September 3rd, 2021

Weakside Bolt Placement — When and Why It Works

left port McMillan Rifle

Most bolt-action rifle shooters work the bolt with their trigger-pulling hand. This is because most rifles sold to right-handed shooters come with right-side bolts, while “lefty” rifles come with left-side bolts. This “standard” configuration requires the shooter to take his dominant, trigger-pulling hand off the stock to cycle the bolt, then re-position his hand on the stock, and “re-claim” the trigger. Often the shooter must lift or move his head to work the bolt, and that also requires him to re-establish his cheek weld after each and every shot. Not good.

This really doesn’t make much sense for precision shooting with fore-end support*. There is a better way. If you leave your trigger hand in position and work the bolt (and feed rounds) with the opposite hand, then you don’t need to shift grip and head position with each shot. All this requires is a weakside-placed bolt, i.e. a left bolt for a right-handed shooter or a right bolt for a left-handed shooter. The video below shows a “Lefty” working a right bolt. Note how efficient this is:

As our friend Boyd Allen explains: “If you think about it, if you are going to work with a factory action where your options are left bolt and left port or right bolt and right port, and you are building a rifle that will only be shot from a rest, using the left/left for a RH shooter or using a right/right for a LH shooter works better than the conventional configuration”.

Shoot Like a Champ and Work the Bolt with Your Weakside Hand
Derek Rodgers, the current F-TR World Champion and the only person to have won BOTH F-Open and F-TR U.S. National Championships plus the King of 2 Miles Match, runs this kind of “opposite” bolt set-up. Yep, Derek shoots right-handed with a left bolt. Though Derek is a right-hander, he shoots with a Left Bolt/Left Port (LBLP) action. He pulls the trigger with his right index finger, while working the left-side bolt with his left (weakside) hand. This allows him to stay in position, and maintain his cheekweld. He places his right hand on the grip, while manipulating the bolt (and feeding rounds) with his non-trigger-pulling hand.

Recent F-TR World Champion and King of 2 Miles Derek Rodgers
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

This is the rifle with which Derek won the 2013 F-TR National Championship.
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

*For true standing, off-hand shooting (whether in competition or on a hunt), a conventional strongside bolt placement makes sense, since the non-dominant arm must support the front of the rifle all the time. When shooting from bipod or rest, it’s a different story.

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September 2nd, 2021

F-Class Wow Factor — Borden Action, Cerus Stock, Brux Barrel

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle
Note the owner’s name, “S. Limbourne” was engraved on the bolt release (and trigger guard, see below).

Competition rifles don’t need to be beautiful, as long as they shoot. But who doesn’t like a spectacular figured-wood stock, particularly when it is combined with a superb custom action and a tack-driving barrel. This custom .284 Winchester F-Class Open division rig was crafted by gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez for competitive shooter Scott Limbourne. The handsome Bacote wood stock comes from Cerus Rifleworks, while the action is a polished Borden RBRP BRMXD. Two Brux 1:9″-twist barrels were chambered for the project, both finished at 32″. The stock is also fitted with a R.A.D. Recoil System. This rig has top-of-the-line hardware all around.

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

Action: Borden BRMXD – Polished
Rail: 20 MOA Polished
Chambering: .284 Winchester
Trigger: Jewell BR – Blueprinted
Barrel: (2x) Brux 32″ 1:9″ Twist
Stock: Cerus F-Open in Exhibition Grade Bacote
Recoil System: R.A.D. System
Extras: Carbon Fiber Tunnel Plate, Custom Engraving Work on Action, Trigger Guard, and Bolt Release.

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

You’ll find other impressive rigs on Speedy’s Facebook Page. If you’d like a superb custom rifle like this, call Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez at 972-672-6630, or send email to: speedy.godzilla [at] msn.com.

SPEEDY GONZALEZ
9023 HUEBNER RD. STE 102
SAN ANTONIO, TX 78240

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July 31st, 2021

Video Showcase: Wisdom from Keith Glasscock

Keith Glasscock winning wind youtube channel f-Class f-Open ES SD loading

Keith Glasscock is one of America’s greatest F-Class shooters, as well as a highly respected wind coach. A High Master, Keith finished second overall at the 2021 NRA F-Class Long Range Championship in F-Open division. He also finished second at the 2020 Nationals, tied with F-Open winner Pat Scully on points, but with fewer Xs. And he took second also at the 2019 Nationals. His consistency is unrivaled, which means he definitely knows the secrets of long range wind calling and loading ultra-accurate ammo.

Keith has a popular YouTube Channel with new content every week. On Keith’s Winning in the Wind channel, Keith offers 60+ informative videos on a wide range of topics including wind reading, reloading, component selection, load development, and training. For today’s Video Showcase, we offer four of our favorite Keith Glasscock videos. Each video has important points that can benefit any competitive rifle shooter, whether you shoot in local 100-yard fun matches or compete at the National Level in F-Class, LR Benchrest, Palma, or High Power.

How to Find (and Fine-Tune) Seating Depth

This is Keith’s most popular video. Keith definitely knows how to maximize accuracy by finding the optimal seating depth for each particular barrel. He is achieving groups in the high Ones for three shots. That would be good for a short-range benchrest cartridge, but Keith is achieving that with a .284 Winchester which has much more recoil. If you shoot F-TR or F-Open or even PRS, you should watch this video.

How to Lower your ES/SD and Reduce Vertical at Long Range

This is Keith’s first video in a series on how to improve long range groups, precision, and accuracy by reducing velocity Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD). To achieve the lowest ES you need to look at multiple processes, including precision powder weighing, careful seating, brass annealing, and primer selection. Another factor is bullet selection. Not all bullets of the same nominal caliber and weight class have exactly the same bullet diameter or shape. Sometimes you can get better accuracy AND lower ES by trying a different brand of bullet. We have found bullet diameters, of the same stated caliber, can vary by up to .0008″ (eight ten-thousandths). Some barrels like the fatter bullets, while other barrels may favor the skinny bullets.

How to Find Bullet-to-Rifling Touch Point

Before you even start to load for a new rifle you need to know the point at which the bullet in a loaded round will first touch the rifling. (This will be a base to ogive measurement on your round). Beyond that point you are “in the lands”. If you load shorter than that base-to-ogive length you are “jumping” your bullets. Some cartridge/bullet combos typically shoot best in the lands, while with other bullets and cartridges, jumping is the way to go. Additionally, with some disciplines it is wise to jump your bullets since you may have to unload a chambered round while on the firing line. In this video Keith shows a number of methods to determine “length to lands” with repeatable precision.

Field Test and Review of SEB Mini-X Coaxial Front Rest

While gear reviews are not the primary focus of Keith’s YouTube Channel, Keith does talk about products he likes and uses. In this video. Keith reviews the SEB Mini-X, the newest coaxial tripod rest from SEB Rests. The Mini-X offers fast, precise windage and elevation adjustment with the joystick control. The unit is much easier to pack and transport than a large, heavy front rest such as a SEB NEO or Farley. The latest Mini-X also has upgraded foot controls that make it easier to level the rest on uneven ground. For more info, see our SEB Mini-X Report.

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July 6th, 2021

Advice for Long-Range Shooters — Six Tips from Bryan Litz

NRA F-Class F-TR F-Open Nationals National Championships Bryan Litz

Berger SW Nationals Bryan LitzThe 2021 NRA F-Class National Championships at Camp Atterbury, Indiana kick off soon. The Mid-Range F-Class Nationals run July 22-26, 2021, while the Long Range F-Class Nationals take place July 27-30, 2021. SEE Nat’l Matches INFO Handout.

For those headed to the Nationals, we are sharing some smart tips from a past F-Class Champion who is both a great shooter AND a ballistics wizard. In 2015, Bryan Litz 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 also great marksman along with being an actual rocket scientist!

Given his impressive track record in both F-Class and Palma (Fullbore) out to 1000 yards, 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”.

Bryan Litz won the 2015 F-TR Mid-Range and Long-Range Championships with this sleek rig:
NRA F-Class F-TR F-Open Nationals National Championships Bryan Litz

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.

Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals Ben Avery Bryan Litz
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.

NRA F-Class F-TR F-Open Nationals National Championships Bryan Litz

Photos by Steve Fiorenzo

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June 14th, 2021

V² Finale F-Class Tournament Concludes in Tennessee

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

The first Annual V² Finale, held this weekend in Tennessee, has concluded. This new-format match pitted F-Class competitors against each other in a bracket-style double elimination match. This was a very elite field, selected via a Points series. All targets were placed at 1000 yards, with a Euro-Style 5V target. In something unusual for an American F-Class match, ALL shooting was done via PAIR FIRING, with shooters going head-to-head with alternating shots, 15 per shooter in the brackets and then 10 per shooter in the final two-man showdowns for F-TR and F-Open divisions.

