September 22nd, 2012

David Bailey and James Crofts Win 2012 F-Class Nationals

The 2012 F-Class Nationals have concluded and the event was a great success. Nearly 200 shooters competed at Raton this year.

Congrats to the new F-Class National Champions: David Bailey (F-Open) and James Crofts (F-TR). Bailey amassed a 1283-59X score to edge F-Open runner-up Bob Sebold (1282-59X) by a single point. Note that Jim and Bob, both AccurateShooter Forum members, had the same X-count. Bob’s excellent X-count placed him ahead of Jim Murphy (1282-50X), who captured third place along with F-Open High Senior Title. High Lady Shooter was Michelle Gallagher with a 1274-51, while Danny Biggs, a past National Champion, was High Senior with 1273-46X.

Forum member James (‘Jim’) Crofts took the F-TR crown with a truly dominating performance. Jim’s 1272-47X was a full six points and 11 Xs ahead of runner-up (and 2011 champ) Jeff Rorer, who finished with 1266-36X. In third-place overall, was High Senior Daniel Pohlable (1264-42X). In fourth overall, was the High Lady shooter Trudie Fay (1259-45X).

james croft f-tr f/tr national champsionship f-class

Jim Crofts really deserves praise for his marksmanship at Raton. Jim’s F-TR Score of 1272-47X would have ranked him 13th in the F-Open division, ahead of dozens of skilled shooters running ballistically-superior cartridges. In his .308 Win, Jim ran Berger 200gr Match Hybrids at 2600 fps with Hodgdon Varget. Jim’s winning F-TR rifle featured a 30″ Brux barrel and Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) stock. And take note — Jim’s barrel had over 3000 rounds though it by the end of the match. Jim wants to thank Ray Bowman at PR&T for smithing a great rifle and providing sponsorship.

CLICK HERE for Complete F-Class Nationals Results with Match by Match Scores

James Crofts F-TR ChampionInterview with Jim Crofts
We had a chance to talk to Jim by telephone this morning, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us….

AccurateShooter: Is this your first big win? How did you feel receiving the trophy as National F-TR Champion?

Jim: I won the Berger SW Nationals earlier this year, but this is my first-ever National Championship. I was very relieved once it was over because there were many great shooters right behind me.

AccurateShooter: Did you run any new hardware at the Nationals? Did you alter your load any?

Jim: This is the same combination that I’ve used all year long. I went back to my old faithful PR&T-built rifle and my old faithful load and everything works. I still anneal my cases every firing. You will find this helps maintain consistent bullet seating and it helps lower your extreme spread.

AccurateShooter: Shooters from your neck of the woods have now won the F-TR division two years running — Whats the secret?

Yes, with my win we’ve had back to back F-TR National championships for North State X-Men club members. Jeff Rorer, last year’s F-TR champ [and 2012 runner-up] shoots with us at a local level. That’s who I’ve been chasing since last year’s National Championship. When you shoot against quality competition every week, it makes you strive for perfection.

AccurateShooter: How were conditions during the week? Raton can be windy…

Jim: Actually, conditions were moderate most of the week. However, on the last day, it was calm during the first match, but in the second match it got to be very tricky. There were changes in velocity and angles — I had a hard time keeping up with the velocity changes in the last match.

AccurateShooter: How has the FTR game changed in the last couple years? Is it more competitive than ever before?

Jim: The sport is growing and it’s getting tougher, that’s for sure. This year we had 91 competitors in F-TR. It went up from about 60 last year to 91 this year — a 50% increase. And the competition is really getting tight in F-TR. Not only are the numbers of shooters growing, but the quality of the competition is getting higher every year.


Also at the F-Class Nationals this year, some Eliseo Tubeguns made an appearance. Shown below are Linda Shehan (Team Australia) and Warren Dean (Team USA) with their GC-1 FTR rigs at the nationals. These tubeguns feature actions by Rod Shehan, with an Adam Davies bipod on the left, and Sinclair F-Class bipod on the right.

Eliseo Tubegun

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
May 30th, 2012

Jim Crofts’ New Savage F-Class Rig with PR&T Walnut Stock

Forum member Jim Crofts (aka “VA Jim”) is one of the nation’s top F-TR shooters. He finished first at the Berger Southwest Nationals, and just this past weekend Jim won the F-TR class at the “Remember the Brave” match at Quantico. Jim has also won numerous regional and club F-TR matches.


Recently Jim commissioned a new .308 Win rifle with a premium barrel and fancy wood stock. Perhaps surprisingly, Jim started with the model 12 target action that came with a Savage factory F/TR rifle. The action is supported in the new gun with a Whidden Gunworks aluminum V-block. Jim observed “I liked the action, and have no problems with the Accutrigger so it made sense to stick with the action I had and save $1000.00 or more vs. a custom action.” Jim did dress up the action a bit. He told us: “The action and barrel nut were polished — just me and a buffer wheel.” Jim also added an extended “tactical” bolt handle from Sharp Shooter Supply. This provides extra leverage according to Jim.

Jim’s new rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool, LLC (PR&T) using a PR&T stock with custom wood. The rifle with which Jim won the Berger SW Nationals shares this same PR&T F-TR stock design, and Jim decided to stick with a winner. Jim explained that the PR&T F-TR stock “is one of the most forgiving out there. It’s got the long fore-end on it that lets you get the bipod out there and that really allows the rifle to recoil in a straight line.” The stock for Jim’s new rig is made of hand laminated, highly-figured west coast Black Walnut with two layers of strong, straight-grain East Coast American Walnut. Augmenting the beauty of the natural figure, twelve layers of clear-coat were applied to the stock, with careful sanding between coats. The buttplate, adjustable cheekpiece hardware, and +30 MOA scope base were all supplied by PR&T.

Jim Crofts Lined Up Behind his New F-TR Rig

Doubtless you’ve noticed the fancy fluting on the 30.5″ Brux Barrel. This “Chain Link” fluting was done by the barrel-maker (Brux) as an extra-cost option. It does look distinctive and it may provide some enhanced cooling benefits (but Jim admits “it’s mainly for looks”). This 1:11″-twist barrel is chambered in .308 Winchester, with the throat set up for Berger 185gr and 200gr Hybrid bullets. Note that Jim decided to retain the Savage barrel nut, even though this is a custom barrel. Jim says: “The Brux barrels shoot great… they clean up well, I get very little copper out of the Brux barrel.”

Jim Crofts Talks About His Savage
F-TR Rifle and PR&T Stock

Click Button to Hear Audio

Jim uses a height-adjustable Phoenix Precision bipod with sled-type feet. This suits Jim’s shooting style very well. Jim is a “handshake holder”, who employs “firm contact with the shoulder”. In the audio clip above, Jim explains: “I shoot with a tight grip. I like to keep this thing up in my shoulder… that helps me control the tracking of the rifle. If I do my part this rifle will definitely keep ‘em in the ten ring (most of the time) out to 1000 yards.”

Savage FTR Crofts targetMeticulous Reloading Yields Great Accuracy
Jim loads Varget powder in Lapua Brass with Berger 180gr and 200gr bullets. He hasn’t shot the new gun in competition yet, but in testing at 100 yards it delivered “multiple five-shot groups that could each be covered by a dime.” Jim’s meticulous brass prep contributes to that excellent accuracy. Using a Benchsource annealing machine, Jim anneals his brass after every firing. He has noticed that the regular annealing makes bullet seating more consistent. “I use a K&M arbor with the seating-force gauge. Both by feel, and by monitoring the gauge, you can definitely tell that the bullets seat more consistently if you anneal the cases regularly.” Jim also cleans his brass with stainless media after every firing.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 11 Comments »