Doan Trevor is a master gunsmith and stock-maker who works in the old style. He still hand-crafts stocks from start to finish, and does all the metal-work on the custom rifles he builds. Starting with highly-figured woods, Doan carves and shapes his stocks largely by hand, with meticulous attention to detail. Each rifle he builds is optimized for its intended discipline, and custom-fitted for the customer.
With the help of his talented wife Sue (who does the photography and builds the web pages), Doan has created a wonderful website, DoanTrevor.com, that is a feast for the eyes. You can see beautiful wood-stocked rifles being hand-crafted. Doan also illustrates how he creates custom metal parts, and how he beds barreled actions into the finished stocks.
While Varget and Reloder 15 remain in short supply, you can often find IMR 4320 powder back in the shelves of local gun stores. IMR describes IMR 4320 as follows: “Short granulation, easy metering, and perfect for the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 250 Savage and other medium burn rate cartridges.” This older-generation powder is more temp sensitive than the Hodgdon Extreme propellants, but in the right application, it looks to be a viable alternative for folks who can’t source Varget, Reloder 15, and even H4895.
IMR 4320 Shoots Well in the .308 Winchester
A while back, German Salazar wrote an excellent Riflemans Journal article, IMR 4320 — the Forgotten Powder. German developed IMR 4320 loads for his .308 Win Palma rifle and competed with IMR 4320-powered ammo at long range matches. German concluded that: “[IMR 4320] appears to be a very useful alternative to some of the harder-to-get powders. The load is working extremely well at 1000 yards. In the  Arizona Palma State Championship, several high placing competitors were using the 4320 load. We got sub X-Ring elevation at 1000 yards from several rifles, and that’s all I’m looking for in a Palma load.”
IMR 4320 Works for Dasher Shooter
Forum member FalconPilot shoots a 6mm Dasher with Berger 105gr Hybrids. Looking for an alternative to Varget, he decided to give IMR 4320 a try. The results were good. FalconPilot reports: “I’ve been looking for other options (besides Reloder 15, which I love, but it’s really dirty). While at a gun shop in Ohio, I ran across 8 pounds of IMR 4320. I had never even heard of it, much less tried it. Getting ready for upcoming mid-range shoots, I loaded five rounds with IMR 4320 to the exact same specs as my winning Varget loads for the 6mm Dasher. This recipe was 32.7 grains of powder, Wolf SMR primer, Berger Hybrid 105 jumped fifty thousandths.” Falcon pilot tested his IMR 4320 load at 600 yards:
As you can see from the photo at the top of this article, FalconPilot had good results — a 1.5″ group at 600 yards. He reports: “This group was shoot during the middle of the day, mirage bad, scope set to 25X. It looks like IMR 4320 is a [very close] replacement for Varget… with a tad bit slower burn rate.” FalconPilot tell us the accuracy with IMR 4320 rivals the best he has gotten with Varget: “This gun has always shot under 2 inches [for 5 shots] at 600 yards, and most of time shoots 1.5 to 1.7 inches.”
For comparison purposes, here are Heat of Explosion and Burn Rate values from QuickLOAD for IMR 4320, and for the popular Reloder 15 and Varget powders. You can see that these powders have similar characteristics “by the numbers”:
Heat of Explosion
Burning Rate Factor
WARNING — When changing from one powder to another, always start with manufacturer’s stated load data. Start low and work up incrementally. Never assume that loads will be equivalent from one powder to another, even powders with similar burn rates.
What Other Forum Members Say:
I was using IMR 4320 in the mid 70s in my .222 Rem. Darned great powder and I never had a load that was not accurate from the .222 to .30-06 with that powder. — 5Spd
A fine powder overshadowed by the nouveau wave of “gotta have the newest — make me a better shot” powders. Try 4320 in a 22-250 — what a well-kept secret! IMR 4320 meters very well and is a flexible alternative to many of the hard-to-find powders so much in demand. — AreaOne
IMR 4320 was my “go to” powder in my .223 for many many years. This powder and Winchester 55gr soft point bulk bullets (the cheapest bullet I could buy at the time) accounted for thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, and anything else that needed shooting. I still use IMR 4320 in some .223 loads and am very happy with it still. — pdog2062
I’ve been using it in a .308 Win for several years. I think it is very sensitive to temperature and always waited till the last minute to load my ammo with a close eye on the weekend forecast at the range. IMR 4320 Works pretty good for 155gr Palma and 168gr Hybrid [bullets] in my .308. — JayC
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Here’s an early report from the 2015 World Palma Team Championships being held at Camp Perry. After Day 1 of the Team Championships (conducted on August 13th), Great Britain is in the lead with a score of 3551-403. That gives the Brits a 30-point margin over their closest rival. Team USA holds second place with a score of 3521-359, followed by South Africa in third with a score of 3512-339.
Today, August 14th, is the final day of Palma Team Competition. We’ll see if Team USA can come from behind, or whether Team Great Britain can build on its Day One lead. Stay tuned for more updates, including the final results after today’s team matches.
Here is Junior Team USA member Dusty Taylor showing off her USA pride. Today is the final day of the Palma Team World Championships. Dusty says: “Go USA!!!!”
Dusty Taylor photo by Anette Wachter of the U.S. Palma Team. Top photos by Berger Bullets.
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Congratulations to Ben Emms of Australia for winning the World Fullbore Long Range Championship at Camp Perry. Nigel Ball of Great Britain finished second, while another Aussie, Mattthew Pozzebon, took third. There was some amazing shooting done this past week by the top competitors. Here is a report from Anette Wachter, a member of the U.S. Palma Team.
How Ben Emms Won the World Championshipby Anette Wachter (30CalGal.com)
For a while I thought he was not human. Ben Emms of Australia kept powering through every yard line of the Long Range Championship with perfect scores. When the rest of us got pummeled at the 1000-yard line on day 3 he still cleaned the string. He “finally” dropped one point the last day. I guess he is human after all.
But for some dramatic effect he kept us on the edge of our seats during the shoot off. Two crazy shots (a wide two and a low three) were nail biters. His last round for record had to be at least a four to keep the Gold medal from going to second place finisher Nigel Ball from Great Britain. Cheers came from the crowd and especially his team-mates when the final shot came up as a FIVE on the target. Nigel had a beautiful target of centered shots and won the Silver while Matthew Pozzebon also of Australia took the Bronze Medal. Tom Whittaker and Bob Stekettee were also in the Top Ten shoot-off. Tom came home with many awards last night.
The three top Lady trophies went to Sherri Jo Gallagher for the Gold, Trudie Fay with Silver and Jane Messer of GB with the Bronze. We were rooting for Trudie all week as she also was down only one point. Her last string at 1000 was difficult but she still finished in the top 25 in the world. Sherri almost made the shoot-off. She was in 10th place all day until the final results came in at the end and she was pushed to 11th. Although the 11th spot kept her out of the shoot-off, she did stay for the awards ceremony to receive her High Woman Gold Medal and then hit the road for an all night 14-hour trip back to Golden Knights turf for work. Hard core girl!
The Fullbore (Target Rifle) World Championships are now underway at Camp Perry. Held every four years (like the Olympics), the ICFRA World Target Rifle (Fullbore) Championships event is quite possibly the most important long-range rifle competition on the planet. This year the World Championships take place in the USA, at Camp Perry, Ohio. Teams from 11 countries are competing. Here we have some early reports from the August 8th Opening Ceremony…
Report by Ray Gross, Captain U.S. F-TR Team, 8 August, 2015
The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachuted in as part of the opening ceremony for the World Long Range Championships being held at Camp Perry, Ohio. Three of our sister teams, the U.S. Palma Team, the U.S. Veterans Team and the U.S. Under-25 Team will be competing against teams from around the world. Several members of our team, Ray Gross, Steve Hardin, Bryan Litz, and Lane Buxton, are part of the U.S. Palma Team.
The format is very similar to our own World Championships. Everyone entered in the Individuals will shoot 15 shoots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards and they will complete that course of fire three times over the next several days. The team event fires the same course twice.
The main difference from our style of shooting is that they will compete using aperture-type target sights and will be using an arm sling as support compared to the scopes and bipods that we use. The rings on our target are substantially tighter to account for the the greater stability and accuracy of the type of rifles that we use.
Report from Anette Wachter (aka 30CalGal), 8 August 2015
Day One of the World Long Range Championships — we had Opening Ceremonies this morning which had our U.S. Army Golden Knights jumping in and the flag raising of each participating country. Sherri Gallagher, former USAMU shooter and now a Golden Knight, led the team as the first and solo jumper. I was sort of hoping she would land in the prone position with a rifle and start the competition. The rest of the Knights fell from the sky and landed perfectly on the X.
The U.S. Fullbore Nationals consisted of individuals and various team events as well as the biggest event, the America’s Match. The USA has never lost the America’s Match at home. We won it three years ago here at Perry and last summer up in Canada. Yesterday was not in the cards. First let me congratulate Great Britain for some outstanding shooting. They lost a total of 17 points for 8 shooters all day and took the Gold. Australia came in second, South Africa 3rd and the USA in 4th. Very humbling yes. One of our coaches had to leave at the middle of the match for a family emergency as well. So I believe the kinks are done and we can move on successfully for this coming week of Worlds. We have the best shooters in the U.S. on our team. Things will turn around. Three women were in the top 25 of the Fullbore Nationals: Michelle Gallagher, Trudie Fay, and Jane Messer. Our Veterans and Under 25s had their World Championship team events as well. Our Veterans took the Gold and the USA Under 25s took the Bronze. The GB kids shot very well and received Gold and Silver medals.
From August 3 through August 14, Camp Perry, Ohio will be the center of the Fullbore (Palma Rifle) universe. From 3-7 August the U.S. Fullbore Championship will take place on the shores of Lake Erie, followed by the ICFRA World Target Rifle (Fullbore) Championships, which runs 8-14 August. The Worlds are a very big deal — just like the Olympics, the ICFRA World Target Rifle (aka Fullbore or Palma) LR Championships event is held every four years. This year the World Championships take place in the USA, at Camp Perry, Ohio. Teams from 11 countries will be competing. The United States won’t host the Worlds again for at least another 25 years.
Our friend Anette Wachter (aka 30CalGal) was on hand for the start of the U.S. Fullbore Championships this week. Here are some images Anette posted from Perry. Many foreign shooters are already in the USA, using the U.S. Fullbore Championship as a “tune-up” for the upcoming World Championships. In addition some of the international events are being held this week such as the ICFRA Veterans World Championship Team Match and the ICFRA Under-25 and Under-21 World Team Championships.
Photos courtesy Anette Wachter. Read Anette’s Shooting Commentaries on 30CalGal.com.
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Story Based on Report by NSSF
American shooters, along with Brownells and Redding, are providing help to the South African Palma (Target Rifle) team members, who will be competing at the Long Range World Championships at Camp Perry in early August, 2015. The ability of the South Africans to compete has been jeopardized by the unexpected seizure of their pre-shipped match ammo by U.S. Customs and ATF. We don’t know why the Feds seized the South Africans’ match ammo, but without it, the South African Team’s ability to participate in the Long Range World Championships has been threatened.
To rectify this situation, American F-TR and Palma shooters, backed by Brownells and Redding, have secured reloading equipment (presses, dies) and ammo components (brass, bullets, powder) so that the South Africans can assemble the needed .308 Win ammo on their arrival in the USA at the end of July.
According to industry sources, the shipment of match ammo for the South African Palma team was seized at the U.S. port of entry by U.S. Customs and ATF agents. When Ray Gross, captain of the U.S. F-TR rifle team, learned about this, Ray contacted Geoff Esterline, Product Category Manager at Brownells. Esterline immediately turned to Robin Sharpless, Executive VP of Redding Reloading, for help.
“I won’t go into the full list of presses and accessories we’ve gathered up, but I can say it’s extensive,” Sharpless told NSSF. “A member of the U.S. F-TR team who lives near Camp Perry has agreed to take our shipment and those from Brownells and the other companies providing brass, powder and bullets so that, when the South African team arrives in the U.S. during the last days of July, they can get started immediately on hand-loading. The U.S. team is even building benches for the press setups, so the South African team should be able to knock this out and get to the more important task at hand, and that is shooting at Camp Perry.”
The 2015 Palma Match and Long Range World Championships will be held August 3-15, in conjunction with the annual NRA National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.
Ray Gross reports: “The folks who deserve credit for this are the members of the U.S. Palma Team, Ryan Henning, Geoff Esterline of Brownells, and the folks at Redding. Members of the Palma team had donated much of the needed equipment within hours of U.S. Palma Team Captain Dennis Flaharty putting the word out.
My contribution was limited to a few emails to Brownells. They coordinated with Redding to provide the remaining equipment. This is a great example of international shooting camaraderie, but my part in it was very small.”
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This Texas Rifle Association (TXRA) Long Range Championship was a match to remember. Despite rain threats, organizers decided to hold the match. On Friday, against the advice of the weather forecasters, the team match was held. The weather held out long enough to complete the match but over four inches of rain fell Friday night. This made for an interesting weekend as competitors had to park at the 300-yard line and shooters and gear had to be trailered to the 1,000-yard line.
The Fullbore (Palma) World Championships will be held at Camp Perry, Ohio this summer. The American squad arrived a bit early — for a few days of team practice. Our friend Anette Wachter (aka 30 Cal Gal) is in Ohio with Team USA and she posted some photos on Facebook. Skies were gray, but that didn’t deter the American shooters who practiced their shooting under the watchful eyes of top wind coaches.
Take a look at the photo above. How many ace American shooters can you spot? Here’s one hint — pulling the black wheeled case is John Whidden, past U.S. Long-Range National Champion.
At right is the first bit of Team USA swag. Anette says there is more to come — team shirts and jackets were sized and ordered for all the U.S.A. shooters and coaches.
Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA) has produced a comprehensive calendar of major NRA-sanctioned firearms tournaments to be held this year. Below are schedules for the major 2015 National Championships. For regional and state events, you should download the full 78-page SSUSA Calendar. This covers Action Pistol, Bullseye Pistol, Air Rifle, Smallbore, Silhouette, High Power, and F-Class events. The Shooting Sports USA 2015 Calendar includes ten pages of important non-NRA events including NBRSA, FCSA (50-caliber), AAFTA (Field Target), IPSC, and IDPA championships.
July 7-12: National Pistol Matches
July 16-22: CMP High Power Rifle and Games Events
July 23-28: NRA High Power Rifle and Mid-Range Championship
July 29–August 2: NRA Long Range High Power Rifle Championship
August 3-7: NRA Fullbore Championship
August 7-14: World Target Rifle “Palma” Championship
2015 NATIONAL SILHOUETTE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Multiple Venues)
March 20-22: Air Rifle Baton Rouge, LA
June 29-July 2: Cowboy Rifle Raton, NM
July 6-7: Black Powder Cartridge Rifle (Scope) Raton, NM
July 9-10: Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Raton, NM
August 2-4: Smallbore Rifle Ridgway, PA
August 6-8: High Power Rifle Ridgway, PA
September 21-26: Black Powder Target Rifle Raton, NM
Program and entry cards for the Nat’l Silhouette Championships will be available online and via paper format after April 1, 2015. To register, write or call: NRA Silhouette Dept., 11250 Waples Mill Rd.,
Fairfax, VA 22030; (703) 267-1474 or silhouette [at] nrahq.org.
2015 NATIONAL SMALLBORE RIFLE CHAMPIONSHIPS — Bristol, Indiana
July 10-11: Metric 3-Position Championship
July 12-13: Conventional 3-Position Championship
July 15-18: Conventional Prone Championship
July 21-22 Metric Prone Championship
Online Registration for the Smallbore Championship starts April 1, 2015. For more information, please email hmoody[at]nrahq.org or lwenzell[at]nrahq.org, or write to: Lois Wenzell, 11250 Waples Mill Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030.
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Today marked the third day of competition at the Berger Southwest Nationals. The superstitious types among the competitors viewed the day with some trepidation. There was actual bad luck for some folks, including Mid Tompkins, who broke his leg in a parking lot accident in the morning. But most shooters didn’t worry too much about the date — they were more concerned about calling the wind correctly. As Bryan Litz said: “I don’t believe in superstition. We make our own luck”. In the video below, you’ll see highlights of Day 3 at the SW Nationals from the break of dawn to the final shots on the 1000-yard line.
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Thursday at the Berger Southwest Nationals was Team Match day. Teams of sling shooters as well as F-TR and F-Open marksmen competed at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Conditions on Thursday (Feb. 12) were much better than on Wednesday (Feb. 11) when strong, fish-tailing winds created big problems for the shooters. For the Thursday Team Match, the winds were variable, but generally the mirage was a good indicator of speed, and the flags were showing the angles. The wind coaches for the teams told us that the conditions “were quite readable”.
Here is AccurateShooter.com’s video wrap-up of the Team Match on Thursday. F-TR shooters should watch carefully — Ray Gross, captain of the F-TR USA Team. talks about the latest equipment used by the top shooters. In addition, Ray announced a Team Try-Out Session on Monday February 16, 2015.
In team competition, the shooter relies on his coach and spotter.
This could be the most beautiful F-Open rifle we’ve ever seen. Look at the figure in that wood.
Nancy Tompkins dials wind for Anette Wachter (aka “30 Cal Gal”).
Matt Schwartzkopf excels despite lacking two lower legs. He works as a range manager at Ben Avery.
Tube-gun chassis-maker Gary Eliseo shot in the Sling Division. His company, Competition Machine, is now based in Cottonwood, Arizona.
Dan Polabel’s F-TR Rifle with Flex Bipod.
Walt Berger enjoyed the Team Match. “Seems like the wind’s a bit better today” he joked.
It was just a warm, beautiful day at Ben Avery….
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Report by Kelly Bachand, for Kelly’s Gun Sales Blog.
Tuesday, August 5th, was the first day of the actual competition. The weather forecast was for rain with an 80% chance of thunderstorms. We somehow snuck through on that 20% and had great shooting weather all day. We shot 300 yards, 600 yards, and 800 yards on Tuesday with 15 shots at each. For the 300-yard line and part of the 600-yard line the wind came out of the west, as usual. Part way through the 600-yard line it started to switch and for the rest of the day it only came out of the north east or directly out of the east.
Int’l Fullbore Targets — More Challenging Than NRA Targets
The ICFRA (International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations) targets are sometimes smaller than the NRA targets we are used to shooting in the USA. The 300-yard target has an especially small bullseye; it must be just 2.5″ across or something. Interestingly, these targets are also 5-V targets as opposed to our 10-X targets. This means the maximum points that can be scored with each shot is 5 points (instead of 10) and the tie-break ring is called the V-Ring (instead of the X-Ring). As a rehearsal for the 2015 World Long Range Championships, I think the match is off to a great start. There have been some logistical issues that have come up (and they only would have by running this match), so I’m very hopeful that the match directors will have all of their ducks in a row next year.
In a match like this, with the relatively calm wind conditions we had today, the top few shooters will likely go the whole day without dropping a single point and they’ll do it with a pretty high V-count. That means scores of 75 with 10+ Vs at every yard line are likely what it takes to find yourself towards the top (75-15V is the maximum score possible). I had a 75-9V at 300 and I was quite pleased with the group I shot, it must have been just a few inches tall. As one of the previous US Palma Team members, all of my shots in this match are being plotted and evaluated as part of the US Palma Team try-outs. It’s a very good incentive to break great shots.
Trigger Certification Rules
One of the fun things about shooting with ICFRA rules is that after someone shoots a possible (gets all the possible points, like 75 out of 75) they have to immediately get their trigger pull-weight tested. [That’s interesting] because you get to watch your friends come off the line and you immediately know how they did and can quickly give them a thumbs-up and rush over to congratulate them.
There is some really great shooting going on. I saw a lot of high scores shot at 800 yards. One under-25 lady from across the pond (Chloe Evans) spent most of today showing all the rest of us how it is done. It looks like she finished the day with a 225-36V. For the day, I had a 224-30V out of a possible 225-45V. I highly recommend following the scores online:
One of our readers, Joshua Targownik, is a very talented photographer. Last year he captured an evocative series of photos at the 2013 California State Palma Championships, hosted at the Coalinga range. Joshua reports: “I shot all these images on good old-fashioned medium format black and white film”. We like Joshua’s images — they have a classic “old school” look which seems to suit the Palma (Full-bore) discipline. The black and white photography seems appropriate to the world of iron sights, leather shooting coats, and “hard-holding” marksmen.
Images by Joshua Targownik. To see more of Joshua’s photos, visit TargoPhoto.com.
A large contingent of the Scottish rifle team came to Sacramento, California last week for the 23rd Annual American-Canadian and Long Range matches. A great time was had by all. Members of the U.S. Long Range Rifle team say: “Thank you for making the journey over and we hope to see you all again this fall at Camp Perry and/or Canada Nationals.”
Click Photo for Full-screen View
Congratulations to Scottish Team member Ian Shaw for winning the American-Canadian Full Bore Match! Here is Ian celebrating his victory with his winning mug. We met with Ian in February after the Berger Southwest Nationals. At the Phoenix airport, this Editor shared a quick meal with Ian and two of his Team London-Scottish comrades before the trio jetted home across the Atlantic.
As we chatted, I quickly learned how serious and dedicated these guys are. It’s no surprise to me that Ian took the top prize at the American-Canadian match. During our airport interview, Ian talked about target rifle shooting in the UK, and he invited American full-bore shooters to attend the Queen’s Prize Match held each year during the Imperial Meeting at the Bisley Range. Ian said, “Tell your American readers to come. This is a big match every year, with 900 competitors, about 700 of whom are from the UK.” Here’s a video explaining the history of the Queen’s Prize Match.
History of the Queen’s Prize Match (BBC, 1986)
H.M. The Queen’s Prize
The Queen’s Prize Match was first shot in 1860 when the Sovereign (Queen Victoria) gave a prize of £250 for the winner. This amount has remained unchanged to this day although in the original days, it was a considerable sum. The winner earns the right to have the initials ‘GM’ after his or her name. As detailed in the section below, there are three stages to the competition, the winners of the second stage earn the initials ‘SM’. The final stage is shot on the last Saturday of the NRA Imperial meeting held in July.
Online registration is officially open for the 2014 NRA National Matches. Each summer, at the NRA National Rifle & Pistol Championships, the nation’s finest civilian and military marksmen and women square off for weeks of rifle and handgun competition. From pistol, to smallbore rifle, high power rifle, and long range high power rifle (including F-Class), the national matches have something for just about every serious shooter.
As usual, the pistol, High Power, and High Power Long Range Championships will be held at Camp Perry, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. However, for 2014 and 2015, the NRA National Smallbore Position Championships and Smallbore Prone Championships will be held at the Chief Wa-Ke-De Range in Bristol, Indiana, this year and next. The smallbore championship venue is being shifted to accommodate the 2015 World Palma Rifle Championships at Camp Perry. (The World Palma teams will arrive this summer to do a practice run for next year.)
NRA Also Seeks Target Pullers for Nat’l Matches — $75/day plus housing
The NRA is seeking experienced persons to pull targets during the 2014 National Fullbore Championships, August 4 – 10, 2014, at Camp Perry, Ohio. Accepted applicants will receive a $75 per day pay rate and free housing. Candidates must have 2+ years of target pulling of high-power scoring experience to apply. Interested parties should apply before the May 1, 2014 deadline using the form linked below. For more information, email comphelp @ nrahq.org.
The Berger Southwest Nationals, one of the biggest shooting events west of the Mississippi, kicks off next week at the Ben Avery Range near Phoenix, Arizona. The event begins with a Shooting Clinic on Tuesday, February 4, and concludes with 1000-yard Matches on Sunday the 9th. The host Desert Sharpshooters Club, and the staff at Berger Bullets, are working very hard to make this the best SW Nationals ever. And if you are interested, there is still time to register. Berger tells us: “It’s not too late to sign up for the 2014 Southwest Nationals! The match runs from Feb. 4-9 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. We have a great schedule and prizes.” The weather will be good (it was 74° in Phoenix yesterday), and there will be thousands of dollars of gear on the Prize Table. If you want to join the fun, download the entry form below, and, as soon as you can, send an email to michelle.gallagher [at] bergerbullets.com.
The Berger Southwest Long Range Nationals are held every February at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility just north of Phoenix, Arizona. Berger has partnered with the Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, resulting in a “must attend” event for long range shooters around the world.
Ben Avery is a truly world-class facility, with 98 firing points, carefully maintained firing lines and plenty of wind flags. As the match sponsor, Berger provides the “extras” – ice chests full of drinks on the firing line, a banquet on Saturday night and awards to the winners, including over $3,500 in cash prizes and over 30,000 bullets in awards.
Profile by Kyle Jillson forNRABlog
In the December issue of Shooting Sports USA, Barb Baird of Women’s Outdoor News sits down with Nancy Tompkins, one of the most accomplished shooters out there. A past World and National Champion, Nancy likes to reach out and touch targets at 1,000 yards with accurate rifles. She’s been competing in Palma (.308 caliber at 800, 900, and 1000 yards), Long Range (1000 yards) and Smallbore prone for 41 years. Thanks to her father, Nancy began competing in the seventh grade and now shares the love of shooting with her daughters Michelle and Sherri Gallagher, her husband Mid Tompkins, and her goddaughter, Danielle Makucevich. Nancy has competed on numerous international Palma teams, traveling from her home base in Prescott, Arizona.
“There is nothing better than traveling, making new friends and competing with the best shooters in the world,” said Nancy. And she only shoots with the best equipment. Her Palma rifle features a McGee stock, Stolle Panda action, Krieger barrel, Anschütz trigger, Warner rear sight and a Right Sight (front sight). Her .22 LR Smallbore rifle sports an Anschütz action and trigger with a Hart barrel, McGee stock, Right Sight (front sight), and Warner rear sight.
As always, interviewer Barb Baird had a key question for Nancy: “What’s in your range bag, Nancy Tompkins?” Actually, Nancy stores stuff in her Creedmoor shooting stool for High Power matches and in a large plastic box from Home Depot for her Smallbore matches. Here’s what Nancy keeps at the range:
Allen wrenches, small screwdriver, and grease
SPF-15 lip balm
Creedmoor shooting glove
Decot shooting glasses
TLC Gunworks elbow pad
Champions Choice shooting visor
CeCe’s custom ear plugs
One More Item — Nancy’s Lucky Mouse
Nancy’s cat, Sierra, placed a toy mouse in one of her shooting stools a few years ago. Nancy now considers it her lucky charm. To learn more about Nancy’s recommended equipment, and glean great tips on Long Range marksmanship, get Nancy’s latest book, Prone & Long Range Rifle Shooting.
by Kelly Bachand
[Editor: If you have been watching the Top Shot All-Stars TV series this season you’ve noticed that our Buddy Kelly Bachand has been “kicking a** and taking names”. On last week’s episode Kelly was the only shooter to place multiple rimfire rounds through the center of a CD without touching the plastic. Most of the other Aall-stars in this challenge couldn’t send even one shot through the CD without breaking plastic. Shooting offhand, Kelly went three-for-three. That’s impressive. Though you know him best from Top Shot, Kelly is one of America’s leading young long-range prone shooters. Bachand has been a Top Five finisher in many major matches, and he has won the Canadian Open Target Rifle Championship, shooting his Barnard-actioned Palma Rifle.]
In this article, I’ll share what works for me in the prone shooting game. However, I recognize that every shooter/rifle combination is unique. So, the best way to find out what will really work best is by practicing and putting some rounds down range. But hopefully you’ll find some suggestions in this story that prove helpful.
The Rifle, Sling, Arms, and Hands
I keep my sling high on the pulse pad of my Creedmoor Sports shooting jacket which turns out to be at the top of my bicep muscle. The sling is tight enough that, with my forward hand against the hand stop and the stock firmly in my shoulder, the rifle is fully supported without any noticeable muscle use. As my coaches have recommended, placing my forward elbow as close to directly under the rifle as possible often yields a more stable position. My trigger hand does not support the rifle but rather grips it without disturbing its aim. If the rifle can be held level and stable with just the forward hand and sling, then one knows a good prone position has been found.
Head, Torso, Hips, and Legs
As with shooting off hand, when shooting prone, I find it best to keep my head as close to perfectly vertical as possible. While swaying is not a typical problem in the prone position, if a vertical head position grants me more stability, I will work to have one. My torso in particular bends in a way that may be uncomfortable for other prone shooters. My left hip and some of the left side of my stomach touch the ground but the majority of my chest and diaphragm are off the ground while I shoot prone. By minimizing the contact my stomach and chest have with the ground I can also minimize the effect my breathing has on my hold. (Also breathing is much easier when each breath isn’t lifting one’s torso weight). Below my waist my left leg extends almost perfectly straight out and sometimes falls asleep while shooting. My right leg is cocked and my right knee is brought up almost even with my right hip. This is what allows me to get so much of my torso off the ground.
The Finished Product
In the prone shooting game we shoot at distances from 300 to 1000 yards using iron sights (and sometimes scopes). When I have a good prone position, and my breathing is correct, there are a few seconds right before I take a shot when I feel as if my rifle is being supported on a bench. This sort of stability is only needed for the few seconds it takes to squeeze the trigger. It can, however, very consistently produce sub-minute groups with iron sights from the prone position at any range from 100-1000 yards.
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On his Facebook page, Hall-of-Fame shooter and ace gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez unveiled an impressive new F-Open rifle built for Bret Solomon. The rifle features Speedy’s new low-profile F-Class stock.
Bret’s gun is chambered for his 300 Solomon wildcat, shooting heavy 210gr bullets, so it can can be a real shoulder-buster, without some kind of buffer. The stock is fitted with a Ken Rucker’s Bump Buster hydraulic recoil reduction system to tame the recoil. The Bump Buster was originally designed for shotguns and hard-hitting, big game rifles. It is interesting to see this hydraulic buffer adapted to an F-Open rig.
Here you can see Bret shooting the gun, coached by Nancy Tompkins and Michele Gallagher:
Bret’s gun features a stainless Viper (Stiller) action, barrel tuner, and an innovative Speedy-crafted wood stock. Speedy says this stock design is all-new: “It is a true, low Center-of-Gravity F-Class stock, not a morphed Palma stock merely cut out on the bottom”. See all the details in this short video:
Stock Features: Glue-in or Bolt-In and Optional Carbon Pillars and Cooling Ports
Speedy explained the features of the new stock design: “Terry Leonard and I started working on an F-Class version of his stocks last year during the F-Class Nationals and came up with what he and I consider the first true low-CG stock in the sport. As you can see by the videos, there is very little torqueing of the stock during recoil. I add the carbon fiber tunnel underneath the forearms to save Terry some time. This bonds very well to his carbon fiber skeleton within the stock adding addition stiffness to the forearm to support the heavy barrels found on the F-Class rigs. We are playing with both glue-ins like we benchresters use and bolt-ins as well. The rifles on the videos are glue-ins. Bret just took delivery today of his first bolt-in employing carbon fiber pillars and the first Leonard stock ever to have cooling ports.”
Need for Recoil Reduction Follows F-Class Trend to Bigger Calibers and Heavier Bullets
In recent years we have seen F-Open competitors move to bigger calibers and heavier bullets in pursuit of higher BC. There is no free lunch however. Shooting a 210gr .30-caliber bullet is going to produce much more recoil than a 140gr 6.5mm projectile (when they are shot at similar velocities). Does this mean that more F-Open shooters will add hydraulic buffers to their rigs? Will a recoil-reduction system become “de rigueur” on F-Open rifles shooting heavy bullets?
Our friend Boyd Allen observes: “You may imagine that shooting a short magnum, or even a .284 Win with heavy bullets, involves a fair amount of recoil, and in the prone position this can be more than a little wearing. It can in fact beat you up over the course of a match. Some time back, Lou Murdica told me about having a hydraulic recoil absorbing device installed on one of his F-Class rifles, chambered in .300 WSM. Lou is shooting heavy (210-215gr) bullets so the recoil is stout. According to Lou, the hydraulic recoil-reduction system made all the difference.”
Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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