October 29th, 2017

Rise of the Railguns — Potential Records Set at IBS Match

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
Gary Ocock let the event’s youngest competitor, 12-year-old Gavin Lichtenwalter, shoot Gary’s new Railgun for the last three matches on Sunday afternoon. The day before Gary shot what should be a new IBS 100-yard, five-shot HB group record. Photo credit: Ben Zentner

Heavy Benchrest (Unlimited) rifles, also known as “Railguns”, are the most accurate competition firearms ever invented. And these amazing examples of shooting technology showed their capability recently, with potentially four (4) new records being set at an IBS Heavy Benchrest Invitational match in Visalia, California. If you are curious about the most accurate rifles on the planet, then read on…

2017 Visalia Invitational — IBS Heavy Benchrest Match

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Exec. Vice President
There was some amazing shooting at a recent Invitational Heavy Benchrest match* held in Visalia, California on October 21-22, 2017. No less than FOUR new Heavy Benchrest (HB) records may have been set. Three individual targets were submitted for the 100-yard HB five-shot group record, a .039 by Gary Ocock (photo below), along with two targets by Jim Nicolas, a .040 and .041.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Multiple Aggregate records (at both 100 and 200 yards) may also have been set. Larry Boers shot a 100-yard, five-target 0.1232 Aggregate that will be submitted for the IBS HB 100-yard, five-shot group Agg record. And Gary Ocock may have set two additional HB Agg records. Gary’s five-target 200-yard Agg (0.1310) is a potential new five-shot-per-target record, as is his ten-target Grand Agg (0.1480) (that covers 100 AND 200 yards, five targets per yardage, ten targets total).


CLICK HERE for Complete Match Results (PDF) »

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Top Guns Come to IBS Match in California
This California match attracted some of the best Railgun pilots in the game today. On the firing line were three current NBRSA Unlimited record holders: Larry Boers (one record), Steve Kostanich (two records), and Gary Ocock (three current NBRSA UNL records, plus one HV). All three shot well enough in this match that their targets are being submitted to the IBS for consideration as Group, Aggregate, or Grand Aggregate records. NOTE: The “Heavy Benchrest” IBS category is equivalent to “Unlimited” under NBRSA rules. CLICK HERE for Complete Match Results.

Top Shooters for the Match included: Larry Boers (Two Gun, HB GrAgg1, HB 100-yd); Gary Ocock (HB 200-yd and HB GrAgg2); Francis Lee (HB 200-yd).

Two-Gun Overall Results
Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
Note: The computer software shows the results for one Grand Agg as “Heavy Varmint”. In fact the SAME HB Railguns were used for both Grand Aggs, so the “Two-Gun Agg” is actually a pair of HB Aggs.

Top Equipment List
Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
Saturday Winners: George Lozano, Larry Boers, Lawrence Weisdorn, Gary Ocock, Joe Stanovich, and Jim Nicolas. Photo by: Dan Lutke.

Conditions: It rained on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday were sunny and slightly cool at first and perfect after that. Saturday at 10:00 am it was 62°, 64%, and the wind was light, increasing slightly later in the day. Sunday’s conditions were similar with a slightly higher wind speed, but still light. The wind was from the West at 3-10 mph, generally stronger closer to the firing line than down range. This normally is more of a picker’s range than a runner’s venue. However, there was some “running” of groups this weekend since rail guns are particularly suited for that style of shooting.

Hall of Famer Helps Young Novice
Along with the seasoned veterans, there was a new competitor, a 12-year-old shooting his very first match. As with life, there were highs and lows. Young Gavin started out with an equipment failure — the rifle he brought wasn’t working, so shooter Bob Hatley let Gavin borrow Bob’s bag gun. Then Gavin got some expert assistance from one of the world’s best — Hall of Famer Gary Ocock. Gary let Gavin shoot the last three 200-yard matches with Gary’s new integral block, Jay Young-built Railgun, one of the most accurate firearms on the planet. Gary shot this rig on relay #1 and let Gavin shoot it in relay #2. How many of us will ever get this kind of opportunity, much less a first time 12-year-old competitor? It’s like a school kid getting to drive an Indy-winning race car.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
This photo shows Gavin with family and friends: Grandmother Mary Oulrey, father Mark Lichtenwalter (second from left), grandfather Gary Oulrey (far right). Bob Hatley (extreme left) stepped up to share his bag rifle with Gavin, and Gary Ocock (right of Gavin) let Gavin shoot his Railgun. Note Gavin is wearing Gary’s Hall-of-Fame jacket.

The Facility at Visala — Dale Wimp Rifle and Pistol Range
The Visalia Range has a covered firing line with 28 fixed, monolithic steel-reinforced concrete benches. The direction of fire is north. The cover extends well past the front of the benches as does the concrete. There are covered loading areas both at the level of the benches, directly behind them, and one level up farther to the rear. The firing line and range are below the level of the surrounding land, having been excavated in flat ground with the material from the excavation surrounding the range on three sides, higher in the back, forming an impact berm. A major construction project is about to be finished that will extend the range to 300 yards, and provide a new 10-station, 25-yard pistol range.

Surrounded by fields, the Visalia Range is located in California’s Central Valley, a rich agricultural area.
visalia benchrest shooting range unlimited benchrest railgun heavy gun

Notables on the Visalia Firing Line

Three of the competitors at the match deserve special mention because of their recent accomplishments in the world of Benchrest shooting and the interesting equipment they had on display.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Jim Nicholas was on fire on Saturday. During Saturday morning’s 100-yard Aggregate he shot a .040 in the fourth match, and a .041 in the fifth. Both targets and the .039 that Gary Ocock shot were sent in to be measured for a record. All are substantially smaller than the current record, Hap Zeiser’s .063. In the photo above, note the tuner. Jim adjusted a little less than 8 degrees just before he shot .040 in the fourth match and .041 in the fifth. That must have been the “sweet spot”. Jim’s blue Railgun, built by Craig Kinsler, features a barrel block that is integral with the rig top. This is like the new Jay Young Railgun Ocock shoots.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Larry Boers owns the NBRSA Unlimited, 100-yard 10-shot group record (.097). This makes the fourth time that he has won the Two-Gun Overall for this match. Larry is not just a trigger-puller — he makes his own bullets and chambers his own barrels. This year he shot a bullet he still lists under his bullet-making mentor’s name (Del Bishop) a 65 grain, double radius 5/9 FB made from J4 .790 jackets, out of a Nemi point die. Del originally made the bullet and the story is that Nemi at first refused to make the die because he was sure that it wouldn’t shoot well. Later, after some cajoling by Del, he made it, tried a few and excitedly called Dell to tell him just how good the bullets shot. Larry set his record shooting a .750 jacket short BT (.040) bullet from the same die.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Steve Kostanich, a long-time competitor and highly-respected gunsmith from Washington State, recently received official confirmation that he will go in the record books with a pair of 10-shot Unlimited NBRSA world records. The first record is a 10-shot 200-yard 0.1839 Aggregate, while the second is Steve’s 100-200 yard 0.1951 Grand Aggregate.

Parting Shot — This is what happens when you set your Wind Flag stand too high.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California


* Course of Fire: This was a two-day Heavy Benchrest (aka HB or “Unlimited”) weekend match with targets at 100 and 200 yards, five shots per target. Saturday all shooting was at 100 yards. Sunday all shooting was at 200 yards. There were two (2) Grand Aggregates. One Grand Agg combined Saturday morning (100) with Sunday afternoon (200). The Second Grand Agg combined Saturday afternoon (100) and Sunday morning (200). The match had two HB Grand Aggs because only one class of gun (Heavy Benchrest or “Unlimited”) was shot. The computer software shows the results for one Grand Agg as “Heavy Varmint”, but all matches were for Heavy Benchrest (Unlimited) guns. NOTE: Some competitors did shoot bag guns as these are allowed under HB/Unlimited rules.

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September 16th, 2017

IBS Match Report: Visalia 3-Gun California Championship

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen
The Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Shooting Range — a great place to shoot.

Report by Boyd Allen | Photos and video by Pete Kitrinos
The IBS is in the West! The first International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) match at the Visalia, CA range was held over the recent Labor Day Weekend. Despite scorching 106° heat, many of the West’s top short-range benchrest shooters assembled for the first IBS-sanctioned match (after a 30-year history with the NBRSA) at the Visalia range. The mix of shooters included at least one Benchrest Hall of Fame member, as well as NBRSA record holders. Competitors were happy to return to Visalia, which had been closed for seven months while range improvements were made (some parts of the East berm were still under construction). With only two ranges in the entire state holding short range group matches, the temporary loss of Visalia had a significant impact. It was time to get back to business — the business of shooting tiny groups.

This video includes Aerial Drone footage of the range — worth watching!

Surrounded by fields, the Visalia Range is located in California’s Central Valley, a rich agricultural area.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

For about thirty years the California 3-Gun Benchrest Championship match has been held at the Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Range over Labor Day weekend. For all those years, the matches have been put on by local shooter and current club president Dennis Thornbury. During a good part of that time, he has also managed to keep his name in the NBRSA record book, and pick up four Benchrest Hall of Fame points, as well as having recently done a tour as NBRSA president. This year’s match is sanctioned by the IBS, a first at Visalia.

Don “The Pumpkin” Nielson used an action he fabricated, a “fat bolt” aluminum 3-lug with steel insert.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Dennis Thornbury has been putting on registered matches at the Visalia range for 30 years. He holds an NBRSA record, and has 4 Hall of Fame points.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

The format: On Saturday competitors shot 100 yards all day, Sporter in the morning, Light Varmint in the afternoon. The following day the morning competition was Heavy Varmint at 100 and at lunch the targets were moved to 200 yards with Heavy Varmint being shot that afternoon. On Monday, Labor Day, at 200 yards, Light Varmint was shot in the morning and Sporter in the afternoon. All three days consisted of five, 5-shot matches in the morning and five more in the afternoon.

Morning, Day 1 — Very few “daisy wheels”. This has been the trend for many years at this range.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Getting down to business. Shown, from right to left: Henry Pinkney, Joe Stanovich, Steve Epstein, Keith Cottrell (face obscured), Jim Nicolas (standing).
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Sunday Top Shots: Jack Childers, Keith Cottrell, John Pierce, Lester Bruno, Dennis Thornbury, and Don Nielson. (Yes that’s a corn field in the background):
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

With the big temp changes between morning and afternoon, competitors were chasing powder loads all weekend. Small groups were hard to find, so only three “screamers” were recorded all weekend, and no teen Aggs. With the oppressive heat, attrition was also a factor: “We started with 30 shooters, and ended with just 21 competitors”.

Temperatures were in the triple digits for Saturday and Sunday, backing off to the high 90s on Monday. High humidity made it feel even hotter — heat stress was a definite issue. Even the rifles seemed to be at less than their best, causing very light wind conditions to produce Aggregates that were larger than the observed wind conditions would lead one to expect. Wind was generally light and switchy. Lighter mornings with wind increasing slightly through the days. Sunday saw more wind than the other two days after ten o’clock or so.

Loading benches with the usual clutter. Note the LabRadar chronograph on a bench at the firing line. Lawrence Weisdorn tracked his velocities during the match to know when a powder charge adjustment was needed.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Top Shooters: The Top Five in the 3-Gun (HV, LV, and Sporter) Championship were: Keith Cottrell (.2534), John Pierce (.2695), Dennis Thornbury (.2714), Art Kawai (.2885), and Rich Shaw (.3016). Winners of the Class Grand Aggs were Dennis Thornbury (HV .2424), Lester Bruno (LV .2400), and Keith Cottrell (Sporter .2395). CLICK HERE for full Match Results.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Equipment List for Top Five Shooters
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

You can use a LabRadar during competition. This was Lawrence Weisdorn’s set-up at Visalia.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Benchrest Technique — How to Shoot at Visalia
This range is built a bit like a large bathtub, dug into a flat field with the excavated earth thrown up in steep berms on three sides. This configuration and the usual lack of strong winds creates a lot of thermal-generated switchiness with flags changing direction often and very little agreement within any shooter’s set. This places a high premium on visual memory and the ability to judge equivalent conditions, because duplicates are almost never seen. Although the opportunity to run groups can happen, this is mostly a “pickers” range, which places a high premium on visual memory.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Facilities at Visalia Sportsman’s Association Range
There are 28 monolithic, steel-reinforced, concrete benches (poured in place, base and top all one pour). The reloading area is behind the benches with most of it on the same level as the benches. There are permanent (fixed position) tables that have laminate tops, except for where the range house sits, mid-range, with a “wailing wall” along its east and north sides. The direction of fire is north. The benches are under a slightly pitched metal roof that has recently been extended so that it has a good amount of overhang in front of the benches. Electricity is available in the reloading area and there are a few electrical outlets in the parking lot for RVs. There are both steps and a wheelchair ramp connecting parking lot to the reloading level and the shooting level.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Field of (Benchrest) Dreams — Precision Shooting Among the California Corn Fields.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »
August 14th, 2017

Gary Ocock Shoots Amazing 0.0840 Aggregate with Railgun

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA
Want to see the details? CLICK HERE to view full-screen photo.

Check out those five targets. The Aggregate (average) of all five targets is a tiny 0.0840 inches! These were shot by Gary Ocock at 100 yards in a California benchrest match on August 6, 2017. Though Gary’s 0.0840 Agg beats existing records, this was not a “sanctioned” match, so Gary’s killer Agg will NOT be submitted for IBS or NBRSA records. So, sadly, the Agg won’t appear in the record books, but this remains a spectacular, verified feat of rifle accuracy, accomplished in competition.

The argument can be made that this is the Most Accurate Gun Ever Built. As far as we can determine, no one has ever shot a smaller 5-target Agg anywhere, at any time.

The Unlimited Benchrest Record That Will Never Be (Official)

Report by Boyd Allen
Gary Ocock’s stunning unlimited Aggregate is beyond amazing. That’s an average of five, 5-shot groups of .0840. Shot under sanctioned match rules, but at an unsanctioned 100-yard fun match, this Aggregate is well under the current 100-yard official records of the IBS (.1386), and the NBRSA (.1242). The fourth of the five groups measured a minuscule .018, less than half the size of the existing NBRSA Unlimited record of .049 (also shot by Gary). Check it out:

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA
When the top 15 shooters all post teen Aggs, conditions must be pretty favorable. However there were some light switchy winds — Gary said that he shot better in the left to right condition.

GUN SPECIFICATIONS
Ocock’s red Jay Young Unlimited Railgun features one major difference from Young’s typical Railgun designs. The bottom of the barrel block is integral with the top (moving part), of the gun. The barrel is Ocock’s usual 1:13.5″-twist Krieger chambered for the 6 PPC. The BAT Neuvo action* is unusual in that its lugs are horizontal at lock-up instead of the usual vertical. With horizontal lugs, both lugs maintain contact with their abutments when the action is cocked. In the more normal configuration when cocked the top lug is forced off of its seat by a combination of the angle of the trigger cocking piece interface, the pressure of the striker spring, and bolt clearance at the rear of the action.

LOAD SPECIFICATIONS
Gary shot this remarkable Agg with well-used brass, Vihtavuori N133 powder, and self-made 66gr BT bullets** seated at “jam”. This amazing Agg was shot on the second day of a 2-day Unlimited Benchrest match. On Day 1 Gary had experimented with various loads using both surplus IMR 8208 and Vihtavuori N133, but was not satisfied with the results. For his first group on Day 2, Gary tried a light load of N133. After seeing the result, however, he decided to go to the other extreme — a super stout N133 load — with the same powder. As you can see, Gary’s willingness to experiment paid off.

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA

Notably, Gary used light neck tension. Ocock found that for these bullets and this barrel, light neck tension worked best (contrary to “normal” N133 benchrest practice). Ocock used a bushing that only produces .001″ difference between the diameters of sized and loaded case necks.

Comment on Ocock’s Achievement
Congratulations to Gary Ocock for superb shooting (and smart loading). Even though the match was not sanctioned (so the Agg will never be a record), Ocock has raised the bar very high, and given us a new standard of ultimate accuracy.

