January 21st, 2017

Six by Litz — Tips for Shooting Long-Range

Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals Ben Avery Bryan Litz

Berger SW Nationals Bryan LitzWith the Berger Southwest Nationals coming up soon (Feb. 6-12), we thought we would share some tips from a past Champion who really knows the Ben Avery range in Phoenix. In 2015, Bryan won the F-TR Mid-Range AND Long-Range National Championships hosted at Ben Avery. And at the 2014 Berger SW Nationals (SWN), Bryan took top honors among all sling shooters. If you only know Bryan Litz from his Applied Ballistics Books and DVDs, you may not realize that this guy is a great marksman (along with being an actual rocket scientist). This guy can shoot.

Given his impressive track record at Ben Avery, we asked Bryan if he had any advice for other long-range competitors. First Bryan provided three tips concerning Ballistics, his special area of expertise. Next Bryan offered three more general tips about long-range competition — how to analyze your shooting, how to choose your ‘wind strategy’, and how to avoid the most costly mistakes, i.e. how to avoid the “train-wrecks”.

Here is the sleek F-TR Rig Bryan Litz used to win the 2015 F-TR Mid-Range and Long-Range Championships at Ben Avery:
Bryan Litz F-TR Ben Avery Berger SW Nationals

Litz Ballistics Tips

Ballistics TIP ONE. If you’re having trouble getting your ballistic software to match actual drops, you need to look at a number of possible reasons. Here are some common issues that can cause problems.

Click Values Are Not Exact. Scopes and iron sights don’t always produce accurate adjustments. In other words, if your ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop, and you dial 30 MOA but hit low, it might be that your sight actually only moved 28 MOA (for example). To see if your sight is adjusting accurately, shoot a tall target at 100 yards and measure group separation when dialing your sight.

Barometric vs. Station Pressure. This is a commonly misunderstood input to ballistics programs. You can avoid this pitfall by remembering the following: station pressure is the actual measured pressure at your location, and you don’t need to tell the program your altitude when using station pressure. Barometric pressure is corrected for sea level. If you’re using barometric pressure, you also have to input your altitude.

Muzzle Velocity. Chronographs are not always as accurate as shooters think they are — your true MV may be off by 10-20 fps (or more). If your drop is different than predicted at long range, it might be because your muzzle velocity input is wrong.

Mixing Up BC (G1 vs. G7). Knowledgeable long range shooters know that the G7 standard is a more representative standard for modern LR bullets. However, using G7 BCs isn’t just a matter of clicking the ‘G7′ option in the program. The numeric value of the BC is different for G1 and G7. For example, the G1 BC of the Berger 155.5 grain Fullbore bullet is .464 but the G7 BC is .237. If you were to enter .464 but click on G7, the results would be way off.

Ballistics TIP TWO. A properly installed level is absolutely essential for long range shooting. Without a good level reference, your long range wind zero will be off due to minor canting of the rifle from side to side. You can verify that your level is installed correctly on a 100-yard ‘tall target’. Draw a plumb line straight up the target and verify that your groups track straight up this line as you go up in elevation.

Ballistics TIP THREE. If your long range ballistic predictions aren’t tracking, always come back and verify your 100-yard zero. Sometimes a simple zero shift can be misconstrued as errors in long range ballistics predictions.

Bryan Litz Tips

Litz Competition Shooting Tips

Competition TIP ONE. Improving your scores in long range competition is a constant process of self-assessment. After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. Veteran shooters will lose far fewer points to a smaller list of mistakes. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues. Sometimes the weak links that you need to work on aren’t your favorite thing to do, and success will take work in these areas as well.

Competition TIP TWO. Select your wind shooting strategy carefully. For beginners and veterans, most points are typically lost to wind. Successful shooters put a lot of thought into their approach to wind shooting. Sometimes it’s best to shoot fast and minimize the changes you’ll have to navigate. Other times it’s best to wait out a condition which may take several minutes. Develop a comfortable rest position so you have an easier time waiting when you should be waiting.

Competition TIP THREE. Actively avoid major train wrecks. Sounds obvious but it happens a lot. Select equipment that is reliable, get comfortable with it and have back-ups for important things. Don’t load on the verge of max pressure, don’t go to an important match with a barrel that’s near shot out, physically check tightness of all important screws prior to shooting each string. Observe what train wrecks you and others experience, and put measures in place to avoid them.

“Must-Watch” SWN Video has aerial view of Ben Avery plus highlights from Saturday

Bryan Litz Tips

Photos by Steve Fiorenzo

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Shooting Skills No Comments »
January 16th, 2017

Sierra Offers New Ultra-High-BC 197gr 7mm (.284) MatchKing

Sierra 197gr MatchKing High BC F-Open Closed Meplat

Get ready for a revolution in the F-Open, ELR, and Long-Range Benchrest games. Sierra just introduced a new 7mm bullet with a stunning 0.780 G1 BC. This new 197-grain HPBT MatchKing is one of the highest-BC, jacketed .284-caliber projectiles ever offered to the public. By comparison, Sierra’s own advanced 183-grain 7mm Matchking has a .707 G1 BC. That means the new 197-grainer has a 10% higher BC than the already slippery 183-grainer. That’s an impressive achievement by Sierra.

We expect top F-Open and long-range shooters will be trying the new 197-grainer as soon as they can get their hands on this new projectile. They may need new barrels however, as Sierra states: “This bullet requires a barrel twist rate of 1:7.5″ or faster”. Sierra expects to start shipping these slippery 7mm 197s very soon. You can order directly from Sierra’s website, stock code #1997, $54.20 for 100 bullets.

Sierra 197gr MatchKing

Factory Uniformed Bullet Tips
Sierra has officially announced that the 197gr SMK will come “pointed” from the factory. These impressive new 197s will have a “final meplat reducing operation” (pointing). This creates a higher BC (for less drag) and also makes the BC more uniform (reducing vertical spread at long range). Our tests of other factory-pointed Sierra MKs have demonstrated that Sierra does a very good job with this pointing operation. The “pointed” MatchKings we’ve shot recently had very nice tips, and did hold extremely “tight waterline” at 1000 yards, indicating that the pointing process does seem to enhance BC uniformity. Morever, radar-derived “real-world” BCs have been impressively uniform with the latest generation of pointed Sierra MKs (such as the new 110gr 6mm MatchKing).

Here is the statement from Sierra about the new bullets:

Shooters around the world will appreciate the accuracy and extreme long range performance of our new 7mm 197 grain HPBT (#1997). 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 many match rifle chamber throats.

While they are recognized around the world for record-setting accuracy, MatchKing® and Tipped MatchKing® bullets are not recommended for most hunting applications. Although MatchKing® and Tipped MatchKing® bullets are commonly used for varmint hunting, their design will not provide the same reliable explosive expansion at equivalent velocities in varmints compared to their lightly jacketed Hornet, Blitz BlitzKing, or Varminter counterparts.

New product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 11 Comments »
January 10th, 2017

New SEB Mini Joystick Tripod Rest Reviewed

Sebastian Lambang SEB Mini coax coaxial pedestal rest F-Open Vince Bottomley
SEB Mini Photo by Dan Bramley.

SEB Rests, producers of the SEB NEO rest and innovative JoyPod bipod, have released an all-new, portable tripod-base Co-Axial rest, the SEB Mini. This is a very impressive bit of engineering by Sebastian Lambang. Weighing about 12 pounds, the SEB Mini is easy to transport yet stable and versatile in the field. A joystick lever-arm allows the shooter to move the front head (with sandbag) in any direction with a smooth continuous motion. The Mini delivers about 30 MOA vertical travel by 45 MOA horizontal travel with the same smooth, fluid feel as the NEO rest.

The Mini is now in full production and testers in the USA and UK have returned very positive test results. The Mini combines the smooth controls of a full-size Co-Axial front rest, yet is much easier to transport. Based on reports from testers Dan Bramley and Vince Bottomley, we predict the Mini will become extremely popular with F-Open competitors as well as all shooters currently using pedestal-style front rests for recreational shooting or load testing. Price for the complete unit (with front bag) is $675.00 shipped in the lower 48 states.

Inventor Seb Lambang told us his design goals in creating the Mini, which was named after “Mini” his pet Chihuahua: “The Mini rest is designed to be simple, compact, and light. It has has equal smoothness and MOA travel as the larger NEO rest.”

Sebastian Lambang SEB Mini coax coaxial pedestal rest F-Open Vince Bottomley

The new SEB Mini is a joystick (coaxial) rest with a height-adjustable single center column fitted on a base with three foldable legs. The top can be rotated 360 degrees and locked securely by the two adjustable locking levers. The lowest setting is about 6.25″, the highest is just over 10″. The SEB Mini can be used for F-Class shooting, bench rest shooting, varmint shooting, or load development. The joystick handle is compatible with the SEB NEOs and MAX co-axial rests. The Mini ships complete with a one-piece front sandbag in the buyer’s choice of width.

Key Features:
12-lb carry weight
Large Footprint, yet very portable
Legs adjust with individual thumbwheels
Mariner Wheel offers 40mm of Vertical Adjustment
Measures 5″ x 7″ x 16.25″ when folded
Lowest height approx 6.25″, highest 10″ or more
Head can be rotated independent of base assembly (to assist alignment)
Head unit can be purchased separately and fitted to different tripod base.

SEB Mini REVIEW by Dan Bramley:

Sebastian Lambang, the creator of the ever-popular SEB NEO and SEB MAX co-axial front rest, was kind enough to send me a SEB Mini for review. The point of this review is to give a shooter’s perspective. I will just say that the adjustments and movements are plenty sufficient to shoot in F-Class in High Power and rimfire.

Sebastian Lambang SEB Mini coax coaxial pedestal rest F-Open Vince Bottomley

Positives: The SEB Mini has all of the fine craftsmanship of the NEO. The fit and finish is excellent. This thing is SOLID! When the screws are all locked down it does not budge. The engineering is excellent and well thought-out. It comes in at 12.0 lbs with sand in bag and ready to shoot. To me this weight appears to be optimal, light enough to travel with but heavy enough to be stable.

Shootability: For me shooting off the SEB Mini was no different than shooting off the SEB NEO. The fluid motion of the coaxial top and stability were consistant with the NEO. Set-up was quick and the ability to set it down in reasonably close alignment and release the clamps on the Acme screw to allow perfect rest alignment was a nice feature. Course adjustment was quick with the large mariner wheel and the joystick has the same size collet as the NEO for those who may have made custom joysticks.

I shot my rimfire off of it at first, on concrete, and it didn’t move at all. No surprise there. So I figured I would shoot my biggest rifle off of it in an attempt to punish this little “Mini”.

Conclusion: This thing is just awesome! It folds up quite compact and would likely fit in a bag, instead of a pelican case, for travel. I have often thought of shooting my open rifle off of a JoyPod when traveling by air but that requires a rail etc. for mounting. I would not hesitate to shoot off this Mini in competition.

Sebastian Lambang SEB Mini coax coaxial pedestal rest F-Open Vince Bottomley

Vince Bottomley Tests the New Seb Mini

Our friend Vince Bottomley acquired a Seb Mini and had a chance to test it out in competition at the Diggle Range in the UK. Vince was very impressed with the Mini, which he says is very solid and smooth running, yet easy to set up. Vince used his new Mini to win a match, proving the unit is “competition-ready”: “When you do a range test like this, it’s always great if you can post a decent result and I’m pleased to be able to report that I won Open Class….”

Vince liked the smooth operation and broad windage/elevation adjustment range offered by the Mini:

Sebastian Lambang SEB Mini coax coaxial pedestal rest F-Open Vince Bottomley“The joystick offers plenty of movement at 600 yards so staying on target throughout the shoot was no problem and, more importantly, I could swing onto my competitors’ targets as a final wind-check. Each of the three legs has its own ‘angle’ adjustment — enabling you to obtain a steady, level set-up on the most uneven of firing-points. The center pedestal can be raised and lowered using a mariner wheel and of course, there is the familiar joystick adjustment.”

Vince said it was easy to level the Mini and align the head with his rear bag: “Drop it on the point, then level the bubble using the leg-adjuster thumb-screws (photo right). Because the screws are at the pivot point they move the legs very quickly — as opposed to screwing the feet to level a NEO. Wind up the mariner wheel to get on target, nip up the locking levers and the rest is perfectly aligned, thanks to the swiveling head.”

READ FULL SEB Mini Review in Target Shooter Magazine

Vince also liked the fact that the Mini is significantly lighter than a SEB NEO rest, but still stable because it has a wide footprint. See the comparison photo below.

Sebastian Lambang SEB Mini coax coaxial pedestal rest F-Open Vince Bottomley

Vince tells us that the Mini is truly easy to transport: “I’ve fixed a strap to my Mini so, by slinging it over my shoulder, I can carry rifle, mat and back-bag with ease — so that’s a big ‘plus’ right off.”

Conclusion: “The SEB Mini lived up to expectations and ticked all the boxes –lighter to carry, easy to set up, plenty of adjustment, very stable. Thank you Seb… You have a winner here!” — Vince Bottomley

Product Information from SEB Rests:
The complete SEB Mini includes Head unit, foldable legs, fore-end stop, aluminum bag bracket (with bubble level), joystick, leveling screws, and front bag. The base features three foldable legs, each of which can be adjusted/tilted for elevation via a thumb screw. We recommend setting the base/legs in the highest position initially, then lowering each leg via the thumb screws.

Sebastian Lambang SEB Mini coax coaxial pedestal rest F-Open Vince Bottomley

The Mini is offered in three (3) configurations. The complete Mini with base and foldable legs is $675.00. Option 2 is the Mini without the foldable legs for $550.00. This could work for customers who may wish to fit the top to a solid base plate. Option 3, at $500.00, includes just the head unit with center post, mariner wheel and needle thrust bearing. Option 3 could suit customers who already have a Bald Eagle or Caldwell base with 1″ diameter center hole/post. However some machining may be required.

Net weight approx. 5.5 kilograms (12 lbs)
Top can be rotated 360° and locked securely in any position
Measures 5″ x 7″ x 16.25″ when folded
Joystick is compatible with SEB NEO, MAX and JoyPod
Lowest height approx 6.25″, highest 10″ or more
Foldable legs can be individually adjusted up/down with thumb screws
Extra wide footprint, leveling screws are about 17 inches apart
Ambidextrous, and can be used either “Up for Up” or “Up for Down”
Made from 6061 and 7075 aircraft grade aluminum
Head has removable fore-end stop
Standard fold-able base for traveling with tiltable legs
Comes with standard one-piece 3″-wide front bag 3″ wide (Optional bags*: 2-1/4″, wide sporter (for 1.5″-2″ stock), narrow sporter (for 1″-1.5″ stock)

For more information, visit SEBRests.com. The USA dealer is Ernie Bishop:

Ernie Bishop
Gillete, WY 82716
ernieemily@yahoo.com
307-257-7431

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January 8th, 2017

Shooting F-Class in a Team Role

Sierra Bullets Blog Mark Walker Team Shooting F-TR F-Class

This article comes from the Sierra Bullets Blog. Visit Sierra’s Blog for a variety of interesting articles about reloading, ballistics, hunting, and competitive shooting.

Shooting F-Class as a Team
by Sierra Bullets Product Development Manager Mark Walker
Last [year] I attended the Southwest Nationals for my third straight year. However this was the first year that I had the opportunity to participate in the team shooting events. At the previous matches I was strictly shooting to try and post the best individual scores that I could. This was challenging in its own right and I pushed myself to become a better shooter. During this time I became friends with some other shooters and started to become exposed to the team events. A good friend of mine, Bret Solomon, approached me about shooting with the Spindle Shooters team and I jumped at the chance.

F-Class teams consist of four shooters and a wind coach. As a shooter, you are responsible for the vertical up and down component of each shot. You want to have a rifle that shoots with very little vertical dispersion from shot to shot to give the wind coach as much of the width of the scoring ring to use as possible. The wind coach is responsible for the horizontal component of each shot. The wind will move the bullet from side to side on the target and it is the wind coach’s job to tell the shooter where to aim so each bullet will land in the highest scoring rings in the middle of the target. Everyone has a job and for the team to succeed, everyone must be at the top of their game.

Sierra Bullets Blog Mark Walker Team Shooting F-TR F-Class

For some people, the stress of having four other people depending on you is a bit daunting. However, that is what makes the team events so fun! Not every string you shoot will be a clean. But there is nothing more exhilarating than when the wind is blowing and you and your coach are having to pick your way through the conditions, and that final shot comes up an X.

Now when I attend matches, I shoot the individual targets to help determine how my rifles are shooting and pick the best one to shoot in the team events. And I have to admit that even my individual scores are improving due to the extra attention that I give the rifles to try and have the best equipment for the team. If you have never tried team shooting, I encourage you to give it a try. At most large matches, there are “pick-up” teams that are looking for shooters. This makes a perfect opportunity to meet new people and get [started]. Once you give it a try, you will be hooked!”

Team Shooters Work Together for a Common Goal.
F-Class F-TR Team Matt Schwartzkopf
USA F-TR Team member Matt Schwartzkopf excels at F-TR team shooting despite lacking two lower legs. He works as a range manager at Ben Avery. In recognition of his character and determination, at the 2016 SWN, Matt was awarded one of the first Accurateshooter Corinthian Awards. (2015 Photo.)

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
December 21st, 2016

Aiming Techniques for Long-Range Competition

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…

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

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
December 20th, 2016

New Kestros F-Class Open Stock from McMillan

McMillan F-Open F-Class Kestros Long Wheelbase Boyd Allen
Click Image for full-screen version of photo

F-Class has become one of the fastest-growing types of mid-range and long-range rifle competition. Because of that popularity, a market for specialty equipment has been created, including stocks. McMillan Fiberglass Stocks offers a variety of stocks for both F-TR and F-Open disciplines. Shown above and below is the new Kestros*, McMillan’s upgraded, second-generation F-Open stock. This is an impressive offering, with good stiffness, a torque-taming low-profile design, and good adjustability for the shooter. Our friend Boyd Allen had the chance to test drive a Kestros recently.

McMillan F-Open F-Class Kestros Long Wheelbase Boyd Allen

McMillan Kestros “First Look” Range Review by Boyd Allen
McMillan’s first-generation F-Open stock was well-received, and this new GEN II Kestros includes some significant improvements, making it even better. To achieve increased stiffness, the fore-end was filled out and its fill density was increased. (F-Open rifles have a rather generous 22-lb. weight limit, so the slight increase in stock weight should not be a problem.)

Because F-Open Shooters typically shoot long, heavy bullets through fast-twist barrels, torque control is an issue, which is why the base of the front section of the fore-end is close to the barrel. This low-profile design counters torque. By maximizing the angle defined by the bottom corners of the stock and the bore’s centerline, this stock geometry increases resistance to roll.

McMillan F-Open F-Class Kestros Long Wheelbase Boyd Allen

As tested, this Kestros stock features a nice three-way adjustable butt, as well as an adjustable cheek piece. Symmetrical palm swells and the symmetrical cheek piece make the stock truly ambidextrous. We believe that the cheekpiece locking knob can be switched to either side, adapting to both lefties and righties.

Comments by Tester Boyd Allen
Wanting some visual pop for pictures, and knowing that this was to be a range-only rifle, I ordered a tri-color flame pattern gel coat, the most durable of stock finishes, because it is part of the stock rather than being an applied, surface-only finish.

McMillan has been in the stock business for a long time, and when you sit down behind this one, you understand why. This company really knows what it is doing. The Kestros is a real pleasure to shoot, tracking perfectly. As the saying goes, it falls readily to hand.

My test Kestros stock came very accurately CNC-inletted for my action, with the optional aluminum pillars. The fit is so good that I am doing a full load work-up before doing final bedding, so I can see just how much (if any) bedding improves accuracy. For this test I have chosen a 6PPC barrel (yes it does look short with this stock.) because it will allow me to make finer distinctions in this area. Later I will be working with other calibers (and longer barrels). So far I have been very impressed with this stock — ergonomics, tracking, stability, build quality, and inletting have all been excellent.

* The original Kestros (aka “Kestrosphendone” or “Cestrus”) was an ancient Greek military weapon, a type of sling used to hurl heavy, arrow-like finned projectiles.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
December 11th, 2016

Holiday Showcase — Behold December’s Pride & Joy Rifles

pride joy 6.5x55 Ackley Borden Action Robertson Stock F-Class F-Open, Bartlein Barrel
pride joy 6.5x55 Ackley Borden Action Robertson Stock F-Class F-Open, Bartlein Barrel
Forum member Rardoin’s handsome F-Open rig features the new Borden BRM-XD action.

One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized rifles. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

Bill Goad’s 6PPC Hunter “Ranch Rifle”

pride joy Bill Goad Hunter 6mm PPC benchrest

Forum member Grimstod tells us: “This is the personal rifle of Bill Goad. He has been experimenting with it on several levels. It is shooting great and has several matches on it now. Please enjoy these photos. More can be found on the website www.PremierAccuracy.com. We like the subtle barbed wire effect on the stock.

Twin-Upper AR with Custom Wood Furniture

pride joy AR Sporting Rifle Maple Walnut Furniture AR Platform

This very unique AR belongs to Forum member Nuto-BR. He tells us: “Here are the two uppers I built. The top one is am X-caliber in 20 Practical with 24-inch, 1:11″-twist barrel. The bottom one is a WOA in .223 Rem, with 20″, 1-12″ twist barrel. They both shoot 1/2 MOA or better. Both stocks are laminated Maple and Walnut. I reversed the order of the two woods to tell them apart.”

Two Dashers and a Rimfire for Fun

pride joy 6mm Dasher Anshutz

Courtesy Forum member Dan H., here are two red-stocked Dashers plus an Anschutz 54.30 (Benchrest Stock) to make it a trio. Dan says: “The Anschutz provides good practice in trigger-pulling. It’s amazing what you can learn from a rifle that is as sensitive as this one.”

Dream Hunting Rifle with Custom Camo

pride joy Hunting stock camo custom paint 6.5-280 Ackley Improved

Here is Forum member TyDaws’s “Dream Hunting Rifle” in 6.5-280 Ackley Improved. We love the custom paint work by by Melodie Yarbrough. Smithed by West Texas Ordnance, this rifle features a Rem 700 action with fluted bolt, PT&G tapered recoil lug, and Timney 510 2-lb trigger. The barrel is a fluted 26″ 1:8″-twist Bartlein 5R #3 contour. On top is a Huskemaw Blue Diamond 4-16x42mm optic in Warne Maxima rings. That’s an Atlas bipod up front.

Three Guns for Mr. Big

pride joy .243 Win Stiller Rem 700 Tactical Farley 6.5x47 Lapua 6PPC

Forum Member Mr. Big offered up another trio of rifles — two bench guns and a tactical rig. Mr. Big says: “Here are the rifles I shoot most: Farley 6mm PPC, Stiller .243 Win, and Rem 6.5×47 Lapua. They will do just about anything I ask them to…” Challenge: Can you identify the makers of the three different stocks shown in this picture (and the different materials used in each)?

Dasher in Robertson Spider Web Stock

pride joy 6mm Dasher Robertson Stock

Here is Forum member Vahena’s 6mm Dasher. It has a no-turn-neck chamber in a 28″, 1:8″-twist barrel with 1.25″ straight contour. This has an original Robertson fiberglass stock with spider web graphics. This rifle was originally built as a 6.5×284 with a fluted barrel. Now it sports a bigger barrel for a smaller cartridge. The front rest is a SEB Neo with counterweight up front.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
November 18th, 2016

Good Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets

Official Target Printer Vendor Source

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets:

ALCO Target Company

American Target Company

Kruger Premium Targets

National Target Company

Pistoleer.com

U.S. Target Company

AccurateShooter.com offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked: “Where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS, and NBRSA shooting matches?”

All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class targets. Germany’s Kruger Targets sells all the important NRA targets, and international (ISSF) air rifle and smallbore targets too.

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Kruger Targets

Orrville Printing currently sells IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Call (307) 655-7415 to order for the season.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Company
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Company
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
Kruger Premium
Targets
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No IDPA, IPSC, Animal Shapes, ISSF, Sight-in, Fun Targets
National Target
Company
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters
Pistoleer.com Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint

Permalink Competition, Handguns 1 Comment »
November 11th, 2016

English Shooter Sets New Great Britain F-Class Record

UK European F-Class F-Open Championships Bisley Range England

Report by Des Parr
With every new season, standards in the F-Class game are climbing ever higher. Shooter are improving their skills set while equipment and loading techniques are improving (thanks in part to websites such as this). Evidence of the level of improvement in F-Class shooting comes from the UK, where a talented shooter drilled a new GBFCA record score. One of our rising stars on this side of the pond is F-Open shooter Paul Hill. He hails from England’s wide-open flat lands where the wind blows strongly in from the North Sea and where a shooter must soon learn to read the wind.

At the European Championships held in September at the Bisley ranges, Paul set a new record score at 900 yards — a 100-17V! That’s 17 shots placed in a five-inch circle the size of a CD (compact disc) at over half a mile. [NOTE: At Bisley, the maximum score is FIVE points, not ten points. So the maximum score for 20 shots is 100. Also what Americans call an “X” is called a “V” at Bisley.]

Record Set with Slower Pair Firing Method
Bear in mind the style of shooting here in Great Britain is pair-firing. Under this procedure, each of two competitors shoots alternately, taking turns from shot to shot. Each shooter has 45 seconds to get his shot off. Allowing for the target pullers to do their jobs, this means that each shot can take up to one minute. As Paul was pair firing, he had to concentrate for up to 40 minutes to get all 20 shots off! You can imagine how many times the wind changed course in those 40 minutes — pick-ups, let-offs, changes of angle and direction. Paul had to counter each change and still managed to keep 17 shots in that 5-inch circle!

UK European F-Class F-Open Championships Bisley Range England

Paul Hill Sets Record with His First-Ever DIY-Chambered Barrel
What makes this new GBFCA record all the more significant is that Paul did it by barreling his own rifle — and for the first time! By simply taking great care and attention he has chambered and fitted a barrel himself to the very highest standards. Paul chambered the Krieger 1:9″-twist barrel for the .284 Winchester cartridge. His action was a Barnard. The stock is by Joe West.

Record Shot with Lapua 180gr Scenars and Russian Primers
We should note that Paul Hill is a very keen fan of Lapua’s 180gr Scenar-L bullet. It has to be said that this bullet doesn’t have the highest BC, yet whatever it lacks in that department it more than makes up for by being remarkably consistent — and consistency counts for a lot. Paul is also a fan of the Russian KVB-7 primers. His achievement is proof that Lapua Scenars and KVB-7 primers are every bit as good as the premium-priced alternatives. The powder was Vihtavuori N160. [Editor: For its 180gr Scenar-L, Lapua lists a 0.661 G1 BC, and a 0.332 G7 BC. Those numbers may not top the charts, but they are still very impressive.]

Records are made to be broken, but we think it will be quite a while before Paul’s 200-17X is surpassed in European competition. If you feel up to that challenge, consider competing in next year’s European Championships in late September 2017.

Permalink News 5 Comments »
November 7th, 2016

Sierra Introduces New 195-grain, .30-Caliber Tipped MatchKing

Sierra .30 .308 30-cal caliber Tipped MatchKing TMK bullet G1 BC F-TR long range .30-cal

Sierra has just announced a new, high-BC .30-caliber projectile. This provides a very interesting new option for F-TR competitors and long-range benchrest shooters. The new 195-grain Tipped MatchKing (TMK) boasts an impressive 0.610 G1 Ballistic Coefficient. That compares well with any conventional bullet in this caliber and weight range. The key to the high BC is the green acetal resin tip that lowers drag while making the BC more consistent for every bullet in the box. NOTE: This .30-caliber 195 grain TMK requires a twist rate of 1:10” or faster to stabilize.

Sierra .30 .308 30-cal caliber Tipped MatchKing TMK bullet G1 BC F-TR long range .30-cal

The new 30 cal. 195 grain Tipped MatchKing® bullets will be available in 500-ct boxes (product #7795C) with a $243.84 MSRP as well as 100-ct boxes (product #7795) with MSRP of $51.19 per box. Note, this new 195gr TMK is designed for competition use — primarily as a paper-puncher. Sierra says: “Tipped MatchKing® bullets are not recommended for most hunting applications.”

New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product No Comments »
October 25th, 2016

Sydnie the F-Class Prodigy — Small in Stature but Tall in Talent

Sidney Sydnie Lipski

This profile of a talented young female shooter was so popular when we first ran it last year, we decided to re-publish Sydnie’s story for those who may have missed it the first time. Believe it or not, young Sydnie won the first rifle match she shot, competing as an 8-year-old against adults. She now holds an NRA F-Class “Master” Classification. Here is her remarkable story…

Sydnie Lipski has grown up surrounded by the shooting sports in Michigan. 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.

Sidney LipskiShe also earned her Expert Classification. She ended the season in second place for the IOSCO Sportsmen Club’s 3×600 Grand Aggregate. Now 12 years old, Sydnie now holds a “Master” Certification. She may be one of the youngest F-Class “Masters” in the nation. The specs for the rifle in the photos are listed below. However, Sydnie now has a new rifle, custom built to fit her.

Rifle Specifications:
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!”

Sidney Sydnie Lipski

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
October 15th, 2016

Unique Metal and Wood Hybrid Stock for .284 Shehane Savage

Aluminum Savage Free-float Action Wood Hybrid stock Michigan F-Class F-Open
Click Photo to see large version.

