing on a target. That was heartbreaking to say the least. The final day of SOA brought whipping, switchy winds that played havoc with the last Long Range match and foreshadowed what what to come the following week.

Mid-Range started on Sunday and while it wasn’t a cakewalk, most shooters managed to work their way through the conditions. Raton has a funny way of keeping most everyone humbled one way or another. But nothing could prepare us for what was coming.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Here is a panorama image of the firing line for the start of the Mid-Range Nationals.

Long Range Nationals started on Thursday and everything seemed pretty normal. The ace shooters worked their way to the top as you would expect and we all went to bed expecting a normal day to follow, we had no idea what was in store for us. Friday started like any other day and the first relay went off without a hitch but as it ended we noticed the weather was starting to turn. As I headed to the pits the winds picked up and flags began going every which way. By the time targets went up for live fire we knew something bad was about to happen. Sighter shots came down and while not unusual to see low scoring shots for sighters, there were a lot of them. This was a 2 + 20 string so as soon as the two sighters were done we knew record shots were coming. When they did points started dropping like prices on Black Friday.

We saw people ping-ponging 7s, a few misses and everything in between. After two relays the dust settled and it was our turn to line up and shoot. During the switch over at the buses everyone was shaking their heads in disbelief of what happened to them and somehow seemed almost relieved to be heading to the pits. The conditions only got worse and by the end of the third relay people were rejoicing if they dropped anything less than 20 points.

Some of the biggest names in the game had dropped in excess of 20 points and there were reports of some people dropping as many as 40-50 points. Just imagine how bad the conditions had to be for the top 93 High Masters in the country to be dropping that many points. By the end of the day people we in stunned disbelief and many were considering getting shirts made that said “I survived Raton 2019″.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Every evening we would complete our nightly ritual of pushing bullets back. We initially loaded all our ammo set to the lands and then pushed the bullets back based on our testing each night.

Watching Brian Bowling Shoot To Victory in F-Open
As an F-Open shooter I was fortunate enough to be shooting a few lanes down from Brian Bowling and he was on fire all three days and was a pleasure to watch. Even in the worst of conditions he managed to skillfully hunt and peck his way to some amazing scores which led to him winning the National Championship. Keith Glasscock and David Christian gave a good chase over the three days but came up just a little short, earning Silver and Bronze places respectively.

Success for the Boys from Oregon
Below are me and my buddies from Oregon (L to R: Devin Wiggett, David Christian, Bill Brown, John Masek). As a group we won a total of 34 medals and trophies during the Spirit of America and the Nationals. Overall, the eight days of Nationals included some the most amazing shooting I’ve experienced, in some of the most scenic terrain in the country. I think I speak for many when I say that no matter how good or bad the shooting was, there was always a chance to learn and you couldn’t help but walk away a better shooter in the end.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

Headed Home — Securely Packed
f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

Q: How do you transport an F-Open Rifle, spotting scope, tripods, stand and lots of gear?
A: Get yourself some very big, sturdy cases, with lots of padding.

Here is my load-out for Raton. For the match I brought one stock and TWO complete barreled actions, with Kahles scopes fitted on each. I also had a separate large square case for my SEB NEO front rest, 21st Century Arbor Press, and 450 rounds of pre-loaded ammo.

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September 14th, 2019

F-Class National Championships Commence Tomorrow

F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Long Range F-TR
Photo by Chevi Guy, for F-Class Shooting for Beginners Facebook Group. He declared: “We made it! Wind is howling 30 mph. Going to be fun.”

The nation’s most talented F-TR and F-Open shooters will be in Raton, New Mexico this week for the 2019 USA F-Class National Championships. The event, held at the Whittington Center, commences September 15th with the Mid-Range Nationals. The Long Range Nationals then run September 19th through 22nd.

F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Long Range F-TR

The weather could be VERY challenging. There are been very strong winds at Raton recently, and on the range you can get winds from two different directions at the same time. At the F-Class Worlds in 2013, this reporter even saw dust devils spinning in the middle of the course during a team event.

Raton New Mexico dust devil

CLICK HERE to watch a Facebook Video filmed yesterday at Raton. Windy enough for you?!

F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Long Range F-TR

F-TR competitors in Raton at 2013 F-Class World Championships. It’s a beautiful, but challenging location:

Raton F-Class championships

The NRA Whittington Center is a very scenic venue with tall mountains behind the 1000-yard targets. You can fly into Denver in the North or Albuquerque in the South, then drive for about 3 hours. There are cabins “on campus” at the Whittington Center. Alternatively, shooters can stay in motels in Raton, about 20 minutes from the range. The location of the range is: 34025 US-64, Raton, NM 87740

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September 13th, 2019

Optimize Your Aiming — Tips for F-Class Shooters

F-Class Aiming Long Range Score Shooting
The movie “The Patriot” gave us the phrase “Aim small, miss small”. While that’s a good mantra, aiming strategies for long-range competition are a bit more complicated, as this article explains…

U.S. F-Class Nationals Start Sunday, September 15th!
The U.S. Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals kick off September 15th at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. Here are some tips that can help F-TR and F-Open shooters aim more precisely, and achieve higher scores. F-Class ace Monte Milanuk reviews reticle choices and strategies for holding off.

In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Front (first) Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.

In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:

Aiming Methods for F-Class (and Long-Range) Shootingby Monte Milanuk

600-yard F-Class TargetF-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of Front (first) focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.

Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.

Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.

John Sigler F-Class

600-yard F-Class TargetOthers use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.

Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte

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August 23rd, 2019

Flying with Firearms — Smart Advice for Traveling Competitors

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

We know that many of our readers will soon travel by air to attend major matches in Raton, New Mexico. The Spirit of America Match runs September 7-13, and the F-Class Mid-Range and Long-Range Nationals follow September 15-22. If you’ll be venturing to Raton, or to another destination by air in the weeks ahead, you need to be careful when transporting firearms through airports both in the USA and in other countries. It is important that you comply with all Homeland Security, TSA, and Airline policies when transporting guns and ammunition. Following the rules will help ensure you (and your gear) make it to your destination without hassles, delays or (God forbid), confiscations.

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
The NRA F-Class Mid-Range Nationals (Sept. 15-18) and Long Range Nationals (Sept. 19-22) will be held at the NRA Whittington Center 1000-Yard Range in Raton, New Mexico.

Good Advice from an Airport Police Officer
To help our readers comply with rules and regulations for air travel, we offer these guidelines, courtesy “Ron D.”, a member of our Shooters’ Forum. Before he retired, Ron D. served as a Police Officer assigned to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Here Ron offers some very important advice for shooters traveling with firearms and expensive optics.

gun transport caseFirst, Ron explains that airport thieves can spot bags containing firearms no matter how they are packaged: “Don’t think you’re safe if your guns are placed in cases designed for golf clubs or trade show items. Baggage is X-Rayed now and cases are tagged with a special bar code if they contain firearms. It doesn’t take long for bad guys to figure out the bar coding for firearms.”

Carry-On Your Scopes and Expensive Items
Ron advises travelers to avoid placing very expensive items in checked baggage: “When traveling by air, carry on your rangefinder, spotting scope, rifle scope, medications, camera, etc. You would be surprised at the amount of people that carry-on jeans and shirts, but put expensive items in checked baggage. Better to loose three pairs of jeans than some expensive glass.”

Mark Bags to Avoid Confusion
Ron notes that carry-on bags are often lost because so many carry-on cases look the same. Ron reports: “People do accidentally remove the wrong bag repeatedly. I frequently heard the comment, ‘But it looks just like my bag.’ When de-planing, keep an eye on what comes out of the overhead that your bag is in. It’s easy to get distracted by someone that has been sitting next to you the whole flight. I tie two streamers of red surveyors’ tape on my carry-on bag.” You can also use paint or decals to make your carry-on bag more distinctive.

TSA Air transport safety locked bag declare firearm

General Advice for Air Travelers
Ron cautions: “Keep your hands on your items before boarding. One of the most often heard comments from theft victims was, ‘I just put my computer down for a minute while I was on the phone.’ Also, get to the baggage claim area quickly. If your family/friends can meet you there, so can the opportunists. Things do get lost in the claim area. Don’t be a Victim. Forewarned is forearmed.”

Important TSA Tips on Firearms and Flying

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case
Ron advises: “Buy the best [rifle case] that you can afford. Don’t cry when your $3,000+ Benchrest rifle has a cracked stock or broken scope. Think about what it would be like to travel across the country (e.g. to Montana or the Cactus Classic) and arrive with a damaged rifle. Remember the Samsonite commercial. (For you younger shooters, it shows a monkey throwing the suitcase around in his cage at the zoo.) Baggage handling is NOT a fine art. There is no guarantee that your rifle case will be on top of all the other baggage. Then there is shifting of baggage in the belly of the plane. Ponder that for a while. Rifle and pistol cases must be locked. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that a simple pry tool will open most case locks. There is not much that you can do to disguise a rifle case. It is what it is, and opportunists know this. Among thieves, it doesn’t take long for the word to get around about a NEW type of case.”

