November 19th, 2015
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What’s wrong (or right?) with this picture? Does the “F” in F-class stand for “Fauna”? Look carefully at this Bisley Range photo taken by Australian R. Hurley while looking downrange through his March 8-80X scope. The photo was taken earlier this year at the Bisley National Shooting Centre in the UK.
The Story Behind the Photo
British shooter T. Stewart reports: “I was there when this photos was taken. All I can say was that Mr. Hurley was firmly reminded that should said deer accidentally jump in front of his bullet … he would spend five years “At Her Majesty’s Pleasure”. That morning we had five deer moving across the targets, literally blocking the V-Bull. Since we were on the 900-yard Firing Point, and elevated for such, obviously the bullet would pass well above them. But they do NOT move or flinch at the noise or passing bullets since they are not hunted on the Bisley Ranges. Earlier this year we saw a herd of 20 or so deer grazing slowly across the Range.”
More Fauna Findings…
Apparently Bisley is not the only place were “the deer and the antelope play”. In Canada, on the Connaught Ranges near Ottawa, Ontario, shooters often encounter a variety of wildlife. William McDonald from Ontario says: “Animals are a common sight on the Range. Along with deer we see geese, turkeys, and coyotes on a daily basis.”
Likewise, E. Goodacre from Queensland, Australia often sees ‘Roos on his home range: “I shoot at Ripley, Australia, and shooting is regularly interrupted by kangaroos. Our last silhouette match was delayed by an hour while 30 ‘Roos dawdled across — silly buggers!”
R. Hurley wasn’t the first fellow to view deer through his F-Class rifle’s scope. After seeing Hurley’s photo from Bisley, B. Weeks posted this image, saying: “Been there, done that!”
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November 8th, 2015
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…
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) Shooting — by Monte Milanuk
F-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.
Others 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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November 6th, 2015
Benchrest Hall-of-Famer Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez has teamed up with the Shurley Brothers on a new ARK series of wood laminate competition stocks. Speedy has combined the best features of various popular F-Class and Long-range Benchrest stocks into new designs to be produced by Shurley Brothers Custom in Austin, Texas. These stocks should be very straight and geometrically correct as they will be crafted on the Shurley Brothers’ new CNC mills. These stocks will be made with new-generation precision technology, not old school duplicating machines.
Initially two models will be offered: the “Hand of God” (HOG) and the “Spear of Destiny” (SOD). Both are designed for multiple shooting disciplines, so they should work well both for benchrest and for prone F-Open shooting. (FWIW, John Myers used a Speedy-crafted stock to win the 2015 Mid-Range National Championship). The forearm is 76mm (2.99″) to comply with F-Open limits. A wide variety of options will be available including adjustable Cheek Piece, adjustable length of pull, carbon fiber inserts, and exotic woods.
We like many aspects of the new stocks. First, the front of the stock is low profile, placing the barrel close to the bags for better tracking (and less hop). However, a deeper (top to bottom) section extends forward of the action — this is important. We have seen some low-profile stocks that suffer from forearm flex/hinging because they don’t leave enough wood under the action area. Speedy’s design eliminates this problem. Another nice feature of this stock is the subtle curve from the back of the action to the buttpad mount. Speedy calls this the “scooped cheek”. This allows the “driver” to shoot without face contact if he prefers, but it also allows for a higher buttpad position — which is useful when shooting heavy recoiling chamberings such as the .300 WSM.
Note how the comb area has a curve to provide clearance. For those shooters who prefer to have face contact on the gun, an adjustable Cheek Piece is offered.
Shurley Brothers Custom says these new ARK stocks are fully customizable for competition shooters with optional carbon fiber, adjustable R.A.D. systems, and many other features. The stocks, uninletted, will run $750.00. CNC-inletting (for action of your choice) is an additional $100.00. Here are some of the many available options:
— Pillar Bed and Inlet: $425.00
— Custom Wood Upgrade (Price Dependent On Wood): $100.00 – $500.00
— Full-length Carbon Fiber Stringers: $200.00
— Cheek Piece Addition: $100.00
— Cooling Ports (Buick Vents): $60.00
— R.A.D. System #2A: $335.00 (plus $100.00 to install)
— 3-Way Butt Plate: Call for Price
— Adjustable Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: Call for Price
— Install Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: $150.00
— Stock Finish & Clear Coat: $350.00
— Carbon Fiber Forearm Tunnel: $300.00
The underside of the forearm is relieved in the center, leaving twin outboard rails. This helps stabilize the rifle and aids tracking. (A conventional, flat forearm without rails tends to rock if there is any hump in the middle of the sandbag). Between the rails is a carbon-fiber stiffening insert.
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November 6th, 2015
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Here’s a very interesting spotting scope stand, from Forum member (and ace F-Class shooter) Monte Milanuk. You can see this stable rig can be adjusted super-low for prone shooting. The components are from Italian photography accessory maker Manfrotto (but it’s not as expensive as you might think).
Monte tells us about his spotting scope stand, which is really a conventional photography tripod adjusted to a very low position, with a special head:
This stand has a Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol-grip head to make positioning easier. It actually goes even lower, and much, much higher. Both the head and the tripod are about $170-ish each, so it’s a bit more expensive than a Ray-Vin, a little less than a Creedmoor Polecat, and a whole lot more flexible overall.
This Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod is actually a little on the big side – probably should have gone with a Manfrotto 190 model (couple inches shorter on the legs) so it can be a bit of a hassle to set up when you have to shoot two-to-a-mound a la Fullbore.
It’s probably not as [expensive] as you might think… a Ray-Vin F-Class stand (without head) is about $170 from Creedmoor Sports. A Ray-Vin stand head is $150, plus the outrigger attachment is another $100+. I’ve got two of them downstairs for when I used to shoot conventional prone[.]
Comments from Facebook Fans:
Pretty high end setup, should work well for prone, not sure about other positions. — John T.
An excellent and sturdy Manfrotto stand. I have one that I use not only for a spotting scope but to mount the rifle on when allowed for unknown distance tactical matches.–Dennis Santiago
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November 1st, 2015
Photo by R.J. Hamilton.
At the 2015 F-Class National Championships, nearly three-quarters of the F-Open shooters were using SEB coaxial front rests. And the man who makes them, Sebastian Lambang, was on the firing line too. Seb shot very well, finishing in second position in the F-TR division for the Saturday (Oct. 31) session. For those shooting F-Open or benchrest matches, Seb’s joystick rests really do represent the current state-of-the-art in front rest design. Courtesy of Seb, here are some photos that illustrate the “inner workings” of the SEB NEO Front Rest.
If you’ve ever wondered how a joystick front rest works, and how the parts go together, study the photos below. In addition, for those who use a NEO rest in competition, Benchrest Champion Mike Ratigan offers some PRO USER Tips that will help you get the best results from your NEO.
Unique Features of the SEB NEO Front Rest:
CLICK HERE for Complete SEB NEO Coaxial Rest Instructions (PDF File)
- Lots of Travel — 43 MOA Vertical and 48 MOA Horizontal via joystick alone. The NEO offers more joystick travel than any other coaxial rest.
- Variable Joystick Movement — The NEO is the only rest that can be configured for reverse action mode. That means you can optionally set it to lower the rifle with an up movement of the joystick if you prefer. (Standard setting raises rifle with up joystick movement.)
- Rack & Pinion Risers — The NEO has dual support columns with Rack & Pinion system, offering a very broad vertical adjustment range.
- Optional Counter-Weights — The NEO comes standard with a spring-loaded top mechanism to help hold up the rifle. Optional counter-weights allow you to reduce spring “pre-load”. Many people feel the counter-weights also allow a smoother, less jerky movement.
- Reversible Base — The NEO’s base can be set-up with either the long leg in the rear or the long leg in the front. Putting the long leg in front gives more room under the rifle.
- NEO Packs Flat — The SEB NEO is easily dismantled for transport, and can pack nearly flat. This is a big advantage when traveling.
SEB NEO PRO TIPS from Mike Ratigan:
Counter-weight Function and Calibration: “With the Seb NEO, equipped with the optional static counter-weight, the shooter can calibrate the counter weight to the rifle weight. The counter-weight is used to hold up the rifle. Clamping pressure of the sliding plates is NOT used to hold up the rifle like other coaxial rests on the market today. Other coaxial rests apply enough clamping force to the rest top mechanism sliding plates to resist the downward movement of the top when the rifle weight sets on the rest. This one feature of the Seb NEO almost completely eliminates bullets falling out of the bottom of your groups because the rest moved (or falls) down when you fired the rifle. This function is very important.”
On Hand Position: “I try to keep the palm of my hand grounded to the bench at all times. To do this at the closer distances, the handle will be laying flat (bend to the side) while shooting on the bottom of the target. To move to the top up (for right-handed shooters) I rotate the handle counter clockwise, which [raises the top] while maintaining my palm grounded to the bench.”
On Front Bag Fill: “Give some coarse sand blasting sand a try with the small stuff screened out. This will help reduce compaction from daily use.”
