At the Canadian F-Class Championships last week Shiraz Balolia won the F-Open Individual Championship, and Shiraz was a member of the winning Team USA America Match Team, and the winning USA 4-man F-Open team. If you want to see how a world-class F-Open pilot works his magic, check out this video. After a discussion of scoring, the shooting starts at the five-minute mark in the video. Under the guidance of wind coach Gary Rasmussen, Grizzly Industrial President Shiraz Balolia shoots 100-7X for ten shots, following Gary’s wind calls.
NOTE: Shiraz shot with wind coaches in the team matches at the Connaught Range in Canada. However, during the individual championship matches he had to make his own wind calls, dialing windage corrections or holding off as he saw fit. It wasn’t easy. Shiraz told us: “It’s been a while since I had 5 1/2 minutes of left wind on my .300 WSM and was holding left 3+, then holding right 3 1/2 just two shots later!”
Pair Firing in Canada
According to Shiraz, “One thing that was different about the Canadian Nationals was that they were pair fired. One shoots, other scores, other shoots, and so on. With this slower, pair method of shooting, every shot can be in a different condition. Unlike the USA Nationals where a guy can rattle off the whole string in less than 4 to 5 minutes in one or two conditions, you would be hard pressed to get off two or three shots each in five minutes. This is the way the next World Championship is going to be shot — with pair firing.”
Watch Gary Call the Wind and Shiraz Shoot 100-7X for Ten Shots
For best viewing, click the YouTube settings button to watch in 720p or 1080p HD (high definition).
Team Shooting with a Coach
Shiraz tells us: “We come across a lot of shooters who have never shot under a coach. This video was produced to give shooters a basic understanding of shooting with a coach and the importance of releasing a good shot. In a team setting, you basically leave all the decision-making to the coach and aim where you’re told to aim. I’ve worked with Gary many times and it shows in the comfort level we have with each other. The coach plots the shots or a plotter advises the coach of any grouping that is not centered.”
At the Canadian Championships, Shiraz used a .300 WSM. In this demo video, Shiraz was shooting a 7mm F-Open rig: “My .284 Shehane rifle takes about 10 to 12 shots to settle down and that is probably why we made several scope adjustments while shooting. It is a great caliber and a step up from a straight .284 Winchester. The wind was relatively calm, but sometimes that slow wind with subtle angle changes can be very deceiving.”
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This week the Canadian F-Class Championships (and Americas Match) are being held at the Connaught Range outside Ottawa, Ontario. Conditions have been nasty, with rain and blustery winds. This has been a humbling experience for our American shooters, many of whom are experiencing Connaught for the first time.
After the first day, James Crofts, 2012 USA National F-TR Champion, told us: “I was very humbled today at the Connaught ranges. I’m down 19 for the day. Shot a 900 meter match with 9.5 minutes of wind and held another 1.5. Tomorrow is another day.”
American Phil Kelley provides an in-depth report for the first two days:
“Day 2 Canadian Nationals — Humility remains the biggest lesson being learned in Canada. Rain, wind, rain, wind and more rain sums up the day. But there is something about it that is a lot of fun. The Americans overall did much better today versus those of the home country. Jim and I shot fairly well all day although I dropped about four more than I should during a weird portion of the last match. Jim dropped 15 today, I dropped 21. Scores are high given the conditions. This sport has stepped up another notch. [There is an] amazing level of competition at this match.”
“Very different conditions for every relay. So far at 900m you automatically dial in about 6 min to get on paper. Then be ready to add from there. It WILL rain to pour at some point during each relay and don’t even think about them not shooting. Starting to figure things out but too late for this tournament. Great experience for future tournaments though. Final two individual matches tomorrow and a couple of team events. The big Americas Match is Saturday. Can’t wait. Ammo and rifle are outstanding. Just have to educate the shooter a little more.”
“Day One Canadian Nationals — Well, new ranges have a way of humbling you. A day full of different conditions. Rain, sun, clouds and wind, wind, major wind! Shot very well in two matches, but the 900m (1000-yard) match was something else. I knew I was experiencing something new with these heavy ‘Bisley’ flags when I started sighters with 4 min left on and shot a 2 right, then 6.5 minutes left to only get a 3 right then 7.5 min left on and hold 2.5 min more left to get a 5 on 1st shot for record. Wow! It took me several shots to get over that thought and unfortunately several 3s followed to drop 12 for the string. Still not bad, dropped 17 for the day. Leader Alan Barnhart dropped 8 (outstanding). Al [and] several Canadians had good days as one would expect. Awesome range. Cool new conditions. I’ve heard of these international ranges shooting no matter the weather, with big numbers dialed in for wind. Awesome to experience it. Always an honor to shoot with the great Mid Tompkins calling the shots.”