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

The competition was fierce but we have final results of this tough F-Class tournament. Congratulations to the V² Finale 2021 winners who earned fame, glory, and large cash pay-outs: Tracy Hogg (F-TR) and William (Bill) Kolodziej (F-Open). Additional top finishers are listed below, with links for FULL RESULTS below the table.


F-TR Winner – Tracy Hogg | F-Open Winner – Bill Kolodziej

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

F-TR Final Full Results | F-Open Final Full Results

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

The event, hosted at the modern Dead Zero Shooting Park in Tennessee, was sponsored by Vihtavuori and Vortex Optics. Along with helping to defray the range costs, these sponsors provided prizes to top shooters. In 2021 shooters qualified for the event through a nationwide points series, with 32 slots for F-Open and 32 slots for F-TR. The match organizers encourage F-Class competitors to shoot points series matches in the future, to qualify for next year’s event: “Earn some points so you can be part of V² Finale II in 2022.”

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

V² Points Series and Finale Info Packet | V² Facebook Page

Big Pay-Outs for Participants
The V² Finale was first and foremost a money match. This event offered the highest payout ever for F-Class competition. Cash awards are distributed to the top 8 shooters for each equipment category, as a percentage of the overall match fee pool. The actual amounts will depend on match fees and attendance. We don’t have final numbers yet but payouts for positions 1-8 in each class were estimated to be:

1st Place: $3840 (40%)
2nd Place: $1920 (20%)
3rd Place: $960 (10%)
4th Place: $450 (4.6%)

5th Place: $300 (3.125%)
6th Place: $300 (3.125%)
7th Place: $300 (3.125%)
8th Place: $300 (3.125%)

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee
Erik Cortina with Bryan Blake. Note the innovative, new spotting scope support Bryan crafted.

V2 finale f-class f-open f-tr match tennessee

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June 11th, 2021

V² Finale F-Class Tournament Underway in Tennesee

v2 f-tr f-open f-class shooting tournament finale point series tennessee dead zero shooting park

V² Finale Double Elimination Tournament at 1000 Yards
A new kind of F-Class Tournament is being held in Tennessee over the next three days. The V² (“V-Squared”) Finale, sponsored by Vihtavuori and Vortex Optics, is a double-elimination shooting match, conducted much like a basketball tournament. There are 32 competitor places each in F-Open Division and F-TR — for 64 places total. In each round there is “pair firing”. Two shooters compete head-to-head with three, 15-round strings, all at 1000 yards. The winner of each two-person match-up proceeds, while the loser goes into a loser’s bracket… so everyone has a second change to win some of the prizes. This event is about more than trophies and glory — it is also about winning big piles of cash — $28,000 in total.

V² Finale F-Open Bracket LIVE | V² Finale F-TR Bracket LIVE

64 shooters, who earned entry with points garnered in previous matches, have been invited to compete for $28,000 in prize monies. The V² Finale is held at the Dead Zero Shooting Park in Tennessee, an impressive, modern facility. The Dead Zero 1000-yard range is equipped with ShotMarker electronic targets. That means that scoring is quick, there is no waiting for targets to be marked, and, importantly, no pit duties for the competitors.

V² Points Series and Finale Info Packet | V² Facebook Page


This video, created last year explains the V² Finale Rules and Course of Fire.

The V² Finale itself is conducted over three (3) days. It’s a double-elimination tournament — this means that everybody has the opportunity to shoot at least two matchups. A loss in the primary bracket will seed you into the elimination bracket, where you will have the opportunity to continue on and potentially work your way back to shoot for the overall Championship.

The V² Finale is a pair-fire, best two of three format, with 15-shot strings (45 rounds max per person per bracket). If one shooter wins the first TWO strings, the third string is not fired. The idea behind this pair-firing is to have both competitors for each stage shooting at the exact same time, in the exact same conditions, on the exact same target. The only person you are competing against is the person next to you. The competitors who wins two out of three matches in the matchup will advance.

v2 f-tr f-open f-class shooting tournament finale point series tennessee dead zero shooting park

V² Finale Bracket Match Results

READ THIS!! You can scroll UP and Down with your mouse, and thereby see the Loser’s bracket for both F-Open and F-TR.
READ THIS!! You can use the BRACKET Pull-Down Menu (Upper Right) to select Winner’s and Loser’s Brackets, or choose Top 16 and Top 8.
READ THIS!! You can pull box to left to see more on the right side, using mouse (or finger on smartphone).
READ THIS!! The boxes below are live feeds from the Match Website. Click links below to view Bracket Results on FULL SCREEN.
READ THIS!! This is NOT a static image, it will change as results are filled in. You can come back to this page and see more results as the event progresses.

V² Finale F-Open Bracket LIVE | V² Finale F-TR Bracket LIVE

F-Open Event Results in Real Time — Use Mouse to Scroll!

F-TR Event Results in Real Time — Use Mouse to Scroll!

The V² Finale match, sponsored by Vihtavuori Powders and Vortex Optics, takes place June 11-13 at the Dead Zero Shooting Park in Tennessee. This is a limited-field event for the top 32 F-Open and 32 F-TR competitors who have accrued the most points for the 2020-2021 season. The match will be a double-elimination bracket system (e.g. NCAA March Madness) where shooters are matched up against a single opponent for each round. As opposed to a typical match where you shoot against the entire field, this type of competition allows for two shooters to go head to head pair-fire style, competing under the exact same conditions. No wind alibis. No relay roulette. No excuses. Keep advancing and you will find yourself in the finals where you’ll have a chance to win the prestige of being the best F-Open or F-TR shooter in the country plus some serious prize money and awards.

v2 f-tr f-open f-class shooting tournament finale point series tennessee dead zero shooting park
The V² Finale firing line on 6/11 at the Dead Zero Shooting Park.

Thanks to the generous support from Vihtavuori Powders and Vortex Optics, more than 85% of the entry fees are awarded back to the shooters in the form of cash prizes, awarded all the way down to 8th place for each category. The creators of the V² points series noted: “This type of reward for performance is one of the core reasons why we created the V² Finale and why you won’t find any prize tables.”

For more details see the V² Series Information Packet or visit the V² Series Facebook Page.

Vihtavouri Supports Innovative V² Finale Match Format
“Vihtavuori is honored to partner with Vortex Optics for the inaugural V2 F-Class Point Series Finale. We’re excited to be onsite and support the world’s best long range shooters who will compete in a match they designed themselves,” stated Geoff Esterline, Marketing Director for Capstone Precision Group.

v2 f-tr f-open f-class shooting tournament finale point series tennessee dead zero shooting park

Why Was the F-Class Points Series Created? (Official Statement)
Everyone in the F-Class world knows about their local, state and regional matches and many of those shooters attend the Southwest Nationals and F-Class National Championship each year. These matches are often challenging and feature some of the best shooters in the country at any given time. As great and exciting as those matches are, they have some key limitations – they don’t answer the question of consistency over peak performance. They allow for random chance to play a role in results, in the form of target service, conditions, or “relay roulette”, among other factors. Basically, they don’t allow for a true measure of shooter performance over time, and more specifically, in a true test of head-to-head competition. It was partly with this in mind that we created the F-Class Points Series to collect and award points with the ultimate goal of putting on a one-of-a-kind, limited-field, matchup-style event that will give competitors a format to prove that the best indicator of skill is reliable consistency, not peak performance. A points system will allow us to track consistent performance over the course of a yearlong FPS season, culminating in an invitation to join the limited field of the V² Finale for the top 64 qualifying competitors.

Map for Dead Zero Shooting Park

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May 30th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: More Pride & Joy Rifles from our Forum

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)?

Classic M1917 Enfield Action in Hand-Carved Maple Stock

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles wheelgun Ruger Revolver hunter

This impressive rifle features an “antique” 1917 Enfield action chambered for the .338 Win Magnum cartridge. The lovely Maple stock was hand-carved by Forum member Spitfire_ER. He tells us: “I found this piece of wood as a return at a lumber yard about [many] years ago. I asked the guy in the yard about it and he said it had been returned because it had too much figure for the job the customer was working on. First thing I thought was, ‘That would make a nice stock’.”

6mm 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.

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May 6th, 2021

Train for F-Class at 300 Yards with Reduced Size Targets

F-Class Target center NRA training reduced size
Ben Avery Match Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Here’s a handy training option for F-Class shooters. Forum member SleepyGator is an F-Class competitor, but there are no long-distance ranges close to his 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. We offer some free targets you can print out for use at 300 yards. The dimensions of F-Class targets are found in the NRA High Power Rules, Sec. 22, part 4, page 70-71 — see sample below.

