February 16th, 2019

If You’re Not Using Wind Flags You’re Throwing Away Accuracy


Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011

There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.

Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…

Miss a 5 mph Shift and You Could DOUBLE Your Group Size

The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.

shooting wind flags
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.

Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.

If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.

Which Windflag to buy? Click Here for a list of Vendors selling windflags of various types.

Aussie Windflag photo courtesy BenchRestTraining.com (Stuart and Annie Elliot).

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
August 23rd, 2018

Insanely Small Groups — World Champion Reveals His Techniques

200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia tiny group 6 PPC

With the recent IBS 100/200 Group Nationals in Pennsylvania, we thought our readers might like to learn more about the short-range Benchrest game. Seeing the tiny groups 6 PPC aces produce, it’s easy to think the precision is all about the equipment. But there is a lot more involved. A talented human still has to watch the flags, run the gun properly, and tune his loads for the conditions. Here are some tips from one of the world’s best benchresters, Charles Huckeba.

Texan Charles Huckeba was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.

Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.

Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships

Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia

Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good

Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.

1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.

2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.

Charles Huckeba PPC World Benchrest joystick handle3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.

4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.

5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).

To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:

“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.

This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”

Video find by Boyd Allen. Video by Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply, Brisbane, Australia.
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January 3rd, 2018

The Whims of the Wind — Slow-Motion Windflag Video


Photo of Aussie Wind Flags courtesy BRT Shooters Supply.

A while back our Aussie friend Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply recently filmed some interesting videos at the QTS range in Brisbane, Australia. Stuart told us: “I was shooting in an Air Gun Benchrest match here in Brisbane, Australia. I finished my target early and was awaiting the cease fire and took a short, slow-motion video of windflag behavior.” You may be surprised by the velocity changes and angle swings that occur, even over a relatively short distance (just 25 meters from bench to target).

Here are windflags in slow motion:

The flags show in the videos are “Aussie Wind Flags”, developed by Stuart Elliot. These are sold in the USA by Butch Lambert, through Shadetree Engineering.

Here is a video in real time:

Stuart says this video may surprise some shooters who don’t use windflags: “Many people say the wind doesn’t matter. Well it sure does — whether for an airgun at 25 meters or a long range centerfire at 1,000.” This video illustrates how much the wind can change direction and velocity even in a small area.

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October 18th, 2016

Benchrest Brilliance — Texan Demonstrates World-Beating Skills

Here’s an example of world-class benchrest shooting. Charles Huckeba of Texas was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.

Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.

Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships

Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia

Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good

Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.

1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.

2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.

Charles Huckeba PPC World Benchrest joystick handle3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.

4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.

5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).

To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:

“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.

This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”

Video find by Boyd Allen. Video by Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply, Brisbane, Australia.
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June 3rd, 2015

Wind Flags in Slow Motion — You’ll Be Surprised


Photo of Aussie Wind Flags courtesy BRT Shooters Supply.

Our Aussie friend Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply recently filmed some interesting videos at the QTS range in Brisbane, Australia. Stuart told us: “I was shooting in an Air Gun Benchrest match here in Brisbane, Australia. I finished my target early and was awaiting the cease fire and took a short, slow-motion video of windflag behavior.” You may be surprised by the velocity changes and angle swings that occur, even over a relatively short distance (just 25 meters from bench to target).

Here are windflags in slow motion:

The flags show in the videos are “Aussie Wind Flags”, developed by Stuart Elliot. These are sold in the USA by Butch Lambert, through Shadetree Engineering.

(more…)

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November 15th, 2012

Ultra-High Magnification 8-80x56mm March Riflescope

When it comes to long-range optics, some folks can’t have too much magnification (as Tim Allen used to say: “More Power!”). At 500 yards and beyond, when the air’s misty or the mirage is thick, you can’t always use extreme magnification. But, when the conditions are excellent, it’s nice to have 50X magnification (or more) on tap. You can always “crank it back down”. Higher magnification (when conditions are good), can help you see your bullet holes at long range, and that makes it easier to judge your hold-offs and keep your group centered. In addition, there’s no doubt that high magnification lets you aim more precisely, no matter what the distance. Even at 100 and 200 yards, short-range benchresters are using 40X, 50X, and even 60X power scopes. This allows you to position your cross-hairs with extreme precision — something you need when you’re trying to put multiple shots through the same hole.

Raising the Optics Bar
How much power is usable? A few years back, folks said you can’t use more than 45X or so at long range. Well, as modern optics have evolved, now guys are buying scopes with even more magni-fication — way more. There are practical limits of course — with a 56 to 60mm front objective, the exit pupil of a 60X or higher-power scope will be very tiny, making head orientation ultra-critical. Any many scopes get darker as you bump up the magnification.

Despite the exit pupil and brightness issues, shooters are demanding “more power” these days and the scope manufacturers are providing new products with ever-greater magnification levels. Right now, the most powerful conventional riflescope you can buy is the March X-Series 8-80x56mm scope. Featuring a 34mm main tube and 56mm objective lens, this offers a true 10-times zoom ratio and up to 80X magnification. This scope has minimal distortion thanks to high-quality ED lenses designed in-house by Deon Optical, which also machines the main tube from one solid piece of billet aluminum.

To demonstrate the capabilities of high-magnification March scopes, Aussie Stuart Elliot has created a cool through-the-lens video with the March 8-80x56mm scope set at 80-power (See 0:30 timeline). Along with being one of Australia’s top benchrest shooters, Stuart runs BRT Shooters Supply, dealer for March Scopes in Australia. In the video below you can see the March 8-80X focused on a target at 1000 yards (910m). For best resolution, watch this video in fullscreen, 720p mode.

Look through the Lens of 80-power March Scope at Target 1000 Yards Away

Through-the-Lens Views at 40X and 80X at 1100 Yards
To reveal the difference between 40X and 80X magnification, here are two through-the-lens still images taken with March scopes sighting to 1100 yards. The top photo is at 80X magnification, looking through the March 8-80x56mm. The lower photo is at 40X magnification viewed through a 5-50x56mm March X-Series scope. You can see there is a big difference in perceived target size! Click on the “Larger Image” button to see full-screen version at 80X.


larger photo

Here is another view through a March high-magnification scope, this time at 1000 yards. We’re not exactly sure of the power setting, but we think this is at least 40X. Note the good contrast, and the absence of color fringing or chromatic distortion. When you’re shooting at 1000 yards and beyond, having high-quality glass like this can provide a competitive advantage.

Video Find by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Optics 15 Comments »
May 12th, 2012

New Ultra-Wide SEB MAX Front Joystick Rest Revealed

Sebastian Lambang, creator of the original SEB Coaxial Rest and the SEB NEO Rest, has a new product in the works. Seb has modified and upgraded his superb NEO rest, so that it can handle heavy, long-range benchrest rifles with ultra-wide forearms. Seb calls his super-sized front rest the SEB “MAX”. As you can see in the photo below, the MAX looks like a NEO but with a wider stance and more substantial rest top. Spring rates are optimized to handle rifle weights up to 45kg (99 pounds), using appropriate counterweights. Seb hopes to complete production of fifty (50) SEB MAX rests by late August 2012.

SEB Max front rest

MAX Rests Use Counter-Weights to Handle Very Heavy Rifles
When configured for use with true Heavy Guns, SEB MAX rests will be supplied with adjustable counter-balance weights in load-specific sizes. For example, a 1.8-lb counter-weight is used for a 40-lb gun, a 2.3-lb counter-weight is used for a a 60-lb gun, while a 2.6-lb counter-weight is fitted for a 70-lb gun. The basic counter-weight can be augmented with additional steel sections. Seb tells us: “The basic ‘default’ counter-weight is a 1″-diameter shaft, about 7″ long. Additional 2.5″-diameter SS ‘rings’ can be fitted on the main shaft to balance the action. When people order the MAX, they must provide the weight of their gun. I will then craft the appropriate ‘rings’ in various sizes to properly balance the weight of the customer’s particular gun and thereby make the action smooth to operate.”

Watch SEB MAX Prototype Used by Stuart Elliot
In this video, Aussie Stuart Elliot uses a prototype SEB MAX with his .300 Win Mag Heavy Gun at a 1K benchrest match in Brisbane, Australia. Stuart, who runs BRT Shooters Supply, recently won the Australian 500m Fly Shoot Nationals shooting a .300 Win Mag.

New SEB MAX Rest Based on Successful NEO Rest Design
Below is the standard SEB NEO rest. The MAX is wider and will hold a rig up to 45kg. The MAX represents an evolution of the original NEO design. As anyone who has had the pleasure of using one knows, the NEO is very smooth to operate and has a huge range of vertical and horizontal travel. In addition, the NEO can be quickly dis-assembled to store flat. The new SEB MAX can likewise be dis-assembled for easier storage and transport. Photo by R.J.Hamilton.

SEB NEO front joystick rest

Sebastian Lambang has a website at www.SebCoax.com, but you won’t find info on the SEB MAX there yet. If you have specific questions, send email to: sebastianlambang [at] yahoo.com.
For USA price list and to place orders, please contact:

Ernie Bishop
306 West Flying Circle Drive
Gillette, WY 82716
ernieemily [at] yahoo.com
Phone: (307) 257-7431

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