It looks like the waiting was worth it, Shiraz Balolia (right) and Will Chou (left) were winners…
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Most of you know Carl Bernosky as a great marksman and 10-time National High Power Champion. But you may not realize that Carl is also a superb stock-maker. A true craftsman, Carl produces outstanding laminated and fancy wood stocks for hunters and competitive shooters. Visit CarlBernosky.com to see a selection of Carl’s competition and hunting stocks.
One of Carl’s latest creations is a thumbhole F-Class stock. Designed for F-Open shooters, this stock features a flat, 3″-wide fore-end, ergonomic grip, and adjustable cheekpiece. The laminated Bernosky stock featured here was crafted for Chesebro Rifles, which offers a turn-key stock package for the Barnard ‘P’ action, one of our favorite custom actions. This particular build features a MT Guns Vee Block Bedding System, MT Guns 3-Way Adjustable Butt Plate, and B&D Precision removable cheek piece.
Click Photo to view full-size image of stock.
As you see it, complete with all hardware (including short fore-end rail for bipod) this stock runs $1275.00 ready to ship. Just attach your Barnard barreled action and you’re ready to compete. The stock (by itself) weighs 6.5 pounds. Contact Chesebro Rifles, (661) 557-2442, for more information.
F-Class competition will be featured on this week’s episode of Shooting USA television. This week, Shooting USA takes an inside look at the rapidly-growing sport of F-Class shooting, with coverage of both F-TR and F-Open competition at 600 yards and beyond. This show will air three times on Wednesday, August 6, on the Outdoor Channel (see air times by region below). This episode will also feature the historic 1907 Winchester, a choice of gangsters in the 1920s.
The Shooting USA Hour on Wednesdays:
AIR TIMES BY TIME ZONE
Eastern Time 3:30 PM, 9:00 PM, 12:00 Midnight
Central Time 2:30 PM, 8:00 PM, 11:00 AM
Mountain Time 1:30 PM, 7:00 PM, 10:00 PM
Pacific Time 12:30 PM, 6:00 PM, 9:00 PM
The ‘F’ in F-Class stands for Farquharson. Canadian George Farquharson is credited with founding the sport in the 1990s. Farquharson wanted to create a discipline for fellow older shooters whose fading eyesight made it difficult to compete in traditional iron-sight high power matches. In 2007, the United States NRA officially recognized the prone shooting disciple. Since then the sport has grown rapidly. Over 350 shooters attended the 2013 F-Class Nationals in Raton, NM.
F-Class is similar to High Power rifle shooting, with competitors taking turns in the pits, pulling and scoring targets. Unlike conventional High Power shooting with iron sights, F-Class shooters use scopes (with up to 80x max power, though the most popular scope is still probably the 12-42x56mm Nightforce Benchrest).
All F-Class competition is shot prone. Competitors are classified into two divisions, F-TR (Target Rifle) and F-Open. F-TR rifles must be shot from bipod, and must be chambered for either the .223 Rem or .308 Win cartridges. Max F-TR gun weight is approximately 18.18 pounds, including bipod. In the F-Open division, rifles can weigh up to 10 kg (22 pounds) and front rests can be used (but you may shoot from a bipod if you wish). F-Open competitors may shoot any cartridge which is .35 caliber or under.
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We first featured this amazing stock last year. We felt this creation was such a stunning piece of work that it deserved a second look. If you missed this masterpiece the first time around, feast your eyes…
Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, creator of the SEB Coaxial Rests and the Coaxial Joystick Bipod, has engineered an impressive new wood and aluminum F-Class stock. The stock features a long, box-section aluminum fore-end with a wood rear section and wood-trimmed “wings” on the front bag-rider. The aluminum fore-arm has “buick vents” for weight reduction. From the end of the action rearward, the stock is mostly wood, with light and dark fancy wood laminates on opposite sides (left and right).
