Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz needed all of his wind-reading skills in Lodi, WI. Conditions were challenging!
Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics won his second straight Mid-Range F-TR National Championship this past weekend. Likewise the Michigan F-TR Team won its second Championship in a row. So it was a heck of a showing by the Michiganders overall. With a strong individual performance, Phil Kelley finished second with his fellow X-Men teammate James Crofts in third. The X-Men Team also garnered second-place in the F-TR Team event. Kelley told us: “It sure is fun to compete with the best in the business — to share the individual overall podium with Bryan Litz and James Crofts is an exciting honor.”
It was a bit cold in Lodi, Wisconsin, photo by K. McSparron.
F-Class Goes High-Tech with Electronic Targets
This was the first-ever F-Class National Championship that used electronic Targets. Litz offers his perspective on the new E-Targets in the Q&A section below — Bryan is mostly positive about the E-Targets but he says there are still some minor bugs to be worked out.
Bryan, a sling-shooter at heart, has really taken to this F-TR game. He won both the Mid-Range and Long Range F-TR National Championships in 2015 and now he has one 2016 title in the bag. Bryan tells us: “Many thanks go out to all those who’ve supported me in winning my second F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. My serious pursuit of F-TR shooting began the day I called John Pierce and requested: ‘John, build me one like yours’. That rifle and others built by Pierce Engineering are at the top of the game. Thanks also to my many great team-mates on the Michigan and U.S. Rifle Teams who have taught me a lot about this sport. As always the competition was stiff and mother nature gave us some drastically different looks. The challenging weather, combined with the introduction of electronic targets to this sport at the national level, required shooters to be highly adaptable. Thanks to the match organizers and technical staff who did a great job.”
John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz with his Championship-winning Pierce-built F-TR rifle (2014 photo).
Litz Loads Vihtavuori N140 with 215gr Berger Hybrids in his .308 Win
Bryan told us: “Load data is always a common question and I keep no secrets –I’m running the same basic load I shot the past few years with the exception that I’m now burning 43.0 grains of Vihtavuori N140 instead of Hodgdon Varget in new Lapua brass with Fed 210M primers and 215 Berger Hybrids seated about 0.005″ off the riflings. This gets 2520 fps in a 28-inch barrel. I use this same load for both mid-range and long range.”
Team Competition — Michigan Wins F-TR Division with X-Men in Second
Michigan F-TR Team won its second consecutive Mid-Range National Championship. Congratulations to team-mates Al Barnhart, Doug Boyer, Bryan Litz, and John Roethlisberger. Al and Doug are experienced veterans but this is John’s first experience in a national-level event. Michigan actually fielded two teams in this event and the second squad also won a medal in one of the matches. Byran Litz noted that the Michigan F-TR Team “has been working hard to develop our shooters and many have made it onto the U.S. Rifle Team. We have many great sponsors including: Applied Ballistics, Berger Bullets, Bartlein Barrels, Marksmanship Training Center, Nightforce Optics, Pierce Engineering, and Vihtavuori Powder.” Bryan added: “I also thank Team X-Men for the spirited competition. You guys (James Crofts, Tracy Hogg, Phil Kelly, Ian Klemm, and Ken Klemm) are great and make these team matches very fun.”
Bryan Litz with Michigan F-TR team-mates Al Barnhart, John Roethlisberger, and Doug Boyer.
Q & A with the Champ — Litz Talks Targets and Match Strategies
We asked Bryan how the new Electronic Target technology used in Lodi alters the F-Class game. As the Long Range Nationals are underway now, we also asked Bryan to comment on Mid-Range vs. Long Range strategies — what does he do different at 1000 yards vs. 600 yards.
1. How did you like the electronic targets? Did this require/allow a change in your shooting style or rhythm (e.g. can competitors shoot faster now with less wait time between shots)?
LITZ: I really like the E-Targets for many reasons. Not pulling pits is the biggest one but the E-Targets also bring a level of fairness that human pullers could never achieve in the sense that everyone gets the same speed ‘service’.
For the 2016 FCNC in Lodi, WI, all the targets are programmed with a 7-second delay which is equivalent to “very good” target service. The system actually shows your shot value immediately, but doesn’t plot the location of the shot for 7 seconds. So if you want to “machine gun” a shot following an X with the same hold, you can take your chances without knowing where the X was.
The E-Targets require some adaptation from regular pit service. For those with many years of experience on traditional targets, it’s just WEIRD that the target doesn’t go up and down or have a spotter in it. All the information you need is on the tablet. This isn’t better or worse, just different. Occasionally the tablets lose signal for a few seconds and it can be frustrating, but this is not different than when a puller missed a shot and you had to “call for a mark”. I think that very soon the connectivity issues will be fully resolved and the systems will operate flawlessly. I know it would be impossible to get all the shooters through on such a small range any other way. The E-Targets have enabled a medium-sized range like Lodi to host a National Championship.
Q: How is the mid-range F-TR game different than long-range F-TR competition?
LITZ: Usually Mid-Range is about consistent precision — not having any fliers and not dropping any points. Mid-Range matches are usually decided by a narrower point spread than long range. Conditions aren’t typically big enough to move you out of the 10 ring very much at mid-range. The first couple days of the 2016 Mid-Range Nationals was just like this. I won the first two days, dropping only 3 points in total. But then the wind picked up on Day 3 and it was totally different! It became more like a Long Range match with all the points falling like rain and [conditions] very difficult to read. Many more 8s and 7s appeared at 600 yards and the field really spread out. In the end I was able to hold onto my lead and win the tournament.
Q. Why the change to Vihtavuori N140 powder? Was it more available or were you seeing lower ES/SD?
LITZ: I’m seeing the same ES/SDs with VV N140 as what I was using before (Varget) and N140 may burn a little cleaner. Also availability has been improving on the Vihtavuori powders in recent years. We (the Michigan F-TR Rifle Team) are very fortunate to have Vihtavuori as a sponsor and look forward to winning many matches with Vihtavuori products.
Editor’s Note: If any readers have results for the F-Open Mid-Range Nationals, please post in the comments section below and we will update this story.
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Over the past few years, participation in F-Class competition has grown dramatically. At the 2013 SHOT Show we had a chance to talk about F-TR competition with then-U.S. National F-TR Team members Mike Miller and Stan Pate, two of America’s top F-TR shooters. With the U.S. F-Class Nationals underway this week (in Lodi, Wisconsin), we are reprising this interview for readers who may have missed it the first time around. If you shoot F-TR (even if you’re a High Master), we think you’ll learn a few things from this interview.
In this interview, Mike and Stan agreed to share their vast store of knowledge about long-range shooting. In a wide-ranging dialog, we discussed many topics of interest to F-Class shooters: position set-up, bipod shooting techniques (and hardware), gun-handling, and bullet selection. In addition, Mike and Stan offer some great advice on wind reading and precision reloading. These general tips will benefit all competitors, no matter what their discipline.
Watch Video for Tips from past U.S. National F-TR Team Members Mike Miller and Stan Pate
If you shoot F-TR or you are considering getting involved in this fast-growing shooting sport, definitely watch this 14-minute video interview from start to finish. Mike and Stan are true F-TR gurus whose knowledge of the F-TR game has been gleaned from years of top-level competition. If you shoot a .308 from a bipod, we guarantee you can learn much from Mike and Stan. If you follow their advice, we bet you’ll see your scores improve in future matches.
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Today is practice day for the Mid-Range F-Class Nationals, which commence bright and early tomorrow morning in Lodi, Wisconsin. In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, reigning F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.
Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”
Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.
Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!
Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.
Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.
1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.
2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.
[Editor’s Note: The 2016 F-Class Nationals will employ electronic targets so conventional pit duties won’t be required. However, the following advice does apply for matches with conventional targets.]
3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.
4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.
5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”
Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!
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The movie “The Patriot” gave us the phrase “Aim small, miss small”. While that’s a good mantra, aiming strategies for long-range competition are a bit more complicated, as this article explains…
The U.S. Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals kick off tomorrow, September 23rd, in Lodi, Wisconsin. Here are some tips that can help F-TR and F-Open shooters aim more precisely, and achieve higher scores. F-Class ace Monte Milanuk reviews reticle choices and strategies for holding off.
In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Front (first) Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.
In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:
Aiming Methods for F-Class (and Long-Range) Shooting — by Monte Milanuk
F-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of Front (first) focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.
Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.
Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.
Others use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.
Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte
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The 2016 F-Class Nationals kick off in nine days. The nation’s top F-Class shooters head to Lodi, Wisconsin for the Mid-Range Championship (Sept. 23-27) followed by the Long-Range Championship (Sept. 27 – Oct. 1). If you want to polish your skills with some last-minute practice at your home range, here’s a handy option for F-Class shooters. Here are some reduced 300-yard target centers that let you duplicate the MOA size of the official F-Class targets, but at closer range.
These reduced-size target centers were created by Forum member SleepyGator, an F-Class competitor who needed practice targets he could use at 300 yards. There is an official reduced-distanced standard for 300-yard F-Class matches. This utilizes the NRA No. MR-63FC – F-Class Target Center which is pasted over the MR-63 target. It provides a 1.42″ X-Ring, 2.85″ 10-Ring, and 5.85″ Nine-Ring. (The dimensions of F-Class targets are found in the NRA High Power Rules, Sec. 22, part 4, page 70 — see sample below.)
To duplicate the 300-yard target, SleepyGator has prepared a printable version of the MR-63FC Target Center, along with a pair of training targets with two bulls and five bulls. The two-bull and five-bull targets mirror the scoring rings on the MR-63FC, but they display only the innermost three rings and two rings respectively. All three targets are Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files that can be easily printed. You may need to adjust the scale (sizing) on your printer to get the dimensions exactly correct. As noted above, when printed, the 10-Ring on all three targets should measure 2.85″. This should provide some handy practice targets you can use between matches. Thanks to SleepyGator for providing these targets. You can download all three as a .Zip archive. After downloading the .Zip file, just click on the .Zip archive to extract the individual targets.
Yes, F-Classers, it’s time for the Nationals. Is your ammo loaded? Scope zeroed? The 2016 NRA F-Class Nationals will be held in Lodi, Wisconsin at the Winnequah Gun Club from September 23 through October 1, 2016. This will be a combined Mid-Range and Long Range event, with the Mid-Range activities running September 23-27, followed immediately by the Long-Range Nationals which conclude October 1, 2016. F-TR and F-Open shooters will compete for both individual and team honors. Here is the schedule:
Electronic Scoring at F-Class Championships
This is big news. For the first time ever in the USA, electronic (sonic-sensor) targets will be used for both the Mid-Range and Long Range F-Class National Championships. NOTE: These are NOT like the self-contained Kongsberg target systems at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park.
At Lodi, Competitors will still aim at conventional paper target faces but sonic sensors on the target frames will allow instant shot plotting and scoring. This target system was developed by Silver Mountain Targets of Canada. The Silver Mountain system uses sonic sensors (essentially high-tech microphones) to triangulate shots with great precision. Monitors will be positioned at each firing station. The Silver Mountain system has been extensively tested and the match directors have hard-wired the target “brains” back to the scoring center to ensure reliable communications. Before the championship, match officials will be conducting a mandatory class on the operation of the electronic target monitors.
Looking downrange at Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, WI:
2016 NRA F-Class National Championships FEE Schedule:
Mid-Range – Individual entries all individual matches – $230
Mid-Range – Each Team match (pay at range) – $80
Long Range – Individual entries all individual matches – $230
Long Range – Each Team match (pay at range) – $80
Combined Individual entry Mid-Range and Long Range – $400
STATE of the ART — F-TR and F-OPEN
Here is the sleek .308 Win rig Bryan Litz used to win the 2015 Mid-Range AND Long-Range F-TR Championship at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix.
