July 11th, 2014
Report by Dick Grosbier for IBS
June 13th to 15th saw a large contingent of IBS Score shooters gather at the Thurmont, Maryland range for the 20th Annual Bud Pryor Memorial Match and Maryland 100/200/300 Score Championships. Randy Jarvais won the Varmint for Score (VFS) Class with an impressive 749-43X performance, while Gary Long took the Hunter Class with a 733-21X Aggregate.
CLICK HERE for Complete Aggregate Match Results (XLS format)
100 Yard Match Results | 200 Yard Match Results | 300 Yard Match Results
The view downrange in typical Thurmont conditions.
About the Bud Pryor Memorial Match
Bud Pryor was a fine gentleman who started shooting IBS matches in 1983. He was a machinest turned gunsmith who made friends and got many people started in shooting IBS registered matches over the next few years. Bud and Dick Grosbier ran the first IBS match at the Thurmont range in April 1983. Click Here to see vintage photos of the 1983 match.
After Bud’s untimely passing a few years later, the club decided to put on a big match and dedicate it to him. As Thurmont is one of the few ranges around with 100/200/300 yard capabilities, we decided to put on a 3-yardage Grand Aggregate match. This was not as simple as it seems, since 100/200/300 was not an IBS-recognized Aggregate. After an agenda item was approved at an IBS winter meeting, 100/200/300 records were set at Thurmont; and, over the years most records have stayed at this range. There are a total of four IBS ranges now holding 100/200/300 yard matches in 2014.
2014 Bud Pryor Day by Day
This year’s match saw generally beautiful weather. For Friday’s 100-yard stage, a 60% chance of rain was forecast and we did have a little rain in the morning but it had minimal effect on the proceedings. Range officer Curtis Nelson wisely delayed the first record match for less than five minutes while a fierce weather front blew through. Other than that, it was a nice day with temps in the mid 80s. Randy Jarvais from Maine started his conquest of the weekend early by taking the lead in the Varmint for Score (VFS) 100-yard stage by turning in a 250-22X score. It should be noted here that well-known competitor Dean Breeden turned in an identical score but Randy’s 5X performance in Match One edged Dean (3X) under Creedmoor rules. Ricky Read was third with 250-20X and Junior Shooter Kevin Donalds Jr. was fourth with 250-19X. There were also some impressive scores in Hunter Class, which is for 10-lb rifles with 2-1/4” forends and max six-power scopes. Last year’s Hunter Class winner Gary Long turned in an excellent 250-15X score followed closely by K.L. Miller with 250-14X and Dean Breeden with 250-13X. It amazes me how these guys shooting 6X scopes turn in scores that will frequently put them in the top half of the VFS class.
On Saturday, the 200-yard matches were held. It was bright and sunny and started out cool in the morning, peaking in the low 80s by mid-afternoon. The wind was extremely challenging and very tricky (I am not just saying this because I personally shot terribly). It was the Randy and Ricky show. By the end of the third match, only four shooters had not dropped points. At the end of the day, only Randy Jarvais and Ricky Read had 250 scores, with 11X and 7X respectively. So in the 100/200 Grand Agg Randy had 500-33X to Ricky’s 500-27X. Both men were well on their way to earning the greatly-coveted IBS 750 stickers. In Hunter class relatively new shooter Charlie Brock took the win with a 245-6X score followed closely by James Lederer with a 244-3X. (James is a new barrel-maker, who currently specializes in 30 caliber barrels for Hunter and VFS classes).
Randy Jarvais, Winner of the VFS Overall Aggregate.
Sunday dawned bright and beautiful and the targets are moved back another 100 yards to 300. Randy took the lead early with a 4X target on Match One while most of us were struggling to even get 50s. By Match Two Wayne France was chasing at Randy’s heels only one X behind. By the end of Match Three, Roy Hunter was also becoming a threat with a 150-4X score. Roy was shooting his LV 6 PPC with which he won last year’s match. By this point there were only four shooters clean in a field of 32. At the end of Match Four,Tony Seymore, Wayne France, and Randy J. each added 2X to their scores and moved up in the standings. Match Five turned out to be a heart-breaker for Randy. Consider this — if Randy could have shot a 50-1X he would win the 300, win the match, and set two possible new records with a 750-44X total. (Also a 500-22x score in the 200/300 Grand Aggregate would have been a potential record as well.) That could earn Randy 60 Score Shooter of the Year (SSOY) points for winning the match plus 45 points for setting records, giving Randy an unassailable lead in the SSOY race.
But that was not to be. On bull #3 of the final 300-yard target, Randy lost his only shot of the weekend. He suffered what we score shooters call a “Downtown Nine” — a shot that was clearly out of the ten ring even when viewed from the bench. No disputing that one. This moved Randy down to fourth place at 300 yards. Wayne France won the 300-yard VFS with 250-10X. In Hunter class, Orland Bunker, another “Maine-iac”, took top honors with a 240-4X.
But all was not lost for Randy when he dropped the point at 300 yards. Thanks to his consistency and the fact that both Wayne France and Tony Seymore had poor showings at 200 yards, Randy’s 749-43X Grand Agg won the match for him. Ricky Read finished second, with 749-33X. Roy Hunter (6 PPC) was third with 749-27X. In Hunter Class, Gary Long had high score for the weekend, a 733-21X. In second place was Orland Bunker at 733-17X, while Charlie Brock was third with 730-19X.
Match Winners Left to Right: Charlie Brock, Sara Harren, Orland Bunker, Wayne France, Gary Long, Randy Jarvais, Ricky Read, Roy Hunter, Tony Seymore.
Exhibiting great sportsmanship, Brad Gollner came back Sunday to work with the target crew after shoulder problems forced him to quit shooting Saturday.
I think everybody had a good time. Event feedback has been very good. I even had one shooter email me and say “My complete drubbing at the Bud Pryor Memorial last weekend notwithstanding, I wish to register for the 200/300 Nationals to be held a Thurmont on July 26 and 27.” As always it was good to see old friends fellow shooters from all over the East. – Dick Grosbier
Great BBQ and Camaraderie
After Saturday’s shooting was complete (and the flags were moved for Sunday’s 300-yard stage), it was time to gather at the clubhouse for the traditional BBQ dinner including pulled Pork sandwiches, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and always popular Sara Harren’s cheesy grits. After that we were treated to an amazing assortment of desserts. As usual it was a great time of fellowship and catching up with old friends some not seen since last year’s Bud Pryor Memorial. We had contestants from as far away as Maine, Wisconsin, and South Carolina.
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July 8th, 2014
In the short-range benchrest game, most of the attention goes to the 10.5-lb Light Varmint Class, and the 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint Class. But there’s another class that is enjoying increased popularity — Hunter Benchrest. In some ways, Hunter BR is more challenging, because you shoot a 10-pounder with a narrower (2.25″ forearm) and a 6-power scope (both LV and HV allow 3″-wide forearms and high-magnification scopes). It takes skilled gun-handling and careful aim to get the most from a Hunter Benchrest rig.
The modern Hunter BR rifle is a far cry from a typical deer rifle, or even a walk-around varminter. Jackie Schmidt explains: “Do not be fooled by that title ‘Hunter Benchrest’, or HBR. The typical HBR Rifle has, like its cousin the Group Rifle, evolved into a very singular-purpose piece of equipment, suited to do one thing very well — namely to shoot Xs in the competitive arena, governed by rather strict sets of rules promulgated by the IBS or the NBRSA.
Hunter Benchrest Rifle Standards
The two defining factors in HBR are the minimum case capacity, and the 6-power scope. Everything else is just window dressing. Can one shoot a real factory gun in Hunter BR Class? YES — IF your factory rifle meets these qualifications:
■ Total gun weight no more than 10 pounds.
■ Stock forearm must be convex (at least slightly) on the bottom, and no more than 2.25″ wide.
■ Gun must have magazine capable of holding at least two cartridges. (Normally, however, Hunter BR shooters don’t feed from the magazine.)
■ Gun must shoot cartridge with at least 45 grains of H20 capacity (same as a 30-30).
■ Scope must be a 6-power or capable of being set and used at 6X magnification.
If you go to the IBS website, you will see that there are a couple of exceptions, but in the end, to compete for the prize, you must have a legal Hunter BR rifle. But even if you’re not completely within the rules, most match directors will let a newcomer shoot along, for the fun of it, and to see what the game is really all about.”
Top Hunter BR shooter Al Nyhus tells us: “As Jackie has pointed out, the Hunter class in Benchrest has mutated into full race BR rigs…much like NASCAR ‘stock cars’ or NHRA ‘Pro Stock’. The original intent of Hunter was for a class where the average person with an interest in accuracy could bring a good shooting hunting rifle and give BR a try. Still a darn good idea, to me.
Hunter Benchrest Rig Chambered for the .30 Wolfpup
Here are photos of my Hunter Benchrest rig, which is pretty typical of what’s being used at this point in time. My Hunter BR rig is pretty standard stuff except for the chambering. It features a Stolle R/L Kodiak action tweaked a bit by Stan Ware, Kostyshyn 1:17 four groove, chambered for Stan Ware’s 30 WolfPup (30BR .240″ long/.085″ neck length). The photo below shows a Leupold 6X scope but I’ve been using a Sightron 6X lately.
This stock is an old Speedy/McMillan pattern HBR stock. I had it dipped (externally coated) with a carbon fiber pattern. By the rules, Hunter rifles cannot be glue-ins, so pillar-bedding is the norm. I guess the forearm is about as ‘convex’ on the bottom as any other stock currently in use. This is another area where the guns have evolved and the rulebook(s) haven’t exactly kept pace with the current state of what’s being used.”
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June 7th, 2014
Report by Randy Jarvais for IBS
On Memorial Day weekend we honor fallen heroes. And for score shooters, that time of year also means the Maine Firecracker and 100-200-300 State Championship. The Firecracker represents one of four opportunities in IBS score shooting to earn the coveted 750 sticker. In score shooting you fire one record shot per bullseye, with five scored bulls per target sheet (plus a sighter bull), and five sheets per yardage. Thus, there is a maximum score of 250 per yardage, or 750 points for a 3-day championship.
CLICK to Zoom Photo of the Whole Gang
What started years ago as a two-day affair in July (hence the name “Firecracker”), morphed to three yardages in two towns. To allow for three days of shooting, the event shifted to Memorial Day weekend. Orrington Rod & Gun Club hosts the 100- and 200-yard stages, but since Orrington lacks a 300-yard option, the venue shifts to the Lincoln County Rifle Club (Damariscotta, ME) for the third and final leg.
|Grand Agg Winners — 2014 Maine Firecracker and 100-200-300 State Championship
Varmint for Score:
1. Wayne France 743-21X
2. Kim Llewellyn 742-31X
3. Frank Danisienka 742-19X
1. Gary Long 736-22X
2. Charles Brock 731-14X
3. Dean Breeden 728-23X
|Grand Agg winners were a repeat of 2013. Like last year, Wayne France shoot consistently well to take VFS honors (though he did not win a yardage). Gary Long won two of the three yardages in Hunter Class to take the Grand. Dean Breeden was the Two-Gun winner with 1469-58X. He was the only shooter to shoot two guns. Dean had High X-Count in each class with 35X and 23X respectively.
|CLICK HERE for Spreadsheet with Complete Firecracker and 100-200-300 Match Results
There were 36 guns for Saturday’s start at Orrington. The field included the top 5 finishers in last year’s Varmint for Score (VFS) Shooter of the Year standings, and 6 of the top 7 Hunter Class shooters. The forecast for the weekend called for showers early with some breaks of sun plus the added possibility of thunder showers during the 300-yard stage. For the most part, the forecast was correct.
Firing Line at Orrington — CLICK to Zoom. (Hillary Martinez panorama photo)
Butch Randall with a Patriotic Rig
Last-Minute Enhancements at Orrington
As shooters arrived on the eve of the tournament to register, I am sure they didn’t believe their eyes. The Orrington club had literally just finished pouring concrete for a modular system of target frames at two hundred yards. The 100-yard version was poured that morning. An excavator sat in front of a huge mound of dirt at 75 yards, while a bulldozer was back-filling around the freshly poured concrete at 100 yards. Amazingly the range was finished and the new target frames were ready to go the next morning. Orrington is quite rural despite being just a few miles away from Bangor,one of the larger cities in Maine.
Hillary Martinez Shows the Boys How It’s Done at 100 Yards
The VFS 100-yard leg at Orrington was a run-away. While most struggled with the switchy 7-15 mph conditions, one shooter found her stride early and put a whupping on the other competitors. Hillary Martinez, a third year Breeden protégé, was marvelous throughout the day. Coming off a recent 200-yard win at Fairfax, Virgina, Hillary took the lead in match 2 and then ran away from the field. On a range where 18 or 19 Xs are usually good enough to win, Hillary hit the dot 23 of 25 times. That’s outstanding to say the least! Greg Palman, the Orrington match director, creedmoored Dick Grosbier for second place. Both men garnered 250-19X scores.
In Hunter Class, veteran shooter Gary Long jumped out to an early lead with a 50-4X target. Not to be outdone, Scott Garman followed up with a 50-4X target of his own in Match 2. Dean Breeden and Charles Brock then moved ahead. At day’s end, Dean’s finished first with a 250-11X, followed by Charles at 250-10X. Third went to Orland Bunker.
With similar conditions as Saturday, Sunday’s 200-yard stage started with overcast skies and mild winds. In VFS, Wayne France put up a 50-4X for an early lead. Dean shot a masterful 50-5X in Match 3. By day’s end, four shooters shot clean to earn a 500 sticker. Dean Breeden shot a 250-12X for the win, followed by John Cascarino with a 250-10X. Third went to Randy Jarvais with 250-8X. The 4th “clean” shooter was Wayne France with a 250-7X. Gary Long was the lone 6-power shooter clean after Match 1. Long finished with a 248-5X, good enough for first place. After two days at Orrington, awards were handed out. The Top Performers for the 100-200 Grand Agg at Orrington were:
VFS: Dean Breeden 500-31X; John Cascarino 500-23X; Randy Jarvais 500-22X
Hunter: Gary Long 496-20X; Charles Brock 496-13X; Dean Breeden 495-21X
Setting Up the Wind Flags and Wind Probes at Orrington
The View Down-Range with Flags in Place at Orrington (click to enlarge).
Moving On to Lincoln County
The Lincoln County Rifle Club resides in Damariscotta, Maine which is a community surrounded by lakes and coastal waterways. The ocean is but a few miles away thus the wind conditions at the range can be adversely affected by the tides, or so goes the tale. Whether true or not, only five people in the history of this range had ever shot a 250 at 300 yards and this range has participated in IBS score shoots for decades. Three of the five were present to try again.
Tough Conditions at 300 Yards
After Match 1, of the 35 guns, only six VFS and one Hunter managed a 50. That left but three shooters with hopes of earning a 750 sticker. The wind became the story of the day as it continued to accelerate and switch directions irregularly and constantly. By the conclusion of Match 2 at Lincoln County, no one was getting a 250 sticker and the leaders were down by two. This author shot on Relay 1 and I can categorically tell you it did not lull on my watch!
Under the Eaves at the Lincoln County Rifle Club, Damariscotta, Maine
It became a game of survival and it was not a matter of if you were going to drop a point (or two, or three) but when and how many. Ask Jim Goody or John Cascarino about their errant shots during Match 4 that went from one scoring box all the way to another resulting in a minus 10 points with one shot. Don’t forget that they were holding wide for the wind already. Oh, by the way, they were on Relay 1 and were in or near the “honey hole”. Yeach, right! Both dropped 14 points in the one match.
So… who best survived the tough conditions at 300 yards? VFS honors go to Frank Danisienka (245-0X), Andy Buzzell (244-4X), and Kim Llewellyn (244-3X). In Hunter Class, the top three were Gary Long (240-2X), Peter Hills (239-2X), and Charles Brock (235-1X).
The Long Walk to the 300-yard Targets at Lincoln County
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May 24th, 2014
Report by Jaime Hammer, IBS Social Media Manager
On Saturday, May 10, 2014, Piedmont Gun Club in Rutherfordton, NC (located near the Chimney Rock and Lake Lure area) held a 600-yard benchrest match. Weather conditions could not have been better. The air was cool, the sky was overcast, and there was very little wind. It rained for about thirty minutes in the morning, but that didn’t interfere with shooting, and the remainder of the day was dry. The match began at 9:00 AM with the Light Gun (LG) class, and the Heavy gun (HG) class shot in the afternoon. Thirty-three competitors (including many of the nation’s top 600-yard shooters) attended the event.
Dominant Performance by Paul Isenhour
Paul Isenhour took home first place prizes for LG score, LG group, and HG group. He potentially set a new Two-Gun Group Size Aggregate record (the current record is 1.7797″ by Mike Hanes). In the LG class, Paul’s score total was 195 points, and his group size Agg was 1.708″. In HG class, Paul’s score total was 180, and his group size Agg was 1.769″.
In Light Gun class Paul was on fire right out of the gate — he shot a stunning 1.130″ (50-2X) on the first Light Gun target, followed by a superb 1.330″ (50) on the second LG target. That’s right, Paul shot two, 50-point, sub-1.5″ groups back to back. That is truly spectacular shooting. And Paul was quick to credit the stock-maker (Paul made the handsome stock himself). Paul’s 6mm Dasher features a Stiller Viper action, Bartlein barrel, and Leupold 45X scope. He was running Berger 105g Hybrid bullets pushed by Varget powder and Federal primers.
Paul Isenhour was on fire in Light Gun! Back to back, he shot a 1.130″ with 50 points, followed by a 1.330″, again with 50 points. That is astounding accuracy!
In the LG class (score), Larry Wheeler came in second place with a score of 193. Reggie Wilson came in third place, with a score of 192. In the LG class (group), Reggie Wilson came in second place with a score of 1.861. Chad Jenkins came in third place with a score of 2.000. In the HG class (score), Chris Childers came in first place with a score of 197. Mike Hanes came in second place with a score of 193. Richard DeSimone came in third place with a score of 190. Finally, in the HG class (group), Richard DeSimone came in second place with a score of 1.917. Jeff Godfrey came in third place with a score of 2.217. Top shooters received beautiful plaques for their great shooting. All winners and shooters competed with outstanding skill and sportsmanship.
Download Piedmont 600-Yard Full Results .XLSX | (Download smaller XLS Version)
Download Piedmont 600-Yard Equipment List .XLSX | (Download smaller XLS Version)
Chad Jenkins, Jeff Godfrey, Paul Isenhour, Mike Hanes, Rich DeSimone, Reggie Wilson, Chris Childers.
Piedmont Gun Club has been the host club to several record-setters, three of whom (Rodney Wagner, Mike Hanes, and Chad Jenkins) attended this match. Rodney, Mike, and Chad set their records in May and July of 2013 for Group, Score, Group Aggregate, and Score Aggregate in Light Gun class, respectively. Rodney shot a spectacular 0.336″ group at Piedmont last year. An IBS Light Gun record, that was the smallest 600-yard group in history — the smallest 5-shot group ever shot at 600 yards by anyone, anywhere, in any type of shooting match. Initially measured at 0.349″, Rodney’s record group was certified at 0.336″. That is a record for the ages.
Table-Top Rifle-Cleaning Cradles
Among the interesting gear on display at Piedmont were a variety of hand-made cleaning cradles designed to fit on table tops. These typically employ a box-style design, with layer of cloth or other padding to cushion the underside of the stock. On display were both single-rifle cleaning cradle/boxes and dual-rifle rigs. This is a good do-it-yourself project that can be built with simple tools.
Click Photos to View Large Versions
Notice that these cradle-boxes feature an extended lower section in the rear. This lower “lip” butts up against the edge of the table so the whole assembly stays in place. In the photo above it appears that the lower section may actually be cut from a rubber block, but we’re not sure.
Piedmont Runs a Great Show
Everyone at the match was extremely welcoming, friendly, and helpful. As a rookie, I found that other shooters were quick to answer any questions I had regarding shooting, reloading, the match, or the club. Rookie shooter Paul Hammer said, “The shoots at Piedmont Gun Club are always well-run and organized. Everyone is nice and willing to help new shooters.” You don’t have to win a trophy to have a great time. One shooter observed that he doesn’t really pay much attention to his score — he attends matches to have fun and socialize.
Check out this nice bench set-up with an angled ammo caddy, custom “back-stop” for ejected brass, and a big, stable “gator”-style rear sandbag. If you look carefully, you’ll see another sandbag positioned just to the right side of the butt-plate. This bag helps support the shooter’s forearm for his trigger hand.
If you are interested in shooting at Piedmont, a schedule of events can be found by selecting the “Schedule” tab at the top of the website. Match registration is held at the beginning of each event. You can join the Piedmont Gun Club by logging in to PiedmontGunClub.com. Click the “About” tab at the top of the Home Page, select “Member Application”, and print that form. Once you’ve filled the form out, mail it to the address supplied on the application.
All shooters, myself included, are very appreciative of Piedmont Gun Club for hosting such a smoothly running match, where the level of camaraderie among shooters is very high. The quality of the facilities, experience in organizing events, and helpfulness of participants all came together to create a prime environment for benchrest rifle shooting.
Here’s a handsome Light Gun with an Obeche “Indian Paint” laminated Shehane Tracker stock. Click the photo to see a larger full-screen version showing the whole rifle.
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May 22nd, 2014
Richard Schatz, the “Duke of Dashers”, has done it again. Just look at that group! Believe it or not, that is five shots at 600 yards. There are four shots in one ragged hole, with one a bit to the right. The group, initially measured at between 0.402″ and 0.410″, is very close to an IBS World Record. Assuming (on the high side) that that group measures 0.410″, that works out to 0.065 MOA. Wow.
Schatz, a past IBS 600-yard National Champion, shot this group in a Heavy Gun relay on May 18, 2014 at the Columbus Sportsman’s Association range in Columbus, Wisconsin. Richard was using his trusty 6mm Dasher, a 17-lb Light Gun that he has been shooting for years. His ultra-accurate load consisted of 103gr Spencer Bullets pushed by Varget and CCI 450 primers. The Lapua brass had recently been annealed and he batched his record rounds “by feel” based on the force needed to seat the bullets.
Richard said the group involved a good bit of luck, and perfect timing. The conditions were generally “switchy and difficult” at the match. However, in one Heavy Gun relay, Richard said “the wind flags just dropped straight down at the end of the sighter period. It’s like the range went dead.” Richard had windage on his scope so he just held off to correct for the calm. “I didn’t guess the hold-off correctly”, Richard admitted, “that’s why the shots ended up at the edge of the 9 Ring.”
Twenty Seconds of Near-Perfect Shooting
Richard got his five record rounds down range in about 20 seconds. He can shoot faster but, given the exceptional conditions, he took a little more time to aim: “Because the flags dropped and conditions stayed calm, I slowed down a little. I made more of a deliberate attempt to shoot a small group — a conscious effort to aim more precisely. Normally I’ll try to shoot the quickest I can get the dot close to the center of the X. I was trying to be a little more precise this time.”
Whatever Richard did, it sure worked. That’s a spectacular group — one of the smallest ever shot at 600 yards. Richard, a modest guy, credited the group to good conditions, and good luck: “Like I always say ‘the wind can blow ‘em in just as easy as it blows ‘em out’.” Richard says this rifle, with the current Krieger barrel, can typically put five shots in about two inches at 600 yards, in calm, stable conditions.
Very Close to an IBS Heavy Gun Record
The current IBS 600-yard, five-shot Heavy Gun group record is 0.404″, set by John Lewis in 2008. This recent group by Richard Schatz is very, very close to that mark. At Columbus, Wisconsin, four different measurers examined Richard’s group on May 18th. The four measurements were: 0.402″, 0.403″, 0.410″, and 0.409″ (see photo). Whether or not this is a new record will be determined by the IBS official measurement committee to which the target is being submitted. It’s worth mentioning that Richard Schatz currently holds the IBS 600-yard Heavy Gun score record, with a value of 50 points (and 0.634″ tie-breaker).
Krieger 1:8″ twist barrel, 27″ length, 0.236″ bore
Chambered for 6mm Dasher with 0.272″ neck
and 0.104″ Freebore
Shehane “Baby Tracker” stock
Nightforce 8-32x56mm NSX Scope
Clay Spencer 103gr bullets
Lapua 6mmBR brass (formed to Dasher)
Cases skim-turned for .0035 total clearance
Hodgdon Varget powder, 32.2 grains
CCI 450 primers
Muzzle Velocity 2980 FPS
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May 17th, 2014
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Two-Gun Top 3: Kent Harshman (Third), Harley Baker (Winner), Jeff Stover (Second).
Moving backers are used in 100/200/300 yard benchrest competition.
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.
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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April 8th, 2014
1000-yard Benchrest competitor James O’Hara set four (4) new IBS Records in 2013. These multi-match Light Gun Agg records were secured with O’Hara’s solid performance at the 2013 Virginia 1000-yard Benchrest State Championship. Here are the new records set by O’Hara in 2013:
10-Match Score Aggregate 47.5
6-Match Score Aggregate 49.5
6-Match Score Aggregate 49.83
6-Match group Aggregate 3.072”
During the VA state championships, O’Hara was on fire. All four groups were centered for 50s, with three groups under 3″ and the fourth a 3.715″. That’s consistency.
Target 1- Group 2.996” Score 50.2
Target 2- Group 2.433″, Score 50.1
Target 3- Group 3.715″, Score 50.4
Target 4- Group 2.188″, Score 50.1
Group Average 2.833″, Score Average 50.2
On 1000-yard benchrest targets, the 10-ring is just seven inches in diameter, while the X-Ring is a mere 3 inches in diameter. At the Virginia 1K Championships, James managed to keep all his shots within the seven-inch 10 Ring with eight of the shots inside the 3 inch X-Ring. That is amazing accuracy and consistency. David Goodridge says: “This is truly a remarkable example of superb marksmanship, rifle design, assembly, load development and equipment maintenance.” (O’Hara had previously set a 10-match Aggregate Light Gun World record of 4.5389″ in 2012).
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James O’Hara Talks About Record-Setting Rifles and Ultra-Accurate Long-Range Loads
James generously agreed to share his knowledge and experiences on the many facets of IBS 1000-yard benchrest preparation, reloading and shooting techniques in an intereview with Australian David Goodridge. This feature originally appeared in Australian Target Rifle Magazine. A few of O’Hara’s responses have been updated, based on a conversation with James on April 8, 2014.
Goodridge: James on behalf of the Australian LRBR community I would like to congratulate you on your achievements in 1000-yard Benchrest and thank you for [doing this] interview. To begin, could you provide an outline on your background and the reasons or factors that led you to becoming involved in 1000-yard BR at the Virginia Club.
O’Hara: I started short-range Benchrest in 1996 for a brief time and won my first 100-yard IBS match and I was hooked. Loss of eye-sight in one eye put a damper on it and I quit shooting for while, and I started shooting trap to try to switch over to left-handed. It worked and I started to pick up a gun left-handed so I went back to the rifle and built a tube gun.
I tried the local groundhog matches but the rules changed every match. I then found the Reade Range and 1000-yard matches. I restocked my gun with a long-range stock and started 1000-yard Benchrest. Finding I enjoyed the challenges associated with long range benchrest, I began 1000-yard Benchrest competition at Harry Jones Range and White Horse Range, two IBS ranges in West Virginia. I basically started after the year was under way in 2011 and I must say it was a very humbling experience. I soon learned that my previous short range [techniques] were not working.
New scales, a K&M arbor press with a force indicator, led to improvements. Then designing and obtaining reamers to my own specifications led to further substantial improvements, with the end result being that the same loads now seem to work from barrel to barrel.
James O’Hara Equipment Details
Gunsmithing: I do all the work myself, except barrel chambering/fitting is done by Dave Bruno.
Favored Caliber: I use a 6mm Dasher with a .266 neck and a .135 free bore. My load is a 103gr Spencer bullet trimmed and pointed with Hoover tools. Load is Alliant Reloder 15, 33.0+ grains weighed on a GD503 scale, with a CCI 450 primer. Right now I’m jumping the bullet about .006″. Previously, I shot them about .010” into the rifling but it was pulling the bullets or pushing them back.
Actions: For the IBS record groups I used a Bat 1.350” Bat B action in a Roy Hunter Stock. Other actions in use include a 1.530” Bat B and a Kelby F-Class Panda.
Barrels: The record barrel was a Brux Heavy Varmint, 1:7.83″ twist, finished at 28″, and fitted with a Harrell’s brake.
Stocks: I have two Roy hunter stocks and a PR&T and all track very well. They are balanced at two inches ahead of the receiver. All three stocks are glued with liquid Devcon and are pillared, so they are “glued and screwed”. I think this is the best system.
Scopes: The PR&T-stocked rifle has a March 10-60X and the two Hunter-stocked guns have Nightforce 12-42x56mm NXS scopes.
Rests: My front rest is a Sinclair Competition model that I modified with a cartridge holder that holds cartridges up by the port. I use the new super slick bag by Protektor and a rear Doctor Bag with leather ears.
Scope Mounts: Rings are Burris Signature Extra High (the ones with inserts).
Case Preparation and Reloading Techniques:
My cases are three years old, with close to 100 firings. They are all from the same lot. I anneal the cases dirty to save some work and I anneal every time to have consistent neck tension. I punch the primers out and clean the pockets and run the flash hole uniformer in to make sure there is no carbon build-up. You can use the same tool as you use to prep the new cases. Flash holes are uniformed to .0625″. (Flash holes, “out of the box”, are less consistent than you may think.)
I turn necks to .0102″ with a K&M tool. Some competitors don’t turn necks, but without uniform neck tension you will have vertical. I use a K&M VLD chamfering tool and a Wilson case trimmer for new cases and when I trim fired cases. I use a nylon brush for inside the necks and clean the cases outside with 0000 steel wool using a small power station or a drill to spin them. The cases are sized on a Forster Coax press with a Harrell’s full length bushing die. Priming is done by hand using a K&M priming tool. I throw a “close” charge with Harrell’s bench rest powder measure. That charge goes in the pan of my Sartorius GD503 scale and then I trickle up to weight with an Omega powder trickler.
For bullet seating, I now use the 21st Century Hydraulic arbor press with seating force indiciation. I previously used the K&M arbor press with force indicator — it was good, but the 21st Century unit is more sophisticated, more precise, and easier to read. I have a loading block that is color-coded in the pounds of force needed to seat the bullet. I try to keep rounds in sets of 3-lb seating force settings. Each loaded round is put in the appropriate column (based on measured seating force). All loaded rounds are color-coded to avoid mixing. Leftovers from matches are used at a later date.
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I have now made a tool from an old bearing surface comparator. It will contact the ogive of the loaded round and it will check the seating depth while it is sitting on a granite block. Relying completely on the force and feel of the dial indicator allows seating depths to be held to .0005″ (i.e. one-half-thousandth). Compared to others means, this seems a more accurate way to check seating depth.
Bullets are spun on a Juenke machine after they are trimmed on a Hoover trimmer and pointed on the Hoover tool. For the next step, a Tubb Bearing Surface Comparator is used to sort bullets to plus/minus .0005″. I don’t discard any bullets — if I have some small lots of bullets that have a shorter or longer measurement they are used for testing. With the Spencer and BIB bullets there are not many that are not within plus/minus .001”. I quit weighing cases because of the outside variations. I only do what makes a difference [on target] and I only test and do load development at 100 yards, where I can control the conditions.
Barrel Freezing (Cryogenic treatment)
For the 2013 season, I cut barrels back to 28″ and had them “frozen” (cryo-treated) at Cryo Plus. I think that both barrels are average in the wind, but the first shot from a clean barrel is in the group. I shot around seven 100s with my other Light Gun. In Heavy Gun, I even won the group Aggregate at the Virginia State shoot. I have cryo-treated all of my barrels and I believe I have proof that it does produce benefits. I talked to George Kelbly about this before I did it. My results agreed with what George had indicated: fire cracking was less, chambering was easier and the major benefit was that the groups did not ‘walk’ as the barrels became heated.
Bench Set-up and Shooting Procedures
I use a spotting scope to help see the flags and the mirage. The mount is a Sinclair for the bench. This really helps because I can’t see the flags far out. I think the most important part of the set up is getting the gun to track, it has to come back in the box every time and shooting under the same condition every shot. I know everybody likes to run them — I do if the condition holds — but if it doesn’t you must pick them one at a time. This is where the direction and the speed of the wind come into play; you must shoot in the same condition you zero in.
When I set up to shoot, I line up the gun on my target and I move it back and forth till I can get it coming back in the ten ring and then I set my scope. I load my record rounds in my holder and I use my sighters out of the box. I now am watching and timing the conditions and I now make the decision of the one I will use and this is the only one I sight-in with. If I have some big guns beside me with brakes, I will wait till they are done or try to get in between their shots (this doesn’t always work).
Trigger control is a must and you have to be consistent. I will give up a perfect sight picture for a perfect trigger pull. I use free recoil and only my finger is on the trigger. After the rifle recoils back, I hold the fore-arm and open the bolt — you have to be careful not to upset the gun in the bags. After loading the next round, I close the bolt and push the gun forward with my right hand on the fore-arm. I am guiding [the stock] forward in between the bags. This gives me less chance to make a mistake, and maybe half of the shots need no or very little adjustment. I know it’s hard to get accustomed to, but try not to take your eye out of the scope so you are watching the mirage and not to get caught in a change. For the best part, I shoot free recoil and do all my testing at 100 yards in my backyard range. I zero dead on at 100 and come up 24 minutes for 1000 yards.
Bore Cleaning Procedures
I never try to get the gun super clean at a match, I like to see a little gray on a clean patch. I don’t want the barrel to be squeaky clean — I like to see a little haze on a patch. When it’s like that, after one fouling shot, the next shot usually goes right where it’s supposed to. When it’s squeaky clean, it may take five shots to foul in.
I used a product called WartHog 1134, and it has served me well for a long time but now that the Hazmat stopped the shipment of it, so I went to over-the-counter products and all are equally bad compared to what I had used but they do the job, it just takes longer. I never pull a patch or brush back through (across the crown), I go one way only (outward) out and then unscrew the brush or take the patch off at the muzzle. I use a 50/50 mix of Hoppies and Kroil after I clean. Just before I shoot I run a smaller patch down the bore to leave a very thing film of oil in the bore. I never want to shoot over a dry bore. If you shoot over a squeaky clean, dry bore, you’ll get copper every time.
What the Future Holds for O’Hara
My goal last season was to set the Agg records. Now I only have one more goal — that is the single target group, so I will back off shooting the Heavy Gun. I have three excellent Light Guns and a bunch of barrels to do it… so maybe! I think the greatest enjoyment is the people you shoot with, the common interest is the bond I guess but I wouldn’t change it for anything. — James O’Hara
Goodridge: James, on behalf of all Australian IBS 1000-yard BR competitors, I would like to thank you for your great patience and cooperation in preparation of this article, and for the valuable and interesting insight that you have provided into what is required to achieve success at the highest levels of 1000-yard BR competition. Not that you need it, but good luck for the 2014 shooting season.
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April 7th, 2014
Ten shots… 1000 yards … 2.6872″. Think about that. Ten shots you could cover up with a coffee cup. That’s some amazing shooting. Is this a world record? Consider this — we believe this is the smallest 10-shot group ever shot at 1000 yards in any form of rifle competition, by anyone, anywhere, anytime. It is smaller than the existing Williamsport Light Gun and Heavy Gun 1K records. The IBS and NBRSA do not shoot 10 rounds for Light Gun, but this 2.6872″ group is smaller than the current IBS (3.044″) and NBRSA (4.322″) ten-shot HEAVY GUN records.
This amazing group was shot by Jim Richards at the Deep Creek Range outside Missoula, Montana during the 4th Light Gun Relay of a 1000-yard match. Jim was shooting the small 6mm Dasher cartridge with 105gr Berger bullets. Fellow Deep Creek Shooter Tom Mousel says this should be a new world record. The Deep Creek Range shoots under Williamsport rules, with ten shots for Light Gun. The current Williamsport Light Gun record (as listed) is 3.835″ by Cody Finch in 2006, but we’re told that Paul Martinez shot a 3.505″ at Williamsport last year. If approved at 2.6872″, Jim Richards’ new record is 23% smaller than the 3.505″ previous record. That’s remarkable — Jim Richards utterly demolished the previous mark. (As measured, Jim’s group is also smaller than the current Williamsport Heavy Gun record, 2.815″ by Matt Kline in 2010.)
The Record-setting rifle features a Borden action, Shehane ST 1000 fiberglass stock, and Nightforce Benchrest scope. The Krieger barrel was chambered by King Machine for the 6mm Dasher, with a 0.269″ neck and 0.103″ freebore. Jim Richards was running Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets.
The rifle was purchased used from Tim Claunch. We suspect Tim wishes he had not parted with it! Any gun that can put ten shots under three inches at 1000 yards is a “keeper”, that’s for sure.
Forum member Wayne B. says: “I am really happy for Jim. He has asked 1000 questions, slept in his pickup, upgraded his equipment, bought a rifle from another friend of mine and now he is a world record-holder. The men and women who shoot at Deep Creek in Missoula Montana are the best group of shooters in the world bar none! They will give you all the info you need to win and if you don’t have what you need they will loan it to ya, up to and including a rifle and ammo.”
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March 16th, 2014
Most long-range benchrest stocks are three inches wide because that used to be the max width under the rules for Light Gun Class. Many folks may not realize that the IBS, the NBRSA, and the Williamsport organizations have all modified their Light Gun rules to allow wider forearm widths in registered competition. A wider stock provides increased stability and resists rotation (torquing) as the gun is fired. If you’re building a new Light Gun, you may want to consider a 4″-wide or 5″-wide forearm. Do check the rules of your local club or regional organization to ensure the wider width is allowed in the matches you attend. And if you plan to shoot F-Class as well, stick to 3″. Under F-Class (Open) rules, “the width of the rifle’s forend shall not exceed 76mm (approximately 3 inches)”.
Wider Forearm Stock Options
Most stock-makers still only offer a 3″-wide forearm width with their Light Gun long-range benchrest stocks. However, there are some other options. On request, Joel Russo, Russo Rifle Stocks, can cut a stock with 4″-wide forearm, but that’s not a standard pattern.
If you want a 4″-5″ wide version of the popular MBR Tooley-style long-range stock, Bill Shehane offers a ‘Big Dawg’ version of his MBR Tracker stock. This features a longer, deeper, and wider fore-end for added stability and more resistance to torque with the heavy calibers. Along with having a wider forearm, the Big Dawg stock is cut 4″ longer than a standard Shehane ST-1000 Tracker. This provides a “longer wheelbase” for better balance with very long (30″+) barrels. (The ST-1000 itself is 3″ longer than most benchrest stocks.) The Big Dawg is available with a 4″-wide or 5″-wide forearm, and will handle barrels up to 40″ in length and 1.5″ in diameter. In the top photo, taken by Forum member Preacher, you see a 4″-wide Big Dawg next to a normal ST-1000 Tracker. (Both stocks are symmetrical; there is distortion caused by wide-angle lens.)
This color pattern is what Bill calls “Prairie Dog Camo”, a Rutland laminate in orange and dark gray, with olive ‘accent’ layers. The price for a ‘Big Dawg’ in Rutland laminate is $625. In African Obeche wood (any color choice), the price is $855.00. For more info, contact Bill Shehane at (704) 824-7511, or visit his website, www.ScopeUsOut.com.
Wide Stocks for Rimfire Benchrest
Ultra-wide stocks are also legal in many rimfire benchrest disciplines. Shown below is a rimfire rifle built with a 4″-wide Shehane Big Dawg stock. This gun is used in ARA Unlimited competition. Extra-wide stocks like this can also be used in the IR 50/50 Unlimited Class and RBA Unlimited Class.
Why use a wide stock for rimfire where recoil is not an issue? The extra width definitely provides more stability in the bags. This is noticeable when cycling the action during the loading process — the gun shows less “wiggle” when opening and closing the bolt. The larger mass of wood also, potentially, provides additional vibration damping. A wider stock design carries more weight (per inch of length) and more mass is distributed outboard. Initial testing shows that the wide stocks work well for rimfire shooters who like to grip their gun — the gun feels “planted” with less wobble when the stock is gripped or cheeked by the shooter.
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January 11th, 2014
The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) has announced the IBS 2013 Shooters of the Year (SOY). Congratulations to these talented IBS shooters who took top honors in their respective disciplines:
1000-Yard SOY – Mike Wilson | 600-Yard SOY – Mike Moses / Tom Jacobs (tie)
Score SOY – Herb Llewellyn | Group SOY – Russ Raines
Many New Records Set in 2013
For IBS shooters, 2013 was a record-breaking year. Numerous records were broken at all distances from 100 yards out to 1000. Truly noteworthy was the new 600-yard, 5-shot group record set by Rodney Wagner. This has now been officially “sanctified” as a 0.336″ group. No, that’s not .336 MOA — the actual size of the group was 0.336 inches, measured center to center. Many folks would be happy with a group that size at 100 yards. Rodney did it at 600 yards! You can see Rodney with his astonishing 0.336″ (50 Score) five-shot group at right.
Also at 600 yards, Mike Hanes had a great year, posting two new Group Aggregate Records: 1.4901″ (Light Gun), and 1.7797″ (Two-Gun).
In the long-range game, James O’Hara set three new 1000-Yard Light Gun Aggregate records in 2013: Six-Match LG Group Agg, 3.072″; Six-Match LG Score Agg, 49.83; and Ten-Match LG Group Agg, 4.4374″.
In addition to the new records, two Non-Record 250-25X aggregates were logged this year in Score Matches. Kevin Donalds Jr., and Herb Llewellyn each shot a “perfect” 250-25X Agg in 2013.
Report find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
IBS Annual Winter Meeting in Pennsylvania
This weekend, the IBS holds its Annual Meeting (better known as the “Winter Meeting”) in Harrisburg, PA. After Friday’s social, the business meeting convened at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. All the officers and board members will be working together to set the goals the organization will pursue in 2014.
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October 28th, 2013
This past weekend the IBS 600-yard Nationals were held at the Bench Rest Rifle Club of St. Louis. Attendance was strong, with 78 Light Gun shooters and 74 Heavy Gun competitors. Initial results are posted below. Forum member Mike Moses was the Two-Gun Overall winner, claiming the 2013 600-yard Title as National Champion. In the Two-Gun rankings, Johnny Powers finished second, followed by Dallas Johnson, Sam Hall, and Ryan Hunt. In the Light Gun Division Charlie Macke (shooting a big 7mm) finished first, ahead of second-place Mike Moses, and third place Ryan Hunt. In the Heavy Gun Class the top three were: Johnny Powers, Andy Ferguson, Dallas Johnson.
Past IBS 600-yard National Champ Sam Hall said conditions were brutal on the first day: “On Saturday, the wind was switching and gusting to 30 mph. Though there still were some crazy switches, Heavy Gun on Sunday was calmer thank The Lord! Day One was just about survival!”.
We will provide additional match details and photos as soon as they are available. Here are the unofficial standings for Two-Gun, Light Gun, and Heavy Gun. The order of finish is determined by combined rank points for Group Aggregate and Score Aggregate.
||Light Gun Division
||Heavy Gun Division
|1. Mike Moses
2. Johnny Powers
3. Dallas Johnson
4. Sam Hall
5. Ryan Hunt
6. Andy Ferguson
7. David Dorris
8. Charlie Macke
9. Richard Schatz
10. Mike Hanes
JR Champion: Rory Jacobs
|1. Charlie Macke
2. Michael Moses
3. Ryan Hunt
4. Rich Elijah
5. Samuel Hall
6. David Dorris
7. Dallas Johnson
8. Steven Hall
9. Johnny Powers
10. Richard Schatz
|1. Johnny Powers
2. Andy Ferguson
3. Dallas Johnson
4. Mike Hanes
5. Danny Forehand
6. Sam Hall
7. Mike Moses
8. Jeff Godfrey
9. Ryan Hunt
10. Steve Hoskin
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October 7th, 2013
Yes old dogs can learn new tricks. Just five years ago Forum member Henry Pasquet (aka “HenryP”) got started in 1000-yard benchrest shooting. He was 66 at the time. Henry worked hard, learned fast, and pursued accuracy with a vengence. That all paid off when Henry won the 2013 IBS 1000-yard Nationals this summer, finishing as the Two-Gun Overall National Champion. Henry was kind enough to talk about his rifle, his reloading methods, and his strategy for success. In fact, Henry was eager to share “everything he knows, so that other guys can fast-track their learning process”. Henry told us: “I want to share every lesson I’ve learned, so that other guys can improve their game and enjoy the sport more.” Henry also wants to encourage other senior shooters: “If you pay attention to details (when reloading), and get a good rifle with a good barrel, age is not a handicap. With a good set-up, older guys can compete with anyone out there. This is one sport where you can be a champion in later life.”
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Q&A with Henry Pasquet, IBS 1000-Yard National Champion
Q: First, do you have any advice for older shooters getting started in their golden years?
Henry: You’re never too old. In this sport, you can excel even in your 60s, 70s and beyond. At this stage in life, we now have the time and money to get good equipment and rifles. Plus, our years of work experience help us to think, analyze, and thereby make progress. In this game, we older guys can definitely compete on a par with younger shooters.
Q: Tell us about your Nationals-winning rifle and bench gear. Is there anything unique about your hardware that gave you an edge?
Henry: At the Nationals, I used my 17-lb Light Gun for both Light and Heavy Class. This rifle has a 1.55″, round BAT LP/RE action, fitted with a Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane (an improved version of the .284 Winchester). The barrel was near-new; this was the first time I had used it this year. A great barrel and great batch of Berger 180gr VLDs all made a difference. Jay Cutright chambers my barrels. Jay’s metal-work is so precise that I can screw any barrel he’s chambered to any BAT action I own. The laminated stock was modified by Tommy Shurley from a standard 3″-wide fore-end to a 5″-wide True-Trac with an adjustable 3″-wide rear plate. It’s not pretty but it tracks like a Heavy Gun stock. Tommy made my other stocks as well.
On top is a Nightforce 12-42x52mm Benchrest scope with CH-3 reticle. I used a Fulghum (Randolph Machine) front rest with an Edgewood bag made with the low-friction 3M material. In the rear I use a special-order Protekor rear “Doctor” bag with ears spaced 3 inches apart. The rear bag also has the new 3M material on contact surfaces (photo at right).
Q: During the Nationals, at the last minute you switched guns. Why did you go from a 6mm Dasher to a 7mm Shehane?
Henry: I had planned to use my Light and Heavy Dashers, but after placing the Dasher on the ready line, decided to switch to the .284 Shehane. It was still early in the morning and I felt that the heavier bullets would be easier to see against the berm. The Dasher had actually been giving tighter groups under perfect conditions, but seeing the impact is important.
Q: Tell us about the combined tuner/muzzle brake on some of your barrels. How does this improve rifle performance and how do you set the “tune”? Do you tune the barrel to the load?
Henry: I use a tuner or tuner/brake on every barrel. I started with Time Precision tuners. Art Cocchia advised getting a load with a good known accuracy node with minimum extreme spread, which controls vertical. Do not go for the hottest loads, which just reduces brass life. Then use the tuner and tune the barrel to the load. The .284 Light Gun needed a muzzle brake and tuner. I had a local gunsmith cut a thread on the muzzle brake for a tuner I got from Sid Goodling. (Eric Bostrom developed an almost identical unit at the same time. I use Eric’s tuner/brakes on all my new barrels.) Just before Nationals, I tried going up and down one marker. Down one mark cut the group in half! Think how much range time (and barrel life) that saved me. Using a tuner is easier than messing around changing loads and tweaking seating depths. Tuners definitely can work. Last year I shot a 3.348″ 10-shot group at 1000 with my .284 Win Heavy Gun fitted with a Time Precision Tuner.
Q: What are the advantages of your stock’s 5″-wide fore-end and 3″-wide rear plate? Is there a big difference in tracking and/or stability? Does the extra width make the rifle easier to shoot?
Henry: I had true Heavy Guns with 5-inch fronts and 3-inch rears. They tracked well. I felt the same result could be had with a Light Gun. I talked two stock makers into making them. I initially had the standard rear stock until Tommy Shurley and Mike Hearn came out with an adjustable rear plate. The stocks track perfectly. You can see your scope’s crosshairs stay on the target the whole time and push the rifle back for the next shot. There is no torquing (gun wobbling) when cycling the bolt. Us old guys need all the help we can get. I am getting rid of my 45-pound Heavy Guns and replacing them with Light Guns with heavy barrels.
Q: Some people say the .284 Shehane is not as accurate as the straight .284 Winchester. You’ve proved them wrong. Why do you like the .284 Shehane? More speed, less pressure?
Henry: The reason I rechambered my 7mm barrels to .284 Shehane was not velocity, pressure, or brass life. It was all about bolt lift. My straight .284 almost required me to stand up to eject brass. I damaged an extractor and had to send the bolt back to BAT. With the .284 Shehane, my bolt cycles like there is no case to eject.
Q: People want to know about your load and your loading methods. What can you reveal?
Henry: For my .284 Shehane at the Nationals, I loaded 52.5 grains of Hodgdon H4350 and Federal BR-2 primers behind Berger 180gr VLDs. I usually anneal the brass each winter. I have used the same brass for years. I use Redding bushing dies, apply Imperial sizing wax, resize, wipe off wax, clean and uniform the primers pockets using the RCBS Trim Mate Case prep center, then apply Imperial dry neck lube with a bore mop.
To dispense powder, I use a RCBS ChargeMaster set 0.1 grain below my desired load and then weigh them on a Sartorius GD-503 magnetic force restoration scale to get identical charges. I use a K&M Arbor Press with seating force gauge when seating the bullets with a Wilson inline die. My “target” seating force on the K&M dial is 20-23 units for Dashers and 35-40 units for the .284 Shehane. I put any variables aside for sighters. I do not weigh brass, bullets, or primers. My bullets were so consistent that I did not sort by bearing surface. I did trim the Berger VLDs to the shortest bullet length with a Hoover Trimmer, and then pointed the meplats just enough to close them with a Whidden pointer. I sort my bullets to 0.005″ overall length, rejecting about five percent.
Q: What kind of precision are you looking for in your reloads? Do you trickle to the kernel? Does this really help reduce extreme spread?
Henry: I try to keep my charge weights consistent to one kernel of powder. I use the Omega powder trickler with a Sartorius GD-503 lab-grade balance to achieve that. For accurate dispensing, put very little powder into the Omega so you can drop one kernel at a time. Single digit ES (Extreme Spread) is the goal. This does make a difference at 1000 yards. If you get the same push on the same bullet with the same neck tension, good things are going to happen.
Q: You believe consistent neck tension (i.e. grip on the bullet) is really important. What methods are you using to ensure consistent bullet release?
Henry: I apply Imperial dry neck lube to the inside of my case-necks with a bore mop. The K&M arbor with seating force gauge shows the need to do this. If you put a bullet into a clean case, it will be jerky when seating the bullet. You may see 40 units (on the K&M dial) dropping to 20, then slowly increasing pressure. I explained to a friend that not lubing the neck is like overhauling an engine without lubing the cylinders. Smooth entry gives the bullets a smooth release.
Q: You go 60-80 rounds between cleaning and the results speak for themselves. What is your barrel cleaning procedure? Do you think some guys clean too often or too aggressively?
Henry: I cringe when I see people wearing out their barrels with bronze brushes between relays. I clean my barrels at the end of each day when I get home. I shot my best-ever 1K Heavy Gun group (3.348″) at day’s end after 60 to 80 rounds. After trying other solvents, I have gone back to Wipe-out’s Carb-Out and Patch-Out products. I use about four patches of Carb-Out, let it sit a few minutes, then use one stroke of a nylon brush followed by Patch-Out until the barrel is clean. I use a bore mop to clean inside the chamber, then some Break Free LP on the bolt followed by bolt grease on the lugs and cocking part. I use a bore guide when anything goes down the barrel.
Shooting Skills and the Learning Process
Q: Henry, you can shoot long-distance on your own property in Missouri. How important is practice, and what do you do during a typical practice session?
Henry: I can shoot 1000 yards on my farm. I have a concrete bench using a slab from a yard furniture place on concrete blocks. Two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood hold four IBS targets. I never practice. I only test, keeping a notebook with all the info. I do most of my testing at 300 to 500 yards, shooting off my deck so I can see my shots immediately.
Q: How much of your success do you credit to really accurate rifles, versus superior shooting skills?
Henry: I do not consider myself another Carlos Hathcock or some master marksman. I am an average 1000-yard shooter, but I do work hard getting the most out of my rifles. Four other people have shot their first 1000-yard matches with my rifles, including my wife, and all of them won relays! I loaned my Dasher to another shooter two years ago and he got second at the 600-yard Nationals. Others will tell you that the rifle must be “on” to win. If your barrel or bullets are average, don’t expect to perform above average in competition.
Q: What you do enjoy most about long-range benchrest shooting? What are the attractions of this sport?
Henry: The sport offers good people and a real challenge. 1000-yard shooting keeps us all humble, but we still keep trying to see how good we can do. I am thankful for Robert Ross providing the only match location that I can shoot regularly.
Q: Henry, you have been a Forum member for many years. Have you learned important techniques from other Forum members and other shooters?
Henry: I have followed the AccurateShooter Forum since 2008. At my age I am not good at computers. I copied and analyzed many articles, especially on the .284 and the Dashers. Without AccurateShooter.com, I would probably still be shooting double-digit (10″+) groups at 1000 yards, and I sure wouldn’t have my name on a National Championship trophy.
Q: You are in your 70s now and have only been shooting competitively for a few years. How did you get so good so fast? How did you manage to beat shooters who are decades younger?
Henry: I had 20/10 vision when I was young, but am down to only 20/20. I have been interested in long range shooting for a long time including ground hog hunting. I went to some VHA jamborees also. In 2008, I went to the Williamsport Benchrest School with a friend from Pennsylvania, John Haas. We would compare notes frequently. I bought a BAT three lug from Tom Mousel in Montana. We also compared notes and made each other better. At IBS matches I studied other shooters’ equipment and techniques. I tried some, accepting some and rejecting some.
Here’s my advice:
Always be ready to learn something new. If it makes sense, try it. I would also encourage other older shooters not to quit. Stick to it. You can make enormous progress in a few seasons.
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