August 30th, 2019

IBS Match Report: 2019 Group Nationals in Holton, Michigan

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS
4-Gun winner Wayne Campbell is arguably the best group benchrest shooter in the world right now.

IBS 100/200 Yard Group Benchrest National Championships

Story by IBS President Jeff Stover President based on report by Harley Baker

Western Michigan was the site of the 2019 IBS Group Nationals. This major event was held August 12-17, 2019 at the Holton Gun & Bow Club. This club hosts many quality group benchrest matches throughout the season, and this one was no exception. The Holton team, especially match director Nancy Scarbrough, made everything seem easy. The shooters, however, don’t find conditions easy at all.

Jeff Stover IBS International Benchrest Shooters Holton gun bow club MI Michigan 6PPC Vihtavuori N133

Summer Sun, Mirage, and Switchy Winds
In the middle of August, Holton’s sandy soils can generate fierce mirage. It can get so bad that competitors may not be able to see bullet holes clearly and target rings can become indistinguishable. In Warren Page’s classic gun book, “The Accurate Rifle”, he speaks of mirage as “shooting through the swimming pool”. Well Warren Page must have shot Holton. When mirage was not the problem at Holton, switchy winds were the order of the day. CLICK HERE for 2019 IBS Group Nationals Results.

IBS Group Nationals Course of Fire
The IBS Group Nationals can be an endurance test as the event spans six days. The sequence of competition has 100-yard targets shot the first three days, followed by three days at 200 yards. It is done this way to require only one change of wind flags. Nationals competition requires “full rotation”. That means that every time a shooter goes to the line for the next match target, he or she must move a requisite number of benches to the right. At the end of the day a shooter will shoot across the full width of the line. Some ranges offer unique properties that render some parts of the range harder or easier to shoot small groups. Bench rotation is important to even out those factors.

Classes At the IBS Group Nationals
It takes thirty targets of 5-shot groups and ten targets of 10-shot groups to win a “4-Gun Nationals”. That covers FOUR classes: Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, Sporter, and Heavy Bench. For all practical purposes, the first three are known as “bag guns” while the heavy bench rifles are “rail guns”. In fact, most competitors shooting a bag gun opt for a single rifle, which has been benchrest standard for decades: a 10.5-lb rifle chambered in 6PPC.

Day by Day Report — Group Nationals Highlights
The first day of competition was for the Heavy Bench class — the Rail Guns. That is what Heavy Bench is these days. Jeff Peinhardt had a handle on conditions for his five 10-shot groups. His largest group was only a .202″. The rest were small dark holes where the 10 bullets honed away any paper fuzz. His average for the five groups in this aggregate was .1710″. Really small, but only .0074″ behind was Paul Mitchell. Rounding out third place was Michigander Lee Hachigian with a .1866″.

Jeff Stover IBS International Benchrest Shooters Holton gun bow club MI Michigan 6PPC Vihtavuori N133

The “bag guns” come out on Tuesday for the 100-yard competition for Light Varmint and Sporter rifles. These are the 10.5-lb rifles. The only difference is that in Sporter you must have your rifle chamber with at least a 6mm bore. Since virtually everyone shoots a 6PPC it really doesn’t matter. Wayne Campbell from Virginia nailed a tight .1556” aggregate in Sporter at 100. Tony Alexander (.1758”) and Jack Neary (.1792”) rounded out the top three.

For Light Varmint at 100 yards. Larry Costa led the way with a .2022” when conditions were a little harder to read. Jack Neary and Kevin Donalds Sr. were close behind.

Wednesday morning of Nationals Week is Heavy Varmint at 100. Ken Donalds Sr. still had his rifle tuned to perfection as he won this aggregate with a .1624. Jack Neary and Harley Baker shot well with five-target averages in the .18XX. Wednesday afternoon the shooters take a break and hold a Powder Puff competition for non-shooters, including children and spouses were allowed to shot a group with bench coaching from seasoned competitors.

On Thursday the targets get moved to 200 yards along with a expanding sea of wind flags. Eventual multi-gun winner Wayne Campbell smoked the field Light Varmint 200 with a .1674 MOA Aggregate. His average group size at 200 yards was O.334 inches but in short-range group competition the scores are converted to minute of angle (MOA). The only other shooter Agging under 0.2 MOA was upstate New York restaurateur Pando Vasilovski with a 0.1927.

