At the request of many Forum members, we’re reprising this archived video from past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year Samuel Hall. Without a doubt, Sam is one of the best mid-range benchrest shooters in the nation. While the video quality is rough (to say the least), Sam’s offers plenty of tips you can “take to the bank”. Even if you don’t shoot competitively, the techniques described here can improve your accuracy when shooting from a bench.
2008 IBS 600-yard National Champion Samuel Hall has prepared a 9-minute VIDEO showing his techniques for shooting from the bench. Sam covers a number of topics including bag set-up, body position, bolt manipulation, and loading skills. He also explains the importance of having a relaxed, comfortable posture and keeping your head in the same position shot to shot.
AccurateShooter.com offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked: “Where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS, and NBRSA shooting matches?”
All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class targets. Germany’s Kruger Targets sells all the important NRA targets, and international (ISSF) air rifle and smallbore targets too.
Orrville Printing currently sell IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Call (307) 655-7415 to order for the season.
Story by Jaime Hammer, IBS Social Media Manager
Paul Hammer was introduced to benchrest rifle shooting by his friend Bill Adcox at the Greenville Gun Club (in Greenville, SC) about five years ago. He has been an avid skeet shooter for most of his life, but his daughter never fell in love with that sport. The first time he took her to the rifle range with him, she was hooked. She loved the precision of it and that it’s very relaxing. If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m his daughter. What began slowly as a fun hobby that we could enjoy together picked up speed a year and a half ago, when we went to our first IBS match, a 100/200 yard match at Piedmont Gun Club. From then on, he spent much of his free time learning about the sport, from techniques to types of guns to how to reload his own ammunition.
Paul Hammer and Daughter Jaime Enjoy Time at the Range Together…
He frequently practices or competes in both group and score matches at 100, 200, and 600 yards at Piedmont Gun Club, Polk County Gun Club, and Greenville Gun Club. This year, he even competed for the first time in the annual Groundhog and Egg Shoot in Hickory, NC hosted by Bull’s Eye Sporting Goods. His smallest group, made while practicing at 100 yards with a 6 PPC, was 0.17 inch. His best score, made at 100 yards at the NC State Championship with a 6 PPC, was 249 with 8 Xs (he commented that he “made a perfect score with 5 Xs on the sighter target!”).
He said, “For me, benchrest rifle shooting is enjoyable because there’s so much to learn, and the people you meet along the way are nice and helpful. It’s fun and challenging.” Although he always tries and wants to shoot well, at the end of the day, he just enjoys the sport, spending time with his daughter, and meeting new people.
Part of his benchrest education has come from helping plan benchrest matches for Polk County Gun Club. Last September, in conjunction with Tony Moss, Paul began organizing monthly 100/300 yard groundhog and egg shoots. In doing so, he has learned more about shooting and what it takes to put together a successful benchrest rifle match. Paul and Tony are currently working with the board of directors to improve Polk County Gun Club’s rifle range and install target backers to get approval to hold IBS matches there.
If you would like to contact Paul to discuss the monthly Polk County Gun Club rifle matches or chat about general benchrest topics, send email to: paulhammer [at] bellsouth.net.
Photos by Jaime Hammer.
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IBS Match Report by Jim Bauer
This year’s IBS 600-yard National Championship was held September 27-28 at the Memphis Sport Shooting Association (MSSA) range, a wonderful 185-acre shooting facility. The 600-yard Nationals event was well-attended with 70 shooters. This was tough field of talented trigger-pullers, including world record-holders and past 600-yard champions. One competitor commented, “You don’t have to make much of a mistake and you are in the middle of the pack. Make two mistakes and you are at the back.” This says a lot for the quality of shooters attending this year’s event.
To demonstrate the talent of the shooters, and the accuracy of their rifles, consider these numbers. During the event, the field of competitors shot a total of 1,128 targets. Amazingly, 210 targets, roughly one-fifth of the total, had 5-shot groups under 2.10 inches. And 62 were less than 1.5 inches. Eleven targets had 5-shot groups measuring under one inch! Yes, sub-inch at 600! The smallest group shot at the Nationals was a tiny 0.624″ by Ben Peters. Donna Matthews shot the best overall target of 0.859″ with a score of 50. Amazingly, Donna’s 0.859″/50 was just one of ninety (90) perfect, 50-point scores.
