Something interesting took place in St. Louis, Missouri this weekend — F-Bench competitors shot next to Sling, F-TR, and F-Open prone shooters and all had fun. We like events that bring shooters together from multiple disciplines, and we like matches that allow F-Class folks to shoot from the Bench for a change. (We’d love to see a 300-yard match that allows short-range PPC and 30BR shooters to compete side-by-side with F-Class shooters — the more the merrier.)
The 2016 Sierra Cup Match took place at the Bench Rest Rifle Club (BRRC) of St. Louis on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Some 57 shooters braved some chilly weather to compete at 600 yards. Competitor Jim K. (aka 500Stroker in our Forum) said this was “another great match” despite challenging conditions: “It was freezin’ cold, with major switching winds, but I loved every minute. Congrats to all the winners — they earned every point at this match.”
2016 Sierra Cup Winners
F-Open — Tony Francik
F-TR — Drew Rutherford
F-Bench — Neil Greenwell
Sling — Jeff Lindblom
New, Experimental Sierra Projectiles Perform Great
Two Sierra staffers competed this year, shooting prototype Sierra bullets in the final stages of testing. Congrats to Sierra’s Tommy Todd who took Second Place in F-TR class, and to Sierra’s Mark Walker who finished third in F-Open. That bodes well for the new, experimental Sierra bullets. Based on Tommy’s and Mark’s results, the new Sierra bullets appear to be very accurate indeed.
Forum member Drew R. (aka SkiUtah2) drove all the way from North Dakota to attend the Sierra Cup:
“This was my first time at BRRC and it was as anticipated — a great place to shoot. I met many gracious and talented shooters. I love getting to try new ranges and meeting people from the AccurateShooter Forum. It’s fair to say that even the guy from North Dakota was chilled when we started on Saturday. The warm welcome helped take the edge off.
Organizing a match of this caliber takes a lot of work even with an army of people behind the scenes, and without a core group herding the cats it doesn’t run well as this one did. Thanks Brett, Joe, and everyone who made this match run so smoothly. Coordinating with sling, bench, F-TR and F-Open shooters’ needs must have been remarkably challenging and you made it look effortless.
It was a fun time. I can highly recommend this range and this match to everyone wanting an enjoyable and memorable experience. Conditions on Saturday were definitely not a trigger-pulling contest, and (for me) that adds to the fun. The amenities are top tier. Many of the ranges I shoot at do not even have running water, much less showers onsite.
Thanks to Sierra for the sponsorship and very generous prize table. And thanks for the award waiving my entry fee as the ‘Long Distance Shooter’ for my trek. That was classy and completely unexpected.” — Drew R.
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The NRA has released new, updated versions of Competition Rules, with changes that have been adopted for 2016. There are quite a few minor changes affecting rifle competitors in High Power, Service Rifle, Prone AR Platform Rifle, F-Class, and Smallbore Disciplines. There are also new rules for matches with Electronic Targets.
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!
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.
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.
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Guest Article By Michelle Gallagher, Berger Bullets
Let’s face it. In the world of firearms, there is something for everyone. Do you like to compete? Are you a hunter? Are you more of a shotgun shooter or rifle shooter? Do you enjoy running around between stages of a timed course, or does the thought of shooting one-hole groups appeal to you more? Even though many of us shoot several different firearms and disciplines, chances are very good that we all have a favorite. Are we spreading ourselves too thin by shooting different disciplines, or is it actually beneficial? I have found that participating in multiple disciplines can actually improve your performance. Every style of shooting is different; therefore, they each develop different skills that benefit each other.
How can cross-training in other disciplines help you? For example, I am most familiar with long-range prone shooting, so let’s start there. To be a successful long-range shooter, you must have a stable position, accurate ammunition, and good wind-reading skills. You can improve all of these areas through time and effort, but there are other ways to improve more efficiently. Spend some time practicing smallbore. Smallbore rifles and targets are much less forgiving when it comes to position and shot execution. Long-range targets are very large, so you can get away with accepting less than perfect shots. Shooting smallbore will make you focus more on shooting perfectly center shots every time. Another way to do this with your High Power rifle is to shoot on reduced targets at long ranges. This will also force you to accept nothing less than perfect. Shoot at an F-Class target with your iron sights. At 1000 yards, the X-Ring on a long range target is 10 inches; it is 5 inches on an F-Class target. Because of this, you will have to focus harder on sight alignment to hit a center shot. When you go back to the conventional target, you will be amazed at how large the ten ring looks.
Also, most prone rifles can be fitted with a bipod. Put a bipod and scope on your rifle, and shoot F-TR. Shooting with a scope and bipod eliminates position and eyesight factors, and will allow you to concentrate on learning how to more accurately read the wind. The smaller target will force you to be more aggressive on your wind calls. It will also help encourage you to use better loading techniques. Nothing is more frustrating than making a correct wind call on that tiny target, only to lose the point out the top or bottom due to inferior ammunition. If you put in the effort to shoot good scores on the F-Class target, you will be amazed how much easier the long-range target looks when you return to your sling and iron sights. By the same token, F-Class shooters sometimes prefer to shoot fast and chase the spotter. Shooting prone can help teach patience in choosing a wind condition to shoot in, and waiting for that condition to return if it changes.
Benchrest shooters are arguably among the most knowledgeable about reloading. If you want to learn better techniques about loading ammunition, you might want to spend some time at benchrest matches. You might not be in contention to win, but you will certainly learn a lot about reloading and gun handling. Shooting F-Open can also teach you these skills, as it is closely related to benchrest. Benchrest shooters may learn new wind-reading techniques by shooting mid- or long-range F-Class matches.
Position shooters can also improve their skills by shooting different disciplines. High Power Across-the-Course shooters benefit from shooting smallbore and air rifle. Again, these targets are very small, which will encourage competitors to be more critical of their shot placement. Hunters may benefit from shooting silhouette matches, which will give them practice when shooting standing with a scoped rifle. Tactical matches may also be good, as tactical matches involve improvising shots from various positions and distances. [Editor: Many tactical matches also involve hiking or moving from position to position — this can motivate a shooter to maintain a good level of general fitness.]
These are just a few ways that you can benefit from branching out into other shooting disciplines. Talk to the other shooters. There is a wealth of knowledge in every discipline, and the other shooters will be more than happy to share what they have learned. Try something new. You may be surprised what you get out of it. You will certainly learn new skills and improve the ones you already have. You might develop a deeper appreciation for the discipline you started off with, or you may just discover a new passion.
This article originally appeared in the Berger Bulletin. The Berger Bulletin blog contains the latest info on Berger products, along with informative articles on target shooting and hunting.
Article Find by EdLongrange.
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Are you trying to decide what components to use for your next F-Class build, or are you looking to upgrade your current rig? Wonder what the “big dogs” in the sport have selected as their hardware? Here’s what United States F-Open team members are using. The most popular chambering is the .284 Winchester, followed by the 7mm Walker (a 40° .284 Winchester Improved). Kelbly and BAT actions are the most popular, and nearly all team members are using cut-rifled barrels. A wide variety of stocks are used, with PR&T holding a slight edge over second-place McMillan.
Most shooters know Carl Bernosky as a 10-time National High Power Rifle champion. But you may not realize that Carl is also a very talented stock-maker and rifle-builder. Carl crafts a wide variety of wood and wood laminate stocks for competition as well as hunting. He also crafts many stocks for Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks.
Master Class Low-Profile F-Open Stock
Here is a new Master Class Low-Profile F-Open Stock crafted by Carl Bernosky. It is made from a Cherry/Maple wood laminate. This design features a railed fore-end along with a flat, parallel toe for improved tracking and stability on the bags. The front section of the fore-arm has a low profile. This allows the barrel bore axis to ride lower. That helps reduce hop and helps the gun recoil straight back. For more information on this low-profile F-Open stock design, visit Carl Bernosky’s Facebook Page and MasterClassStocks.com.
Note that the stock maintains full depth under the action and quite a few inches forward of the action. This smart design feature is very important. We have seen other low-profile stock designs that can flex or “hinge” forward of the action because there’s not enough wood material there. In fact, the only part of the stock that needs a cut-down profile is the front 10″ or so, where the stock actually rides the front bag.
This particular stock features a “pop-off” magnetic cheekpiece, as well as a buttplate that adjusts for Length of Pull (LOP) via spacers. The action is by Pierce Engineering. This and other Master Class Stock designs can be customized with other features on request.
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Do you shoot with a SEB joystick-equipped bipod, or are you considering acquiring a “Joy-Pod” for your F-TR rifle? Then you should read this article. Here Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, the inventor and builder of the SEB joystick bipod, offers tips on shooting with this impressive piece of engineering. Seb explains some techniques that can help with tracking and getting back on target. You can ask SEB questions about his Joy-Pod in this Shooter’s Forum Thread.
Joy-Pod Shooting Tipsby Seb Lambang
1. Be sure that the rear bag is settled before starting to shoot. Tap your stock into the bag. Then move your rifle back and forth, while checking your reticle. If it tracks straight, vertically perfect, and comes back to the original point of aim, it’s fine. If not, re-adjust.
2. If you use the Pod-Pad, be sure it is fully settled before starting to shoot. Tap the top where the feet rides on using your palm — you wan to create a flat top. To be sure the Pod-Pad does not move or slide, remove any gravel or pebbles under the pad — these can act as roller bearings.
3. Be sure your shooting mat is NOT springy or spongy. This is very important. Use a proper mat, or cut it if possible so your rear bag rests directly on the ground. Use a heavy rear bag. You can use a sand-filled doughnut (not a rigid spacer) to stabilize the bag on uneven ground. These doughnuts are relatively inexpensive and really work.
4. Be sure your whole body position is correct, so your shoulder is square. “Follow” the recoil with your shoulder, don’t push “against” it. Don’t move too much. Don’t make unimportant movements during your shooting string. Always be as consistent as you can in all things — how you hold the rifle, even how you breathe before taking the shot.
This young lady shooter is using a first generation Joy-Pod. The newer versions have flat, ski-like feet.
5. Be sure your rifle and rear bag are aligned. You want the slot between the ears of the bag perfectly aligned with your barrel. (You can use a yardstick or a piece of string to help with the alignment).
6. Use a heavy rear bag. The heavier and the more stable, the better.
7. It does not matter (from my own experience) whether you light-hold the joystick or leave the joystick in the air when you shoot (see Darrell Buell video — he shoots “hands off”). I believe the bullet already exits the muzzle before the joystick moves in your fingers. I lightly hold the joystick myself, just as I would hold a billiard stick.
Watch Darrell Buell shooting his .375 CheyTac equipped with a counter-balanced Joy-Pod. Note how the gun comes straight back, and how Darrell can release the joystick before breaking the shot.
SUMMARY — When It All Comes Together
If everything is set up right, and done correctly, your rifle will track beautifully straight and your reticle will come back or very close to the original point of aim, every time. If you have to change the Joy-Pod, rear bag, or your body position after a shot, there could still be something wrong with your set-up, alignment, or body position. When everything is right, you can also see your own score in the scope after every shot you make (after initial recoil). You also should not have to change the bipod’s setting, the height, the cant etc., at all. You only need to adjust for the current condition with the joystick, the joystick will do it all. That’s why we call our bipod the JOY-Pod.
SEB JOY-POD Joystick Bipod, and POD-PAD
Weighing in at just 18 ounces (510 grams), the Gen 2 Joy-Pod is unlike any other bipod on the market. Designed specifically for weight-restricted shooting classes, the Joy-Pod offers smooth and precise joystick-controlled aiming. The Gen 2 model offers up to 14 degrees of cant and an improved design that functions with up to 50 pounds of rifle weight. Each Joy-Pod comes with a Weaver rail adapter. The optional Pod-Pad accessory is designed expressly for the Joy-Pod. It works filled or unfilled with the Joy-Pod’s sleds to bring you back to your shooting position easily. CLICK HERE for more information, or visit SebRests.com.
.308 Win Tactical Rifle fitted with Joy-Pod on Pod-Pad. CLICK HERE for Video.
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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 week 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.
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.
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.)
Our British friend Vince Bottomley has field-tested the brand new Vortex 15-60x52mm “Golden Eagle” riflescope. We first viewed this scope at SHOT Show and were impressed. Now Vince, in a Target Shooter Magazine review, has confirmed that that the scope works great in the real world. It has good glass, excellent tracking, and the image stays sharp even at full magnification. Vince says this 15-60X Vortex will give other high-magnification scopes a run for their money. In fact the Vortex Golden Eagle may be the new Performance-for-Price leader in the category. Price in the USA will be $1500.00.
Vince writes: “The Vortex deserves to line up alongside the competition – namely the March 10-60, the Nightforce 15-55 and the Leupold 7-42. The price is remarkable at [$1500.00 in the USA, under £1500 in the UK]. If you are contemplating the purchase of a scope in this magnification range, the Vortex must be on your shopping list.” This new Vortex features ED glass, and weighs 29 ounces, just one ounce more than the 15-55X Nightforce Comp. Two reticles are available — a Fine Cross-Hair (FCH), and the Vortex ECR-1 reticle with MOA-based windage and elevation hold lines. Turrets have 1/8 MOA clicks.
Precision of Clicks: Does one MOA (i.e. eight 1/8 MOA clicks) on the Golden Eagle’s turret translate to one MOA on the target? Vince fired one shot on target then wound on 20 MOA of elevation and fired another. Vince reports: “The shot-holes should be 20.94″ (20 x 1.047″) inches apart. They actually measured 21.5 inches — an excellent result. I don’t think I’ve ever had a scope better this.”
Elevation Travel: F-TR shooters using the .308 Win will need about 30 MOA to get from a 100-yard zero to 1000 yards. Vince maxed out the Golden Eagle with roughly 22 MOA of “up” elevation. He concluded that “a +20 MOA scope-rail is a ‘must’ if you’re intending to shoot out to 1000 yards. These days, almost everyone uses a 20 MOA scope rail anyway.”
Tracking Test: Vince did a “box test” running the Vortex to the limits of elevation and windage and then back again to verify that the scope returned to the starting zero. Vince observed that the scope tracked great, “with the first and last shots over-lapping. No problem there.”
Glass Sharpness and Clarity: Vince put the the Golden Eagle alongside a 10-60 March, with both scopes mounted on F-TR rifles. Vince was impressed by the optics quality of the Vortex — it held its own vs. the “superb” March: “Firstly, we viewed the target on 40 power, the magnification which seems most popular with F-Class shooters. Both scopes registered bright, crisp images — no difference between the two. I know the March will stay sharp at maximum magnification but will the Golden Eagle? Yes! No loss of crispness in the image at 60X.”
This video includes interviews with Walt Berger and tube-gun builder Gary Elesio. This is our final Berger SW Nationals video for 2016, so enjoy the highlights from Ben Avery — see you next year.
The 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals are now history. This was a great match, with an incredible level of talent. There were numerous “big names” on the line, including reigning F-Open World Champion Kenny Adams, 10-time National High Power Champion Carl Bernosky, past National Long-range Champion John Whidden, current National Mid- and Long-Range F-TR Champion Bryan Litz, and Derek Rodgers, who won the F-TR division at last year’s SW Nationals. With a strong performance this week, Derek topped the F-TR field again, securing his second straight SW Nationals F-TR title.
Top Five Shooters by Class
F-TR Top Five
F-Open Top Five
Sling Division Top Five
Danny J. Biggs
In team competition, the Michigan F-TR Team scored a narrow victory over tough competition from the USA F-TR Team and the X-Men. In the F-Open Division, Team Lapua-Brux shot superbly at 1000 yards to capture the Aggregate title, finishing ahead of Team Grizzly and Team Berger. The Ethnic Fringe Team from the UK had strong performances in the Sling Division Team events.
With his 2016 victory, Derek Rodgers has secured back-to-back F-TR titles at the Berger Southwest Nationals. He says he likes his new McMillan F-TR stock. View yesterday’s feature video for a revealing interview with Derek. In that video, Derek discusses the best bullet and powder choices for F-TR.
Members of the winning Lapua-Brux F-Open team were all smiles. They deserved to be proud — they set a new SWN record in the 1000-yard team match. Left to right: Bob Sebold, Pat Scully, Erik Cortina, Steve Harp.
Here is F-Open Winner John Myers of Texas, along with Berger’s F-Open Perpetual Trophy. John is interviewed in today’s video, linked at the top of this story. John’s F-Open rifle is chambered for the 7mm Walker, a .284 Win Improved similar to the .284 Shehane.
Sling Division (Palma rifle) winner Patrick McCann is congratulated by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics. Pat has recently returned to competitive shooting after a lengthy hiatus. Pat’s a great competitor who has won the National XTC Championships Twice. Nancy Tompkins lead the “Any Rifle” Sling category. As Forum member Rheurer observed: “No intro needed for the nicest person in the sport.”
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Our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK has written an excellent article for Target Shooter Magazine. Vince offers “solid-gold” advice for new F-TR and F-Open shooters. Vince reviews the cartridge options, and offers suggestions for a shooter’s first (and hopefully affordable) F-Class rifle. Vince also reviews various bipod choices for F-TR and discusses optics options (from $300 to $3000).
F-Class shooting (both F-Open and F-TR) is one of the fastest-growing forms of rifle competition. Each season many new shooters hit the line and attendance at the big matches increases every year. But if you’re new to the game, you may ask “Where can I shoot an F-Class match?”. Well, Forum member Rod V. (aka Nodak7mm) has compiled a useful list of 112 ranges throughout the USA where F-Class matches are held. With venues from Alabama to Wyoming — you should find an F-Class program not too far from home. The list, in Excel spreadsheet format, provides range locations and weblinks (where available). Click the link below to download the F-Class Range List (.xls file):
Note — this list, now in its 19th Revision, is augmented regularly, but info is still being gathered. No claim is made that the list is comprehensive. But it still covers the the lion’s share of the important F-Class venues nationwide. If you know of a range that should be added to the list, please post the location on our F-Class Range List Forum thread. Rod will update the list as new range info is received. Rod writes: “Range information is wanted and welcomed. I would like your help on collecting specific info on Clubs/Ranges where known F-Class matches are held.” Here’s a partial sample from Rod’s list:
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Our friend Erik Cortina told us that Jim Borden of Borden Accuracy has developed a new “wide-body” action, the Borden BRMXD. Erik is building a rifle around this action to shoot at the 2016 Berger SW Nationals. The new BRMXD is Borden’s first venture into action bodies larger than 1.350″ in diameter. The round BRMXD action measures a stout 1.470″ in diameter and comes standard with bottom recoil lug. If the customer prefers, Border can deliver the action with a conventional recoil lug on the front. We like the looks of Borden’s new BRMXD, and we bet this new stainless action will be a smooth runner.
Borden BRM-XD Action Specifications:
• Action: BRM-XD
• Length: 8-1/8″
• Outside Diameter: 1.470″
• Port Length: Single Port: 2.750″
— Dual Port w/ Mini Port for BR / PPC: 2.750″ Loading & 1.8″ Eject Port
— Dual Port w/ x47 Family Port: 2.750″ Loading & 1.9″ Eject Port
— Dual Port w/ .284 Family Port: 2.750″ Loading & 2.4″ Eject Port
• Weight: 42.6 oz for Single Port
• Price: $1325.00 with bottom lug for a single port – $1400.00 for a dual port + shipping
• Price: $1250.00 for no lug (Glue-In Only)
Borden Accuracy will also offer a 0.215″ spacer for shooters who wish to use their current PANDA barrels with a new BRMXD action. This hardened steel spacer will cost $50.00 (introductory price).
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Here’s a handy training option for F-Class shooters. Forum member SleepyGator is an F-Class competitor, but it’s not convenient for him to shoot at long ranges close to home. Accordingly, he wanted some “reduced-distance” targets he could use at 300 yards for practice. There is an official reduced-distanced standard for 300-yard F-Class matches. This utilizes the NRA No. MR-63FC – F-Class Target Center which is pasted over the MR-63 target. It provides a 1.42″ X-Ring, 2.85″ 10-Ring, and 5.85″ Nine-Ring. (The dimensions of F-Class targets are found in the NRA High Power Rules, Sec. 22, part 4, page 70 — see sample below.)
To duplicate the 300-yard target, SleepyGator has prepared a printable version of the MR-63FC Target Center, along with a pair of training targets with two bulls and five bulls. The two-bull and five-bull targets mirror the scoring rings on the MR-63FC, but they display only the innermost three rings and two rings respectively. All three targets are Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files that can be easily printed. You may need to adjust the scale (sizing) on your printer to get the dimensions exactly correct. As noted above, when printed, the 10-Ring on all three targets should measure 2.85″. This should provide some handy practice targets you can use between matches. Thanks to SleepyGator for providing these targets. You can download all three as a .Zip archive. After downloading the .Zip file, just click on the .Zip archive to extract the individual targets.
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.
Have Fun with Rifles and Equipment You Probably Already Have….
Forum member Rod Vigstol (aka Nodak7mm) has written a great Introduction to F-Class for shooters getting started in this rewarding discipline. Rod’s article, which originally appeared in the Rifleman’s Journal Blog, covers F-Class basics and addresses concerns that “newbies” may have when trying a new shooting sport. Rod stresses that most guys who own a varmint-hunting or tactical rig likely have nearly all the gear they need to give F-Class competition a try.
Rod explains: “If you’re reading this, you have more than just a general interest in the shooting sports and in the awesome rifles that shoot tiny groups at insane distances. You probably even have friends that enjoy shooting as much as you do. The quandary you may find yourself in is your friends haven’t quite jumped into it head-first like you have and they haven’t spent a lot of money and time obtaining the equipment you have to go shoot these matches. But you know what? Your prairie-dog shooting buddy or coyote-hunter friend can attend these matches and shoot alongside with you. He or she more than likely already has the basic equipment needed to shoot a match.” Most varmint shooters already have a suitable, accurate rifle and the following equipment:
• A variable-power scope in the 4.5-14x range or higher.
• A front bipod like the trusty old Harris 9″-13″, or maybe even a basic pedestal front rest.
• A rear sand-bag or similar sand-sock to rest the butt stock.
• A basic shooting mat from Midway or at least a piece of carpet or canvas to lay on.
Rod also provides a handy checklist of items to bring to the range. These include: Canvas or carpet strip (to set under bipod), Notebook, Kitchen Timer, Cleaning Rod, Camp Chair, Elbow Pads, Shooting Hat, and Open Bolt Indicator (OBI). Along with rifle, bipod (or front rest), rear bag, and ammo, that’s pretty much all you need.
Rod encourages all shooters to give F-Class a try — even novices. Rod explains: “We have all been rookies, newbies, new kids on the block or whatever. So we all have a good idea of what may be going on in your mind, the questions and concerns you may have. I’m telling you this sport is full of fantastic people who deep down find it far more fulfilling to help a new shooter get started than running a clean target. You just have to take the first step to get involved.”
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I am very sad to announce that a good friend (and a brilliant shooter) Jerry Tierney, has passed away at age 77. I have worked on this site for 11 years, and Jerry was one of the most helpful and talented men I’ve met along the way. Though he won many championships, Jerry was a modest man who always was there to help other shooters. I will really miss him. AccurateShooter.com owes a debt of gratitude to Jerry. With his technical expertise, he helped me greatly with my understanding of rifle accuracy. Jerry was small in stature, but big in talent. Rest in Peace Jerry. We’ll miss your smarts, your good humor, and your love for the sport. — Paul McM, Editor in Chief.
Jerry Tierney shot competitively for nearly 50 years and won multiple championships in various rifle disciplines. Fellow shooter Donovan Moran noted: “Jerry was the leading member of the NBRSA ‘Long Range Hall of Fame’ — well deserved! He was a very friendly man, a mentor to the sport, and one of the best Long Range competition shooters there’s ever been.”
With great natural talent and the mind of a scientist, Jerry could win events in ways not thought possible. He is certainly the only man I know who won a Benchrest Championship shooting a prone-type tube gun. He pioneered the .284 Win as an F-Open weapon. A self-declared “iron-sight prone guy”, he competed for many seasons in the full-bore and Palma disciplines, but in the last decade he turned his attention to 600-yard and 1000-yard benchrest and F-Class. He won multiple NBRSA Nationals, due in no small part to superb wind-doping skills and mastery of the “mental game”.
A former computer engineer with IBM, Jerry was an extremely bright guy who took a systematic approach to the sport. He made decisions based on hard data. He did things many shooters once considered radical (such as cleaning his barrels infrequently), but he always had the data to back up his methods. He was a forward thinker who wasn’t afraid to depart from conventional wisdom if he found a better way to do things. For me, Jerry Tierney was an important mentor — he showed me how the “state of the art” could be pushed to higher levels with careful experimentation and a willingness to try new things.
We did a lengthy interview with Jerry way back in 2005, when Jerry won the NBRSA 1000-yard Nationals. That performance helped proved the worth of the .284 Win in 1K competition, a cartridge that now is a leading choice for F-Open. Read this interview carefully — even ten years later, Jerry offers many nuggets of advice that can help with your reloading and shooting:
Danny Biggs Remembers Jerry Tierney
Past National F-Class Champion Danny Biggs wrote: “Our long-time shooting friend, Jerry Tierney, left the range last night. Jerry was 77 years old, and was overtaken by bad health over the past year…cancer and other ailments. An accomplished Palma Rifle shooter, his home range was the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center, near Sacramento, CA, and, just 16 miles from his front door, outside Plymouth, CA.
Jerry was a frequent contributor to [Rifle Blogs] in past years. In particular, about 7 years ago, he published considerable results of his testing of the Winchester .284 cartridge. This testing convinced several of us to transition from the venerable 6.5-284 to the straight .284 for both long range ‘sling’ and F-Class Open. Jerry’s testing was primarily in the realm of F-Open; wherein, he fell ‘in cahoots’ with a young F-Open shooter, Charles Ballard, who set an F-Class Open National record that stood for many years. (By the way, Incahoots is the name of Jerry’s favorite restaurant in Plymouth, CA, near his home; where I’ve enjoyed many an evening meal with him.)
Many others have contributed to the legacy of the Winchester .284… but, if you happen to be shooting a .284 in F-Open today, you might just give a thought to Jerry at your next trigger-pull. More than likely, you are shooting some of his data.” — Danny Biggs
Forum Member Killshot added:
“I only new Jerry for a few years, as I began shooting F-Class in 2010 — but he always answered my questions, helped me with my first Wildcat chambering and I never, ever, saw or heard of him ‘Big Timing’ anyone. I’ll miss his gap-toothed grin, like he knew something you didn’t. (and probably did!)
We’re better off for knowing him and worse off for not having him around any longer. So, appreciate your friendships and shoot small… Jerry would.”
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What’s wrong (or right?) with this picture? Does the “F” in F-class stand for “Fauna”? Look carefully at this Bisley Range photo taken by Australian R. Hurley while looking downrange through his March 8-80X scope. The photo was taken earlier this year at the Bisley National Shooting Centre in the UK.
The Story Behind the Photo
British shooter T. Stewart reports: “I was there when this photos was taken. All I can say was that Mr. Hurley was firmly reminded that should said deer accidentally jump in front of his bullet … he would spend five years “At Her Majesty’s Pleasure”. That morning we had five deer moving across the targets, literally blocking the V-Bull. Since we were on the 900-yard Firing Point, and elevated for such, obviously the bullet would pass well above them. But they do NOT move or flinch at the noise or passing bullets since they are not hunted on the Bisley Ranges. Earlier this year we saw a herd of 20 or so deer grazing slowly across the Range.”
More Fauna Findings…
Apparently Bisley is not the only place were “the deer and the antelope play”. In Canada, on the Connaught Ranges near Ottawa, Ontario, shooters often encounter a variety of wildlife. William McDonald from Ontario says: “Animals are a common sight on the Range. Along with deer we see geese, turkeys, and coyotes on a daily basis.”
Likewise, E. Goodacre from Queensland, Australia often sees ‘Roos on his home range: “I shoot at Ripley, Australia, and shooting is regularly interrupted by kangaroos. Our last silhouette match was delayed by an hour while 30 ‘Roos dawdled across — silly buggers!”
R. Hurley wasn’t the first fellow to view deer through his F-Class rifle’s scope. After seeing Hurley’s photo from Bisley, B. Weeks posted this image, saying: “Been there, done that!”
The movie “The Patriot” gave us the phrase “Aim small, miss small”. While that’s a good mantra, aiming strategies for long-range competition are a bit more complicated, as this article explains…
In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Front (first) Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.
In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:
Aiming Methods for F-Class (and Long-Range) Shooting — by Monte Milanuk
F-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of Front (first) focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.
Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.
Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.
Others use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.
Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte
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Benchrest Hall-of-Famer Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez has teamed up with the Shurley Brothers on a new ARK series of wood laminate competition stocks. Speedy has combined the best features of various popular F-Class and Long-range Benchrest stocks into new designs to be produced by Shurley Brothers Custom in Austin, Texas. These stocks should be very straight and geometrically correct as they will be crafted on the Shurley Brothers’ new CNC mills. These stocks will be made with new-generation precision technology, not old school duplicating machines.
Initially two models will be offered: the “Hand of God” (HOG) and the “Spear of Destiny” (SOD). Both are designed for multiple shooting disciplines, so they should work well both for benchrest and for prone F-Open shooting. (FWIW, John Myers used a Speedy-crafted stock to win the 2015 Mid-Range National Championship). The forearm is 76mm (2.99″) to comply with F-Open limits. A wide variety of options will be available including adjustable Cheek Piece, adjustable length of pull, carbon fiber inserts, and exotic woods.
We like many aspects of the new stocks. First, the front of the stock is low profile, placing the barrel close to the bags for better tracking (and less hop). However, a deeper (top to bottom) section extends forward of the action — this is important. We have seen some low-profile stocks that suffer from forearm flex/hinging because they don’t leave enough wood under the action area. Speedy’s design eliminates this problem. Another nice feature of this stock is the subtle curve from the back of the action to the buttpad mount. Speedy calls this the “scooped cheek”. This allows the “driver” to shoot without face contact if he prefers, but it also allows for a higher buttpad position — which is useful when shooting heavy recoiling chamberings such as the .300 WSM.
Note how the comb area has a curve to provide clearance. For those shooters who prefer to have face contact on the gun, an adjustable Cheek Piece is offered.
Shurley Brothers Custom says these new ARK stocks are fully customizable for competition shooters with optional carbon fiber, adjustable R.A.D. systems, and many other features. The stocks, uninletted, will run $750.00. CNC-inletting (for action of your choice) is an additional $100.00. Here are some of the many available options:
— Pillar Bed and Inlet: $425.00
— Custom Wood Upgrade (Price Dependent On Wood): $100.00 – $500.00
— Full-length Carbon Fiber Stringers: $200.00
— Cheek Piece Addition: $100.00
— Cooling Ports (Buick Vents): $60.00
— R.A.D. System #2A: $335.00 (plus $100.00 to install)
— 3-Way Butt Plate: Call for Price
— Adjustable Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: Call for Price
— Install Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: $150.00
— Stock Finish & Clear Coat: $350.00
— Carbon Fiber Forearm Tunnel: $300.00
The underside of the forearm is relieved in the center, leaving twin outboard rails. This helps stabilize the rifle and aids tracking. (A conventional, flat forearm without rails tends to rock if there is any hump in the middle of the sandbag). Between the rails is a carbon-fiber stiffening insert.
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