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February 14th, 2023

3-Shot Group at 600 Forms Hi-Viz Heart — Valentine’s Day Special

Valentine's Day Group Accurateshooter 600 yards Savage .308 win

Valentines Day Cupid Arrow Accurateshooter ForumValentine’s Day 2023 — Best Wishes
That’s right, today is February 14th — Valentine’s Day. While testing a rifle at the range a few seasons back, Forum member Ron B. (aka Snakepit) managed a 3-shot group that would definitely make Mr. Cupid proud. Yep, Ron shot a lovely cluster that formed a sweet little heart in the splatter-type target.

That’s nice enough, mind you — but it gets even better. Ron’s heart-shaped, three-shot group was shot at SIX HUNDRED yards, making this a Valentine’s Day Masterpiece of precision shooting (and, we have to say it, quite a little bit of luck). Good Shootin’ Snakepit!

600-Yard Heart Shot with a Savage and Factory Ammo!
In our Shooter’s Forum, Ron explained that this group was actually shot with factory ammo… from a Savage no less:

“This will be one that may be hard to believe for some but it is my Savage 12 FTR .308 and I was shooting 168gr Federal Gold Medal Match. The stock has been modified for benchrest shooting with a 3″-wide shoe on the forward stock. I do not shoot this rifle very often as most of my time is spent with my 30″ Brux barreled 6BR working up loads and shooting. That day I had put the scope back on it and was sighting it in at 600 yards and those were my last three shots after my last scope correction and then I was out of ammo. This rifle has always been very accurate. The weather was good, no wind or mirage.”

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June 13th, 2017

Best F-Class Cartridge Choices For Mid-Range and Long-Range

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Cartridge Choices for F-Class Competition

By Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC,

There are hundreds of cartridge types capable of winning in F-Open. For F-TR you can shoot either the .223 Rem or .308 Win, but you have many load options. This article will focus on proven choices, currently used by the top F-Class shooters in the world. Our discussion will analyze cartridge selection based on the four different F-Class sub-disciplines: Open Mid-Range, Open Long-Range, F-TR Mid-Range, and F-TR Long Range.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Kovan
Click image to view full-screen photo.

Mid-Range F-Open Cartridges

For starters, a .300 WSM is certainly capable of winning mid-range matches but it is not ideal. So what is ideal, and why? F-Class Mid-Range matches usually are usually shot at 300, 500, or 600 yards — or all three. At those distances the 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges rule. In moderate conditions, the 6mm Dasher is unbeatable. Its low recoil along with its super grouping ability and good ballistics make it my number one choice for Mid-Range.

Best bullets for the 6mm Dasher are: Vapor Trail 103gr, Berger 105 Hybrid, 108 BT, and 105 VLD (hunting). Best powders are: Varget, H4895, and Reloder 15.

Choices for Mid-Range in Tougher Conditions:
We all know that conditions are not always “moderate” that’s why something a little bit bigger will save you a “Nine” or two. The 6.5X47 Lapua was designed for 300-meter competition, but as soon as it was released, it was adopted by F-Class, benchrest, and tactical shooters. It offers great ballistics with very low recoil and big “accuracy window”. Lapua makes great brass for it (no surprise there) and Berger makes great bullets: 130gr VLD, 140gr VLD, 140gr Hybrids. Best powders in most barrels are Varget and H4350, I don’t use double-based powders such as Reloder 17 and the Vihtavuori N500 series because of their unpredictable performance day to day (greater temp sensitivity).

The 6.5X47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is also a great option for mid range matches. I was able to easily get 3200 fps with 105 hybrids and H4350.

Choice for Long-Range F-Open Competition

In Long-Range F-Open Class (out to 1000 yards), the big, high-BC bullets rule. If I had to pick one cartridge for F-Class (both mid- and long-range) I would pick the .284 Winchester or one of its variants. The .284 Win is currently dominating in F-Open competition. It offers great barrel life, it is super-easy to tune and its recoil is very manageable. The best bullets for it by far (in my opinion), are the Berger 180 Hybrids. But Sierra’s new 183gr MK bullet (with factory-uniformed meplats) seems to perform very well as does the Berger 180 VLD. Best powders for the .284 Win are H4350 and H4831SC.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Long-Range Only F-Open Cartridge
As much as I like the .284 Win, for long-range competitions I like the .300 WSM even more. If you look at a .300 WSM and a 6mm Dasher side by side, they appear almost identical in geometry — the .300 WSM looks like an “super-sized” Dasher. Both cartridges are currently the “darlings” of long-range benchrest due to their extraordinary grouping ability and huge “node’’ windows. Big accuracy windows allow loads to perform well in different conditions and geographical locations. That’s obviously very important if you travel to compete. The .300 WSM loaded with Berger 215gr or 230gr Hybrids is very tough to beat at long range, and it is currently my number one choice.

The 7mm RSAUM is another outstanding long-range round. It resembles a 6BR on steroids and it is almost as easy to tune. Best bullets for it are Berger 180gr Hybrids, 195gr EOLs, and Sierra’s 183gr MatchKing. Best powders for the 7mm RSAUM are: H4350, H4831SC, and VV N160.

Top Caliber/Bullet Combos for F-TR

In F-TR competition, the choice is clear — a .308 Win throated for Berger 185gr BTLRs and 200gr Hybrids will win in mid-range AND long-range comps. Many championships have been won, and many records set with those two bullets in the .308 Win. To quote Danny Biggs (a two times FTR National Champion) “The 185 BTLR is the best bullet for .308 Win ever made”.

The Berger 215gr Hybrids have been used to win many competitions including recently the 2015 F-Class Nationals. Bryan Litz won both the Mid-Range and Long-Range 2015 Championships using 215s. Bryan’s rifle is shown below:

Bryan Litz F-TR 2015 National Championship rifle

I recommend chambers throated for the 185/200 grain projectiles over the 215/230 grain bullets. The reason is that if you have your barrel throated out for the 215s or the 230s, you could have a “slow” barrel and max out on pressure before the desired velocity is reached. Optimum freebore for the 230s is too long for the 185/200s, so you would be limited to using only 215/230gr bullets in that barrel.Furthermore, the recoil increase with heavier bullets is substantial, causing the rifle to be more difficult to shoot.

.223 Remington Cartridge Diagram.223 Rem — Not A Competitive Option
I would stay away from the .223 Remington. On paper the 90gr VLD will shoot inside most .308 Win loads even at a 1000 yards. But in reality, on average, the .223 Rem, regardless of what powder/bullet combo is used, cannot compete with the .308 Win. [Editor: The equipment lists at major F-TR matches will confirm Kovan’s conclusion here.]

Conclusion (and Other Options)
This article covers only the (currently) most popular cartridge/bullet combos for F-Class (F-Open and F-TR). As I said in the beginning, many cartridge types are capable of winning but are not listed due to their low popularity, case design, or lack of quality components. All of the above information is based on my personal experience and it is meant to help new shooters choose the right cartridges for F-Class matches. Thanks for reading and good luck — Emil Kovan

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 5 Comments »
May 6th, 2017

Optics Review: IOR Valdada 36x42mm Benchrest Scope

IOR Valdada Benchrest 36X 36x42mm optic scope James Mock

Note: In this review, James Mock talks about his experience with an IOR Valdada 36X fixed power scope. A newer, slightly-modified version of this optic is now available. The current IOR Valdada 36x42mm scope is just like the scope James reviews, except that the rear ocular lens is slightly smaller and the new version is about three ounces (3 oz.) lighter. All of Mock’s observations and comments otherwise apply to the current production model.

IOR Valdada 36x42mm Benchrest Riflescope

Review by James Mock
For the past eight years I have been using the IOR Valdada 36x42mm Benchrest scope on my 6mm Dasher/6PPC switch barrel rifle. It has performed flawlessly during this time. Perhaps this may be the best 600-yard fixed power scope in existence. With the 1 MOA reticle one can judge the distance from sighter to point of aim very accurately. With this knowledge, he/she can either adjust the reticle to the point of aim or may use the hash marks for a definite aiming point. The 1/8th-MOA adjustments are positive and repeatable. There is a provision to set a “zero” after adjustments.

The lens in this scope may be its outstanding feature. The glass comes from Schott Glass Werkes of Germany, and in my opinion it is as good as one can buy. Another great feature is the spring that is set against the erector tube (this is similar to the system used by the Nightforce BR model). The photo below shows the housing containing that spring.

IOR Valdada Benchrest 36X 36x42mm optic scope James Mock

Reticle Options — Fine Cross-Hair or MOA with Hash Marks
The IOR Valdada 36x42mm scope is offered with a fine cross-hair for those not wanting the MOA reticle. My choice is the MOA reticle with 1/8th-minute dot in the center.

Tested in Competition — This Scope’s a Winner
My first success using this scope was at the NBRSA Nationals at Desoto, Kansas in 2010. I won the 200-Yard Sporter Agg with a .1727. The scope performed flawlessly and I was lucky enough to pull the trigger at the right time. The following year I finished second behind Jeff Thompson III in the Sporter 200 at the NBRSA Nationals at Midland, Texas. Hall of Fame shooter Don Powell commented that my shooting had really improved since I switched to the Valdada. This scope is rock solid and it surely didn’t hurt my shooting.

IOR Valdada Benchrest 36X 36x42mm optic scope James Mock

I have not shot much short range Benchrest in the last few years, but I still use the Valdada in 300- and 600-Yard matches quite often. Its adjustments are crisp and accurate. The adjustments move the reticle 0.125 inches at 100 yards and therefore 0.75 inches at 600. Using the MOA reticle and the precise adjustments, one can determine the number of clicks needed by using the reticle to see how far off of the aiming point one is on the sighting gongs. If a person wants to “hold off” rather than adjust the scope, he/she can do so by using the hash marks for a definite aiming point.

Updates to IOR 36x42mm Scope — Slimmer and Trimmer
Since I got my IOR Valdada 36x42mm scope, there have been some changes made. My scope weighs about 25 ounces but the new one is about 3 ounces lighter. The folks at IOR (Valdada) got input from Bart Sauter and made the ocular (eyepiece) lens smaller and the scope lighter. Bart is now a distributor for Valdada and many in the Benchrest community are now using this fine scope. Billy Stevens won the Super Shoot and qualified for the World Team using the Valdada. If you are interested, please contact Val Leautu in Littleton, CO at 303-979-4578 or Bart Sauter at 270-879-4279.

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 1 Comment »
April 13th, 2017

2016 600 Yard IBS National Championship

Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd

This story involves a match held last fall, but we know many of our readers compete in the Mid-Range (600-Yard) Benchrest discipline and follow developments in this sport. Accordingly we’re offering this report on the 2016 IBS Nationals held at the Big Piney Sportsman’s Club in Houston, Missouri.

The 600-Yard Nationals at Big Piney last September was a great event that drew 82 shooters from 14 different states. Competitors traveled from as far away as Florida, Idaho, and North Dakota to compete in the 2016 600-Yard International Benchrest Shooters National Championship. The weather was great and so was the food. A good time was had by all, and shooters praised the facility and the efficient way the match was run. The IBS offers a big “thank you” to everyone involved in running this excellent match. Their hard work and dedication deserves recognition.

On the forearm of this Heavy Gun was painted: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”
Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd

Two Gun Group Results | Heavy Gun Group Results | Light Gun Group Results

Here are the Class Winners at the 2016 IBS 600-yard Nationals in Missouri
Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd

The opening morning for Light Gun class proved to be challenging, as the start time was pushed back one hour due to the fog settling in the firing line. By the second half of the eight targets to be shot, shooters began to settle in and take control of the conditions. The Missouri shooters stayed on top with Ben Peters winning light gun score with a 385. Jason Walker took the group win with a 2.008” through 8 targets. With Tom Jacobs, Darrel Dacus, Jim Bauer, and Carrol Lance rounding out the top 5 in Light Gun overall it was going to be a hard fight to the finish.

Click Image to View Larger Equipment List
Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd
Look at the Caliber Column — Every Top 10 shooter in Light Gun Class shot either a 6mm BR Norma or a 6mm Dasher, an “Improved” version of the 6mm BR. In Heavy Gun it was 9 of 10 (with one unidentified 6.5mm). Hard to beat the 6mm BR and the Dasher for pure accuracy at 600 yards.

This competitor shot the match with a Labradar chronograph on his bench.
Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd

On Sunday the Heavy Gun class started right on time with the clouds keeping Saturday’s fog in check. Relay 3 started the day off strong, putting it on top shelf for everyone to follow. The conditions seemed to stay pretty steady and helped create opportunities for competitors to shoot some amazing groups. Tom Jacobs came through with a 1.685 Heavy Gun group Aggregate. Rookie shooters Jim Kowske and TJ Stroop put on great Heavy Gun performances. Jim was second in Heavy gun group with 1.996” and TJ shot his way to second in score with a 384. Jason Walker hung on winning Heavy Gun score with a 389. This set up Jason as the Heavy Gun overall winner.

The Big Piney Range is a pretty facility surrounded by trees.
Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd

Jason dominated the weekend landing himself a 2-Gun Overall Championship. The top Rookie honors went to T.J. Stroop. Sally Bauer won the Overall top female. Rory Jacobs was able to seal the top Junior spot. The Big Piney crew would like to thank everyone for being great friends and great competitors! We could not have done it without everyone!