Training Targets for 300-yard F-Class

F-Class Reduced Target Centers

CLICK HERE to Download F-Class 300-yard Target Centers (.Zip archive with three targets)

To duplicate the 300-yard target, SleepyGator made 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 PDF files that can be easily printed.

NOTE: 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.

CLICK HERE to Download NRA High Power Rules with F-Class Target Dimensions (Page 70-71)

F-Class Target Paste Center

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April 8th, 2021

Thunder Downunder — New Zealand North Island Rifle Match

Clevedon New Zealand club match F-TR FPR F-Open Sling Target Rifle

Clevedon New Zealand club match F-TR FPR F-Open Sling Target RifleNew Zealand is a beautiful country with rich, verdant green hills, snowcapped Southern Alps, thousands of miles of coastline, and abundant, unspoiled nature. Here’s quick look at what it’s like to shoot in New Zealand, aka Aoteoroa, the Land of the Long White Cloud.

New Zealand has a long, proud heritage of Marksmanship, and the little island country has hosted major international matches in recent years. This report is from a regional club match hosted at the Clevedon Rifle Club in the North Island, south of Auckland. The club website says: “At Clevedon we shoot from 300 yards back to 1000 yards, mainly with single-shot target rifles in any caliber up to 8mm. There are several styles of target shooting, Target Rifle with open sights and supporting the rifle with a sling, F-Class where a rest and telescopic sights are used and Hunter Class where standard hunting rifles with a support are used. The shooting season goes from September until May. The range is situated on a working farm so changes to the club program happen around hay making [and other farm activities].”

Clevedon New Zealand club match

Clevedon New Zealand club match F-TR FPR F-Open Sling Target Rifle

These photos are from the Clevedon Rifle Club in Clevedon NZ (North Island), south of the Auckland metropolitan zone. The range is on a working farm near the Clevedon Scenic Reserve and Hanua Ranges Regional Park. These images were posted on the New Zealand NRA Facebook page.

Sunshine Down Under with Competition at 300, 500, and 600 Yards
The Kiwi club reports: “Round 5 of the Clevedon Club Championships was completed today over 300, 500, and 600 yards in fine, sunny conditions. This is the finish of the short ranges with the Long Range [matches set for] next Saturday. Being Easter weekend we had a great turn out with 28 shooters, still managed to get people shooting on the wrong target. The four divisions were F-Open, F-TR, FPR (Field Precision Rifle), and Target Rifle. Next Saturday, 10 April, shooting is over 800, 900 and 1000 yards, last round of the Club Champs, set up from 8:15 and shooting to start at 9am At 800 yards.”

What is FPR Class?
The FPR (Field Precision Rifle) class is for shooters with muzzle brakes or suppressors (not allowed in normal F-Class rules), and are generally bolt-action rifles purchased from retail stores. Commonly used are the Ruger RPR, Remington 700, and Savage variants. EDITOR: We would like to see the FPR Class get started here is the USA. It seems like a good way to expand participation with more affordable rifles.

Clevedon New Zealand club match F-TR FPR F-Open Sling Target Rifle

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February 28th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: “Red Rocket” .284 Win F-Open Match Rifle

Martin Tardif  Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Forum member Martin Tardif (aka “Killick” in our Forum) competes with a very accurate .284 Win F-Open rig fitted with a Barnard action, Brux barrel, and Eliseo F1 chassis. Unlike some F-Class shooters, Martin has tried many disciplines over the years, including service rifle and Mid-Range and Long Range sling competition. But he told us, “After experiencing arthritis in my hands and wrists, I decided I would dabble with F-Class. And that has turned into a happy obsession.” Today’s story features the object of that happy obsession — Martin’s tack-driving .284 Win he calls the “Red Rocket”.

F-Open Match Rifle — .284 Winchester “Red Rocket”

by Martin Tardif
This is the story of the new “Red Rocket”, my new F-Open rifle. It’s chambered in .284 Winchester (.317″ neck, .220″ freebore). This rifle features Barnard P action, Barnard single-stage trigger (4 oz.), and Brux 30″ one-inch straight-taper, 1:8.5″-twist barrel fitted with Blake Tuner. The barreled action rides in a Gary Eliseo Competition Machine (CMI) F1 F-Open metal chassis with Marine Corps Red powder coat. On top is March 48x52mm fixed-power High Master scope. In a previous incarnation, this same Barnard action served in a wood-stocked F-Class rig, a Red Retromod built from a modified Anschutz stock. I still have the Barnard action (and trigger), but mostly everything else is new.

Martin Tardif  Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo
Here’s the .284 Win “Red Rocket” with CMI F1 Stock, Barnard action, Brux barrel, and Blake Tuner on my SEB Mini at Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club in SoCal.

My previous F-Class rifle started out as a Palma rifle back around 2008. With a modified Anschutz prone stock, that .308 Win Palma sling gun served me well, helping me earn the 2009 California State Palma Championship. Much later I grafted more wood on and whittled that same stock into an F-Open specimen (shown below). That did get me to Long Range High Master but it definitely had limitations. For one it had annoying flex in the fore-end and the buttstock was not aligned with the barrel channel.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

I wanted to upgrade my stock to get a more consistent, better-shooting F-Open performer. So in April of 2020 I contacted Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine and ordered one of his streamlined, F1 “boom-stick” chassis units. These feature a very low Center of Gravity. I sent Gary my Barnard action and had Brux send him a barrel that I had won at the 2020 SWN raffle.

This video shows Martin shooting the “Red Rocket” in California

This rifle has been a success from the very start. At its first big match, the 2020 California State Championships, the Red Rocket tied for First Place on points but finished second overall on X-count.

Martin tells us: “The new red Eliseo stock is phenomenal and far surpasses the old red stock on my RetroMod project previously featured on the Daily Bulletin. The three things I like best about this Eliseo F1 chassis system are:

1. The lean, clean, efficient engineering and styling.
2. Easy manipulation of buttstock and cheek piece adjustments, ease of bolt removal.
3. Inherent confidence in its straightness and the durability of all the parts and finish.”

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

“I’m extremely impressed with the potential of this rig and I have still yet to fiddle with the tuner and test some of my Wolf/KVB primers. It’s all gravy now.” — Martin Tardif

I received the finished rifle in September and was impressed with its stark and consummate functionality and there is no doubt as to that function. The collinear aspect from any angle suggests a Red Rocket Car on the Bonneville Salt Flats, so that’s what I call this rig.

Martin Tardif  Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Reloading Methods and Load Development
My virgin brass prep starts with a .284 neck mandrel with the occasional squirt of WD-40, then to the drill press to turn the necks to 0.014″ wall thickness with my PMA Model B turner. After a quick dip in the media tumbler I run the whole batch through my DIY cake pan annealer and they’re ready for sizing. I like the Whidden Gunworks full length bushing dies. I use a .310″ bushing and a loaded round measures .312″. After sizing, I run the cases through the tumbler for 10-15 minutes to clean them up and then they are primed. I’m using my stash of S&B primers with an RCBS benchtop primer seater with a Holland Perfect Primer Seater add-on. I do point my 180-grain Berger Hybrid bullets with a Hoover die (see below).

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Here is Martin’s reloading bench. From left to right: A&D FX-120i Force Restoration Scale with Auto-Trickler V3, Hoover Bullet-Tipping Die, Whidden .284 Win FL Sizing Die with PMA click-adjust lock ring, Hodgdon H4350 powder. Martin reports: “I’m also using some of F-Class John’s Auto Trickler Methods — using two powder cups to speed up the process, hash marks on Auto Trickler gear drive, and minimal openings on FX-120i wind guards. These all improve the powder measuring.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing in Competition
I started load testing in November 2020. I tried both H4831sc and H4350 at 100 yards. I usually have excellent results with H4831sc but the Brux tube stubbornly preferred H4350. So I took a preliminary recipe (52.2 grains) to the California Long Range Championship and tied for First Place on points but got beat on Xs. Having seen a little too much vertical at the state match, I went with a lighter load that looked good for vertical at 100 yards (51.8 grains — see photo below). That load got me an overall win at our 1000-yard club match.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

I wanted to fine tune that load so I started a seating depth test. I did a final head to head test, comparing .015″ jump (away from first lands contact) and .018″ jump at 1000 yards. The .015″ jump load was the clear winner. This 15-round group was shot at 1000 yards with no flags on an overcast day with no mirage.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

The ShotMarker screenshot above shows 15 shots at 1000 yards with bullets seated .015″ out, switching winds and no flags, just watching the mirage. I added .25 MOA up after the first round ‘9’ (me fighting a clean barrel on first shot) and went to town.

Advice for New F-Class Shooters — by Martin Tardif

1. Watch a Top Competitor — Find a good shooter that you respect and watch and take note of their equipment, how they set up to shoot, how they shoot, what conditions they shoot in or don’t. Ideally you should ask to be squadded with them (if possible) so you can score for them. That way you’re not dividing your attention from the shooter you’re supposed to be scoring for. Be mindful not to pester them while they are setting up. Best to wait until they have finished shooting and try to ask questions off the firing line, others still shooting need to concentrate.

2. Cartridge Selection for F-Open– Go to Accurate Shooter’s 7mm Cartridge Guide and scroll to the .284 Winchester section by Charles Ballard. You can read further about the 7mm WSM and 7mm SAUM but for a caliber that’s not fussy you should stick with the .284 Win.

3. Reloading Equipment — To win, you really need ammo as perfect as you can make it. You should be able to find out everything you need to know about reloading equipment via the Accurateshooter Forum’s Reloading and Competition areas. It’s a one-stop shopping brain trust for everything F-Class, Sling, and Benchrest. And the Forum Marketplace is literally a never ending ‘Gun Show’ of For Sale items. It’s a great place to buy quality used stuff for newbies.

As a final bit of advice — BELIEVE the wind — it’s smarter than you are!

Commentary on Metal Chassis vs Wood Stock
I previously had a wood F-Class stock so flexible you could easily pinch the barrel to the fore-end with one hand and hold it there. My Eliseo metal chassis is MUCH more rigid. I don’t think there is any argument that a metal stock is more rigid than wood. I also think a metal stock with its monolithic properties has a more consistent cross-sectional density along its length than a wood stock would have due to the vagaries of grain structure. However I have no experimental data to support that theory, or how that might positively affect shot to shot consistency. I CAN say that the gun shoots better, with smaller groups and higher scores, than the previous wood stock version.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

The CMI F1 chassis has three main sections: rear assembly, main assembly, and fore-end. The main assembly is a 27″-long solid billet section with milled cavities for the rear assembly and trigger group. This also supports the action V-Block which cradles the full length of the action. The V-Block is mated to the top of the billet in a milled channel but doesn’t touch the sides to avoid uneven harmonics. The rear assembly hold the LOP-adjustable butt pad/bag rider and “easy off” cheek piece. The 3-piece fore-end is fitted to the main section with screws. The complete F1 chassis with grip and cheek piece weighs 6 pounds.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo
Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

F1 Chassis Maker Gary Eliseo Talks about His Design
The F1 was designed to incorporate the most important features needed in an F-Open rifle system. Top priority was placed on how the rifle tracked. The chassis had to be perfectly straight, and immune to weather so it will stay straight. On the F1, the fore-end is designed to keep the centerline of the barreled action as low as possible. This super-low center of gravity, along with the tall vertical sides, keep torque to a minimum, so the gun doesn’t twist or hop, but instead comes straight back.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

The F1 chassis can be fitted with bedding blocks to accommodate any action. These action bedding blocks are carefully epoxy-bedded to the chassis so the customer’s barreled action is perfectly in line with the central axis of the chassis. In addition to optimizing tracking, I also took a look at how the shooter interfaced with the rifle. I wanted the cheek piece to be narrow so that the shooter would not be forced into applying side pressure on the stock to get their eye behind the scope. The cheek piece is also easy to remove for those who shoot without one. This also facilitates bolt removal.

If you’re interested in an F1 F-Open Chassis, contact Gary via the Competition Machine eMail page. The current price for an F1 Chassis with Cerakote finish (any color) is $1150.00. Lead time is about 12 weeks.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Martin Tardif Eliseo Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Hollands Gunsmithing Perfect Primer Seater

Green Tools for Red Rocket — Martin uses an RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage press on an Inline Fabrication UltraMount. Primers are seated with an RCBS Bench Primer fitted with Holland’s Gunsmithing Perfect Primer Seater Adapter. This provides ultra-consistent primer seating.

F-Class Match Strategies for California Ranges
My strategy for a match clearly depends on the specific location. For instance, at my home range, the Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club, which has several cuts and gullies crossing the canyon, the wind comes primarily from NNE and since the range faces slightly NNE the predominant condition will be a head or right wind so I’m looking for R to L mirage and left angled flags.

By contrast, Coalinga CA is a much more open/exposed range which can make it much more challenging. When you see all the flags going against the mirage for the majority of the string (after you’ve gone for record of course) that can be tough. So I like to watch the wind while I’m scoring and for a few minutes during sighters and shoot them in a few ‘looks’ if I can get them. But sometimes you have to go with your gut if your sighters whisper “go-for-record-you-knucklehead” and so it’s off to the races. It often seems like I should have just chased the spotter when I’m waiting out a fishtail or let-up there.

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January 29th, 2021

Getting Started in F-Class — F-TR vs. F-Open and Gear Options

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

A while back, our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK wrote 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).

Here’s a short sample from the Target Shooter Magazine article:

Getting Started in F-Class by Vince Bottomley
As membership secretary of a large club, one of the questions I’m frequently asked – “What’s the best way to get started in F-Class?” My club has an F-Class shoot every couple of weeks at ranges from 300 to 1000 yards and, not surprisingly, it’s very popular.

F-TR or Open Class?
From a shaky start way back in 2004, the F-TR Class is now proving as popular as Open Class and, at GBFCA League shoots and club shoots, many shooters choose to start with a 308, shooting off a bi-pod – in other words F-TR. In Open Class, the 7mm WSM soon established itself as the “must have” cartridge – if you wanted to win but, the WSM’s appetite for barrels eventually brought another 7mm cartridge into play – the 284 Winchester. This 50-year-old stalwart was revived a decade or so ago as the 6.5-284 and indeed this cartridge found some favor with F-Class pioneers – before the potency of the WSM was discovered. If you don’t mind shelling out for a couple of barrels per year (barrel life is about 750 rounds with the WSM) go for the 7mm WSM but, if you require a decent round-count, then opt for the .284 Win and learn to read the wind a bit better!

F-TR f-class rifle match ben avery AZ
F-TR Rifle at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Scopes for F-Class
If you will be shooting 1000 yards then I would recommend at least 32 power and preferably a variable – like the 8-32. The cheapest “usable” scope in this range is the Sightron. It’s a great scope for the money and at under $900 (in the USA) it’s half the price of its nearest competitor. It’s also light – at 1.5 lbs – and there are some great reticles for the F-Class shooter – like the LRMOA.

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

Read Full Article on Target Shooter Magazine Website.

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November 2nd, 2020

2020 F-Class National LR Championships — Hail the Champions

Ian Klemm Pat Scully F-Open F-TR Ben Avery 2020 Championship

The 2020 NRA F-Class National Championships are now complete. We hail the new Champions Pat Scully (F-Open), and Ian Klemm (F-TR). We also give congratulations to all the competitors who dueled often-tough conditions at Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona, with periods of very high winds. CLICK HERE to see all 2020 F-Class Nationals Results for all participants.

F-Open Individual Results | F-Open Team Results | F-TR Individual Results | F-TR Team Results

Top-Ranked Shooters at 2020 NRA F-Class National Championships
F-Open Top Competitors

1. Pat Scully, F-0pen Champion, 1575-73X
2. Keith Glasscock, 1575-60X
3. Tod Hendricks, 1574-83X
4. Eric Wuestenhoefer, 1572-59X
5. Tim Vaught, 1565-76X
6. Patrick Fulghum, 1564-60X
7. Ken Dickerman, 1563-64X, High Senior
8. Bret Solomon, 1562-58X
9. Emil Kovan, 1562-53X
10. Erik Cortina, 1561-70X

Christine Harris, 1543-60X, High Lady
Kaycie Blankenship, 1517-35X, High Junior
Larry Bartholome, 1541-53X, High Gr. Senior

F-TR Top Competitors

1. Ian Klemm, F-TR Champion, 1561-56X
2. Keith Trapp, 1555-47X
3. Brad Sauve, 1553-40X, High Senior
4. Luke Ramsey, 1551-42X
5. Scott Harris, 1551-39X
6. Nancy Tompkins, 1550-44X, High Lady
7. James Crofts, 1546-52X
8. Henry Rockhill, 1543-37X
9. Brian Harder, 1539-37X
10. Nick Abbott, 1535-45X

Morgan Abbott, 1495-34X, High Junior
Raymond Weaver, 1534-30X, High Gr. Senior

Ian Klemm Pat Scully F-Open F-TR Ben Avery 2020 Championship
Pat Scully (right) is 2020 F-Open National Champion while fellow team-mate Tod Hendricks (left) finished third overall, just one point back.