The foot of the buttstock has a very wide aluminum rear bag-rider with rails. The rear wood section appears to be two solid pieces of wood — but that is deceiving. Seb explains: “To save weight, the buttstock is hollow (using thin-walled wood)”. To strengthen the construction, Seb added carbon fiber inside the buttstock. So what you see is a wood outer shell with carbon fiber layers on the inside. The stock sports vertically-adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate. The thick, rubber buttpad should diminish felt recoil even when shooting big cartridges with heavy bullets.
This is an interesting, innovative stock design. And as with everything Seb produces, the craftsmanship, fit and finish are superb. We may get a chance to see how well this new stock shoots at the F-Class World Championships later this month in Raton, New Mexico.
Seb also crafted a handsome set of angled scope rails with beautifully-machined scope rings. Imagine being able to custom-make one-off products of this quality in your own machine shop!
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2012 U.S. National F-TR Individual Champion James Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class shooters. A member of the 2013 World Championship-winning F-TR Team USA squad, James knows a thing or two about long-range shooting, that’s for sure. But you may be surprised to learn how James sharpens his shooting skills at relatively short distances. You see, James often practices with a .22 LR rimfire rifle at distances from 50 to 200 yards. James tells us: “Shooting my F-Class rimfire trainer saves me money and improves my shot process and wind-reading abilities.”
Remington rimfire 40X barreled action in PR&T LowBoy stock with PT&G bolt.
Rimfire Training Teaches Wind-Reading Skillsby James Crofts
Training with the rimfire is extremely useful and can be done from 25 yards out to 200 yards. I am lucky and can shoot 50 yards right off my back deck. That is far enough that any miscue on rifle handling will show up on the target. I use a two dry-fire to one actual shot routine for my practices. This gives me much more positive reinforcement without any negative reinforcement.
Wind reading is extremely important with a .22 LR rifle. I use a set of smallbore flags to aid my wind calls. The smallbore flags are a must and force you to look at the flags and mirage on each and every shot. If you think the flags at Camp Butner move a lot, try smallbore flags around tall pine trees.
Rimfire Training Is Cost-Effective
Rimfire ammunition is much less costly than centerfire ammo. Though .22 LR prices have risen in recent years (and rimfire ammo is harder to find), even now I can get a 500-round brick of .22 LR ammo for less than $75.00. That works out to fifteen cents a round. That’s a fraction of the cost of handloading .308 Win match ammo. Heck, you can pay 40 cents a piece for match-grade .308-cal centerfire bullets. Then you have to figure in brass, primers, and powder.
My CMP 40X Rimfire F-TR LowBoy Clone
My quest into the .22 LLR rimfire field started with an email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) announcing Rem 40X stripped barreled actions for sale. I thought, “Hmmm… Could one of those little 40X barreled actions be turned into a F-Class training rifle?” My gunsmith Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool was brought in at this point.
After conferring with Ray, it was decided that he could indeed turn this into a F-Class training rifle. Ray contacted Dave Kiff of PT&G and ordered a new bolt for the Remington 40X rimfire action. Next was the stock decision. I decided to go with a PR&T Low Boy F-Class stock — this is an exact clone of the stock for my .308 Win F-TR competition rifle. Then a Jewell trigger was acquired to complete the components. Ray built this just like he would any custom rifle, other than using the stock barrel. The project turned out awesome. The rifle was a hammer from the beginning even with the stock barrel.
About James Crofts
This spring, James Crofts was chosen as the new Vice Captain for the USA F-TR National Team. James comes from a military background, having served 20 years in the U.S. Navy aboard fast attack submarines. James has also been a shooting member of the 8-man F-TR Team USA, and he is always one of the top shooters in any F-TR competition. James told us: “Now the work begins, but with Ray Gross as Captain I think we can handle it. It will be a tough act to follow. Darrell Buell and Mike Miller set the bar extremely high with back-to-back world championship gold medals.”
James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.
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Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks in Pennsylvania is widely considered one of the finest rifle-stock craftsmen in the country, if not the world. Alex’s workmanship and dedication to excellence is top-of-the-line. Alex normally custom-fits each stock to his customer precisely. Many hours are dedicated to stock prep and inletting, and his bedding jobs are flawless. Each stock is exactingly hand-crafted with great attention to detail, and then the stock is “dressed” in the customer’s choice of finishes.
