February 12th, 2020

Six Tips for Better Results at Local Fun Shooting Matches

tip advice training prep club varmint groundhog match

Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

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June 7th, 2014

2014 Maine Firecracker and 100-200-300 State Championship

Report by Randy Jarvais for IBS
On Memorial Day weekend we honor fallen heroes. And for score shooters, that time of year also means the Maine Firecracker and 100-200-300 State Championship. The Firecracker represents one of four opportunities in IBS score shooting to earn the coveted 750 sticker. In score shooting you fire one record shot per bullseye, with five scored bulls per target sheet (plus a sighter bull), and five sheets per yardage. Thus, there is a maximum score of 250 per yardage, or 750 points for a 3-day championship.

Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

CLICK to Zoom Photo of the Whole Gang
Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

What started years ago as a two-day affair in July (hence the name “Firecracker”), morphed to three yardages in two towns. To allow for three days of shooting, the event shifted to Memorial Day weekend. Orrington Rod & Gun Club hosts the 100- and 200-yard stages, but since Orrington lacks a 300-yard option, the venue shifts to the Lincoln County Rifle Club (Damariscotta, ME) for the third and final leg.

Grand Agg Winners — 2014 Maine Firecracker and 100-200-300 State Championship

Varmint for Score:
1. Wayne France 743-21X
2. Kim Llewellyn 742-31X
3. Frank Danisienka 742-19X

Hunter Class
1. Gary Long 736-22X
2. Charles Brock 731-14X
3. Dean Breeden 728-23X

Grand Agg winners were a repeat of 2013. Like last year, Wayne France shoot consistently well to take VFS honors (though he did not win a yardage). Gary Long won two of the three yardages in Hunter Class to take the Grand. Dean Breeden was the Two-Gun winner with 1469-58X. He was the only shooter to shoot two guns. Dean had High X-Count in each class with 35X and 23X respectively.
CLICK HERE for Spreadsheet with Complete Firecracker and 100-200-300 Match Results

There were 36 guns for Saturday’s start at Orrington. The field included the top 5 finishers in last year’s Varmint for Score (VFS) Shooter of the Year standings, and 6 of the top 7 Hunter Class shooters. The forecast for the weekend called for showers early with some breaks of sun plus the added possibility of thunder showers during the 300-yard stage. For the most part, the forecast was correct.

Firing Line at Orrington — CLICK to Zoom. (Hillary Martinez panorama photo)

Butch Randall with a Patriotic Rig
Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

Last-Minute Enhancements at Orrington
As shooters arrived on the eve of the tournament to register, I am sure they didn’t believe their eyes. The Orrington club had literally just finished pouring concrete for a modular system of target frames at two hundred yards. The 100-yard version was poured that morning. An excavator sat in front of a huge mound of dirt at 75 yards, while a bulldozer was back-filling around the freshly poured concrete at 100 yards. Amazingly the range was finished and the new target frames were ready to go the next morning. Orrington is quite rural despite being just a few miles away from Bangor,one of the larger cities in Maine.

Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

Hillary Martinez Shows the Boys How It’s Done at 100 Yards
The VFS 100-yard leg at Orrington was a run-away. While most struggled with the switchy 7-15 mph conditions, one shooter found her stride early and put a whupping on the other competitors. Hillary Martinez, a third year Breeden protégé, was marvelous throughout the day. Coming off a recent 200-yard win at Fairfax, Virgina, Hillary took the lead in match 2 and then ran away from the field. On a range where 18 or 19 Xs are usually good enough to win, Hillary hit the dot 23 of 25 times. That’s outstanding to say the least! Greg Palman, the Orrington match director, creedmoored Dick Grosbier for second place. Both men garnered 250-19X scores.

Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

In Hunter Class, veteran shooter Gary Long jumped out to an early lead with a 50-4X target. Not to be outdone, Scott Garman followed up with a 50-4X target of his own in Match 2. Dean Breeden and Charles Brock then moved ahead. At day’s end, Dean’s finished first with a 250-11X, followed by Charles at 250-10X. Third went to Orland Bunker.

With similar conditions as Saturday, Sunday’s 200-yard stage started with overcast skies and mild winds. In VFS, Wayne France put up a 50-4X for an early lead. Dean shot a masterful 50-5X in Match 3. By day’s end, four shooters shot clean to earn a 500 sticker. Dean Breeden shot a 250-12X for the win, followed by John Cascarino with a 250-10X. Third went to Randy Jarvais with 250-8X. The 4th “clean” shooter was Wayne France with a 250-7X. Gary Long was the lone 6-power shooter clean after Match 1. Long finished with a 248-5X, good enough for first place. After two days at Orrington, awards were handed out. The Top Performers for the 100-200 Grand Agg at Orrington were:

VFS: Dean Breeden 500-31X; John Cascarino 500-23X; Randy Jarvais 500-22X
Hunter: Gary Long 496-20X; Charles Brock 496-13X; Dean Breeden 495-21X

Setting Up the Wind Flags and Wind Probes at Orrington
Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

The View Down-Range with Flags in Place at Orrington (click to enlarge).
Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

Moving On to Lincoln County

Firecracker IBS Score Match MaineThe Lincoln County Rifle Club resides in Damariscotta, Maine which is a community surrounded by lakes and coastal waterways. The ocean is but a few miles away thus the wind conditions at the range can be adversely affected by the tides, or so goes the tale. Whether true or not, only five people in the history of this range had ever shot a 250 at 300 yards and this range has participated in IBS score shoots for decades. Three of the five were present to try again.

Tough Conditions at 300 Yards
After Match 1, of the 35 guns, only six VFS and one Hunter managed a 50. That left but three shooters with hopes of earning a 750 sticker. The wind became the story of the day as it continued to accelerate and switch directions irregularly and constantly. By the conclusion of Match 2 at Lincoln County, no one was getting a 250 sticker and the leaders were down by two. This author shot on Relay 1 and I can categorically tell you it did not lull on my watch!

Under the Eaves at the Lincoln County Rifle Club, Damariscotta, Maine
Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

It became a game of survival and it was not a matter of if you were going to drop a point (or two, or three) but when and how many. Ask Jim Goody or John Cascarino about their errant shots during Match 4 that went from one scoring box all the way to another resulting in a minus 10 points with one shot. Don’t forget that they were holding wide for the wind already. Oh, by the way, they were on Relay 1 and were in or near the “honey hole”. Yeach, right! Both dropped 14 points in the one match.

So… who best survived the tough conditions at 300 yards? VFS honors go to Frank Danisienka (245-0X), Andy Buzzell (244-4X), and Kim Llewellyn (244-3X). In Hunter Class, the top three were Gary Long (240-2X), Peter Hills (239-2X), and Charles Brock (235-1X).

The Long Walk to the 300-yard Targets at Lincoln County
Firecracker IBS Score Match Maine

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February 17th, 2014

Basics of Groundhog Matches with Paper Targets

Gene F. (aka “TenRing” in our Forum), provides this basic intro to Groundhog matches, East-Coast style.

Groundhog Matches Are Growing in Popularity
Though Groundhog matches are very popular in many parts of the country, particularly on the east coast, I’ve found that many otherwise knowledgeable “gun guys” don’t know much about this form of competition. A few weeks ago, I ordered custom bullets from a small Midwest bullet-maker. He asked what type of competition the bullets would be used for, and I told him “groundhog shoots”. He had not heard of these. It occurs to me that perhaps many others are unfamiliar with this discipline.

Groundhog matches have grown rapidly in popularity. There are numerous clubs hosting them in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, as well as other venues. They are usually open to the public. Most Eastern clubs have five to twenty cement benches, and overhead roofs. At this time, there is no central source for match schedules. If you’re interested in going to a groundhog match, post a query in the AccurateShooter Forum Competition Section, and you should get some info on nearby opportunities.

How Matches Are Run — Course of Fire and Scoring
Unlike NRA High Power Matches, there is no nationwide set of standard rules for Groundhog matches. Each club has their own rules, but the basics are pretty similar from club to club. Paper groundhog targets are set at multiple distances. There are normally three yardages in the match. Some clubs place targets at 100, 200, and 300 yards. Other clubs set them at 200, 300, or 400 yards. At my club in Shippensburg, PA, our targets are placed at 200, 300 and 500 meters.

The goal is to score the highest total. The paper targets have concentric scoring rings. The smallest ring is normally worth ten points while the large ring is worth five points. The course of fire varies among the various clubs. Most clubs allow unlimited sighters and five shots on the record target in a given time period. Only those five shots on the scoring rings are counted, so that with three yardages, a perfect score would be 150 points. Tie breakers may be determined by total number of dead center or “X” strikes; or, by smallest group at the farthest distance.

Types of Rifles Used at Groundhog Matches
The same benchrest rigs found at IBS and NBRSA matches can be utilized (though these will typically be put in a ‘custom’ class). Though equipment classes vary from club to club, it is common to separate the hardware into four or five classes. Typical firearm classes can include: factory rifle; deer hunter; light varmint custom (usually a limit of 17 lbs.with scope); and heavy varmint custom (weight unlimited). Some clubs allow barrel tuners, others do not. Scope selection is usually unlimited; however, some restrict hunter class rifle scopes to 20 power. Factory rifles usually cannot be altered in any way.

Good, Simple Fun Shooting — Why Groundhog Shoots Are Popular
Forum member Danny Reever explains the appeal of groundhog matches: “We don’t have a governing organization, or have to pay $50 a year membership just to compete in matches. Sure the rules vary from club to club, but you adapt. If you don’t like one club’s rules, you just don’t shoot there. It’s no big deal.

There are no National records, or Hall of Fame points — just individual range records. If you want to shoot in BIG matches (with big prizes), there is the Hickory Ground Hog Shoot among others. If competition isn’t your bag, many clubs offer mid-week fun matches that you can shoot just for fun. You shoot the same targets but with a more relaxed atmosphere with no time limits.

The best part is you don’t have to shoot perfect at every yardage. You always have a chance because in this sport it really isn’t over until the last shot is fired. Typically ALL the entry money goes to the host club, with much of the cash returned back to the shooters via prizes. Junior shooters often shoot for free, or at a reduced rate. The low entry cost also encourages young guys to get involved who don’t have $4000 custom rifles or the money to buy them.

There isn’t a sea of wind flags to shoot over or to put up and take down. If the range has a couple of flags so much the better, but after all it is a varmint match. No pits to spot shots and slow things down either. If you can’t see your hits through your rifle scope or spotting scope well you are in the same boat as everybody else. That’s what makes it interesting/ sometimes frustrating!

Permalink Competition, Hunting/Varminting 7 Comments »
June 2nd, 2013

12-Year-Old Kevin Donalds Jr. Wins Score Match with 250-25X

Well it looks like there’s some real talent in the next generation of IBS Benchrest shooters. Watch out for those young guns — they can give seasoned veterans a run for their money — and then some. Young Kevin Donalds Jr. fired a perfect 250-25X score to win a 100-yard IBS score match at the Thurmont, Maryland range on May 18th, 2013. At just 12 years of age, Kevin is already showing he has the focus, talent, and determination to win. And, yes he managed to beat his proud father Kevin Donalds (Sr.) who finished second with a 250-23x. Like father, like son. It’s great to see a father and son who shoot together — and share the podium together.

Above, 12-year-old Kevin, match winner, is shown flanked on his left by his father (second place), and on his right by third place finisher Larry Fritz. Young Kevin was shooting a 30BR (no surprise), with a BAT action, Krieger barrel, and an affordable Sightron 8-32X scope (about $860). The rifle was smithed by Sid Goodling and stocked by Roy Hunter. The load was a stout charge of Hodgdon H4198, fired by Federal primers, pushing BIB 112gr bullets.

For more information on this Match and other IBS competitions, visit InternationalBenchrest.com and the IBS News Magazine Archive.

IBS international benchrest shooters

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 4 Comments »
March 14th, 2013

IBS Match Reports Will Be Featured on AccurateShooter.com

IBS benchrest AccurateShooter.com

IBS logo benchrestHere’s great news for IBS members. The IBS has announced its affiliation with AccurateShooter.com, the premier website dealing with all types of rifle accuracy. The IBS and this website will work together to provide prominent media coverage of IBS events. IBS President Jeff Stover explains: “The IBS leadership was faced with an unexpected dilemma in late 2012 with the loss of our print media outlet. We think the partnership with Accurateshooter.com will present the IBS (and the sport of benchrest) front and center before a large, global audience of shooters interested in small groups and high scores from 100 to 1000 yards.”

Building its internet presence will benefit the IBS and its members says Stover: “Benchrest shooting has earned a highly respected position among the shooting disciplines. Most, if not all, innovations in rifle accuracy technology have been derived from benchrest. Nevertheless, it has been a ‘niche’ shooting sport. We in the IBS feel that AccurateShooter.com will help us achieve two major goals. The first is to give our members (and the matches they shoot) increased exposure. AccurateShooter.com has a worldwide audience with over 130,000 visitors every week. Secondly, we hope this website will present benchrest shooting as approachable and a mature discipline that is ready to welcome new shooters.”



IBS President Jeff Stover Talks About IBS Match Coverage on AccurateShooter.com

[haiku url=”http://accurateshooter.net/Video/jeffstovertalks.mp3″ title=”Jeff Stover Talks about IBS”]Click “Play” to Hear Audio

Beyond the major match coverage at AccurateShooter.com, the IBS website (Internationalbenchrest.com) will remain the IBS’s primary online resource for schedules and match results for every registered IBS match, be it short range or longrange.

Looking Ahead — What the IBS Plans
In the future, the IBS envisions further synergies with AccurateShooter.com. Together we are exploring ways to enhance the way benchrest matches are scored and reported. AccurateShooter.com provides a new media platform that will allow both the match results and the human side of the competitions to be brought to life. There will be a dedicated area on this website for important IBS match reports (and special IBS features). We foresee a system being developed that will standardize the match scoring software that would be used at the range and then quickly be made available on the web. Match reports will evolve from a simple set of scores and equipment reports to rich content with lots of photos, audio reports, and even video clips.

Watch IBS Slide Show

AccurateShooter Teams up with IBS for Event Coverage
At AccurateShooter.com, we’re delighted to team up with the IBS. We plan to provide enhanced IBS match coverage in the months ahead. With luck, we’ll kick off our IBS coverage with three upcoming matches: the 1000-yard Match at Whitehorse WV (April 20), the Pennsylvania State Score Championships in York, PA (April 27), and the Boop/Altemus Memorial Shoot at Weikert, PA (May 11-12, group match). And of course, we’ll be covering the major IBS National events later in 2013.

We want to provide the “full story” of matches with photos, equipment features, and interviews with top shooters. Where possible, we hope to include audio interviews with the “Top Guns” and some videos of the matches. Our IBS Match Reports will feature the latest benchrest hardware, including some of the most accurate rifles ever made….

IBS logo benchrest

Our IBS Reports will show the ranges where benchrest dreams are chased, and world records are set.

IBS logo benchrest

And our Match Reports will feature the great people (of all ages) who make IBS Benchrest shooting such a great sport and rewarding pastime.

IBS benchrest

IBS benchrest

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »