September 12th, 2017

Care and Feeding of .50 BMGs — What You Need to Know

fifty caliber shooting association

A while back we published an Introduction to .50-Caliber Shooting authored by James Patterson. James has written a companion piece for Sinclair’s Reloading Press that covers the “care and feeding” of the big .50 Cal match rifles.

50 BMG FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Owning and Feeding ‘The Big Bore’

Is The Challenge Of Big Bore Extreme Range Shooting And Hunting Right For You?
By James Patterson

Handling a 50 BMG
Is a 50 BMG caliber rifle difficult to shoot? Not at all. The relatively heavy weight of a standard rifle at 30 pounds or more combined with a very efficient muzzle brake makes it a pleasure to shoot. The typical recoil can be compared to a .243 rifle or a 12 gauge trap load. On the other hand, the burning of a typical load of 230 grains of powder combined with that muzzle brake makes the muzzle blast experience exhilarating. A first time shooter will fire, pause for a moment in awe at the muzzle blast, and then break out into what has become known as “The 50 caliber Grin”, almost impossible to wipe from ones face. My daughter started competing with the 50 BMG at 18 (115 lbs of tall skinny girl) and happily shoots 100+ rounds in the course of a match, her grin on the last round is as wide as on the first! Many members and competitors in the FCSA are women and many have distinguished themselves as excellent marksman having set world records on numerous occasions.

50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting Association

Fifty 50 Caliber shooting Association

Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a 50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $7000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. A good scope will set you back $500 to $1500. And while excellent commercial ammo is available it runs from $3 to $5 a round. Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo. I recently compared the cost of my hobby — owning, shooting, and competing with the 50 BMG — with a friend whose hobby is snowmobiling. Factoring in the cost of equipment, licensing, gasoline, clothing, etc. it was soon obvious that my hobby was significantly less expensive than his.

50 BMG FCSA Fifty Caliber

50 BMG FCSA fifty Caliber

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Getting Started
FCSA 50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting AssociationSo how does one get started? You could do as I did, purchase a rifle not knowing what you were really getting into; or you could come out to a FCSA-sponsored event, shoot a number of different rifles, rub shoulders with those who have already taken the plunge, and see if this sport is right for you. While membership in the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FSCA) is required to compete at a FSCA event, membership is not required to come and experience first hand what is going on. If you have any inclination that you are interested in the extreme sport of long rang, big bore shooting then a year’s membership in the FCSA is only $60 ($20 for active duty military) a significant bargain if it helps you make just one well-informed equipment choice. In addition one of the primary functions of the FCSA is helping to identify active members near you who can help you understand just what is involved and help you ‘get your feet wet’ in this challenging sport.

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Photos courtesy FCSA Photo Gallery.
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September 10th, 2016

Photogenic Fifties — FCSA Photo Galleries

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

Are you a died-in-the-wool .50 BMG fan? Got a hankerin’ for heavy artillery? Then visit the FCSA Photo Gallery page. There you’ll find hundreds of photos from Fifty Caliber Shooting Association (FCSA) matches and 50 Cal fun shoots in eleven states plus Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. To access the photos from the Gallery Page, start by selecting a state/country and then click on the colored buttons for the event date (e.g. 2015-04).

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

Photo sets go all the way back to 2002, so you can see the evolution of the hardware over the years. Sample multiple archives to see the differences in terrain from one range to another — from Raton’s alpine setting to the hot, dry Nevada desert. This Gallery is really a treasure-trove of .50-Cal history. Here are a few sample images.

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
June 8th, 2015

Introduction to the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA)

50 BMG cartridge FCSA

30th Annual FCSA Championship Coming Soon
The 30th Annual FCSA 1000/600 Yard World Championship will be held July 3 through 5, 2015 at the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. CLICK HERE to REGISTER.

By James Patterson
This article first appeared in Sinclair International’s Reloading Press Blog

For a number of years I drooled over every .50 BMG caliber rifle that I came across, I read every article I could find and determined that ‘Someday’ I was going to have one. Well I finally took the plunge and in 2002 I purchased my first ‘Big 50’. Almost immediately I joined the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) and I have since come to immensely enjoy shooting this challenging cartridge and associating with some of the best people on earth.

(more…)

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May 19th, 2015

King of Two Miles Event in New Mexico

Long Range 2500 yards Whittington King of Two Miles

Long Range 2500 yards Whittington King of Two Miles1000 yards? Heck, for these KO2M guys, that’s just a warm-up — they plan to shoot out to 2500 yards and beyond. A new ultra-long-range event will be held this summer in New Mexico at the NRA Whittington Center. The King of Two Miles (KO2M) match will be held on July 1-2, 2015, right before the Fifty Caliber Shooters Assocation (FCSA) 1000-yard World Championships. If you like hurling big projectiles at very long ranges, Whittington is the place to be in July. The KO2M event is “wide-open” — any caliber is allowed and rifle size/weight is limited only by the shooter’s ability to lift the gun himself. Rifles will be shot prone with bipod.

Two Miles (Well Not Quite)
The name of the event is a bit of a misnomer, as the max range will be roughly 2500 yards. That’s WAY less than a full two miles (3520 yards). KO2M organizers do plan to go all the way out to two miles in the future, but they say their target and spotting technology isn’t up to that yet. Accordingly, the 2015 course of fire will include steel and electronic targets placed at known distances from 1000 to roughly 2500 yards. Next year, hopefully, the max range will be extended to over two miles, but, for now: “Current optical systems do not allow that.”

(more…)

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June 9th, 2014

‘Big Boomer’ Galleries on Updated FCSA Website

50 Caliber Shooters AssociationFans of Heavy Artillery should head over to the updated and enhanced Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) Image Gallery website (see Gallery samples below). There you’ll find videos, photo collections, and animated slide-shows. There are also a series of articles covering FCSA competition along with the “care and feeding” of the big 50-caliber rifles.

The FCSA will host its 1000/600 Yard World Championship July 3 through 5, 2014 at the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. CLICK HERE to REGISTER.

Fifty 50 Caliber Shooters Association FCSA

Fifty 50 Caliber Shooters Association FCSA

Fifty 50 Caliber Shooters Association FCSA

Fifty 50 Caliber Shooters Association FCSA

Fifty 50 Caliber Shooters Association FCSA

About the FCSA
Founded in 1985, the FCSA is an international organization with members in 22 countries. Headquartered in Monroe, Utah, the FCSA has a membership of approximately 4000. While the FCSA provides a service to military and law enforcement with research and instruction as well as an active liaison in both communities, the primary charter of the FCSA is the promotion of the sporting use of the 50 BMG cartridge and its wildcat derivatives. The FCSA and its members have lead the way in refining .50-caliber cartridges, rifles, and 1000-yard plus shooting know-how. Members enjoy a quarterly magazine, a suppliers directory, a very active website, and access to literally the best repository of 50 BMG information on the planet. If you are interested in Mr. John Browning’s big 50, you should seriously consider joining the FCSA.

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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October 6th, 2012

.50 Caliber Shooters Association Photo Galleries Unveiled

Are you a died-in-the-wool .50 BMG fan? Got a hankerin’ for heavy artillery? Then visit the FCSA Photo Gallery page. There you’ll find hundreds of photos from Fifty Caliber Shooting Association (FCSA) matches and fun shoots in California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Washington. To access the photos from the Gallery Page, click on the colored tabs which indicate match location and date (such as NV2011-08).

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

Photo sets go all the way back to 2002, so you can see the evolution of the hardware over the years. Sample multiple archives to see the differences in terrain from one range to another — from Raton’s alpine setting to the hot, dry Nevada desert. This Gallery is really a treasure-trove of .50-Cal history. It’s worth a visit. Here are a few sample images.

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

FCSA 50 Caliber Photo Gallery

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
July 16th, 2012

Wilkinson Wins Hunter Class at .50 Cal World Championships

Walter WilkinsonUsing a “box-stock”, 30-lb Steyr HS.50 rifle, Walter Wilkinson of Edgewood, NM, bested a field of 31 competitors (most using heavier custom rifles) to take the Hunter Class Score title at the recent Fifty Caliber Shooters Association World Championships. This event was held July 1st and 2nd at the NRA Whittington Center outside Raton, NM. This is the second year in a row that a competitor with an off-the-shelf Steyr HS.50 won the Hunter Class title. (Eduardo Abril de Fontcuberta won Hunter Class with an HS.50 last year.)

Wilkinson, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant major and current Gunsite Academy instructor, ran up a two-day Aggregate score of 274-6X out of a possible 300, beating his next closest competitor, .50 Cal legend Lee Rasmussen, by two Xs. The Hunter Class is a 1,000-yard course of fire consisting of six, five-shot strings, with three strings shot on the first day, and three strings shot on the second day. Due to the wildly varying winds on this range, competitors who shot in the morning of the first day were required to shoot in the afternoon of the second day, and vice versa, to equal the playing field.

Slotted in the first afternoon’s fourth relay, Wilkinson’s consistency, solid wind-doping and holding skills paid off as the winds made an especially tricky display with a 180-degree shift as thunderheads came over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Heading into his morning relay on the second day, Wilkinson found himself in second place with nothing to do but hammer the 10-ring to work his way into the championship title.

Walter Wilkinson

Wilkinson’s .50 Delivered Quarter-MOA Groups During Load Testing
Wilkinson said the Steyr .50-Cal has shown outstanding accuracy: “As I was working up a load for the HS.50, I shot groups that amazed me. I was getting groups of .214 MOA at 220 yards, and I didn’t know what to think. All the bullets were going in the same hole, and it was like ‘Wow, I’ve really got a rifle that can shoot here’. They were the best groups that I have ever shot in my life — and they were with the .50 BMG!” That surprised Wilkinson: “With my [military] experience with the performance of the same cartridge overseas, I didn’t expect that kind of accuracy out of it.”

Walter Wilkinson

Wilkinson Was Also Member of Winning .50 Cal Team
Along with his individual Hunter Class Title, Wilkinson earned team honors as a Ten-X team member. The Ten-X team won the Team World Championship with an aggregate score of 1081-24X combined with an average group size of 14.549 inches. Each team had four shooters with one from each of the four classes represented at the .50 Caliber Championships: Light, Heavy, Unlimited, and Hunter.

Permalink Competition, News 4 Comments »
July 26th, 2009

Rasmussen Shoots 1.9557" group at 1000 yards, and sets Four 50-Caliber World Records

Fifty Caliber Shooting Association FSCAIn a remarkable display of long-range marksmanship, legendary 50-Caliber shooter Lee Rasmussen set four (4) new 1000-yard world records at the recent Fifty Caliber Shooters Assn. (FCSA) Championships, held at the NRA Whittington Center over the 4th of July weekend. First, Lee shot an amazing 1.9557″ 5-shot group in Heavy Gun Class, breaking Skip Talbot’s 2.600″ single-group record set in 1999. Lee’s sub-2″ group works out to .1868 MOA. That’s darn good at 100, and Lee did it at 1000!

Rasmussen Also Breaks Agg Records
In addition to the sub-2″ group, Lee set three new six-target Aggregate 50-Caliber records. In Heavy Gun, Lee shot a 298-19X score to shatter Scott Nye’s 7-year old 297-11X SCORE record. Those six targets also produced a new Heavy Gun GROUP record of 6.39X”. Finally, in Unlimited Class, Rasmussen put together a stunning 5.667″ six-target Group Agg. That is the smallest Group Agg ever shot in 50-Cal competition — in any class. Wow… including the 1.9557″ group, that’s four world records in one match. Lee told us: “It was amazing. I was deeper ‘in the groove’ than I’ve ever been before.” Lee was shooting IMI (Israeli) 50BMG brass, with home-made, lathe-turned bullets fired by Vihtavuori 20N29 powder and RWS 50-cal primers.

Lee Rasmussen FCSA 1000 yard record

While Lee was pleased with his individual performance, he feels the match results are more noteworthy because they show the potential of the 50 BMG for superior long-range accuracy. Lee explained: “My goal has always been to show the rest of the shooting world what this cartridge can do. We want to get the 50-caliber game to where the other shooting sports are, and then take it a little further. Of course a variety of smaller cartridges can do great at 1000. But the difference is what the 50 BMG can do in high winds.” Mark added that, with the ultra-high BCs of the lathe-turned, solid 50-caliber bullets, the 50s can repeatably produce impressive 1000-yard groups even in strong winds.

Forum member Lynn Dragoman observed: “A sub-2-inch group with a standard 50 BMG is simply outstanding. Lee could use a modified case but chooses to stick with the original case to keep the sport [faithful] to its guidelines of promoting the 50 BMG.” Lee Rasmussen is widely respected as one of the most skilled and dedicated 50-caliber shooters, and one of the guys who has always “given back to the sport”.

Consider this, there are 17 possible records in 50-caliber competition and Lee now holds ten of them (plus his wife, Sheri, holds three more). Lee actually held eleven records until the last target at the Nationals, when Lee’s LG Six-Target Group Agg Record was broken by fellow 50-Cal Shooter Mark Avakian. So Lee’s FCSA World Record total stands at ten (10), counting his new HG Small Group Record.

Lee Rasmussen 50 caliber 1000 yard record

Avakian Set New Aggregate Record
Mark Avakian set a new Light Gun multi-target group size record at the FCSA Nationals. Mark shot a masterful Six-Target 5.823″ LG Aggregate to break one of the FCSA records previously held by Lee Rasmussen. We congratulate Mark for his very consistent shooting over two days to set the record. While the winds were pretty consistent on Day 1, the winds were very inconsistent on Day 2 both in terms of direction AND velocity, according to Rasmussen. Mark agreed, but he said he “was lucky to have better than average conditions for his Light Gun relay”. When asked the secret of his success, Mark said: “The Light Gun has been shooting very well, and I’ve been using a new 808gr bullet from Dave at Lehigh Bullets. The 808s are shooting great.” (See photo below for other Lehigh custom bullets).

Mark Avakian 50 Caliber world record

LeHigh 50 Caliber world record bullets

For more information on 50-Caliber competition, visit the FCSA website or contact the FCSA at P.O. Box 111, Monroe, UT 84754-0111, phone: (435) 527-9245.

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