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.

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September 23rd, 2016

How to Avoid Having a ‘Train Wreck’ at the F-Class Nationals

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

Today is practice day for the Mid-Range F-Class Nationals, which commence bright and early tomorrow morning in Lodi, Wisconsin. In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, reigning F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC.

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

[Editor’s Note: The 2016 F-Class Nationals will employ electronic targets so conventional pit duties won’t be required. However, the following advice does apply for matches with conventional targets.]

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

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September 11th, 2016

F-Class Nationals September 23 – October 1 in Lodi, Wisconsin

F-Class national Championship Lodi Wisconsin

Yes, F-Classers, it’s time for the Nationals. Is your ammo loaded? Scope zeroed? The 2016 NRA F-Class Nationals will be held in Lodi, Wisconsin at the Winnequah Gun Club from September 23 through October 1, 2016. This will be a combined Mid-Range and Long Range event, with the Mid-Range activities running September 23-27, followed immediately by the Long-Range Nationals which conclude October 1, 2016. F-TR and F-Open shooters will compete for both individual and team honors. Here is the schedule:

F-Class national Championship Lodi Wisconsin

Electronic Scoring at F-Class Championships
F-Class national Championship Lodi WisconsinThis is big news. For the first time ever in the USA, electronic (sonic-sensor) targets will be used for both the Mid-Range and Long Range F-Class National Championships. NOTE: These are NOT like the self-contained Kongsberg target systems at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park.

At Lodi, Competitors will still aim at conventional paper target faces but sonic sensors on the target frames will allow instant shot plotting and scoring. This target system was developed by Silver Mountain Targets of Canada. The Silver Mountain system uses sonic sensors (essentially high-tech microphones) to triangulate shots with great precision. Monitors will be positioned at each firing station. The Silver Mountain system has been extensively tested and the match directors have hard-wired the target “brains” back to the scoring center to ensure reliable communications. Before the championship, match officials will be conducting a mandatory class on the operation of the electronic target monitors.

Looking downrange at Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, WI:
F-Class Nationals Lodi, Wisconsin F-TR

2016 NRA F-Class National Championships FEE Schedule:

Mid-Range – Individual entries all individual matches – $230
Mid-Range – Each Team match (pay at range) – $80
Long Range – Individual entries all individual matches – $230
Long Range – Each Team match (pay at range) – $80
Combined Individual entry Mid-Range and Long Range – $400

STATE of the ART — F-TR and F-OPEN

Here is the sleek .308 Win rig Bryan Litz used to win the 2015 Mid-Range AND Long-Range F-TR Championship at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix.

And here is the 7mm RSAUM F-Open rifle belonging to Kenny Adams. The reigning F-Open World Champion, Kenny will be one of the favorites in Lodi…

U.S. F-Class Nationals Kenny Adams Lodi Wisconsin

Kenny’s World-Beating 7mm RSAUM Load
For his 7mm RSAUMs Kenny loads Hodgdon H4350 powder and Federal 215m primers into Nosler or Norma RSAUM brass. In the RSAUM he runs Berger 180gr Hybrid bullets seated “just touching” the lands. Kenny is very precise with his charge weights. Using a Sartorius Magnetic Force Restoration scale, Kenny tries to hold his powder charges to within 1-2 kernels charge-weight consistency.

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December 27th, 2015

The Dunbars — Father and Son F-Class State Champions

Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin

Like father, like sons. Here’s a “feel-good” story about a father and two young sons. John Dunbar and his sons Brad and Zach attend F-Class matches together. John and Zach shoot, while young Brad helps in the pits and hauls gear for his brother and father. Working together, the Dunbar family has been quite successful in the F-Class game. Father John recently won the Wisconsin State F-Class Championship, while John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Class Junior Championship that very same weekend.

The double Dunbar victories took place during the 2014 Gillespie Memorial Long Range Individual State Championship held last month at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin. The battle for the F-Class (Open Division) Championship was largely a race between two Wisconsin shooters, Bob Sebold and John Dunbar. By the close of the Saturday matches, 2013 defending champion Sebold maintained a five X lead over his rival Dunbar. Both shooters had dropped a mere three points throughout the three match stages at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.

The first Sunday match narrowed the gap between Sebold and Dunbar, with both shooters dropping two points apiece. Dunbar scored four additional Xs, allowing Sebold to retain the lead by a single X. The final 20-shot, 1,000-yard string determined the weekend’s Grand Aggregate champion. Dunbar scored an incredible 198-14X that clinched the title of Wisconsin State Long Range F-Class Champion.

Zach Dunbar Wins F-Class Junior State Championship
While John Dunbar secured one F-Class title, another, much younger Dunbar also made it to the winner’s circle. John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Open Junior Championship that very same weekend. Zach had a comeback victory, overcoming a three-point deficit after the first day of shooting.

Youngest son Brad also helped secure the Dunbar family’s twin wins, cheering on family members while ensuring Team Dunbar remained hydrated on the firing line. From pulling targets in the pits to hauling gear across the range, young Brad’s efforts helped Team Dunbar finish first.

The range at Lodi is well-known for challenging wind conditions that are difficult to read. The 2014 Gillespie Memorial match proved to be no exception. Pick-ups and switches occurred with regularity, while mirage occasionally ran opposite to the wind flags lining the range.

Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin

Story by Josh Buege of Criterion Barrels. We welcome reader submissions.

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October 7th, 2011

F-Class Nationals — Team Sinclair and Team Long Shots Win

In addition to the individual matches at the 2011 F-Class Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin, there was a fiercely-fought team competition. Normally the team with the best combined (Aggregate) results of 600-yard and 1000-yard stages wins the Team Championship. However, this year, the 1000-yard team segment got called off due to a bad rain-storm that blew in about half way through the stage. So, as a result, the teams that won the 600-yard trophy also won the Aggregate trophy. Team Sinclair won F-TR class, while Team Long Shots won F-Open. CLICK HERE for all Team Results.

In F-TR Class, there were ten (10) teams competing. Team Sinclair finished first, scoring 771-22X. The USA Development Team (766-18X) finished second, edging third place BNX Team (766-16X) on X-count. Here’s a glamour shot of the Sinclair Team, complete with their trick Sinclair wide-base bipods.

Team Sinclair 2011 F-Class Nationals F-TR

This marks an impressive string of victories for Team Sinclair. Here’s an interesting factoid about the Team Sinclair shooters. One or more members of the current Sinclair squad have been on the winning F-TR team at every U.S. F-Class National Championships since they were first held in 2004, except for 2010 when Sinclair did not field a team. Brad Sauve has been on the winning F-TR team every year except 2010: Great Lakes Express (2004, 2005 winning team); Team Green (2006 winner); Team Sinclair (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 winner). Ray Gross and Paul Phillips were also on most of those winning squads. Team Sinclair set the F-Class Team National Records at both 600 and 1000 yards.

Team Sinclair 2011 F-Class Nationals F-TR

In F-Open Class, the winning team was a new group appropriately called the ”Long Shots”, scoring 790-36X. Jeff Cochran of Team Sierra Spindle Shooters tells us: “The Long Shots did a great job under adverse conditions and pressure from all the major, more experienced teams.” Michelle Gallagher coached the Long Shots squad to victory. Finishing second in F-Open, with a 788-32X score, was Team Grizzly, coached by Emil Praslick. In third, tallying 786-41X, was the NAS Team (Bob Mead, coach). Thirteen (13) F-Open Teams competed this year at the Nationals in Lodi.

Team Longshots 2011 F-Class Nationals F-TR

Team Longshots 2011 F-Class Nationals F-TR

More 2011 F-Class Championships Photos in Forum
Forum member Denys Beauchemin (aka “Bayou Shooter”) has posted more than a dozen photos from the recent Championships in our AccurateShooter Forum. To view the pictures, go to This Forum Thread, starting with the third page of the thread. CLICK HERE for PHOTOS.

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October 2nd, 2011

Results from F-Class Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin

The 2011 F-Class National Championships in Lodi, Wisconsin are now history. Hail the new Champions: Jim Murphy, F-Open (1331-55X) and Jeff Rorer, F-TR (1315-41X). Hosted by the Winnequah Gun Club, the Nationals were well-attended, with 61 F-TR competitors and 90 F-Open shooters. The F-Open race was incredibly tight, with just four (4) points separating first through fifth positions. In F-TR, runner-up John Weil shot incredibly well in the crazy conditions on Friday. John made up a bunch of points, but it wasn’t enough to grab victory from Rorer, who shoot well all three days. CLICK HERE for Complete Match Results. Sorry, we don’t have an equipment list at this time.

Final Results for F-Open (TOP 10):
1. JIM MURPHY: 1331-55X
2. DON J NAGEL: 1330-46X
3. DAVID GOSNELL: 1329-61X
4. JOHN BREWER: 1328-62X
5. ROBERT BOCK: 1327-64X
6. RICK JENSEN: 1326-62X
7. DAVID MANN: 1326-57X
8. CHARLES BALLARD: 1325-59X
9. DANNY J BIGGS: 1324-62X
10. BOB PASTOR: 1324-47X

Final Results for F-T/R (TOP 10):
1. JEFF RORER: 1315-41X
2. JOHN H WEIL: 1308-42X
3. LAURA PERRY: 1307-39X
4. CHRIS OZOLINS: 1305-34X
5. JOHN CHILTON: 1303-39X
6. DARRELL BUELL: 1300-49X
7. IAN KLEMM: 1300-43X
8. DANIEL POHLABEL: 1296-43X
9. MARK HOUSEMAN: 1296-35X
10. MICHELLE GALLAGHER: 1292-35X

Forum member Darrell Buell provided Match Reports for our Shooter’s Forum. Darrell, who finished sixth in F-TR Class at this year’s Nationals, explained that conditions were erratic throughout the week — changing from one day to the next:

“The first day in Lodi was the 600-Yard stage. The winds were relatively light, no more than two minutes, but they had some tricky pick-ups and let-offs, and some vertical thrown into the mix. The weather was excellent, temps in the mid 60s, with rain threatening most of the day, but only producing a few sprinkles for the last two (of six) relays. Day two saw the Shooters move back to the 1000-Yard line. The weather was beautiful, temps in the mid to high 60s, with partly sunny skies. Winds were stronger than they were at 600 the day before, and there was a good deal of vertical noticed by the competitors.

The final day of the Nationals saw wild conditions, with unpredictable gusty full value winds. Congratulations go to John Weil for a superb performance in difficult conditions Friday. Thanks go to the Liebetrau clan for running another Nationals.”

2011 F-class national championship

2011 F-class national championship

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