Though this 0.0840 Aggregate and 0.018 group will never go into the record group, they are still noteworthy. There’s virtually no doubt that they would have survived inspection by any record committee. Except for the lack of fixed backers, an IBS requirement (for detecting cross-fires), all other conditions were met for an officially-sanctioned match.

*The new BAT Neuvo actions are the result of a collaboration between Dwight Scott, and Bruce Thom, featuring Dwight’s ideas and BAT’s proven manufacturing expertise.

** Ocock shot his own, boat-tail match bullets, made with George Ulrich-crafted dies using Hood cores. Although he said that it had been a while since he had weighed any, his best guess was that they weigh something around 66.5 grains.

Permalink Competition, Reloading, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
January 14th, 2016

Unlimited Class “Rail Guns” — The Epitome of Precision

Unlimited Class Rail Gun Visalia CA

Hail the Rail. If you are looking to put multiple shots through one hole, the Unlimited Class benchrest gun, aka “Rail Gun”, is the firearm of choice. These heavy Unlimited rigs are the most accurate benchtop shooting machines ever created. Campaigned by ace competitors in the 100/200-yard benchrest game, rail guns are capable of delivering the ultimate in rifle accuracy — multiple 5-shot groups in the ones and zeros.

Watch Video to Learn More about Rail Guns and See Them in Action:

In this video, YouTuber “Taofledermaus” takes a look at high-tech rail guns on display at the Visalia (CA) shooting range. He says: “The Unlimited Class rail guns are indeed the epitome of precision shooting. [These rifles] resemble something out of a ballistics test laboratory. Each [rail gun] weighs about fifty pounds…”

One-Hole Accuracy with Rail Gun
What kind of accuracy can a top-of-the-line rail gun deliver? Check out this target shot by our friend Lou Murdica in January 2015 in Phoenix. Sometimes superlatives really aren’t necessary. Just look at that target. Yes that is FIVE shots (although it truly appears like one hole). And it is centered! This remarkable group measured at 0.039″. Lou drilled this group with one of his 6 PPC railguns. Rounds were loaded with Accurate LT-32 powder and Berger 65gr BT bullets. The target was submitted to the NBRSA as a potential new 100-yard Benchrest record in the Unlimited (Railgun) Class.

Lou Murdica Unlimited Target NBRSA record Rail Gun

Lou Murdica Unlimited Target NBRSA record Rail Gun
This is a file photo with Lou Murdica with a different rail gun (not the one that shot above target).

Story/video tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
June 21st, 2011

0.022″ Group — Possible New Unlimited 100-Yard NBRSA Record

Just how accurate can a modern 6 PPC benchrest rifle be? Would you believe five shots in 0.022″? That’s the size of the group shot by Rich Graham this past weekend in Visalia, CA. Rich was shooting his 6 PPC 10.5-lb LV bag gun in the Unlimited Class. Below is a photo of Rich with his target — yes there are five shots in that one hole (as confirmed by moving backers used in the match). This five-shot group could be a potential new NBRSA 100-yard record, if the 0.022″ measurement is confirmed. The current 5-100 NBRSA Unlimited record is 0.049″ shot by Gary Ocock in 2009. For reference, the 5-100 NBRSA Heavy Varmint Record is 0.027″ by Ralph Landon in 1975.

Rich Graham NBRSA record
Rich Graham NBRSA record

The Record-Setting Gun
Though Rich shot his small group in the Unlimited Class, his rifle is a typical 10.5-lb, short-range benchrest bag gun. Smithed by Gary Ocock, the rifle features a BAT action (we believe), Bruno Edge stock, Krieger Barrel, and March scope. The load was 27.8 grains of Hodgdon H322 with 65gr Flatbase bullets made on a Nielson die, in Lapua brass. We are told that Rich shot this potential world record with ammo pre-loaded before the match.

We think Rich’s target will definitely come in under the current 0.049″ Unlimited Class record. Using our On-Target plotting software, we measured Rich’s group at 0.029″. However, keep in mind that we were working from a photo, and the camera lens can distort dimensions a bit. Accordingly, the original 0.022″ measurement by the match scorers is probably more reliable, but this helps illustrate how small Rich’s group really is.

Rich Graham NBRSA record

Photos courtesy DanL. Story tip by Boyd Allen.
Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »