September 12th, 2017

Custom Rimfire F-Class Rifle for a Grand-Daughter

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54
The dots and dashes are Morse Code for the shooter’s initials. The wood is Mango with Walnut fore-end wing inlays. The barreled action is an older Anschutz Model 54 that spent years in a prone stock.

Build Report by Doan Trevor
How do you build a stock for the grand-daughter of an award-winning shooter? Over the years I have built five or six rifles for this shooter, and now his grand-daughter had taken an interest in F-Class. He wanted her new rifle to mirror his own F-Class rifle, and he provided me with an old Anschutz Model 54 barreled action. Her new rifle would get her started in rimfire with the possibility of graduating to High Power (centerfire) shooting. The dots and dashes on the sides of the stock are Morse Code for his grand-daughter’s initials — “AMS”.

Rimfire F-Class Stock Design Factors
Typically when I build a rimfire F-Class stock I use the same pattern as I do for High Power stocks. The pattern has evolved from my prone stocks, as it has proven very successful with time. Also, there is a known issue of using wood for a stock in F-Class. The wood needs to be cured, and unfortunately, finding wood in the specific dimension for the stock is near to impossible. Therefore, I inlay pieces in the fore-end making sure that it is straight and on center. Other materials can be used for an F-Class stock, but keeping them straight and centered can be very difficult. Using cured wood during the build process, I continually check the centerline from fore-end to the rear slider, ensuring that the stock stays centered. This helps ensure good tracking and return to point of aim.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

Adapting Prone Stock for F-Class Use
There is a current trend of older Palma and prone shooters to convert their rifles for F-TR and F-Open due to eyesight problems and other disabilities. The stocks that they have been using (and loving) can be recycled to their new shooting styles with a few design changes. I have been doing this successfully for the last several years. Whether it be a new shooter or an older one, you can either plan for the future or adapt older equipment so that all can shoot the style that they want. My philosophy in rifle building is to create every rifle with the potential to win a national or world championship. I am proud to say that I have build rifles for Derek Rodgers, Trudie Faye, Lige Harris, Barry Smith, Eric Rhodes, Kent Reeves, Terry Glen and many more award-winning shooters. And I look forward to many more.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

What the Heck is .22 LR Rimfire F-Class?
There is no official NRA F-Class rimfire discipline (at least not yet). However, many F-Class shooters (both F-0pen and F-TR) employ .22 LR rifles for low-cost training. For example, James Crofts practices extensively with his 40X rimfire F-TR rig. In addition, many shooting clubs offer F-Class style rimfire fun matches, shot prone with front rest or match bipod. This rifle was built for an F-Class fun match hosted regularly by the Los Angeles Rifle & Revolver Club (LAR&R).

The photo below displays a different Doan Trevor-crafted rifle, a rimfire benchrest rig with Turbo action. This shows how Doan makes the 3-inch-wide fore-end. Outboard left- and right-side wings are bonded to the central stock material, then the wings are carefully shaped for straightness. Getting the geometry “just right” helps the rig track perfectly.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

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August 10th, 2016

Canadian F-Class National Championships Commence

Canada Canadian F-Class Championships Connaught Ontario Canada F-TR F-Open

Many of the world’s best F-Class shooters have traveled to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada this week to compete at the Canadian F-Class National Championships. F-Open ace Shiraz Balolia, who won back-to-back Canadian F-Open Championships in 2015 and 2014, will pursue a “three-peat” at Canada’s Connaught Ranges. There will be plenty of F-TR talent on hand as well, including Bryan Litz, reigning U.S. Mid-Range and Long-Range F-TR Champion. The first challenge for the shooters will be the weather, which can be notoriously wet and windy at Connaught. The weather forecast looks good for today and tomorrow, but thunderstorms (and rain) are predicted for Friday and Saturday.

Get Ready for the Thunderstorms…
Canada Canadian F-Class Championships Connaught Ontario Canada F-TR F-Open
Weather.com 5-Day Forecast. CLICK HERE for update.

U.S. F-TR Rifle Team Prepares for the Canadian Championships:

Canada Canadian F-Class Championships Connaught Ontario Canada F-TR F-Open

Shown above is the U.S. F-TR Rifle Team, which will compete in the F-TR division. In the America Match, teams from Canada, South Africa, and the United States will battle head-to-head for national honors.

Many Companies Help Sponsor U.S. F-TR Rifle Team
It takes significant resources to field a large shooting team in international competition. The U.S. F-TR Rifle team is fortunate to have many great sponsors helping the team with equipment and financial support. The team’s top-level “Gold Medal” sponsors, are, in alphabetical order: Berger Bullets, Gemtech, Kelbly’s, McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Nightforce Optics, Pierce Engineering, and 5.11 Tactical. CLICK HERE for a list of all sponsors.

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February 4th, 2016

Rimfire Training Can Benefit F-Class Competitors

rimfire practice Berger SWN

The 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals event is less than a week away. If you need some last-minute practice before this match and you don’t have the time (or money) to load a couple hundred rounds of centerfire ammo, consider rimfire practice. Past F-TR National Champion James Crofts attributes much of his success to plenty of trigger time with his rimfire training rifle.

Rimfire Training for F-Classers

2014 and 2012 U.S. National F-TR Champion James Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class shooters. A member of the 2013 World Championship-winning F-TR Team USA squad, James knows a thing or two about long-range shooting, that’s for sure. But you may be surprised to learn how James sharpens his shooting skills at relatively short distances. You see, James often practices with a .22 LR rimfire rifle at distances from 50 to 200 yards. James tells us: “Shooting my F-Class rimfire trainer saves me money and improves my shot process and wind-reading abilities.”

Remington rimfire 40X barreled action in PR&T LowBoy stock with PT&G bolt.
James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

Rimfire Training Teaches Wind-Reading Skills by James Crofts
Training with the rimfire is extremely useful and can be done from 25 yards out to 200 yards. I am lucky and can shoot 50 yards right off my back deck. That is far enough that any miscue on rifle handling will show up on the target. I use a two dry-fire to one actual shot routine for my practices. This gives me much more positive reinforcement without any negative reinforcement.

Wind reading is extremely important with a .22 LR rifle. I use a set of smallbore flags to aid my wind calls. The smallbore flags are a must and force you to look at the flags and mirage on each and every shot. If you think the flags at Camp Butner move a lot, try smallbore flags around tall pine trees.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR
James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.

Rimfire Training Is Cost-Effective
Rimfire ammunition is much less costly than centerfire ammo. Though .22 LR prices have risen in recent years (and rimfire ammo is harder to find), even now I can get a 500-round brick of .22 LR ammo for less than $75.00. That works out to fifteen cents a round. That’s a fraction of the cost of handloading .308 Win match ammo. Heck, you can pay 40 cents a piece for match-grade .308-cal centerfire bullets. Then you have to figure in brass, primers, and powder.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

My CMP 40X Rimfire F-TR LowBoy Clone
My quest into the .22 LLR rimfire field started with an email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) announcing Rem 40X stripped barreled actions for sale. I thought, “Hmmm… Could one of those little 40X barreled actions be turned into a F-Class training rifle?” My gunsmith Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool was brought in at this point.

After conferring with Ray, it was decided that he could indeed turn this into a F-Class training rifle. Ray contacted Dave Kiff of PT&G and ordered a new bolt for the Remington 40X rimfire action. Next was the stock decision. I decided to go with a PR&T Low Boy F-Class stock — this is an exact clone of the stock for my .308 Win F-TR competition rifle. Then a Jewell trigger was acquired to complete the components. Ray built this just like he would any custom rifle, other than using the stock barrel. The project turned out awesome. The rifle was a hammer from the beginning even with the stock barrel.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

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October 30th, 2015

Top Teams Compete for 1000-Yard F-Class Titles Today

F-Class National Championship Team
Ben Avery 10/30/2015 panorama photo by Tracy Hogg. CLICK HERE to zoom image.

Today is the Team Match Day at the F-Class Long-Range National Championships. F-Open and F-TR team shooters will have to deal with damp conditions on the range, as a storm front recently dropped rain at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility outside Phoenix. James Crofts says: “The 2×1000 Team match today is going to be a good day. Wind will be up to 10 mph and quartering.”

F-Class National Championship Team

In the F-TR division, competition will be fierce. The Michigan F-TR Team, winner of the Mid-Range Championship earlier this week, looks to add a matching 1000-Yard National Team victory today. The shooters of Team X-Men, lead by 2014 individual F-TR Champion James Crofts, hope to reverse their fortunes, and win at the longer distance. And Team Sinclair, the “winningest” squad in F-Class history, looks to grab another title. Team Sinclair boasts multiple champions on its squad, including Derek Rodgers, the only man to have won both the F-TR and F-Open National Championship.

Team Sinclair Derek Rodgers

F-Class National Championship Team

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October 25th, 2015

F-Class Nationals Kick Off at Ben Avery in Phoenix

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

The 2015 United States F-Class National Championships are underway now at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2015, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one week-long mega-match. The Mid Range F-Class Nationals take place 24-27 October 2015, with shooting at 300, 500, and 600 yards. The Long Range National Championships then run October 28 through 31, with all targets at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).

The wind arrived early on Saturday…
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

It started off somewhat windy on Saturday, October 24 for the 300-yard and 500-yard matches. Bryan Litz mastered the conditions to end up leading the F-TR division. (Guess that knowing a thing or two about ballistics helps when the wind is blowing). James Crofts, 2014 F-TR National Champion, shoot well at 500 yards, but struggled at 300 yards (the X-Ring is just 1.5″ at 300 yards). He observed: “Not a bad day today — overall 13th. Bryan Litz has the overall F-TR lead. I’m down 20 for the day but there are lots of shots left to go.”

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

All the shooting today (Sunday, October 25th), will be at 600 yards. Jim posted from Phoenix: “It’s time to start Day Two of the F-Class Mid-Range Nationals. All 600 yards today and I’m ready. Looks like it could be a tricky day with gusty winds but it will be the same for everyone.”

James Crofts at the 500-yard line. He had a tougher time at 300 yards.
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

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August 17th, 2015

Yanks Win Gold at Canadian F-Class Nationals

Canada Canadian F-Class F-TR Championship James Crofts Shiraz Balolia Team USA

The Canadian F-Class Championships took place last week at the Connaught Range outside Ottawa, Ontario. American shooters performed well, taking top honors in both the F-Open and F-TR divisions. In the F-Open class, Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia won his second straight Canadian National Championship (he also won in 2014). This year he was shooting a .300 WSM. The long, heavy .30-Cal bullets offer a ballistic advantage… IF you can handle the additional recoil. Shiraz told us: “This [match] was particularly challenging and satisfying as there were some incredible shooters from around the world including two World Champions, three U.S. National Champions, Canadian National Champions, British Champions, and European Champions shooting alongside me. It was an honor to shoot alongside the best shooters in the world.”

A large number of American shooters ventured to Ontario for the Canadian F-Class Championships.
Canada Canadian F-Class F-TR Championship James Crofts Shiraz Balolia Team USA

James Crofts shot consistently to win the F-TR division, and Paul Phillips finished second. Of Jim, the “man to beat” in F-TR, fellow competitor Tom Hittle said: “Congratulations to James Crofts for the overall win in TR. It was well deserved. Thank you for all the guidance and tips over the last couple of years.” After the match, James told us: “I want to thank a few companies that helped me get where I am. BRUX Barrels — I have now won three Nationals with Brux barrels. Jim Borden from Borden Actions — your action was smooth and precise. And Ray Bowman (PR&T) who, hands down, builds the best rifles available. I have used two different PR&T rifles to win U.S. F-TR Nationals. Proof is with the gold medals.”

In Team competition, a “dark horse” squad from North Carolina pulled off a real upset, taking Gold for the 4-man team event. The “Team NC” boys (James Hittle, Tom Hittle, Ed Shelley, and Greg Denekamp), benefited from good wind-calling by the Hittles plus some very accurate rifles. Tom Hittle remarked: “Ray Bowman of PR&T rifles were used by each team member. Thank you Ray for incredible-shooting hammers.”

Canada Canadian F-Class F-TR Championship James Crofts Shiraz Balolia Team USA

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June 30th, 2015

Yanks Win Creedmoor Cup Match in Ireland

2015 Creedmoor Cup F-Open F-Class Tullamore Dublin Ireland 2015 1875

Way to go Team USA! The American F-Class squad won the prestigious Creedmoor Cup competition held June 28-29 at the Midlands National Shooting Centre in Tullamore, Ireland. This is a competition with a rich history, going back to the original Challenge Match in 1874 between American and Irish Teams in Creedmoor, New York. (Read Match History)

2015 Creedmoor Cup F-Open F-Class Tullamore Dublin Ireland 2015 1875
Photo by Matthew Schwartzkopf.

Phil Kelley wrote: “I never knew when planning for this trip the wonderful history that is the Creedmoor Cup, Ireland and U.S. rifle competition, and the hunger of the Irish for freedom. It is one of many things that has made this trip so enjoyable. J.P. Craven [opened] the Creedmoor competition with John Sigler, previous President of the NRA. John had the honor of the first shot with a rifle used to help gain Irish independence. The Irish, like Americans, have a rich history that ties the rifle and independence together. It has been an honor to be part of this event, with each and every individual that is part of it.”

(more…)

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April 1st, 2015

Gun Tech: Top Barrel-Makers Adopt Degaussing Technology

Advancements in barrel technology in recent decades have been impressive. Today’s premium barrels deliver accuracy that could only have been dreamed-of decades ago. And now a new development promises to help barrel-makers craft the most uniform, consistent, and stable barrels ever.

What’s the new technology? You may be surprised. It’s not a surface treatment, or a cryogenic bath. The latest development in barrel manufacturing is Degaussing — the process of de-magnetizing metal objects. Degaussing is now used in many industries to uniform metallic products and to prevent unwanted interactions with magnetic fields. LEARN MORE.

Degaussing is the process of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field. It is named after the gauss, a unit of magnetism, which in turn was named after Carl Friedrich Gauss.

At the recent IWA show in Germany, Vallon GmbH, a German manufacturer of degaussing machines, told us that two major Wisconsin barrel-makers have purchased Vallon industrial degaussing units. The units sold to the American barrel-makers are similar to Vallon’s EMS unit show below. This can degauss (i.e. de-magnetize) 50 barrel blanks in one pass.

Barrel degaussing Vallon Kreiger Bartline Wisconsin IWA Show Navy James Crofts

The Vallon degausser works by passing the barrel steel through a coil. Vallon explains: “The density of magnetic field lines is at its maximum in the coil centre, and is strongly decreasing towards the outside. If a ferromagnetic work piece (steel) is introduced into the coil, the field lines are concentrating and flooding the work piece. The conductivity of steel is up to 800 times higher than that of air. Degaussing is done during a continuous movement of the work piece, leading out of the coil. Decreasing field strength is achieved by a slow extraction from the coil.”

Barrel degaussing Vallon Kreiger Bartline Wisconsin IWA Show Navy James Crofts

How Degaussing Improves Barrel Steel and Rifle Performance
So what does magnetism have to do with barrel performance? How can degaussing help make a barrel better? Vallon’s scientists tell us that degaussing has three major benefits. First, it aligns ferrous elements within the barrels, strengthening the steel at the molecular level from the inside out. Second, by reducing static surface charges, degaussing reduces chatter during drilling, which creates a straighter bore with a better surface finish. Lastly, there is evidence that degaussed barrels produce slightly more velocity. When a copper-clad bullet spins through a non-degaussed (magnetically-charged) barrel, this creates waste electrical energy. The energy expended reduces velocity very slightly. You can see this effect yourself if you spin a copper rod in the middle of a donut-shaped magnet. This creates an electrical charge.

Here a barrel is checked after degaussing with a Vallon EMS. The meter records a zero magnetic value, showing complete degaussing success.
Barrel degaussing Vallon Kreiger Bartline Wisconsin IWA Show Navy James Crofts

Degaussing Will Add $50.00 to Barrel Cost
We know what you’re thinking: “All right, degaussing seems beneficial, but how much will this add to the cost of my new barrel?” Based on off-the-record conversations with two barrel-makers, we estimate that degaussing will add less than $50.00 to the cost of a new barrel blank. That’s a small price to pay for greater accuracy and barrel life.

Barrel degaussing Vallon Kreiger Bartline Wisconsin IWA Show Navy James CroftsAsk a Sailor — F-Class Champion and
U.S. Navy Veteran Explains Degaussing

We asked reigning F-TR Champion James Crofts about barrel degaussing. A U.S. Navy veteran, he immediately understood the potential benefits of this process. “I served in nuclear submarines. Since before World War II, the U.S. Navy degaussed its subs and smaller warships. This had many benefits. Principally, it helped reduce the risk of triggering magnetic mines. But that wasn’t the only benefit — the degaussing process gave the steel greater resilience and longevity. And that’s why the Navy degaussed non-combat vessels as well. Will a degaussed barrel shoot better? Honestly I can’t say. But based on my Navy experience, I bet degaussed steel will be more uniform and will last longer. I’m glad somebody is trying this out on rifle barrels. Put me on the waiting list!”

Barrel degaussing Vallon Kreiger Bartline Wisconsin IWA Show Navy James Crofts

The above photo show a U.S. nuclear submarine during a degaussing (also called “deperming”) session. This reduces the vessel’s electromagnetic signature, making it more stealthy. Deperming also adds to the vessel’s longevity. With steel-hulled ships, static electricity builds up as the hull slices through the water. A powerful, constant static charge will cause the steel to deteriorate. Degaussing (deperming) helps prevent this, extending the life of the hull.

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February 12th, 2015

High Winds Challenge Shooters at Berger Southwest Nationals

Berger Southwest Nationals Phoenix

This was supposed to be the “easy day” at the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN), with targets at the “shorter” distance of 600 yards. But the wind gods did not cooperate. The wind blew all day long, with significant velocity changes (from strong to very strong) and tricky angle changes. It was a challenge even for a National Champion. James Crofts, reigning F-TR National Champ, said today presented the toughest wind conditions he’s ever witnessed at Ben Avery: “Conditions were brutal, to say the least. At 600 yards I found the 7 Ring, so it wasn’t easy”. But James was up to the task, winning the F-TR division. Forum member Erik Cortina took top F-Open honors in this Wednesday mid-range match. But he agreed with Crofts that the blustery winds were very challenging — with the high velocities you had to watch the right flags to pick out the angle changes.

In the video below, James and Erik talk about the challenge of shooting in these kind of conditions, and they also talk about their choices in F-Class hardware (rests, bipods, scopes).

Check out the strong winds at Ben Avery:

Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix

Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix

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January 4th, 2015

F-Class Nationals Featured in January Shooting Sports USA eZine

The 2014 F-Class National Championships were held in Phoenix this past October. It was a well-attended match with nearly 170 competitors from around the nation. In a tight battle, James Crofts (1574-59X) edged past champion Derek Rodgers (1573-65X) by a single point in the F-TR division. In F-Open, Emil Kovan (1587-83X) shot well to beat Danny Biggs (1585-83X) by a two-point margin. Both Kovan and Biggs racked up 83 Xs — that’s mighty impressive shooting. Overall, conditions were generally good (if hot), and many new records were set. The course of fire was 160 shots, all at 1000 yards.

Shooting Sports USA Larry Bartholome

An excellent, detailed day-by-day report on the F-Class Nationals appears in the January edition of Shooting Sports USA, just released. Prepared by past National F-Open Champion Larry Bartholome (aka “LBart” in our Forum), this article provides unique insights by one of the leading competitors in the game. Larry may be a senior citizen but he can still shoot. In fact, Larry observes that age is no barrier to success in the F-Open division: “In the ten-year history of F-Class, the F-Open discipline has been won four times by senior or grand senior shooters. John Brewer was 73 when he won in 2004. In 2007 Bob Bock won as a 65-year-old senior in Raton, NM. Jim Murphy was a 65-year-old senior when he won in lodie, WI. Finally, Larry Bartholome won in 2013 at Raton at the age of 73, even though he felt like 103. All of these senior/grand senior champions are members of Team Berger, and still shoot.”

Another highlight of the 2014 F-Class Nationals was the performance of Team Long Shots. Team members pleased the crowd by shooting in their Halloween costumes on October 31st. The colorful costumes (Snow White and the four dwarfs) didn’t seem to hurt their performance. In fact it may have brought the Long Shots some luck. All four marksmen went through the match without dropping a single point. This gave Team Longshots an 800-42X score at the end of the day to secure the team win, setting a new team record in the process. Larry Bartholome writes: “This is the first-ever 800-point team score in the history of F-Class.”

Shooting Sports USA Larry Bartholome

You can read the FREE eZine version of Shooting Sports USA online. Along with Larry’s F-Class article, this January edition includes coverage of various state and regional shooting championships, plus a field test of the new Match-Grade .30-06 Springfield Ammunition from Creedmoor Sports. This is excellent stuff, produced with premium Lapua brass and Lapua Scenar bullets. Tester Art Merrill reported this ammo was very straight, and demonstrated excellent accuracy on target. If you shoot Garand matches, you may want to get your hands on this high-quality ammo. See the test results below.

New Creedmoor Sports .30-06 Ammo Reviewed:
Creedmoor Sports .30-06 Ammunition Ammo

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December 9th, 2014

Champ ‘Feels the Joy’ — Shoots 200-9X at 1K with Joy-Pod

James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-classThis past weekend, reigning F-TR National Champion James Crofts shot a match using the latest generation of the SEB Joy-stick Bipod, aka “Joy-Pod”. Apparently, James didn’t have any problems adjusting to the coaxial Joy-Pod. James definitely “felt the joy”, shooting a 200-9X score, his first-ever perfect 200 at 1000 yards in F-TR.

James reports: “I used the SEB Joy-Pod, it was amazingly stable. The Joy-Pod works amazing.” James is a “releaser” not a holder. When shooting with the Joy-Pod, he releases the joy-stick handle right as he fires: “I let go when breaking the shot”. Some other guys maintain light contact, allowing the joy-stick shaft to float back between/over their fingers during recoil. But it looks like James has a method that works.

SEB Joy-Pod Fitted on Savage-Actioned PR&T F-TR Rig
Here’s the rig James was shooting. Yes it has a Savage action, complete with AccuTrigger. James proves you don’t have to have a $1200.00+ custom action to shoot 10s and Xs at long range. The rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool. James wanted to thank Keith Trap (Forum member KT) for helping James do all of the testing on this rifle. James tells us: “I have decided this year I want to work more on myself as an individual shooter and not spend as much time [working with] my ammo and my rifles.”

CLICK PHOTO to See Full-screen image with more detail:
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes that’s a Savage action in this rig!
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Note the grippy suede base-pad under the Edgewood rear bag, which features low-friction ear material.
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

USA F-TR National Champion James Crofts.
James Crofts FTR F-class joy-pod joystick F-TR SEB
Photo by Kent Reeve.

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November 2nd, 2014

Jim Crofts and Emil Kovan Top Field at U.S. F-Class Championships

Congratulations to James Crofts (F-TR) and to Emil Kovan (F-Open), our new 2014 F-Class U.S. National Champions. Crofts, F-TR Team USA Vice-Captain, won the F-TR Title with a 1574-59X score. Emil Kovan took the F-Open National Championship with a 1587-83X. Well done, gentlemen!

Battle of the Ages in F-TR Division
USA F-TR teammates James Crofts and Derek Rodgers entertained all with a 3-day battle that will be remembered for many years to come. James Crofts took home the title of US F-TR National Champion by just one point, scoring 1574-59X to Derek’s 1573-65X. These two great shooters, both at the top of their game, were neck and neck right down to the final shot. Rodgers had the higher X-Count but fell just one point short. He was shooting Berger 200gr Match Hybrid bullets with Varget powder. Crofts was also shooting heavy .30-caliber projectiles.

The battle between James Crofts (left) and Derek Rodgers (right) went down to the wire.
F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

In the F-TR Division, William Litz was third with 1563-58X. Brad Sauve, 3-Time National Champ, was close behind, with 1563-54X, to finish fourth in a very high-scoring event.

F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

James wanted to give credit to others who helped him along the way: “There are a lot of people that I need to thank that have helped me in my quest to become the U.S. National Champion, twice. First, I thank my family for giving me there unconditional support throughout it all. Second is Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle and Tool, he builds the best F-Class rifles in my opinion hands down. The rifle I used was the second F-TR rifle Ray has built for me. Thank you Ray.

Next, [I want to thank] all my teammates from the NorthState X-Men: Phil Kelley, Tracy Hogg, Joseph Conley, Mike Hardy, Ian Klemm and Radoslaw Czupryna. Your quest for perfection and determination make us all better and it is my honor to be your coach and captain.

F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

Last [I want to thank] all my team mates from F-TR Team USA — thank you all. I just hope I can represent our growing sport in a positive manner. — James E Crofts, 2012 and 2014 F-TR US FTR National Champion

Congratulations to all those who participated in the 2014 F-Class National Championship. There were many superb performances at this event, and new National individual and team records were set in Phoenix this past week. F-Class continues to grow in popularity, and with each passing year, the standard of precision improves, and the competition gets tougher.

F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

Medal photo by Shiraz Balolia, Captain of Team Grizzly, winners of the F-Open Team Championship.

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July 29th, 2014

F-TR Champ’s Secret Weapon — 40X Rimfire F-TR Trainer

2014 and 2012 U.S. National F-TR Champion James Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class shooters. A member of the 2013 World Championship-winning F-TR Team USA squad, James knows a thing or two about long-range shooting, that’s for sure. But you may be surprised to learn how James sharpens his shooting skills at relatively short distances. You see, James often practices with a .22 LR rimfire rifle at distances from 50 to 200 yards. James tells us: “Shooting my F-Class rimfire trainer saves me money and improves my shot process and wind-reading abilities.”

Remington rimfire 40X barreled action in PR&T LowBoy stock with PT&G bolt.
James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

Rimfire Training Teaches Wind-Reading Skills by James Crofts
Training with the rimfire is extremely useful and can be done from 25 yards out to 200 yards. I am lucky and can shoot 50 yards right off my back deck. That is far enough that any miscue on rifle handling will show up on the target. I use a two dry-fire to one actual shot routine for my practices. This gives me much more positive reinforcement without any negative reinforcement.

Wind reading is extremely important with a .22 LR rifle. I use a set of smallbore flags to aid my wind calls. The smallbore flags are a must and force you to look at the flags and mirage on each and every shot. If you think the flags at Camp Butner move a lot, try smallbore flags around tall pine trees.

Rimfire Training Is Cost-Effective
Rimfire ammunition is much less costly than centerfire ammo. Though .22 LR prices have risen in recent years (and rimfire ammo is harder to find), even now I can get a 500-round brick of .22 LR ammo for less than $75.00. That works out to fifteen cents a round. That’s a fraction of the cost of handloading .308 Win match ammo. Heck, you can pay 40 cents a piece for match-grade .308-cal centerfire bullets. Then you have to figure in brass, primers, and powder.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

My CMP 40X Rimfire F-TR LowBoy Clone
My quest into the .22 LLR rimfire field started with an email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) announcing Rem 40X stripped barreled actions for sale. I thought, “Hmmm… Could one of those little 40X barreled actions be turned into a F-Class training rifle?” My gunsmith Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool was brought in at this point.

After conferring with Ray, it was decided that he could indeed turn this into a F-Class training rifle. Ray contacted Dave Kiff of PT&G and ordered a new bolt for the Remington 40X rimfire action. Next was the stock decision. I decided to go with a PR&T Low Boy F-Class stock — this is an exact clone of the stock for my .308 Win F-TR competition rifle. Then a Jewell trigger was acquired to complete the components. Ray built this just like he would any custom rifle, other than using the stock barrel. The project turned out awesome. The rifle was a hammer from the beginning even with the stock barrel.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR


About James Crofts
This spring, James Crofts was chosen as the new Vice Captain for the USA F-TR National Team. James comes from a military background, having served 20 years in the U.S. Navy aboard fast attack submarines. James has also been a shooting member of the 8-man F-TR Team USA, and he is always one of the top shooters in any F-TR competition. James told us: “Now the work begins, but with Ray Gross as Captain I think we can handle it. It will be a tough act to follow. Darrell Buell and Mike Miller set the bar extremely high with back-to-back world championship gold medals.”

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR
James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.

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April 14th, 2014

Ray Gross Named Captain of U.S. F-TR Team

The NRA, on the recommendation of the NRA High Power Committee, has appointed Ray Gross as the new United States F-TR Team Captain, to serve through the 2017 World Championship cycle. Ray brings a wealth of experience in both national and international competition. As a member of the World Championship-winning 4-person U.S. F-TR team, and the hugely successful Team Sinclair F-TR squad, Ray is a skilled coach, a top-flight shooter, and a great guy who is respected by his peers. Ray brings a unique combination of skills to the team as its new leader.

Ray Gross (center with gray hat), with fellow Team USA F-TR Shooters at Raton, NM.
James Crofts F-Class Team F-TR T/R

Ray has asked James Crofts to serve as US F-TR Vice Captain. James comes from a military background, having served 20 years in the US Navy aboard fast attack submarines. James has also been a shooting member of the 8-man F-TR Team USA, and he is always one of the top shooters in any F-TR competition.

James told us: “It’s official, I have been named the new Vice Captain for the USA F-T/R National Team. Now the work begins but with Ray Gross as Captain I think we can handle it. Tough act to follow, Darrell Buell and Mike Miller set the bar extremely high with back to back world championship gold medals.”

James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.
James Crofts F-Class Team F-TR T/R

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