Plano Double Rifle Case Amazon Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is now just $111.64, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00.

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August 14th, 2019

Want to Shoot F-Class? Here’s a List of Active F-Class Ranges

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

F-Class shooting (both F-Open and F-TR) is one of the fastest-growing forms of rifle competition. Each season many new shooters hit the line and attendance at the big matches increases every year. But if you’re new to the game, you may ask “Where can I shoot an F-Class match?”. Well, Forum member Rod V. (aka Nodak7mm) has compiled a useful list of 112 ranges throughout the USA where F-Class matches are held. With venues from Alabama to Wyoming — you should find an F-Class program not too far from home. The list, in Excel spreadsheet format, provides range locations and weblinks (where available). Click the link below to download the F-Class Range List (.xls file):

Download F-Class Range List, Revision 20 (.XLS file, right click to “save as”)

Note — this list, now in its 20th Revision, is a treasure trove for F-Class shooters. No claim is made that the list is comprehensive. But it still covers the the lion’s share of the important F-Class venues nationwide. If you know of a range that should be added to the list, please post the location on our F-Class Range List Forum thread. Rod will update the list as new range info is received. Rod writes: “Range information is wanted and welcomed. I would like your help on collecting specific info on Clubs/Ranges where known F-Class matches are held.” Here’s a partial sample from Rod’s list:

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

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October 28th, 2018

NRA 2019 Championships — Preliminary Calendar for Next Year

NRA National Championship high power rifle pistol f-class 2019 schedule

Pick your passion — High Power, F-Class, Silhouette, Smallbore, Air Rifle, Pistol, Black Powder. The NRA runs National Championships for all these disciplines and more. Attending a National Championship event is a big commitment, but it’s worth it. You can meet new friends, test your mettle against the nation’s best, and record memories that can last a lifetime.

Mark your calendars boys and girls — here is the NRA’s initial 2019 National Match schedule. This includes the National High Power Championship, National Pistol Championship, Smallbore Championship, World Shooting Championship (WSC) and other major national events. For most events, you can click the link to access an official NRA championship page for that discipline. NOTE: Some dates/venues have not yet been finalized. To get more information, visit compete.nra.org or send email to: comphelp@nrahq.org.

NRA National Championships and National Matches in 2019

High Power Rifle

National High Power Rifle Championships, Edinburgh, IN (August 5-21, 2019)
Extreme Long Range Championships, Edinburgh, IN (August 21-23, 2019)
F-Class National Championships (TBA)
Registration managed by Bald Eagles Rifle Club. Register at www.baldeaglesrc.org
Spirit of America – NRA Fullbore Rifle Prone National Championships (TBA)
Registration managed by Bald Eagles Rifle Club. Register at www.baldeaglesrc.org

high power championship nra carl bernosky

Smallbore Rifle

National Smallbore Rifle Championships, Bristol, IN (July 16-28, 2019)

National Small bore Championship

Silhouette Smallbore and Centerfire

Silhouette Smallbore National Championships, Ridgeway, PA (August 5-7, 2019)
Silhouette High Power National Championships, Ridgeway, PA (August 9-11, 2019)

World Shooting Championship (WSC)

NRA World Shooting Championship, Glengary, WV (September 18-21, 2019)

Pistol

NRA World Action Pistol Championship, Hallsville, MO (TBA)
NRA Bianchi Cup, Hallsville, MO (May 22-24, 2019)
National Pistol Championships, Camp Perry, OH (July 7-12, 2019)

NRA Pistol Championship National

Collegiate Rifle & Pistol Championships

Collegiate Rifle Club Championships, Fort Benning, GA (March 22-24, 2019)
This is a qualifying event, no registration available
Collegiate Pistol Championships, Fort Benning, GA (March 16-19, 2019)
This is a qualifying event, no registration available

Air Rifle & BB Gun

National Junior Air Gun Championships, Bloomington, IL (May 3-5, 2019)

Silhouette & Black Powder

NRA Muzzle Loading Championship, Friendship, IN (June 8-16, 2019)
National Silhouette Championship Lever Action Rifle, Raton, NM (July 4-8, 2019)
National Silhouette Black Powder Target Rifle, Raton, NM (June 23-25, 2019)
National Silhouette Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, Raton, NM (June 26-30, 2019)
National Black Powder Target Rifle Championship, Raton, NM (TBA)
Silhouette & Black Powder Championships, Raton, NM (TBA)

Want To Know More?
For more information about NRA Championship events, call (877) 672-6282 or email Comphelp@nrahq.org.

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September 22nd, 2018

Best Ever — 1000-Yard Records Set at 2018 F-Class Nationals

F-class record raton new mexico f-class nationals Ray Gross Erik Cortina

200-22X New F-Open 1000-Yard National Record

200-22X — That’s a stunning score, at any distance, but to do that at 1000 yards, at the most important match of the year, in a notoriously tricky venue, is a remarkable achievement. This 200-22X, a pending new F-Class Open Division National Record, was shot by Norm Harrold of Team McMillan at the 2018 F-Class Nationals, running this week at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. Norm’s brilliant 200-22X beat the existing F-Open record by five Xs.

Gun and Load: Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Erik Cortina joked — “the minute this video goes live, the 184s will be hard to find”. Norm says “Stock up guys — they shoot good!”

Keep Shooting — Don’t Stop!
How can you have more than twenty Xs in a 20-shot string? Here’s how it works — when you shoot all Xs for the entire string of fire, you are allowed to keep shooting. After his 20th shot, Norm recalled, “I said ‘I’m done, give me my target’, but … my shooting partner said ‘No! Keep shooting!'” So Norm did, drilling two more Xs to set the new National Record.

A 200-17X was shot (twice) by David Gosnell in 2015 to set the previous F-0pen 1000-yard record, which was later tied in 2017, first by Keith Glasscock, and then by Pat Scully. But right now Norm Harrold’s 200-22X is the best ever. To beat the previous record by five Xs, and to do that at Raton, during the Nationals, is a great achievement. And to top it off, this new record was shot in the rain!

200-16X New F-TR 1000-Yard National Record

Ray Gross and Mike Plunkett Both Shoot 200-16X to Share New Record
In the F-TR class, two men, Ray Gross (Team McMillan) and Mike Plunkett, both set a new pending 1000-yard record with a 200-16X score. That’s a perfect 10 points for all twenty (20) shots, with 16 of them in the smaller X-Ring. This F-TR division is limited to two cartridge types, .223 Remington (5.56×45) and .308 Win (7.62×51), and F-TR rifles must be shot with a bipod (no front rest). F-TR Weight limit, including bipod, is 8.25 kgs (approximately 18.18 pounds).

Ray, along with the vast majority of other F-TR competitors, was shooting a .308 Win. His load included Berger 220X bullets, in Lapua brass, with Vihtavuori N140 powder and CCI 450 bullet. Ray’s rifle features a 28″ Bartlein Heavy Palma barrel, mated to a Kelbly Panda action in McMillan stock. Up front was a Phoenix bipod with lowering bracket. The scope was a Nightforce NXS 8-32x56mm.

Ray Gross Scorecard — 200-16X is mighty impressive, given Raton’s notorious conditions.
Ray Gross F-TR National Record F-Class Nationals Raton NM Team McMillan

The previous F-TR 1000-yard record was 200-14X shot by Derek Rodgers of Team McMillan. That record by Derek was also recorded at Raton, back in September, 2016.

CLICK HERE for current NRA F-Class and Long Range Records »

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September 20th, 2018

Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Wood and Aluminum F-Class Stock

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

NOTE: This is an older article, but with the F-Class National Championships underway this week in Raton, NM, we thought our readers might enjoy this view of a very rare and unique F-Class rig. This hybrid wood and aluminum stock is a “one-of-kind” custom, crafted by Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, creator of the SEB Coaxial Rests and Coaxial Joystick Bipod.

Back in 2013, our friend Seb Lambang engineered an impressive wood and aluminum F-Class stock. The stock features a long, box-section aluminum fore-end with a wood rear section and wood-trimmed “wings” on the front bag-rider. The aluminum fore-arm has “buick vents” for weight reduction. From the end of the action rearward, the stock is mostly wood, with light and dark fancy wood laminates on opposite sides (left and right).

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

The foot of the buttstock has a very wide aluminum rear bag-rider with rails. The rear wood section appears to be two solid pieces of wood — but that is deceiving. Seb explains: “To save weight, the buttstock is hollow (using thin-walled wood)”. To strengthen the construction, Seb added carbon fiber inside the buttstock. So what you see is a wood outer shell with carbon fiber layers on the inside. The stock sports vertically-adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate. The thick, rubber buttpad should diminish felt recoil even when shooting big cartridges with heavy bullets.

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

This is an interesting, innovative stock design. And as with everything Seb produces, the craftsmanship, fit and finish are superb.

To go with this gun, Seb also crafted a handsome set of angled scope rails with beautifully-machined scope rings. Imagine being able to custom-make one-off products of this quality in your own machine shop!

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
November 6th, 2017

Fixed-Power Optics for F-Class — Testing in Competition

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

March 48x52mm High Master Scope — Tested in Competition

by Jay Christopherson, AccurateShooter.com Systems Admin
Using a fixed power scope on your F-Class rifle is not only effective, but can save you weight and money — key benefits when it comes to the F-Class game.

I recently tested the March High Master 48x52mm scope on my F-Open rifle in three different matches, including a Long Range Regional match in Montana and the recent 2017 US F-Class National Championships in Lodi, WI. While I’ve long been considering a fixed-power optic, it wasn’t until a recent F-TR build came in over-weight (with a large zoom scope), that I finally decided to give it a fixed-power comp scope a try. The March High Master 48x52mm saved me both weight (10.6 oz. or 300 grams) and money ($800+) compared to a top-end, variable-power March.

Across three matches and multiple conditions (including heavy mirage), I never found myself wishing that I had a variable-power scope on top of my rifle. And I never experienced issues holding rings on the target. A fixed-power scope might not be for everyone. However a serious F-Class shooter who needs to cut some weight, or save a little cash (compared to high-end zoom scope), shouldn’t be worried about being “under-glassed” with a fixed power scope such as the March HM 48x52mm. It can do the job. [Editor: Jay finished second overall in F-Open Division at the 2017 F-Class Nationals.]

The Case for A Fixed Power F-Class Optic

There’s been a thought bouncing around and growing in my head for the past few years while shooting F-Class — Why don’t more guys shoot a fixed power scope in F-Class? Nine out of ten F-Class shooters I’ve polled spend most of their time between 40 power and 50 power, regardless of the conditions. It seemed to me that a fixed power in the 40X – 50X range would be a great option.

I’ll admit, that I’ve long been an advocate of needing a variable-power scope so that I could “dial down to see the rings” on those really heavy mirage relays. There’s even been times when I’ve been successful dialing down to 35X – 25X just for that reason. But still, like most guys, I find that I rarely go above 50X and rarely below 40X – 99% of my time is spent right around 42X – 45X. Having gotten used to shooting high magnification now, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve bothered to dial down below 40X, even in very heavy mirage. But, I held on to that notion that it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

I recently built an F-TR rifle. I made a slight mistake on the weight. Fully built with my zoom scope, the rig ended up at 8.3kg (8.25kg is the limit for F-TR). That’s not much overweight, but I don’t like to be too close to the limit anyhow. There are lots of ways I could have addressed the issue, but I started thinking again about the scope. I love my current variable-power scopes, but I couldn’t help thinking that a fixed power scope in the 40X – 50X range might solve my issue nicely (and give me a chance to try something new). So I obtained a March High Master 48x52mm fixed-power scope to test. The 48X magnification falls right into my comfort zone. With its 52MM objective, the March HM matched the profile of my existing variable-power scopes nicely. Aesthetics is at least part of the goal and in my opinion, 50MM+ objective scopes look “right” on F-Class rifles. It’s also worth noting that this is the only fixed power scope that I have tried so far and that I have no affiliation with the manufacturer.

There’s the notion out there that fixed power scopes have inherently brighter sight pictures or maybe “clarity” is a better word. This may be due to there being less complex lenses and fewer parts inside. I don’t have any way to quantify that, so I’ll just say that the image clarity is excellent on the 48X March. I also found that the scope weighed 300 grams less than my variable-power scope, which brought me under the F-TR weight limit nicely, as I had hoped.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

Fixed-Power Scope at 2017 F-Class Nationals and Other Matches
Because my F-TR rifle was still in load development, I decided to try out the March HM 48x52mm at a couple matches on my F-Open rifle, while I waited on a part for my F-TR rifle. I fitted the 48x52mm scope to my F-Open rifle and used it at three matches: 1) a local 600-yard mid-range match in WA State; 2) the Long Range Regional at Deep Creek in Montana; and 3) the 2017 US F-Class Nationals in Lodi, WI. I ended up using it the entire match at all three matches. With three different matches, all a few weeks apart and in different parts of the country, I got a nice cross-section of light, weather, and mirage conditions to sample. At all three matches, and even in a medium-heavy mirage situation, I never found myself wishing I could dial down the power. In fact, I never thought about variable power at all — the scope was excellent in all of the different conditions. Even with a good deal of mirage present, I never had a problem making out the rings well enough to hold on. For what it’s worth, I used the scope while shooting on two different teams that set (pending) National LR and MR F-Open team records at those matches. If I didn’t have confidence in a fixed-power scope (and the March in particular), I would never have taken a chance shooting it where a team depended on me. [Editor: In individual competition, Jay finished second in F-Open at the Nationals.]

Scope Tracked Great and Click Values Were Right On
In terms of technical details, the scope tracked perfectly on my scope checker (there are several threads on the AccurateShooter forums regarding checking a scope for drift), which meant I felt comfortable using it at the F-Class Nationals. Critically, I spent a good bit of time working on the ocular focus (reticle focus) so that it would be perfectly set-up for my eye. I’ve found that many complaints about parallax and “soft” or “blurry” images can be traced back to the owner never taking this critical step with a new scope. Normally my scopes all have external, tactical-style turrets — the March HM 48×52 has covered turrets. I wondered how this would work for me, but again, I never thought about it while shooting. Once the covers are off, the clicks are extremely tactile and easy to read and it just never became an issue. The parallax adjustment works nicely and the scope tracked well with every adjustment I made, from 600 yards to 1000 yards.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

What Could Be Improved
On the con side of things, I find the scale on the elevation turret to be a bit confusing. Most scopes I have used have an incrementing scale on the elevation (and windage) turrets, so that you can count up from zero as you dial up the adjustments. The 48X HM uses a ‘0’ that is centered on the turret travel (see photo above), so that you count down or up on the scale. Here, I would prefer a scale that bottoms out at zero (or that you can adjust to bottom out at zero) and then increments. I think it’s an easier and more consistent way to measure, but your mileage may vary. Other March scopes I’ve used have a color-coded system on the turrets which I also find a little less than useful. Again, I wouldn’t mind at all if March re-thought its system there.

The other con for me is the eye-relief. It’s middle of the road as far as other high-end scopes I’ve used, but for me personally, I still find it a bit on the short side — I would prefer more eye relief.

Save Hundreds Compared to a Premium Zoom Scope
On the plus side (from a cost standpoint), fixed power scopes are generally priced quite a bit lower than equivalent-quality, variable-power optics. The March HM 48x52mm (product # MAR1076) I tested is no exception. Bullets.com sells the HM 48x52mm for $1951.00. That’s $810 less than its variable-power relative, the March HM 10-60x52mm, priced at $2763.00. I consider the 48x52mm’s $1951 price to be very reasonable for such a quality piece of hardware.

Conclusion — High-Quality, Fixed-Power Scopes Are Worth Considering
Overall, if you find that you spend 99% of your time in the 40X – 50X range with your variable-power scope, I’d encourage you to give some thought to a fixed-power scope for F-Class. I’ve only tried one fixed-power optic — the March HM 48x52mm. But having used this excellent, fixed-power scope in several high-level F-Class competitions now, I’d have no qualms about recommending a high-grade, fixed-power optic to anyone shooting F-Class.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Optics 12 Comments »
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 »
September 22nd, 2012

David Bailey and James Crofts Win 2012 F-Class Nationals

The 2012 F-Class Nationals have concluded and the event was a great success. Nearly 200 shooters competed at Raton this year.

Congrats to the new F-Class National Champions: David Bailey (F-Open) and James Crofts (F-TR). Bailey amassed a 1283-59X score to edge F-Open runner-up Bob Sebold (1282-59X) by a single point. Note that Jim and Bob, both AccurateShooter Forum members, had the same X-count. Bob’s excellent X-count placed him ahead of Jim Murphy (1282-50X), who captured third place along with F-Open High Senior Title. High Lady Shooter was Michelle Gallagher with a 1274-51, while Danny Biggs, a past National Champion, was High Senior with 1273-46X.

Forum member James (‘Jim’) Crofts took the F-TR crown with a truly dominating performance. Jim’s 1272-47X was a full six points and 11 Xs ahead of runner-up (and 2011 champ) Jeff Rorer, who finished with 1266-36X. In third-place overall, was High Senior Daniel Pohlable (1264-42X). In fourth overall, was the High Lady shooter Trudie Fay (1259-45X).

james croft f-tr f/tr national champsionship f-class

Jim Crofts really deserves praise for his marksmanship at Raton. Jim’s F-TR Score of 1272-47X would have ranked him 13th in the F-Open division, ahead of dozens of skilled shooters running ballistically-superior cartridges. In his .308 Win, Jim ran Berger 200gr Match Hybrids at 2600 fps with Hodgdon Varget. Jim’s winning F-TR rifle featured a 30″ Brux barrel and Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) stock. And take note — Jim’s barrel had over 3000 rounds though it by the end of the match. Jim wants to thank Ray Bowman at PR&T for smithing a great rifle and providing sponsorship.

CLICK HERE for Complete F-Class Nationals Results with Match by Match Scores

James Crofts F-TR ChampionInterview with Jim Crofts
We had a chance to talk to Jim by telephone this morning, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us….

AccurateShooter: Is this your first big win? How did you feel receiving the trophy as National F-TR Champion?

Jim: I won the Berger SW Nationals earlier this year, but this is my first-ever National Championship. I was very relieved once it was over because there were many great shooters right behind me.

AccurateShooter: Did you run any new hardware at the Nationals? Did you alter your load any?

Jim: This is the same combination that I’ve used all year long. I went back to my old faithful PR&T-built rifle and my old faithful load and everything works. I still anneal my cases every firing. You will find this helps maintain consistent bullet seating and it helps lower your extreme spread.

AccurateShooter: Shooters from your neck of the woods have now won the F-TR division two years running — Whats the secret?

Yes, with my win we’ve had back to back F-TR National championships for North State X-Men club members. Jeff Rorer, last year’s F-TR champ [and 2012 runner-up] shoots with us at a local level. That’s who I’ve been chasing since last year’s National Championship. When you shoot against quality competition every week, it makes you strive for perfection.

AccurateShooter: How were conditions during the week? Raton can be windy…

Jim: Actually, conditions were moderate most of the week. However, on the last day, it was calm during the first match, but in the second match it got to be very tricky. There were changes in velocity and angles — I had a hard time keeping up with the velocity changes in the last match.

AccurateShooter: How has the FTR game changed in the last couple years? Is it more competitive than ever before?

Jim: The sport is growing and it’s getting tougher, that’s for sure. This year we had 91 competitors in F-TR. It went up from about 60 last year to 91 this year — a 50% increase. And the competition is really getting tight in F-TR. Not only are the numbers of shooters growing, but the quality of the competition is getting higher every year.


Also at the F-Class Nationals this year, some Eliseo Tubeguns made an appearance. Shown below are Linda Shehan (Team Australia) and Warren Dean (Team USA) with their GC-1 FTR rigs at the nationals. These tubeguns feature actions by Rod Shehan, with an Adam Davies bipod on the left, and Sinclair F-Class bipod on the right.

Eliseo Tubegun

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
September 21st, 2012

F-Class Nationals at Raton — Reports from Shooters

Breaking News: We’re informed that Forum Member James Crofts (aka “VA Jim”) has won the F-TR division of the F-Class Nationals, shooting a .308 Win rifle with Precision Rifle & Tool stock. Read more about Jim Crofts HERE.

The F-Class Nationals are underway right now at the Whittington Range in Raton, NM. Conditions have been fairly challenging. On Day 1 of the individual championship, forum member Steven B (aka “Sleepygator”) reports that: “The winds later in the day were a little tougher. The tailwind caused some vertical to those unfortunate enough to shoot the third match at the little end.” F-TR shooter James Crofts shot amazing well on Day 1, recording 446-17X. Crofts outscored not only all other F-TR shooters, but he beat all but one of the F-Open “hot rod” shooters, Mark Walker (who posted a 446-19X). When an F-TR outshoots nearly the entire F-Open field, that’s newsworthy. Well-done James. Forum member Mark H. (aka “Hunsucker”) observed: “I personally know for a fact how much Jim [Crofts] practices and how hard he works.”

On Day 2, conditions became trickier at the end according to Forum member Greg Taylor: “Day 2 started out very like Day 1, except a bit warmer. Winds were relatively forgiving, especially for Raton. That is until the third match. The last match of the day, winds were absolutely wicked, ranging from 1-2 mph, up to 10-11 mph, from SE/S. Scores for many dropped predictably.”

Close Competition in F-Open
F-Open leaders after Day 2 are: F-Open Leaders after Day 2: Bob Sebold with 886-39X, David Bailey with 885-44X, and Mark Walker with 885-37X. This is a tight battle — the top ten places in F-Open are separated by 6 points.

CLICK HERE for Official Scores from F-Class Nationals

Team Sinclair Secures F-TR Team Win
In F-Class Team competition earlier this week, Team Sinclair secured a victory in the F-TR division with a combined score of 1561-48X. The team is coached by Raymond Gross, and shooters are Paul Phillips, Derek Rodgers (Captain/shooter), Jeff Rorer and Brad Sauve. Phillips declared: “Ray did a great job coaching for both spirit of America and nationals. Brads rifle shot half the national record and jeff and mine were the other half. Great work from the whole team. Very tough competition. FTR is getting very very competitive now.”

Permalink Competition 1 Comment »
January 6th, 2012

Members of 2013 F-T/R Team USA Selected

This Report was submitted by Darrell Buell, F-T/R Team USA Captain

The F-Class World Championships are just over a year and a half away. In the past four years, much has changed in the F-T/R game. Most noticeably, participation has increased greatly. We had 60 shooters at the 2011 Nationals in Lodi compared to 19 shooters in 2007. The level of competition has risen as well. There was a mere 3% spread in scores for the top 30 places this year. That’s tighter than it has ever been since I started keeping statistics. The top 15 spots had only a 2% score spread!

F-T/R Team USA Selection Process
With many more shooters and a higher level of competition, selecting the 2013 American F-T/R team was especially difficult. There were many qualified applicants to choose from. The selection criteria have not changed over the years. All of the 40+ applicants’ qualifications were dumped into a matrix to get sorted. The initial sort was done by examining the best data I have that compares all of the shooters side by side, i.e. Nationals scores. More weight was given to those times when I could compare shooter vs. shooter on the same relay, when they were facing the exact same conditions. From there, we used modifiers for International Team experience, and other factors. 50 million calculations later, a ranking was developed. This ranking was used to set the Roster List below.

USA F-T/R Team Roster:

Team Staff:

Captain: Darrell Buell
Vice Captain: Mike Miller
Head Coach: Mid Tompkins
Coach: Steve Cunico
Adjutant: Kathy Buell

Team Members:
Jeff Rorer
John Hayhurst
John Chilton
Chris Ozolins
John Weil
Dale Carpenter
Derek Rodgers

Team Members (cont’d):
Philip Kelley
Warren Dean
Brad Sauve
Paul Phillips
Monte Milanuk
Lane Buxton
Sierra Scott

As with past Teams, this roster will be used for the next four (4) years for International Competitions of every description. These events include (but are not limited to): 2013 F-Class World Championships in Raton, NM; 2013 South African International Matches in Bloemfontein; 2013 Stars & Stripes Challenge 2013; Creedmoor Cup; USA vs. Europe, and others.

Reserve Team Spots
The sharp-eyed will notice that I may seem to be a couple of shooters short. I am reserving a couple of spots to be named after the 2012 Nationals in Raton, in case other shooters are absolutely on fire this year, and would be good additions to the Team.

F-T/R Team USA Sponsors
As with past Team campaigns, the financial challenges (especially for the travel) will be considerable. I am absolutely committed to taking the very best Team I can field, regardless of finances. To this end, some outstanding sponsors are helping take some of the burden off the individuals: Berger Bullets, Nightforce Optics, Surgeon Rifles, Hodgdon Powder, Lapua, Kowa, and Redding Reloading. Many thanks to these and other sponsors for their continuing support.

Permalink Competition, News 2 Comments »
March 30th, 2010

F-Class Nationals — Complete Scores/Standings Now Available

We just got the complete F-Class Nationals match results from Jim O’Connell of the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center. Jim provided two (2) MS-Word documents, one for F-Open and the other for F-TR. Jim added: “Thanks to the California Grizzlies (target pullers) for all their work and helping to make the Saturday and Sunday shoots more enjoyable. Thank you all for your support of the Folsom Shooting Club and we hope to see you at future matches.”

DOWNLOAD 2010 Nationals F-Open Scores
DOWNLOAD 2010 Nationals F-TR Scores

Charles Ballard

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »