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September 21st, 2021

In Memoriam — Walt Berger, Founder of Berger Bullets

Walt Berger bullets RIP memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

Walt Berger bullets RIP memorial Benchrest Range Ben AveryA legend in the shooting community has passed. And we are all diminished. Walt Berger passed away on September 19, 2021. A great innovator, a great benchrest competitor (with many Hall of Fame points), and a great friend to countless shooters, Walt will be truly missed.

Berger Bullets announced yesterday: “It is with our deepest regrets that we announce the passing of Berger Bullets & Ammunition founder, Walter Berger. Walt passed peacefully on Sunday afternoon September 19th, 2021, surrounded by friends and family at the age of 92.

‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right’, were words that Walt lived by. One could see it in how he treated friends and family, and in his impact on the shooting world. Walt’s legacy and dedication to quality is carried on by his grandson, David Hamilton, the Plant Manager of the Berger manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona. Walt’s philosophies and business practices are the guiding principles in our mission to ensure that products bearing the Berger name continue to be something Walt would be proud of. We celebrate his life and will do our best to live up to his example.”

Walt was a remarkable man who loved the sport of benchrest shooting. He was still competing at age 90+. Here he is in 2016 at the Cactus Classic in Arizona.
Walt Berger bullets RIP memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

Many of our readers and Forum members knew Walt and shot with him at matches over the decades. Here are some of the expressions of sadness at his passing:

“Great man, he had a long run, and touched many lives.” — Boyd Allen

“A real gentleman and always there to help anyone that needed it. I’m blessed to have known him many years. RIP old Friend.” — Bill Shehane

“Now there is a man for ya! I remember talking to him and Eunice on the phone back in the 80s ordering some of their benchrest bullets. May God bless his family. Thank you Walt for the great bullets — I’ve watched them do some amazing things!” — Don Mild

“Walt was an iconic figure in accurate shooting for many many years. A gentleman in the game who traveled worldwide including Australia. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. Rest assured men like Walt aren’t made any more. Thanks for everything Walt — your Australian friends will never forget you.” — Brad Ward

“When I first started chasing accuracy I used to buy bullets from Walt at his little shop on Camelback Road in Phoenix. He always had time to share his expertise and to help me. He and Eunice are together again, shooting at the big range in the sky where the weather is perfect with no wind.” — Doug Whitson

“My prayers go to David, Stacey, Eric, and the girls.
Walt was a truly special man and friend.” — Nancy Tompkins

“He was a Man of Legend. And Legends live forever.” — Ivan Lukashevych

Walt in 2015 at the dedication of the 100/200-yard Ben Avery range named in his honor.
Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery
Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

About Walt Berger and Berger Bullets
Walt Berger shot competitive benchrest most of his adult life. Seeing that the bullets he could buy off-the-shelf were not up to his quality expectations, Walt decided that he could make better precision bullets than he could purchase. Walt started making his own bullets and proved their quality by winning competitions and eventually even earning his place in the Benchrest Shooters Hall of Fame. Other benchrest shooters saw his success and solicited him to make their bullets as well.

Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

After years of crafting bullets by hand in his garage, Walt’s wife, Eunice, who was also a legend in benchrest competition, encouraged him to expand his hobby into a business. Together, they grew Berger into a large-scale precision bullet operation with exceptionally high quality standards.

Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

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August 23rd, 2021

Wind Reading Tips from Bryan Litz and Emil Praslick III

Wind reading coaching bryan litz Ben Avery Phoenix wind video

Wind effects are complex. In trying to access wind speeds and angles, you’ll want to watch multiple indicators — mirage, dust, wind-flags, grass movement, and more. You’ll also need to be concerned about wind cycles. In the video below, Bryan Litz talks about variable wind speed along a bullet’s flight path. A respected ballistics guru, Bryan is the founder of Applied Ballistics and a designer of Berger’s Hybrid Match projectiles. He is also a past F-TR National Champion and a High Master Palma ace.

In this video, Bryan discusses how wind effects can vary in intensity at different points along the bullet’s flight path to the target. Sometimes the firing line is sheltered, and the strongest winds come into effect in the middle of the trajectory. Bryan concludes: “Wind matters everywhere … but the best thing you can do is try to get a handle on the wind [velocity and angle] where you are. That may or may not represent the wind down-range — that’s when you have to look downrange and make a judgment[.]”

Litz Competition Tip: 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.

More Wind Tips from Wind Wizard Emil Praslick
In these two short videos, Emil Praslick III, former coach of the USAMU and USA National long range teams, explains how to find the wind direction and how to confirm your no-wind zero. Praslick is widely considered to be one of the best wind coaches in the USA.

When Winds Are EXTREME — Near Gale Force at Ben Avery

This video shows INSANE winds at NBRSA 100/200 Benchrest Nationals. This was filmed at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, AZ during the recent NBRSA 100/200 yard National Championships. Extreme to say the least. Based on what we’re seeing here, there are 20-25 mph crosswinds, with gusts to 35 mph — near Gale Force. Video by Hall-of-Fame Benchrest competitor Gene Bukys, whom we sadly lost to COVID last year. RIP Gene.

Texas gunsmith Mike Bryant reports: “This video shows the Unlimited Class 200 at the Nationals in Phoenix. I had three 10-shot groups in the low 2″ range with a 2.228″ being my big group and was glad they weren’t bigger. Thursday and Friday were the worst of the windy days. Unfortunately those were the days for the UL 200 and it was about as windy through most all of the Sporter 200.”

Excellent Wind Reading Resource

The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters covers techniques and tactics used by expert wind-readers. The authors provide a wind-reading “toolbox” for calculating wind speed, direction, deflection and drift. They explain how to read flags and mirage, record and interpret your observations, and time your shots to compensate for wind. Here are two reviews:

This is a must-have book if you are a long-range sport shooter. I compete in F-Class Open and when read it from cover to cover, it helped me understand wind reading and making accurate scope corrections. Buy this book, read it, put into practice what it tells you, you will not be disappointed. — P. Janzso

If you have one book for wind reading, this should be it. It covers how to get wind speed/direction from flags, mirage, and natural phenomenon. This is the best book for learning to read wind speed and direction. — Muddler

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January 18th, 2021

CMP Cancels Western Games Due to Arizona Health Restrictions

CMP Western Games Cancelled 2021 Phoenix Arizona Ben Avery Shooting Facility

The COVID-19 Pandemic claims another victim — the 2021 CMP Western Games. The CMP announced that the 2021 CMP Western Games at Ben Avery in Phoenix, Arizona have been officially cancelled. Judy Legerski, CMP Board Chairman, stated: “Due to the severely limited number of participants allowed at the Ben Avery facility imposed by the State of Arizona, it is not feasible to hold an event at the facility”. The Games had been slated for March 12-21, 2021.

Arizona health restrictions allow only 10 persons per building regardless of building size, and allow no more than 50 people on the Highpower rifle range (including range officers/staff) despite the outdoor venue. That would make it very difficult to conduct the major Western Games matches. In addition this year no ammunition or rifle sales would be allowed. (The CMP marketplace was a big draw for Western Games participants each year.)

CMP Western Games Cancelled 2021 Phoenix Arizona Ben Avery Shooting Facility

“These restrictions leave us no choice but to withdraw from the event”, Legerski said. “We had planned a full slate of events in Arizona, including CMP Games Rifle, EIC Service Rifle, multiple pistol matches, Vintage Sniper Rifle, Rimfire Sporter Rifle, and a series of rifle and pistol training courses.”

