July 16th, 2019

How to Shoot DOTS — Insanely Small Groups at 200 Yards

200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia tiny group 6 PPC

This site is for and about accurate shooters. So today we feature the short-range group Benchrest game, where it’s all about shooting tiny groups in the ones and even “zeros”. 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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June 8th, 2018

USA Shooting National Championships at Fort Benning

USA Shooting national championships fort benning georgia ISSF smallbore air rifle pistol

More than 200 shooters from around the country will make their annual pilgrimage to the home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit this weekend as the week-long USA Shooting National Championships for Rifle and Pistol kick off Sunday in Fort Benning, Georgia. The National Championships start Sunday, June 10 and run through June 16. This event is free and open to the public.

Click HERE for USA Shooting National Championships Schedule of Events PDF »

This year’s National Championship will also be the first Nationals where the new ISSF shooting format will be in place, with men and women taking the same number of record shots in competition.

USA Shooting national championships fort benning georgia ISSF smallbore air rifle pistol

National titles and slots on the National/National Junior/National Paralympic Teams will be up for grabs as athletes compete in individual Olympic and Paralympic events in Rifle and Pistol disciplines, as well as Men’s and Women’s 50m Prone Rifle, Men’s 25m Center Fire and Standard Pistol and Men’s 50m Free Pistol. This match will also serve as the selection match for the 2018 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championships to be held August 31 – September 15 in Changwon, South Korea. Shooters who’ve already earned slots on the World Championship Team will be looking to Nationals as as a tune-up prior for the Worlds.

USA Shooting national championships fort benning georgia ISSF smallbore air rifle pistol

Among the notable Rifle athletes who will be competing in Fort Benning are three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ginny Thrasher, and two-time Olympian Michael McPhail of the USAMU. Emmons and Thrasher posted the top finishes for American Rifle athletes this year on the ISSF circuit. Emmons just missed the podium at the April 2018 World Cup in Changwon, finishing fourth in Men’s Three-Position Rifle. Thrasher finished fifth in Women’s Air Rifle at the World Cup in Fort Benning just three weeks ago.

Ginny Thrasher USA Shooting National Championships Fort Benning

Paralympic Competition Draws Shooters from Many Nations

In addition to the National Championships, this event is also a World Shooting Para Sport-sanctioned (WSPS, formerly IPC) match so Paralympic athletes from the U.S., Ireland, Canada, Ukraine and Columbia will also compete in this match across the Paralympic Rifle and Pistol events.

USA Shooting National Championships Fort Benning

USA Shooting National Championships Fort Benning

Archive photos courtesy NRA Competitive Shooting.

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March 29th, 2016

PALMA World Championship on Shooting USA Television

Palma Trophy Facts Team Match National Camp Perry Wind Coach

This week’s episode of Shooting USA TV features the 2015 Palma World Championships. The World Fullbore Championships and ICFRA World Long Range Palma Team Championship were held at Camp Perry this past summer. The last time the USA hosted the Palma Championship was 1992 in Raton, New Mexico. The event won’t return to the USA for another 28 years. If you want to see the world’s best sling shooters in action, tune in to this episode of Shooting USA on the Outdoor Channel.

This Team Championship is a prestigious match at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards with national squads competing for the prized Palma Trophy (see below). The 2015 Team Championship was secured by the talented United Kingdom squad.

Team Palma Perry UK British World Championship Shooting USA

Palma Team World Championships
The Team Palma match is the oldest, continuously-running rifle match in the world. This event was first held in 1876 in Creedmoor, New York as a challenge match to mark America’s Centennial. British Commonwealth nations were invited and the American team won the first title. The Palma World Championships currently take place every four years. This summer the event was held in the USA, with the top eight teams in the world competing at Camp Perry in Ohio. The next Palma Team World Championships will be held in New Zealand in 2019.

Palma Trophy Facts Team Match National Camp Perry Wind Coach“It’s fantastic. It is the greatest honor you could ever get to represent your country. We wouldn’t give it up for anything,” says Australia Palma Team Member, Ben Emms. The match itself takes place over two days, with each team shooting at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. Competitors shoot a modern target rifle with iron (aperture) sights. All rifles are chambered for the .308 Win (7.62×51) with 155-grain bullets. Wind calls are made by each team’s Wind Coach. “His job is very complex. He’s up there, he’s watching the mirage, the wind flags, and paying attention to the other targets down range,” says American Team Member Amanda Elsenboss.

The top individual shooter in the 2015 Team match was Great Britain’s Toby Raincock, who dropped only one point over two days to finish with 449-55V, a new record individual score that will be very hard to surpass. The next best individual score was the 447-49V by fellow Brit Jon Underwood. The top American shooter was John Whidden, who finished with a 445-45V.

Palma Trophy Facts Team Match National Camp Perry Tiffany'sThe Palma Team Trophy
Originally named the Centennial Trophy, in honor of the Centennial celebration of the independence of the United States of America, the Palma Trophy was commissioned from Tiffany’s at a cost of $1,500. The trophy was a full-sized replica of a Roman Legion standard, executed in bronze with silver and gold inlay. On the banner of the standard was the legend, “In the name of the United States of America to the Riflemen of the world”. Above the banner was an eagle, bearing in its talons a wreath of palm leaves and a plaque on which was the single word, “PALMA”, the Latin word for palm tree, which was used by the Romans to signify victory, or the ultimate in excellence.

Because the word Palma was so easily seen, the trophy soon became known as the “Palma Trophy”, and by 1878 was referred to officially by that name. The sriginal seven and one-half foot trophy is now lost, having not been seen since at least 1954. Serving in its place is a copy which was commissioned by Dr. Herbert M. Aitken of Eau Claire, WI. The copy was made from the original Tiffany blue-prints at a cost of $32,500. Dr. Aitken has given this copy of the Palma Trophy to the NRA for use in the Palma Match. The trophy is retained by the winning team until the next Palma Match.

In 2008, the Palma Trophy was returned to the NRA, and it was decided that the trophy, once refurbished, will travel to the host nation for the match every four years, then returned to the NRA for safekeeping.

The first competition for the Palma Team was a challenge match for which the British Commonwealth nations were invited. The match was fired in 1876 at the old Creedmoor Range on Long Island as part of the Centennial celebration of the United States. Teams representing Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States took part. The match is currently fired on a four-year interval.

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September 10th, 2014

Watch the ISSF Shooting World Championships from Spain

Eurovision ISSF mobile app

Want to watch the ISSF World Shooting Championships taking place in Granada, Spain? ABC, CBS, FOX, or NBC won’t be airing the World Championships at all, but you can watch ISSF shooting action by way of internet “web-casting”.

Eurovision is providing extensive coverage of ISSF Championship events. Match footage (including live Finals coverage) is available online on the ISSF website (ISSF-Sports.org), and through the Eurovision App for Apple and Android devices. Highlights will also be uploaded to the ISSF YouTube Channel.

Eurovision ISSF mobile app

Free Eurovision App for Mobile Devices
The Eurovision Sports Live App makes it easy to watch live streaming video, replays, and highlights from the ISSF Shooting Championships. To download the App, go to the Eurovision download page or click the appropriate link below.

Eurovision Sports App
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October 22nd, 2011

Great Britain Wins 2011 Palma Match at World Championships

It’s Sunday, October 22nd in Australia, on the other side of the International Dateline. That means that the World Long Range Rifle Championships (WLRC) has concluded. The last major event was the Palma Cup Match, the most prestigious event in full-bore competition. The 2011 Palma Match has been completed with Team Great Britain the clear winner with a total Aggregate of 7027-651V. That’s 35 points ahead of South Africa which took second with a score of 6992-651V. (Interestingly had exactly the same V-count, for Center hits). Team USA captured the Bronze Medal, finishing third with a total of 6980-655.

Yanks Finish Third
Our friend Kelly Bachand, one of the Team USA Palma shooters, reports: “I’m a very proud member of the 2011 bronze medal winning USA Palma Team! There was very, very stiff competition and the conditions on the range tested our coaches and shooters thoroughly. After two long days of shooting we found ourselves bested by Great Britain and South Africa. While we did not win gold, this was still a tremendous accomplishment for our team, and I was very proud to shoot alongside the best rifle shooters in our country and from around the world.”

Link for Match Results
Preliminary results for the Palma Team Match and all the 2011 World Championships events are available online. For results for both individual and team events, visit the WLRC Results Page.

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October 8th, 2011

World Long Range Championship Gets Underway In Australia

Story by Kerrin Brinkman for The NRA Blog.
The 2011 United States Long Range Rifle Team is in Brisbane, Australia and starts competing today in the World Long Range Rifle Championships for the prestigious Palma Trophy. Taking place at the Belmont Shooting Complex near Brisbane from October 8-22, 2011, the competition is 135 years old and only takes place every three to four years, with the last competition held in 2007. The United States has won 13 of the 28 Palma Matches, and Team USA is hoping to clinch another win this year.

USA National Palma Team in Australia

USA National Palma Team in Australia

The course of fire is comprised of three slow fire stages fired from the prone position. The first stage is 15 shots at 800 yards, the second stage is 15 shots at 900 yards, and the third stage is 15 shots at 1,000 yards. Targets are six feet square with a 20-inch black bullseye (10-ring), and an aiming circle of 44 inches that includes a 9-ring and an 8-ring. A perfect score for each stage is 150 points. Rifles are single-shot bolt actions equipped with iron sights, and ammunition is 7.62×51/.308 Winchester caliber using a bullet weighing 155 grains. CLICK HERE for Current Match Results (Updated Daily)

United States 2011 Long Range Rifle National Team Members and Advisors

Shooting Members: Bob Mead, Bryan Litz, David Littlefield, Gary Rasmussen, John Whidden, Justin Skaret, Kelly Bachand, Lane Buxton, Nancy Tompkins, Noma Mayo, Norm Anderson, Robert Gustin, Sherri Gallagher, Steve Cunico, Steve Hardin, Trevor Hengehold, Trevor Massey, Trudie Fay, Ty Cooper, and Wayne Forshee.

USA National Palma Team in Australia

Team Captain: Dennis Flaharty
Vice Team Captain/Adjutant: Dan Simpson
Vice Team Captain: Dr. Tom Whitaker
Armorer: Robert Gamboa
Head Team Coach: Emil Praslick III
NRA Advisor: Middleton Tompkins


Belmont Shooting Complex — World-Class!
The Belmont Range near Brisbane, Queensland is a beautiful facility. Firing mounds are maintained like golf greens and there are over 25 flags. With great facilities (and no pit duty!), it’s truly the lap of luxury for Fullbore shooting. Belmont is the largest shooting complex in the southern hemisphere and most target shooting sports are conducted there. Coordinates: 27°30 ’40″S 153°7’50″E. It is the home of the Queensland Rifle Association (QRA). (Editor’s Note: Click the tab below the photo to see larger image — it’s even more impressive.)


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June 21st, 2011

Radical New External Magazine Loader for Benchrest Rifles

The faster a benchrester can send his rounds down-range, the better his chances to complete his 5- or 10-shot group in the same conditions before a major change. Shooting fast is NOT always the best strategy, but many world records have been set using this technique. Even if you’re a “picker”, there are times when you’ll benefit from shooting fast. With current benchrest hardware you still have to manually load each cartridge, even if you have a drop-port action or if you have an ejector that kicks out the fired case. To speed up the loading process, benchrest shooters employ elevated loading blocks that place the cartridges inches away from the loading port. That speeds things up, but you still have to manually pluck your cartridge and stuff it in the action… until now. Get ready for a major new technology that could change the benchrest game.

External Horizontal Benchrest Magazine
Carlos Gonzales, a benchrest shooter (and Professor of Engineering) from Argentina, has perfected a horizontal, external “floating” magazine that can reliably feed PPC cartridges as fast as you can work the bolt. This is interesting because, in 2009, this Editor discussed an attached horizontal feeding tray with three different action makers. All of them dismissed the idea as impractical or too radical. Well guys, it looks like Carlos pulled it off.

The Gonzales “magazine” is actually an open-ended, covered metal tray situated on the left side of the action (but it does not touch the gun — it is supported by the rest). This feeds into the left-side loading port. The cases are gravity-fed, but the shooter has positive control over feeding. A cable with a push-button control runs from the magazine down to the rear foot of the pedestal rest. You just push the button to drop one cartridge from the magazine. We don’t know exactly how the cartridge is released in the magazine itself, but in the video below you can see how the push-button works.

You push the button as soon as a spent cartridge ejects (watch Carlos’s left hand in the video above). It is a clever set-up, and as you can see, the magazine system works very, very fast. The video shows Carlos running five cartridges through his action in just 9 seconds (time marker 00:31 – 00:40). That’s fast! On a repeat viewing focus on Carlos’s left hand to see how he works the push-button cartridge dispensing control.

Kudos to Carlos for his great new invention. According to Pascale Fishbach: “Everything Carlos makes is of extreme quality. The magazine loader will be available just after the world championships in France, where hopefully a couple of them should be put to work.”

Now the question remains… will the official benchrest “powers that be” allow this device, or will they, fearing change, say it is forbidden under current rules. We would like to see the Gonzales magazine ruled legal for both domestic (American) and International competition. But, we acknowledge that Carlos’s invention could raise the cost of competition. The Gonzales mag would be one more “go-fast” item that serious benchresters would have to purchase.

Credit to Pascale Fischbach for sourcing this story and video link.
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August 5th, 2010

Richmond Ties Record in Winning Double-Trap Championship

Joshua Richmond, USAMUAt the 50th ISSF World Shooting Championship in Munich, American Joshua Richmond shot a perfect 50 in the finals to win the Double Trap World Championship. Shattering 50 out of 50 targets in the final stage, Richmond hit 196 total targets overall (out of 200 possible), equaling the current ISSF World Record record set last year. That record was set by China’s Hu Binyuan, who took the bronze in Munich, after Russia’s Vasily Mosin captured the Silver Medal in a tie-breaker shoot-off. Richmond’s victory secured an important Olympic Quota Place for Team USA. Josh is currently a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

You can watch Richmond’s amazing record-tying performance on the ISSF-Sports.org website. CLICK this LINK, then select “Final Double Trap Men” on the Right.

Joshua Richmond World Championship

After Richmond’s final match he was surrounded by his American team-mates, who celebrated the first Olympic Quota won by the US Shotgun Team in this World Championship. Richmond told the ISSF press team: “It feels simply great! To win a World title, equaling the world record and securing Olympic Quota place… I still don’t know how I made it! I [was] Junior World Champion in 2005… to win a title in the open category five years later is a dream come true!”

Top photo courtesy USAShooting.com

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November 18th, 2009

Sanderson and Rhode Named 2009 USA Shooting Athletes of the Year

Keith SandersonUSA Shooting (USAS) has named pistol shooter Keith Sanderson and shotgunner Kim Rhode as the 2009 USAS Athletes of the Year. Keith and Kim were chosen based on the USAS selection procedure, a points system that rewards performance in major competitions.

Sanderson, a 2008 Olympian from Texas, earned the Male Athlete of the Year honor after an outstanding World Cup season in 2009, winning an unprecedented three medals on the ISSF World Cup circuit. Sanderson captured the gold at the Beijing World Cup, silver in Changwon, Korea and bronze at the World Cup Munich in the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event. Sanderson also grabbed fifth place at the Milan World Cup. In addition, Sanderson finished in third place at the 2009 Rifle/Pistol Fall Selection Match at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Kim RhodeFor the third consecutive year, four-time Olympian Rhode (Calif.) was selected as the USA Shooting Female Athlete of the Year. Rhode won two World Cup medals this year, claiming the silver in San Marino and the bronze in Munich in the Women’s Skeet event. Rhode was also the 2009 National Champion and finished first at the 2009 Shotgun Fall Selection Match, earning a spot on the 2010 World Shooting Championship team. Rhode finished seventh at the 2009 Shotgun World Championships.

The USAS also recognizes discipline Athletes of the Year, who earned the highest number of points in each discipline. Sanderson was the male Athlete of the Year for pistol and Rhode was the female Athlete of the Year for shotgun. USAMU member Michael McPhail was the top male athlete for rifle. McPhail had an excellent year in the Men’s 50m Prone Rifle event, capturing two bronze medals on the World Cup circuit and a silver medal at the World Cup Final. Jamie Beyerle won t women’s rifle title for the fourth year in a row. USAMU member Josh Richmond was the men’s shotgun discipline Athlete of the year. Richmond, the 2009 National Champion, captured the Men’s Double Trap gold medal at the 2009 World Cup and finished fourth at the Shotgun World Championships.

Photos courtesy USA Shooting.

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