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February 23rd, 2013

Walt Berger (in his 80s) Tops the Field at Visalia

Walt Berger Visalia benchrestLast weekend, at a 100/200 benchrest match in Visalia, CA, Walt Berger, founder of Berger Bullets, won both the Light Varmint (LV) and Heavy Varmint (HV) Grand Aggregates, as well as the Two-Gun Overall title. That’s an impressive sweep.

Walt, who is in his mid-eighties, beat a field of talented shooters who were 20-40 years younger. What’s that line: “Old age and treachery always triumphs over youth and skill”? Actually, Walt has plenty of skill and it wasn’t treachery that earned Walt his Visalia victories. He made the right wind calls, aimed true, and he had good equipment.

Walt was shooting a Saguaro-actioned rifle fitted with the new Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition Scope. The light weight of the Saguaro action (just 26.6 oz.) and a shorter-than-usual 20 1/4″ barrel allowed Walt to make weight in the 10.5-lb Light Varmint Class, even with the 27.87-ounce Nightforce Comp Scope. Walt did switch to a heavier barrel for the 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint class. But his LV results suggest that Walt could have won the HV Agg using the lighter barrel as well. Walt was using 6mm Berger Column FB bullets for both LV and HV.

Saguaro Action Marsh benchrest
L to R: Jim Nicolas, Tom Price, Don Nielson, Walt Berger, Bill Summers, George Pizzillo, Duke Rovarino, George Lozano, Joe Stanovich. CLICK HERE for full Match Results.

Shorter, Lighter Barrels for Short-Range Benchrest? — Boyd Allen
Given Walt Berger’s success with a 20.25″ barrel at Visalia, I wondered how much weight one could save with a shorter barrel and the svelte Saguaro action. I ran some models using Dan Lilja’s FREE Barrel Weight Calculation software which predicts stiffness and barrel weight. Using this software, I could model different barrel profiles and diameters, with the goal of saving weight without sacrificing stiffness.

I came up with an optimized barrel contour with a shorter cylinder length and more taper (.800″ at muzzle). The Lilja program said this barrel (at 20.5″) would be just as stiff as a typical 21.5″ benchrest barrel, but would be roughly 13.5 ounces lighter. That’s right, by changing the barrel profile and trimming 1″ from the barrel OAL we can save over thirteen ounces without losing stiffness (at least the software says so).

A Saguaro action is 3.9 ounces lighter than a Stolle Panda. Combine that with the 13.5-ounce weight saving from a shorter barrel (with optimized contour) and you get a total weight savings of 17.4 ounces — more than a pound! That opens up a whole new world for 10.5-lb LV rifles. That extra pound lets a shooter run a heavier scope, or he can put another pound of weight into the stock and/or tuner.

Saguaro Action Marsh benchrest

I discussed the topic of shorter, reduced-weight benchrest barrels with two world record-holding benchrest shooters who were at the Visalia match. They both observed that, while shorter barrels shot well, shorter barrels produced more blast/noise, causing flinch problems. Accordingly, both of these shooters stopped using shorter barrels. I wonder if “double coverage” ear protection (with custom molded plugs and electronic muffs) would attenuate the blast enough to make the shorter barrels more “shootable”. Perhaps, then, we would see more shorter, lighter-contour barrels at matches.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
February 23rd, 2013

NRA Tournament Operations Guide Now Available Online

NRA Tournament Guide FreeA digital version of the NRA Tournament Operations Guide is now available FREE online. While supplies last, there are still some copies of the previous version available through the NRA Program Materials Center. However, the newer, free online version will replace it.

The 56-page NRA Tournament Operations Guide is loaded with information that will help your club or organization run efficient events. Featured topics include tournament planning, range operations, statistics, awards, and much more. A great resource for all match directors, the new guide covers eight different shooting disciplines.

The NRA Collegiate Shooting Program brochure is also available online. More Competitive Shooting Division  literature will be online soon. Check the NRA Blog for updates.

Read the Complete Tournament Guide Right Here
A full version of the Tournament Guide is embedded below. Use the white arrows to move from page to page within the document. The down arrow advances one page at a time. Or, you can simply use the scroll bar on the right. NOTE: The “+” control zooms the page to 100% (or larger) for easier reading:

This story by Kerrin Brinkman courtesy the NRA Blog.
Permalink Competition, News No Comments »