November 30th, 2009

Nielson Wins Inaugural Ojai 600-yard Benchrest Match

Don NielsonOn Sunday November 29th, the Ojai Valley Gun Club hosted its first-ever NBRSA-sanctioned, 600-yard Benchrest match. Ojai boasts a beautiful range in the Southern California foothills about 40 road miles from the coast. Many Pala Range regulars from the San Diego area were on hand, and some “big names” turned up for the event including Lou Murdica and 2007 NBRSA 600-yard Champion Don Nielson. In sunny but wildly changeable conditions (ranging from near-calm to 20 mph gusts), Don showed how it was done, winning the match with his 6.5×47 Lapua rifle.

Don finished first in ALL LG and HG categories except Heavy Gun score, where he placed second. In Light Gun class, Don shot a 2.207″ Agg for three, 5-shot targets (1.523″, 2.344″, 2.754″). Mind you this was in conditions where some pretty good shooters were off paper. Don said the secret was to shoot fast: “When it’s switchy, you can’t wait. I pretty much never stopped and never slowed down. Even for the 10-shot Heavy Gun Groups I think I was done in 30 seconds.” Second in Two Gun Overall was Brenda Hill. Brenda has established herself as one of California’s top F-Class and long-range shooters. At Ojai, Brenda was shooting a very accurate 6BRX rifle smithed by Leroy Johnson, jpgrifles [at] John Crawford, Bruce Duncan, and Lou Murdica also all shot well in the difficult conditions.

Ojai Valley Gun Club

On the firing line we found some very interesting equipment. John Crawford of the Bay Area had a beautiful Leonard-stocked gun chambered in 6mm Grendel. John is getting over 2900 fps with his 6mm Grendel, shooting 105gr Berger VLDs. He does have a long throat, but that is still impressive — 6BR velocities from the smaller-diameter Grendel case. Along with its gorgeous wood stock, Crawford’s rifle featured some very cool hardware. The trigger guard was radically skeletonized and anodized black. John’s scope was mounted with 4-bolt integrated scope rings/bases with 20 MOA built-in elevation. Produced by Marvin Pearson in Oregon, (360) 748-3429, these custom ring/bases were beautifully finished with radiused edges. Pearson’s ring/bases are available for 1″, 30mm, or 34mm tubes, with zero elevation “pre-load”, or up to 30 MOA of built-in elevation. Pearson charges $125.00 per set (plus shipping).

Trigger Guard, Custom Rings

Crawford carried his 6mm Grendel ammo in compact 100-round ammo ammo cases from J&J Products. These cases pack big capacity in a relatively small footprint. There is enough clearance for long VLD-style bullets, but not so much extra “headroom” that the rounds can fall out if the box is inverted. John uses a piece of pink foam, cut to box dimensions, to protect his bullet tips when traveling. These 100-round J&J boxes measure 5.375″L x 5.375″W x 2.400″D and cost just $4.88 (J&J item BR-100).

J&J Products BR100 ammo case J&J Products BR100 ammo case

6-6.5x47 ammo caddyMatch director Barry Bluhm had a very nice ammo caddy that places ten loaded rounds up close to the loading port for fast cycling. Southpaw Bluhm keeps his ammo caddy on the right side, but the design would work equally well when used on the left side by a right-handed shooter.

Barry, who shoots a 6-6.5×47 for the most part, deserves a huge amount of credit for organizing this event. He spent many long hours building new target frames, and organized volunteers to man the pits and run the range. Without Barry’s dedication and hard work, this 600-yard match, hopefully the first of many registered events at Ojai, couldn’t have happened.

To learn more about the Ojai Valley Gun Club, or view the schedule of upcoming events, visit

6-6.5x47 ammo caddy

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