It was time for Sporter at 200 and Don Rosette from Ohio was the only shooter in the “teens” with a .1997 MOA Agg. Pando still had it working and was second.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS
Here are some of the “Top Guns” from the 2019 IBS Group Nationals in Holton, MI.

Former Super Shoot winner Larry Costa won the Heavy Varmint 200 with a .2007 MOA Agg and he had room to spare to beat Kevin Donalds Jr. and Jeff Peinhardt with a .22 and .23 respectively.

The last day, Saturday, the rail guns were hauled out again for the Heavy Bench 200. Mark Buettgen topped the field with a .2572 MOA Agg. No need to check the equipment list to know what barrel brand Buettgen used. Mark works for Bartlein Barrels in Wisconsin. Wayne Campbell was just on Mark’s heels.

Grand Aggregate (100+200)
Winners (all MOA):

Light Varmint: Wayne Campbell, .1939
Sporter: Wayne Campbell, .2133
Heavy Varmint: Larry Costa, .2026
Heavy Bench: Don Powell, .2342

Multi-gun results:
2-Gun (HV+LV 20 targets): Larry Costa, .2197
3-Gun (LV+SP+HV 30 targets): Wayne Campbell, .2205
4-Gun (LV+SP+HV+HB 40 targets): Wayne Campbell, .2279
(in 4-gun Tony Alexander was second with .2404, followed by Larry Costa with .2451)

CLICK HERE for 2019 IBS Group Nationals Complete Match Results

The Rifle for Short-Range Benchrest Competition

Hardware Choices: Actions, Stocks, Barrels, Optics and More
Tech Talk by Jeff Stover

Let’s examine the Top Ten rifles from this year’s IBS Group Nationals in the 10.5-lb Light Varmint Class. We’ll focus on the most popular rifle components — the choices for Actions, Stocks, Barrels, and Scopes.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

For some years now, BAT has been the predominant action. This year BAT actions held nearly 100% of the Top Ten places in all the Bag Gun equipment lists. Bruce Thom’s Idaho-crafted actions, except for a couple stray actions in Heavy Bench, swept the top rankings.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

Next, look at barrels. Bartlein or Krieger seem to rule with upstate New York’s venerable Hart barrels as competitive. Shooters tend to go with winners, so Wayne Campbell and Jeff Peinhardt dominate as gunsmiths for the top benchrest shooters.

In stocks there seems to be variety, but there is some commonality. The Scoville and Scarbrough stocks, both Michigan-made, are laminated wood (balsa and other wood) with carbon fiber and wrapped in carbon fiber. The Scoville stock on my 10.5-lb rifle weighs 18 ounces but is full size with a nice long fore-end. Bob Scarbrough makes a very similar product. Both are winners — it’s a choice of Ferrari or Lamborghini. The Roy Hunter and Terry Leonard stocks among these top rifles take a different route to winner’s circle. Both are wood (cedar or other), but super high-tech as they are laminated with carbon fiber. They are beautiful to boot. High-magnification Leupold, March, and Nightforce scopes rule the roost among benchrest optics.

Bullets and Powder
Bullets are important. Really important. A hot bullet gives you “Teen Aggs” and lots of trophies. An average bullet does not. Most of these are 68 grain 6mm boattails. The Peinhardt (StaMoly Precision) bullet is well represented on this list, but some top shooters make their own as you can see. Bullet jackets are likely StaMoly or J4. For powder, nearly everyone shoots Vihtavouri N133 except a few guys running LT30/32 or surplus 8208.

Vihtavuori N 133 N133 powder reloading

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May 24th, 2016

IBS Report: 30th Anniversary 2016 Boop Memorial Tournament

IBS Boop Memorial Group Benchrest Shoot Match Pennsylvania

Nate Boop Memorial Match 2016, By Hal Drake, IBS Group Committee Chair
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Nate Boop Memorial Tournament. 60 shooters from the USA and Canada traveled to Weikert, Pennsylvania, to attend the first IBS benchrest-for-group match of the year. This range is set in some of the most beautiful countryside in the East. All the amenities you could want are within easy walking distance: 30 amp electric hookups, nice covered loading area, restaurant/bar, and even a trout stream! With all this and much more, it’s tough to imagine a more welcoming range than Weikert. It’s not advertised much, but this is a money match (like the Super Shoot), which pays a nice bounty to the top finishers in the Grand Aggs.

IBS Boop Memorial Group Benchrest Shoot Match Pennsylvania
File photo

Most shooters showed up on Thursday or Friday, and were greeted by heavy rains that made for somewhat uncomfortable practice sessions. As I walked down the line on Friday morning, I couldn’t help notice the number of rifles that wear stocks by Roy Hunter. Roy started making stocks just a few short years ago, after a long career as a custom furniture maker. Top gunsmiths like Sid Goodling, Jim Borden, and Dave Bruno feel that Hunter stocks are at the top of the game. Dave told me that he’s extremely impressed with how “dead” the stock is compared to some of the other top end stock makers. Roy’s design has changed quite a bit since he first started, with the latest creations featuring a thicker area behind the tang, and a very robust forend. I have just recently put a new gun together with the latest Hunter stock, and a Rimrock BR action, and can’t say enough about how this new rig handles. His long range versions have a good following as well.

IBS Boop Memorial Group Benchrest Shoot Match Pennsylvania
File photo

Potential New Records Set by Allen Arnett and Howie Levy
It stayed cool throughout the weekend, with Saturday being the best day for shooting small Aggs. On Saturday morning, Allen Arnette threw down a potential new Light Varmint 100-yard Aggregate Record of .1478″ (and there were five other LV 100 teen Aggs shot that morning). Amongst Allen’s targets was a potential single-group record of .040″. Boat Tail bullets have been all the rage in the short-range group game for some years, but Allen continues to prove that his flat base bullets are as good as any out there. In the afternoon, Howie Levy compiled a .1386″ Heavy Varmint Agg, a potential new Heavy Varmint 100-Yard Aggregate record (there were six HV teen Aggs). Howie is a Boat Tail guy for the most part, and he left a mark with his new Dave Bruno-chambered Brux barrel, and his own pills.

IBS Boop Memorial Group Benchrest Shoot Match Pennsylvania

When the shooting was finished on Saturday, we were treated to a pig roast with enough fixins to make Roy Rogers proud. Dale brought in a caterer who delivered a great meal. He showed up on Friday evening, set up his smoker, and got the pig going in the early morning hours. After getting the flags moved for the next day’s 200, we all gathered in the loading area and enjoyed a pretty special feast.

IBS Boop Memorial Group Benchrest Shoot Match Pennsylvania

The crew at Union County Benchrest always puts on a great match, and this year’s 30-year Anniversary made for an even more special event. As usual, the Trutt and Boop Families deserve a big “Thank You” for putting so much time and effort into running seamless matches at one of the premier Benchrest facilities in the country. Hats off to the target crew as well, whom I would put up against any target crew in the country.

IBS Boop Memorial Group Benchrest Shoot Match Pennsylvania

Sunday morning brought heavy winds that would only get worse as the day progressed. Dave Bruno had the right stuff in the morning to bring home the win with a .2485″ HV 200-yard Agg. As the afternoon started, damaging winds were ripping up wind flags and trailer awnings. Russ Boop showed us how to get it done though, with a .3046″ Aggregate in the trying conditions. When all the dust cleared, the Grand Aggs were split by Howie Levy and Dave Bruno, with Howie narrowly sneaking by Dave for the Two-Gun win. Kevin Donalds Senior put on a strong showing to take third.

Boop Memorial Shoot 2016 Top Results by Division

Light Varmint Grand Agg Top Five
Howie Levy .2697″
Dave Bruno .2797″
Harley Baker .2813″
Russell Rains .2818″
Kevin Donalds Sr. .2849″

Heavy Varmint Grand Agg Top Five
1. Dave Bruno .2394″
2. Howie Levy .2442″
3. Kevin Donalds Sr. .2522″
4. Allen Arnette .2532″
5. Craig Rowe .2587″

Boop Memorial Two-Gun Top Ten Shooters

1. Howie Levy .2570″
2. Dave Bruno .2596″
3. Kevin Donalds Sr. .2685″
5. Allen Arnette .2758″
5. Harley Baker .2832″

6. Russell Rains .2876″
7. Craig Rowe .2968″
8. Russ Boop .2985″
9. Dale Boop .2989″
10. Tony Cerone .3029″

The Boop Brothers
IBS Boop Memorial Group Benchrest Shoot Match Pennsylvania
Dale and Russ Boop, shown above, are the sons of Nate Boop, in whose honor this Match has been held for 30 straight years. The Brothers Boop have been shooting Benchrest since they were little kids.

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