TALLADEGA SPRING CLASSIC (March 16-21) WILL REPLACE WESTERN GAMES THIS YEAR
To replace the 2021 Western Games, the CMP will host a series of rifle and pistol matches at the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park in Alabama. The March 16-21 2021 Spring Classic event at Talladega will include a pistol 2700, a mid-range 3×600 rifle match, long range rifle clinic, and pistol Marksmanship 101 course. Many of these are new events not held before at Talladega. CLICK HERE for full details.


Spring Classic Match Program | Spring Classic Event Schedule

CMP Western Games Cancelled 2021 Phoenix Arizona Ben Avery Shooting Facility

This Talladega Spring Classic will provide an opportunity for competitors to shoot a variety of new matches. Mrs. Legerski stated: “We are sorry that we cannot hold the Western Games this year. We look forward to returning to the great Ben Avery Range in Arizona in 2022.”

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November 8th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: 2020 F-TR Mid-Range Nat’l Champ .308 Win

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Story based on Report by Bryan Blake, Blake Machine Company
Here’s the gold medal-winning .308 Win rifle of the 2020 F-TR National Mid-Range Champion, Andy Cyr. Arizona native Cyr won the F-TR Mid-Range Championship with an impressive score of 1761-72X out of a possible 1800 points. At this three-day Mid-Range event at Ben Avery in Phoenix, all 180 rounds were shot at 600 yards. Andrew delivered a convincing victory, winning by NINE points over runner-up James Crofts, a past national champion himself. We congratulate Andrew on his impressive win. And today’s Sunday GunDay feature examines the details of Andrew’s impressive .308 Win F-TR rifle.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Cyr Overcame Incredibly Tough Conditions at Ben Avery
After Day One of the Mid-Range Nationals, Andy was in 5th place. Andy made up some serious ground on the next two days despite winds that were well into the 20 MPH+ range. In fact, many experienced shooters took misses (not hitting the scoring ring) because the winds were so fierce. Interestingly, Andy’s 1761-72X score beat all but eight F-Open shooters.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action
Andrew Cyr’s .308 Win F-TR rifle during load development and accuracy testing.

F-TR Mid-Range Championship-Winning .308 Win Rifle Specifications:
Blake Barrel and Rifle 32″ .30 Caliber, 1:11″-twist barrel with custom specs
McMillan XIT Stock (lightened with ports on butt area)
Borden BRM Action
Kahles K1050 10-50x56mm Scope
Phoenix Bipod with F-Class Products lowering kit and skeleton legs

Andrew Cyr’s Championship-winning F-TR rifle was built by Phoenix-based Blake Barrel and Rifle (BBR) in 2018. Interestingly, this rifle was originally built for Andy’s daughter Jessica. The rifle was used by Andy a few months later. The rifle features a severely-lightened XIT stock with the grip smoothed out. Andy was actually the first customer of Blake Barrel and Rifle back in 2018. He has always been willing to try out new rifling profiles, twist rates, and barrel configurations as recommended by BBR.

Bryan Blake tells us: “Many customers demand exact specs and there is no way of changing their mind, even if it is factual-based. With Andy he was always willing to try new things, some things didn’t work well, but some things worked very well, just like the barrel used to win the Nationals.” Andy preferred a heavier barrel in the chamber area than most TR shooters. The shank diameter is 1.350″ rather than 1.250″. What this does is keep as much material around the chamber, which is the hottest area of the barrel. That way the barrel is less affected by heat over a string of fire, since the heat can be dissipated into a larger area.

Andy used a 32″ barrel, a length not commonly used in F-TR anymore. Most are running 30″ or even 28″ now. Many folks think a shorter barrel is more accurate so these competitors do not use a 32″ barrel. Well as you can see by his results, Andrew’s 32″ tube shot great. The extra length was NOT a handicap. We should remember that longer barrels can normally produce higher velocities than shorter barrels or deliver equivalent speeds with less pressure.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Many people also believe that a 1:9-10″ twist is needed to shoot 200-grain class bullets out of a .308 Win accurately. However, Andy took the advice of Blake Barrel and Rifle, and went with a 1:11″-twist Blake cut-rifled barrel. Many would say this twist is too slow, and some online calculators say a 1:11″-twist won’t fully stabilize 200-grain bullets. Obviously this is also not the case. Andy’s 11-twist and Berger 200-grain Hybrid bullets (NOT 200.20X bullets) work very well with this combination. NOTE: Andy uses an F-Class Products barrel tuner to tune his load. He will sometimes even alter tune between relays to compensate for changing barometric conditions.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action
Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action
Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Winning .308 Win Load — Lapua Palma Brass, VV N550, CCI 450s, Berger 200gr Hybrids
Andy Cyr took the Mid-Range title loading Vihtavuori N150 powder, CCI 450 primers, Berger 200gr Hybrids, and Lapua .308 Win Palma brass. Andy does not push his bullets very fast and finds a big accuracy node at the mid-2600 FPS range. He jumps his bullets .015″ off the lands. One thing Andy consistently does is test, test, test. He will test different powders, charge weights, seating depths nearly every time he is at the range. He will shoot a different load for each string to see what works best.

Profile of 2020 F-TR Mid-Range National Champion — Andrew Cyr
Father and Daughter Compete Together

Andy started shooting F-Class in 2012 to help him shoot better in the PRS series. He hoped to learn to read the wind better and get more experience in long-range shooting in general. After shooting F-Class he was hooked and found he enjoyed it more than PRS. Andy and his daughter Jessica have shot many state matches together, with both of them shooting F-TR. Jessica owned the Mid-Range 20-shot woman’s Aggregate record for years with a score of 200-11X. Interestingly Andy shot his very first clean at 1000 yards at the Nationals in Raton, NM in 2018 with a score of 200-11X also. This year Andy started using a spotting scope to help read mirage and it has helped him tremendously he reports.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

The “Master” Beat the “High Masters”
Andy is currently classified in Mid-Range as a Master for F-Class, not yet High Master. Even after winning the F-Class Mid-Range Nationals, the most prestigious F-Class match of the year, he is still classified as a Master. Andy’s 1761-72X score works out to 97.8% of a perfect 1800. But the requirement for F-Class High Master is 98%. That just shows you how tough the conditions were at Ben Avery this year. But still the Master beat ALL the High Masters — if you look at the score sheet above, all the other Top 10 F-TR competitors were High Masters. Impressive. And we believe Andy is the first Arizona resident to ever win a national F-Class Championship in either F-Open or F-TR.

About Blake Barrel and Rifle
Blake Barrel and Rifle (BBR) has been in business since 2018. BBR built the rifle that Brian Bowling used to win the 2019 F-Open National Championship. And now another ultra-accurate BBR-built rifle has won the 2020 F-TR Mid-Range Championship. Bryan Blake tells us that Blake Barrel and Rifle has recently upgraded BBR’s rifle barrel building equipment. There are advanced CNC lapping machines, CNC bore-honing machines, and all-new, proprietary rifling cutter designs that no one else in the barrel business uses.

Blake Barrel and Rifle produces cut-rifled, 6-groove barrels with a unique rifling profile no other barrel manufacturer is using. Blake barrels have an impressive winning record in recent major competitions — earning National Championships, plus many match wins and podium performances. Bryan Blake tells us that “The time and quality control spend on Blake barrels is second to none and the proof in the results.” For more information, visit Blakebarrel.com.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action


Blake Barrel and Rifle | Blake Machine Company

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November 1st, 2020

Report from F-Class Nationals in Arizona — LR Team Results

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

Yesterday was the 1000-yard Team Match Day at the F-Class Nationals in Phoeniz Arizona. It was also Halloween, and there were some very creative costumes on display at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. First, for the serious stuff, we want to congratulate the two winning teams — Team Lapua/Brux/Borden in F-0pen and Team Texas in F-TR. CLICK HERE for updated F-Class Nationals Results.