And here is the 7mm RSAUM F-Open rifle belonging to Kenny Adams. The reigning F-Open World Champion, Kenny will be one of the favorites in Lodi…
Kenny’s World-Beating 7mm RSAUM Load
For his 7mm RSAUMs Kenny loads Hodgdon H4350 powder and Federal 215m primers into Nosler or Norma RSAUM brass. In the RSAUM he runs Berger 180gr Hybrid bullets seated “just touching” the lands. Kenny is very precise with his charge weights. Using a Sartorius Magnetic Force Restoration scale, Kenny tries to hold his powder charges to within 1-2 kernels charge-weight consistency.
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U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR) Selects New Berger 200.20X Bullet for 2017 World Championships
Berger Bullets has released new .30 caliber bullet that could be a game changer for the F-TR discipline — a bullet with exceptional accuracy and very high BC. Berger’s NEW 200.20X Hybrid Target Bullet is the result of extensive research and development in partnership with the U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR), world champion shooters, and accuracy enthusiasts within the long range shooting community.
The new 200.20X has a 0.640 G1/0.328 G7 BC compared to 0.616 G1/0.316 G7 for the older 200 grain .30 caliber Hybrid. That’s a significant reduction in drag. Recommended twist for the new bullet is 1:10″, same as with the earlier 200-grainer.
Berger Chief Ballistician and U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR) member Bryan Litz said, “This is the ideal bullet for F-TR and similar long-range disciplines. The 200.20X has a longer boat tail and nose, with shorter bearing surface which equates to less drag, a higher ballistic coefficient, and fewer points lost to the wind. The BC of the new 200.20X is 4% higher than the existing 200 grain Target Hybrid (G7 BC of 0.328 vs. 0.316). The shorter bearing surface also makes the 200.20X easy to load and shoot in standard chambers. New shooters won’t need special reamers or costly gunsmithing to make this bullet perform.” Bryan himself is switching to the new 200.20X: “After winning the 2015 National Mid-Range and Long Range F-TR Championships with the Berger 215 grain Target Hybrid, I’m switching to the 200.20X because it’s an even better option.”
Bryan tells us that new 200-20X bullet requires a 1:10″ twist to achieve full stability and performance (BC) in most conditions, but you can shoot it out of a 1:11″ twist with a minor decrease in BC. For a stability analysis, enter this bullet in the Berger Stability Calculator with a weight of 200.2 grains, and a length of 1.508″ to get stability results for your particular rifle and atmospheric conditions.
After extensive field testing, this new 200.20X bullet has been adopted as the official .30 caliber match projectile for the U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR). The team verified that this new bullet offers very impressive performance — the higher BC equates to less wind drift, and this bullet has shown exceptional ability to “hold waterline”. Check out this 1000-yard group by Team member Dan Pohlabel, as shown on an electronic target monitor.
To learn more about the new .30 caliber 200.20X Hybrid Target Bullet and its development, visit the Berger Bullets Blog for details. These 200.20X bullets are available right now through your favorite authorized Berger Bullets vendors.
About the U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR)
The two- time World Champion, U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR) is comprised of 30 shooters and coaches who have dedicated themselves to four years of training and preparation to represent the United States at the 2017 World Championships to be held in Canada. They compete all over the world at various ranges out to 1,000 yards.
Buy Bullets and Support U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR)
Eric Stecker, President of Berger Bullets said, “We are proud to be the Official Bullet of the U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR). To support our team, Berger Bullets will donate $1.00 for every box of 200.20X bullets sold towards U.S. Team expenses for the upcoming 2017 F-TR World Championships, which will be held at the Connaught Ranges in Ottawa, Canada.”
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Jeremy Rowland decided to put together an F-TR rifle for his eldest daughter, who enjoys competitive shooting. For his daughter, Rowland chose the .223 Rem option because it has less recoil and components are less costly than the .308 Win. Here is Rowland’s account of how he developed a .223 Rem load. For more details (with data charts), read Jeremy’s FULL STORY on Sierra Bullets Blog.
Journey to Find a .223 Rem F-Class Load
by Jeremy Rowland, Reloading Podcast
My oldest daughter has been to several matches with me, and has even competed in several, using her .243. I decided this coming season (2016), she would compete with a .223 Rem in FT/R. Looking for a good starter rifle, I settled on the Savage Axis Heavy Barrel since it has a 1:9″ twist. This would be a great little rifle for her to learn on. The rifle was shot unmodified, as it came from the factory. A Sinclair F-Class Bipod w/micro elevation adjustment was fitted to the front.
Next came the testing. I decided to run a ladder test (one shot per charge from min to max looking for the accuracy node). The ladder test ranged from 23.5 grains to 25.6 grains, in 0.3 grain increments.
After his ladder test, Rowland settled on a load of 25.2 grains of Hodgdon CFE 223. He then fine-tuned his load with different seating depths: “I loaded up 5 rounds each at .020″ off lands, .015″ off lands, .010″ off lands, and .005″ off the lands. Here are the results from the best group for OAL/Ogive fine tuning. As you can see, I think I’ve found a winner in these 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKings.”
Many of the world’s best F-Class shooters have traveled to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada this week to compete at the Canadian F-Class National Championships. F-Open ace Shiraz Balolia, who won back-to-back Canadian F-Open Championships in 2015 and 2014, will pursue a “three-peat” at Canada’s Connaught Ranges. There will be plenty of F-TR talent on hand as well, including Bryan Litz, reigning U.S. Mid-Range and Long-Range F-TR Champion. The first challenge for the shooters will be the weather, which can be notoriously wet and windy at Connaught. The weather forecast looks good for today and tomorrow, but thunderstorms (and rain) are predicted for Friday and Saturday.
U.S. F-TR Rifle Team Prepares for the Canadian Championships:
Shown above is the U.S. F-TR Rifle Team, which will compete in the F-TR division. In the America Match, teams from Canada, South Africa, and the United States will battle head-to-head for national honors.
Many Companies Help Sponsor U.S. F-TR Rifle Team
It takes significant resources to field a large shooting team in international competition. The U.S. F-TR Rifle team is fortunate to have many great sponsors helping the team with equipment and financial support. The team’s top-level “Gold Medal” sponsors, are, in alphabetical order: Berger Bullets, Gemtech, Kelbly’s, McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Nightforce Optics, Pierce Engineering, and 5.11 Tactical. CLICK HERE for a list of all sponsors.
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We know you guys like do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. And we also know that our readers like anything that helps a rifle sit more securely in the bags, and track better on recoil. Here’s a little accessory you can make yourself for pennies that will help rifles with conventional (non-benchrest) stocks ride the rear bag better.
This DIY Bag-Rider is simple in design and easy to make. The invention of Forum member Bill L. (aka “Nomad47″), this is simply a short section of PVC pipe attached to the bottom of a wood stock with a couple of screws. The back half of the PVC tube is cut at an angle to match the lower profile of the stock. Nomad47 painted the PVC Bag-Rider black for sex appeal, but that’s not really necessary.
In the top photo you can see Nomad47’s bagrider attached to a Savage varminter. In the photo below, the PVC bag-rider tube is fitted to an F-TR style rig with a green, laminated thumbhole stock. This rifle also features a Savage action with a custom barrel and “wide-track” bipod. (Note: to be legal in F-Class competition, the muzzle brake would have to be removed.)
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Derek Rodgers, the only shooter to win both the F-Open and F-TR National Championships, has done it again. While shooting the Santa Fe Trail LR Regional match in Raton, New Mexico, it looks like Derek set a new 1000-yard record. Derek nailed his 1000-yard target, recording a 200-14X score — that’s twenty (20) shots for record, all tens with 14 in the X-Ring. Derek told us: “Yesterday at Raton New Mexico’s Whittington Center, I shot a 200-14X, which should be a new pending F-TR National Record at 1000 yards.” Derek took special pride in this accomplishment, as he held the F-TR record before: “I’m happy to have the record back. I have had three of the last four records”. Well done Derek!
Derek Rodgers .308 Win F-TR Rifle Equipment List:
McMillan Xit stock, Kelbly Panda LBLP action, Bartlein .308 Win barrel (32″, 1:11.25″ twist), Nightforce NXS 8-32x56mm scope. Note that Derek shoots right-handed, but with a LEFT BOLT. This allows him to stay in position better while cycling the bolt with his LEFT hand.
This impressive performance by Derek shows that the best F-TR rifles can rival the big F-Open rigs for pure accuracy, even though the favored F-Open chamberings, such as .284 Win and .300 WSM, are still ballistically superior to the venerable .308 Winchester used by nearly all F-TR competitors. For his record-breaking load, Derek used Berger 200gr Hybrid Target bullets in Lapua .308 Win (small primer pocket) brass, pushed by Hodgdon Varget powder.
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There are hundreds of cartridge types capable of winning in F-Open. For F-TR you can shoot either the .223 Rem or .308 Win, but you have many load options. This article will focus on proven choices, currently used by the top F-Class shooters in the world. Our discussion will analyze cartridge selection based on the four different F-Class sub-disciplines: Open Mid-Range, Open Long-Range, F-TR Mid-Range, and F-TR Long Range.
Click image to view full-screen photo.
Mid-Range F-Open Cartridges
For starters, a .300 WSM is certainly capable of winning mid-range matches but it is not ideal. So what is ideal, and why? F-Class Mid-Range matches usually are usually shot at 300, 500, or 600 yards — or all three. At those distances the 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges rule. In moderate conditions, the 6mm Dasher is unbeatable. Its low recoil along with its super grouping ability and good ballistics make it my number one choice for Mid-Range.
Best bullets for the 6mm Dasher are: Vapor Trail 103gr, Berger 105 Hybrid, 108 BT, and 105 VLD (hunting). Best powders are: Varget, H4895, and Reloder 15.
Choices for Mid-Range in Tougher Conditions:
We all know that conditions are not always “moderate” that’s why something a little bit bigger will save you a “Nine” or two. The 6.5X47 Lapua was designed for 300-meter competition, but as soon as it was released, it was adopted by F-Class, benchrest, and tactical shooters. It offers great ballistics with very low recoil and big “accuracy window”. Lapua makes great brass for it (no surprise there) and Berger makes great bullets: 130gr VLD, 140gr VLD, 140gr Hybrids. Best powders in most barrels are Varget and H4350, I don’t use double-based powders such as Reloder 17 and the Vihtavuori N500 series because of their unpredictable performance day to day (greater temp sensitivity).
The 6.5X47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is also a great option for mid range matches. I was able to easily get 3200 fps with 105 hybrids and H4350.
Choice for Long-Range F-Open Competition
In Long-Range F-Open Class (out to 1000 yards), the big, high-BC bullets rule. If I had to pick one cartridge for F-Class (both mid- and long-range) I would pick the .284 Winchester or one of its variants. The .284 Win is currently dominating in F-Open competition. It offers great barrel life, it is super-easy to tune and its recoil is very manageable. The best bullets for it by far (in my opinion), are the Berger 180 Hybrids. But Sierra’s new 183gr MK bullet (with factory-uniformed meplats) seems to perform very well as does the Berger 180 VLD. Best powders for the .284 Win are H4350 and H4831SC.
Long-Range Only F-Open Cartridge
As much as I like the .284 Win, for long-range competitions I like the .300 WSM even more. If you look at a .300 WSM and a 6mm Dasher side by side, they appear almost identical in geometry — the .300 WSM looks like an “super-sized” Dasher. Both cartridges are currently the “darlings” of long-range benchrest due to their extraordinary grouping ability and huge “node’’ windows. Big accuracy windows allow loads to perform well in different conditions and geographical locations. That’s obviously very important if you travel to compete. The .300 WSM loaded with Berger 215gr or 230gr Hybrids is very tough to beat at long range, and it is currently my number one choice.
The 7mm RSAUM is another outstanding long-range round. It resembles a 6BR on steroids and it is almost as easy to tune. Best bullets for it are Berger 180gr Hybrids, 195gr EOLs, and Sierra’s 183gr MatchKing. Best powders for the 7mm RSAUM are: H4350, H4831SC, and VV N160.
Top Caliber/Bullet Combos for F-TR
In F-TR competition, the choice is clear — a .308 Win throated for Berger 185gr BTLRs and 200gr Hybrids will win in mid-range AND long-range comps. Many championships have been won, and many records set with those two bullets in the .308 Win. To quote Danny Biggs (a two times FTR National Champion) “The 185 BTLR is the best bullet for .308 Win ever made”.
The Berger 215gr Hybrids have been used to win many competitions including recently the 2015 F-Class Nationals. Bryan Litz won both the Mid-Range and Long-Range 2015 Championships using 215s. Bryan’s rifle is shown below:
I recommend chambers throated for the 185/200 grain projectiles over the 215/230 grain bullets. The reason is that if you have your barrel throated out for the 215s or the 230s, you could have a “slow” barrel and max out on pressure before the desired velocity is reached. Optimum freebore for the 230s is too long for the 185/200s, so you would be limited to using only 215/230gr bullets in that barrel.Furthermore, the recoil increase with heavier bullets is substantial, causing the rifle to be more difficult to shoot.
.223 Rem — Not A Competitive Option
I would stay away from the .223 Remington. On paper the 90gr VLD will shoot inside most .308 Win loads even at a 1000 yards. But in reality, on average, the .223 Rem, regardless of what powder/bullet combo is used, cannot compete with the .308 Win. [Editor: The equipment lists at major F-TR matches will confirm Kovan’s conclusion here.]
Conclusion (and Other Options)
This article covers only the (currently) most popular cartridge/bullet combos for F-Class (F-Open and F-TR). As I said in the beginning, many cartridge types are capable of winning but are not listed due to their low popularity, case design, or lack of quality components. All of the above information is based on my personal experience and it is meant to help new shooters choose the right cartridges for F-Class matches. Thanks for reading and good luck — Emil Kovan
Emil Kovan Competition History:
– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion
– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal
– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member
– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open
– 2013 U.S. National Team Member
– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member
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Old “Number 2″ belonging to Ray Gross. Click Photo for full-screen Image.
Ray Gross is captain of the United States F-TR Team. While he’s mostly involved in F-Class shooting these days, that wasn’t always the case. Ray is an experienced service rifle shooter, who secured his Distinguished Rifleman Badge 21 years ago. Ray has shot many different rifles during his competitive shooting career, but the rifle above has a special place in Ray’s heart. This old semi-auto earned Ray his Distinguished Badge, and he’ll never forget that…
“I said goodbye to an old friend last week…
Affectionately known as ‘Number 2′, she is the rifle that I earned my Distinguished Rifleman Badge with in 1995 (#1159).
That rifle was also responsible for a fair amount of Venison in the ’90s, as well. But since then, she has spent a lot of time in the closet. Last time I got her out was to destroy a bunch of hard drives containing evidence collected during my Computer Forensics days. She deserved better than that.
I will miss the beautiful sound of all that American steel slamming into battery when I tripped her bolt.” – Ray Gross
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Do you shoot with a SEB joystick-equipped bipod, or are you considering acquiring a “Joy-Pod” for your F-TR rifle? Then you should read this article. Here Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, the inventor and builder of the SEB joystick bipod, offers tips on shooting with this impressive piece of engineering. Seb explains some techniques that can help with tracking and getting back on target. You can ask SEB questions about his Joy-Pod in this Shooter’s Forum Thread.
Joy-Pod Shooting Tipsby Seb Lambang
1. Be sure that the rear bag is settled before starting to shoot. Tap your stock into the bag. Then move your rifle back and forth, while checking your reticle. If it tracks straight, vertically perfect, and comes back to the original point of aim, it’s fine. If not, re-adjust.
2. If you use the Pod-Pad, be sure it is fully settled before starting to shoot. Tap the top where the feet rides on using your palm — you wan to create a flat top. To be sure the Pod-Pad does not move or slide, remove any gravel or pebbles under the pad — these can act as roller bearings.
3. Be sure your shooting mat is NOT springy or spongy. This is very important. Use a proper mat, or cut it if possible so your rear bag rests directly on the ground. Use a heavy rear bag. You can use a sand-filled doughnut (not a rigid spacer) to stabilize the bag on uneven ground. These doughnuts are relatively inexpensive and really work.
4. Be sure your whole body position is correct, so your shoulder is square. “Follow” the recoil with your shoulder, don’t push “against” it. Don’t move too much. Don’t make unimportant movements during your shooting string. Always be as consistent as you can in all things — how you hold the rifle, even how you breathe before taking the shot.
This young lady shooter is using a first generation Joy-Pod. The newer versions have flat, ski-like feet.
5. Be sure your rifle and rear bag are aligned. You want the slot between the ears of the bag perfectly aligned with your barrel. (You can use a yardstick or a piece of string to help with the alignment).
6. Use a heavy rear bag. The heavier and the more stable, the better.
7. It does not matter (from my own experience) whether you light-hold the joystick or leave the joystick in the air when you shoot (see Darrell Buell video — he shoots “hands off”). I believe the bullet already exits the muzzle before the joystick moves in your fingers. I lightly hold the joystick myself, just as I would hold a billiard stick.
Watch Darrell Buell shooting his .375 CheyTac equipped with a counter-balanced Joy-Pod. Note how the gun comes straight back, and how Darrell can release the joystick before breaking the shot.
SUMMARY — When It All Comes Together
If everything is set up right, and done correctly, your rifle will track beautifully straight and your reticle will come back or very close to the original point of aim, every time. If you have to change the Joy-Pod, rear bag, or your body position after a shot, there could still be something wrong with your set-up, alignment, or body position. When everything is right, you can also see your own score in the scope after every shot you make (after initial recoil). You also should not have to change the bipod’s setting, the height, the cant etc., at all. You only need to adjust for the current condition with the joystick, the joystick will do it all. That’s why we call our bipod the JOY-Pod.
SEB JOY-POD Joystick Bipod, and POD-PAD
Weighing in at just 18 ounces (510 grams), the Gen 2 Joy-Pod is unlike any other bipod on the market. Designed specifically for weight-restricted shooting classes, the Joy-Pod offers smooth and precise joystick-controlled aiming. The Gen 2 model offers up to 14 degrees of cant and an improved design that functions with up to 50 pounds of rifle weight. Each Joy-Pod comes with a Weaver rail adapter. The optional Pod-Pad accessory is designed expressly for the Joy-Pod. It works filled or unfilled with the Joy-Pod’s sleds to bring you back to your shooting position easily. CLICK HERE for more information, or visit SebRests.com.
.308 Win Tactical Rifle fitted with Joy-Pod on Pod-Pad. CLICK HERE for Video.
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Criterion Barrels Inc. (CBI) has a policy of rewarding excellence. As a way of supporting top shooters, Criterion will provide a new, free barrel to any shooter who sets or ties a national record when using a Criterion product. To explain, you get a new Criterion barrel for free if you set (or tie) a national shooting record using a Criterion barrel on your rifle.
Criterion Barrels hopes to increase awareness of its free barrel for record sectors program. Over the last few years a number of F-Class and vintage military competitors have benefited from this program, receiving a complimentary barrel of their choice after setting a new national record in their shooting discipline. Past record breaking shooters have included David Mark Honeycutt (with a 300-yard F-Class score of 600-50X), Samantha Huhtala (four records set in 600-yard F-TR competition), and Victor Betzold (M1 Carbine with a score of 375-6X).
Criterion may, in the future, create a rewards program for winners of national, regional, and local rifle matches. Potential earned rewards by match winners could include equipment sponsorships, barrel discounts, and free apparel items.
Set a Record with a Criterion Barrel? Then Give Criterion a Call…
If you or someone you know has set a pending national record with a Criterion barrel, have the shooter contact Criterion Barrels. Send email to contact[at]criterionbarrels.com or call (262) 628-8749.
Once the shooter’s information is verified and the record is confirmed by the governing body of their appropriate shooting discipline, the order will be processed and shipped to the new record-holder.
About Criterion Barrels, Inc.: Criterion Barrels, Inc. was founded in 1999 as a division of Krieger Barrels, Inc. in response to demands of rifle builders and firearms manufacturers for quality match grade barrels at a lower cost. Our company is now completely independent from Krieger Barrels, featuring a separate facility, personnel, and ownership.
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Report by Vince Bottomley Victrix Armaments, an Italian company, has developed new technology that could be a major “game-changer” in the world of precision rifles in general, and F-Class in particular. Victrix’s leadership group knows all about excellence — and winning. Giuseppe Valtorta, CEO of Victrix Armaments, is a top competitive shooter who won Gold with his F-TR rifle at the 2015 European F-Class Championships.
A New Breed of F-Class Rifle
Turn back the clock half a century — George Farquharson is happily shooting a modified military rifle with iron sights and sling. He hasn’t even dreamt of F Class…
Benchrest however is beginning to gather momentum. Accuracy seekers are demanding the ultimate in precision engineering. They will go to their favorite gunsmith and, if they’re very lucky, procure one of the new custom actions from Hart or Shilen.
In the last 50 years, what’s changed? Benchrest is still with us but F-Class has emerged as a world discipline and, to some extent, brought new challenges to our accuracy rifle builders. But, whilst the rest of the planet has reveled in the speed and precision of CNC machining, we still love to place our faith in the gunsmith and his trusty old lathe!
But, of course, there is a reason for this. CNC equipment is expensive and geared towards the rapid multiple production of precision parts, whereas the custom gunsmith is dedicated to the ‘one-off’ build.
Also, even with a limited run, CNC does not readily lend itself to chambering our cut- or button-rifled barrels. Good as our barrels are, there are issues that have made CNC machine problematic. Each barrel demands loving care at the hands of our chosen gunsmith – if it is to perform to our expectations.
5-Axis CNC vs Manual Barrel Chambering
What if — What if the whole barrel-fitting and chambering process could be made “CNC compliant” and produce a rifle which would equal (or even exceed) the accepted standard. And do it every time, time after time! Cost could be reduced and also waiting times.
Good as our custom barrels are, they still need to be scrupulously checked — for uniformity of the bore, the lands, the grooves — for straightness, consistency of diameter, and concentricity. This could be achieved, using some pretty sophisticated measuring equipment — but that would be outside the realms of the custom gunsmith.
Even then, how could the barrel be easily accommodated in a CNC five-axis machining center to ensure a set-up for the best possible chamber and threading? Remember, bores are rarely concentric to the outside diameter and seldom straight, so the set-up would need to ensure that any deviation would be in the vertical plane when the barrel is screwed in the action and the chamber-section would need to be exactly aligned.