Here is a very interesting rifle, a true metal/wood hybrid that combines an aluminum front section with figured walnut in the rear half. As you can see, this unique rifle also features a barrel block that allows the Savage action to float. You may be wondering “how is the metal section connected to the wood?” The gun’s owner/builder epoxied a stainless steel tube in the wood and that tube is secured in the aluminum fore-end with set screws.

Aluminum Savage Free-float Action Wood Hybrid stock Michigan F-Class F-Open

Forum member Justin V. reports: “Sometime last fall my buddy wanted to build barrel-blocked Bavage. He is a machinist by trade so he was able to build all of the custom components himself. I know he put a ton of time into this thing over the winter, taking his time to get it done right. If you shoot in Cadillac or Midland, Michigan you will probably see him around. He tried to shoot a match this past weekend but was rained out. Hopefully it will stop raining in Michigan so he can see what it can do at 600 yards. Here are the results….” Learn more about this gun in this FORUM Thread.

(more…)

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 4 Comments »
October 7th, 2016

Is the .284 Shehane Inherently Accurate? You Better Believe It

F-Class Reloading .284 Winchester Win Shehane Accuracy

If you look at that 5-round group you might think it was shot with a 6 PPC or maybe a 6mmBR. But no, this was done with heavy 180gr Berger Hybrid bullets and the .284 Shehane, an improved version of the .284 Winchester. In fact, this impressive sub-quarter MOA group was shot while fire-forming with a very well-worn barrel!

Gun builder Ryan Pierce of Piercision Rifles explains:

Here’s a 5-shot 0.191″ group at 100 yards with my .284 Shehane fireforming loads. This barrel has 2200 rounds through it. It had 2000 as a straight .284 Win and then I set it back to .284 Shehane to form brass with. This was the first five rounds through it after I cleaned it after the last match. [The load was] 180 Hybrids with 54.0 grains of H4831 SC.

Ya, I figured why not I had some old barrels laying around so I just chopped 2″ off the back and 1″ off the front and chambered it up as a Shehane. Had 1000 pieces to fireform and didn’t want to do all that on a brand new barrel.

My fireform loads are going 2765 FPS. I have a 29″ barrel also though since it’s a setback. Once you get it formed I would push it faster than that or I wouldn’t even bother with the Shehane. My old straight .284 load at 2890 fps had ES spread in single digits for 10 shots. I figured if I get it up to 2935-2950 fps that will be a point or two saved in a several day match.

.284 Winchester Shehane Reamer Print PT&G

Fellow .284 Shehane shooter Erik Cortina notes that the .284 Shehane has a velocity edge over the straight .284 Win because it holds more powder: “The Shehane has more capacity than the .284 Winchester. Ryan is using 54.0 grains simply as a fire-forming load. Typical load for a Shehane is around 57.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831 SC.” By blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc, with long barrels.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 5 Comments »
October 4th, 2016

Toolmaker’s New Hammer — .284 Win F-Open Rig by Cigarcop

John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

Forum member Keith W. (aka “Cigarcop”) is a talented riflesmith whose projects display outstanding finish work and attention to detail. Keith does some of the best bedding work we’ve ever seen. Recently Keith completed a rifle for tool-maker John Perkins, owner of 21st Century Shooting. John, who recently competed at the F-Class Nationals in Lodi, WI, wanted a new F-Open rifle with top-of-the-line hardware and a sweet-tracking stock. We think John will be impressed with this gun — and we bet it proves to be an tack-driving “hammer”. John will use the 21.5-lb rifle for F-Open competition and some mid-range and long-range benchrest competition in HG class.

This stock sports 12 coats of Urethane, wet-sanded between each coat.
John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

This competition rifle features a melonited BAT “M” action (with Bix’N Andy trigger), a pair of 7mm Brux barrels chambered in .284 Win, and a Precision Rifle & Tool (PRT) Low-Boy stock. As you can see from these photos Keith posted in our Shooters’ Forum, this is a beautifully-finished rifle. If you have questions about this project, direct them to Cigarcop in this FORUM Thread.

Build Details for a Beautiful F-Open Rig
Keith reports: “The rifle is built on a PRT Laminated Low-Boy F-Class Stock with a Bat M Melonited Action, +20 MOA rail, Pillar bedded in Devcon 10110. After bedding and inletting I clear-coated the stock with 12 Coats of a 3-part Urethane finish which was wet-sanded between each coat and sanded out to 2000 before final polishing. John Perkins provided two Brux 1:9″-twist, 1.250″-contour barrels. They are both finished at 31″ and chambered in straight .284 Win with .313″ neck and .213″ freebore to shoot the 180gr Berger Hybrids.

Cigarcop does superb bedding work, as you can see…
John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

John chose the Bix’N Andy trigger after sampling one of Erik Cortina’s rifles at the Berger SW Nationals. “I tried the BNA trigger on Erik’s gun and I was so impressed. It is very light but 100% consistent. After an injury I’ve lost some feel in my trigger finger and the BNA helps because it is so smooth. I would never go back to anything else.”

John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

New Seating Die from 21st Century
While talking about his new rifle, John Perkins revealed that he has developed a very sophisticated new micrometer seating die: “This is something very new, and unlike anything else on the market. Each die is tailored to the dimensions and ogive curve of your particular bullet which we measure with an optical comparator. The customer provides fired, sized brass and sample bullets and we can produce a perfect match.”

John says his new seating dies produce ultra-consistent base-to-ogive load lengths along with exceptionally low run-out. “This new die produces incredibly straight ammo — there are some special features inside the die that help straighten the bullet during the seating process”. That delivers “truly superior concentricity” according to John. 21st Century Shooting will be taking orders soon for the new seating die. Call (260) 273-9909 for more information.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
September 30th, 2016

Forum Member Offers Hand-Crafted Oak Cartridge Caddies

Cartridge Caddy Caddies .308 6mm Red oak wook F-Class

Forum member Alex M. (aka Nando-AS) has crafted some very nice wood Cartridge Caddies fitted with timers. He’s made these for competitors at the F-Class Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin, and he’s now taking orders for other shooters who might want one. The caddies are made from Oak, hold 25 rounds, and feature a battery-powered shot timer. Price is $75.00 shipped for the 6mm and .308 caddies and $85.00 shipped for the Magnum size. Forum members can contact Alex via our Forum Classifieds Board, or you can email alextek [at] charter.net.

Alex tells us: “Several forum members and shooting buddies suggested that I should make more Cartridge Caddies with Timers, so I made over a dozen to take to Lodi and to offer to Forum members.”

These Caddies are made of solid red Oak and are finished with five coats of clear Polyurethane. Each has 25 holes, which consist of a counter-bore of the appropriate diameter and depth for the cartridge, and a Ø0.40″ through-hole to allow the bullet and/or the neck of the cartridge to fit through. The Timers are a Silver color normally, but Alex has a few in black.

Alex offers three sizes of caddies: 6MM for 6mm cartridges with .308-size rim; 308W for .308 Win/.284 Win size cartridges; and Magnum for 300 WSM and similar magnum diameter cases.

Cartridge Caddy Caddies .308 6mm Red oak wook F-Class

6MM – For 6mm family, which will accommodate 6mmBR, 30BR, 6×47, and other cartridges based on the .308 base. (Counter bore is Ø0.50” x 0.8” deep)
Price: $75 including USPS priority shipping with tracking number provided.

308W
– For .308 Win, 6.5-284, .284 Win, and similar cartridges based on the .308 and .284 cases. (Counter bore is Ø0.52” x 1.0” deep)
Price: $75 including USPS priority shipping with tracking number provided.

MAGNUM – For 300WSM, 300RUM and similar cartridges with larger diameter bases.
(Counter bore is Ø0.56” x 1.0” deep)
Price: $85 including USPS priority shipping with tracking number provided.

Permalink New Product 2 Comments »
September 29th, 2016

Mid-Range F-TR Nationals — Litz and Team Michigan Triumph

F-Class Mid Range Championship
Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz needed all of his wind-reading skills in Lodi, WI. Conditions were challenging!

Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics won his second straight Mid-Range F-TR National Championship this past weekend. Likewise the Michigan F-TR Team won its second Championship in a row. So it was a heck of a showing by the Michiganders overall. With a strong individual performance, Phil Kelley finished second with his fellow X-Men teammate James Crofts in third. The X-Men Team also garnered second-place in the F-TR Team event. Kelley told us: “It sure is fun to compete with the best in the business — to share the individual overall podium with Bryan Litz and James Crofts is an exciting honor.”

It was a bit cold in Lodi, Wisconsin, photo by K. McSparron.
F-Class Mid Range Championship

F-Class Goes High-Tech with Electronic Targets
This was the first-ever F-Class National Championship that used electronic Targets. Litz offers his perspective on the new E-Targets in the Q&A section below — Bryan is mostly positive about the E-Targets but he says there are still some minor bugs to be worked out.

Bryan, a sling-shooter at heart, has really taken to this F-TR game. He won both the Mid-Range and Long Range F-TR National Championships in 2015 and now he has one 2016 title in the bag. Bryan tells us: “Many thanks go out to all those who’ve supported me in winning my second F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. My serious pursuit of F-TR shooting began the day I called John Pierce and requested: ‘John, build me one like yours’. That rifle and others built by Pierce Engineering are at the top of the game. Thanks also to my many great team-mates on the Michigan and U.S. Rifle Teams who have taught me a lot about this sport. As always the competition was stiff and mother nature gave us some drastically different looks. The challenging weather, combined with the introduction of electronic targets to this sport at the national level, required shooters to be highly adaptable. Thanks to the match organizers and technical staff who did a great job.”

John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz with his Championship-winning Pierce-built F-TR rifle (2014 photo).
F-TR National Championship

Litz Loads Vihtavuori N140 with 215gr Berger Hybrids in his .308 Win
Bryan told us: “Load data is always a common question and I keep no secrets –I’m running the same basic load I shot the past few years with the exception that I’m now burning 43.0 grains of Vihtavuori N140 instead of Hodgdon Varget in new Lapua brass with Fed 210M primers and 215 Berger Hybrids seated about 0.005″ off the riflings. This gets 2520 fps in a 28-inch barrel. I use this same load for both mid-range and long range.”

Team Competition — Michigan Wins F-TR Division with X-Men in Second
Michigan F-TR Team won its second consecutive Mid-Range National Championship. Congratulations to team-mates Al Barnhart, Doug Boyer, Bryan Litz, and John Roethlisberger. Al and Doug are experienced veterans but this is John’s first experience in a national-level event. Michigan actually fielded two teams in this event and the second squad also won a medal in one of the matches. Byran Litz noted that the Michigan F-TR Team “has been working hard to develop our shooters and many have made it onto the U.S. Rifle Team. We have many great sponsors including: Applied Ballistics, Berger Bullets, Bartlein Barrels, Marksmanship Training Center, Nightforce Optics, Pierce Engineering, and Vihtavuori Powder.” Bryan added: “I also thank Team X-Men for the spirited competition. You guys (James Crofts, Tracy Hogg, Phil Kelly, Ian Klemm, and Ken Klemm) are great and make these team matches very fun.”

Bryan Litz with Michigan F-TR team-mates Al Barnhart, John Roethlisberger, and Doug Boyer.
F-Class Mid Range Championship

Q & A with the Champ — Litz Talks Targets and Match Strategies

We asked Bryan how the new Electronic Target technology used in Lodi alters the F-Class game. As the Long Range Nationals are underway now, we also asked Bryan to comment on Mid-Range vs. Long Range strategies — what does he do different at 1000 yards vs. 600 yards.

1. How did you like the electronic targets? Did this require/allow a change in your shooting style or rhythm (e.g. can competitors shoot faster now with less wait time between shots)?

LITZ: I really like the E-Targets for many reasons. Not pulling pits is the biggest one but the E-Targets also bring a level of fairness that human pullers could never achieve in the sense that everyone gets the same speed ‘service’.

For the 2016 FCNC in Lodi, WI, all the targets are programmed with a 7-second delay which is equivalent to “very good” target service. The system actually shows your shot value immediately, but doesn’t plot the location of the shot for 7 seconds. So if you want to “machine gun” a shot following an X with the same hold, you can take your chances without knowing where the X was.

The E-Targets require some adaptation from regular pit service. For those with many years of experience on traditional targets, it’s just WEIRD that the target doesn’t go up and down or have a spotter in it. All the information you need is on the tablet. This isn’t better or worse, just different. Occasionally the tablets lose signal for a few seconds and it can be frustrating, but this is not different than when a puller missed a shot and you had to “call for a mark”. I think that very soon the connectivity issues will be fully resolved and the systems will operate flawlessly. I know it would be impossible to get all the shooters through on such a small range any other way. The E-Targets have enabled a medium-sized range like Lodi to host a National Championship.

Q: How is the mid-range F-TR game different than long-range F-TR competition?

LITZ: Usually Mid-Range is about consistent precision — not having any fliers and not dropping any points. Mid-Range matches are usually decided by a narrower point spread than long range. Conditions aren’t typically big enough to move you out of the 10 ring very much at mid-range. The first couple days of the 2016 Mid-Range Nationals was just like this. I won the first two days, dropping only 3 points in total. But then the wind picked up on Day 3 and it was totally different! It became more like a Long Range match with all the points falling like rain and [conditions] very difficult to read. Many more 8s and 7s appeared at 600 yards and the field really spread out. In the end I was able to hold onto my lead and win the tournament.

Q. Why the change to Vihtavuori N140 powder? Was it more available or were you seeing lower ES/SD?

LITZ: I’m seeing the same ES/SDs with VV N140 as what I was using before (Varget) and N140 may burn a little cleaner. Also availability has been improving on the Vihtavuori powders in recent years. We (the Michigan F-TR Rifle Team) are very fortunate to have Vihtavuori as a sponsor and look forward to winning many matches with Vihtavuori products.

Editor’s Note: If any readers have results for the F-Open Mid-Range Nationals, please post in the comments section below and we will update this story.

Permalink Competition, News 2 Comments »
September 26th, 2016

How to Win in F-TR Competition — Tips from Mike and Stan

F-TR shooting Competition Mike Miller Stan Pate

F-TR Stan Pate SavageOver the past few years, participation in F-Class competition has grown dramatically. At the 2013 SHOT Show we had a chance to talk about F-TR competition with then-U.S. National F-TR Team members Mike Miller and Stan Pate, two of America’s top F-TR shooters. With the U.S. F-Class Nationals underway this week (in Lodi, Wisconsin), we are reprising this interview for readers who may have missed it the first time around. If you shoot F-TR (even if you’re a High Master), we think you’ll learn a few things from this interview.

In this interview, Mike and Stan agreed to share their vast store of knowledge about long-range shooting. In a wide-ranging dialog, we discussed many topics of interest to F-Class shooters: position set-up, bipod shooting techniques (and hardware), gun-handling, and bullet selection. In addition, Mike and Stan offer some great advice on wind reading and precision reloading. These general tips will benefit all competitors, no matter what their discipline.

Watch Video for Tips from past U.S. National F-TR Team Members Mike Miller and Stan Pate

If you shoot F-TR or you are considering getting involved in this fast-growing shooting sport, definitely watch this 14-minute video interview from start to finish. Mike and Stan are true F-TR gurus whose knowledge of the F-TR game has been gleaned from years of top-level competition. If you shoot a .308 from a bipod, we guarantee you can learn much from Mike and Stan. If you follow their advice, we bet you’ll see your scores improve in future matches.

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September 23rd, 2016

How to Avoid Having a ‘Train Wreck’ at the F-Class Nationals

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

Today is practice day for the Mid-Range F-Class Nationals, which commence bright and early tomorrow morning in Lodi, Wisconsin. In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, reigning F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC.

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

[Editor’s Note: The 2016 F-Class Nationals will employ electronic targets so conventional pit duties won’t be required. However, the following advice does apply for matches with conventional targets.]

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
September 23rd, 2016

The “Mental Game” — Mantras for Competitive Shooting Success

shooting training applied ballistics bryan litz

The 2016 F-Class National Championships commence today in Lodi, Wisconsin. The Mid-Range Championships will run through September 27th, followed immediately by the Long Range Championships which conclude on October 1st.

Hopefully, this article may provide a little inspiration for our readers who will be competing at the Nationals in the days ahead. Here are some motivational messages that shooters can use to stay calm and focused, and to tune up their “mental game”.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics“Shoot Like a Champion”. Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting, says he often sees notes like this tucked in shooter’s gear (or taped to an ammo box) at matches. What “marksmanship mantras” do you use? Do you have a favorite quote that you keep in mind during competition?

On the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page, Bryan invited other shooters to post the motivating words (and little reminders) they use in competition. Here are some of the best responses:


    “Shoot 10s and No One Can Catch You…” — James Crofts

    “You Can’t Miss Fast Enough to Win.” — G. Smith

    “Forget the last shot. Shoot what you see!” — P. Kelley

    “Breathe, relax, you’ve got this, just don’t [mess] up.” — S. Wolf

    “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” — J. McEwen

    “Keep calm and shoot V-Bull.” — R. Fortier

    “Be still and know that I am God[.]” (PS 46:10) — D.J. Meyer

    “Work Hard, Stay Humble.” — J. Snyder

    “Shoot with your mind.” — K. Skarphedinsson

    “The flags are lying.” — R. Cumbus

    “Relax and Breathe.” — T. Fox

    “Zero Excuses.” — M. Johnson

    “SLOW DOWN!” — T. Shelton

    “Aim Small.” — K. Buster

    “Don’t Forget the Ammo!” (Taped on Gun Case) — Anonymous

PARTING SHOT: It’s not really a mantra, but Rick Jensen said his favorite quote was by gunsmith Stick Starks: “Them boys drove a long ways to suck”. Rick adds: “I don’t want to be that guy”, i.e. the subject of that remark.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
September 22nd, 2016

Aiming Techniques for F-Class Competition

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…

The U.S. Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals kick off tomorrow, September 23rd, in Lodi, Wisconsin. 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

Permalink Optics, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »