February 8th, 2018

Berger Southwest Nationals 2018 — Bigger and Better Than Ever

2018 Berger Southwest Nationals

The Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) is the biggest and best long-range shooting event west of the Mississippi, and the best mid-winter event by far. And because it includes both F-Class and Sling (Palma) disciplines, the SWN attracts more top shooters than even the F-Class Nationals. You will find multiple National and even World Champions on the firing line. Combine the level of competition with warm Arizona weather and a massive prize table and you have a stellar event that is the highlight of any long-range shooter’s season.

Berger Southwest Nationals bullets ben avery phoenix arizona

This year’s Berger SWN is even more notable because Berger Bullets has relocated to Mesa, Arizona, so this is truly Berger’s “home match”. Berger moved to Arizona after the company was acquired by the Nammo Lapua group. Berger bullets are now distributed in the USA by the Missouri-based Capstone Precision Group, which also markets Lapua brass, bullets and ammo, SK Rimfire ammunition, and Vihtavuori powder.

Sling Shooters and F-Classers compete on the same firing line at the Berger SW Nationals. Sling competitors are on the left with F-TR and F-Open shooters on the right.

Berger SW Nationals

Berger SW Nationals F-Open

The Berger SWN has amazing awards. Here is one of the Native American-themed perpetual trophies.
Berger SW Nationals trophy Ghost Dancer

This year, as usual, the Berger SWN started off with a Shooters’ Clinic on Monday and Tuesday. Experts provided instruction on wind reading, match strategies, shooting technique and more. This initial clinic also affords SWN participants a chance to check out the Mid Tompkins Range at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility north of Phoenix, Arizona. This range can be challenging, no doubt, but the typical calm morning conditions have allowed records to be set here.

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Arizona

Yesterday, Wednesday, February 7, the 2018 SW Nationals competition phase began with the Mid-Range Match. F-Classers and sling shooters set-up on the firing line with targets 600 yards away. Wednesday turned out to be very tough, with very strong, gusty winds. Still there were some impressive performances. Mastering the tough conditions, Christine Harris shot 598-31X to win the F-Open division, beating all the male shooters, including many past National Champions. You Go Girl!

Here is the firing line for Wednesday’s 600-yard Match. Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.
SWN Sherri Jo Barrels 600 yard match

Full Results for Wednesday’s Mid-Range Match are published on the McMillan Facebook Page.

Berger SW Nationals 600-yard mid-range

Berger Southwest Nationals Wednesday

From here on it gets even tougher. Today, Thursday, there’s a four-man Team match with with 15 shots for record each at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. There will be three classes: Palma, F-Open (shot from rest), and F-TR (.223 Rem and .308 Win shot from bipod)

Here is AccurateShooter.com’s System Admin, who shot F-Open with Team Lapua/Brux/Borden on Thursday.
Jay Christopherson SWN Berger team Lapua

Berger Southwest Nationals bullets ben avery phoenix arizona

Warm Arizona Weather
Wonder warm weather is predicted for the whole week, It was 79° on Wednesday and temps in the low 80s are predicted for the rest of the week. We didn’t hear any complaints from the Canadians who fled ice and snow to shoot the match. It was sunny and warm in Arizona as promised. This is a great location for a shooting holiday, and you can even book a “dawn patrol” balloon ride near the Ben Avery range.

Berger SW Nationals

2018 Berger SWN Schedule of Events

Monday and Tueday, 5 and 6 February, 2018, 9:00 AM
Shooting Clinic: Clinic will include instruction in both classroom and live fire settings. Check in starts by 7:00 AM and instruction will start at 9:00 AM.

Wednesday, 7 February, 2018, 9:00 AM
Mid-Range Match – Three 20 shot matches at 600 yards. (Divisions: Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)

Thursday, 8 February 2018, 9:00 AM
4-Man Palma Team Match – 15 shots for record at each of 800, 900 and 1000 yards. (Divisions: Palma, F-Open, F-TR). NOTE: Practice available to those not shooting with a team.

Friday, 9 February 2018, 8:30 AM – Start of Grand Agg
Individual Palma Match – 15 shots for record at each of 800, 900 and 1000 yards. (Divisions: Palma, F-Open, F-TR). BONUS: Swap Meet – after conclusion of fire at 1000 yard line.

Saturday, 10 February 2018, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20 shots matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions: Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
4 Man Team Match – 20 shots at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
— Banquet Dinner – Approximately 5:00 pm at Indoor Range.

Sunday, 11 February 2018, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20 shots matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Any Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
— Awards Ceremony at the Indoor Range.

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Competition Tips from Bryan Litz

To help competitors at the Berger SW Nationals, here are some smart tips from Bryan Litz. Bryan knows the Ben Avery range well. He won the Mid-Range and Long-Range F-TR National Championships there in 2015. And twice he has won the sling division at the Southwest Nationals. Here are wise words from Bryan:

Competition TIP ONE. Improving your scores in long range competition is a constant process of self-assessment. After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. Veteran shooters will lose far fewer points to a smaller list of mistakes. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues. Sometimes the weak links that you need to work on aren’t your favorite thing to do, and success will take work in these areas as well.

Competition TIP TWO. Select your wind shooting strategy carefully. For beginners and veterans, most points are typically lost to wind. Successful shooters put a lot of thought into their approach to wind shooting. Sometimes it’s best to shoot fast and minimize the changes you’ll have to navigate. Other times it’s best to wait out a condition which may take several minutes. Develop a comfortable rest position so you have an easier time waiting when you should be waiting.

Competition TIP THREE. Actively avoid major train wrecks. Sounds obvious but it happens a lot. Select equipment that is reliable, get comfortable with it and have back-ups for important things. Don’t load on the verge of max pressure, don’t go to an important match with a barrel that’s near shot out, physically check tightness of all important screws prior to shooting each string. Observe what train wrecks you and others experience, and put measures in place to avoid them.