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

Team Lapua/Brux/Borden (LBB) (1590-84X) took the F-Open title by six points (and 4 Xs) over runner-up The Long Shots (1584-80X), with Team Grizzly (1580-58X) third.

In F-TR, Team Texas topped the field with 1572-63X, winning by an impressive 17 points (and 5 Xs) over Team USA Independence (1555-58X). Team USA Freedom was third with 1553-44X. Team Texas’s Randy Littleton turned in a stunning individual performance in the first match, shooting 200-14X, best among F-TR shooters. F-Open competitor Jeff Cochran of Team Spindle Shooters also drilled a 200-14X in that first match, the top F-Open individual 20-shot performance.

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona
“Team Texas (center) had plenty of silver and bronze medals in previous national championships, but today earned their first gold medal. Very talented USA teams finished second and third.” — Skip Barkley

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

Halloween Long Range Team Day at Ben Avery

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix ArizonaF-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery phoenix Arizona

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October 29th, 2020

Report: Wicked Conditions at Mid-Range F-Class Nationals

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery arizona 600-yard mid-range

Mid-Range Competitors Battle Tough Conditions at Ben Avery
Report by F-Class John (competing at the Nationals)
The Mid-Range Nationals at Ben Avery in Arizona have been completed, and many competitors are breathing a sigh of relief. Winds were howling and conditions were VERY tough. We congratulate all the competitors who battled the high winds. This year all shooting at the Mid-Range Nationals was done at 600 yards (the simplified course of fire was adopted in 2019). I think I can safely say everyone is excited and ready to move on to Long-Range portion of the championships.

The Top 10 in each division are listed below. New F-Open Mid-range Champion Tim Vaught put together a very impressive performance, dropping just 14 points in very challenging conditions.

F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery arizona 600-yard mid-range

The fact that F-Open winner Tim Vaught dropped just 14 points across nine 20-shot relays is INSANE given the incredibly tough conditions. He deserved his title without a doubt. F-TR Mid-Range Champion Andrew Cyr also had an impressive performance, winning by 9 points over a very tough field, including past National F-TR Champions and Nancy Tompkins, past NRA High Power and Long Range Champion.

The F-TR division was won by Andrew Cyr. His gunsmith, Bryan Blake, said this rig has some unusual features, including barrel twist rate. Stay tuned for a full tech report…
F-Class Nationals Championship ben avery arizona 600-yard mid-range

Challenging Conditions at F-Class Mid-Range Nationals
Conditions were pretty incredible and by no means typical for Ben Avery for the Mid-Range portion of the USA F-Class National Championships. We started on Sunday with dead calm conditions on relay one and by the end of shooting, it was challenging but certainly not anything outside the normal for most of the people. We woke up Monday to crazy strong winds that just tore apart those who were ‘lucky enough’ to be on the first relay and it throughout the day it went from horrible to manageable and it was just dumb luck if your relay got hit or spared. The uncharacteristically strong winds met us Tuesday morning again for the final day of Mid-Range.

Video has highlights from three days of Mid-Range competition.

Before the first relay I measured gusts that were almost 24 mph with the constant wind hovering in the high teens. It calmed down from there but still remained very challenging until the end. Overall it was quite the fight for first with Tim Vaught earning the F-Open win with Dan Bramley and Tod Hendricks taking a respective second and third place out of a field of 66 High Masters and 13 Masters. These guys all shot superbly in some of the most challenging conditions ever witnessed at the Ben Avery range in Arizona. Mighty impressive…

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October 28th, 2020

CMP Western Games 2021 will Include Rifle AND Pistol Matches

CMP Western Games Phoenix Ben Avery 2021

Even while other major matches (such as the 2021 SWN) have been cancelled, the 2021 CMP Western Games could be bigger than ever. Next year’s Western Games, held March 12-21, 2021 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona will include pistol matches for the first time. That should attract more competitors, so register early. Western Games online registration opens on November 1, 2020.

CMP Western Games ENTRY FORM | CMP Western Games INFORMATION

CMP Western Games PROGRAM | CMP Western Games SCHEDULE

CMP Western Games Phoenix Ben Avery 2021

NEW in 2021: The CMP will be holding pistol matches during the 2021 Western CMP Games. There will be a Pistol Marksmanship 101, plus an M9 EIC Match, CMP Match Pistol 2700, EIC Service Pistol Match .22 Rimfire Pistol EIDC Match, Military/Police Service Pistol Match and 1911 As-Issued Pistol Match.

CMP Western Games 2021

RETURNING EVENTS: The Western CMP Games include the Garand, Springfield, Vintage Military, Modern Military, Rimfire Sporter, M1 Carbine, and Vintage Sniper Match. There will also be a Rifle Marksmanship 101 with M16 EIC Match. Other clinics include the GSM New Shooter Clinic and the M1 Maintenance Clinic.

CMP Western Games 2021

CMP Western Games 2021

Additionally, the CMP HP Rifle Matches will include a Team CMP Clinic with live-fire, plus 4-Man Team Match, EIC Rifle Match and three days of 80-shot events.

Competitor in M1 Carbine Match at CMP Western Games
CMP Western Games 2021

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October 27th, 2020

Train for F-Class with Reduced-Size Target Centers

F-Class Target center NRA training reduced size
Ben Avery Match Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

The 2020 F-Class National Championships are underway right now at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mid-Range Championship (Oct. 25-28) concludes tomorrow, followed by the Long-Range Championship (Oct. 29 – Nov. 1). Given the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we know many F-Class shooters couldn’t make it to Nationals this year. For them, and other folks who are getting started in the sport, here are some special targets that let you train at your home range, even if it does not have target bays at 600 and 1000 yards. These special 300-yard target centers that let you duplicate the exact MOA size of the official F-Class targets, but at closer range.

2015 F-Class Championship Ben Avery
Here is the sleek, carbon-stocked .308 Win rifle Bryan Litz used to win both the 2015 Mid-Range AND
Long-Range F-TR Championship at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona.

These reduced-size target centers were created by Forum member SleepyGator, an F-Class competitor who needed practice targets he could use at 300 yards. There is an official reduced-distanced standard for 300-yard F-Class matches. This utilizes the NRA No. MR-63FC – F-Class Target Center which is pasted over the MR-63 target. It provides a 1.42″ X-Ring, 2.85″ 10-Ring, and 5.85″ Nine-Ring. (The dimensions of F-Class targets are found in the NRA High Power Rules, Sec. 22, part 4, page 70-71 — see sample below.)

F-Class Reduced Target Centers

CLICK HERE to Download F-Class 300-yard Target Centers (.Zip archive with three targets)

To duplicate the 300-yard target, SleepyGator has prepared a printable version of the MR-63FC Target Center, along with a pair of training targets with two bulls and five bulls. The two-bull and five-bull targets mirror the scoring rings on the MR-63FC, but they display only the innermost three rings and two rings respectively. All three targets are Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files that can be easily printed. You may need to adjust the scale (sizing) on your printer to get the dimensions exactly correct. As noted above, when printed, the 10-Ring on all three targets should measure 2.85″. This should provide some handy practice targets you can use between matches. Thanks to SleepyGator for providing these targets. You can download all three as a .Zip archive. After downloading the .Zip file, just click on the .Zip archive to extract the individual targets.

CLICK HERE to Download NRA High Power Rules with F-Class Target Dimensions

F-Class Target Paste Center

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October 24th, 2020

2021 Berger Southwest Nationals Event Has Been Canceled

desert sharpshooters 2021 SWN SW southwest nationals cancellation cancel notice Ben Avery AZ Phoenix F-Class
Berger SWN Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Bad news folks — one of the very best rifle matches on the planet, the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN), will NOT be held in 2021. The Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club, organizers of the big match, stated that because of Arizona state health regulations, it would be too difficult to conduct a match this big. An email notice was issued on 10/22/2020 which concluded:

“The Desert Sharpshooters feel that we cannot maintain the integrity of the match while also following all of Ben Avery’s COVID requirements. Additionally, we feel that it is not fair to the shooters and sponsors to hold the match in conditions that will not allow it to be on par with the world class standards we strive for. Therefore … we must announce the cancellation of the 2021 Southwest Nationals.”

desert sharpshooters 2021 SWN SW southwest nationals cancellation cancel notice Ben Avery AZ Phoenix F-Class

Notice from The Desert Sharpshooters

2021 Southwest Nationals Registration Information
The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is owned and operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. As a state owned facility, we must follow all COVID restrictions in place, and it seems that these measures will not be lifted anytime soon. We have been informed that the AZ Governor’s office will not enter into any new phases until there is a vaccine in place.

In planning for the F-Class Nationals held this month, the Desert Sharpshooters have struggled to put in place measures that follow all of Ben Avery Shooting Facility’s requirements. This is for a match half the size of a traditional Southwest Nationals. While the F-Class Nationals will still be taking place, it will not have the traditional atmosphere that shooters expect from a national championship event. Among other measures, shooters will not be permitted to gather in groups on the range and will be forced to socially distance themselves. This will virtually eliminate the comradery typical of the shooting sports, especially at an international event.

In recent years, the Southwest Nationals has filled all 360 available spots in a matter of minutes after registration opens. In addition, we typically see a waiting list of 100 to 150 shooters hoping to get into the full match. In order to follow COVID measures, we would have to limit entries to 180 available spots. Since this match consists of Sling, F-TR, and F-Open, we would further have to limit each division to 60 shooters.

After much deliberation, the Desert Sharpshooters feel that we cannot maintain the integrity of the match while also following all of Ben Avery’s COVID requirements. Additionally, we feel that it is not fair to the shooters and sponsors to hold the match in conditions that will not allow it to be on par with the world class standards we strive for. Therefore, it is with much sadness that we must announce the cancellation of the 2021 Southwest Nationals.

Kind Regards,
Desert Sharpshooters

Desert sharpshooters | P O Box 11684, Prescott, AZ 86304

desert sharpshooters 2021 SWN SW southwest nationals cancellation cancel notice Ben Avery AZ Phoenix F-Class

If you have never been to the Berger SW Nationals before, this video from the 2016 match provides an aerial view of the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, along with images from the firing lines:

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October 22nd, 2020

2020 F-Class National Championships in Arizona NOTICE

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

The 2020 United States F-Class National Championships commence Sunday October 25, 2020 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. For 2020, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one exended mega-match. The Mid-Range U.S. F-Class Nationals take place 25-28 October 2020, with all shooting at 600-yard targets. The Long Range National Championships then run October 29 through November 1st with all matches at 1000 yards. The competition consists of two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle).

CLICK HERE for 2020 F-Class Nationals Match Program »

For health reasons, F-Class Nationals competitors will be required to follow a number of important health and safety protocols. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Here are the 2020 protocols as issued by the host Desert Sharpshooters club:

2020 NRA F-Class National Championships — Safety Protocols

We have had to implement several measures for the 2020 F-Class Nationals due to COVID-19. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, a state government agency. Therefore, all state and local guidelines and measures regarding COVID-19 must be followed on the property. Unfortunately, the local guidelines include a mask mandate, among other measures. We were hoping for the measures to be relaxed as the Nationals grew closer, but that is not the case. The COVID-19 measures that must be implemented during the match are below.

COVID-19 measures for the 2020 F-Class Nationals include:

– Reduce the total number of entries to 180.
– Use every other target for a total of 45 targets.
– Food and drinks, including water, will NOT be provided or for sale.
– Only one person pulling a target.
– Wearing mask/face cover is required when 6 feet distancing cannot be obtained. This includes:

    Using the restroom.
    During all team matches, except the shooters. Only the shooter and coach will be permitted on the firing line. All other team members must be 6 feet from the shooter and coach.
    On the people movers traveling to and from the pits.
    Walking up/down the ramps/stairs at the 1000 yard line, or traveling to or from one’s assigned firing point.

– No banquet dinners.
– Award ceremony will be held each day on the firing line, with shooters in the parking lot social distancing.
– While scoring, the scorer will be at least 6 feet from the shooter.
– Shooters on the firing line will set up on each side of their assigned target marker with 6 feet separating them.
– Shooters not pulling targets, scoring, or shooting must remain off of the firing line and in their vehicles or socially distancing in the parking lot.
– Only the scoring and shooting relays will be permitted on the firing line. During pit changes, the previous scoring and shooting relays must vacate the firing line before the next scoring and shooting relays approach the firing line.
– All scores and squadding will be posted online. Those with no access to the internet can obtain their squadding on the bulletin boards on the east and west side of the building. Only one person will be permitted to be at the bulletin board at a time.
– No one is permitted to enter the Berger Building.
– Refunds will be given to those that wish to not participate in the event.

Failure of individuals to follow any of the above guidelines may result in disqualification and being asked to leave. If we do not comply with these regulations, we risk the Ben Avery Shooting Facility canceling the event without prior notice.

We would also like to remind shooters that if they are feeling sick or have any symptoms to please not come to the range, and notify us immediately at fclassnationals@gmail.com.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Located on 1,650 acres in north Phoenix, BASF is one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities. A City of Phoenix “Point of Pride,” the facility has received a five-star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges.

Firing line at 2015 F-Class Nationals at Ben Avery Shooting Facility.
2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts


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August 28th, 2020

Arizona Collegiate Marksmen Teach New Shooters

University Arizona Wildgats NSSF new shooter
Top photo taken before COVID-19 pandemic. Now training is conducted with face masks and social distancing protocols as shown in lower photo.

Arizona SASP Team Introduces New Shooters With First Shots Program
The Wildgats is the University of Arizona’s talented Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) Team. The Wildgats team got its start in 2015 thanks to an NSSF grant, and now the Wildgats members are training new shooters in conjunction with the NSSF’s First Shots and +ONE initiatives. With August being declared National Shooting Sports Month, the Wildgats conducted a training session on August 22, 2020. The event was hugely successful — drawing a “full house” of 127 trainees.

“We had a 127 sign up in one hour before we could announce that it was full,” said WildGats Head Coach, Bill Perkins. “Talking to our guests, I was surprised. At our first five events, we have had about 50% new shooters. When I asked for a show of hands at our latest First Shots event, aLL the hands went up in all three groups. We also saw very high participation by women. I would guess over 80% this year.”

University Arizona Wildgats NSSF new shooter

The training sessions began with a body temperature check for health compliance. Then there was a First Shots powerpoint session followed by gun safety rules. From there, the University of Arizona WildGats athletes taught new shooters the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment, and trigger squeeze with visible laser SIRT trainers. After this instruction, First Shots participants were taken to the live fire range, receiving one-on-one guidance with a Coach, Instructor, or RSO.

The Wildgats have run First Shots events for several years. With partners Southeast Regional Park Shooting Range and Pima County Parks & Recreation, the WildGats hosted a successful event in August, 2020.

About the Wildgats SASP Team
The WildGats squad is the University of Arizona collegiate shooting team for the Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP). The team’s Facebook page declares: “We are proud to represent the University of Arizona at the collegiate level in rimfire and centerfire pistol, as well as rimfire rifle divisions. We regularly practice steel shooting in timed courses of fire, emphasizing on safety and accuracy for both beginners, intermediate, and advanced athletes. The Wildcats team members are University of Arizona students who are committed to improving their shooting skills through regular training and personal responsibility. With the same dedication we apply to our studies, we work on the fundamentals of marksmanship, seeking new ways to gain more accuracy, speed, and consistency.”

University Arizona Wildgats NSSF new shooter

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June 19th, 2020

Arizona Teen Excels at CMP Western Games Competition

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle

Report based on story by Serena Juchnowski for CMP Newsletter
This 15-year-old kid is a shooting prodigy. Young Tyler Fisher from Arizona shot superbly at the 2020 CMP Western Games Match in Phoenix (Ben Avery). His impressive marksmanship secured second place overall (and High Junior) at the Western Games M16 EIC Match. Talented Tyler shot a 383-11X, only one point short of the match winning score, a 384-9X. Impressive performance for a young man with less than two years of High Power experience!

Tyler Fisher Western Games CMP

Tyler started shooting for fun with his dad when the Fisher family settled in Arizona in 2012. “Don’t start this sport trying to compete”, Tyler said, “have fun at first”. Tyler was born in Italy, while his dad, a member of the U.S. Air Force, was stationed there. Tyler is now in his high school’s Air Force ROTC program. Tyler joined the Arizona State Rifle & Pistol Association (ASRPA) smallbore rifle program in 2018. His talent was soon recognized, and he was invited to join the Arizona Scorpions Junior High Power Rifle Team.

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle

Tyler says his AZ Scorpions teammates have really had an impact on his shooting experience: “My favorite thing are the people that I have met along the way,” he said. “My coaches have taught me everything they know, and my teammates encourage me on the way and have become great friends.” Discipline is the number one thing Tyler has taken from his training,

Tyler Fisher CMP Western Games
Can you spot Tyler on the firing line at the Western Games?

About Tyler’s High Power Equipment — White Oak Upper and Aero Precision Lower
Tyler started out with a team rifle, but his family acquired his own service rifle for him to use. This features a White Oak Armament upper with an Aero Precision lower and a Magpul UBL generation 1 stock. He uses one of the AZ Scorpion’s team Hi-Lux scopes. Tyler borrows a jacket from the team, but loves his customized David Tubb-style shooting hat with his last name and team name on its sides.

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle
Tyler Fisher (right) competes against his father, Matt Fisher (left).

Having less than two years of experience as a High Power Power competitor, Tyler is proud to represent the state of Arizona and to have earned his first four Excellence-in-Competition points at the Western CMP Games. He hopes to shoot for at least the next three years as a junior competitor and hopes to earn the Distinguished Rifleman Badge.

Tyler Still Prefers Smallbore, Though He has Excelled at Service Rifle
Though High Power is now his primary discipline, Tyler admits that he enjoys smallbore more. He finds it easier than High Power, and shooting rimfire is a “very relaxing thing to do”. Tyler is now on the last levels of the NRA/Winchester Marksmanship Qualification Program for four-position smallbore at his home club. Regardless of what discipline he is shooting, Tyler enjoys the competition.

CMP western games Arizona Ben Avery Tyler Fisher High Power Service Rifle
Tyler first attended the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio in 2019 as a member of the Arizona Scorpions Junior Team.

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May 23rd, 2020

2020 Berger Southwest Nationals Equipment Lists

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

The best F-Class and Sling shooters in the nation compete each year at the Berger Southwest Nationals at the Ben Avery range in Arizona. Walk down the firing line and you’ll see the absolute “best of the best” in equipment — from $3500 optics to $2000 stocks and $400 triggers. Berger SWN shooters have some of the best equipment you can buy. In this game, where just 1 or 2 points can separate first from third place (considering X-Count), it’s important to have top-flight equipment. That means a custom action, custom barrel, and high-end stock or chassis system.

Matt Schwartzkopf, a range supervisor at Ben Avery, and member of the USA F-TR Team, has collected comprehensive gear reports from the 2020 Berger SW Nationals. Matt has created charts showing competitors’ choices for Actions, Barrels, Stocks, Riflescopes and Spotting Scopes. In addition, Matt has compiled bullet choice data for all classes and Cartridge rankings for F-Open Division.

There is a discussion of the 2020 SWN Gear Selection in our Shooters’ Forum. CLICK HERE to follow that Forum thread. Many top SWN shooters, including past F-Open National Champion Larry Bartholome, have contributed to this Forum discussion about gear options.

ACTIONS Listed by Division (Sling, F-TR, F-Open)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

ACTIONS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

BARRELS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

BULLETS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

CARTRIDGE BRASS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

POWDER by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

STOCKS by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

RIFLESCOPES by Brand (Combined Listing — All Divisions)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

SPOTTING SCOPES Listed by Class (Sling, F-TR, F-Open)
2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

Cartridge Selection in F-Open Division

In addition, Matt produced an interesting listing of cartridge/caliber types for the F-Open division. This is helpful because cartridge choice is unrestricted in the F-Open class. By contrast, the F-TR division is limited to .223 Remington (5.56×45) or .308 Winchester (7.62×51). You can see that the .284 Winchester (and variants) currently dominate F-Open.

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

2020 Berger Southwest SW SWN Nationals gear list equipment actions barrels stocks bullets scopes

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May 12th, 2020

Ben Avery Range in Arizona Re-Opens May 13, 2020

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19Ben Avery Re-Opens with Online Reservations
The Ben Avery Shooting Facility (BASF) in Arizona will soon be open for business again. However some key operational changes will affect customers. To ensure public health and safety, only online reservations will be accepted and shooters must observe social distancing rules and special range guidelines. BASF will at 7:00 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Reservations canbe made online now at Bookben.azgfd.com. Ammunition and safety gear can be reserved online, as well. NOTE: Reservations cannot be canceled or rescheduled.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

At this time, the shooting facility is unable to accommodate walk-in customers on its rifle and pistol ranges, as well as the Clay Target Center (CTC). Any changes will be based on gradual reopening guidelines for businesses and customers, as outlined by the Governor’s Office.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

“BASF’s implementation of a new online reservation system is two-fold: We want to maximize the shooting opportunities that this world-class facility has to offer, while maintaining common sense health practices,” said Mike Raum, shooting sports branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Located on 1,650 acres in north Phoenix, BASF is one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities. A City of Phoenix “Point of Pride,” the facility has received a five-star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges.

Firing Line at Berger SW Nationals. Click to Zoom Image:
Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19


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May 3rd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Berger SWN F-Open Champ Jay C’s 284 Wheeler

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Report by Jay Christopherson
2020 Berger SW Nationals F-Open Champion

Team Member, Team Lapua-Brux-Borden
I’ve been shooting F-Class for about 9 years now. In fact, I shot my very first match, a 600-yard mid-range match, using a 6mm Dasher, on March 19, 2011. My first relay was a 188-4X and my overall score was 582-19X. I remember shooting a really nice group in the 9-ring, because I dialed the scope the wrong way and I shot lots of “verification” shots before making adjustments. I also remember wondering if that was a good score for that range in those mostly calm conditions (it wasn’t). I’ve tracked every match I’ve ever shot and I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve always been a competitive person and F-Class gave me an outlet to indulge both my competitiveness and my fondness for details. In what other individual sport does a thousandth of an inch (or less!) become important? Or a tenth of a grain?

Some of my greatest pleasures in this sport come not necessarily from winning a match (though I won’t turn that down), but in identifying something small in what I am doing that has a material effect on paper. Maybe it’s a tiny change in seating depth. Maybe it’s a slightly modified strategy for making wind calls. Maybe it’s a tiny position or hold change. Whatever it is, when it works, there’s no better feeling.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I have a full-time job to go with this hobby, so finding the time for productive training is difficult. You have to really plan ahead to maximize the time you spend reloading, developing loads, and training at the range. To that end, I invest a lot of time in reducing the things that I do at the loading bench. I load ammo on a progressive press, though modified to produce ammo to my standards. I don’t clean brass. I don’t do a lot of things that most shooters would call traditional in the loading room. Because frankly, I don’t have the time between family, work, and other interests.

If it doesn’t make a difference on paper, I mostly don’t do it. Still, there are one or two loading habits I’m trying to get rid of. I also pre-seat all my ammo for matches — whatever I show up at the match with, is what I have. I don’t clean my rifle between days at the match. I had well over 200 rounds without cleaning by the time the last shot was fired at the 2020 SWN. It took a lot of time for me to get comfortable with that. That works for what I do, but I wouldn’t dare try it with any other loads or rifles, at least, not without a lot of testing to be comfortable. My original 6MM Dasher shooting Reloder 15 couldn’t go that many rounds without cleaning and building up a carbon ring. Unfortunately, I learned a tough lesson on that one my first year.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profileI do all my own gunsmithing, including chambering, bedding, and stock work. I’m no Keith Weil, Alex Wheeler, or some of those other guys, but I feel pretty good about the work I do. I know that when there’s a mistake or imperfection, it’s MY mistake and I can live with that. I like to keep things as minimal as possible, so I shoot off a SEB Mini (no mods) and SEB rear bag.

I also shoot with a spotting scope at Long Range, using a Kowa TSN-663 with 25X LER eyepiece and a relatively new spotting scope stand by Rod Brakhage who is a fine F-Class shooter himself. I really like how smooth and adjustable it is on the ground compared to some other rigs I’ve used.

The 284 Wheeler — Slightly Modified .284 Win
This year at the SWN, I shot a 284 Wheeler, which is a straight .284 Win that has some small modifications designed by Alex Wheeler. I think that the work and experimentation that Alex does with reamer design really shows up on paper. In 2019 I was testing the reamer in a couple barrels, looking for the right load. I shot some great relays and team practices with it that year, but this was the first time I brought enough ammo to shoot the entire week with it. Coupled with Berger’s 7MM 180 grain Hybrid Target bullets which I point to increase BC consistency, and Lapua brass, it’s an effective combination. In particular, the brass has lasted me for 13 firings with no signs of fatigue, so I expect I’ll be able to use it at Worlds in 2021 and beyond.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I also shot the entire 2020 SWN with a Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm scope, my preferred scope for individual matches. It’s a rock-solid reliable scope in my experience, with a great eye box, reliable and repeatable mechanical controls. The Vortex ECR-1 reticle has quickly become my favorite reticle. All four of my Open rifles are built on Borden BRMXD actions, Brux barrels, and sitting in X-Ring F-Open stocks, which are Robertson clones (more on that below). I’ve tried to make each of my rifles as much of an identical clone as possible.

I am not sponsored by anyone as an individual shooter, only through team sponsorship with Lapua-Brux-Borden. Which means that for individual matches, I am free to use what I think gives me the best opportunity to win for individual matches. In practice, the only difference tends to be the scope that I use, as mentioned above.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Jay Christopherson F-Open Rifle Specifications:
Cartridge: 284 Wheeler (variant of .284 Winchester)
Optics: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm
Stock: X-Ring F-Open Stock with R.A.D.
Barrel: Brux 1:9″-twist, 32″-long barrel
Action: Borden BRMXD action
Trigger: Flavio Fare

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Q: What was your biggest challenge at the 2020 Berger SWN?

Jay: The biggest challenge for me at this year’s SWN was purely mental. At past SWN matches where I had done well, I was trying to focus on not thinking about the different things going on around me. Where I was ranked on the score sheet. How well other shooters were doing. How many points or Xs I was ahead (or behind). Being worried about conditions or whether my ammo would hold up. And so on. And sooner or later, I think those things break your focus.

Going into a relay calculating the points or Xs that you can’t afford to drop is a recipe for losing. It’s like trying NOT to picture a pink elephant with purple dots when somebody challenges you try to not think of a pink elephant with purple dots. In previous SWN events, I came up just short three times in a row, for one reason or another. So, in 2020 I went in with a mental game plan.

Mental Game Plan — Envisioning Success
I pictured what it would take to be successful and what winning would feel like. First relays, then days, and then the match. I started that process months before the match actually happened. I thought about who I was shooting against and how much pressure there was to make every shot count. I thought about how I had performed or reacted in similar situations in the past. And I planned out what I would do and how I would handle those things. I strived to be neither negative nor positive — I wanted to be neutral. I wanted to be ready to win, instead of being surprised by it.

Q: What gear/hardware items give you an edge over the competition?

Jay: There’s no single piece of gear that I can think of that gives someone an edge over somebody else. It all sort of works — it’s more about being consistent with whatever hardware you have. But one piece of new gear that I tried out at the SWN was a single-piece scope mount called the Alphamount (photo below), by Richard Near of NEAR Manufacturing.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I think scope mounts are the most overlooked piece of equipment in F-Class right now — whether they be improperly aligned, improperly torqued, or just plain junk. I think people put a lot of blame on their scopes that can be traced back to mounts. The Alphamount (and single-piece mounts in general) are something that I believe in now, having done a lot of testing. It worked out OK for me at the SWN.

Action for Back-Up Rifle Is Glued and Screwed into Stock
One of the new things I am trying this year is a “glue and screw” action set-up. At the 2019 US F-Class Nationals in Raton, we got rained on a little and when I pulled my rifle apart, I found water between the bedding and action (the bedding is about 2 years old). At the SWN, I found that something had moved enough that I could torque the front action screw and bind the bolt. Not good, but luckily this was my backup rifle that I shot for Mid-Range (badly) and not my lead rifle. There could have been stock movement or other factors as well, but there was no question the bedding had shrunk when I stuck a dial indicator on it and found that my pillars were now standing proud.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Some people had been goading me to try a “glue-and-screw” procedure. Since I had nothing better to do during the COVID-19 lockdown, I pulled out the Dremel, scuffed up the action and bedding, removed the recoil lug, and glued the action into the stock. I’ve had it out a couple times since and it seems to be shooting well, but we’ll see how it holds up and what sort of difference it might make as time goes on.

Q: What is your advice to newcomers in F-Class and Long Range competition?

Jay: Find a nemesis. Someone local who puts in the same effort that you do and is as competitive as you are. Be friends, share info, but work your behind off to make sure you win on match day. I guarantee you someone reading this knows what I’m talking about. The best thing you can do is have someone who pushes you to perform better each time out. You love to win against them, but not as much as you hate to lose to them.

Q: What do you like most about Long Range and F-Class competition?

Jay: I like the challenge of F-Class — it’s a nice blend of working to get the most out of your equipment and the most out of yourself as a shooter. You can have the greatest shooting rifle in the world and it won’t matter a bit if you can’t be consistent pulling the trigger or making good wind calls. By the same token, you can be the greatest wind caller and most consistent trigger puller in the world — but it won’t matter a bit if you can’t wring the best possible performance out of your rifle for that tiny little target at 1000 yards. I like Long Range because everything is magnified — there are rarely easy shots.

Q: What do you prefer, individual events or team matches?

Jay: Team matches. No contest. Most of the reason I travel to matches is for the team events. But just throwing together a team of great individual shooters is not enough to consistently win. You have to operate as a team, which at times means subsuming your own individual goals for the good of the team. I’ve gone into big matches knowing that my team rifle is my best rifle by a mile — but knowing that the best thing for the team’s current and future success is for me to not burn that barrel out (or burning up known good components) in the individual events. And that’s fine with me. Being part of a team of shooters with the same goal, with the same drive, the same focus on team rather than individual — and able to deliver the goods — that’s the reason why I do this.

Team Lapua Brux Borden

Q: What kind of stock do you use and how does it behave?

Jay: I use an X-Ring Open stock, which is basically a Robertson clone. I’ve been using X-Ring for about 4 years now. I’ve been through a lot of different stocks to find the one that fits me and the way I like to shoot, and X-Ring has done that for me. There’s a lot of focus recently on lowering the center of gravity and extending the stock length through various methods to solve problems like torque, jump, etc. — those are just problems that I don’t experience or, at least, that don’t bother me while I’m shooting. So, I don’t tend to worry about them. The X-Ring fits nicely and runs very well in the bags that I use. I do think that you have to spend some time finding the right bag setup for the stock you are using. I have at least 9 different rear bags that I have tested at one time or another until I settled on my current bag.

Q: Do you have any specific Gun Handling Tips for F-Open shooters?

Jay: As for gun handling, I prefer a light hold — my cheek indexes off the stock with a very light touch and my trigger hand indexes off the stock also with a light touch so that I have a consistent trigger finger position. What I do is in the style of “free recoil”, but is NOT fully “free recoil”, since I DO lightly touch the stock. For the butt, I run the R.A.D. recoil reducer at its lowest setting, which means that I can barely touch off for indexing purposes and still not interrupt the recoil pulse because the R.A.D. absorbs it. This was a suggestion that Will McCloskey made to me a couple years ago in place of leaving space.

This video, from a past Berger SWN, illustrates Jay Christopherson’s shooting style. He employs a very light touch on the gun. The front rest is a SEB Mini. If this Facebook video doesn’t load, CLICK HERE.

My hold for F-Class has evolved over time into what it is now. There are lots of successful shooters that are using varying degrees of holds, from light to hard. Again, It all sort of works — the most important part is that whatever you do is consistent and repeatable, hence my touch points that ensure my head, shoulder, and trigger finger are in the same position every time. There are shooters out there that will rant about “the fundamentals of shooting” and insist that your legs have to be a certain way, your cheek has to be a certain way, your breathing has to be done a certain way. I’m sure that’s valid for what they do and I’m fine with them looking down on me for it, but I do what produces results for me. For certain, my position and hold when shooting sling is completely different. All it means is that you have to be prepared to adapt.

PARTING SHOT — Have Guns, Will Travel

Here is one of Jay’s other F-Open Rifles. When traveling he separates the stock from the barreled action. He uses a custom-cut foam piece that holds the components very securely. Note the separate slots for barreled action, stock, scope (in rings), bolt assembly, and spotting scope.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

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April 14th, 2020

CMP Western Games a Success Despite Shortened Schedule

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

Here’s some good news about rifle shooters enjoying an early March competition before Executive Orders forced people to stay at home. We can report that the first-ever springtime CMP Western Games were well-attended. Nearly 300 shooters enjoyed the event, though the High Power matches and clinic phase was cancelled due to official social distancing mandates.

By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
With the first run in its new March time slot, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) annual Western CMP Games and HP Rifle Matches event was met with greatly-increased registration and attendance compared to recent years, despite social distance restrictions that led to a premature end to the event.

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

Competitors completed the entire schedule of CMP Games rifle events and schools at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility under brilliant Arizona skies and comfortable temperatures. Unfortunately, the 5-day CMP High Power Rifle Matches and clinic, scheduled in the second half of the schedule, were cancelled due to health concerns — “social distancing” mandates for participants and staff.

CMP Western Games Arizona phoenix

The Western CMP Games portion of the event held in Phoenix is one of many travel events conducted by the CMP across the country each year. It includes specially designed vintage and modern rifle matches and clinics affording opportunities for marksmanship enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels.

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

A spike in early registration of 283 participants led to an impressive number of 664 scheduled event entries for the early Spring event in Phoenix. Since its first Arizona appearance in 2008, the Western CMP Games events have been conducted in the month of October. Due to recurring inclement weather at the CMP’s annual Oklahoma Games, the decision was made to trade seasons with those in Arizona beginning in 2020.

Here are some photo highlights from the 2020 CMP Western Games. View hundreds more Western Games images on the CMP Zenfolio Photo Archive.

Vintage Sniper Match

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery vintage sniper

Marksmanship 101 Training and M16 Match

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

Rimfire Sporter Match

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

CMP Western Games Arizona ben avery marksmanship 101

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March 16th, 2020

Challenging Conditions at 2020 Cactus Classic in Arizona

Arizona is warm, dry, and sunny right? Well not always. This past weekend, rain fell in droves on the Friday practice day for the 2020 Cactus Classic 100/200 yard Benchrest event. Yes, it was Friday the 13th! But then the rain clouds receded, and visitors were greeted to a stunning rainbow.


Rainbow photo by Michelle Gallagher.

The two-day match got underway on March 14th in relatively dry but windy conditions. That created challenging conditions for the competitors — even with windflags set up to show wind velocity and angles.

One of the best matches of the year, the Cactus Classic attracts many of the nation’s top “point-blank” shooters. These aces compete with 10.5-lb Light Varmint and 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint rifles, nearly all chambered for the 6PPC cartridge. Many shooters run their LVs in HV classes as well, for simplicity (and to save money — one rifle costs less than two). In this game, the vast majority of shooters load at the range between relays. That lets them tune their loads to the condition — something that can help when you’re trying to shoot tiny dots.

Cactus Classic Benchrest LV HV Ben Avery Phoenix Berger

With all the interest in F-Class, PRS, and ELR, we sometimes forget that plenty of folks are still competiting in Short-Range Benchrest disciplines, with standards of accuracy we can only envy. For a PRS shooter, a good 100-yard, five-shot group would be half-MOA. For a benchrest shooter, a good group at 100 would be in the “Ones”. That’s smaller than 0.200″ center to center for five shots. And the small group of a Relay is often in the “Zeros”.


Conditions were wet on Friday the 13th before the 2020 Cactus Classic.

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February 17th, 2020

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden — Big Winners at Berger SW Nationals

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod Hendricks

Dominators — that’s what these blue-shirted guys were at the 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). For the third straight year, Team Lapua-Brux-Borden won the coveted F-Open Team Grand Aggregate award at the Berger Southwest Nationals, finishing with a score of 2584-160X (out of a possible 2600). And Team Member Jay Christopherson (AccurateShooter’s System Admin) won the F-Open Overall title, while Team Member Tod Hendricks won the 600-yard Mid-Range Event. Mighty impressive…

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod Hendricks

Team members are Jay Christopherson, David Christian, Tod Hendricks, Pat Scully, and Jeremy Smith (alternate), with Bob Sebold serving as Coach and Erik Cortina as Captain. Remarkably Jay (1247-83X), Pat (1247-72X), and Tod (1245-81X) placed first, second, and third respectively in the F-Open Grand Aggregate individual awards. That’s right, three team-mates secured ALL the podium places. And all three were separated by only two points!

Record-Setting Performances by Team
Notably Team Lapua-Brux-Borden established a new Ben Avery range record along the way to winning the Palma Team Match with a score of 1791-113 (out of a possible 1800). We’re told that the Team’s 793-47X LR score was also a new match record. Jay set a LR Aggregate Record with 799-50X, while Tod set a LR individual relay record of 200-18X.

Berger SW Nationals 2020
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden — Winning “Team First” Philosophy
Commentary by Jay Christopherson
For Team Lapua-Borden-Brux, winning gold is the entire focus. To that end, ego is the only enemy. Sure, we all have egos as individual shooters, but as a team, ego is subsumed into that one overriding goal. If you can’t do that, then you can’t shoot on Lapua-Borden-Brux. No matter how good you think your rifle is or how well you are shooting individually, the coach is the only arbiter — no exceptions. Every job on the team is focused towards that single goal of gold and no job is more or less important than another. Our plotter saves points by spotting high or low trends and calling that out, and ensuring we don’t lose points when a scorer misses a shot. Our back-coach saves points by spotting upcoming condition changes or making observations. Our target-puller strives to provide an example of the best possible target service. And our scorer focuses on providing attentive service to the team next to us. A failure in one job is a failure in all and we either win or lose together as a team. That is only possible when each individual understands that there is only one goal.

The Berger Southwest Nationals, hosted by the Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club, took place February 5-9, 2020 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ with a sold-out roster of 400 competitors. America’s biggest rifle match west of the Mississippi, the Southwest Nationals is a “must-attend” event for long-range shooters competing in F-Open, F-TR, and Sling disciplines. Competitors from at least nine different countries were in attendance. The Grand Aggregate is the total score from firing points of 600, 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod HendricksPraise from Team Captain
“I am very proud of the team”, stated Team Captain, Erik Cortina: “From setting a new range record to placing first in the F-Open Grand Aggregate, our success is directly attributed to Lapua’s premium components.”

About Lapua — Premium Brass, Bullets, and Ammunition
Lapua produces the highest-quality small caliber cartridges and components for civilian and professional use. Lapua is a part of the Capstone Precision Group, exclusive U.S. distributor for Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori, and SK-Rimfire products. For more information, visit Lapua.com.

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February 5th, 2020

Berger Southwest Nationals Event Commences Today in Phoenix

Berger SW Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery 2020 F-Class F-Open F-TR

The 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals, one of the biggest (and best) rifle competitions of the year, kicks off Wednesday, February 5, 2019 at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. The big match continues through Sunday, February 9th. This match attracts the top F-Class and sling shooters in the country, along with many talented foreign competitors. See Desert Sharpshooters SWN Facebook Page.

Here’s a state-of-the-art F-Open rig with sleek, low-profile, Speedy-designed Shurley Brothers stock:
2020 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN

Talk to the competitors and many will tell your that the SWN is their favorite match of the year. For those in Northern states, the chance to enjoy some Arizona sunshine is a big draw, along with the quality of the competition, and the camaraderie.

Berger 2020 SW Nationals

The 2020 Berger SWN event commences today with a Mid-Range, 600-yard Match:

berger southwest nationals F-Class 2020 Ben Avery Mid-Range Berger SWN

Capstone Precision Group Makes This Event Possible
The Berger SW Nationals are made possible through the principal support of Berger Bullets and Lapua, both part of the Capstone Precision Group, which also distributes Vihtavuori powder and SK Ammunition in the USA. Berger and Lapua both generously donate prizes for 2020 SWN competitors.

Berger SW Southwest Nationals Phoenix Ben Avery 2020 F-Class F-Open F-TR

Bird’s Eye Ben Avery — A Look at the Range

If you’ve never visited the Ben Avery Facility north of Phoenix, Arizona, here is a video shot in 2016 that shows the 1000-yard range (including drone footage). The desert range at Ben Avery is something special — check out this “birds-eye view”. This video also includes an interview with Derek Rodgers, F-TR World Champion, King of 2 Miles, and the only man who who has earned both F-Open AND F-TR USA National titles.

Event Schedule for 2020 Berger SWN

Wednesday, 5 February 2020, 9:00 AM
Mid-Range Match – Three 20-shot matches at 600 yards. (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)

Thursday, 6 February 2020, 9:00 AM
4-Man Palma Team Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divisions – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)

Friday, 7 February 2020, 8:30 AM – Start of Grand Agg
Individual Palma Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divs – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)
Swap Meet at 1000-Yard Line after conclusion of Day’s Match

Saturday, 8 February 2020, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot 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, 9 February 2020, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot 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.

Sling Shooters in Palma Division
For the Palma division, the cartridge of choice is the .308 Winchester (7.62.x51). This versatile cartridge is still capable of extreme accuracy. Never underestimate a skilled sling shooter with a good Palma rifle. Below is multi-time NRA National Long-Range Champion John Whidden in action. John’s rifle features a centerfire action in an aluminum Anschutz small-bore stock.

John Whidden Berger 2020 SW Nationals

CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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October 15th, 2019

Wind Wisdom from Experts Bryan Litz and Emil Praslick III

Wind reading coaching bryan litz Ben Avery Phoenix wind video

Wind effects are complex. In trying to access wind speeds and angles, you’ll want to watch multiple indicators — mirage, dust, wind-flags, grass movement, and more. You’ll also need to be concerned about wind cycles. In the video below, Bryan Litz talks about variable wind speed along a bullet’s flight path. A respected ballistics guru, Bryan is the founder of Applied Ballistics and a designer of Berger’s Hybrid Match projectiles. He is also a past F-TR National Champion and a High Master Palma ace.

In this video, Bryan discusses how wind effects can vary in intensity at different points along the bullet’s flight path to the target. Sometimes the firing line is sheltered, and the strongest winds come into effect in the middle of the trajectory. Bryan concludes: “Wind matters everywhere … but the best thing you can do is try to get a handle on the wind [velocity and angle] where you are. That may or may not represent the wind down-range — that’s when you have to look downrange and make a judgment[.]”

Litz Competition Tip: 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.

More Wind Tips from Wind Wizard Emil Praslick
In these two short videos, Emil Praslick III, former coach of the USAMU and USA National long range teams, explains how to find the wind direction and how to confirm your no-wind zero. Praslick is widely considered to be one of the best wind coaches in the USA.

When Winds Are EXTREME — Near Gale Force at Ben Avery

This video shows INSANE winds at NBRSA 100/200 Benchrest Nationals. This was filmed at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, AZ during the recent NBRSA 100/200 yard National Championships. Extreme to say the least. Based on what we’re seeing here, there are 20-25 mph crosswinds, with gusts to 35 mph — near Gale Force. Video by Hall-of-Fame Benchrest competitor Gene Bukys.

Texas gunsmith Mike Bryant reports: “This video shows the Unlimited Class 200 at the Nationals in Phoenix. I had three 10-shot groups in the low 2″ range with a 2.228″ being my big group and was glad they weren’t bigger. Thursday and Friday were the worst of the windy days. Unfortunately those were the days for the UL 200 and it was about as windy through most all of the Sporter 200.”

Excellent Wind Reading Resource

The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters covers techniques and tactics used by expert wind-readers. The authors provide a wind-reading “toolbox” for calculating wind speed, direction, deflection and drift. They explain how to read flags and mirage, record and interpret your observations, and time your shots to compensate for wind. Here are two reviews:

This is a must-have book if you are a long-range sport shooter. I compete in F-Class Open and when read it from cover to cover, it helped me understand wind reading and making accurate scope corrections. Buy this book, read it, put into practice what it tells you, you will not be disappointed. — P. Janzso

If you have one book for wind reading, this should be it. It covers how to get wind speed/direction from flags, mirage, and natural phenomenon. This is the best book for learning to read wind speed and direction. — Muddler

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