Astonishing Rifle Precision at 600 Yards
There were sixty-two groups under 1.5″ (i.e. sub-quarter MOA) shot during the IBS 600-yard Nationals. And there were eleven groups under 1 inch. (All groups are five shots.) What’s more, three shooters had 16-target Aggregates under 2 inches (i.e. under 1/3-MOA). That’s stunning — the level of precision in today’s 600-yard game is amazing.
Total Targets Shot – 1128
Sub-2″ Groups Fired – 210
Groups Fired Less than 1.500″ – 62
Sub-1″ Groups Fired – 11
Small Group – 0.624″ (Ben Peters)
Best Single Target – 0.859″/50 Score (Donna Matthews)
Perfect Scores of 50 – 90
These impressive numbers demonstrate how competitive the 600-yard game is these days, and how hard it is to win (even when Mother Nature cooperates).
Ryan Hunt Wins Championship in Tight Battle
When the smoke cleared, Ryan Hunt was the Two-Gun winner, earning the title of 2014 IBS 600-yard National Champion. Congrats to Ryan, who finally won the Championship after finishing near the top three years running. Closely following Ryan were Steve Wilson in second and Darrell Dacus in third. To prove how tough this year’s event was, consider this: Hunt’s 16-target Group Aggregate was a mere 1.8868″, while second place Steve Wilson had a 1.9524″, and third-place Darrell Dacus had a 1.9744″. Those three marksmen all shot stunning, sub-2″, 16-target Aggregates! And the difference between first and third place (with 16 targets shot over two days) was a mere 0.0876″. Think about that….
The top three shooters in Light Gun (LG) overall were Bo Wass, followed by Ryan Hunt and Steve Wilson. LG group winners were Ryan Hunt followed by Spencer Lamm and Johnny Powers. In LG score, Bo Wass was #1, followed by Justin Roberson and past champion Sam Hall. Heavy Gun Group was won by Steve Wilson with Ben Peters and Mike Moses in second and third. (NOTE: Bo Wass shot a standard 6mmBR, not a 6BR improved, showing the parent cartridge is still competitive at 600.)
The top three shooters in Heavy Gun (HG) overall were Darrell Dacus, followed by Steve Wilson and Ryan Hunt. (Note: Darrell shot a straight 6mmBR with Berger 105s, not a Dasher.) HG score was won by Jim Bauer followed by Andy Ferguson and Darrell Dacus. Top Youth shooter was Rory Jacobs (5th Place Heavy Gun Overall). Among the lady shooters, Sally Bauer took top honors, finishing in 7th place in the Two Gun Overall. Donna Matthews also shot well finishing with 5th place in Light Gun score. To see all the standings, with complete match results, visit the IBS Long Range Results webpage.
Equipment: 6mm Dasher and Vapor Trail Bullets Dominate Memphis Match
The 6 Dasher was definitely the dominant cartridge shot this year, with the original 6mmBR a distant second. In the action department BAT was a runaway first with only two other manufacturers being listed. Barrels were a little more evenly distributed. Krieger and Brux had 8 entries each and Bartlein with 3. Nightforce scopes were well represented with 16 out of the Top 20 shooters (Top 10 LG and Top 10 HG). March, Leupold, and Sightron filled out the rest of that list. Lapua made a clean sweep with no other brass manufacturer listed. To our surprise, ALL Top 20 shooters used CCI 450 primers. Varget was the powder of choice with LRM (Long Range Match pull-down), IMR 8208 XBR, and Norma 203B each being mentioned once. Notably, in the bullet category, there was a new “most popular projectile” this year. Vapor Trail bullets were used by 10 out of the Top 20 competitors with Berger coming in second with 7 of the Top 20. Spencer and Fireform bullets each had one Top 20 selection.
Great Conditions in Memphis
We had great weather conditions to shoot this year. Mornings had temps in the mid 50s with minimal wind to start. The mirage showed up later in the morning but didn’t seem to affect the competition. The three full relays enjoyed temperatures in the mid-80s with mostly sunny skies. The afternoons were relatively calm and sunny to finish the shooting day. On both days, shooting finished around 2:00 and the rest of the day’s events were completed by 4:00 to 5:00 pm, leaving plenty of time to get cleaned up to go out for the evening.
Praise for the Match Organizers
We have to give lots of credit to the Range Official Malcom Koleas and the target crews for their flawless and determined execution of Relay changes, along with providing, clear, repetitive directions to the shooters. All competitors could easily see the results of the many hours of hard work that went into making this match run so well. Many thanks to Mike Moses, David Dorris, and the rest of the crew that made this shoot so special.
Thanks again to Memphis Sport Shooting Association and all other range owners for giving us a place to practice the shooting disciplines we enjoy. The MSSA range is open to their membership 7 days a week and can host almost every shooting discipline one can imagine. If you have get a chance, please take the time to visit this facility, a first rate club for sure.
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The 2014 IBS 600-Yard Benchrest Nationals will take place this upcoming weekend in Memphis, Tennessee at the Memphis Sport Shooting Assn. (MSSA) Range. The match runs Friday, September 26th through Saturday, September 27th. Set-up and practice sessions will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. The for-record matches will commence with the Light Gun division at 8:05 am on Friday. Heavy Gun matches will be held on Saturday.
IMPORTANT — You can still join in the fun. It’s not too late to register for this event. You can register at the range up to 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 25th. Mike Moses is the Match director. The MSSA Range is located about 25 miles northeast of Memphis, TN. Click here for directions and hotel links.
Light Gun Competition – Friday, Sept. 26th.
Sign in by 7:30 A.M. Firing will begin 8:05 A.M.
Relays will fire in sequential order #1, #2, #3 & #4.
Heavy Gun Competition – Saturday, Sept. 27th.
Sign in by 7:30 A.M. Firing will begin 8:05 A.M.
Relays will fire in the order of #3, #4, #1 & #2.
Practice and Set-Up Sessions:
Wednesday Sept. 24th – 12:00 Noon until 6:00 pm
Thursday, Sept. 25th – 8:05 am until 6:00 pm
Registration and Fees
The current Match Registration fee is $200. (This includes lunch for both days). Registration deadline is 6:00 pm, Thursday, September 25th.
If you will register on site, fees may be paid to Mike Moses (Match Director). The organizers say: “If a competitor is delayed en route and is not pre-registered, please let us know as early as possible! We’ll make every effort to allow a late entry.”
Mike Moses, Match Director
Email: ashlinmetalworks [at] bellsouth.net
4224 Coleman Rd.
Memphis, TN 38128
10-year-old Rory Jacobs competed at last year’s IBS 600-yard Nationals in St. Louis, Missouri.
Event tip by Samuel Hall. We welcome reader submissions.
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Report by Dick Grosbier for IBS
Over the weekend of September 13-14, 2014, the Ashe County Wildlife Club of Laurel Springs, North Carolina hosted the 44th annual IBS 100/200 Score Nationals. Sixty-two shooters were on the line for the event, including many record holders and major match winners.
The shooters traveled from as far away as Florida, Wisconsin, and Maine. Considering the miserable weather forecast for Saturday it was really a pretty nice day. We did have rain but thanks to the way the roof overhangs the firing line (photo below) the competitors stayed dry, only the target crew got wet. In spite of this they did an excellent job — they were fully prepared as the forecast was for a very high percentage chance of rain. Saturday got into the high 70s and actually got a little muggy. Sunday was overcast cooler and little if any rain fell.
This was my third visit to Ashe County this year and I must say it gets better each time. They have a great crew of people and a wonderful facility. There are 30 covered benches located next to a very large (40’x160’) reloading, scoring, dining, and clubhouse facility. The entire range is built on the side of a big hill. They have literally moved thousands of cubic yards of dirt (50,000+) to build this facility.
Breeden Busts Record — 1000-59X Two-Gun Total May Be Best Ever!
This year’s IBS Score Nationals saw a performance for the ages. Dean Breeden put together one of the most impressive feats of score shooting in history. Dean’s Two-Gun total score (for VFS and Hunter) was a stunning 1000-59X. This is a pending new Two-Gun IBS world record. Think about that — this means that Dean did not drop a single point through twenty (20) total matches (i.e. 20 targets), while alternating between two different rifles, one with a puny 6-power scope! That’s 100 “Tens” in a row on 100 Bullseyes, without fail. That’s really a remarkable achievement. As least Dean does not have to console the old record-holder, because the pre-existing record, 1000-52X, was set by (you guessed it), Mr. Dean Breeden. In besting his own record by seven Xs, Breeden won the Two-Gun award at this year’s IBS Score Nationals and earned a new entry in the record books. Congrats to Dean!
Bullet-maker Randy Robinett was amazed at Breeden’s 1000-59X performance. “Some years ago, I held the Two-Gun score record with a 999-52X. What Dean has accomplished with his 1000-59X is truly noteworthy — this really is a BIG deal. Let me tell you, getting 1000 points is really hard to do. You have to switch between two different rifles, and adjust from a high-power scope to a 6X scope, changing rests and equipment all the time. This is very tough.”
Looking at the Equipment List (Editor’s Comment)
The Equipment List from the 2014 IBS Score Nationals is quite revealing. As you’d expect, this match was very much a 30-caliber affair, but we were surprised to see such dominance by cut-rifled barrels, and Hodgdon H4198 powder.
1. All of the Top 15 VFS shooters ran cut-rifled barrels. There were mostly Bartleins and Kriegers, with two Brux barrels and one Rock Creek.
2. Hodgdon H4198 is definitely the powder of choice, used by 14 of the Top 20 VFS shooters. Federal 205M primers were used by at least 13 of the Top 20 shooters.
3. Randy Robinett’s BIB bullets were the most popular, used by four of the Top 10 shooters.
4. Every VFS shooter and every Hunter Class shooter was running a 30-caliber cartridge. Most VFS shooters ran 30BRs, but the 30×47 cartridge was favored by half the Hunter shooters.
5. Two gunsmiths smithed six of the Top 10 rifles. Three were by Mike Niblett and three were by Sid Goodling (who also smithed #11 and #12).
6. BAT Machine actions are still #1. BAT actions were used by 14 of the Top 20 shooters.
Mike Niblett (above) had a typical VFS rig: BAT action, Krieger cut-rifled barrel, with a Nightforce 12-42X scope. Mike used H4198 of course, but he shot Hill bullets in his 30BR, rather than BIBs.
Many 250s with 20 or more Xs Shot on Saturday
Saturday, at 100 yards, it was the Kevin and K.L. show. Kevin Donalds Sr. and K.L. Miller took the lead in Varmint For Score, and Hunter classes respectively all day long. Kevin turned in a fine score of 250-22X followed closely by Dean Breeden with 250-21X. Dean was just barely short of the win all weekend in both classes. Mike Niblett was third with 250-20X, ahead of five other 250-20X scores based on tie-breaker. There were four 19X and eight 18X scores. K.L. Miller turned in a fine 250-18x score in Hunter Class followed closely by Peter Hills and Frank McKee (both with 250-16Xs). It was moderately windy and switchy all day and since the Nationals involve shooting each record match from a different bench you essentially faced a new set of conditions each time you came to the line.
‘Top Guns’ at the Score Nationals: Kevin Donald Sr., K.L. Miller, and Dean Breeden.
Sunday it was overcast and cooler but not as rainy. Anthony Isner stepped up and took the lead in VFS class turning in a fine 250-16X score. Second place went to, you guessed it, Dean Breeden. Dean’s 250-15X was followed closely by Kevin Donalds Sr. also with 15X. In Hunter class it was Randy Jarvais’s turn to win an Aggregate. Randy’s 250-9X score beat out Dean’s 250-8X and Miller’s 250-7X scores.
In the VFS Grand Aggregate, Kevin Donalds Sr. topped the field with 500-37X, followed by Dean Breeden with 500-36X, and Anthony Isner with 500-34X. K.L. Miller won the Hunter Grand Agg handily — his 500-25X easily topped Dean’s 500-23X and Randy’s 500-20X totals. The IBS 2-Gun award went to Dean Breeden with a record score of 1000-59X. This is a potential new 2-Gun record as he bested his own record by seven Xs.
Praise for the Match Organizers and Staff
All in all it was a very well run match at a great new facility. This was the first Nationals event to be held there but it will not be the last. Hats off to E.T. Weaver and his helpers. The target crew deserves special mention. They were very good and very fast. A match with full bench rotation can be a nightmare for any target crew but these guys handled it like old pros even though it was their first-ever attempt. Well done guys and gals!
The Ashe County Wildlife Club put on a great event, complete with delicious country Barbecue.
Photos Courtesy Clint Johnson and Dick Grosbier.
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Notice the narrow configuration of the Harry Jones Range. The 1000-yard targets are located below the tree line in the rear center of the picture.
Report by Jack Mulroy for IBS
This year’s IBS 1000-Yard National Match was held August 29-30 at the Harry Jones Range in Fairview, West Virginia. Attendance was good — there were 74 Light Gun shooters and 66 Heavy Gun competitors. After a tune-up day, the 1000-Yard Match for record started on Friday, August 29, and finished on Saturday, August 30, 2014. The 1000-Yard National Match is a three target Aggregate. You shoot three times for Light Gun and three times for Heavy Gun. I guess the reason you shoot at three targets is because anybody can get “lucky once” (such as a blind squirrel finding a nut). Shooting luck happens “when preparation and hard work meet opportunity”.
Mike Gaizaukas, World Record Shooter at Harry Jones Range on August 29, 2014
The overall Two-Gun Champion and match winner was Steve Waldrep with 32 rank points. Close behind, with 33 rank points, was Jim Bauer, who finished second overall. Waldrep dominated the Heavy Gun (HG) division, posting the best HG score and winning HG overall. Waldrep shot a .300 WSM Heavy Gun featuring Lawton action, Bartlein barrel, Byers stock, and Nightforce scope. Waldrep’s Light Gun was also chambered in .300 WSM. It had a Remington action, Bartlein barrel, McMillan stock, and Weaver scope. Jewell triggers on both guns.
Overall Winner Steve Waldrep (Left) with assist from Stanley Taylor (right)
In Light Gun division, James Isaacson put on an impressive show, winning LG overall and posting smallest LG group. Jim Bauer (second overall in the Two-Gun), posted the top LG score.
Top Shooters by Division
Two Gun Overall——— Steve Waldrep
Heavy Gun Overall——- Steve Waldrep
Heavy Gun Score——— Steve Waldrep
Heavy Gun Group——– Mike Gaizaukas
(1000-Yard World Record/2.871 inches)
Light Gun Overall——– James Isaacson
Light Gun Group——— James Isaacson
Light Gun Score——— Jim Bauer
World Record 2.871″ HG Group by Gaizaukus
Mike Gaizaukus shot the small HG group for the match — a stunning 2.871″ ten-shot group. Pending approval, Mike’s group should be a new IBS 1000-yard world record. Congrats to Mike for his record group. Mike’s record-setting gun featured a 1:10″-twist Krieger barrel chambered by Mark King in .300 WSM. Mike shot Berger 210gr VLDs with CCI BR2 primers.
The Harry Jones Range
Founded in 2008, this facility was named in memory of the former property owner Harry Jones who passed away a few years ago and is buried on top of the hill next to the range. Presently the property is being administered by Harry’s daughter, Jean Dawson. The property has been in the family since 1840. The 1000-yard shooting facility is a covered pavilion that has 13 shooting positions with ambidextrous concrete bench tops sitting on a concrete floor. Behind the pavilion is a covered ready line where the relays-in-waiting can stage their equipment. (For this shoot only 12 benches were used.)
Very Narrow Range — “Like Shooting Up a Holler”
The Harry Jones range is very unique — it’s very narrow in width, approximately 100 feet wide, and runs slightly uphill to the targets. As they say in West Virginia, “It’s like shooting up a Holler”. If there is such a thing as a “Wind God,” he’s alive and well at the Harry Jones Range. Some very good scores and groups have been recorded at this range (including a world record 2.871″ 10-shot group in this very match.) A longtime shooter friend of mine, Ralph, used to say when I would complain about the wind, “Jack, there is no such thing as wind, just sight adjustments”. Ralph was right, no matter what range you are shooting at, you have to deal with the wind through sight adjustments. Looks like Mike was “Right On” when he made his adjustments.
The management and membership of this range have come a long way in developing this range over the last few years. Trees had to be removed, gravel put down, buildings built, creek flow re-routed, target areas built, and shooting benches installed. But the effort was worth it — Harry Jones has become a very serviceable range that is a great place to shoot.
The Harry Jones range is not blessed with much “elbow room,” due to the configuration of the range, but through thoughtful placement of the firing line and ready area, the range is doable. At this match, there were 74 light gun and 66 heavy gun shooters. This match was well managed and ran smoothly, but parking space was at a premium. In my estimation the 2014 1000-Yard Nationals were at capacity with the number of shooters registered.
$27,000 Prize Table (with Lots of Scopes)
Roughly $27,000 worth of prizes were awarded at this year’s 1000-Yard match. Valuable prizes included Nightforce scopes, stocks, rests, bullets and more. Two of the nicest gifts presented at the match were a pair of quilts made by property owner Jean Dawson. Thanks Jean! That was a very generous gift that a shooter and his family will treasure for years. Many thanks should go to Stanley Taylor from Douglas Barrel for his time and energy in acquiring most of the prizes presented at the match.
Serious Artillery on Display — Rick Murphy’s Metal-Stocked Heavy Gun
The prettiest gun and gun rest at the match belonged to Rick Murphy of Adamsville, Tennessee. The barrel was originally 36 inches long, but was shortened to 30 inches. The gun now shoots much better after the reduction in barrel length. This Heavy Gun and rest set-up were probably the most expensive pieces of equipment at the 1000-Yard match. Rick has been working on this rig for the last three years and has put countless hours into the production of his gun and gun rest. Rick placed 13th in the Heavy Gun overall.
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We know that many of our readers have never seen a “Hammerhead” benchrest stock before. This is a design with an extra wide section in the very front, tapering to a narrow width starting about 6″ back. When paired with a super-wide front sandbag, the hammerhead design provides added stability — just like having a wider track on a racing car. Some folks think mid-range and long-range benchrest stocks can only be 3″ wide. Not so — IBS and NBRSA rules now allow much wider fore-ends. While F-Class Open rules limit fore-end width to 3″ max, there is not such restriction on IBS or NBRSA Light Guns or Heavy Guns for 600- and 1000-yard competition. Here’s a 5″-wide Hammerhead design from Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T).
Ray Bowman of PR&T sent us some photos of another hammerhead benchrest rig. Ray reports: “Precision Rifle & Tool this week finished and delivered this BR rifle. The customer will be shooting this rifle at the 2014 IBS 1000-yard Nationals in West Virginia.” [The match runs August 29-30, 2014 at the Harry Jones Range]. This IBS Light Gun sports PR&T’s “Low Boy Hammer Head” stock in red/black laminate. Other components are a 6mm BRUX 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel, Borden BR Action, and a PR&T 20 MOA scope rail.
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They call Missouri the “Show-Me” state. Well here is something to show — a superb 100-5X 1000-yard target shot by Hornady employee, John Potratz, at the Missouri State IBS 1K Championship. This was a 10-shot heavy gun group. The cartridge was a big, .30-caliber wildcat based on the .375 Ruger parent cartridge. The bullet was the 208gr Hornady A-Max.
Missouri’s State IBS 1000-Yard Championship Match took place earlier this month at the Vapor Trail Valley range in Spickard, Missouri. Potratz set a new range record in the 1000-yard Heavy Gun Division with this 100-5X score. The group was impressively small as well: 5.571″. That was good for second best Heavy Gun group. With his combined scores and group for the event, John finished first place overall in the Heavy Gun Division (and now he’s got the trophy to prove it).
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Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President Photos by Vera Carter
Smooth. Efficient. Well-run. Lots of small groups. Those words pretty much spell out the 45th annual IBS Group Nationals at Fairchance, PA. Match Director Bill Reahard and his crew put on a great show that consists of six days of competition from Monday through Saturday. Bill and his team spent days getting their southwestern Pennsylvania range ready for the nearly 80 shooters who attended. Fairchance is no stranger to big matches as the club has hosted previous Nationals and World Team qualifiers.
Six Days of Competition in Four Classes
Some say that the IBS Group Nationals is a marathon. Six days of competition at both 100 and 200 yards with four classes of rifles: Light Varmint (10.5 lb.); Sporter (10.5 lb. – 6mm min caliber); Heavy Varmint (13.5 lb.) and Heavy Bench (known as ‘Unlimited’ in NBRSA-land). The first three classes are simply known as the “bag guns”. Most competitors use a 10.5-lb. rifle in 6PPC and compete in all three classes. The Heavy Bench (HB) class requires 10-shot groups as opposed to 5-shot groups for the bag guns. There is no prohibition to shooting your 10.5 lb. rifle in HB, but bag guns are simply outclassed by the rail guns, especially for 10-shot groups.
All 100-yard targets were shot the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. It is done in this sequence to require only one change of wind flags.
Natalie from the Target Crew during the Powder-Puff match.
The week delivered pretty typical mid-Atlantic August weather: hazy sun with 80% humidity in the morning dropping to 50% as the temperature warmed. Fairchance is sometimes known to offer strong crosswinds that challenge the best of shooters. This week, however, the breezes were light to moderate and switchy. A shooter on his game with a well-tuned rifle could assemble a string of good groups. There were many ‘Teen Aggs’ (sub-.200 five target averages) shot this week.
Musical Chairs at the Group Nationals
IBS 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.
View looking down-range. This is a beautiful place to shoot.
Monday morning saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling the big rail guns to the line. Bill Symons led the way at 100 yards with the only ‘Teen Agg’ in HB, a fine .1972. The 200-yard stage for HB would not be held until Saturday morning.
On Tuesday the bag guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Conditions allowed for quite a few very good groups. When the top five are under .1900 you know two things — Nationals competitors brought their “A Game” and the conditions were manageable. Sporter was not too much different as the first four were in the ‘teens. Ohio’s Jeff Gaidos led the way in LV with a .1714. In SP, Wayne Campbell from Virginia won with a .1902.
Sporter 100 “Top Guns” (L to R): Charles Miller, Steve Lee, Al Auman, Wayne Campbell, Larry Costa.
Wednesday was reserved for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 100 yards. Steve Lee worked his magic with a .1742. Reportedly, he was using some new Bart’s bullets on new Bart’s jackets. Steve shot well all week. Those new bullets certainly contributed to his success.
Wednesday afternoon saw the moving of flags for the 200-yard stage of the competition. The SP and LV 200 yard targets were Thursday’s course of fire. In LV, Hal Drake shot a .2045 Aggregate which edged Larry Costa’s .2076. At 200 yards the Aggregates are measure on MOA. Therefore, Hal’s .2045 Aggregate translates to an average 200 yard target measurement of .409”. The afternoon was reserved for SP targets. Wayne Campbell shot a .2250 to win the afternoon’s contest.
On Friday, a single Aggregate of five record targets were shot for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 200 yards. Harley Baker had his mojo working with a tiny .1674 Aggregate — not far off from the IBS record. On Friday afternoon many of the awards for the bag guns were given out. Saturday was reserved for HB 200. Since some of the bag gun shooters do not shoot a rail gun a number of competitors left Friday afternoon. The rail guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. The winner was Jack Neary who shot a .2324 Aggregate to edge Steve Lee’s .2361.
IBS 2014 Group Shooting National Championships — Top Fives
About the IBS Awards at the Group Nationals
The IBS recognizes winners as follows: Range Aggregates for each of the four classes of rifles; Grand (100 and 200) Aggregates in each of the four classes; 2-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 & 200); 3-gun (HV, LV, SP in 100 & 200) and 4-gun (HV, LV, SP and HB in 100 & 200). For the multi-gun competition, Florida’s Larry Costa won both the 2-Gun and 3-Gun titles. In the 4-gun, however, it was Michigander Bill Symons who took the 4-Gun title with an excellent .2332.
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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.
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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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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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.
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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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.
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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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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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.
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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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:
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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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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