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March 14th, 2023

Bump Buster Recoil Reduction System for F-Class Rifles

Bret Solomon Speedy Thomas Gonzalez hydraulic recoil reduction F-Class F-Open

Many of our Forum members have expressed interest in a recoil-reduction system for prone F-Open competition rifles shooting heavy bullets from powerful cartridges. A .300 WSM shooing 200+ grain bullets can definitely take its toll over the course of a match. One system that has been used with considerable success is the hydraulic “Bump Buster” recoil system. This definitely reduces the pounding your shoulder gets during a long match. To illustrate this system, we’ve reprised an article on Bret Soloman’s F-Open rifle from a couple years back. Watch the Videos to see the Bump Buster in action.

Bret Solomon Speedy Thomas Gonzalez hydraulic recoil reduction F-Class F-Open accurateshooter.comOn his Facebook page, Hall-of-Fame shooter and ace gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez unveiled an impressive new F-Open rifle built for Bret Solomon. The rifle features Speedy’s new low-profile F-Class stock.

Bret’s gun is chambered for his 300 Solomon wildcat, shooting heavy 210gr bullets, so it can can be a real shoulder-buster, without some kind of buffer. The stock is fitted with a Ken Rucker’s Bump Buster hydraulic recoil reduction system to tame the recoil. The Bump Buster was originally designed for shotguns and hard-hitting, big game rifles. It is interesting to see this hydraulic buffer adapted to an F-Open rig.

Here you can see Bret shooting the gun, coached by Nancy Tompkins and Michele Gallagher:

Bret’s gun features a stainless Viper (Stiller) action, barrel tuner, and an innovative Speedy-crafted wood stock. Speedy says this stock design is all-new: “It is a true, low Center-of-Gravity F-Class stock, not a morphed Palma stock merely cut out on the bottom”. See all the details in this short video:

Stock Features: Glue-in or Bolt-In and Optional Carbon Pillars and Cooling Ports
Speedy explained the features of the new stock design: “Terry Leonard and I started working on an F-Class version of his stocks last year during the F-Class Nationals and came up with what he and I consider the first true low-CG stock in the sport. As you can see by the videos, there is very little torquing of the stock during recoil. I add the carbon fiber tunnel underneath the forearms to save Terry some time. This bonds very well to his carbon fiber skeleton within the stock adding addition stiffness to the forearm to support the heavy barrels found on the F-Class rigs.

We are playing with both glue-ins like we benchresters use and bolt-ins as well. The rifles on the videos are glue-ins. Bret just took delivery today of his first bolt-in employing carbon fiber pillars and the first Leonard stock ever to have cooling ports.”

Need for Recoil Reduction Follows F-Class Trend to Bigger Calibers and Heavier Bullets
In recent years we have seen F-Open competitors move to bigger calibers and heavier bullets in pursuit of higher BC. There is no free lunch however. Shooting a 210gr .30-caliber bullet is going to produce much more recoil than a 140gr 6.5mm projectile (when they are shot at similar velocities). Does this mean that more F-Open shooters will add hydraulic buffers to their rigs? Will a recoil-reduction system become “de rigueur” on F-Open rifles shooting heavy bullets?

Our friend Boyd Allen observes: “You may imagine that shooting a short magnum, or even a .284 Win with heavy bullets, involves a fair amount of recoil, and in the prone position this can be more than a little wearing. It can in fact beat you up over the course of a match. Some time back, Lou Murdica told me about having a hydraulic recoil absorbing device installed on one of his F-Class rifles, chambered in .300 WSM. Lou is shooting heavy (210-215gr) bullets so the recoil is stout. According to Lou, the hydraulic recoil-reduction system made all the difference.”

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 4th, 2023

Hold On — Wait One Minute … What’s That Downrange?

Bisley Range Deer England Centre UK Wildlife F-Class
Click image to zoom full-screen.

What’s wrong (or right?) with this picture? Does the “F” in F-class refer to “Fauna”? Look carefully at this Bisley Range photo taken by Australian R. Hurley while looking downrange through his March 8-80X scope. The photo was taken in 2015 at the Bisley National Shooting Centre in the UK.

The Story Behind the Photo
British shooter T. Stewart reports: “I was there when this photos was taken. All I can say was that Mr. Hurley was firmly reminded that should said deer accidentally jump in front of his bullet … he would spend five years ‘At Her Majesty’s Pleasure’.”

“That morning we had five deer moving across the targets, literally blocking the V-Bull. Since we were on the 900-yard Firing Point, and elevated for such, obviously the bullet would pass well above them. But they do NOT move or flinch at the noise or passing bullets since they are not hunted on the Bisley Ranges. Earlier this year we saw a herd of 20 or so deer grazing slowly across the Range.”

More Fauna Findings…
Apparently Bisley is not the only place were “the deer and the antelope play”. In Canada, on the Connaught Ranges near Ottawa, Ontario, shooters often encounter a variety of wildlife. William McDonald from Ontario says: “Animals are a common sight on the Range. Along with deer we see geese, turkeys, and coyotes on a daily basis.”

Likewise, E. Goodacre from Queensland, Australia often sees ‘Roos on his home range: “I shoot at Ripley, Australia, and shooting is regularly interrupted by kangaroos. Our last silhouette match was delayed by an hour while 30 ‘Roos dawdled across — silly buggers!”

R. Hurley wasn’t the first fellow to view deer through his F-Class rifle’s scope. After seeing Hurley’s photo from Bisley, B. Weeks posted this image, saying: “Been there, done that!”