Doing all that takes time — a lot of time. That’s why Master Class Stocks has a long waiting list, and it can take months before a big job is completed. But when Alex is involved, you can count on the final product being a work of stock-making art. Here’s an example. Alex recently stocked an F-Class rifle using eye-popping, exhibition-grade Bastogne walnut. The wood was sourced from Cecil Fredi of GunstockBlanks.com. Alex says: “Cecil’s wood is some of the best I’ve ever used. This blank cost over $1000.00, but it was truly spectacular.” Since the blank was less than 3″ wide, Alex (with assistance from 8-time NRA High Power Champion Carl Bernosky) laminated on the 3″-wide forearm “wings” using spare wood left after the blank was cut. See how Alex and Carl carefully matched the grain of the wood on the forearm. And note how perfectly the adjustable cheek-piece is fitted. If you want a stock like this on your next rifle, contact Alex Sitman at Master Class Stocks, (814) 742-7868.
The Bastogne Beauty — More Construction Details
Eric Kennard tells us: “This rifle was built for Mike Dana in Florida. Kelbly’s did the metal work. [The action is a Stolle Panda F-Class.] Barrel by Brux. Chambering? 6mmBR of course! Mike added a March 10 x 60 scope. Let me tell you this is beyond a work of art! The fit is absolutely perfect! There is not one flaw in the wood-work. The pillar bedding is also perfect! Did you notice the ebony inserts? Or Alex’s custom trigger guard? Alex out did-himself this time. Most of us would not dare to shoot [this gun]!”
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Farley Manufacturing has just introduced a new gravity-fed cartridge caddy that puts your rounds right next to your rifle’s loading port. Farley’s new G-Feed Cartridge Elevator has a unique switchback-type feed path that provides high capacity in a compact unit. This unit is handy and fast to use. Farley says that, with a little practice, a skilled benchrest shooter can run five shots in less than 18 seconds. We believe that — provided a shooter has quality rests, a stock that tracks well, and good technique.
The G-Feed Elevator is held up by a 3/4″-diameter spring steel gooseneck (similar to 50s-style lamp support arm). You can easily adjust the gooseneck to the exact height and angle you want. (But Farley recommends at least 10 degrees of “tilt” to ensure proper feeding.)
Made from machined 6061 aluminum, the G-Feed Caddy ranges in price from $125.00 to $160.00 depending on cartridge size. Currently three sizes are offered: PPC, BR/PPC, and .284 Winchester. The BR/PPC model holds 22 rounds of BR cases or 23 rounds of PPC cases. The larger .284 Win model has a 25-cartridge capacity.
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Like father, like sons. Here’s a “feel-good” story about a father and two young sons. John Dunbar and his sons Brad and Zach attend F-Class matches together. John and Zach shoot, while young Brad helps in the pits and hauls gear for his brother and father. Working together, the Dunbar family has been quite successful in the F-Class game. Father John recently won the Wisconsin State F-Class Championship, while John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Class Junior Championship that very same weekend.
The double Dunbar victories took place during the 2014 Gillespie Memorial Long Range Individual State Championship held last month at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin. The battle for the F-Class (Open Division) Championship was largely a race between two Wisconsin shooters, Bob Sebold and John Dunbar. By the close of the Saturday matches, 2013 defending champion Sebold maintained a five X lead over his rival Dunbar. Both shooters had dropped a mere three points throughout the three match stages at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.
The first Sunday match narrowed the gap between Sebold and Dunbar, with both shooters dropping two points apiece. Dunbar scored four additional Xs, allowing Sebold to retain the lead by a single X. The final 20-shot, 1,000-yard string determined the weekend’s Grand Aggregate champion. Dunbar scored an incredible 198-14X that clinched the title of Wisconsin State Long Range F-Class Champion.
Zach Dunbar Wins F-Class Junior State Championship
While John Dunbar secured one F-Class title, another, much younger Dunbar also made it to the winner’s circle. John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Open Junior Championship that very same weekend. Zach had a comeback victory, overcoming a three-point deficit after the first day of shooting.
Youngest son Brad also helped secure the Dunbar family’s twin wins, cheering on family members while ensuring Team Dunbar remained hydrated on the firing line. From pulling targets in the pits to hauling gear across the range, young Brad’s efforts helped Team Dunbar finish first.
The range at Lodi is well-known for challenging wind conditions that are difficult to read. The 2014 Gillespie Memorial match proved to be no exception. Pick-ups and switches occurred with regularity, while mirage occasionally ran opposite to the wind flags lining the range.
Darrell Buell, past captain of the world champion F-TR Team USA, just received an impressive new piece of kit. A custom flat sheet was created by Kent Rush for Darrell, complete with cool graphics and sponsors’ logos. As soon as we saw this on Darrell’s Facebook page, we knew this would be popular with our readers. Heck, this Editor wants one too — with “AccurateShooter.com” emblazoned on it.
Darrell loves his new shooting accessory: “Here’s the whole enchilada! Savage rifle, 2014 Nightforce Competition Scope, Berger Bullets (185 Juggernauts), Seb Lambang’s new Joy-Pod (plus “Pod-Pad” mat), a new shooting mat courtesy of Scott at Red Star Targets, and an awesome new rear-bag sheet by Kent Rush for the Edgewood bag. This new sheet allows for friction-free rear bag adjustments — Thanks Kent Rush!”
Darrell Leads North American Junior F-TR Team
Though he has stepped down from his role as Captain of F-TR Team USA, Darrell hasn’t given up his coaching duties entirely. Darrell is the coach (and adult leader) of the North American Junior F-TR Team. Darrell is lending his world-beating long-range shooting knowledge to young competitors who are making a mark for themselves already. Here is Darrell with one of his young marksmen.
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Made in Norway by GRS, the new Kelbly “X-Eater” stock combines an ergonomic grip with the superior tracking ability of the latest, low-profile designs. Height-adjustable cheek-piece and length-adjustable buttpad allow the shooter to tailor the stock to his preferences. The ergonomic grip/wrist helps the shooter steer the rifle precisely with greater control. The low-profile design aids tracking and helps tame the torque generated by the large 7mm and .30-cal cartridges favored by top F-Open competitors.
CLICK PHOTOS to See Full-Size Versions
The fore-end is made with the same twin-runner (catamaran-style) design as the previous GRS F-Class Open stock. (On the underside of the fore-end there are left/right rails with a relieved area in the center). The big change is that this new stock sits lower on the front bag compared to the first F-Class stock from GRS. The rear of the stock is designed for a two-stitch rear bag. Initially the stock will only be offered in Right Hand versions in black/blue and red/blue laminate.
CLICK PHOTOS to See Full-Size Versions
Stratabond Laminate with lacquer finish
Adjustable Length of Pull (from 13.8 to 15.0 inches)
Cushy 0.5″-thick Limbsaver/GRS recoil pad
Stock (by itself) weighs 4.07 pounds (with Rem 40X inlet)
Optional Height-Adjustable recoil pad.
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Need a high-quality front rest at an affordable price? Here are some of the best deals we’ve seen in years. Bullets.com just announced a massive price cut on its Bald Eagle brand front rests. Both the regular rests and the deluxe rests with flex-shaft windage adjustments are on sale. (These windage-adjustable rests are great for F-Class shooting.) Windage-adjustable rests start at just $215.00, while the conventional rests are marked down to $179.95 (less than half the original price!) Choose from Cast Iron or Aluminum bases, triangle or slingshot (wishbone) footprints. These are high-quality rests, with CNC-machined parts. They have been used successfully by many top F-Class and benchrest shooters.
Bullets.com tells us: “These rests were originally designed by a Benchrest shooter and refined by a member of the U.S F-Class Open Rifle Team. The rests have been thoroughly tested and proven to be reliable and capable of quick and accurate adjustments during string shooting.”
Bald Eagle Shooting Rests with Windage System ON SALE
BE1004 – Triangle, Aluminum, Reg. $425.00 — SALE $215.00
BE1005 – Slingshot, Aluminum, Reg. $425.00 — SALE $215.00
BE1006 – Slingshot, Cast Iron, Reg. $475.00 — SALE $235.00
Bald Eagle Shooting Rests without Windage System ON SALE
BE1128 – Triangle, Aluminum, Reg. $375.00 — SALE $179.95
BE1130 – Slingshot, Cast Iron, Reg. $399.95 — SALE $179.95
BE1129 – Slingshot, Aluminum, Reg. $375.00 — SALE $179.95
Along with offering super deals on front rests, Bullets.com has also slashed prices on its front and rear sand bags. Front Bags are marked dow to $27.50, while Rear Bags are on sale from $52.50 – $64.50. Large-diameter F-Class rest feet are also on sale currently. Get more details at Bullets.com.
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