The match organizers provided tasty BBQ banquets for hungry shooters.
Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd

Here competitors relax between relays at the Big Piney facility.
Big Piney 600 yard ibs nationals Missouri 600yd

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
February 8th, 2017

Berger SW Nationals Report — Mid-Range (600-Yard) Match

600 yard mid range Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

The competition phase of the Berger SW Nationals kicked off today with a 600-yard match for Palma, F-TR, and F-Open rifles. Today’s star was Lester Bruno, who drilled a 200-23X with a 6mm BRX F-Open rifle he built himself. This rifle features a BAT Action, Krieger barrel, and presentation-grade Bastogne Walnut stock. Loaded with Berger 105gr Hybrids, Varget Powder, and Federal 205m Primers, this rifle absolutely hammered at Ben Avery on Wednesday — Lester put 23 shots in a row in the half-MOA X-Ring at 600 yards. Under NRA rules, if you shoot all Xs through the designated string of fire (here 20 shots), you are allowed to keep shooting until one shot falls outside the X-Ring. Lester drilled three extra Xs after shooting all Xs for his designated 20-shot string.

Lester Bruno Sets Pending National 600-yard Record with 200-23X in F-Open Division
600 yard mid range lester bruno Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Lester was excited to set a pending National record, breaking the previous 600-yard record by one X: “Conditions were in my favor, and it was a lot of fun.” However, Lester revealed the record string was nerve-wracking: “I was nervous after I shot 20 and they told me I could keep shooting to try to break the record. I had no knowledge I was able to do that.” Lester took his time, watched the conditions, and shot carefully: “I held off probably at least half of my shots but never held out of the X-Ring. It depended on the condition. A left to right condition was pushing the bullet down so I was holding a little high but when it went right to left I held a little low. I was very patient.”

Lester was all smiles after his 200-23X performance this morning. He told us: “This will be my first record in this discipline though I’ve set records in short-range benchrest.” (Lester is a member of the Benchrest Hall of Fame).

How’d You Like a Rifle That Can Shoot 200-23X
NOTE: If you want a rifle that shoots like this, you may be lucky. Lester says this is a working prototype of a new line of match rifles he’ll be offering for sale through Bruno’s Shooter Supply. These will be high-end rifles for guys who want the very best. The Bastogne wood for Lester’s own gun cost over $1500.00 (that’s just for the blank), but it’s a beauty.

600 yard mid range lester bruno Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Calm Conditions — But You Needed to Watch the Mirage
Conditions were very good most of the day, with very little wind. However, there WERE subtle directional changes you need to monitor. Bryan Litz, who won both mid-range and long-range F-TR National Championships here at Ben Avery in 2015, said that he did have to hold one side or the other though the wind was very calm. With the mirage roiling and distorting the view through his scope, Bryan said the Bullseye looked like a Medusa head rather than a concentric circle.

F-TR competitor Ian Klemm also had a Mid-Range match for the ages, dropping just one point for the whole day, to finish at 599-38X, and win the F-TR class. We’re told this 599-38X was also a new National F-TR record. Ian was shooting a new McMillan XiT stock.

Here are the Top Five Competitors for Each Divsion:

SLING (Palma)
Allen Thomas, 600-40X
Benjamin Lucchesi, 600-37X
Erik Rhode, 599-49X
Anette Wachter, 599-45X
Trudie Fay, 599-39X
Dwayne Draggoo, 600-44X
Danny Biggs, 600-43X
Dan Bramley, 600-35X
Todd Hendricks, 600-34X
Don Nagel, 599-37X
Ian Klemm, 599-38X (New Record)
Phil Kelley, 599-32X
James Crofts, 598-41X
John Moreali, 598-28X
Bryan Litz, 597-33X

Note: Results are prelminary, subject to final tabulation.

Watch Highlights from the SWN Mid-Range Match:

Ben Avery Bling — Stunning Paint Job and New SEB Mini
Jay Christopherson, AccurateShooter’s Systems Manager, had a stunning metallic flame paint job on his F-Open rifle. Up front, that beautiful stock is resting on the new SEB Mini coaxial pedestal rest. This looked very stable and Jay said the joystick works perfect. Jay is very impressed with this new coaxial front rest. We expect to see more Minis on the line in future F-Open matches.

flame paint SEB mini pedestal rest Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Sling Shooters in Palma Division
There were many Eliseo tubeguns in the hands of the sling shooters. For the Palma division, the cartridge of choice is the .308 Winchester. This old cartridge is still capable of extreme accuracy. Never underestimate a skilled sling shooter with a good Palma rifle.

Eliseo Tube gun chassis tubegun Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Wickenburg High School Rifle Team
While most of the competitors at this match shooters were middle-aged or older, it was nice to see a youth contingent from Wickenburg High School in Arizona. These young folks shot well — Ben Avery is their “home range”, so they felt confident with the conditions.

Wickenburg High School Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

Disaster Averted by British Ingenuity
British competitor Tom Rylands had his rear sight break during the middle of a string. Undaunted, Tom secured the sight with some electrical tape and finished the string with a good score. We applaud Tom’s “never say die” attitude. Have tape, will travel…

Tom Rylands Tape Fix Berger Southwest Nationals

Ladies Love Ben Avery…
The T-Shirt says it all — there were many female competitors at the mid-range match, including some “all-girl” teams. There were some great lady shooters competing on Wednesday, including Nancy Tompkins and Trudie Fay.

Ben Avery Berger Southwest Nationals

First Lady of Shooting — Nancy Tompkins
It was great to see Nancy Tompkins on the firing line. A strong argument can be made that Nancy is the greatest female long-range competitive shooter in the history of the sport. We chatted with Nancy between relays. She revealed she had not shot sling “in quite a while” so she need to readjust some items on her gun. So… even the great ones need to tweak their gear now and then.

Nancy Tompkins Berger Southwest Nationals

The True Spirit of Competition
The team at the Berger SW Nationals encourages all participants, even those with disabilities. Here competitor Bob Depp shoots from a bench because he cannot hold his rifle normally, due to injuries sustained while serving as a U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper in Vietnam. It’s all about participating.

Mid-Range 600 Disable Shooters Berger Southwest Nationals

The Smell of Victory…
With the wind flags hanging straight down most of the day, perhaps the best wind indicator of all was the smoke coming from the Barbeque pit. You have to love the Berger SW Nationals at Ben Avery — where else can you get delicious, hot BBQ on the 600-yard line?

Mid-Range 600 bbq cooking wind flags smoke Berger Southwest Nationals

Long-Range Matches Run Thursday through Sunday
All the relays Wednesday were held at 600 yards. Starting Thursday, the shooters will compete at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. If conditions hold similar to today (with very little wind), we could see some impressive performances at the longer yardages. But as with any shooting venue, things can change quickly at Ben Avery. We’ve seen morning calms followed by afternoon gales. Good luck to all the competitors.

Mid-Range 600 bbq cooking wind flags smoke Berger Southwest Nationals

Permalink Competition, News 6 Comments »
February 14th, 2016

A Valentine’s Day Special — Three Shots Form Heart at 600 Yards

Valentine's Day Group Accurateshooter

Valentines Day Cupid Arrow Accurateshooter ForumThat’s right, today is February 14th — Valentine’s Day. While testing a rifle at the range last season, Forum member Ron B. (aka Snakepit) managed a 3-shot group that would definitely make Mr. Cupid proud. Yep, Ron shot a lovely cluster that formed a sweet little heart in the splatter-type target.

That’s nice enough, mind you — but it gets even better. Ron’s heart-shaped, three-shot group was shot at SIX HUNDRED yards, making this a Valentine’s Day Masterpiece of precision shooting (and, we have to say it, quite a little bit of luck). Good Shootin’ Snakepit!

600-Yard Heart Shot with a Savage and Factory Ammo!
In our Shooter’s Forum, Ron explained that this group was actually shot with factory ammo… from a Savage no less:

“This will be one that may be hard to believe for some but it is my Savage 12 FTR .308 and I was shooting 168gr Federal Gold Medal Match. The stock has been modified for benchrest shooting with a 3″-wide shoe on the forward stock. I do not shoot this rifle very often as most of my time is spent with my 30″ Brux barreled 6BR working up loads and shooting. That day I had put the scope back on it and was sighting it in at 600 yards and those were my last three shots after my last scope correction and then I was out of ammo. This rifle has always been very accurate. The weather was good, no wind or mirage.”

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February 5th, 2016

New Mid-Range Prone Discipline for AR Shooters

AR Mid-range prone high power match bipod tactical
Here’s an AR configuration suited to the new AR Mid-Range Prone Discipline: Moderate-length barrel, Harris Bipod, Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 4-12x40mm scope. Photobucket image by Ingo1978.

The NRA has created a new mid-range, target-shooting discipline for AR owners. The provisional rules for the new AR Mid-Range Prone Competition will allow calibers from .22 up to .308. Rifle weight will be limited to 14 pounds. Competitors may use Harris (or similar) compact, “tactical” bipods, and optics up to 12-power will be allowed (but iron sights can also be used). The goal of this new competition is to get the many AR owners to the range to compete.

The NRA’s Information Sheet for the new mid-range discipline explains: “These rifles are of the ‘AR-Platform’ variety, semi-automatic, chambered in any caliber from .223 cal./5.56mm. up to and including .308 cal./7.62mm. The courses of fire will be the same courses of fire currently used for other NRA Mid-Range (Prone) High Power Competition (300, 500, and 600 yards) and are designed to be fired concurrently with other forms of Mid-Range competition. The targets will be the same targets that are used for Service Rifle, Match Rifle, and Palma Rifle Mid-Range Prone competition. Mid-range telescopic sights will be allowed, but not required. Because this is prone competition, shooters may use tactical front rests such as Harris-type bipods and limited rear rests of the type one might find used in military or police tactical situations.”

A very prominent NRA member who works with the Competition Committee recently posted this explanation of the new AR discipline on our Forum:

NRA Mid-Range (Prone) Tactical Rifle (AR)
For those clubs and match directors who have members with ARs who want to shoot Mid-Range Prone but who don’t want (or can’t afford) to shoot traditional “sling” or F-Class, we have a new opportunity to get those ARs out of the closet and onto the range with very little in the way of additional costs:

It’s called Mid-Range Tactical Rifle (AR). A copy of the description and the Rules (Provisional) are attached as a PDF file and should be published by the NRA very soon. CAUTION — these are NOT official — but I think they are accurate:

In brief, here’s how it works:

1. The event will be fired concurrently with any other Mid-Range event, alongside of F-Class and “sling” divisions.
2. The Event will be fired on the “sling targets”.
3. AR Rifle General Standards:

    Calibers: 223/5.56 up to and including .308/7.62mm
    Weight: Overall weight not more than 14 pounds
    Support: Harris-type “tactical bipod” (no large F-Class bipods).
    Optics: Scope not more than 12X
    Barrel: Not more than 20″
    Trigger: Trigger pull not less than 4.5 pounds

4. This is NOT F-Class — this is designed to be closer to “tactical”. F-Class competition gear is generally illegal; competition stocks are generally illegal. [The event] is designed to attract more law enforcement and/or military (maybe local National Guard?) and other “tactical shooters” out to the range shooting for precision. For more info, check out the attached PDF file.

CLICK HERE for AR Mid-Range Prone Competition Information Document..

You’ll find a discussion of this new AR Mid-Range discipline in our Shooters’ Forum, HERE: AR Mid-Range Match Forum Thread. Here are some interesting comments from that thread:

“Opening up mid-range matches for ARs is a great idea. I’m not an AR guy myself, but I have lots of shooting friends who are. They tend to have a lot of ideas what their guns are capable of out to 600 yards, but most don’t take many opportunities to shoot them at those ranges, and none of the existing High Power disciplines are very appealing. Until now. I hope it doesn’t become an equipment race. A 185/200 is a respectable score even with a 12″ 10 ring. I hope everyone is supportive — helping get these guys on the paper and providing positive feedback even for scores that seem modest by F-Class standards.” — Comment by Berger.Fan222

“It looks like the recommended targets will be the same as conventional shooters use (i.e. ~1 MOA X-ring). Given the specifications for rifles/bipods/scopes/etc., I think this would be an appropriate level of difficulty to start. It will be challenging, particularly at 600 yards, but by no means impossible. Of course, at 600 yards, anyone shooting an AR15 (.223/5.56) will be at a disadvantage to ballistically-superior calibers unless they come up with a good way to load 80+ grain bullets that will mag-feed. Personally, I’d like to see this limited strictly to .223 ARs. Almost everyone has one and the mag feed requirement would really keep things even across the board. The inclusion of other calibers will allow this to become a ‘caliber race’ in that .223 will have a very hard time keeping up with other, better calibers at 600 yards.” — Comment by gstaylorg

“Looks like a great new addition. The PDF document says rule 7.20 for course of fire which is mid-range slow fire. I believe all slow fire is currently ‘one round loads’. The PDF explicitly states 10-, 20- or 30-round magazines and no sleds. Does anyone know if this new discipline would be fired from magazine or one-round loads? Shooting from magazine would be keeping with the ‘tactical’ aspect and enforcing mag-length loads. But it does not seem to jive with the ‘one round load’ currently stipulated for slow fire?” — Comment by Highpower-FClass

Permalink Competition, News 19 Comments »
October 28th, 2013

Mike Moses Wins IBS 600-Yard Nationals

This past weekend the IBS 600-yard Nationals were held at the Bench Rest Rifle Club of St. Louis. Attendance was strong, with 78 Light Gun shooters and 74 Heavy Gun competitors. Initial results are posted below. Forum member Mike Moses was the Two-Gun Overall winner, claiming the 2013 600-yard Title as National Champion. In the Two-Gun rankings, Johnny Powers finished second, followed by Dallas Johnson, Sam Hall, and Ryan Hunt. In the Light Gun Division Charlie Macke (shooting a big 7mm) finished first, ahead of second-place Mike Moses, and third place Ryan Hunt. In the Heavy Gun Class the top three were: Johnny Powers, Andy Ferguson, Dallas Johnson.

Past IBS 600-yard National Champ Sam Hall said conditions were brutal on the first day: “On Saturday, the wind was switching and gusting to 30 mph. Though there still were some crazy switches, Heavy Gun on Sunday was calmer thank The Lord! Day One was just about survival!”.

We will provide additional match details and photos as soon as they are available. Here are the unofficial standings for Two-Gun, Light Gun, and Heavy Gun. The order of finish is determined by combined rank points for Group Aggregate and Score Aggregate.

Two-Gun Overall Light Gun Division Heavy Gun Division
1. Mike Moses
2. Johnny Powers
3. Dallas Johnson
4. Sam Hall
5. Ryan Hunt
6. Andy Ferguson
7. David Dorris
8. Charlie Macke
9. Richard Schatz
10. Mike Hanes
JR Champion: Rory Jacobs
1. Charlie Macke
2. Michael Moses
3. Ryan Hunt
4. Rich Elijah
5. Samuel Hall
6. David Dorris
7. Dallas Johnson
8. Steven Hall
9. Johnny Powers
10. Richard Schatz
1. Johnny Powers
2. Andy Ferguson
3. Dallas Johnson
4. Mike Hanes
5. Danny Forehand
6. Sam Hall
7. Mike Moses
8. Jeff Godfrey
9. Ryan Hunt
10. Steve Hoskin
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June 6th, 2013

Amazing 0.349″ Group at 600 Yards — Wagner Shares His Secrets

Rodney Wagner IBS 600-yard RecordBack in May, IBS shooter Rodney Wagner shot a 0.349″ (50-2X) 5-shot group that became the talk of the shooting community. This was the smallest 600-yard group shot in the history of recorded rifle competition. Rodney’s group cuts the existing IBS 600-yard record in half. Rodney put five shots under the size of a dime at the distance of six football fields. Just pause and think about that…

News of this amazing feat spread like wildfire via the internet. People were amazed at what Rodney accomplished. Here are some actual comments posted on various shooting forums:

308Nut: Simply Astounding.

Coues Sniper: That’s insanity.

PapaJohn: I strut around like a peacock if my rifles will shoot under a half-inch at 100 yards. His group was better than that at six times the distance… that’s just unfathomable. I don’t see anyone breaking that record for a loooooooooooong time!

Given the spectacular (and historic) nature of Rodney’s 600-yard group, many folks wanted to learn more about Rodney’s equipment and his shooting techniques. For that reason, we’ve compiled this follow-up report. Rodney was kind enough to provide a short video showing his equipment and shooting technique. In his video demonstration, Rodney runs off a 5-shot group in about 19 seconds. When he actually shot the 0.349″ group, Rodney estimates he got the five shots down-range in 12-15 seconds. (He slowed down a bit for the video!)

Watch Rodney Wagner Fire Five Shots in Under 20 Seconds

Rodney comments: “You’ll notice I hold the stock with my left hand while working the bolt to keep it from losing its ‘track’ (that slows me down a lot). I have just gotten into the habit of doing that because I feel tracking is one of the most important things not to take for granted. With this technique I don’t have to ‘saw’ the stock into the bags as much when I get on to the record target.”

Rodney Wagner 600-yard record group

Record-Setting Load: Varget Powder, CCI Primers, and Berger 108s Jumped
Rodney’s record 0.349″ group works out to 0.055 MOA at 600 yards. To shoot a “zero” group at 600 yards you need the finest components and insanely good reloading techniques (not to mention the grace of God.) As he does with all his 600-yard ammo, Rodney pre-loaded before the match. This particular ammo had been loaded 5-6 days before the match. Here are specs on Rodney’s load:

  • 32.5 Grains of Hodgdon Varget Powder and CCI 450 Primers.
  • 108gr Berger BT Match bullets seated 0.020″ away from the lands.
  • Lapua 6mmBR brass fire-formed to 6 Dasher and turned to 0.265″ loaded round for a 0.268″-neck chamber.
  • Neck-sized with a 0.262″ Redding bushing.

Note that Rodney was using Berger 108s, not the 105gr VLDs or Berger’s popular 105gr Hybrids. Rodney found his Brux barrel shot best with the 108s: “I’d get really nice 4-shot groups with the VLDs, but it seemed there would be four together and one out. The 108s seem to have less fliers.” Rodney experimented with seating depths before he settled on a .020″ jump: “I shot them for a long time 3 to 5 thousandths in the lands, just barely in the lands. But I knew Sam Hall had really good luck jumping. So I went to .020″ jump and it all came together. The 108s have shot good like that in three different Brux barrels (all chambered with the same reamer) so I just start at that setting now — twenty off the lands.”

Rodney Wagner 600-yard record group

Record-Setting Equipment
Rodney was shooting a 17-lb Light Gun. It features a BAT Machine ‘B’ action, and a 29″ Brux barrel chambered for the 6mm Dasher with a 0.268″ neck. The 0.236″-land, 4-groove barrel was fairly new when the record group was shot — it had about 300 rounds through it, and had shot 30 rounds since its last cleaning. Rodney chambered the barrel himself. The stock is a Shehane ST-1000 fiberglass tracker, inletted and bedded by Tom Meredith. A March 10-60x52mm scope is held in Burris Signature Zee rings on a +10 MOA rail. These rings are inexpensive, but they work just fine, notes Rodney: “With the inserts I can align the scope mechanically and keep the windage pretty much centered in its travel.”

Supporting his rifle, Rodney used a Farley co-axial rest up front (on Super-Feet) and a Protektor Doctor bag in the rear. The Farley features a Borden top carrying an Edgewood bag. Rodney notes: “In the front, I use the black diamond blasting sand, because it doesn’t pack as hard as regular sand. You can buy it at tractor supply stores in the welding section. It’s not as heavy as heavy sand.”

Rodney Wagner IBS 600-yard Record

In the rear, Rodney runs a flat-top Protektor Doctor bag with Cordura ears. Rodney uses Sinclair heavy sand in his rear bag. He says “it’s got some squish — not much but just a little — call it a medium-hard fill”. Interestingly, Rodney sets up the bag so that the flat on the bottom of the stock rides on the stitches between the ears: “I like the stock to touch the top of the bag between the ears — I don’t like to see daylight.”

Conditions for the Record — You May Be Surprised
Many folks who have commented on Rodney’s 0.349″ group have wrongly assumed that the 0.349″ group was shot in “perfect” zero-wind conditions. Not so. There were switchy 5 mph winds with gusts to 10 mph. Rodney notes that on his second target of the day, he had to hold in three different places to manage a decent-sized group. So for those who think the group was shot in miraculous conditions, we have to say that wasn’t the case.

Creating Ultra-Accurate 6mm Dasher Ammunition

Rodney takes great care in loading his brass, and he employs a few tricks to get superior consistency.

Fire-Forming — To prepare his cases for fire-forming, Rodney starts by turning his Lapua brass to just past where the new neck-shoulder junction will be: “I just cut enough for the 6mm Dasher neck. A little bit of the cut shows on the shoulder after forming.” Then Rodney runs a .25-caliber K&M mandrel through the whole neck, expanding the neck diameter. After the entire neck is expanded, Rodney re-sizes the top section with a Wilson bushing, creating a false shoulder. Then, as further insurance that the case will be held firmly in place during fire-forming, Rodney seats his bullets long — hard into the lands. When fire-forming, Rodney uses a normal 6mmBR load of 29.8 grains of Varget: “I don’t like to stress my brass before it has been hardened. I load enough powder to form the shoulder 95%. Any more than that is just wasted.” Rodney adds: “When fire-forming, I don’t want to use a super-hard primer. I prefer to use a Federal 205, CCI 200, or Winchester — something soft.” Using a softer primer lessens the likelihood that the case will drive forward when hit by the firing pin, so this helps achieve more consistent “blow lengths”.

Ammo Loading — Rodney is fastidious with his brass and weighs his charges very precisely. Charges are first dispensed with an RFD manual powder measure, then Rodney trickles kernel by kernel using a highly-precise Sartorius GD-503 laboratory scale. He tries to maintain charge-weight consistency within half a tenth of a grain — about two kernels of Varget powder.

K&M arbor press bullet seating force accurateshooter.comOne important technique Rodney employs is sorting by bullet-seating force. Rodney batch-sorts his loaded rounds based on seating force indicated by the dial gauge on his K&M arbor press: “I use a K&M arbor press with dial indicator strain gauge. When I’m loading I pay lots of attention to seating effort and I try to batch five rounds that feel the same. For record rounds I try to make sure I get five of the same number (on the dial). When sorting based on the force-gauge readout, you need to go slow. If you go too fast the needle will spike up and down before you can see it.”

In practice, Rodney might select five rounds with a gauge value of 25, then another five with a gauge read-out of 30 and so on. He places the first five like-value rounds in one row of his ammo caddy. The next like-value set of five will go in the next row down. By this method, he ensures that all five cartridges in a five-round set for a record target will have bullets seated with very consistent seating force.

Rodney Wagner IBS 600-yard Record

Unlike some top shooters, Rodney does not regularly anneal his cases. However, after every firing, he does tumble his Dasher brass in treated corncob media. After sizing his brass, before seating the bullets, he runs a nylon brush in the necks: “The last thing I do before firing is run a well-worn 30 caliber nylon brush in the necks, using a small 6-volt drill for power. This is a quick operation — just in and out the neck”. Sometimes, at the end of the season, he will anneal, but Rodney adds: “If I can get 10 firings out of the case I’ve done good.” He usually makes up new brass when he fits a new barrel: “If it is a good barrel (that I may shoot at the Nationals), I’ll usually go ahead and prepare 200 pieces of good brass.”

Shooting Techniques — Piloting a 600-yard Group into the Zeros
Gun-handling and Rate of Fire — As you can see from the video, Rodney shoots with very minimal contact on the rifle. He normally shoots a string fast, but he remains calm and steady — almost machine-like. In the video he runs five shots in about 19 seconds, but he figures he shot the 0.349″ group in 12-15 seconds. Rodney says: “I’m not quite as fast as Sam Hall but I can usually run ‘em under fifteen seconds, sometimes closer to 10 on a good day. But when I shot the 0.349″ I couldn’t see the flags for the last shot so I dipped the joystick down between 4th and 5th shots, and that took a couple seconds. The flags had not changed, so I kept the same point of aim for 4th and 5th shot. I’d been watching that flag all morning, so to satisfy my curiosity I kind of dipped down for a second.”

Rodney Wagner 600 yard record

Rodney Wagner IBS 600-yard RecordAiming for the Nine — To shoot ultra-small at long range, you must aim very, very precisely. When shooting at 600 yards, Rodney lines up his cross-hairs on the white number “9” in the blue field above the ten ring. This is visible through his rifle-scope at 600 yards, and it provides an aim point smaller than the center “X”.

Rodney explains: “I always aim for the number 9 up in the blue field. It provides for a smaller aim point. I noticed a difference when I started doing that. I learned that from some guys from South Dakota. It made sense so I’ve been doing it ever sense.”

Tips for 600-Yard Shooters New to the Game
In the course of our interview with Rodney, we asked if he had any tips for shooters who are getting started in the 600-yard Benchrest Game. Rodney offered some sensible advice:

1. Don’t try to go it alone. Find an old-timer to mentor you. As a novice, go to matches, watch and ask questions.
2. Go with a proven cartridge. If you are shooting 600 yards stick with a 6mmBR or one of the 6BR improveds (BRX or Dasher). Keep it simple. I tried some of the larger cartridges, the 6XC and 6-6.5×47 Lapua. I was trying to be different, but I was not successful. It wasn’t a disaster — I learned something. But I found the larger cases were not as accurate as a 6BR or Dasher. Those bigger cartridges are competitive for score but not for group.
3. You don’t have to spend a fortune to be competitive. Buy a used rifle from somebody and find out if you like the sport. You can save a lot with a used rifle, but do plan on buying a new barrel immediately.
4. Don’t waste weeks or months struggling with a barrel that isn’t shooting. My best barrels, including this record-setting Brux, started shooting exceptionally well right from the start.

Rodney Wagner 600 yard record

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April 27th, 2013

Richard Schatz Wins 2013 NBRSA 600-Yard Nat’l Championship

The NBRSA has wrapped up its 600-yard National Championship, with the 1000-yard National Championship taking place today and tomorrow at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center. Richard Schatz, one of the greatest 600-yard shooters of all time, topped over 40 talented shooters to win the two-gun overall title. Richard, we’re told, also won the Light Gun Division. Forum member Terry Balding (aka “Terry”) won the Heavy Gun Class. Terry drove all the way from Wisconsin to compete in the match. We’ll publish more details as they become available. If any of our readers have more photos from the match, or a list of final results, please send them along. Here’s Richard receiving his trophy from match director Craig St. Claire:

NBRSA Richard Schatz

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May 22nd, 2012

Potential 600-Yard IBS LG Aggregate Score Record Set in Memphis

Jerry Hurt IBS Light Gun RecordJerry Hurt set a pending new IBS 600-yard Light Gun Score Aggregate Record of 198 this weekend at the MSSA range in Memphis, Tennessee. If certified, this would beat the previous LG Record of 197 set by Sam Hall in 2011. The 198 score Four-Target Agg was well-centered with a 2.256″ Group Agg. One shot on Jerry’s third target appears to have just clipped the line for the 10. (See Target 3 Close-up Photo).

Forum member Tim Claunch reports: “Mr. Jerry Hurt had an exceptional Light Gun match and indeed scored a 198. I drew next bench to Jerry and was there watching him. You won’t find a nicer gentleman in our sport — congratulations Jerry Hurt!”. Match conditions were very good with partly sunny skies and 75° early temps with a light SW Tailwind.

Jerry was shooting a 16.86-lb, 6mm Dasher with a BAT two-lug Action and Shehane MBR stock in Obeche wood laminate. The 1.25″-straight contour 5C Broughton barrel is chambered with a 0.267″ neck for neck-turned brass with 0.265″ loaded necks. This barrel was purchased about a year ago, but only had about 150 rounds on it when Jerry shot the 198 score. Measuring 27.5″ long, this Broughton has proven exceptionally fast. Jerry’s chronographed velocities are significantly faster than other Dasher shooters — too fast to print. Let’s just say Jerry is running a very high speed node.

Jerry Hurt IBS Light Gun Record

Jerry Hurt IBS Light Gun RecordBerger 105gr Hybrids .030″ Off Lands
Jerry’s load consisted of Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets, seated 0.030″ off the lands and pushed by 33.0 grains of “Long-Range Match” pull-down (surplus) powder. This powder, which is very similar to Reloder 15, has produced some great results recently. Ron Boyd used it in his Dasher to shoot a 1.462″ 1000-yard group last month.

Notably, Jerry shot his Berger 105 hybrids “right out of the box… with no sorting, no pointing.” Jerry did tell us that: “this is a new lot of 105 Hybrids… obviously they are very, very good.”

Jerry praised his equipment. Along with his very fast Broughton barrel, Jerry gave credit to his Shehane MBR. “It’s a looker, that’s for sure. Because the 1.25″ straight barrel is heavy, I haven’t added weight to the stock but it still tracks really well.” Jerry also said that his Sure Feed Vertical Ammo Caddy helps him get rounds downrange quickly: “These work really well with the 6BR, Dasher, BRX. And I also have a second Sure Feed for my .300 Ackley 1000-yard gun. These are custom-made by Tim Sellars in Texas. They are set up for a particular cartridge type, and Tim customizes the Caddy to fit the height of your rifle on the rest. You want the bottom round in the stack — the one you grab — to be real close to the loading port.”

Sure Feed Ammo Caddies
Tim Sellars – Sure Feed
4704 Redondo Street
North Richland Hills, TX 76180
Phone: (682) 240-7690 (cell)
eMail: sel248 [at]

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October 5th, 2011

Hall Wins IBS 600-Yard Nationals with Rookie Ryan Hunt Second

Ryan Hunt Sam HallThe IBS 600-Yard Nationals was held this past weekend at the Midwest Benchrest Range in Yukon, Missouri. There was a good turn-out for the match, with 70 Light Gun (LG) entries and 68 Heavy Gun (HG) entries from all over the USA. Despite tough conditions (high winds on Friday, wicked mirage on Saturday), the top shooters turned in some impressive performances, including a 16-target average group size of 2.327 inches by overall Two-Gun Winner Sam Hall of North Carolina. No one was surprised to see Sam, a multi-time 600-yard Champ, come out on top. When he’s on his game, Sam’s hard to beat.

But the big story of the match was the superb shooting of Ryan Hunt from Missouri, a relative newcomer to the 600-yard benchrest game. Ryan finished second overall in the Two-Gun after finishing second in Light Gun (LG) group, third in LG score, and third in Heavy Gun (HG) group. Ryan’s average group size, for the entire match (both LG and HG) was 2.629 inches. That’s amazing marksmanship for a rookie… using a borrowed rifle!

CLICK HERE for Complete 2011 IBS 600-Yard Nationals Results with Equipment List (PDF).

Hunt Makes the Most of “Loaner” Rifle
What makes Hunt’s runner-up finish even more impressive is that, in both LG and HG, he used a borrowed gun, a 6mm Dasher in a new, 5″-wide Precision Rifle & Tools stock. Now get this — the very first time Ryan shot that gun was the day before the Nationals! Ryan told us the 5″-wide stock really tracked well, allowing him to shoot fast and accurately. Will we see more extra-wide stocks in Light Gun in the future? Ryan Hunt thinks so: “I think 5″ is the way to go. That’s all I’ll be shooting next year. The extra width really makes a difference in the way the gun tracks. You don’t have to worry about rolling or hopping. Just pull the trigger, slide her back and you’re on target. The biggest benefit from these 5″ stocks is that a Light Gun’s going to track like a Heavy Gun. When the mirage picks up, instead of following the dot, you can just trust the gun, the way it’s tracking. It really paid off last weekend.” It’s worth noting that Ryan did not use the old standby powders, Reloder 15 or Varget. In his Dasher, Ryan loads IMR 8208 XBR powder with Spencer bullets.

Ryan Hunt Sam Hall

Sam Hall with his Heavy Gun
Sam Hall Heavy Gun

Match Winner Sam Hall, like most of the top performers at the 2011 Nationals, shot a 6mm Dasher in both classes. But unlike Ryan Hunt, Sam used a “true heavy” in HG class. Sam’s mammoth Heavy Gun, dubbed “Black Max”, is featured in a Gun of the Week Article in our archives. You can see Sam practicing with this rig above. Sam hauls out his “heavy artillery” once a year for the Nationals: “This rig won’t see daylight again until the next Nationals.” In Light Gun, Sam used the same 17-pounder he’s used to win previous championships. It features a BAT action, Krieger Barrel and Shehane ST-1000 fiberglass Tracker stock. Sam shoots Berger bullets with Alliant Reloder 15 powder.

Tough Conditions Both Friday and Saturday
Sam told us: “All eight LG targets were shot Friday. And the Heavy class shot all eight on Saturday. Friday had winds of 13 to 18 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Saturday was less windy, but was switchy. Mirage was some of the worst I’ve ever encountered. These conditions caused vertical groups.”

We asked Sam if he had any special strategies for the match: “My only strategy was to make sure I got my sighters right. Last year I misjudged some sighters on a gong. I thought I was centered but I was actually way high and right. I ended up shooting a small group, but the score was really bad. This year I made sure I knew where the sighters were actually hitting.” You can learn more about Sam and his rifles in a Gun of the Week Article from our archives.

Dashers and Cut-Rifled Barrels
6mmBR 6mm DasherA quick glance at the above equipment list for the Top 10 Two-Gun finishers, reveals the winning formula: 6mm Dasher in a cut-rifled barrel. Eight of the Top 10 competitors shot 6 Dashers in both classes, while another shot a 6 Dasher in HG and a 6 BRX in LG. That’s “Dasher Dominance” for sure. Among the barrels, cut-rifled tubes from Bartlein, Brux, and Krieger were favored by most of the top shooters. It’s hard to argue with success.

CLICK HERE for Complete 2011 IBS 600-Yard Nationals Results with Equipment List (PDF).

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September 21st, 2011

IBS 600-yard Nationals Set for Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Missouri

IBS Nationals 600 yardsMark your calendars, gents. The IBS 600-yard Nationals are slated for the weekend of September 30th through October 2nd. The event will be held at the Midwest Benchrest Range in Yukon, Missouri. The 2011 600-yard Nationals consist of an 8-target Aggregate match in Light Gun (LG), plus an 8-target Aggregate match in Heavy Gun (HG). There will be a total (LG + HG) of 16 record targets (5 record shots each [80 total]). After a safety meeting, the match begins at 9:00 am on FRIDAY September 30th, and continues on SATURDAY, October 1st. Sunday October 2nd is a reserve day if needed due to weather delays.

IBS Nationals 600 yards

Sight-In and Practice Times on Thursday
Thursday, September 29 will be the last day to register. The range is also open on Thursday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm for sight-in and set-up. NOTE: Due to the nature of this event, practice/sight-in will not be available on match days (9/30 – 10/2) prior to the start of the matches.

CLICK HERE for IBS 600-yard Nationals Registration form (PDF)

For more information, visit or contact Robert Ross, at (417) 247-2020 or
robert [at]

Story Tip from Sam Hall. We welcome reader submissions.
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September 16th, 2010

NBRSA 600-Yard Match at Ojai, CA This Weekend

Ojai Valley 600-yard NBRSAThe Ojai Valley Gun Club (OVGC) hosts a 600-yard Registered Benchrest match this Sunday, September 19. Beat the heat and come up to this beautiful location in the Coastal Mountains. There will be both Light Gun (17-lb) and Heavy Gun (unlimited weight) matches (three record targets each class), and the cost is just $25.00 for a full day of shooting. Shooting starts at 8:00 am sharp, so get there early. Under NBRSA Rules, the Light Guns will shot 5 record rounds per target, while the Heavy Guns shoot 10 rounds per target.

Match director Barry Bluhm says: “We welcome all shooters, even if their rifles don’t make the 17-lb weight limit for Light Gun. F-Classers and other guys who don’t have a true Light Gun can shoot their heavier rifles in both stages and all targets will be scored, but Light Gun official awards will be limited to the 17-pounders.”

While there is time to load between matches, it’s wise to come pre-loaded with at least 75 rounds. A total of 45 record rounds will be shot, and you’ll need sighter rounds. If you’ve never shot at 600 yards before you’ll need +11-14 MOA elevation from a 100-yard zero for most popular calibers.

Ojai Valley Gun Club NBRSA

As the Ojai range is located at about 3,350 feet, temps can be “brisk” in the morning. Bring a sweater or jacket as it could be under 40° when the match begins. Highs should be in the 70s by mid-day. The weatherman predicts excellent conditions for Sunday, so we could witness some record-setting performances. When it is cool, calm, and still in the early morning, it’s very possible to shoot quarter-MOA groups at Ojai. We’re still waiting for a sub-inch group to be shot in Registered 600-yard competition at Ojai — maybe this will be the weekend.

For match information, call Barry Bluhm at (805) 798-2473. The range is located off CA Route 33 about 35 minutes’ drive north-east of Ventura, California (see map below).

Ojai Valley Gun Club

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June 13th, 2010

Hall Breaks IBS Records with 0.686″ (50 pt.) Group at 600 Yards

On June 12, 2010, at the Piedmont Range in Rutherfordton, NC, Sam Hall, shooting a 6mm Dasher, set TWO new pending IBS 600-yard world records with a stunning 0.686″ five-shot group. The group was centered up in the Ten Ring for 50 points with two doubles! This group should give Sam both the single target IBS Light Gun small group record AND the Light Gun score record. Sam’s 0.686″ beats Paul Wagoner’s 0.711″ previous small-group record set in 2008 with a 6 BRX. Larry Isenhour previously held the IBS score record with a 50-3X (0.944″) group shot in August, 2007, also with a 6 BRX. NOTE: Sam had only one X, but the official tie-breaker for the score record is group size, not X-count. Therefore, if approved, Sam’s 0.686″ group establishes both new group size and score records. (We wish the IBS had some other official recognition for high X-count.)

Sam Hall 600-yard IBS record

Sam Hall 600-yard IBS record

Record-Setting Chambering, Load, and Hardware
Sam was shooting a 6mm Dasher with 32.0 grains of Norma 203B powder, Berger 105gr VLD bullets (unpointed), CCI 450 primers and Lapua brass, neck turned to 0.266″ for a 0.268″-necked chamber. Regarding the choice of powder, Sam says Reloder 15 gives the same accuracy and speed as 203B but he “just happed to have 8 pounds of [203B] and decided to use it in this rifle.” Interestingly, Sam was jumping his 105s about forty thousandths. That’s right, .040″ OFF the lands. The record gun has a BAT MB action, Shehane Tracker stock, and Krieger 29″, .237″ bore, 1:8″ twist HV barrel.

Here is Sam’s report from Piedmont:

Shooting the Record — Conditions and Strategy
The afternoon was slightly overcast with mild mirage. Winds were running left to right at approximately 5 mph. During the afternoon I noticed the wind would stay in one direction for several minutes then would make a complete reversal. On my record round I had made four (4) shots when I noticed the wind picking up in intensity slightly from left to right. I knew this because I saw my wind flag Daisy wheels start spinning faster. For the fifth shot I held left one inch from my previous four shots and let it fly. I was shooting the string as fast as I could and stay smooth. I was expecting a reversal because the wind has stayed constant for too long — it was about time for a reversal.

Evidently holding off was smart — otherwise the group might have been a 1.686″! This year I have been concentrating on learning more on wind and mirage reading. This game is getting more competitive every year. I figure the only way I can stay ahead is to work on my wind reading. If you don’t read the wind, you are eventually going to get bit.

About my Light Gun
I was shooting a BAT 1.550″ round, dual-port MB action with non-fluted bolt. The stock is a Shehane fiberglass ST-1000, pillar-bedded by Tom Meredith. Tom epoxied lead shot in the butt to bring it up to 16.94 lbs. with a Leupold 40x competition scope. The barrel is a 29″, 8-twist, .237″, HV contour Krieger with a Vais muzzle brake. This barrel, purchased three years ago from Brunos, came off the Terry Leonard-stocked rifle that earned me a lot of Shooter of the Year (SOY) points in 2009. It has about 700 rounds on it. It started life as a 6BR, but my reamer had gotten dull and left a rough chamber. So I gave the barrel to Mike Davis and told him this was a perfect excuse for me to try a 6mm Dasher. The barrel is now chambered as a 6mm Dasher with a .268″ neck with .124 freebore, the same as my Maxi-Tracker 6 Dasher.

Sam Hall 600-yard IBS record

Load Details — Yes I Was Jumping Berger VLDs a Country Mile
Last year, I could not get the Berger 105 VLDs to shoot like I wanted in this barrel, so I used Berger 108 BTs, jumped .015″. After last season, I tried the 105 VLDs again. I think they have a slight advantage in the wind compared to the 108s. But again the 105s would not shoot well at 600 jammed in the rifling as I normally do. I noticed this barrel was shooting better off the rifling. I kept backing the bullets off the rifling. I found a sweet spot 40 thousandths off the rifling. The gun was shooting 1 to 1.5 inch groups pretty consistently at 600 yards at my home range. The day I shot the record was the first time I had shot this load and rifle in competition. I believe it is a keeper! — Sam Hall

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