September 30th, 2019

Raton Remembrances — Photos from the F-Class Nationals

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher is one of the nation’s top rifle shooters and team coaches. A past Long Range National Champion, Michelle is part of America’s “First Family” of Shooting, being raised by Mid Tompkins and Nancy Tompkins, both rifle champions in their own right.

Michelle, who works for Sierra Bullets, was at the 2019 F-Class National Championships in Raton, New Mexico. At the event, Michelle captured some great photos of the competitors and the New Mexico countryside at the NRA Whittington Center. This year’s Nationals were very challenging competition, with truly brutal winds on some days. Here is Michelle’s Photo Essay on the 2019 F-Class Nationals.

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR
Father Ken Klemm and Son Ian Klemm shot together in F-TR Team Matches. Individually, Ian was second overall in the 1K F-TR Nationals, while Ken finished as High Grand Senior.

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR
Three talented lady shooters: Michelle Gallagher (L), Nancy Tompkins, and Madison Bramley.

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September 25th, 2019

F-Class National Championships in Raton, NM

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Mid-range team day. Team jerseys and tons of additional gear adorned the firing line. Most of the top teams had headsets so they could communicate in private.

The 2019 F-Class National Championships took place September 16-22 at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. The Mid-Range Championships ran Sept. 16-18, while the Long-Range Championship finished the week, running Sept. 19-22. This year’s F-Class Championships were well-attended and memorable — as there were some of the most challenging winds many competitors had ever witnessed. Winds were strong, gusty, and shifty — with rapid and unpredictable direction and speed changes. Some seasoned, “world-class” F-TR and F-Open competitors dropped 20 points or more on a single relay — conditions were that bad at times.

F-Class Nationals Long Range Results | F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Results

Nonetheless, through skill, patience, and perseverance there were some outstanding performances at both the 2019 Mid-Range and Long-Range Nationals. Brian Bowling won the F-Open Long Range Championship with a 1573-78X score, ahead of second-place Keith Glasscock (1570-72X). Shiraz Balolia was F-Open High Senior, while Cindi Baudhuin was the top female shooter. In the other division, Jade Delcambre (Master Classification), won the F-TR Championship with a 1549-53X. Ian Klemm was a close second in F-TR with a 1548-44X. Skip Barkley was F-TR High Senior, while Jennifer Bondur was High Lady competitor.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
F-Open “Top Shots”. Brian Bowling, F-Open LR National Champion, is the chap with the beard.

In LR Team Competition, Team Lapua-Borden-Brux won F-Open, scoring 1585-86X to beat runner-up Team Roadrunners by 9 points and a bunch of Xs. In the F-TR Team Match, Team USA Freedom (1555-58X) took first, ahead of second-place Team USA Independence (1546-55X).

Here are some quotes from competitors, posted in our Shooters Forum:

“Today was, in a word, brutal.” — Turbulent Turtle

“I was on relay 1 and I don’t think I have ever shot in these types of conditions! I came off the second string and had dropped 14 points and people were saying “good shooting”!! Playing ping pong with the 7 ring was common. There was no chasing the spotter as every shot was a new condition.” — Shiraz Balolia

“Some relays were very easy wind-wise, and some were monsters! Relay 1 today got hosed like I’ve never seen! 35 mph winds, gusty and switching had most the top shooters doing their best to just stay in paper!” — Falconpilot

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

Report from Mid-Range F-Class Nationals

The Mid-Range Nationals were closely fought also. Congratulations to Timothy Vaught, 2019 Mid-Range F-Open Champion, and to Luke Ramsey, 2019 Mid-Range F-TR Champion. Both victors took their titles by a single point, although Luke had a huge ‘X’-count edge, with 101 Xs compared to 77 Xs for runner-up Tracy Hogg. Here are Top Five Mid-Range individual Results.

Mid-Range F-OPEN Top 5
TIMOTHY VAUGHT 1794-119X NAT’L CHAMPION
TOD HENDRICKS 1793-111X SILVER
DAVID GOSNELL 1789-103X BRONZE
PATRICK SCULLY 1789-99X 2ND BRONZE
JOHN MYERS 1787-107X 3RD BRONZE
Mid-Range F-TR Top 5
LUKE RAMSEY 1784-101X NAT’L CHAMPION
TRACY HOGG 1783-77X SILVER
RANDY LITTLETON 1781-100X BRONZE
ALLEN TAMPKE 1779-88X 2ND BRONZE
JEREMY NEWELL 1779-79X 3RD BRONZE

In the Mid-Range Team Competition, Team Roadrunners, coached by Scott Harris, won the F-Open Team Division (1592-87X), edging Team Berger-Bartlein-SEB-Kelbly (1591-94X) by one point. The winning F-TR Mid-Range Team was Team Independence (1585-88X), coached by past Nat’l Champ James Crofts. Team Texas (1581-85X) finished second in the Mid-Range F-TR event.

The F-Class Nationals Experience — Report from Raton

By John Masek (aka F-Class John, AccurateShooter Weekly Deals Editor)

“The winds were by far the most challenging I have ever encountered, but I learned so much from that. I definitely came home a better shooter after the 2019 Nationals.”

Four of us from Tri-County Gun Club in Sherwood, Oregon loaded up and headed down to shoot two weeks of Spirit of America (SOA) plus the F-Class Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals. The first week of SOA was pretty straight-forward although the nearly 7,000-foot altitude had an immediate effect on our bodies, forcing us to hydrate like never before. We were going through upwards of 10 bottles a day of water and sports drinks to quench our thirst.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Here is a view of the 1000-yard range seen from the Founders Cabins up on the opposing hill. Raton is truly one of the most spectacular places you could ever shoot a match like this.

SOA is a Fullbore match so you shoot two to a mound and only have 45 seconds to take a shot. That requires you to make quick decisions based on ever changing conditions. I was fortunate enough to shoot for two days with Scott Harris who was an amazing partner. Scott even shared some of his amazing wind-calling wisdom with me. I was fortunate enough to win a couple medals during SOA and missed out on a second gold because of a stupid mistake — cross-firing on a target. That was heartbreaking to say the least. The final day of SOA brought whipping, switchy winds that played havoc with the last Long Range match and foreshadowed what what to come the following week.

Mid-Range started on Sunday and while it wasn’t a cakewalk, most shooters managed to work their way through the conditions. Raton has a funny way of keeping most everyone humbled one way or another. But nothing could prepare us for what was coming.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Here is a panorama image of the firing line for the start of the Mid-Range Nationals.

Long Range Nationals started on Thursday and everything seemed pretty normal. The ace shooters worked their way to the top as you would expect and we all went to bed expecting a normal day to follow, we had no idea what was in store for us. Friday started like any other day and the first relay went off without a hitch but as it ended we noticed the weather was starting to turn. As I headed to the pits the winds picked up and flags began going every which way. By the time targets went up for live fire we knew something bad was about to happen. Sighter shots came down and while not unusual to see low scoring shots for sighters, there were a lot of them. This was a 2 + 20 string so as soon as the two sighters were done we knew record shots were coming. When they did points started dropping like prices on Black Friday.

We saw people ping-ponging 7s, a few misses and everything in between. After two relays the dust settled and it was our turn to line up and shoot. During the switch over at the buses everyone was shaking their heads in disbelief of what happened to them and somehow seemed almost relieved to be heading to the pits. The conditions only got worse and by the end of the third relay people were rejoicing if they dropped anything less than 20 points.

Some of the biggest names in the game had dropped in excess of 20 points and there were reports of some people dropping as many as 40-50 points. Just imagine how bad the conditions had to be for the top 93 High Masters in the country to be dropping that many points. By the end of the day people we in stunned disbelief and many were considering getting shirts made that said “I survived Raton 2019″.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington
Every evening we would complete our nightly ritual of pushing bullets back. We initially loaded all our ammo set to the lands and then pushed the bullets back based on our testing each night.

Watching Brian Bowling Shoot To Victory in F-Open
As an F-Open shooter I was fortunate enough to be shooting a few lanes down from Brian Bowling and he was on fire all three days and was a pleasure to watch. Even in the worst of conditions he managed to skillfully hunt and peck his way to some amazing scores which led to him winning the National Championship. Keith Glasscock and David Christian gave a good chase over the three days but came up just a little short, earning Silver and Bronze places respectively.

Success for the Boys from Oregon
Below are me and my buddies from Oregon (L to R: Devin Wiggett, David Christian, Bill Brown, John Masek). As a group we won a total of 34 medals and trophies during the Spirit of America and the Nationals. Overall, the eight days of Nationals included some the most amazing shooting I’ve experienced, in some of the most scenic terrain in the country. I think I speak for many when I say that no matter how good or bad the shooting was, there was always a chance to learn and you couldn’t help but walk away a better shooter in the end.

f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

Headed Home — Securely Packed
f-class f-open f-tr f/tr national championship Raton NM new mexico whittington

Q: How do you transport an F-Open Rifle, spotting scope, tripods, stand and lots of gear?
A: Get yourself some very big, sturdy cases, with lots of padding.

Here is my load-out for Raton. For the match I brought one stock and TWO complete barreled actions, with Kahles scopes fitted on each. I also had a separate large square case for my SEB NEO front rest, 21st Century Arbor Press, and 450 rounds of pre-loaded ammo.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, News 2 Comments »
September 15th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Back-to-Back Championship Winning .284 Win

Charles Ballard F-Open National Champion 2008 2009 .284 Win Winchester

With the U.S. F-Class National Championship running this week in Raton, NM, we thought we’d highlight a very important .284 Win rifle. This is the .284 Winchester rig that Charles Ballard used to win back-to-back F-Open titles in 2008 and 2009. Ballard’s huge success with the .284 Winchester cartridge helped make the .284 Win (and .284 Win Improveds) the dominant cartridge in F-Open competition worldwide. Enjoy this trip back in time to when the .284 Win was the “new kid on the block”.

Ballard Wins Back-to-Back F-Open Championships
In a very short span, Ballard and this rifle racked up an impressive string of performances. Ballard won the NRA Long-Range Regional, setting a new National Record in the process — 200-23X at 1000 yards. He also won the North Carolina F-Class Championship with the gun, and then captured the 2008 F-Open National Championship, followed by a second F-Open title in 2009. At the 2008 Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin, Charles shot a 1337-65X with Berger 180gr bullets. At the 2009 F-Class Nationals, held at Camp Butner, NC, Ballard shot a 1328-62X to win his second straight National title.

Ballard’s “Purple Haze” rifle features superb components, including a BAT MB action, Nightforce 12-42 BR Scope, and a wickedly accurate 32″ Broughton barrel.

Charles Ballard F-Open National Champion 2008 2009 .284 Win Winchester
Charles Ballard always used eye and ear protection. For these photos, he removed safety glasses.

Building a Championship-Winning F-Classer

by Charles Ballard
.284 Win F-Class

This rifle project began several years ago. My purpose was to find a cartridge that would launch the high-BC, 180gr 7mm bullets at competitive velocities for F-Class competition. I also sought barrel life that would be far superior to that of a 7mm WSM or 6.5-284. I read the article on 6mmBR.com about Jerry Tierney’s .284 Winchester and the cogs began to turn. After speaking with Mr. Tierney at the 2006 US F-Class Nationals, I decided the .284 Win would be the chambering for the new gun, despite several shooters telling me I would not be able to obtain the desired velocities. Jerry said “go for it” and, as it turned out, the rifle delivered the velocity I wanted, plus extraordinary accuracy to boot. This gun has more than exceeded my expectations, winning matches and setting a new 1000-yard, single-target F-Class National Record (200-13X).

Rifle Specifications–All the Hardware
My action of choice was a beefy 1.55″-diameter, round BAT MB, Left Bolt, Right Port. I chose this action based on BAT Machine’s impeccable reputation. I also liked the fact that the MB (medium long front) action offered an extended front end. This would provide better support for a very long barrel and give more bedding surface. The action is topped with a stainless BAT tapered (+20 MOA) Picatinny scope rail. Housed in a polished, stainless BAT trigger guard is a Jewel trigger set at 5 ounces.

.284 Win F-Class

The barrel is a 32″ Broughton 5C. The chamber was cut with a reamer made for Lapua 6.5-284 brass necked up to 7mm. It’s throated for the 180gr Bergers. I selected a Broughton 5C because, as my gunsmith says, “They just shoot”. This is a 1:9″ twist, 1.250″ straight contour for 32″. Yes, that’s a long, heavy barrel, but I think the length gives me a velocity advantage. On other guns, a 32″ tube could cause the rifle to be front-heavy and out-of-balance. The stock by Precision Rifle & Tool has a 3″-longer fore-end which solves the problem. The purple .284 balances very well and tracks great.

.284 Win F-Class

Speaking of the stock, there was only one choice, a “Purple Haze” laminated F-class model from Precision Rifle & Tool. This stock features a fully-adjustable buttplate plus a removable cheek-piece with thumb-wheel adjustment. Most importantly, the stock features an extra-long, super-stiff, low profile fore-end. This design rides the bags better than any stock I have ever shot. The action area of this stock has been beefed up to house the large BAT MB action. The final component on this rifle is a 12-42×56 Nightforce BR with DD-1 reticle set in Leupold Quick Release rings.

.284 Win F-Class

.284 Win F-ClassThe Ultimate F-Open Rig
To start this project, I contacted Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool, PrecisionRifleSales.com. The first order of business was to get the action ordered, knowing how long it would take to get a BAT left bolt, right port action, plus scope rail, and trigger guard. We knew we wanted a Broughton 5C, but what twist rate? Based on the success I had shooting 210s in my 300 WSM with a “slower” 1:11″ twist we opted to go with a 1:9″ twist 7mm to shoot the 180gr Bergers. A dummy round was sent to Pacific Tool and Gauge to have a reamer ground to our specs.

Not shooting free recoil, I needed a stock that would fit me like a prone stock but track like a benchrest stock. Precision Rifle & Tool’s F-Class stock fit this bill to perfection. Ray keeps Jewell triggers in stock so the only piece left to acquire was the scope. On the old F-Class targets I would have been content with a Leupold 8-25 LRT, but on the new target a scope with 1/8-MOA adjustments and high magnification is a must. I considered the Leupold competition scopes but ultimately decided on the Nightforce BR. The variable power and unobstructed DD-1 reticle of the NF were deciding factors.

.284 Win F-ClassNOTE: Charles Ballard always employs eye and ear protection when shooting. For these posed photos, he removed his safety glasses.

Ballard’s Tips for F-Class Competition

In this section, Charles Ballard explains the basics of shooting an F-Class match, from the initial prep period to end of match. He covers sighter strategies and techniques for record fire, and he also explains, in detail, how he dopes the wind and judges hold-offs based on mirage.

.284 Win F-ClassThree-Minute Prep Period
I spend the first part of my 3-minute prep period making sure my front rest and rear bag are in-line. This insures the gun returns to the same spot after recoil. After I am happy with my set-up, I take a position similar to that of a conventional prone shooter. My face rests on the stock and my shoulder is placed firmly into the buttplate. With the Right Bolt, Left Port action, I can shoot the entire match with minimal movement. The last segment of prep time is spent trying to dope the wind.

Sighter Strategies
In a match with only two sighters, I’ll make a wind call and try to hit the center with my first shot. In matches with unlimited sighters, I generally hold dead center with a no-wind zero and use the point of impact as feedback. If I feel there is a constant condition, I will click for the wind. This allows me to use the center as my primary hold. After I get the feedback I need from my sighters it’s time to go for record.

Record Fire
After record fire begins I shoot very fast, holding off for the wind. I’ll make my wind call while the target is in the pits; if my previous shot went where I thought it would I will take my next shot as soon as the target stops. I predominantly shoot and adjust my aim based on mirage. If I have switching conditions, I will remove all wind from the scope, slow down, use the flags and mirage, still holding off. I do this because I have never had success waiting on a condition to come back.

Cleaning Procedures
I do not clean until the match is over. This means I typically shoot 120 to 150 rounds on average between barrel cleanings. I quit cleaning every relay after reading Mr. Tierney’s article, but I would still clean on Saturday night after I got home. After getting in late one Saturday night, I forgot to clean my rifle. I remembered this as I was preparing to shoot the first relay Sunday morning. At the time I was shooting a 300 WSM. Well, guess what… that relay I shot a 200-19x, and the next relay I shot a 200-17x (these scores were on the old, larger F-Class target). I found that the 300 WSM’s vertical really tightened up after about 50 rounds. The same has proven true of my .284 Winchester–vertical improves once 50 rounds are through the bore.

When I do clean, it’s simple. I use Bore Tech Eliminator on three patches, then follow with a wet nylon brush. These steps are repeated until the bore is spotless. I then push one wet patch of Eliminator through the bore and leave it.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing

My philosophy on load development differs from many shooters. I don’t primarily shoot for groups. The only goal I have is to obtain the lowest ES and SD I possibly can. Holding elevation in F-Class is crucial. Uniform velocity gives me more consistent vertical point of impact.

As we commenced load development, Jerry Tierney’s .284 Win load data posted on this 6mmBR.com gave us a good starting point. We loaded 53.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831sc and shot one round, cleaned, shot three rounds, cleaned, then shot 10 rounds and cleaned. From this point we worked up in half-grain increments until pressure signs developed at 2950 fps. Then we backed the powder charge down until the bolt lift was smooth and the primers were nice and round. [Editor’s Note: Jerry Tierney is no longer with us. We mourn his passing.]

Success: 2910 FPS with Ten-Shot ES of 7 and SD of 3
At this point I began working with different primers, neck tension and seating depth. After trying Federal 210m primers, CCI BR-2 primers, light tension, heavy tension, jamming, jumping, we settled on 56.0+ grains of H4831sc with CCI BR-2 primers. We ran about .002 neck tension with the 180s seated just touching the lands. This load gave us 2910 fps velocity with an Extreme Spread (ES) of 7 fps and a Standard Deviation (SD) of 3 fps over ten (10) shots.

NOTE: If you’re skeptical of those single-digit chron readings, click on the Video Playback screen below to view Ballard test-firing a load that delivers an ES of 5 and SD of 2 for five shots. At the end he holds the Oehler Chrono up to the camera so you can view the readout yourself. Seeing is believing!

Houston–We Have a Problem
I thought we had a load dialed-in, so I was fairly confident going to the North Carolina Long-Range State Championships. Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I encountered vertical, vertical, and more vertical. Turns out this was my fault. I had committed a big reloading “No-No”. I had used the ball expander in the die to neck the cases up from 6.5 to 7mm. Big Mistake! The cases we had previously used for load development were first necked-up with Ray’s expander mandrel and then run through the Redding bushing dies. Lesson learned: use an expander when necking-up the brass! This step was performed on the cases for the next match and it corrected the problem, as I lost no points to elevation.

.284 Win F-ClassSurprise–Velocities Rise, So Load Must Be Tweaked
After the NC State Champs, the gun went into hibernation for the winter. In February of 2008, NSSC held its annual winter Palma match. On Saturday my .284 was absolutely hammering, but Sunday I started noticing a hard bolt lift. Eventually, at the end of my last string, the gun blew a few primers. Luckily, however, it was still shooting very well. On the following Monday, we went back to the test bench and chrono. To my surprise 57.0 grains of H4831 was now shooting 2975 fps! That’s way too hot. At this point the barrel had 439 rounds through it. I started calling anyone I could thing of to see if they had any idea what could be causing this problem. Nobody I spoke with had ever experienced this problem until I spoke with a very knowledgeable F-Class shooter named Andy Amber.

.284 Win F-ClassAndy informed me that this had happened to him with several rifles. For whatever reason, between 100 to 300 rounds, as the barrel gets broken-in, the velocity climbs significantly.. Andy told me if I loaded back to the previous velocity, in his experience, it would stay there. Andy was spot on. My load came back together with 54.5 grains of H4831sc. The Oehler consistently gave me readings of 2892 fps to 2902 fps with an SD of 4 fps using once-fired brass. New brass gave slightly slower velocity but better numbers: ES of 7 to 9 fps, and SD of 2 to 3 fps. All this data was duplicated on several occasions. This rifle now has 554 rounds through it, but only .003″ throat erosion. The bullet was moved out .003″ to maintain position relative to the lands.

Getting Single-Digit ES: Ballard’s Loading Methods

I’m very exacting in my loading procedures. I think that’s why I’ve been able to build loads that consistently deliver single-digit Extreme Spreads with ultra-low SDs. Here’s my loading method.

Case Prep: I start with Lapua 6.5×284 brass necked up to .284 with an expander mandrel. Next I sort the cases into one-grain lots, for example 194.0 to 194.9 grains, then 195.0 to 195.9 grains, and so on. After the brass is sorted, I chamfer the case mouths with an RCBS VLD tool. Any residual lube from case expansion is then cleaned out of the case mouth with alcohol on a bronze brush. Finally all the cases are run through a Redding Type ‘S’ FL sizing die with .312″ neck bushing.

Loading Procedure: My CCI BR-2 primers are seated with a RCBS hand priming tool. Powder charges are dispensed and weighed with an RCBS ChargeMaster Electronic Dispenser, which is regularly calibrated with check-weights to assure accuracy. Then the 180gr bullets are seated using a Redding Competition Seating Die.

Processing Fired Cases: My fired cases are tumbled in walnut shell media, then cleaned off. Cases are full-length resized, but I bump the shoulders only .0005″ (one-half thousandth). After sizing, the case mouths are cleaned with a spinning bronze brush.

IMPORTANT TIP: After 3 firings I will uniform the primer pockets and anneal the case necks. I found this very important in holding good elevation (minimal vertical dispersion).

RCBS Redding Reloading

CALIBER CHOICE: The Case for the .284 Win

Comparison: 6.5-284, .284 Win, and 300 WSM
For shooters who are not sold on the .284 Winchester, I give you a real-world ballistics shoot-off. We comparison-tested a 6.5-284 rifle launching 142 SMKs at 2975 fps, a 300 WSM rifle firing 210 Bergers at 2850 fps, and my .284 Winchester shooting 180 Bergers at 2900 fps. We had three shooters and each rifle was fired simultaneously with no-wind zeros on three separate targets set at 1000 yards. The shooters then exchanged rifles and we repeated the test a couple times. The 6.5 and 300 stayed consistently within an inch of each other. But my .284, with its high-BC Berger 180s, shot inside both the 6.5 and 300 by at least 3″ every time. BC rules in the wind. I was sold!

.284 Win F-Class

Cost Comparison: .284 Win vs. 6.5-284
The cost of reloading the .284 Win is roughly $.07 more per round than that of the 6.5-284. The .284 uses a grain or two more powder than the 6.5-284, and 7mm bullets cost about $6.00 more per 100-count box. However, to truly compare the cost of shooting the two calibers you must figure in barrel life. My 6.5-284 barrel went south at 900 rounds. My .284 barrel now has 1,036 rounds, and by all indications it will shoot well to 3,000+ rounds. For cost comparisons sake, let’s use 1,200 rounds for the 6.5-284 and 3,000 rounds for the .284 Win. The average cost of a barrel, chambered and fitted, is $500.00. Using these figures, the barrel cost of a .284 Win is $.17 per round vs. $.42 per round for the 6.5-284. That’s a $.25 per round difference, equivalent to a 60% savings for the .284.

OK, if we now net the barrel cost savings (-$.25) for the .284 with the higher cost of 7mm reloading components (+$.07), I figure the .284 Win costs $.18 per round LESS to shoot than the 6.5-284. Over the span of 3,000 rounds, that’s a $540.00 savings.

Editor’s NOTE: These numbers are 10 years old. But the key fact is the extended barrel life of the .284 Win overcomes the increased bullet cost.

Gun Handling and Recoil
If there is a down-side to the .284 it would be recoil. Now don’t get me wrong, at 22 pounds with a decelerator recoil pad, the .284 is comfortable to shoot. The recoil difference between the 6.5-284 and the .284 is about the same as the difference between a 6x250AI and a 6.5-284. In the versatility section I will elaborate more on this subject.

Ease of Load Tuning
Despite the issues I explained in the load development section with low initial velocities on new barrels, I would say the .284 is fairly easy to tune. The barrel with which I shot my record was removed after that match so I don’t put too many rounds on it before the Nationals. The new barrel on this rifle was tested using the same load. As with the first barrel, the second barrel yielded 2775 fps with a “starter load” of 53.0 grains of H4831sc. With only 11 rounds through the new tube, I shot a 600-yard match on June 22, 2008. I loaded 44 rounds using 55.0 grains of H4831sc. This load ran at 2825 fps. After my first string this load started hammering. I shot a 200-7X with no elevation change on my last string.

Multi-Discipline Versatility
The .284 is my hands-down choice for shooting F-Class. I recently shot my first 600-yard benchrest match. I shot the .284 Win in heavy gun. In this match I found the first weakness in my beloved .284. On a bench you do notice the recoil. The 6mmBR pilots could run off five shots before I could shoot two. My groups were respectable: a four-group, 3.055″ Agg. But, the added recoil of the .284, even with front and rear rests aligned, took me off target. All this being said, if a man wanted just one caliber for F-Class, long-range benchrest, and hunting, I would still suggest the .284 Win.

WARNING: The loads stated in this article may be TOO HOT for many .284 Win rifles. Always START LOW and work up gradually in small increments, looking for pressure signs. With 7mm Sierra 175s, Hodgdon’s starting load is 52.0 grains of H4831sc.
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September 14th, 2019

Trudie Triumps Again at Spirit of America Match

Trudie Faye Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gun
The conquering Heroine! Trudie Fay poses with Fullbore Runner-up Oliver Milanovic (on ground).

Trudie Fay Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gunCongratulations to Trudie Fay, the Fullbore (Target Rifle) Champion at the 2019 Spirit of America Match. Trudie won yet another major title competing at the challenging NRA Whittington Range in Raton, New Mexico. With her great hard-holding skills and superior wind-reading abilities, Trudie shot brilliantly to finish at the top of a very strong field of competitors. SEE Spirit of America Fullbore Top 20 Results.

Trudie had a very impressive performance at Raton this past week. In her Fullbore (sling and irons) Division, she finished at 1781-105X, four points ahead of runner-up Oliver Milanovic (1777-102X). Trudie also had the highest score on two of the Four Days, and was the only shooter to record a 449 single-day score, which she managed on both Day 1 and Day 3. And as you’d expect, Trudie had the high X-Count for the match. This was another brilliant display of marksmanship by Trudie, who is also one of the best wind coaches in the country.

Trudie’s .308 Win Palma-type rifle was built by gunsmith and stock-maker Doan Trevor in Arizona. Doan commented: “I have had the privilege of building Trudie’s rifles for the last few years. Congratulations, my friend… You did it again!”

Trudie Fay Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gun

Blast from the Past — Trudie on All-Ladies Team at Camp Perry
Trudie is one of America’s greatest female shooters. A few years ago, she teamed up with four other legendary lady shooters for an all-female team at Camp Perry. Left to Right are: Michelle Gallagher, Trudie Fay, Nancy Tompkins (coach), Anette Wachter, and Sherri Jo Gallagher. Nancy was the first female National High Power Champion. And Sherri Jo was the second.

Trudie Fay Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gun

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
September 14th, 2019

F-Class National Championships Commence Tomorrow

F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Long Range F-TR
Photo by Chevi Guy, for F-Class Shooting for Beginners Facebook Group. He declared: “We made it! Wind is howling 30 mph. Going to be fun.”

The nation’s most talented F-TR and F-Open shooters will be in Raton, New Mexico this week for the 2019 USA F-Class National Championships. The event, held at the Whittington Center, commences September 15th with the Mid-Range Nationals. The Long Range Nationals then run September 19th through 22nd.

F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Long Range F-TR

The weather could be VERY challenging. There are been very strong winds at Raton recently, and on the range you can get winds from two different directions at the same time. At the F-Class Worlds in 2013, this reporter even saw dust devils spinning in the middle of the course during a team event.

Raton New Mexico dust devil

CLICK HERE to watch a Facebook Video filmed yesterday at Raton. Windy enough for you?!

F-Class Nationals Mid-Range Long Range F-TR

F-TR competitors in Raton at 2013 F-Class World Championships. It’s a beautiful, but challenging location:

Raton F-Class championships

The NRA Whittington Center is a very scenic venue with tall mountains behind the 1000-yard targets. You can fly into Denver in the North or Albuquerque in the South, then drive for about 3 hours. There are cabins “on campus” at the Whittington Center. Alternatively, shooters can stay in motels in Raton, about 20 minutes from the range. The location of the range is: 34025 US-64, Raton, NM 87740

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July 2nd, 2019

Paul Phillips Crowned 2019 King of 2 Miles in New Mexico

Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips McMillan Litz ELR
Hail the King — Paul Phillips wears crown as the new 2019 King of Two Miles.

Paul Phillips, Captain of Team Global Precision Group (GPG), is the 2019 King of 2 Miles. Hail the new King! Paul won the event with a score of 48350, beating runner-up Robert Brantley who scored 46306. Fellow GPG shooter and 2017 K02M winner Derek Rodgers finished third with 38747. Phillips secured his K02M crown with good shooting in Raton, NM on both Day 1 and Day 2. On the final day, Paul had two hits at 2728 yards and one at 3166 yards. No competitor scored more than one hit at 3166 yards (1.799 miles), and no competitor scored even a single hit at the farthest target, placed at 3525 yards (2.0028 miles). So the actual 2-Mile target was never hit during the event.

Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips McMillan Litz ELR
Here are the target locations and yardages for K02M Day 2 Finals.

Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips McMillan Litz ELR
Team GPG members Derek Rodgers, Paul Phillips (center), and Mark Lonsdale with KO2M-winning rifle, K02M Trophy, $5000 Winner’s Prize from McMillan, and Nightforce Certificate.

Team Global Precision Dominates with Three of Top Four Places
Team Global Precision Group was top team overall with Paul Phillips in First Place, Derek Rodgers in Third, and Mark Lonsdale in Fourth. Team GPG, in its first world-level match together, dominated the field of 80 of the best ELR shooters in the world. First, Third, and Fourth — that’s mighty impressive gentlemen!

2019 KO2M Top 20 Results. Click on the table to see full-screen version:
Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips McMillan Litz ELR

Paul Phillips, who recently competed in the European K02M match in France, gave credit to his sponsors and team-mates: “Team GPG is honored to be … King of 2 Mile Champions. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be carried around on the King chair. I am humbled to be added to the list of great shooters that have been crowned before me.”

Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips McMillan Litz ELR

Paul added: “Big shout-out to all our sponsors, the match organizers, Eduardo, FCSA, and the volunteers who work so hard to make these ELR matches a major success. We’ll definitely be back in 2020!”

“Paul Phillips your win in this match is yet another example of the value of hard work paying off. I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone who works harder at ELR competition and promotion than you do. You deserve this win!” — Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics

Equipment List for .416 Barrett 2019 KO2M-Winning Rifle

Paul’s massive KO2M rig features a BAT EX .50-Cal action with a 38″ Bartlein 1:9″-twist 5R barrel chambered for the standard .416 Barrett cartridge. The stock is a McMillan Beast One model. To tame recoil, Paul runs a T5 Terminator muzzle brake. The scope is a Nightforce 7-35x56mm ATACR F1 with MOAR Reticle. Up front is a Phoenix Precision Bipod, with an Edgewood Mini-Gator Bag in the rear. Paul is running a Bix’N Andy Comp Trigger with a 4-ounce, single-stage pull.

The complete rifle weighs 40 pounds. Bartlein did the .416 Barrett chambering using a Dave Manson reamer. Alex Sitman bedded the action in the McMillan stock as he did for the other GPG rifles. In fact, all three Team GPG rifles are essentially identical.

Load Details: Standard .416 Barrett cartridge, running .416 Caliber 550gr solid Cutting Edge Bullets at 3000 fps. The powder is Vihtavuori 20N29 ignited by RWS .50 Caliber primers. The cartridge brass is Barrett brand, produced by RUAG.

Support Gear: Ballistics are calculated with Applied Ballistics Software using velocity data from a LabRadar chronograph. Swarovski provided Team GPG with two big BTX 95 binocular spotting scopes. Phillips says “these BTX 95s really help us follow trace, spot impacts, and get on target quickly.”

Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips McMillan Litz ELR
Here are Team Applied Ballistics competitors at the 2019 KO2M event in Raton, NM. Applied Ballistics’ Mitchell Fitzpatrick posted: “[There were] some unique challenges this year, but I managed to finish in 5th place running a sub-25 pound rifle. That’s the result of a lot of our ESSO research.”

$5000 KO2M Winner’s Prize from McMillan Fiberglass Stocks

Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips McMillan Litz ELR

McMillan Fiberglass Stocks is a strong supporter of the shooting sports. Here Kelly McMillan presents Paul Phillips with a $5,000 check from McMillan Fiberglass Stocks for winning the 2019 King of 2 Mile while shooting a McMillan stock. Teammates Derek Rodgers and Mark Lonsdale also used McMillan stocks in the 2019 K02M Finals. Along with the McMillan check, Paul Phillips received $5000 from Nightforce Optics, and $1200 from Cutting Edge Bullets. Paul told us he will divide all the winnings with his team-mates because: “I won with my team — we won together.”

Ko2m king two miles raton whittington center New Mexico Paul Phillips Derek Love Team Manners Litz ELR
Derek Love competed with Team Manners Composite Stocks and took many photos. You’ll find some great 2019 K02M images on Derek’s Facebook Page.

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June 15th, 2019

Go Big This Summer — As in Fifty Caliber Big

50 BMG cartridge FCSA

34th Annual Fifty Caliber Championship Coming Soon
The 34th Annual Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) 1000/600 Yard World Championship will be held July 4, 5 and 6, 2019 at the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, a beautiful facility. The FCSA Championship takes place right after the 2019 King of 2 Miles event, running June 29 – July 1, 2019.


Match Information | Match Registration | Photo Gallery

Fifty Caliber shooter association fcsa national championship raton whittington NM new mexico
Looking downrange at the 1000-yard line. Note the fan and air hose for cooling the barrel.


Competitor’s POV perspective from a FCSA Match. Note the mirage.

By James Patterson
This article first appeared in Sinclair International’s Reloading Press Blog

For a number of years I drooled over every .50 BMG caliber rifle that I came across, I read every article I could find and determined that ‘Someday’ I was going to have one. Well I finally took the plunge and in 2002 I purchased my first ‘Big 50’. Almost immediately I joined the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) and I have since come to immensely enjoy shooting this challenging cartridge and associating with some of the best people on earth.

Dierks 50 BMG Light Class

FCSA Founded in 1985
FCSA Fifty Caliber ShootersThe FCSA, started in 1985, is an international organization with members in 22 countries. Headquartered in Monroe, Utah, the FCSA has a membership of approximately 4000. While the FCSA provides a service to military and law enforcement with research and instruction as well as an active liaison in both communities, the primary charter of the FCSA is the promotion of the sporting use of the 50 BMG cartridge and its wildcat derivatives. It has been the FCSA and its members who have lead the way in refining .50-caliber cartridges, rifles, and 1000-yard plus shooting know-how. Members enjoy a quarterly magazine, a suppliers directory, an active website with great photo galleries, and access to literally the best repository of 50 BMG information on the planet. If you are interested in Mr. John Browning’s big 50, you should seriously consider joining the FCSA.

Fifty Caliber shooter association fcsa national championship raton whittington NM new mexico
This interesting .50 Cal rig features a liquid-cooled barrel and unusual scope mounting arrangement.

While all aspects of the 50 BMG are promoted by the FCSA, the primary sport is 1000-yard competition. In 2010, there were 16 separate official matches scheduled across the USA, and many more ‘fun-shoots’. This sport is an incredible mix of the science, skill, and art of extreme long range accuracy. I had been actively shooting rifles and hunting for well over 40 years and had always considered myself a “rifle man”. But I had no idea of the learning curve that [faced me] when I first joined the FCSA.

FCSA 50-caliber shooting association

Historically, 1000-yard shooting has been primarily a benchrest activity but in the past several years we have seen a tremendous interest in ‘Hunter Class’ competition; this is shot prone using a bipod. This form of long range match shooting is excellent preparation for long range hunting. The required skill set [for ultra-long-range hunting] is guaranteed to humble even the most experienced rifleman.

FCSA 50 caliber Fifty Cal world championships

Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a 50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $8000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. A premium long-range scope will set you back $1800 to $3500. And while excellent .50 BMG commercial ammo is available, it runs $5 to $6 per round! Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo.

BAT 50 BMG Action

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May 24th, 2019

ELR Shooting at Raton, New Mexico — Out to 1.55 Miles

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

While 100/200 yard benchrest competitors have been drilling tiny groups at the Kelbly Super Shoot this week, other folks, with MUCH bigger rifles, have been shooting at very long range in Raton, New Mexico.

This week the NRA Whittington Center at Raton hosts the Fifty Caliber Shooting Association (FCSA) annual Extreme Long Range (ELR) Record Match. Some of the most talented long-range shooters on the planet are there, including past King of Two Miles Derek Rodgers, along with his Team Global Precision team-mates Mark Lonsdale and Paul Phillips.

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

Here is Mark preparing to shoot on the first day of the FCSA 1.5 Mile ELR Match with Paul and Derek spotting and calling wind. The cold bore 10″ gong was at 1,040 yards and all three men nailed it. From there the six steel targets ranged from 1,180 yards, up the side of the mountains, to over 2,600 yards.

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett
Site of Day 1 for the FCSA ELR match at Raton, NM. Targets at 2,300, 2,585, and 2,725 yards. Weather cleared up but wind was brutal.

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 BarrettAfter Day 1 of the FCSA 1.5 Mile ELR match, Derek was in 2nd place, Mark in 3rd, and Paul in 5th. Mark reported: “Today we had winds gusting well over 15 mph from 6 o’clock, but as they hit the base of the mountains, they created an updraft that caused shots out past 2,000 yards to go high. But just when you had that wind doped, it would switch to a gusting 9 o’clock (left to right) pushing bullets 20 feet to the right. A very challenging day but good practice for Ko2M next month.”

These gents are shooting big rigs with jumbo-sized cartridges. Mark is campaigning a .416 Barrett with Cutting Edge Bullets. Below is his ELR rifle, which features jumbo BAT action, Bartlein barrel (with brake), McMillan stock, and Nightforce scope. Mark posted: “Getting the .416 Barrett ready to shoot in the FCSA 1.5 Mile ELR Match. Weather is definitely warmer than yesterday’s match but wind is howling today.”

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

TECH TIP — Barrel Life in the ELR Game

Mark Lonsdale posted this interesting commentary on barrel life in the ELR game: “How long a barrel lasts has a lot to do with how hot you run your loads and resultant chamber pressures, but it can also be poor cleaning technique. That said, if you are into ELR or long range precision shooting, and you shoot a lot, you need to think of match-grade barrels as a consumable item — just like the tires on your car. You change your tires when they show excessive wear, so you change your barrel when the accuracy drops off. Similarly, you buy tires that best suit your needs, street or off-road, so you buy a barrel that meets your requirements for weight, accuracy and muzzle velocity.”

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

“Accuracy is also subjective based on the needs of the shooter. Hunting big game does not require the same pin-point accuracy as long range varmint hunting, and having fun at local club matches does not require the same accuracy as aspiring to be a national champion. With accuracy comes cost, but when compared to the cost of ELR ammo in .338, .375 or .416, a new barrel is actually an affordable consumable. Just remember, ‘the only good rifle is an accurate rifle’.”

Team Global Precision Raton New Mexico NM FCSA ELR Mile long range Whittington Center Derek Rodgers Mark Lonsdale .416 Barrett

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September 29th, 2018

Norm Harrold and His Championship-Winning F-Open Rig

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

After Norm Harrold won the 2018 F-Open National Championship in Raton, New Mexico, setting a new 1000-yard National Record in the process, many of our Forum members wanted to see Norm’s championship-winning rifle, and learn more about Norm’s experience at the Nationals. Read on for coverage of Norm’s equipment and .284 Shehane ammo. Scroll down and you’ll find a detailed video showing how McMillan builds the advanced Kestros ZR stocks, like the one Norm used at Raton.

Norm posted: “I made it home from Raton 2018 F-Class Nationals and what an unbelievably amazing week I had. I was blessed enough to bring home a new F-Open 1000-yard record and the National Championship! Our Team McMillan took second in Mid-range and fourth overall in Long Range. I am so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity and to be able to do it with such a stand-up group of competitors and lifelong friends. Thanks to all our sponsors: McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Nightforce Optics, Kelbly’s [Actions], Bartlein Barrels, and Berger Bullets.”

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Gun and Load: Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norm revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video. Fellow shooter Erik Cortina joked — “the minute this video goes live, the 184s will be hard to find”. Norm says “Stock up guys — they shoot good!”

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Here Norm Harrold shows his shooting form. Note how low the McMillan Kestros ZR forearm sits on Norm’s SEB NEO front rest. Norm also uses a large footprint rear bag for enhanced stability.

Harrold Shoots 200-22X to Smash 1000-Yard F-Open Record
On a rainy day at Raton, Norm shot brilliantly to set a new F-Open National Record: 200-22X at 1000 yards. (The previous record was 200-17X.) How could he get 22 Xs for a 20-shot string? Under NRA rules, if you shoot all Xs for the full string, you are allowed to keep shooting for as long as you can put shots in the X-Ring. Norm almost missed the chance to extend his X-Count. After his 20th shot, Norm recalled, “I said ‘I’m done, give me my target’, but … my shooting partner said ‘No! Keep shooting!’” So Norm did, drilling two more Xs to set the new National Record.

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Kelly McMillan Shows Design and Construction of the Kestros ZR:

In this video, Kelly McMillan explains the design features and construction methods for the Kestros ZR, a fiberglass Kestros with aluminum extension rails in the front. Kelly explains “how and why we made the stock the way we did” and he shows how to retro-fit standard Kestros stocks with the new front rails. On the ZR the rails are anchored to a reinforced area for extra rigidity. In addition, the cantilevered rails are milled to be perfectly parallel. If you shoot F-Class we strongly recommend you watch this video.

Kelly McMillan Kestros ZR front rail prototype
Kelly McMillan showed us the prototype Kestros ZR at the 2018 Berger Southwest Nationals.

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September 26th, 2018

Hail the Champions: 2018 F-Class Nationals at Raton, NM

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
The winning Klemm clan. Ian Klemm won his Second Straight F-TR National Championship last week. Here he is with parents Karen and Ken Klemm. Father Ken also competed at the Nationals, shooting great in both individual and team events.

The 2018 F-Class Nationals recently concluded at Raton, NM. The event was well-attended, with excellent turn out for both the Mid-Range and Long-Range cycles. The weather was variable, with wet but very calm conditions to start the 1000-yard match, resulting in new F-TR and F-Open National Records being set for 20-shot strings.

Long-Range F-Nationals Results | Mid-Range F-Nationals Results

Congratulations to the new F-Class Champions. Ian Klemm shot great to win the F-TR National Championship. This was the second straight F-TR title for Ian, who also won at Lodi, Wisconsin in 2017.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team LapuaIt was a family affair this year for the Klemm clan. Ian’s father, Ken Klemm, finished third among High Masters, and also nailed the highest score among ALL shooters in the 1000-Yard F-TR team match. Well done father and son! Mike Plunkett finished second, while also setting a new F-TR record, 200-16X, also matched by Ray Gross.

Winning F-TR Rifle and Load:
Ian Klemm’s winning .308 Win featured a Kelbly Panda action, 30″ Bartline 1:10″-twist barrel, and McMillan X-IT left-hand stock. Ian used a Vortex 15-60X52mm Golden Eagle scope (as did runner-up Ted Plunkett). Ian loaded Berger 200.20X Hybrid bullets in Lapua brass with Vihtavuori N140 powder and CCI BR4s. MV is 2680 FPS.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

Ian, who won his first title last year in Lodi, Wisconsin, said this year was tougher. To travel down to New Mexico and win at Raton was very satisfying — as I had to come from behind.” Ian told us: “This Championship was especially difficult as a particularly strong challenger [and new 1000-yard record-holder] Mike Plunkett had earned an early lead and I would have to make up 6 points in the final day to win. Fortunately, the Range at Raton saved some of its most challenging conditions for the final match of the championship. This gave me the right amount of wind to work with. The Vortex Golden Eagle HD scope showed the mirage I needed in order to make timely wind-hold decisions.”

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In the F-Open division, Norm Harrold of Team McMillan shot great from the start, topping the field to win the F-Open division. Tom was shooting a .284 Shehane cartrdige in the new McMillan Kestros stock. Our buddy Erik Cortina interviewed Norm in this video, starting at 00:15:

Interview with F-Open Champ Norm Harrold at 00:15:

Team Competition Champions

In Team competition, Team X-Men won the 1000-Yard F-TR Team Title, with a 1568-61X score. Members shown are: Alan Barhardt, Tracy Hogg, Ian Klemm, Ken Klemm, Matt Schwartzkopf, Phil Kelley (Captain), James E Crofts (Coach). In second place was Team McMillan with 1553-53X: Paul Phillips, Derek Rodgers, Jeff Rorer, Brad Sauve, John Droelle (Captain), Ray Gross (Coach).

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In F-Open Division, Team Grizzly won the 1000-Yard Team Championship with a 1580-81X score, edging runner up Team Lapua-Brux-Borden by two points (1578-81X). Here are the team members, with Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia top left and coach Trudie Fay in the middle.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team Grizzly: Shiraz Balolia, Emil Kovan, David Mann, John Myers, Trudie Fay (Coach).

Team Pierce Engineering won the F-TR Mid-Range Team event. Team members included: Doug Boyer, Josh Moore, Richard Nixon, John Roethlisberger, Coach Tom Majewski.

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden captured the F-Open Mid-Range Championship with a strong performance. Team “LBB” shot well, to earn a second straight Mid-Range National Title, and grab second (Silver) at Long Range. Team member Jay Christopherson praised his team-mates and also gave credit to his rivals: “Team Grizzly was outstanding for the LR Open Gold”.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team LBB: Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina, Tom Hendricks, Pat Scully, Coach Bob Sebold.

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September 26th, 2018

Black Powder Target Rifle Championship Oct. 1-7, in Raton, NM

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championship Raton NM
NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

The NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championship will be held October 1-7, 2018 at the Whittington Center in Raton, NM. During the week-long event, top Black Powder Cartridge Rifle (BPCR) shooters from around the country will test their skills at Raton with targets at 200 to 1000 yards. The event starts with mid-range matches at 200 to 600 yards, followed by 800- and 1000-yard long-range competition. On the firing line you’ll see many handsome, custom-built BPCRs (Sharps, Ballards, Browning High Walls, Rolling Blocks) with exquisite wood, hand-checkering, and color-case-hardened receivers.

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

The 800-1000 yard Creedmoor matches will be held Friday and Saturday, October 5-6. Interestingly, for safety reasons, there are minimum bullet weight and muzzle velocity requirements for the Creedmoor matches. These BPCR shooters launch some seriously heavy projectiles downrange.

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

REGISTRATION: Registration will take place at the Eagle’s Nest Building at the Whittington Center. NOTE: There are minimum requirements for bullet weight and velocity. Only ammunition which produces these results, or better, and only rifles that have long-range sights, will be permitted for use in the Creedmoor Championships. See the BPTR Nationals Ballistic Velocity Chart below for minimum requirements. There may be a 2% variance on bullet weight or velocity:

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

ACCOMMODATIONS: There are many motels in the town of Raton, about 10 miles from the Range. In additions, there are accommodations on the grounds of the Whittington Center: 90 beds in Competitors Housing and 100 beds in Log Cabins. These facilities fill up quickly — call the Whittington Center right away at (575) 445-3615 to reserve.

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

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September 20th, 2018

Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Wood and Aluminum F-Class Stock

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

NOTE: This is an older article, but with the F-Class National Championships underway this week in Raton, NM, we thought our readers might enjoy this view of a very rare and unique F-Class rig. This hybrid wood and aluminum stock is a “one-of-kind” custom, crafted by Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, creator of the SEB Coaxial Rests and Coaxial Joystick Bipod.

Back in 2013, our friend Seb Lambang engineered an impressive wood and aluminum F-Class stock. The stock features a long, box-section aluminum fore-end with a wood rear section and wood-trimmed “wings” on the front bag-rider. The aluminum fore-arm has “buick vents” for weight reduction. From the end of the action rearward, the stock is mostly wood, with light and dark fancy wood laminates on opposite sides (left and right).

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

The foot of the buttstock has a very wide aluminum rear bag-rider with rails. The rear wood section appears to be two solid pieces of wood — but that is deceiving. Seb explains: “To save weight, the buttstock is hollow (using thin-walled wood)”. To strengthen the construction, Seb added carbon fiber inside the buttstock. So what you see is a wood outer shell with carbon fiber layers on the inside. The stock sports vertically-adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate. The thick, rubber buttpad should diminish felt recoil even when shooting big cartridges with heavy bullets.

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

This is an interesting, innovative stock design. And as with everything Seb produces, the craftsmanship, fit and finish are superb.

To go with this gun, Seb also crafted a handsome set of angled scope rails with beautifully-machined scope rings. Imagine being able to custom-make one-off products of this quality in your own machine shop!

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

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May 8th, 2018

The King Goes Big — Derek Rodgers Builds a .416 Barrett

.416 Barrett Vihtavuorit Cutting Edge Bullets King of 2 two Miles Raton NM New Mexico ELR Extreme Long Range Derek Rodgers Applied Ballistics

Our friend Derek Rodgers is the current F-TR World Champion AND the current King of 2 Miles, having won his KO2M crown at Raton last year. Shooting with Team Applied Ballistics, Derek delivered a dominant performance at the KO2M event, scoring nearly twice as many points as his nearest rival, Ronnie Wright. And Derek was the first KO2M marksman in history to hit the target at the maximum 3368-yard (1.91 mile) distance.

.416 Barrett Vihtavuorit Cutting Edge Bullets King of 2 two Miles Raton NM New Mexico ELR Extreme Long Range Derek Rodgers Applied Ballistics

Derek topped the K02M field last year shooting a .375 CheyTac with Cutting Edge 400gr LazerMax tipped bullets. That’s a really big cartridge, but apparently not big enough for Derek. Mr. Rodgers has hot-rodded his long-range rig, fitting a barrel for an even bigger cartridge, the mighty .416 Barrett. Derek tells us: “The .416 is rolling now. I am preparing for initial load development and working out tooling kinks on the bench.” He is loading more Cutting Edge bullets with a selection of slow powders. For his .375 CheyTac last year, Derek used Hodgdon 50 BMG. He’s trying something else this time…

.416 Barrett Vihtavuorit Cutting Edge Bullets King of 2 two Miles Raton NM New Mexico ELR Extreme Long Range Derek Rodgers Applied Ballistics

Breakfast of Champions:
.416 Barrett Vihtavuorit Cutting Edge Bullets King of 2 two Miles Raton NM New Mexico ELR Extreme Long Range Derek Rodgers Applied Ballistics

Watch Derek Rodgers hit 3368-yard target at 2017 K02M Competition:

At the 2017 K02M, Derek ruled. With his McMillan-stocked .375 CheyTac rifle, Derek shot brilliantly from the start. He was perfect — without a miss — at the first three yardages: 1543, 1722, and 1888. He had some misses at 1953 and 2667 yards, but then he out-shot all competitors at 3028 yards, going two for five. No other shooter managed a single hit at 3028 yards. Then it all came down to the big one — the last (and greatest) challenge, the target at 3368 yards (1.91 miles).

King of 2 two Miles Raton NM New Mexico ELR Extreme Long Range Derek Rodgers Applied Ballistics

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September 12th, 2017

Care and Feeding of .50 BMGs — What You Need to Know

fifty caliber shooting association

A while back we published an Introduction to .50-Caliber Shooting authored by James Patterson. James has written a companion piece for Sinclair’s Reloading Press that covers the “care and feeding” of the big .50 Cal match rifles.

50 BMG FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Owning and Feeding ‘The Big Bore’

Is The Challenge Of Big Bore Extreme Range Shooting And Hunting Right For You?
By James Patterson

Handling a 50 BMG
Is a 50 BMG caliber rifle difficult to shoot? Not at all. The relatively heavy weight of a standard rifle at 30 pounds or more combined with a very efficient muzzle brake makes it a pleasure to shoot. The typical recoil can be compared to a .243 rifle or a 12 gauge trap load. On the other hand, the burning of a typical load of 230 grains of powder combined with that muzzle brake makes the muzzle blast experience exhilarating. A first time shooter will fire, pause for a moment in awe at the muzzle blast, and then break out into what has become known as “The 50 caliber Grin”, almost impossible to wipe from ones face. My daughter started competing with the 50 BMG at 18 (115 lbs of tall skinny girl) and happily shoots 100+ rounds in the course of a match, her grin on the last round is as wide as on the first! Many members and competitors in the FCSA are women and many have distinguished themselves as excellent marksman having set world records on numerous occasions.

50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting Association

Fifty 50 Caliber shooting Association

Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a 50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $7000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. A good scope will set you back $500 to $1500. And while excellent commercial ammo is available it runs from $3 to $5 a round. Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo. I recently compared the cost of my hobby — owning, shooting, and competing with the 50 BMG — with a friend whose hobby is snowmobiling. Factoring in the cost of equipment, licensing, gasoline, clothing, etc. it was soon obvious that my hobby was significantly less expensive than his.

50 BMG FCSA Fifty Caliber

50 BMG FCSA fifty Caliber

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Getting Started
FCSA 50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting AssociationSo how does one get started? You could do as I did, purchase a rifle not knowing what you were really getting into; or you could come out to a FCSA-sponsored event, shoot a number of different rifles, rub shoulders with those who have already taken the plunge, and see if this sport is right for you. While membership in the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FSCA) is required to compete at a FSCA event, membership is not required to come and experience first hand what is going on. If you have any inclination that you are interested in the extreme sport of long rang, big bore shooting then a year’s membership in the FCSA is only $60 ($20 for active duty military) a significant bargain if it helps you make just one well-informed equipment choice. In addition one of the primary functions of the FCSA is helping to identify active members near you who can help you understand just what is involved and help you ‘get your feet wet’ in this challenging sport.

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Photos courtesy FCSA Photo Gallery.
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September 5th, 2017

Extreme Long Range — New ELR DVD from Applied Ballistics

Applied Ballistics DVD KO2M) extreme long range

Team Applied Ballistics will soon release a new DVD on the science, skills, and strategy required for successful Extreme Long Range (ELR) shooting. The new DVD features a reality-style documentary following Team Applied Ballistics in the 2017 King Of 2 Mile (KO2M) competition. Team AB has now won this prestigious event two years in a row. Team shooter Mitchell Fitzpatrick won the KO2M title in 2016, followed by team-mate Derek Rodgers in 2017.

Applied Ballistics DVD KO2M) extreme long range

Bryan Litz tells us: “Applied Ballistics is proud to announce the release of our latest DVD: ELR Shooting With Applied Ballistics. With lessons learned from our successful 2016 KO2M campaign, you can see how the AB ELR team developed our equipment and approach through practice and careful analysis. Learn the essential elements of ELR competition from the top team in the sport.”

This documentary, filmed over the course of a year, shows Team Applied Ballistics preparing for, and competing in, the 2017 KO2M match. This presentation includes interviews from all Team AB members, along with tips on ELR shooting. Pre-Order the ELR DVD and Save $5.00 (Pre-Order Price $19.95)

2017 K02M Match-Winning Performance on Video
The video below shows Team Applied Ballistics shooter Derek Rodgers winning the 2017 King of 2 Miles event. This excellent video combines firing line and target-cam views. You can see the strings-of-fire at 2667 and 3028 yards. Then Watch Derek, after four misses, hit the last target with his fifth (and final) round! That plate was set at a mind-numbing 3368 yards (1.91 miles). Derek had Paul Phillips as a spotter and Emil Praslick as a wind coach — a very powerful team and it showed.

ELR K02M 2017 derek rodgers

» READ ELR Story on Shooting Sports USA

If you want to learn more about ELR shooting and how team Applied Ballistics achieves great results in ELR competition, we recommend an excellent article just released byShooting Sports USA. SSUSA’s Editor John Parker interviewed Team Applied Ballistics members Bryan Litz and Paul Phillips. Both men said that successful Extreme Long Range shooting requires solid team-work.

Bryan Litz (center) conferring with Team AB members Emil Praslick (L) and Doc Beech (R).
Applied Ballistics DVD KO2M) extreme long range

Paul Phillips explained: “ELR is very difficult. It requires a great shooter with 1/2-MOA accuracy, a really good wind coach and spotter to see impacts, trace and the ability to quickly negotiate and engage the targets. It’s one fluid team working together.”

Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics founder, concurred: “Of all the various precision rifle disciplines, ELR shooting is particularly suited to a team approach. All aspects of ELR shooting are both highly challenging as well as critical to success. One individual is typically not able to stay on top of all the variables effectively enough to hit targets at extreme ranges all by themselves.”

Applied Ballistics DVD KO2M) extreme long range

Litz says superior wind-reading skills are vital in the ELR game: “One of the important challenges of hitting targets at long range is reading the wind. All the shooters on our team can read wind, but when we’re shooting a match, we put our strongest wind-reader in this position for all shooters. Emil Praslick is arguably the best in the world at putting a number on the wind. He’s got a well-rehearsed process that works in all scenarios. When Emil isn’t available, someone else on our team will apply his process and focus specifically on the wind.”

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August 17th, 2017

Stunning Backdrop for Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship

Rocky Mountain 3-Gun multi-gun USAMU raton new mexicon whittington center

For sheer “Fun with Firepower” it’s hard to beat a 3-Gun match at Raton, New Mexico. You get to play with lots of guns — rifles, pistols, and shotguns — while enjoying great views in one of North America’s most scenic shooting facilities. This past weekend many of the nation’s top 3-Gun aces were in Raton for the 2017 Rocky Mountain 3-Gun World Championship. This was held August 10-13 at the Whittington Center facility. Stages were conducted both on the designated rifle ranges as well as nearby hillsides.

In 3-gun matches, all stages are “on the clock”. Competitors need to be FAST and accurate.
Rocky Mountain 3-Gun multi-gun USAMU raton new mexico whittington center

There was a lot of Army black and yellow on the top of the podium, with USAMU shooters winning two divisions, along with the Team Event. SSG Joel Turner won the Open Division and SSG Tyler Payne won the Heavy Metal Scope Division. SFC Daniel Horner placed second in the Tactical Scope Division, while SFC Kyle McMaster finished second in the Tactical Irons Division. All four soldiers teamed up to win the Team Relay Shoot-Off competition to close out the event.

Rocky Mountain 3-Gun multi-gun USAMU raton new mexico whittington center

High-tech AR platform rigs are the rifles of choice for 3-Gun matches.
Rocky Mountain 3-Gun multi-gun USAMU raton new mexico  whittington center

Who wouldn’t like a chance to shoot at the Whittington Ranges? What a backdrop!
Rocky Mountain 3-Gun multi-gun USAMU raton new mexico whittington center

Run ‘N Gun at 6000 feet
The Rocky Mountain 3-Gun (RM3Gun) is an action shooting match in the natural terrain of the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, NM. The riverbeds, mountains, trees and rocks provide props for the stages. There are 5 divisions: Open, Tactical Scope, Tactical Iron, He-Man Scope, and He-Man Iron.

Daniel Horner USAMU SSG

RM3Gun is a very physical match, and Whittington’s 6000′ altitude makes things even tougher. The pace, thin air, and terrain challenge competitors’ fitness levels. The match has a healthy amount of long range rifle shooting. The match organizers state: “We try to strike a balance between rifle, shotgun and pistol, but you will definitely have lots of rifle because it’s one of the only places you can shoot as far in such a beautiful environment. Usually, we have some moving/aerial targets for the shotgun as moving targets are what the gun is designed for.”

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June 6th, 2017

Extreme Long Range Training — Rockin’ Two Miles at Raton

ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal Magnum
Shooter behind the .375 Lethal Magnum. Check out the size of that suppressor!

Two-Mile ELR Training
ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal MagnumThe Applied Ballistics ELR Team spent the weekend at the NRA Whittington Center in New Mexico training for the upcoming King of 2 Miles event. Former USAMU coach Emil Praslick III was on hand to help with wind calls. The results were impressive — all team members had confirmed hits at 2.05 miles on a 36″x36″ steel target. Bryan Litz even had a 3-shot group that measured 17.5″ x 22″. That’s under 0.6 MOA!

Most guys would be happy with 0.6 MOA at 300 yards. Bryan did it at 3611 yards, shooting Paul Phillips’s .375 Lethal Magnum. When you consider all the variables involved (bullet BC variance, shot velocity variance, wind changes during flight, Coriolis effect etc.), that’s phenomenal.

ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal Magnum

Report by Paul Phillips
Just got done shooting two days in New Mexico with Recoil Magazine and the Applied Ballistics ELR team. We learned a lot and had great success. Every team member made impacts on target at 2 miles. The best 3-shot group at 3611 yards (2.05 miles) was shot by Bryan Litz with my 375 Lethal Mag. The group measured 17.5 inches tall by 22 inches wide with Cutting Edge bullets. We also had Recoil’s David Merrill shoot at two miles and was laying them in there like a true pro. We had three team members make impacts on the 36-inch plate at two miles within just three attempts in a mock competition. I also increased my personal longest shot by hitting only 15 inches right of center at 3611 yards. 2.05 miles. I did it with a GSL Technology Copperhead Silencer.

ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal Magnum

ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal Magnum

Report by Emil Praslick
I participated in the Extreme Long Range training with the Applied Ballistics team at the Whittington Center in Raton, NM. All team members had confirmed hits at 2.1 miles. Components and hardware suppliers included: Berger Bullets, Cutting Edge Bullets, Nightforce Optics, Kestrel, FLIR Systems.

Q: At that distance (2.1 miles), how much do spin drift and the Coriolis effect impact bullet trajectories?

Praslick: At 3613 yards we had to adjust about 1.5 MOA/56″ of Coriolis (up), and 5 MOA/~190″ of right spin drift adjustment. You’d have to come down if facing East. The planet rotates counter-clockwise (from above), so your target would be falling away from you.

Here is a 3-round group at 1898 yards (1.08 Miles) shot with factory ABM Ammo .338 Lapua Magnum loaded with 300 grain Berger Bullets Hybrids. That’s sub-MOA elevation. (The guy calling wind didn’t do too bad, either.)

ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal Magnum

Report by Bryan Litz
Learning is my favorite part of new ventures and we learned a LOT this weekend shooting extreme range in New Mexico. I connected on a second round hit on a 3-foot square target at 2 miles in simulated match conditions under coaches Emil Praslick and Paul Phillips. In fact all five of our team shooters got on at 2 miles. The Applied Ballistics Extreme Long Range team is in good shape for the King of 2 Miles match later this month, and there is still so much to LEARN!

ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal Magnum

You need serious equipment for shooting beyond two miles. Who can identify this high-tech hardware?
ELR Raton 2 miles KO2M 375 Lethal Magnum

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May 16th, 2017

Big Rig — .338 Lapua Magnum Improved for King of 2 Miles Match


Click Image above for full-screen version

There’s a talented new team getting ready for the 2017 King of 2 Miles (KO2M) Competition in Raton, NM next month. The team features ace F-Class shooters Ian Klemm and Dan Pohlabel. Here’s a build report from X-Treme Shooting Products, which supplied the impressive XTSP action and two-stage trigger.

Big Gun for King of 2 Miles Event at Raton
XTSP: “It’s exciting — we’re getting closer to the 2017 King of 2 Miles match next month. Here are a few pictures of one of the rifles we will be shooting. Owned and built by Dan Pohlabel, it’s a .338 Lapua Magnum Improved. It has a 40° shoulder and we plan on shooting .338 Caliber 300 grain Berger OTM projectiles at around 3,100 fps.”

XTSP X-Treme Shooting Products .338 Lapua Magnum Improved king 2 miles ELR

“We started off with an XTSP .338 Magnum receiver, custom-built as a single shot with a solid bottom for stiffness. We built +60 MOA rails for each of the rifles. Of course we’re using the XTSP two-stage trigger! We added a 34″-long Bartlein gain-twist barrel which is 1.450″ at the shank tapering to 1.2″ at the muzzle. At the end we added Piercision Rifles’ 3/4 x 24 slabbed 5-Port ‘Muscle Brake’. The action is bedded in a McMillan Super Magnum stock. On top sits a Vortex Optics HD Razor in Vortex 35mm rings. We’ll have another rifle just like it shortly with the machine work by Dan Pohlabel again. That second rifle will be finished up and shot by Ian Klemm of Vortex Optics.”

XTSP X-Treme Shooting Products .338 Lapua Magnum Improved king 2 miles ELR

Here’s a file photo of a .338 Lapua Magnum Improved, alongside a standard .338 Lapua Magnum. We’re not sure about the shoulder angle on this particular example. For the XTSP project, the angle is 40 degrees (40°). Photo Courtesy LongRangeHunting.com.

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July 24th, 2016

Phillips Video Shows Highlights of King of Two Miles Competition

Mitchell Fitzpatrick Team Applied Ballistics King of Two 2 Miles KO2M long range .375 Berger Bullets Kelly McMillan

Extreme Long Range — 2477 Yards
Notably, two Applied Ballistics team shooters made hits at 2477 yards. Just how far is that? Take a look at the photo above — that shows the location of the 2477-yard target with the firing line in the far distance. Now THAT is truly long range!

By Paul Phillips
I wanted to share a video that I made. This was from the King of 2 Miles event held recently in Raton, New Mexico. I was fortunate enough to be apart of an amazing team with Bryan Litz and Mitchell Fitzpatrick. We had some awesome sponsors: Berger Bullets, Nightforce Optics, McMillan Group International, Lethal Precision Arms LLC and Applied Ballistics LLC. Team Applied Ballistics took First, Second, and Fourth places out of 38 teams in this competition. Our Team highlight was working together to make first-round hits on a 24×36 inch plate at 1.4 miles. With me as coach, both Mitchell and Bryan made their first-round hits at 1.4 miles (2477 yards to be exact).

Video Shows Team Accomplishing Hits at 2477 Yards in Raton, NM

This event has been a personal goal of mine for a long time and I wanted to thank Bryan Litz and Mitchell Fitzpatrick for having me on the team. I call them quiet professionals. I also wanted to thank Kelly McMillan for sponsoring our team and being involved. Kelly has been an amazing sponsor and advocate for shooting sports and providing stocks and rifles for our military snipers for the past 40 years. I can’t forget to thank Ian Klemm for loaning me his Vortex Spotting scope with the MOA milling reticle. It worked great and was very fast to make corrections along with good glass.

Mitchell Fitzpatrick Team Applied Ballistics King of Two 2 Miles KO2M long range .375 Berger Bullets Kelly McMillan

Mitchell Fitzpatrick won the KO2M finals to earn the title “King of Two Miles”. He had a dominant performance shooting a .375 Lethal Precision Arms LLC rifle loaded with prototype solid 400gr Berger bullets. Mitchell built this rifle himself using a McMillan A5 Super Mag stock. Note: Berger has no current plans to market this .375-caliber bullet — it is still in the prototype stage.

Editor: Paul Phillips asked to make a special dedication, remembering a family member: “My brother Daniel Phillips passed away with brain cancer last year and this event was one that he wanted to video for me. I know he is smiling in heaven.”

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April 9th, 2013

U.S. F-Open Team Gets Ready for Upcoming Championships

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia

This August the U.S. National and World F-Class Championships will be held in Raton, New Mexico. The U.S. F-Class Open Team has been working hard to prepare for the Worlds in Raton. This will be the fourth F-Class World Championship and first time it is being held in the USA. Team Captain Shiraz Balolia and his team-mates hope to successfully defend “home turf” this summer. The F-Class World Championships will run August 23 to 27, 2013. Preceding the World Championships, the U.S. F-Class National Championships will be held from August 18 to 22, 2013.

Team Members and Selection Process
U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz BaloliaThe US F-Class Open Rifle Team consists of the top F-Open shooters in the United States. Some members were on previous teams, but Team Captain Shiraz Balolia explains: “Our try-out process was very stringent and above board, which removed the notion of an ‘old boys club’ and allowed a lot of new blood to try out for the team”.

The selection process was straightforward. Each participant had to have placed in the top 20 of a National Championship or in the top 3 of a regional championship to be able to try out. After that, they had to participate in at least three try-outs over a two-year period. There were about a dozen try-outs at various venues (Houston, Lodi, Raton, Phoenix, Sacramento) which allowed shooters from all over the country to participate. Shooting during all try-outs were conducted at 1000 yards.

The scoring system was based on “Vertical” Score where the goal of the shooter was to hold good vertical elevation with regards to the X-Ring. All try-outs were shot with coaches and the wind calls were the responsibility of the coach. The shooters were not penalized for wide shots if they were on the waterline. The targets had horizontal lines drawn on them and points were deducted for high and low shots.

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia

The targets were photographed and published for the try-out participants to view so everyone knew exactly where they stood. Shiraz notes: “This actually worked really well to raise the overall standard of the team as it increased competitiveness among the shooters”.

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Bilolia

From the initial group, the first cut was made to select the Development Team (DT). These DT shooters then continued further try-outs in 2012 with a similar process. The DT group was then culled to the final team members listed below.

Captain: Shiraz Balolia; Head Coach: Bob Mead; Other Coaches: Trudie Fay, Rick Hunt, Emil Praslick
Shooters (alpha sort)
1. Charles Ballard
2. Danny Biggs
3. David Gosnell
4. David Mann
5. Dean Morris
6. Don Nagel
7. Emil Kovan
8. Herb Edwards
9. Jim Murphy
10. John Dunbar
11. John Gaines
12. John Myers
13. Ken Dickerman
14. Kenny Adams
15. Larry Bartholome
16. Mark Walker
17. Rick Jensen
18. Robert Bock
19. Tony Robertson

F-Class Insights: Q&A with Team Captain Shiraz Balolia

We did a Q&A session with Shiraz Balolia, F-Open Team Captain. Shiraz offered candid answers to “hot topic” questions of interest to F-Class shooters. He also observed that his team is working very, very hard in preparation for the World Championships. After being beaten by the Brits in 2009, Shiraz says: “We have a score to settle….”

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia

Q: The F-Open Team has switched calibers. What was the thinking behind that move?

Shiraz: After we lost to the Brits in 2009, it became a foregone conclusion that we needed to shoot a 7mm cartridge. Charles Ballard and Jim Murphy were among the first guys in the USA to recognize the virtue of the 7 mm (.284) caliber. The choices we had within the .284 family were: straight .284 Win, .284 Shehane, 7 RSAUM, or 7 WSM variant. After much experimentation and thought we decided on the 7 RSAUM and 7 WSM family of casings which allowed us velocities of around 3000 FPS with a 180gr bullet. With the advent of new 180gr bullets from Berger and Sierra, we were able to get extremely flat-shooting groups (tight vertical) with the velocities that we needed.

Q: Foreign teams won the last two F-Class World Championships. How are you going to beat the Brits and South Africans in 2013?

Shiraz: In the previous World Championship (at Bisley in 2009), the Brits had a huge advantage. Almost all of their shooters lived within a few hours of the Bisley range. The coaches they used knew that range inside out and they were able to practice as a team many times on that range before the World Championships. Plus, they were ahead of us in terms of caliber selection and were shooting 7mm cartridges, as were the South Africans. By contrast, our team came from all over the USA and we had very little time together as a team. Things are different this time… yes, our shooters are still from all over the USA, but the amount of training we have done as a unit, a whole team, is much better than last time around. We have a lot of depth in our team. In other words, our worst shooter is not that far behind our best shooter. I do not believe that there has ever been a long range U.S. Team that has trained this hard and this many times as a unit. We are ready to take on the Brits or any other country!

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia
Shiraz notes: “We did a lot of training on the range as well as in the ‘classroom’ setting with power point presentations. We had numerous sessions like these…. The behind-the-scenes work to deliver ‘same-day’ power-point results (just hours after the scores were shot) provides immediate feedback.”

Q: How Does Successful Team Shooting Differ from Individual Shooting?

Shiraz: In individual matches, you are responsible for making all the wind calls, corrections on the scope and paying attention to all conditions before taking a shot. Sometimes the condition can change between the time you review the flags and the mirage, make an adjustment and take a shot.

In a team setting, the shooter is responsible for making a really good shot. He/she must be a really good trigger puller who has good equipment, good ammo, and who can follow directions. The coach makes all the calls, he often makes adjustments on your scope and all the shooter has to do is make the shot when asked by the coach. Shooters who second-guess a coach or think they can read the wind better than the coach did not make the team!

Q: Will Team USA Enjoy a ‘Home Court Advantage’ at Raton, NM?

Shiraz: Other than Trudie Fay, one of our coaches, we do not have any team members from the Raton area. We are a very large nation, in size, and our shooters come from all four corners and everywhere in between. Raton is not exactly “home court”, but we have trained there as a team several times. The Brits and the South Africans are no slouches either. The Brits spent a whole week in Raton last year in August to get a feel for the range, the temperature, the wind etc.; the Brits also tested loads for their team members. The South Africans came to shoot against us in September last year at the Stars and Stripes match and also shot at the US F-Class Nationals. The competition is certainly stiff and we can not let our guard down or be over-confident.

Q. Are there special skills and capabilities needed to be a successful team shooter?

Shiraz: To be a really good team member, the shoooter must have all these qualities:

1. He must be able to think in terms of what is best for the team rather than himself.

2. He must have really good equipment. That means a really good barrel, a smooth, trouble-free action, good optics, trigger, rest, etc.

3. He must have superior reloading skills, and be capable of producing really good ammo with bullets that perform consistently shot after shot.

4. He must possess the ability to take direction and put himself at the disposal of the coaches. What we look for in a shooter is consistency over a long period of time, not just a flash in the pan.

The shooters we have on our team have passed all the tests we have put them through and what we have today is, without a doubt, the best United States F-Open Team ever put together.

Support Need for Team Expenses
The U.S. F-Class Open Team may be about $3000.00 short on funds. Any donation will help. Please endorse checks to “US F-Class Open Rifle Team” and mail to P.O. Box 3110, Bellingham, WA 98227.

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