These are of course the issues faced every day by the custom gunsmith but currently, there are few CNC machines which could easily accommodate this requirement. But yes, there are a few….
Let me introduce you to Victrix, an Italian engineering company with an impressive multi-million euro factory crammed with the very latest in CNC machinery and a state of the art measuring laboratory. They already have a well-established background in the firearms manufacturing industry, at both military and sporting level. Never heard of Victrix? You soon will, for Victrix has chosen the prestigious 2016 IWA Show (Hall 9 – 423) to launch its new range of high-end rifles.
Victrix manufacturing facility in Italy is ‘crammed with the very latest in CNC machinery':
Whilst Victrix initially developed a range of tactical/military firearms — some of which will also be of interest to the sport shooter — the company has now turned its attention to the F-Class discipline. By working with those competing at the highest level of F-Class competition, Victrix has developed a range of “off the shelf” F-Class rifles that are “competition-ready” right out of the box. Incidentally, Victrix have chosen American barrel-maker Benchmark as its exclusive barrel supplier. Victrix has already perfected a way of accurately assessing barrels to adapt them to CNC working, and this is the key to the new project.
Victrix Target Trigger — Adjustable down to an Ounce
Victrix F-Class rifles will feature an advanced, new target trigger engineered by Victrix. This four-lever target trigger boasts an adjustment range of 1 to 2.5 ounces (30 – 70 grams). Another trigger (8 to 21 ounces pull weight), is used for the Victrix tactical rifles.
For its new line of rifles, Victrix have developed its own proprietary actions. These actions employ some interesting ideas. The bolt is three-lug with a 60-degree lift and 105/105/150 degree lug-geometry. Testing verified that this arrangement provided a greater resistance to flexing in the locked position over the more traditional 120/120/120 geometry. This geometry also aids the pick-up and feeding of rounds from a magazine when used in a tactical configuration.
Above is Victrix’s new action. It’s impressive. Multiple configurations are offered: Right Bolt/Left Port, Right Bolt/Right Port and other variations. The action can be fitted with Victrix Target or Tactical trigger.
The action and bolt are machined from 17.4PH stainless steel and then hardened (body 48 Rockwell, bolt 45 Rockwell) and treated with PVD (physical vapor deposition). Finally the actions are coated with chromium nitride and nobium for wear-resistance and smooth operation. Tenon thread is M27x1.5 and of course, tolerances are ‘benchrest’ standard. Picatinny rails are screwed and pinned to the action.
Victrix has certainly done its homework. The company will offer rifles for both F-Open and F-TR classes. Stocks will be offered in a variety of materials: wood, wood-laminate, aluminum, and carbon-fiber. The stocks share a no-nonsense, straight-forward design, specifically for shooting a rested rifle.
Whilst we are focusing on their F-Class rifles, we shouldn’t forget the Victrix tactical range. Although designed with military and police use, they will appeal to anyone who enjoys tactical-style shooting. There is no compromise on quality or accuracy so, expect the same build standard but with stocks CNC’d from 7075 mil-spec aluminum with a hard-anodized coating. The Victrix three-lever tactical trigger adjusts from 8 to 21 ounces (250 – 600 grams).
Victrix has chosen March Scopes UK (IWA Hall 3A – 110) as its business partner in launching the new Victrix F-Class rifles. This was a wise choice, as March Scopes UK proprietor Gary Costello is a former World F-Class Champion. Gary, well-known to F-Class competitors, continues to shoot with the Great Britain Team.
We look forward to taking a closer look at the Victrix F-Class rifles and hope to provide an in-depth range report in the not-too-distant future. Check out the Victrix website at www.Victrixarmaments.com.
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Our British friend Vince Bottomley has field-tested the brand new Vortex 15-60x52mm “Golden Eagle” riflescope. We first viewed this scope at SHOT Show and were impressed. Now Vince, in a Target Shooter Magazine review, has confirmed that that the scope works great in the real world. It has good glass, excellent tracking, and the image stays sharp even at full magnification. Vince says this 15-60X Vortex will give other high-magnification scopes a run for their money. In fact the Vortex Golden Eagle may be the new Performance-for-Price leader in the category. Price in the USA will be $1500.00.
Vince writes: “The Vortex deserves to line up alongside the competition – namely the March 10-60, the Nightforce 15-55 and the Leupold 7-42. The price is remarkable at [$1500.00 in the USA, under £1500 in the UK]. If you are contemplating the purchase of a scope in this magnification range, the Vortex must be on your shopping list.” This new Vortex features ED glass, and weighs 29 ounces, just one ounce more than the 15-55X Nightforce Comp. Two reticles are available — a Fine Cross-Hair (FCH), and the Vortex ECR-1 reticle with MOA-based windage and elevation hold lines. Turrets have 1/8 MOA clicks.
Precision of Clicks: Does one MOA (i.e. eight 1/8 MOA clicks) on the Golden Eagle’s turret translate to one MOA on the target? Vince fired one shot on target then wound on 20 MOA of elevation and fired another. Vince reports: “The shot-holes should be 20.94″ (20 x 1.047″) inches apart. They actually measured 21.5 inches — an excellent result. I don’t think I’ve ever had a scope better this.”
Elevation Travel: F-TR shooters using the .308 Win will need about 30 MOA to get from a 100-yard zero to 1000 yards. Vince maxed out the Golden Eagle with roughly 22 MOA of “up” elevation. He concluded that “a +20 MOA scope-rail is a ‘must’ if you’re intending to shoot out to 1000 yards. These days, almost everyone uses a 20 MOA scope rail anyway.”
Tracking Test: Vince did a “box test” running the Vortex to the limits of elevation and windage and then back again to verify that the scope returned to the starting zero. Vince observed that the scope tracked great, “with the first and last shots over-lapping. No problem there.”
Glass Sharpness and Clarity: Vince put the the Golden Eagle alongside a 10-60 March, with both scopes mounted on F-TR rifles. Vince was impressed by the optics quality of the Vortex — it held its own vs. the “superb” March: “Firstly, we viewed the target on 40 power, the magnification which seems most popular with F-Class shooters. Both scopes registered bright, crisp images — no difference between the two. I know the March will stay sharp at maximum magnification but will the Golden Eagle? Yes! No loss of crispness in the image at 60X.”
This video includes interviews with Walt Berger and tube-gun builder Gary Elesio. This is our final Berger SW Nationals video for 2016, so enjoy the highlights from Ben Avery — see you next year.
The 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals are now history. This was a great match, with an incredible level of talent. There were numerous “big names” on the line, including reigning F-Open World Champion Kenny Adams, 10-time National High Power Champion Carl Bernosky, past National Long-range Champion John Whidden, current National Mid- and Long-Range F-TR Champion Bryan Litz, and Derek Rodgers, who won the F-TR division at last year’s SW Nationals. With a strong performance this week, Derek topped the F-TR field again, securing his second straight SW Nationals F-TR title.
Top Five Shooters by Class
F-TR Top Five
F-Open Top Five
Sling Division Top Five
Danny J. Biggs
In team competition, the Michigan F-TR Team scored a narrow victory over tough competition from the USA F-TR Team and the X-Men. In the F-Open Division, Team Lapua-Brux shot superbly at 1000 yards to capture the Aggregate title, finishing ahead of Team Grizzly and Team Berger. The Ethnic Fringe Team from the UK had strong performances in the Sling Division Team events.
With his 2016 victory, Derek Rodgers has secured back-to-back F-TR titles at the Berger Southwest Nationals. He says he likes his new McMillan F-TR stock. View yesterday’s feature video for a revealing interview with Derek. In that video, Derek discusses the best bullet and powder choices for F-TR.
Members of the winning Lapua-Brux F-Open team were all smiles. They deserved to be proud — they set a new SWN record in the 1000-yard team match. Left to right: Bob Sebold, Pat Scully, Erik Cortina, Steve Harp.
Here is F-Open Winner John Myers of Texas, along with Berger’s F-Open Perpetual Trophy. John is interviewed in today’s video, linked at the top of this story. John’s F-Open rifle is chambered for the 7mm Walker, a .284 Win Improved similar to the .284 Shehane.
Sling Division (Palma rifle) winner Patrick McCann is congratulated by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics. Pat has recently returned to competitive shooting after a lengthy hiatus. Pat’s a great competitor who has won the National XTC Championships Twice. Nancy Tompkins lead the “Any Rifle” Sling category. As Forum member Rheurer observed: “No intro needed for the nicest person in the sport.”
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Our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK has written an excellent article for Target Shooter Magazine. Vince offers “solid-gold” advice for new F-TR and F-Open shooters. Vince reviews the cartridge options, and offers suggestions for a shooter’s first (and hopefully affordable) F-Class rifle. Vince also reviews various bipod choices for F-TR and discusses optics options (from $300 to $3000).
The 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals event is less than a week away. If you need some last-minute practice before this match and you don’t have the time (or money) to load a couple hundred rounds of centerfire ammo, consider rimfire practice. Past F-TR National Champion James Crofts attributes much of his success to plenty of trigger time with his rimfire training rifle.
Rimfire Training for F-Classers
2014 and 2012 U.S. National F-TR Champion James Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class shooters. A member of the 2013 World Championship-winning F-TR Team USA squad, James knows a thing or two about long-range shooting, that’s for sure. But you may be surprised to learn how James sharpens his shooting skills at relatively short distances. You see, James often practices with a .22 LR rimfire rifle at distances from 50 to 200 yards. James tells us: “Shooting my F-Class rimfire trainer saves me money and improves my shot process and wind-reading abilities.”
Remington rimfire 40X barreled action in PR&T LowBoy stock with PT&G bolt.
Rimfire Training Teaches Wind-Reading Skillsby James Crofts
Training with the rimfire is extremely useful and can be done from 25 yards out to 200 yards. I am lucky and can shoot 50 yards right off my back deck. That is far enough that any miscue on rifle handling will show up on the target. I use a two dry-fire to one actual shot routine for my practices. This gives me much more positive reinforcement without any negative reinforcement.
Wind reading is extremely important with a .22 LR rifle. I use a set of smallbore flags to aid my wind calls. The smallbore flags are a must and force you to look at the flags and mirage on each and every shot. If you think the flags at Camp Butner move a lot, try smallbore flags around tall pine trees.
James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.
Rimfire Training Is Cost-Effective
Rimfire ammunition is much less costly than centerfire ammo. Though .22 LR prices have risen in recent years (and rimfire ammo is harder to find), even now I can get a 500-round brick of .22 LR ammo for less than $75.00. That works out to fifteen cents a round. That’s a fraction of the cost of handloading .308 Win match ammo. Heck, you can pay 40 cents a piece for match-grade .308-cal centerfire bullets. Then you have to figure in brass, primers, and powder.
My CMP 40X Rimfire F-TR LowBoy Clone
My quest into the .22 LLR rimfire field started with an email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) announcing Rem 40X stripped barreled actions for sale. I thought, “Hmmm… Could one of those little 40X barreled actions be turned into a F-Class training rifle?” My gunsmith Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool was brought in at this point.
After conferring with Ray, it was decided that he could indeed turn this into a F-Class training rifle. Ray contacted Dave Kiff of PT&G and ordered a new bolt for the Remington 40X rimfire action. Next was the stock decision. I decided to go with a PR&T Low Boy F-Class stock — this is an exact clone of the stock for my .308 Win F-TR competition rifle. Then a Jewell trigger was acquired to complete the components. Ray built this just like he would any custom rifle, other than using the stock barrel. The project turned out awesome. The rifle was a hammer from the beginning even with the stock barrel.
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