September 15th, 2018

Tack-Driving .22 PPC Tubegun — Eliseo Chassis and Pierce Action

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

We know that Competition Machine (Gary Eliseo) makes great chassis systems and Pierce Engineering (John Pierce) makes great actions. But sometimes a project comes together even better than one can imagine. The folks at Pierce Engineering recently completed an Eliseo Tubegun that displayed some mind-blowing accuracy during initial testing. This was a special rifle built to a client’s spec in .22 PPC.

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

After his team completed the rifle, John Pierce took the Tubegun to the range to make sure everything was working right. The rifle was chambered for the .22 PPC, a known accuracy cartridge. Would this cartridge shoot in this gun? Heck yeah was the answer! The first two shots out of the gun were touching. That was promising enough. But then John drilled a five-shot group that was basically one hole! Here is that target. First two shots upper left, then the five-shot group below and to the right. Chassis-maker Gary Eliseo commented: “that’ll do just fine…”

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifleDisclaimer: John shot some more groups with this Tubegun that were definitely NOT one-holers. That first five-shot masterpiece could not be duplicated. However, we’re told that the rifle shot other groups in the 2s, 3s, and 4s — impressive performance for a rifle designed for prone and position shooting. This shows how well the Pierce action mates to the Competition Machine chassis.

And if the owner ever wants to show off a “wallet group” for his new rifle — well he’s got that, thanks to John’s great trigger-pulling and rifle-building. Using On-Target software we measured that five-shot group at 0.189″ (see photo at right). That’s crazy small for a new gun with zero load development. That’s also a testimony to the quality of the Norma .22 PPC brass.

Why the .22 PPC Chambering?
The customer owns other Eliseo Tubeguns, but wanted something that combined extreme accuracy with very low recoil. He also wanted to be able to shoot factory brass without fire-forming. Norma makes very high-quality .22 PPC cartridge brass that is an easy load and shoot solution. In fact the folks at Pierce Engineering custom-loaded a quantity of .22 PPC ammo for this Tubegun and shipped it off to the customer along with the new rifle. NOTE: Loading ammo is not something that Pierce normally does, but this was a special client request.

Norma .22 PPC Cartridge Brass is available from Grafs.com for $98.76 per 100 cases.

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
September 8th, 2018

F-TR Tech — the Low-Profile Solution Pioneered by Pierce

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

One recent trend in F-TR competition is the use of low-profile, benchrest-type stocks shot with a light hand-hold and little or no face contact. For this method of F-TR shooting to work, you need the right equipment, and practice a “minimalist” shooting technique. One of the pioneers in this style of F-TR shooting is action-maker John Pierce of Pierce Engineering. Above you can see John shooting one of his F-TR rifles at the 2015 Canadian F-Class Championships. Note the straight-line stock and see how the adjustable bipod is set quite low to the ground (in fact the bipod’s arms are almost straight out).

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Members of the Michigan F-TR Team, including Bryan Litz, have used similar rigs with success. Bryan said it took a while to adapt his shooting technique to this kind of rig, but there is a pay-off. Armed with a Pierce-built F-TR rifle, Bryan won his first-ever F-TR Match. Bryan explains the technique he uses when shooting this kind of rifle:

“Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals [with high X-Count by a large margin]. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means ‘hovering’ over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some ‘getting used to’ in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new discipline.”

Bryan’s Pierce-built F-TR rig is a tack-driver: “I can certainly vouch for this set-up! In [a 2015] mid-range State Championship in Midland, MI, I shot my Pierce rifle into first place with a 598-44X (20 shots at 300, 500 and 600). Once you get used to the positioning and way of shooting these rifles, they just pour shots through the center of the target.”

Pierce F-TR Rifles with Scoville Stocks
Shown below are three complete Pierce F-TR rifles, along with a barreled action for comparison. The carbon-fiber/composite stocks are built by Bob Scoville. These Scoville stocks are very light, yet very strong and very stiff.

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
September 29th, 2016

Mid-Range F-TR Nationals — Litz and Team Michigan Triumph

F-Class Mid Range Championship
Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz needed all of his wind-reading skills in Lodi, WI. Conditions were challenging!

Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics won his second straight Mid-Range F-TR National Championship this past weekend. Likewise the Michigan F-TR Team won its second Championship in a row. So it was a heck of a showing by the Michiganders overall. With a strong individual performance, Phil Kelley finished second with his fellow X-Men teammate James Crofts in third. The X-Men Team also garnered second-place in the F-TR Team event. Kelley told us: “It sure is fun to compete with the best in the business — to share the individual overall podium with Bryan Litz and James Crofts is an exciting honor.”

It was a bit cold in Lodi, Wisconsin, photo by K. McSparron.
F-Class Mid Range Championship

F-Class Goes High-Tech with Electronic Targets
This was the first-ever F-Class National Championship that used electronic Targets. Litz offers his perspective on the new E-Targets in the Q&A section below — Bryan is mostly positive about the E-Targets but he says there are still some minor bugs to be worked out.

Bryan, a sling-shooter at heart, has really taken to this F-TR game. He won both the Mid-Range and Long Range F-TR National Championships in 2015 and now he has one 2016 title in the bag. Bryan tells us: “Many thanks go out to all those who’ve supported me in winning my second F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. My serious pursuit of F-TR shooting began the day I called John Pierce and requested: ‘John, build me one like yours’. That rifle and others built by Pierce Engineering are at the top of the game. Thanks also to my many great team-mates on the Michigan and U.S. Rifle Teams who have taught me a lot about this sport. As always the competition was stiff and mother nature gave us some drastically different looks. The challenging weather, combined with the introduction of electronic targets to this sport at the national level, required shooters to be highly adaptable. Thanks to the match organizers and technical staff who did a great job.”

John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz with his Championship-winning Pierce-built F-TR rifle (2014 photo).
F-TR National Championship

Litz Loads Vihtavuori N140 with 215gr Berger Hybrids in his .308 Win
Bryan told us: “Load data is always a common question and I keep no secrets –I’m running the same basic load I shot the past few years with the exception that I’m now burning 43.0 grains of Vihtavuori N140 instead of Hodgdon Varget in new Lapua brass with Fed 210M primers and 215 Berger Hybrids seated about 0.005″ off the riflings. This gets 2520 fps in a 28-inch barrel. I use this same load for both mid-range and long range.”

Team Competition — Michigan Wins F-TR Division with X-Men in Second
Michigan F-TR Team won its second consecutive Mid-Range National Championship. Congratulations to team-mates Al Barnhart, Doug Boyer, Bryan Litz, and John Roethlisberger. Al and Doug are experienced veterans but this is John’s first experience in a national-level event. Michigan actually fielded two teams in this event and the second squad also won a medal in one of the matches. Byran Litz noted that the Michigan F-TR Team “has been working hard to develop our shooters and many have made it onto the U.S. Rifle Team. We have many great sponsors including: Applied Ballistics, Berger Bullets, Bartlein Barrels, Marksmanship Training Center, Nightforce Optics, Pierce Engineering, and Vihtavuori Powder.” Bryan added: “I also thank Team X-Men for the spirited competition. You guys (James Crofts, Tracy Hogg, Phil Kelly, Ian Klemm, and Ken Klemm) are great and make these team matches very fun.”

Bryan Litz with Michigan F-TR team-mates Al Barnhart, John Roethlisberger, and Doug Boyer.
F-Class Mid Range Championship

Q & A with the Champ — Litz Talks Targets and Match Strategies

We asked Bryan how the new Electronic Target technology used in Lodi alters the F-Class game. As the Long Range Nationals are underway now, we also asked Bryan to comment on Mid-Range vs. Long Range strategies — what does he do different at 1000 yards vs. 600 yards.

1. How did you like the electronic targets? Did this require/allow a change in your shooting style or rhythm (e.g. can competitors shoot faster now with less wait time between shots)?

LITZ: I really like the E-Targets for many reasons. Not pulling pits is the biggest one but the E-Targets also bring a level of fairness that human pullers could never achieve in the sense that everyone gets the same speed ‘service’.

For the 2016 FCNC in Lodi, WI, all the targets are programmed with a 7-second delay which is equivalent to “very good” target service. The system actually shows your shot value immediately, but doesn’t plot the location of the shot for 7 seconds. So if you want to “machine gun” a shot following an X with the same hold, you can take your chances without knowing where the X was.

The E-Targets require some adaptation from regular pit service. For those with many years of experience on traditional targets, it’s just WEIRD that the target doesn’t go up and down or have a spotter in it. All the information you need is on the tablet. This isn’t better or worse, just different. Occasionally the tablets lose signal for a few seconds and it can be frustrating, but this is not different than when a puller missed a shot and you had to “call for a mark”. I think that very soon the connectivity issues will be fully resolved and the systems will operate flawlessly. I know it would be impossible to get all the shooters through on such a small range any other way. The E-Targets have enabled a medium-sized range like Lodi to host a National Championship.

Q: How is the mid-range F-TR game different than long-range F-TR competition?

LITZ: Usually Mid-Range is about consistent precision — not having any fliers and not dropping any points. Mid-Range matches are usually decided by a narrower point spread than long range. Conditions aren’t typically big enough to move you out of the 10 ring very much at mid-range. The first couple days of the 2016 Mid-Range Nationals was just like this. I won the first two days, dropping only 3 points in total. But then the wind picked up on Day 3 and it was totally different! It became more like a Long Range match with all the points falling like rain and [conditions] very difficult to read. Many more 8s and 7s appeared at 600 yards and the field really spread out. In the end I was able to hold onto my lead and win the tournament.

Q. Why the change to Vihtavuori N140 powder? Was it more available or were you seeing lower ES/SD?

LITZ: I’m seeing the same ES/SDs with VV N140 as what I was using before (Varget) and N140 may burn a little cleaner. Also availability has been improving on the Vihtavuori powders in recent years. We (the Michigan F-TR Rifle Team) are very fortunate to have Vihtavuori as a sponsor and look forward to winning many matches with Vihtavuori products.

Editor’s Note: If any readers have results for the F-Open Mid-Range Nationals, please post in the comments section below and we will update this story.

Permalink Competition, News 2 Comments »
October 27th, 2015

Litz Wins F-TR Mid-Range National Championship

F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

This past weekend, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC, topped a field of great shooters to win the 2015 NRA F-TR Mid-Range National Championship. Bryan shot very well, mastering conditions that were tricky and sometimes bewildering, particularly at the shortest range, 300 yards. Consider this, Lou Mudica had the top score on Day Two (all 600 yards), yet he was way down at 41st position on Day One (300/500/600 yards). Finishing Second Overall was Scott Harris. Bryan’s Michigan team-mate Jim Grissom was third, while Bryan’s father (and MI team-mate) Bill Litz was fourth.

F-TR Top Ten at Mid-Range National Championship
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

Bryan was using a low-profile, carbon/composite-stocked rifle built by John Pierce. Bryan told us: “This was the same rifle and almost the same load with which I won the Midwest Palma match in the summer of 2014. (Story HERE.) My gear consisted of Pierce rifle, Bartlein barrel, Nightforce scope, Berger bullets, Lapua brass, Hodgdon powder (All those companies are sponsors of the USA F-TR team as well as the Michigan F-TR team.) My load for the Mid-Range Nationals was 43.0 grains of Varget with the Berger 215gr Hybrid bullet seated 0.005″ off the rifling.”

Click Image for Full-Size Version:
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. — Bryan Litz

At the Mid-Range Nationals, wind conditions at the shorter yardages caught many competitors by surprise. As a result, many shooters, including 2014 F-TR National Champion James Crofts, shot better at 600 yards than at 300. That seems surprising… but there is a reason. Bryan Litz explains that conditions at shorter distances are sometimes more difficult to read than at 1000 yards.

Bryan Litz Talks about Mid-Range Wind-Reading Strategies
Mid-Range is marked by more uncertainty than long range shooting. At long range you can see more flags, more mirage, and conditions tend to be more readable although they have a greater effect. At mid range, the closer you are to the target the less readable the conditions tend to be. Often times at 300 yards there is no mirage and very sparse flags to get a read on. You can still get blown out at 300 yards! 500 yards can be a little better and at 600 sometimes you can get a pretty good read on it, but the majority of strategy for shooting Mid-Range is managing the uncertainty. What is your plan for shooting blind?

Suppose you’re shooting along pretty well centered up in the 10 Ring. Suddenly you shoot a 9 out the side and can’t see an indicator that explains why. Stop! Clearly something is going on which is not readable. It’s likely to be around for a period of time. Its best just to wait for that uncertainty to blow through and start shooting again when things settle out again. How do you know when things have settled out? When everybody else is pretty much back into the 10 Ring for a little while, then you know that a stable condition has settled back in. Take your best guess and get back into it.

A lot of wind shooting strategy isn’t just about knowing exactly where to hold at any given point in time. A big part of it is recognizing periods of predictable readable conditions versus UNpredictable unreadable conditions and avoiding shooting in them. Good equipment is a must, and ballistic performance matters, but when it comes to winning a match versus placing in the top 10, it all comes down to who employs the winning strategy for the various different conditions. It can be more like a chess game then shooting. Competitive judgment is key.

Bryan Litz didn’t do too badly in the Mid-Range Team Match either, shooting a 200-10X. Bryan’s team-mate John Pierce shot a brilliant 200-15X. Looks like those low-profile Pierce-built rigs really hammer:

F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

John Pierce (left) and Bryan Litz, who is holding his Pierce-built F-TR rifle.
F-TR Mid Range National Championship Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 7 Comments »
September 10th, 2015

F-TR State of the Art — Low Profile Rig with Scoville Stock

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

One recent trend in F-TR competition is the use of low-profile, benchrest-type stocks shot with a light hand-hold and little or no face contact. For this method of F-TR shooting to work, you need the right equipment, and practice a “minimalist” shooting technique. One of the pioneers in this style of F-TR shooting is action-maker John Pierce of Pierce Engineering. Above you can see John shooting one of his F-TR rifles at the 2015 Canadian F-Class Championships. Note the straight-line stock and see how the adjustable bipod is set quite low to the ground (in fact the bipod’s arms are almost straight out).

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Members of the Michigan F-TR Team, including Bryan Litz, have used similar rigs with success. Bryan said it took a while to adapt his shooting technique to this kind of rig, but there is a pay-off. Armed with a Pierce-built F-TR rifle, Bryan won his first-ever F-TR Match. Bryan explains the technique he uses when shooting this kind of rifle:

“Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals [with high X-Count by a large margin]. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means ‘hovering’ over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some ‘getting used to’ in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new discipline.”

Bryan’s Pierce-built F-TR rig is a tack-driver: “I can certainly vouch for this set-up! In last weekend’s mid-range State Championship in Midland, MI, I shot my Pierce rifle into first place with a 598-44X (20 shots at 300, 500 and 600). Once you get used to the positioning and way of shooting these rifles, they just pour shots through the center of the target.”

Pierce F-TR Rifles with Scoville Stocks
Shown below are three complete Pierce F-TR rifles, along with a barreled action for comparison. The carbon-fiber/composite stocks are built by Bob Scoville. These Scoville stocks are very light, yet very strong and very stiff.

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
June 24th, 2014

Litz Dominates His First-Ever F-TR Match with Pierce-Built Rifle

Bryan Litz shot his first F-TR match recently, and he came up a winner — a big winner. Competing at the Midwest Palma event, Bryan topped the F-TR field, winning by 15 points. In fact Bryan ended up finishing within 10 points of F-Open winner Alex Lipworth. In the 20-shot, 1000-yard matches, Bryan averaged an impressive 195-7X, with a stunning 196-11X score in one match. (Consider that the 1000-yard X-Ring is just five inches in diameter!) Not bad for Bryan’s first attempt at the F-TR game.

We all know Bryan has serious long-range shooting skills. But he also had a secret weapon — a wickedly accurate, wood/carbon-stocked, low-profile F-TR rifle built by John Pierce. With this Pierce rifle, Bryan had to abandon the hard-holding style he uses in sling-shooting competition. Instead he adopted a “less is more”, almost-free-recoil method — and it worked. Is this the future of F-TR? Read on and learn what Bryan has to say about F-TR shooting, “belly benchrest” style.

Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Sling Shooter Tries F-TR

by Bryan Litz
I’ve been coaching the Michigan F-TR team for a while and finally decided to participate in the competition. F-TR is more rifle-centric than Palma, meaning the precision demands are greater due to the smaller scoring rings. After seeing Eric Stecker’s results with his Pierce rifle at the 2014 Berger Southwest Nationals, I asked my good friend and Michigan team-mate John Pierce to “build me one like Eric’s”. This is the same basic set up as John’s own F-TR rifle as well. It’s a Pierce F-TR action with a 30″ long, 1:9″ twist Bartlein Barrel chambered for the Berger 215gr Hybrids. The barreled action is bedded into a light-weight, BR-style stock built by Bob Scoville. A Phoenix bipod underneath and a Nightforce 15-55X Competition scope complete the package.

Click Image to Zoom
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Loading the .308 Winchester with Berger 215gr Hybrids
I received the rifle just one week before the Midwest Palma match. During that week prior to the match, I put over 700 rounds on the rifle. I did some load development but was mostly learning to shoot a new rifle in a new discipline. I settled on 215gr Berger Hybrids seated 0.015″ off the riflings over a stout charge of Varget in Lapua Palma (small primer) brass with CCI BR4 primers. The only brass prep was mandreling the necks of the new brass for consistent neck tension. Bullets were slightly pointed, but nothing was segregated by weight, base-to-ogive, or anything. All the ammo I shot in Lodi was loaded in brand-new Lapua brass.

Check Out Bryan’s Set-up with the Rifle (Click Photo to Zoom)
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Learning the F-TR Game — Adapting to a New Shooting Style
Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means “hovering” over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some “getting used to” in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new dicipline.

“I love the way this Pierce F-TR rifle flings brass, and wins tournaments. None of my sling guns ever had an ejector. With this rig, it’s become one of my favorite things to eject the brass and just let it fly!”
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

I think many shooters consider themselves ‘ready for a match’ the first time the rifle shows them a couple 1/3 or 1/4 MOA 5-shot groups from a bench at 100 yards. While making the rifle shoot precisely is certainly a prerequisite for successful match shooting, it’s certainly not the whole story. So as soon as I got the load and rifle shooting 1/2 MOA from the bench, I proceeded to shoot many 10- and 20-shot strings from the ground at 300 and 1000 yards. I shot more than 500 rounds this way, studying the rifles character, and learning to shoot it. It’s amazing how much the precision (grouping) is affected by subtle variables in the set-up, especially when shooting heavy bullets. I truly believe that many F-TR rifles are hindered in their precision potential by something in the way they are set up and shot.

Advice on Shooting the Heavy Bullets in a .308 Win
I believe F-TR set-ups are way more forgiving with light- to medium-weight bullets (155 to 185 grains). By this I mean that it’s easier to shoot good groups with a variety of bipods, rear bags, etc. But as you get into the 200 – 215 grain bullet weights, the precision of the rifle (i.e. group size) becomes very sensitive to set-up and shot execution. I was able to find a good set-up which let the rifle shoot very well on a variety of surfaces (hard gravel, soft grass, sand, etc.). In Lodi, the rifle shot well all week.

Having done so much preparation and training with the rifle the week prior to the match, I felt very prepared and confident. The results were actually better than expected. There were no problems at all with equipment, and I just shot the rifle the way it liked to be shot. In the end, I won the F-TR Division. I can say there were many shooters interested in the Pierce rifle!

Impressive Performance
Bryan observes that this rifle held 1/2 MOA of vertical at 1000 yards for 17 out of 20 shots. That’s impressive accuracy. Bryan was in first place each day of the match, including the 3×1000 on Friday where he averaged over 195-7X. Remarkably, Bryan finished just 10 points behind the F-Open winner, with the next closest F-TR competitor 15 points behind Bryan. In fact, with his .308 Win, Bryan out-scored 75% of the F-Open shooters. CLICK for match results.

Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Bryan gave credit to his smiths and his team-mates: “I’d like to thank John Pierce for building a great F-TR rifle and thank my dad, Bill Litz, for loading the best ammo on the planet. Finally, I’d like to thank the Michigan F-TR team for helping me learn how to shoot F-TR.”

Bryan writes: “Here I am with ‘The Man’, John Pierce, and the epic F-TR rifle he built for me. This thing shoots ‘No S***’ 1/2 MOA Vertical at 1000 yards.”
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 15 Comments »
February 21st, 2014

Stecker Succeeds at SWN with Radical Benchrest-type F-TR Rig

Most F-TR rifles are essentially prone rifles adapted for use with bipod and rear bags. They feature prone or tactical-style stocks designed to allow a firm grip on the gun, with cheek, hand, and shoulder contact. This has worked very well. Unquestionably, a skilled F-TR shooter can achieve outstanding scores with such a configuration — it works. However, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”.

At the Berger Southwest Nationals, Eric Stecker introduced a new type of rifle, and a new type of gun-handling, to the F-TR ranks. Shooting “free-recoil” style* (i.e. with virtually no contact on his rifle) Eric managed to finished second overall in F-TR (with the highest X-count), beating some past national champions in the process. Thinking “outside the box” worked for Stecker in Phoenix. The success of Eric’s benchrest-style rifle and shooting technique definitely drew the attention of other F-TR shooters.

Click photo to zoom
Eric Stecker Berger Bullets

VOICE FILE: Eric Stecker Talks About the SWN and his Radical F-TR Rifle.

Eric’s F-TR rig was built by John Pierce using a stiff, light Scoville carbon-fiber stock. The stock is so light that Eric’s rifle came in 1.5 pounds under the F-TR maximum weight limit (8.25kg or 18.18 pounds). The gun features a Pierce action, Bartlein barrel, Jewell trigger, and a Gen 1 Nightforce 15-55X52mm Comp scope. From the get-go, Eric’s strategy was to “aim small” and shoot his rig like a bench-gun. He actually focused on shooting really small groups rather that just trying to keep shots within scoring rings and “hold waterline”. With a .308 Win that could shoot bugholes at 100 yards, this strategy paid off.

Rifle builder John Pierce explains the thinking behind this rifle: “The stock choice was mine — I had built two prototype rifles last year based on the premise that the game is Benchrest in the prone position. I still feel very strongly regarding [this concept]. I chose Bob Scoville for obvious reasons — he is an artisan and his stocks have won so much, they just flat work. We built Eric the latest configuration along these lines, and the tool worked for him. Without a doubt, Eric is a shooter, and we were all pleased to watch him perform so well.”

Eric sets up rifle before match. During live fire his hands do not contact the stock.

Eric employed a benchrest-style shooting technique with his F-TR rig — he shot pretty much free recoil, with no cheek pressure, no hand contact, and just a “whisper” of shoulder contact. Eric explains: “I shoot what’s called ‘free recoil’. Now the rifle is butted up against my shoulder very lightly, but no other part of my body touches the rifle except for my finger on the trigger.” Eric has even used this technique when shooting a 7mm cartridge in F-Open at other matches: “Someone suggested that this style wasn’t possible with the larger [7mm] cartridges, but I found it very successful so I continue to do it that way.”

VOICE FILE: Eric Stecker Talks About Shooting F-TR with Benchrest Technique.

Eric also employed an unconventional strategy — he was focused on shooting small groups (not just holding ring values): “Since I have started shooting F-Class, I treat [the target] like a benchrest target. What I mean by that is that I regard the center as my first shot, and so my objective is to create the smallest group. So, I will hold whatever… is required to end up with the bullet ending up in the center — that’s probably true of any F-Class shooter, but I guess the perspective’s a little different when you have a benchrest background.” Eric explained that “maybe I aim a little smaller than others might”, because in the benchrest game, “the slightest miss ends up costing you quite dearly”.

Click to Zoom Photo (This is not Eric Stecker’s rifle, but a “sistership” built by John Pierce.)
Eric Stecker Berger Bullets

Eric Talks about F-TR Trends
Will other F-TR shooters build rifles suited for free-recoil-style shooting? Eric isn’t sure: “I don’t know if this type of rifle is the future of F-TR. I shoot a lot of benchrest, so putting those kinds of components into an F-TR gun made a lot of sense to me. One thing I like about F-TR is that there are a lot of different types of approaches being tried and some of them are successful. So I think it’s still pretty wide-open[.] But I think the really great part of what we found at the Southwest Nationals is that shooting [with] a benchrest-style approach certainly doesn’t hurt you. What I mean by that is … aiming small, trying to make the group as tight as possible rather than trying to hit a particular area. I actually tried to shoot tight groups — that was a focus and that worked for me — I had quite a high X-Count.” NOTE: Eric finished with 51 Xs, 14 more than F-TR Grand Agg winner Radoslaw Czupryna (37X). James Crofts had the second highest X-Count with 48 Xs.

Even Berger’s Boss did pit duty at the Berger SW Nationals.
Eric Stecker Berger Bullets

*”Free Recoil” style shooting has its variations. Some would say “pure free recoil” would not even allow shoulder contact. Eric Stecker lightly touches the back of the stock with his shoulder.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills 13 Comments »
December 27th, 2011

Pierce Engineering Offers Titanium Actions for 2012

For 2012, Pierce Engineering Ltd. plans to offer Titanium (Ti) versions of its popular Remington-footprint custom actions. Just 42% the weight of steel, Titanium is light yet very strong, with a strength to weight ratio of 1.5+. By producing action bodies from Titanium, Pierce Engineering is able to shave eight ounces (8 oz.) off the weight of a long action (compared to 4140 steel). What’s more, Pierce is now working on Titanium internals and Titanium bolt handles. This could bring the total weight savings to nearly one pound (16 ounces).

Pierce Engineering Titanium Ti Actions

John Pierce tells us: “To add to weight reduction we will offer a Titanium recoil lug and install a Titanium handle to the bolt, and possibly a lightened firing pin assembly. I really want to get close to a one-pound reduction overall.”

Pierce Engineering Titanium Ti Actions

The new Pierce Titanium actions were inspired by customer requests. One domestic customer wanted an ultra-light action for a sheep rifle, while an Aussie buyer requested a Ti XP action for a silhouette pistol build. John Pierce reports: “After many requests and having a bar of Titanium lying on the shelf for more than three years, [I decided] well ‘Why not have a go?'”

Price and Ordering Info
What will the new Titanium actions cost? Expect to pay an extra $350.00 or so above the cost of Pierce’s stainless and chrome-moly actions. John Pierce explains: “Titanium does cost a lot more and Titanium offers challenges in machining and special tooling. We are estimating that a Ti action will sell in the range of $350.00 more than the steel counterpart.” For more info, visit PierceEngineeringLtd.com, email jpierceltd [at] tds.net or call (517) 321-5051. You can also write to the address below:

Pierce Engineering Ltd.
5122 N. Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906
Fax: (517) 321-4574

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