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October 31st, 2015
We have two new National Champion F-Class Teams. At the 2015 Long-Range Team Championships in Phoenix yesterday, Team Grizzly won the F-Open Division while the X-Men team secured the F-TR Title. The teams had to deal with tough conditions, requiring wind coaches to bring their “A Game”. James Crofts of the X-Men said: “The highest level of winds in recent nationals memory greeted all on the line today.” And Shiraz Balolia, who finished with the highest score (395-17X) among all shooters, observed: “High winds in the second match really made a huge difference in scores.”
Team Grizzly Wins 2015 F-Open Long-Range National Championship
Team Grizzly finished first in the F-Open Division with a 1560-49X score. In second, nine points back with 1551-49X, was the Tex-Mex Squad, while local favorites the Wide Nines team finished third with 1548-45X. Team Grizzly’s 9-point winning margin was impressive — Leo Ahern joked that: “9 points is more like a spanking than a win!”
Team Grizzly Captain Shiraz Balolia had the top score (395-17X) of all shooters participating in the team event. (This is a file photo from previous match).
Team Grizzly’s Captain Shiraz Balolia said: “My hat is off to our coach, Trudie Fay, who has coached and won us the last three consecutive Team matches at the National Championships. I have been fortunate to have been a shooter and Captain of all three gold medal wins, three years in a row, one with Team USA and two with Team Grizzly. Trudie did a great job and my Team gun just hammered!” Along with Faye and Balolia, Team members included Kenny Adams, Emil Kovan, and John Myers.
X-Men Team Tops F-TR Field
Hail the Orange and Green invaders. The X-Men are the 2015 US Long Range National F-TR Champions. The Team included shooters Tracy Hogg, Phil Kelley, Ian Klemm, and Dan Lentz, along with Wind Coach James Crofts and Captain Ken Klemm. Crofts said: “Big thanks to our remaining X-men teammates Joseph Conley, Mike Hardy, and Radoslaw Czupryna. Special thanks to Ray Bowman as we were all shooting PR&T hammers. We have great respect for Team Sinclair (that has motivated us for a long time) and Team Michigan, our friends from up North. Today was a good day!”
All four X-Men rifles featured Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) Low Boy stocks. PR&T’s Ray Bowman observed: “Ian Klem built his rifle on our stock, PR&T stocked Dan Lentz’s rifle and we built Phil Kelley’s and Tracy Hogg’s “HAMMER” rifles.” Gunsmith Ryan Pierce chambered two of the X-Men barrels.
It was sunny but quite windy on Friday for the Team Match (Sherri Judd Photo).
Finishing second in the F-TR division was the Michigan Rifle Team, winners of the Mid-Range F-TR National Championship. The Team was coached by newly-crowned, Mid-Range F-TR Nat’l Champ Bryan Litz. Shooters include Doug Boyer, Jim Grissom, Bill Litz (Bryan’s father), and gunsmith John Pierce. Grissom shot a great match, finishing with 385-12X, but it was not enough to carry the Michiganders to victory. The squad finished with 1524-29X, six points behind the winning X-Men (1530-33X). Team Sinclair placed third with 1512-35X.
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October 30th, 2015
Ben Avery 10/30/2015 panorama photo by Tracy Hogg. CLICK HERE to zoom image.
Today is the Team Match Day at the F-Class Long-Range National Championships. F-Open and F-TR team shooters will have to deal with damp conditions on the range, as a storm front recently dropped rain at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility outside Phoenix. James Crofts says: “The 2×1000 Team match today is going to be a good day. Wind will be up to 10 mph and quartering.”
In the F-TR division, competition will be fierce. The Michigan F-TR Team, winner of the Mid-Range Championship earlier this week, looks to add a matching 1000-Yard National Team victory today. The shooters of Team X-Men, lead by 2014 individual F-TR Champion James Crofts, hope to reverse their fortunes, and win at the longer distance. And Team Sinclair, the “winningest” squad in F-Class history, looks to grab another title. Team Sinclair boasts multiple champions on its squad, including Derek Rodgers, the only man to have won both the F-TR and F-Open National Championship.
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October 29th, 2015
High-BC 7mm bullets are favored by many of the top long-range and F-Class (Open) shooters. Now, thanks to Sierra Bullets, there is a new “heavy-weight contender” in the 7mm match bullet category. Sierra has just introduced an all-new 183 grain 7mm HPBT MatchKing, part # 1983. This impressive new projectile boasts a 0.707 G1 Ballistic Coefficient (at 2300+ fps), plus — get this — it comes “tipped” from the factory. The final meplat tipping operation ensures a higher, more uniform BC. Recommended barrel twist rate is 1:8″ or faster.
Sierra says its new 183gr 7mm MatchKing has a modern, low-drag shape: “A sleek 27-caliber elongated ogive and a final meplat reducing operation (pointing) provide an increased ballistic coefficient for optimal wind resistance and velocity retention. To ensure precise bullet to bore alignment, a unique bearing surface to ogive junction uses the same 1.5 degree angle commonly found in match rifle chamber throats.
The new 7mm 183gr HPBT bullets will be available in boxes of 500 bullets (#1983C) with MSRP of $256.34 per box and boxes of 100 bullet (#1983) with MSRP of $51.80 per box. NOTE: Sierra states that “MatchKing® and Tipped MatchKing® bullets are not recommended for most hunting applications.”
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October 27th, 2015
This past weekend, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC, topped a field of great shooters to win the 2015 NRA F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. Bryan shot very well, mastering conditions that were tricky and sometimes bewildering, particularly at the shortest range, 300 yards. Consider this, Lou Mudica had the top score on Day Two (all 600 yards), yet he was way down at 41st position on Day One (300/500/600 yards). Finishing Second Overall was Scott Harris. Bryan’s Michigan team-mate Jim Grissom was third, while Bryan’s father (and MI team-mate) Bill Litz was fourth.
F-TR Top Ten at Mid-Range National Championship
Bryan was using a low-profile, carbon/composite-stocked rifle built by John Pierce. Bryan told us: “This was the same rifle and almost the same load with which I won the Midwest Palma match in the summer of 2014. (Story HERE.) My gear consisted of Pierce rifle, Bartlein barrel, Nightforce scope, Berger bullets, Lapua brass, Hodgdon powder (All those companies are sponsors of the USA F-TR team as well as the Michigan F-TR team.) My load for the Mid-Range Nationals was 43.0 grains of Varget with the Berger 215gr Hybrid bullet seated 0.005″ off the rifling.”
Click Image for Full-Size Version:
A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. — Bryan Litz
At the Mid-Range Nationals, wind conditions at the shorter yardages caught many competitors by surprise. As a result, many shooters, including 2014 F-TR National Champion James Crofts, shot better at 600 yards than at 300. That seems surprising… but there is a reason. Bryan Litz explains that conditions at shorter distances are sometimes more difficult to read than at 1000 yards.
Bryan Litz Talks about Mid-Range Wind-Reading Strategies
Mid-Range is marked by more uncertainty than long range shooting. At long range you can see more flags, more mirage, and conditions tend to be more readable although they have a greater effect. At mid range, the closer you are to the target the less readable the conditions tend to be. Often times at 300 yards there is no mirage and very sparse flags to get a read on. You can still get blown out at 300 yards! 500 yards can be a little better and at 600 sometimes you can get a pretty good read on it, but the majority of strategy for shooting Mid-Range is managing the uncertainty. What is your plan for shooting blind?
Suppose you’re shooting along pretty well centered up in the 10 Ring. Suddenly you shoot a 9 out the side and can’t see an indicator that explains why. Stop! Clearly something is going on which is not readable. It’s likely to be around for a period of time. Its best just to wait for that uncertainty to blow through and start shooting again when things settle out again. How do you know when things have settled out? When everybody else is pretty much back into the 10 Ring for a little while, then you know that a stable condition has settled back in. Take your best guess and get back into it.
A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. Good equipment is a must, and ballistic performance matters, but when it comes to winning a match versus placing in the top 10, it all comes down to who employs the winning strategy for the various different conditions. It can be more like a chess game then shooting. Competitive judgment is key.
Bryan Litz didn’t do too badly in the Mid-Range Team Match either, shooting a 200-10X. Bryan’s team-mate John Pierce shot a brilliant 200-15X. Looks like those low-profile Pierce-built rigs really hammer:
John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz, who is holding his Pierce-built F-TR rifle.
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October 25th, 2015
The 2015 United States F-Class National Championships are underway now at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2015, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one week-long mega-match. The Mid Range F-Class Nationals take place 24-27 October 2015, with shooting at 300, 500, and 600 yards. The Long Range National Championships then run October 28 through 31, with all targets at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).
The wind arrived early on Saturday…
It started off somewhat windy on Saturday, October 24 for the 300-yard and 500-yard matches. Bryan Litz mastered the conditions to end up leading the F-TR division. (Guess that knowing a thing or two about ballistics helps when the wind is blowing). James Crofts, 2014 F-TR National Champion, shoot well at 500 yards, but struggled at 300 yards (the X-Ring is just 1.5″ at 300 yards). He observed: “Not a bad day today — overall 13th. Bryan Litz has the overall F-TR lead. I’m down 20 for the day but there are lots of shots left to go.”
All the shooting today (Sunday, October 25th), will be at 600 yards. Jim posted from Phoenix: “It’s time to start Day Two of the F-Class Mid-Range Nationals. All 600 yards today and I’m ready. Looks like it could be a tricky day with gusty winds but it will be the same for everyone.”
James Crofts at the 500-yard line. He had a tougher time at 300 yards.
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October 21st, 2015
Sydnie Lipski has grown up surrounded by the shooting sports. Her father, Alan Lipski, is a gunsmith who began teaching her about rifles and shooting when she was just 3 years old. By the time she was 6, she had already started varmint hunting.
At just 8 years of age, Sydnie won her first rifle match, competing against adults in an F-Open event. A year later, at 9 years old, Sydnie fired her first perfect score of 200-11X. She also received her Expert Classification. She ended the season in second place for the IOSCO Sportsmen Club’s 3×600 Grand Aggregate.
Rifle: Custom 6XC built by Alan Lipski with blue-printed Model 700 Remington action.
Barrel: 1:8″-twist, 6mm Bartlein.
Stock: Custom wood stock by Alan Lipski.
Load: Norma brass, H4831SC powder, Tula primers, and Berger 6mm 105gr Match Hybrid Target bullets.
Alan reports: “Bergers are very forgiving and extremely accurate!”
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September 29th, 2015
Here’s 2014 F-TR National Champion James Crofts, with his PR&T-built rig.
Are you ready? The 2015 F-Class Nationals event is just three weeks away. The combined mid-range and long-range F-Class National Championships will be held October 23 – 31, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.
CLICK HERE for 2015 F-Class National Championships Program and Entry Form.
For 2015, the Nationals will include both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions. The NRA F-Class Mid Range National Championship will be held 23-27 October 2015. The F-Class Long Range National Championship then runs from October 27 through 31. The competition consists of two different Divisions: F- Open and F-TR (Target Rifle). Each Division is made up of five different Categories: High Master, Master, Expert, Sharpshooter and Marksman. There will also be a series of four-person team matches. The event is limited to 320 competitors maximum. All matches will be held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility outside Phoenix.
You’ll see some serious hardware on the firing line at Ben Avery. Here’s a modern F-Open rig with a handsome maple stock. The gun, belonging to David Mann of Texas, shoots as good as it looks.
Under Two Inches at 500 Yards
To be competitive at the Nationals, one needs a tack-driving rifle and an ultra-accurate load. Shown below is one of Paul Phillips’s F-TR load development targets at 500 yards. The total 5-shot group size is under two inches. Impressive. That’s with 200gr Bergers, Varget powder, and large primer Lapua brass. Paul tell us: “The X-Ring is 5 inches at 1000 yards (equivalent to 2.5 inches at 500). We strive to be all in the X-Ring. However, wind is the big obstacle. A gust of wind can move you 1-2 feet away.”
F-Class National Championship Registration and Deadlines
Competitors must submit the official Registration & Entry Form (include NRA Membership ID#). Entries MUST be accompanied by check, money order or NRA Points. Make Check payable to Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club.
Fees are $375.00 for both Mid-Range and Long-Range matches (combined), or $200 for just one match only (either Mid-Range or Long-Range). Team Matches cost $60 per entry.
Mail Entry Forms and checks to:
P.O. Box 11684
Prescott, AZ 86304.
Phone: (928) 776-8576.
Entry Deadline: The deadline for entries is 6:00 PM Monday, 12 October 2015. Entries after this time are considered late entries and may be accepted to fill vacancies on existing relays only. An additional $20.00 will be charged for late entries, on top of the basic fees.
2014 F-Class Nationals Photos copyright Nightforce Optics, used with permission.
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September 21st, 2015
Derek Rodgers is a member of the 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, work hard on load development, and practice in all conditions. In this interview, Derek Rodgers talks about long range 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.
Derek Rodgers BIOGRAPHY
Derek Rodgers (Albuquerque, NM), is the only shooter to have won BOTH the F-Open and F-TR National Championships. Derek shot his first NRA sanctioned-match in 2007, and just three years later Derek won the 2010 F-Open Nationals. He also won the 2013 F-TR Nationals, making him the only person to win both divisions. He has won other major F-TR matches, including the 2013 Sinclair East Coast Nationals and the 2015 Berger SW Nationals. Derek holds the current 1000-yard, 20-shot, National F-TR Record (200-12X). Derek enjoys spending his time outdoors with his wife and two daughters, ages 12 and 7. He is blessed by his faith and supported by his family. Derek’s goal is to pass on what he has learned to the next generation.
Q: What is your favorite reloading product?
I really like my BenchSource Case Annealer. There is something about watching fire that I find relaxing. I can watch those shells go around the wheel for hours.
Q: What’s your preferred front rest or bipod?
I’m currently using a Duplin bipod. At 17.2 ounces it allows me a solid platform to shoot from and the extra wiggle room to make weight with a heavy barrel and Nightforce NXS scope. Also, I can’t do without my board under the bipod. We shoot off sand at my local range and in most cases the feet will tend to dig holes if not supported. The board is necessary gear for me.
Q: What rear bag do you use?
I have an Edgewood bag that I’ve used for years. Recently, I got a SEB Bigfoot and like how it supports the gun and stays put under recoil.
Q: Explain your load development process. What’s your methodology?
I have two log books that have many combinations that work with 308s. I have tried to keep detailed notes in these books. Now I am reaping the rewards, as I can go back to a particular twist and barrel length and find something very close. I usually start with 3-shot groups and check the chamber behavior. If something looks promising I will go back to the range and load up 6-shot groups. If those shoot well, I take it to a match to verify it in a 20-shot string. If it passes that test it is either good to go or I table it and try another. I tend to pick mild loads that the cartridge shoots well — consistently.
Q: What piece of shooting gear helps your load development?
I use a MagnetoSpeed Chronograph to record velocities. Then I can slow down or speed up my loads to reach an accuracy node. It is amazing that most barrels will shoot very accurately when fired at certain known velocity nodes.
Q: What optics do you find most useful?
I would say Nightforce NXS Scopes.
Q: What do you carry in your range bag on Match days?
Multi-piece Brownells tool set, RX Glasses, Sunglasses, Range Rod, Towel, Empty Chamber Indicators, Jacket, Sunscreen, Foam Ear Protection, Ear Muffs, Data Book, Plot Sheets, Pen, Clip Board, iPod with ballistic data, and chewing gum.
Q: How did you get started shooting?
I was raised in New Mexico where outdoor activities are abundant. Once my father introduced me to a Crossman pellet gun, all I wanted to do was shoot and refine my skills. Shooting evolved into hunting and then into perfecting my skills in off-season matches. Shooting local F-Class matches made me better as a marksman. Now I feel like I am competitive with anyone. However, I will never forget that my roots started with hunting and still cherish the opportunity to hunt…
Q: What do you find most challenging? How do you learn from mistakes?
What I find most challenging about precision shooting sports is how great shooters are able to reflect on what was learned — both positively and negatively. It is important to slow down and perform this step. Stopping to reflect and learn from mistakes I’ve made on the firing line is challenging. Not many people enjoy accurately critiquing themselves. Also the wind usually blows here in New Mexico and choosing the right time to shoot and to stop is important. It’s often tempting to try to finish out a string of fire. But sometimes challenging yourself to quit and wait out some wind will pay off[.]
Q: What advice do you have for selecting a gunsmith?
The best recommendation I can give is for a person to get to know a gunsmith. If you can find a local gunsmith that is available — even better! If you run into a snag along the way, it is so nice to be able to work it out without sending things back and forth. Be honest, realistic with your expectations and tell the gunsmith what you want. If he only wants to do things his way, or takes extra or excessive time in meeting the goals, you may want to consider someone else.
Q: Who would you recommend for stock work on your rifle?
Alex Sitman from Master Class Stocks and Doan Trevor can build or fix most anything.
Q: What do you do to mentally prepare before a shooting competition?
I relax and try to remember I do this for fun. I anticipate what game plan I want to go to the line with. I also try to take small snapshots of the conditions. I do not like getting overloaded with staring down a spotting scope for long periods of time. I try not to get overwhelmed with the match and just shoot my game. My approach is “One shot at a time — good or bad”. I will usually tell my scorer what I’m going to do so he or she is ready as well.
Q: What advice would you give to novice competitors?
Partner up with an experienced shooter that is ranked nationally. Mentoring under a veteran shooter would be the best way to help save time learning instead of experimenting. Chances are an experienced shooter has already tried what you are considering. As a new shooter, do not get sucked into reading all of the opinionated blogs on the internet. Stick to good information. AccurateShooter.com | 6mmBR.com is a great resource with a wealth of information from knowledgeable writers. That site has articles that are based from facts and/or industry news and information.
Q: What is something you would NOT recommend before a shoot?
I do not recommend coming unprepared. If you are late, scrambling around, or do not have your gear in order, you will not perform at your best.
Q: How many rounds do you shoot in a year and how often do you practice?
I shoot 3000+ rounds a year. I try to shoot 1 x a week if I can get away in the evening or on the weekend. If I am close to finding a load I may try to get out more until I exhaust that load as an option. So there may be occasions that I will try to shoot three times a week. Fortunately, the winters are mild in New Mexico and it allows me to shoot year round. I actually shoot more when it is colder. The summer sun here can create mirage that makes it nearly impossible to learn anything.
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September 19th, 2015
Larry Racine is a respected gunsmith based in New Hampshire. He is also a two-time member of the U.S. Palma Team, and a five-time New Hampshire State High Power rifle champion. Larry, who runs LPR Gunsmithing, has developed a brilliantly simple means of switching rifle barrels with an ordinary spanner or open-end wrench. With this set-up you can switch barrels in the field in seconds without the need for a barrel vise.
For most barrels, Larry mills a hex with six flats on the end of the barrel. This allows a shooter to change barrels quickly at home or on the line with a simple box-head wrench or a socket wrench. Larry says: “You don’t even have to take the barreled action out of the gun. Just set the buttstock on the ground, between your feet, put a wrench on it, hit it with the palm of your hand — and off comes the barrel.” For barrels fitted with a muzzle brake, Larry has a slightly different system. He mills two flats behind the brake so you can use an open-end wrench to do the job.
With either a hex on the end, or two flats for a brake-equipped rifle, the system works with any medium- to heavy-contour barrel with a muzzle-diameter of at least 0.700″. This will even work for high-power rigs using clamp-on sights or bloop tubes. Larry explains: “A lot of us here in New England use clamp-on front sights. The barrel will be turned to 0.750 for the sight, with the hex on the end. A bloop tube can go right over the end, no problem.”
Larry has used this system over the past few years to win a number of matches. In one 600-yard 3 by 20 prone match, Larry used three different barrels, with three different chamberings, on the same Savage rifle. Larry changed the barrels on the line.
Larry was able to do this because the system has little to no loss of zero from one installation of a given barrel to the next installation of that barrel. This lets the shooter start the match with confidence that the first sighter will be on paper. Larry reports that the simple system works great: “To date we have used this system on Savage, Remington, Winchester, RPA, and Nesika actions.”
Racine’s system is very affordable. If Larry does the chamber work on your barrel he charges $45.00 extra to mill a hex or two flats on your barrel. If you only want the hex or flats done, Larry charges $55.00. For more info, visit LPRGunsmith.com or call Larry at (603) 357-0055.
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August 30th, 2015
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.
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August 26th, 2015
Here’s an interesting new F-Class Barrel Block Stock from True-Flite NZ Ltd. in Gisborne, New Zealand. This innovative design features a fore-arm barrel block that clamps around the barrel, allowing the action to free-float. We like the way a wood lower section (with pistol grip) is mated to the metal “spine” of the chassis. That creates a nice look and feel.
The folks at True-Flite state: “This stock has been designed by Steve Mann, and was developed in house here at True-Flite. Utilizing a 150mm barrel block, which clamps the barrel into the stock (allowing the action to free float), enables us to fit large, full-profile barrels, and still keep under the 10 kg weight restriction when running a Nightforce scope. This stock tracks like a demon, making it a very competitive rig.”
While this chassis is designed for the New Zealand-made Barnard actions, it can also work with other round actions. Target Shooter Magazine notes: “The great thing is, because the action is unstressed, you can get away with using … a Remington — rather than forking out for a custom action.”
Credit Target Shooter Magazine for the top photo.
Barnard Model P Action from New Zealand
Here’s a Barnard Model P action, which was originally developed in 1982. These three-lug actions are very smooth. They are popular with Palma rifle shooters and F-Class shooters. Designed for the Palma or long-range shooter, the Model P Single shot action is available in right-hand or true left-hand configuration (with other bolt/port configurations in the Model PC).
The bolt carries three forward locking lugs, is equipped with a Sako-style extractor and can be supplied to accept any case rim up to 0.534″(standard magnum rim). The Bolt undergoes finish machining after hardening, and is hand-lapped to its mating receiver. The receiver is 4340 chrome/moly/nickel steel, through-hardened to 38 RC and finish-machined after surface hardening to ensure concentricity.
