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April 26th, 2010

Don Nielson Wins 2010 NBRSA 600-Yard Championship

NBRSA Long-Range BR Hall-of-Famer Don Nielson earned his second NBRSA 600-yard championship this weekend in Sacramento, California. Don took the overall title, which counts score and group results for both Light Gun (LG) and Heavy Gun (HG). 6mm Dasher shooters Richard Schatz and Robert Hoppe finished second and third overall, respectively. Potential new records were set at the match, with possible new records by Nielson in LG Group Agg, LG Score Agg, and (possibly) 12-target Agg. Along with winning the Championship, Don placed first in LG Group, first in LG Score, second in HG Group, and second in Two-Gun Group Agg. Nielson also shot the smallest LG group, a 1.4″ group with four of five shots in slightly over 1/2 inch!

Don shot two 6.5×47 17-lb rifles, one in Light Gun and one in Heavy Gun. (He shot two near-identical rifles so he didn’t need to clean between LG and HG relays). For his pair of 6.5x47s, Don loaded Alliant Reloder 15 powder, with Federal 205M primers, and Berger 130 VLD bullets “right out of the box.” Don’s rifles featured Kelbly 1000-yard stocks, Bartlein 30″ barrels, and March 10-60x52mm scopes. Below Don Nielson is shown testing in 2008. Don shot this gun in the match, but it has a new Bartlein barrel.

Don Pumpkin Nielson

The Match was well-attended — 46 of the nation’s top mid-range shooters competed. Don Nielson said conditions were “pretty nice until the third (last) relay on Sunday”. Don felt that winds didn’t top 10 mph until late on Sunday. Don credited both his guns for performing very consistently and he wanted to acknowledge his fellow shooters: “Richard, as usual, shot great with his Dasher. Robert (Hoppe) shot well as did Darryl Kightlinger and Everet Smith, whom we call the ‘Shasta Locomotive'”. Below are preliminary results provided by Lynn Dragoman.

Overall NBRSA National Championship
1. Don “The Pumpkin” Nielson
2. Richard Schatz
3. Robert Hoppe
4. Darryl Kightlinger
5. Everet Smith
6. Curt Mendenhall
7. William Hubina
8. Kenneth Schroeder
9. John Crawford
10. Lynn Dragoman Jr

Two-Gun Score
1. Everet Smith
2. Darryl Kightlinger
3. Richard Schatz
4. Curt Mendenhall
5. Don Nielson
6. Kenneth Schroeder
7. Lynn Dragoman Jr
8. Robert Hoppe
9. Stu Harvey
10. Lou Murdica

Two-Gun Group
1. Richard Schatz
2. Don Nielson
3. Robert Hoppe
4. Everet Smith
5. Curt Mendenhall
6. William Hubina
7. Kenneth Schroeder
8. Darryl Kightlinger
9. John Crawford
10. Greg Wilson

Three-Target Winners
Heavy Gun 3-Tgt Score — Darryl Kightlinger
Heavy Gun 3-Tgt Group — Robert Hoppe
Light Gun 3-Tgt Score — Robert Hoppe
Light Gun 3-Tgt Group — John Crawford

Light Gun Score
1. Don Nielson
2. Robert Hoppe
3. Darryl Kightlinger
4. Everet Smith
5. Curt Mendenhall

Light Gun Group
1. Don Nielson
2. Richard Schatz
3. Robert Hoppe
4. John Crawford
5. Darryl Kightlinger

Heavy Gun Score
1. Richard Schatz
2. Kenneth Schroeder
3. Everet Smith
4. Stu Harvey
5. Darryl Kightlinger

Heavy Gun Group
1. Richard Schatz
2. Don Nielson
3. Everet Smith
4. Curt Mendenhall
5. William Hubina

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November 30th, 2009

Nielson Wins Inaugural Ojai 600-yard Benchrest Match

Don NielsonOn Sunday November 29th, the Ojai Valley Gun Club hosted its first-ever NBRSA-sanctioned, 600-yard Benchrest match. Ojai boasts a beautiful range in the Southern California foothills about 40 road miles from the coast. Many Pala Range regulars from the San Diego area were on hand, and some “big names” turned up for the event including Lou Murdica and 2007 NBRSA 600-yard Champion Don Nielson. In sunny but wildly changeable conditions (ranging from near-calm to 20 mph gusts), Don showed how it was done, winning the match with his 6.5×47 Lapua rifle.

Don finished first in ALL LG and HG categories except Heavy Gun score, where he placed second. In Light Gun class, Don shot a 2.207″ Agg for three, 5-shot targets (1.523″, 2.344″, 2.754″). Mind you this was in conditions where some pretty good shooters were off paper. Don said the secret was to shoot fast: “When it’s switchy, you can’t wait. I pretty much never stopped and never slowed down. Even for the 10-shot Heavy Gun Groups I think I was done in 30 seconds.” Second in Two Gun Overall was Brenda Hill. Brenda has established herself as one of California’s top F-Class and long-range shooters. At Ojai, Brenda was shooting a very accurate 6BRX rifle smithed by Leroy Johnson, jpgrifles [at] John Crawford, Bruce Duncan, and Lou Murdica also all shot well in the difficult conditions.

Ojai Valley Gun Club

On the firing line we found some very interesting equipment. John Crawford of the Bay Area had a beautiful Leonard-stocked gun chambered in 6mm Grendel. John is getting over 2900 fps with his 6mm Grendel, shooting 105gr Berger VLDs. He does have a long throat, but that is still impressive — 6BR velocities from the smaller-diameter Grendel case. Along with its gorgeous wood stock, Crawford’s rifle featured some very cool hardware. The trigger guard was radically skeletonized and anodized black. John’s scope was mounted with 4-bolt integrated scope rings/bases with 20 MOA built-in elevation. Produced by Marvin Pearson in Oregon, (360) 748-3429, these custom ring/bases were beautifully finished with radiused edges. Pearson’s ring/bases are available for 1″, 30mm, or 34mm tubes, with zero elevation “pre-load”, or up to 30 MOA of built-in elevation. Pearson charges $125.00 per set (plus shipping).

Trigger Guard, Custom Rings

Crawford carried his 6mm Grendel ammo in compact 100-round ammo ammo cases from J&J Products. These cases pack big capacity in a relatively small footprint. There is enough clearance for long VLD-style bullets, but not so much extra “headroom” that the rounds can fall out if the box is inverted. John uses a piece of pink foam, cut to box dimensions, to protect his bullet tips when traveling. These 100-round J&J boxes measure 5.375″L x 5.375″W x 2.400″D and cost just $4.88 (J&J item BR-100).

J&J Products BR100 ammo case J&J Products BR100 ammo case

6-6.5x47 ammo caddyMatch director Barry Bluhm had a very nice ammo caddy that places ten loaded rounds up close to the loading port for fast cycling. Southpaw Bluhm keeps his ammo caddy on the right side, but the design would work equally well when used on the left side by a right-handed shooter.

Barry, who shoots a 6-6.5×47 for the most part, deserves a huge amount of credit for organizing this event. He spent many long hours building new target frames, and organized volunteers to man the pits and run the range. Without Barry’s dedication and hard work, this 600-yard match, hopefully the first of many registered events at Ojai, couldn’t have happened.

To learn more about the Ojai Valley Gun Club, or view the schedule of upcoming events, visit

6-6.5x47 ammo caddy

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