In tough conditions, the top shooters put on impressive performances. Competition was tight and it went down to the wire. After multiple days of shooting, F-Open Champion Pat Scully and runner-up Keith Glasscock ended up tied on points (both scored 1575), but Scully did have a huge edge in X-count with 73X vs. 60X for Keith. In F-TR, LR Champion Ian Klemm posted an impressive 6-point win. Ian also recorded high X-Count (56X) among all F-TR shooters. Phil Kelley posted: “Ian is now only the second 3-Time F-TR National LR Champ and he has won 3 of the last 4 years — an amazing run.” Phil also observed that his fellow Team USA shooters took 7 out of the top 10 F-TR places.

Overall, the “top guns” in both divisions performed amazingly well given some very tough conditions. Forum member ShootDots noted:

“On the last day I was on the line with Keith Glasscock [Second Overall] on my immediate left. I was scoring for Pat Scully [F-Open Champion]. With wind conditions that would make a brass monkey flinch, these two gents made it look easy! I have shot with some REALLY good shooters over the years [but] these two are at a different level altogether!

I do not know Ian Klemm BUT I do know how he shoots! When you are surrounded by the finest, you get a first hand view of what REAL shooting is all about. My hat is off to the winners and to those who came within a hairsbreath of them! A B-I-G hearty CONGRATULATIONS to them!”

Our Forum tech staffer Praveen (who shot F-Open) concurred, praising the top-finishing Open-class competitors, noting that 3rd-place Tod Hendricks amassed an amazing 83 Xs. Praveen posted: “Congratulations… I witnessed some really fine shooting this year while experiencing some very tough wind conditions. Pat, Keith, and Tod — hats off to you. And Tod — so many Xs!” Forum member RonatSpokane also noted Tod’s stunning X-Count: “Sheesh Tod, you’re … bogarting those Xs. With 83 Xs, more than 50% of your shots were under 1/2 MOA. In those kinds of conditions, that’s nothing short of stunning.”

Forum member Carlsbad noted that the final day was very tough: “What a match. Every day had different challenges. The last day was challenging. We had one guy clean the afternoon string on Friday and then shoot 180 in the afternoon string on Sunday. That was tough. I don’t know how guys shot high 190s in those conditions. Congratulations to Ian Klemm and Pat Scully.”

Three National Titles in Four Years for 2020 F-TR Champ Ian Klemm
Ian Klemm F-TR Ben Avery 2020 Championship

Ian Klemm has now won three National F-TR Championships in four years. Ian captured back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, winning at Lodi, WI in 2017, and Raton, NM in 2018. Ian also finished second at the 2019 Nationals. Ian put on another great performance to win in 2020 under very challenging conditions.

Ian Klemm F-TR Ben Avery 2020 Championship

Ian Klemm Pat Scully F-Open F-TR Ben Avery 2020 Championship

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November 1st, 2020

Report from F-Class Nationals in Arizona — LR Team Results

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

Yesterday was the 1000-yard Team Match Day at the F-Class Nationals in Phoeniz Arizona. It was also Halloween, and there were some very creative costumes on display at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. First, for the serious stuff, we want to congratulate the two winning teams — Team Lapua/Brux/Borden in F-0pen and Team Texas in F-TR. CLICK HERE for updated F-Class Nationals Results.

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

Team Lapua/Brux/Borden (LBB) (1590-84X) took the F-Open title by six points (and 4 Xs) over runner-up The Long Shots (1584-80X), with Team Grizzly (1580-58X) third.

In F-TR, Team Texas topped the field with 1572-63X, winning by an impressive 17 points (and 5 Xs) over Team USA Independence (1555-58X). Team USA Freedom was third with 1553-44X. Team Texas’s Randy Littleton turned in a stunning individual performance in the first match, shooting 200-14X, best among F-TR shooters. F-Open competitor Jeff Cochran of Team Spindle Shooters also drilled a 200-14X in that first match, the top F-Open individual 20-shot performance.

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona
“Team Texas (center) had plenty of silver and bronze medals in previous national championships, but today earned their first gold medal. Very talented USA teams finished second and third.” — Skip Barkley

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

Halloween Long Range Team Day at Ben Avery

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix ArizonaF-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

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October 29th, 2020

Report: Wicked Conditions at Mid-Range F-Class Nationals

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery arizona 600-yard mid-range

Mid-Range Competitors Battle Tough Conditions at Ben Avery
Report by F-Class John (competing at the Nationals)
The Mid-Range Nationals at Ben Avery in Arizona have been completed, and many competitors are breathing a sigh of relief. Winds were howling and conditions were VERY tough. We congratulate all the competitors who battled the high winds. This year all shooting at the Mid-Range Nationals was done at 600 yards (the simplified course of fire was adopted in 2019). I think I can safely say everyone is excited and ready to move on to Long-Range portion of the championships.

The Top 10 in each division are listed below. New F-Open Mid-range Champion Tim Vaught put together a very impressive performance, dropping just 14 points in very challenging conditions.

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery arizona 600-yard mid-range

The fact that F-Open winner Tim Vaught dropped just 14 points across nine 20-shot relays is INSANE given the incredibly tough conditions. He deserved his title without a doubt. F-TR Mid-Range Champion Andrew Cyr also had an impressive performance, winning by 9 points over a very tough field, including past National F-TR Champions and Nancy Tompkins, past NRA High Power and Long Range Champion.

The F-TR division was won by Andrew Cyr. His gunsmith, Bryan Blake, said this rig has some unusual features, including barrel twist rate. Stay tuned for a full tech report…
F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery arizona 600-yard mid-range

Challenging Conditions at F-Class Mid-Range Nationals
Conditions were pretty incredible and by no means typical for Ben Avery for the Mid-Range portion of the USA F-Class National Championships. We started on Sunday with dead calm conditions on relay one and by the end of shooting, it was challenging but certainly not anything outside the normal for most of the people. We woke up Monday to crazy strong winds that just tore apart those who were ‘lucky enough’ to be on the first relay and it throughout the day it went from horrible to manageable and it was just dumb luck if your relay got hit or spared. The uncharacteristically strong winds met us Tuesday morning again for the final day of Mid-Range.

Video has highlights from three days of Mid-Range competition.

Before the first relay I measured gusts that were almost 24 mph with the constant wind hovering in the high teens. It calmed down from there but still remained very challenging until the end. Overall it was quite the fight for first with Tim Vaught earning the F-Open win with Dan Bramley and Tod Hendricks taking a respective second and third place out of a field of 66 High Masters and 13 Masters. These guys all shot superbly in some of the most challenging conditions ever witnessed at the Ben Avery range in Arizona. Mighty impressive…

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October 22nd, 2020

2020 F-Class National Championships in Arizona NOTICE

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

The 2020 United States F-Class National Championships commence Sunday October 25, 2020 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2020, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one exended mega-match. The Mid-Range U.S. F-Class Nationals take place 25-28 October 2020, with all shooting at 600-yard targets. The Long Range National Championships then run October 29 through November 1st with all matches at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).

CLICK HERE for 2020 F-Class Nationals Match Program »

For health reasons, F-Class Nationals competitors will be required to follow a number of important health and safety protocols. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Here are the 2020 protocols as issued by the host Desert Sharpshooters club:

2020 NRA F-Class National Championships — Safety Protocols

We have had to implement several measures for the 2020 F-Class Nationals due to COVID-19. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, a state government agency. Therefore, all state and local guidelines and measures regarding COVID-19 must be followed on the property. Unfortunately, the local guidelines include a mask mandate, among other measures. We were hoping for the measures to be relaxed as the Nationals grew closer, but that is not the case. The COVID-19 measures that must be implemented during the match are below.

COVID-19 measures for the 2020 F-Class Nationals include:

– Reduce the total number of entries to 180.
– Use every other target for a total of 45 targets.
– Food and drinks, including water, will NOT be provided or for sale.
– Only one person pulling a target.
– Wearing mask/face cover is required when 6 feet distancing cannot be obtained. This includes:

    Using the restroom.
    During all team matches, except the shooters. Only the shooter and coach will be permitted on the firing line. All other team members must be 6 feet from the shooter and coach.
    On the people movers traveling to and from the pits.
    Walking up/down the ramps/stairs at the 1000 yard line, or traveling to or from one’s assigned firing point.

– No banquet dinners.
– Award ceremony will be held each day on the firing line, with shooters in the parking lot social distancing.
– While scoring, the scorer will be at least 6 feet from the shooter.
– Shooters on the firing line will set up on each side of their assigned target marker with 6 feet separating them.
– Shooters not pulling targets, scoring, or shooting must remain off of the firing line and in their vehicles or socially distancing in the parking lot.
– Only the scoring and shooting relays will be permitted on the firing line. During pit changes, the previous scoring and shooting relays must vacate the firing line before the next scoring and shooting relays approach the firing line.
– All scores and squadding will be posted online. Those with no access to the internet can obtain their squadding on the bulletin boards on the east and west side of the building. Only one person will be permitted to be at the bulletin board at a time.
– No one is permitted to enter the Berger Building.
– Refunds will be given to those that wish to not participate in the event.

Failure of individuals to follow any of the above guidelines may result in disqualification and being asked to leave. If we do not comply with these regulations, we risk the Ben Avery Shooting Facility canceling the event without prior notice.

We would also like to remind shooters that if they are feeling sick or have any symptoms to please not come to the range, and notify us immediately at fclassnationals@gmail.com.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Located on 1,650 acres in north Phoenix, BASF is one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities. A City of Phoenix “Point of Pride,” the facility has received a five-star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges.

Firing line at 2015 F-Class Nationals at Ben Avery Shooting Facility.
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts


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August 15th, 2020

RetroMOD Project — Old eBay Rimfire Stock Reborn for F-Open

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is an interesting project by one of our Forum members. Martin C. (aka “Killick”) modified an Anschutz 1411 Match 54 rimfire prone stock to become a comfortable, great-tracking F-Class Open Division Stock. No Killick didn’t sacrifice a perfectly good rimfire rifle for this project — he bought the Anschutz stock by itself on eBay, then transformed it…

Killick explains: “This project started about seven years ago. I bought the Anschutz prone stock on eBay and whittled it a bit into a Palma rifle with a Barnard action and block and a Doan Trevor cheek piece and scope rail. Then about two years ago I decided to re-task the stock/action assembly into an F-Open rig. With more whittling, gluing, sanding, body fillering, sanding, filling, sanding, more sanding…and sanding, forming, priming, sanding, painting, waiting, painting, painting…painting and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle.”

Here is the eBay-sourced Anschutz 1411 stock, with new high-gloss blue finish, as initially modified for use in Killick’s centerfire Palma rifle. Looks nice!

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Next step was the addition of a 3″-wide wood fore-end for F-Open duties with front rest:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Almost done here… just needs priming and final painting:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is Killick’s completed F-Open rifle with its much-modified Anschutz stock now finished in fire-engine red lacquer. This image shows the detail of the grip and customized cheekpiece.

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

To learn more, visit Killick’s Anschutz Stock F-Class Project Thread on our Shooters’ Forum.

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August 9th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Texas Precision — Mike’s 6mm GT Rifle

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-Class

The 6mm GT (aka 6GT) cartridge was conceived as a “bigger Dasher” for PRS and NRL competition. The 6mm GT’s creators wanted 6mm Dasher accuracy and moderate recoil delivered via a cartridge with a slightly longer case body for better mag-feeding, longer neck for seating flexibility, and more moderate pressures. So far the 6GT has performed very well in PRS competition. Today’s story is a bit different — this is about an experiment — running a 6mm GT in an F-TR type rifle. Understand that, under current NRA rules, you may only shoot .223 Rem (5.56×45) or .308 Win (7.62×51), in official, sanctioned F-TR competition, but the 6GT is fine for F-Open. Mike McCasland wanted to see the potential of the cartridge for long-range target shooting, so he put a 6mm GT-chambered Bartlein barrel on a nice custom rifle with McMillan XIT stock and Kelbly F-Class Panda action. The results were impressive.

6mm GT — New Cartridge with Multi-Discipline Potential

Story by Mike McCasland, Texas Precision
The 6mm GT began garnering attention within PRS circles in early 2019. It promised to shoot 105-110gr 6mm bullets at 2950-3000 FPS, yet not suffer from mag-feed issues sometimes found with 6mmBR variants such as the 6 Dasher, 6BRX, and 6BRA. Moreover, since it burned less powder, the 6mm GT promised increased barrel life compared to the 6mm Creedmoor or 6XC. The 6mm GT case size should still work with the accurate powders in the Varget burn-range. I found the 6GT also worked great with H4350.

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-ClassAs someone who aspired to building a repeater and jumping into the PRS game, and had a spare F-TR rifle sitting around, I thought it would be fun to build up a 6mm GT to see if there was any merit to the hype. My smith, Wes Ripley of RIP Precision in Texas, builds a lot of PRS rigs, and already had the reamer on hand (a 0.120″ freebore variant).

Whidden Gunworks had some 6mm GT FL bushing die kits in stock, so I figured why not see what all the fuss was about? At the very least I could play around with the 6mm GT in F-Open Class at local club matches to see how it compared to the 6BRA, 6 Dasher, and other popular 6mm cartridges.

How the Project Got Started with Backup F-TR Rig
My 6mm GT build really started as a project spawned purely from COVID-19 Isolation boredom. This rifle primarily serves as a backup F-TR gun, and it had been relegated to performing some load development on .308 barrels, so I could spin new ones on my main match rifle. The only problem was, I had run out of .308 barrels that needed load development. So, I basically had an ideal test platform just collecting dust in the safe. All I needed was a 6mm GT-chambered barrel, since (like the 6mmBR) the 6mm GT works in a short action with a .308 Win-sized bolt-face.

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-Class

6mm GT Rifle Specifications:

Action: Kelbly Panda F-Class SA RB/RP
Stock: McMillan XIT with RAD 2A
Barrel: 30″ 5R Bartlein 1:7.5″-Twist, HV Contour

Scope: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm
Trigger: Jewell Benchrest, about 2 ounces
Bipod: Phoenix Precision

About the 6mm GT Cartridge

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-ClassBRASS — The first thing you’ll find is cartridge brass choices for the 6mmGT are rather limited currently. At present, the only commercial options are Hornady and Alpha Munitions. For the die-hard Lapua fans, you can technically make 6mm GT brass from 6.5×47 Lapua, however that process is very labor-intensive.

I have used both Hornady and Alpha brass in this rifle and haven’t noticed much difference between the two. I will say that my batch of Alpha brass was slightly softer than Alpha brass I’ve used in other calibers; you could feel a difference when neck turning cases. I’m unsure if that’s a batch issue, or something specific to their 6mm GT brass as a whole. As far as performance, there was little discernable difference. Oddly enough, the Hornady brass seemed to have slightly less case capacity than the Alpha; with most other cartridges it’s the other way around.

POWDERS — The 6mm GT was designed with Hodgdon Varget in mind, and that popular powder works exceedingly well in this platform. That said, the 6mm GT can work with a wide variety of powders, some yielding better performance than Varget.

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-Class

I’ve tried a multitude of powders during my initial 6mm GT load development: Varget, Shooters World Precision, RL16, VV N140, H4350, and RL-15 to name a few. In my barrel, Hodgdon H4350 seems to deliver the best velocity/accuracy combination. SD and ES also seemed to be the lowest with H4350.

Load Development for the 6mm GT — Many Powders Tested
mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-Class

BULLETS — The most common 0.120″ freebore chamber allows for the majority of high-BC 6mm projectiles found in both F-Class and PRS. I had good luck with the pointed 107gr Sierra Match Kings (SMK), as well as the 110gr Hornady A-Tips in my rifle. For those looking to run the heavier 112-115 grain 6mm offerings, I believe GAP designed a 0.160″ freebore reamer that gets those bullets out of the neck/shoulder junction. Shown below is the 0.120″ freebore JGS reamer print:

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-Class

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-ClassSUMMARY — Good Cartridge with Much Potential
Generally speaking, I think the 6mm GT is a good little round. Some may not subscribe to this theory, but I believe some cartridges are inherently easier to tune than others. I’m not sure the 6mm GT is as easy-to-tune as a 6mmBR, 6 Dasher, or 6 BRA, but I don’t think it lags that far behind.

With relatively little trouble, I was able to find loads with both Varget and H4350 that would consistently shoot very well — 0.2 to 0.3 MOA. Moreover, I found the 6GT cartridge lives up to the velocity claims made by G.A. Precision. I was easily able to push the 110gr A-Tips to 2950 FPS, and the 107gr SMKs to low 3000 FPS range without any pressure signs, or unnecessary wear and tear on the brass.

As a fun test, I ran my 6mm GT rifle in a local 1000-yard F-Class match with the 110gr A-Tips, just to see just how well they would perform. Although wind conditions of the day and some E-Target issues prevented my 6mm GT rig from getting the better of the larger 7mm and .30-Cal rifles, the 6mm GT proved itself an accurate little round at distance. Here is a 1000-yard ShotMarker target:

mike mccasland 6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass 6BRA PRS F-Class

After putting several hundred rounds through my 6mm GT rifle, I anticipate building another 6GT on a repeater action to give PRS a try. I think if you are looking for a dual-purpose rifle that can run tactical matches (with 100% feeding reliability), and can also be used for mid-range, F-Open Class competition, the 6mm GT would be a very good option.

About the author, Mike McCasland:
Mike McCasland is an avid shooter who competes regularly in F-Class matches. Based in Texas, Mike is the creator of the Texas Precision YouTube Channel. There you’ll find many videos covering reloading, gun projects, and marksmanship. Mike has done some notable product reviews including a comparison test of Micrometer Competition Seating Dies. To access Mike’s YouTube Channel, CLICK HERE.

6mmGT 6 GT alpha brass mike mccasland PRS F-TR

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May 29th, 2020

Recoil Reduction System for F-Class Rifles — Bump Buster

Bret Solomon Speedy Thomas Gonzalez hydraulic recoil reduction F-Class F-Open accurateshooter.com

Many of our Forum members have expressed interest in a recoil-reduction system for prone F-Open competition rifles shooting heavy bullets from powerful cartridges. A .300 WSM shooing 200+ grain bullets can definitely take its toll over the course of a match. One system that has been used with considerable success is the hydraulic “Bump Buster” recoil system. This definitely reduces the pounding your shoulder gets during a long match. To illustrate this system, we’ve reprised an article on Bret Soloman’s F-Open rifle from a couple years back. Watch the Videos to see the Bump Buster in action.

Bret Solomon Speedy Thomas Gonzalez hydraulic recoil reduction F-Class F-Open accurateshooter.comOn his Facebook page, Hall-of-Fame shooter and ace gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez unveiled an impressive new F-Open rifle built for Bret Solomon. The rifle features Speedy’s new low-profile F-Class stock.

Bret’s gun is chambered for his 300 Solomon wildcat, shooting heavy 210gr bullets, so it can can be a real shoulder-buster, without some kind of buffer. The stock is fitted with a Ken Rucker’s Bump Buster hydraulic recoil reduction system to tame the recoil. The Bump Buster was originally designed for shotguns and hard-hitting, big game rifles. It is interesting to see this hydraulic buffer adapted to an F-Open rig.

Here you can see Bret shooting the gun, coached by Nancy Tompkins and Michele Gallagher:

Bret’s gun features a stainless Viper (Stiller) action, barrel tuner, and an innovative Speedy-crafted wood stock. Speedy says this stock design is all-new: “It is a true, low Center-of-Gravity F-Class stock, not a morphed Palma stock merely cut out on the bottom”. See all the details in this short video:

Stock Features: Glue-in or Bolt-In and Optional Carbon Pillars and Cooling Ports
Speedy explained the features of the new stock design: “Terry Leonard and I started working on an F-Class version of his stocks last year during the F-Class Nationals and came up with what he and I consider the first true low-CG stock in the sport. As you can see by the videos, there is very little torquing of the stock during recoil. I add the carbon fiber tunnel underneath the forearms to save Terry some time. This bonds very well to his carbon fiber skeleton within the stock adding addition stiffness to the forearm to support the heavy barrels found on the F-Class rigs.

We are playing with both glue-ins like we benchresters use and bolt-ins as well. The rifles on the videos are glue-ins. Bret just took delivery today of his first bolt-in employing carbon fiber pillars and the first Leonard stock ever to have cooling ports.”

Need for Recoil Reduction Follows F-Class Trend to Bigger Calibers and Heavier Bullets
In recent years we have seen F-Open competitors move to bigger calibers and heavier bullets in pursuit of higher BC. There is no free lunch however. Shooting a 210gr .30-caliber bullet is going to produce much more recoil than a 140gr 6.5mm projectile (when they are shot at similar velocities). Does this mean that more F-Open shooters will add hydraulic buffers to their rigs? Will a recoil-reduction system become “de rigueur” on F-Open rifles shooting heavy bullets?

Our friend Boyd Allen observes: “You may imagine that shooting a short magnum, or even a .284 Win with heavy bullets, involves a fair amount of recoil, and in the prone position this can be more than a little wearing. It can in fact beat you up over the course of a match. Some time back, Lou Murdica told me about having a hydraulic recoil absorbing device installed on one of his F-Class rifles, chambered in .300 WSM. Lou is shooting heavy (210-215gr) bullets so the recoil is stout. According to Lou, the hydraulic recoil-reduction system made all the difference.”

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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May 23rd, 2020

2020 Berger Southwest Nationals Equipment Lists

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

The best F-Class and Sling shooters in the nation compete each year at the Berger Southwest Nationals at the Ben Avery range in Arizona. Walk down the firing line and you’ll see the absolute “best of the best” in equipment — from $3500 optics to $2000 stocks and $400 triggers. Berger SWN shooters have some of the best equipment you can buy. In this game, where just 1 or 2 points can separate first from third place (considering X-Count), it’s important to have top-flight equipment. That means a custom action, custom barrel, and high-end stock or chassis system.

Matt Schwartzkopf, a range supervisor at Ben Avery, and member of the USA F-TR Team, has collected comprehensive gear reports from the 2020 Berger SW Nationals. Matt has created charts showing competitors’ choices for Actions, Barrels, Stocks, Riflescopes and Spotting Scopes. In addition, Matt has compiled bullet choice data for all classes and Cartridge rankings for F-Open Division.

There is a discussion of the 2020 SWN Gear Selection in our Shooters’ Forum. CLICK HERE to follow that Forum thread. Many top SWN shooters, including past F-Open National Champion Larry Bartholome, have contributed to this Forum discussion about gear options.

ACTIONS Listed by Division (Sling, F-TR, F-Open)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

ACTIONS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

BARRELS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

BULLETS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

CARTRIDGE BRASS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

POWDER by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

STOCKS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

RIFLESCOPES by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

SPOTTING SCOPES Listed by Class (Sling, F-TR, F-Open)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

Cartridge Selection in F-Open Division

In addition, Matt produced an interesting listing of cartridge/caliber types for the F-Open division. This is helpful because cartridge choice is unrestricted in the F-Open class. By contrast, the F-TR division is limited to .223 Remington (5.56×45) or .308 Winchester (7.62×51). You can see that the .284 Winchester (and variants) currently dominate F-Open.

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

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May 3rd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Berger SWN F-Open Champ Jay C’s 284 Wheeler

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Report by Jay Christopherson
2020 Berger SW Nationals F-Open Champion

Team Member, Team Lapua-Brux-Borden
I’ve been shooting F-Class for about 9 years now. In fact, I shot my very first match, a 600-yard mid-range match, using a 6mm Dasher, on March 19, 2011. My first relay was a 188-4X and my overall score was 582-19X. I remember shooting a really nice group in the 9-ring, because I dialed the scope the wrong way and I shot lots of “verification” shots before making adjustments. I also remember wondering if that was a good score for that range in those mostly calm conditions (it wasn’t). I’ve tracked every match I’ve ever shot and I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve always been a competitive person and F-Class gave me an outlet to indulge both my competitiveness and my fondness for details. In what other individual sport does a thousandth of an inch (or less!) become important? Or a tenth of a grain?

Some of my greatest pleasures in this sport come not necessarily from winning a match (though I won’t turn that down), but in identifying something small in what I am doing that has a material effect on paper. Maybe it’s a tiny change in seating depth. Maybe it’s a slightly modified strategy for making wind calls. Maybe it’s a tiny position or hold change. Whatever it is, when it works, there’s no better feeling.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I have a full-time job to go with this hobby, so finding the time for productive training is difficult. You have to really plan ahead to maximize the time you spend reloading, developing loads, and training at the range. To that end, I invest a lot of time in reducing the things that I do at the loading bench. I load ammo on a progressive press, though modified to produce ammo to my standards. I don’t clean brass. I don’t do a lot of things that most shooters would call traditional in the loading room. Because frankly, I don’t have the time between family, work, and other interests.

If it doesn’t make a difference on paper, I mostly don’t do it. Still, there are one or two loading habits I’m trying to get rid of. I also pre-seat all my ammo for matches — whatever I show up at the match with, is what I have. I don’t clean my rifle between days at the match. I had well over 200 rounds without cleaning by the time the last shot was fired at the 2020 SWN. It took a lot of time for me to get comfortable with that. That works for what I do, but I wouldn’t dare try it with any other loads or rifles, at least, not without a lot of testing to be comfortable. My original 6MM Dasher shooting Reloder 15 couldn’t go that many rounds without cleaning and building up a carbon ring. Unfortunately, I learned a tough lesson on that one my first year.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profileI do all my own gunsmithing, including chambering, bedding, and stock work. I’m no Keith Weil, Alex Wheeler, or some of those other guys, but I feel pretty good about the work I do. I know that when there’s a mistake or imperfection, it’s MY mistake and I can live with that. I like to keep things as minimal as possible, so I shoot off a SEB Mini (no mods) and SEB rear bag.

I also shoot with a spotting scope at Long Range, using a Kowa TSN-663 with 25X LER eyepiece and a relatively new spotting scope stand by Rod Brakhage who is a fine F-Class shooter himself. I really like how smooth and adjustable it is on the ground compared to some other rigs I’ve used.