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August 17th, 2015
The Canadian F-Class Championships took place last week at the Connaught Range outside Ottawa, Ontario. American shooters performed well, taking top honors in both the F-Open and F-TR divisions. In the F-Open class, Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia won his second straight Canadian National Championship (he also won in 2014). This year he was shooting a .300 WSM. The long, heavy .30-Cal bullets offer a ballistic advantage… IF you can handle the additional recoil. Shiraz told us: “This [match] was particularly challenging and satisfying as there were some incredible shooters from around the world including two World Champions, three U.S. National Champions, Canadian National Champions, British Champions, and European Champions shooting alongside me. It was an honor to shoot alongside the best shooters in the world.”
A large number of American shooters ventured to Ontario for the Canadian F-Class Championships.
James Crofts shot consistently to win the F-TR division, and Paul Phillips finished second. Of Jim, the “man to beat” in F-TR, fellow competitor Tom Hittle said: “Congratulations to James Crofts for the overall win in TR. It was well deserved. Thank you for all the guidance and tips over the last couple of years.” After the match, James told us: “I want to thank a few companies that helped me get where I am. BRUX Barrels — I have now won three Nationals with Brux barrels. Jim Borden from Borden Actions — your action was smooth and precise. And Ray Bowman (PR&T) who, hands down, builds the best rifles available. I have used two different PR&T rifles to win U.S. F-TR Nationals. Proof is with the gold medals.”
In Team competition, a “dark horse” squad from North Carolina pulled off a real upset, taking Gold for the 4-man team event. The “Team NC” boys (James Hittle, Tom Hittle, Ed Shelley, and Greg Denekamp), benefited from good wind-calling by the Hittles plus some very accurate rifles. Tom Hittle remarked: “Ray Bowman of PR&T rifles were used by each team member. Thank you Ray for incredible-shooting hammers.”
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July 27th, 2015
The new F1 Chassis System from Competition Machine is now in production. This straight-line, all-metal chassis with ultra-low bore axis is optimized for F-Class competition. Designer/builder Gary Eliseo tell us that Competition Machine is now accepting F1 Chassis orders for fall 2015 delivery. To order or if you have questions, email Gary via his website contact page.
Gary tells us: “The new F1 Chassis System, designed specifically for F-Open class, has already begun to rack up awards. The system has several innovations that make it an excellent choice for your next build.” F1 Chassis has many design features that improve tracking and tame torque effect:
Low COG — Super low rider fore-end keeps the center of gravity as low as possible
Long Wheelbase — The long separation from front of stock to rear bag-rider improves tracking and reduces the tendency to jump or twist (torque).
Adjustable Offset — The bag-rider section of the fore-end can be adjusted left to right. This adjustable horizontal offset allows you to choose if you want the fore-end offset left, right or center.
Adaptable to All Shooters — The F1 Chassis System features adjustable length of pull, buttplate drop, and cheekpiece height.
Unique Bonded Barrel Block™ System
Stress is the enemy of accuracy. For this reason the F1 Chassis system features a “zero stress” barrel mounting system which uses a barrel block securely bonded to the barrel (with an epoxy-type adhesive). This allows the action to float, relieving all stress from the threaded joint between the barrel and action and all flexing of the action. With this unique “floating action” design, the F1 chassis is compatible with ANY round rifle action. Replacement barrel blocks are available so you can run multiple barreled actions with your F1 chassis. When it’s time to replace the barrel, the barrel block can be “unbonded” and adapted to a new, same-diameter barrel.
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July 11th, 2015
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 109 ranges around the USA where F-Class matches are held (plus 6 “possibles”). 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 19 (12/30/2014) (.XLS file, right click to “save as”)
Note — this list, now in its 19th Revision, is augmented regularly, but info is still being gathered. 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:
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June 30th, 2015
Way to go Team USA! The American F-Class squad won the prestigious Creedmoor Cup competition held June 28-29 at the Midlands National Shooting Centre in Tullamore, Ireland. This is a competition with a rich history, going back to the original Challenge Match in 1874 between American and Irish Teams in Creedmoor, New York. (Read Match History)
Photo by Matthew Schwartzkopf.
Phil Kelley wrote: “I never knew when planning for this trip the wonderful history that is the Creedmoor Cup, Ireland and U.S. rifle competition, and the hunger of the Irish for freedom. It is one of many things that has made this trip so enjoyable. J.P. Craven [opened] the Creedmoor competition with John Sigler, previous President of the NRA. John had the honor of the first shot with a rifle used to help gain Irish independence. The Irish, like Americans, have a rich history that ties the rifle and independence together. It has been an honor to be part of this event, with each and every individual that is part of it.”
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