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 17th, 2014

IBS Match Report: 28th Annual Boop Memorial Group Shoot

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt
Click photo for full-screen image suitable for desktop wall-paper.

Field Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
In IBS-land you know that spring has sprung when the Memorial Shoot at Weikert, PA comes along. This year was the 28th edition which honors the memories of Nate Boop and Rich Altemus. These two gentlemen started the benchrest program at the Union County Sportsmen’s Club. This is one of the finest ranges you will find anywhere in the country. Both the range itself and its setting are world-class.

Boop Shoot Match Results Summary (.XLS File) | Boop Shoot Top 10 Equipment List (.XLS File)

This year 42 shooters hit the benches at the Weikert range. Saturday’s 100-yard targets were shot in somewhat tricky, but shootable conditions — attested by four teen Aggs. Shooters enjoyed the readable conditions on Saturday but the 200-yard stage on Sunday was another matter — with strong breezes that switched on a thin dime. Red with tails out for 10 seconds, then green with tails out for 8 seconds. Then there was a nice mix of both — with tails erect all around. Some of us love to shoot tailwinds, which were there for a few fleeting moments. But there is a lot of target real estate — over an inch — between a tailwind with a wee bit of green and a tiny smidge of red.

Though Weikert is a gorgeous range, it has one drawback. The central Pennsylvania countryside only allowed for an east-facing range. So, on a sunny day, the first three targets or so are shot with most shooters hanging blue tarps from the range roof to block the sun. This works well and does not inhibit small groups.

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt
Curtis Nelson lines up for first shot, with blue tarp sun shade in place.

The Light Varmint 100-yard stage looked to be all Harley Baker, one of the newest inductees into the U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame. Harley arrives at any match with impeccably prepared equipment tuned to a knife’s edge. He is tough to beat at any range. He was cruising to yet another Agg win, with Smiley Hensley pretty far behind. To finish off with a flourish, Harley nailed a very nice .190 on his last target.

Many times at the last match of an Aggregate, shooters will banter, “last chance to be a hero”. It is so trite as to not get much reaction from the line. Well, some days a hero does emerge. Smiley shot a .071″ group in Match 5 to win the LV 100 Aggregate with a .1902. Harley settled for a flat .2 and second place. Smiley may have won the battle, but not the war, as we shall see.

Boop Memorial Shoot PeinhardtBoop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt

Most Shooters Use 10.5-pounders Even in Heavy Varmint Class
In the Heavy Varmint class shooters could be shouldering a 13.5-pound rifle. Most, however, stick to their 10.5-pound Sporters (a Light Varmint rifle with a 6mm bore) for an entire weekend. Many times in the loading area you’ll hear, “what are we shooting?” Yes, there a few shooters that will pull out a favored “real” Heavy Varmint, but that is pretty rare these days.

The competition in Heavy Varmint 100 was pretty fierce. Small groups were shot. Teen Aggs were possible. Al Auman shot a fine .1808 to win the Agg. Other Aggregates under 0.2 were shot by Harley Baker (.1950) and master accuracy gunsmith Sid Goodling (.1990).

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt

First Time’s a Charm for Troy Twist. Benchrest Novice Shoots 0.126″ Group.

Shooting a .126 group would make any Benchrest shooter happy. If you accomplish that feat the very first time you ever shot a bench rifle, and in a real match to boot, then you have Troy Twist’s story.

Troy works with Dale Boop and was always talking guns. Dale convinced Troy to show up for the 100-yard stage and Dale let Troy shoot one of Dale’s rifles. Troy performed like a champ, drilling a 0.126″ group — not too bad for a rookie! Nothing like a small group to get a new shooter interested in our game.

Sunday was beautiful with sunny skies and pleasant temps. The wind was another matter. The Heavy Varmint 200-yard stage was conquered by Harley Baker with a .2689 Aggregate. No Match 5 heroes emerged to take away another Agg win from Harley. The only other Aggregate under 0.3 was posted by Jeff Peinhardt. Jeff is a newer shooter that is making a name for himself in Benchrest. Finishing off the top three in the Agg was Wayne Shaw. Wayne is sometimes more associated with score shooting, but he is a top-flight group shooter as well.

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt

The afternoon was set for Light Varmint 200 while the kaleidoscope of rapidly-changing flag colors continued. Jeff Stover led the way with a .2602 Agg. He tried to shoot whatever tail wind was available, and do it as fast as possible. Jeff got away with this sometimes dangerous tailwind strategy for four targets; on the fifth he was not burned as bad as he might have been. Closing in towards the end was Russell Rains with a .2904. Canadian Andy Laidlaw snuck into third place with a .2937 with the only remaining Aggregate under 0.3.

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt
Andy Laidlaw from Canada loads between stages.

In the overall 2-Gun, Harley Baker was the class of the field with a .2466 for twenty targets. Stover followed with a rather distant .2791. Steady Kent Harshman finished close behind with a .2833. Interestingly, both Stover and Harshman were shooting pull-down 8208 powder (from the Vietnam War era) rather than Vihtavuori 133 or the new kid on the block, Accurate Powder LT-32.

Boop Memorial Shoot PeinhardtTwo-Gun Top 3: Kent Harshman (Third), Harley Baker (Winner), Jeff Stover (Second).

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt
Moving backers are used in 100/200/300 yard benchrest competition.

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt
Dale and Russ Boop, shown above, are the sons of Nate Boop, in whose honor this Match has been held for 28 straight years. The Brothers Boop have been shooting Benchrest since they were little kids. Russ is in the Benchrest Hall of Fame and Dale is currently only two points out.

Father and Son Team — The Peinhardts
Jeff Peinhardt from Quarryville, PA owns PR2 Racing Technology. His company does national level motorcycle race engine development and tuning. His operation is a sophisticated engineering facility with CNC and the latest equipment. He has brought this analytical outlook and expertise to Benchrest.

Boop Memorial Shoot Peinhardt

Jeff is relatively new to the game, but has already excelled. His 16-year old son, Wyatt, has now moved from Junior Shooter to Rookie to Tough Competitor. Wyatt now runs with the “big dogs”. His father says the tougher the conditions, the better Wyatt does; he is a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

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