The 284 Wheeler — Slightly Modified .284 Win
This year at the SWN, I shot a 284 Wheeler, which is a straight .284 Win that has some small modifications designed by Alex Wheeler. I think that the work and experimentation that Alex does with reamer design really shows up on paper. In 2019 I was testing the reamer in a couple barrels, looking for the right load. I shot some great relays and team practices with it that year, but this was the first time I brought enough ammo to shoot the entire week with it. Coupled with Berger’s 7MM 180 grain Hybrid Target bullets which I point to increase BC consistency, and Lapua brass, it’s an effective combination. In particular, the brass has lasted me for 13 firings with no signs of fatigue, so I expect I’ll be able to use it at Worlds in 2021 and beyond.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I also shot the entire 2020 SWN with a Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm scope, my preferred scope for individual matches. It’s a rock-solid reliable scope in my experience, with a great eye box, reliable and repeatable mechanical controls. The Vortex ECR-1 reticle has quickly become my favorite reticle. All four of my Open rifles are built on Borden BRMXD actions, Brux barrels, and sitting in X-Ring F-Open stocks, which are Robertson clones (more on that below). I’ve tried to make each of my rifles as much of an identical clone as possible.

I am not sponsored by anyone as an individual shooter, only through team sponsorship with Lapua-Brux-Borden. Which means that for individual matches, I am free to use what I think gives me the best opportunity to win for individual matches. In practice, the only difference tends to be the scope that I use, as mentioned above.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Jay Christopherson F-Open Rifle Specifications:
Cartridge: 284 Wheeler (variant of .284 Winchester)
Optics: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm
Stock: X-Ring F-Open Stock with R.A.D.
Barrel: Brux 1:9″-twist, 32″-long barrel
Action: Borden BRMXD action
Trigger: Flavio Fare

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Q: What was your biggest challenge at the 2020 Berger SWN?

Jay: The biggest challenge for me at this year’s SWN was purely mental. At past SWN matches where I had done well, I was trying to focus on not thinking about the different things going on around me. Where I was ranked on the score sheet. How well other shooters were doing. How many points or Xs I was ahead (or behind). Being worried about conditions or whether my ammo would hold up. And so on. And sooner or later, I think those things break your focus.

Going into a relay calculating the points or Xs that you can’t afford to drop is a recipe for losing. It’s like trying NOT to picture a pink elephant with purple dots when somebody challenges you try to not think of a pink elephant with purple dots. In previous SWN events, I came up just short three times in a row, for one reason or another. So, in 2020 I went in with a mental game plan.

Mental Game Plan — Envisioning Success
I pictured what it would take to be successful and what winning would feel like. First relays, then days, and then the match. I started that process months before the match actually happened. I thought about who I was shooting against and how much pressure there was to make every shot count. I thought about how I had performed or reacted in similar situations in the past. And I planned out what I would do and how I would handle those things. I strived to be neither negative nor positive — I wanted to be neutral. I wanted to be ready to win, instead of being surprised by it.

Q: What gear/hardware items give you an edge over the competition?

Jay: There’s no single piece of gear that I can think of that gives someone an edge over somebody else. It all sort of works — it’s more about being consistent with whatever hardware you have. But one piece of new gear that I tried out at the SWN was a single-piece scope mount called the Alphamount (photo below), by Richard Near of NEAR Manufacturing.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I think scope mounts are the most overlooked piece of equipment in F-Class right now — whether they be improperly aligned, improperly torqued, or just plain junk. I think people put a lot of blame on their scopes that can be traced back to mounts. The Alphamount (and single-piece mounts in general) are something that I believe in now, having done a lot of testing. It worked out OK for me at the SWN.

Action for Back-Up Rifle Is Glued and Screwed into Stock
One of the new things I am trying this year is a “glue and screw” action set-up. At the 2019 US F-Class Nationals in Raton, we got rained on a little and when I pulled my rifle apart, I found water between the bedding and action (the bedding is about 2 years old). At the SWN, I found that something had moved enough that I could torque the front action screw and bind the bolt. Not good, but luckily this was my backup rifle that I shot for Mid-Range (badly) and not my lead rifle. There could have been stock movement or other factors as well, but there was no question the bedding had shrunk when I stuck a dial indicator on it and found that my pillars were now standing proud.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Some people had been goading me to try a “glue-and-screw” procedure. Since I had nothing better to do during the COVID-19 lockdown, I pulled out the Dremel, scuffed up the action and bedding, removed the recoil lug, and glued the action into the stock. I’ve had it out a couple times since and it seems to be shooting well, but we’ll see how it holds up and what sort of difference it might make as time goes on.

Q: What is your advice to newcomers in F-Class and Long Range competition?

Jay: Find a nemesis. Someone local who puts in the same effort that you do and is as competitive as you are. Be friends, share info, but work your behind off to make sure you win on match day. I guarantee you someone reading this knows what I’m talking about. The best thing you can do is have someone who pushes you to perform better each time out. You love to win against them, but not as much as you hate to lose to them.

Q: What do you like most about Long Range and F-Class competition?

Jay: I like the challenge of F-Class — it’s a nice blend of working to get the most out of your equipment and the most out of yourself as a shooter. You can have the greatest shooting rifle in the world and it won’t matter a bit if you can’t be consistent pulling the trigger or making good wind calls. By the same token, you can be the greatest wind caller and most consistent trigger puller in the world — but it won’t matter a bit if you can’t wring the best possible performance out of your rifle for that tiny little target at 1000 yards. I like Long Range because everything is magnified — there are rarely easy shots.

Q: What do you prefer, individual events or team matches?

Jay: Team matches. No contest. Most of the reason I travel to matches is for the team events. But just throwing together a team of great individual shooters is not enough to consistently win. You have to operate as a team, which at times means subsuming your own individual goals for the good of the team. I’ve gone into big matches knowing that my team rifle is my best rifle by a mile — but knowing that the best thing for the team’s current and future success is for me to not burn that barrel out (or burning up known good components) in the individual events. And that’s fine with me. Being part of a team of shooters with the same goal, with the same drive, the same focus on team rather than individual — and able to deliver the goods — that’s the reason why I do this.

Team Lapua Brux Borden

Q: What kind of stock do you use and how does it behave?

Jay: I use an X-Ring Open stock, which is basically a Robertson clone. I’ve been using X-Ring for about 4 years now. I’ve been through a lot of different stocks to find the one that fits me and the way I like to shoot, and X-Ring has done that for me. There’s a lot of focus recently on lowering the center of gravity and extending the stock length through various methods to solve problems like torque, jump, etc. — those are just problems that I don’t experience or, at least, that don’t bother me while I’m shooting. So, I don’t tend to worry about them. The X-Ring fits nicely and runs very well in the bags that I use. I do think that you have to spend some time finding the right bag setup for the stock you are using. I have at least 9 different rear bags that I have tested at one time or another until I settled on my current bag.

Q: Do you have any specific Gun Handling Tips for F-Open shooters?

Jay: As for gun handling, I prefer a light hold — my cheek indexes off the stock with a very light touch and my trigger hand indexes off the stock also with a light touch so that I have a consistent trigger finger position. What I do is in the style of “free recoil”, but is NOT fully “free recoil”, since I DO lightly touch the stock. For the butt, I run the R.A.D. recoil reducer at its lowest setting, which means that I can barely touch off for indexing purposes and still not interrupt the recoil pulse because the R.A.D. absorbs it. This was a suggestion that Will McCloskey made to me a couple years ago in place of leaving space.

This video, from a past Berger SWN, illustrates Jay Christopherson’s shooting style. He employs a very light touch on the gun. The front rest is a SEB Mini. If this Facebook video doesn’t load, CLICK HERE.

My hold for F-Class has evolved over time into what it is now. There are lots of successful shooters that are using varying degrees of holds, from light to hard. Again, It all sort of works — the most important part is that whatever you do is consistent and repeatable, hence my touch points that ensure my head, shoulder, and trigger finger are in the same position every time. There are shooters out there that will rant about “the fundamentals of shooting” and insist that your legs have to be a certain way, your cheek has to be a certain way, your breathing has to be done a certain way. I’m sure that’s valid for what they do and I’m fine with them looking down on me for it, but I do what produces results for me. For certain, my position and hold when shooting sling is completely different. All it means is that you have to be prepared to adapt.

PARTING SHOT — Have Guns, Will Travel

Here is one of Jay’s other F-Open Rifles. When traveling he separates the stock from the barreled action. He uses a custom-cut foam piece that holds the components very securely. Note the separate slots for barreled action, stock, scope (in rings), bolt assembly, and spotting scope.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

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