Bisley Range Deer England Centre UK Wildlife F-Class

Permalink Competition, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
February 26th, 2023

Sunday GunDay: Transformer — F-TR Rifle Built from Varmint Rig

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics

We’re having a wicked winter in some parts of the nation. California is experiencing blizzards and snow-bound highway closures. In the middle of the nation, major snowstorms hit many states, and 470,000 customers lost electrical power after an ice storm in Michigan.

Rifle Transformed from Ordinary Varmint Rig to a Stunning F-TR Machine
As an antidote to these weather-related worries, for this Sunday GunDay we’re offering a bit of beauty amidst snow — a handsome rifle showcased in a white winter wonderland. This handsome rifle started life as a rather ordinary .204 Ruger Rem VSSF varmint rig. With a new barrel, a new stock, and a stunning flame-pattern hydro-dip coating, this is now an ultra-accurate .223 Rem F-TR competition rifle.

Flames in the Snow…

Forum Member Brandon Schlund (aka “Bois Blanc Boy”), photographed this handsome flame-themed F-TR rifle against the snowy background of Michigan’s Bois Blanc Island. Brandon posted this to our long-running Pride and Joy Rifle Forum thread. He notes: “This is my first F-TR build, which started out as a stock Remington .204 Ruger. I had the action blue-printed, firing pin was bushed by Speedy, and I had a new bolt handle and knob installed by John Pierce.” This rifle is now fitted with a 3-groove Pac-Nor 1:6.5″-twist barrel chambered in .223 Remington to shoot the 90gr Bergers. Other components are: Kelbly KTS stock, Phoenix bipod, and Sightron 8-32x56mm SIII scope. Brandon says: “It took a long time to get this gun where it is now but I’m truly happy with it!” Here’s the “before” photo:

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics

The Transformation — F-TR Comp Rig Made from Rem .204 Ruger Varminter
Report by Brandon Schlund
This rifle started out as a “plain Jane”, factory Remington VSSF II. I shot it on varmint hunts in factory configuration. Then I decided to transform the rifle into a .223 Rem F-TR gun. As the .204 has the same bolt face as a .223 made sense to go in that direction since I would be able to use the gun for varmint hunting as well as F-TR.

While I had shot some F-Class matches with my dad (Joe Schlund aka Bench on AccurateShooter) it wasnt much. When we did a PD hunt in Wyoming I primarily shot my .204 but I decided I wanted a cartridge that could reach out a little further and also do double duty — competition and varminting.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics
CLICK HERE for full-screen photo.

The first step in transforming this rifle was selecting a barrel. We ordered a Pac-Nor, 1:6.5″-twist, 3 groove, 30.5″ heavy Palma contour. This was then chambered with a PTG .223 ISSF reamer with 0.169″ freebore to run the .224 caliber heavies. I went with Pac-Nor because both my father and my brother Mark (aka Labrador2 on AccurateShooter) owned Kelbly-built F-TR rifles with the same barrels. Mark and my father couldn’t be happier with the results. Pac-Nor has great customer service along with a short wait time.

I sent the barrel and the factory Remington 700 action down to Kelbly’s where they did the chambering and cut the threads. While Kelbly’s had my action I had them blueprint it. A Kelbly KTS stock with the three-way buttplate and adjustable cheek piece came next. After getting behind Dad’s rifle and Mark’s gun there was no reason to look any further. With all its adjustments, the KTS stock fits very comfortably.

Loading for the .223 Rem with H4895 and 90gr Bergers
As a .223 Rem, this rifle has proven very accurate — it’s a bullet-hole cutter at 100 yards (low twos easy). Our best load is with Hodgdon H4895, 90gr Berger VLDs, CCI BR4 primers. This load is running at about 2835 FPS but YMMV (remember this is a LONG 30.5″ barrel). The Bergers are loaded .008″ into the lands with base-to-ogive of 2.035″.

Our loading technique may be tedious — with lots of sorting and measuring. But brother Mark, father Joe, and I all enjoy the steps. Our three .223 Rem match guns all love the same load which makes loading much easier. Believe it or not we use a Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive ammo plant, which is great when loading for three guns. Our consistency is fantastic with run-out a mere .001-.0015.

We also turn necks and weigh our primers. Does neck-turning and primer weighing really make a difference? Who knows but we try to eliminate more variables since we have to the time to do it, and we actually enjoy the procedures.

Pierce Engineering Installed Action and Modified Bolt
Being from Michigan, Pierce Engineering has done a lot of work for my family’s guns. For this project the Pierce team bedded the action and glued in a single-shot follower. The stock bolt handle/knob was too short for comfort in the KTS stock. Pierce added a longer handle and tactical knob to the bolt. I then installed a .223 Rem Lapua case base into the knob.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics
The complete .223 Rem rifle ready to shoot F-TR, as fitted with 8-32X56mm Sightron and Phoenix Bipod, weighs 17 pounds, 15 ounces.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip HydrographicsFlame Graphics by Camo Creek Hydrographics
After the action was bedded by Pierce, the stock was sent to Camo Creek Hydrographics in Fenton, Michigan. I selected a flame-style design which Camo Creek applied through hydro-dipping. The stock went back to Pierce’s shop, which applied three coats of clear over the entire stock. The clear-coating really enhanced the flame graphics.

Firing Pin Bushed by Speedy
I sent the bolt to Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez to have the firing pin hole bushed as otherwise the load could crater the primers pretty bad. Knowing I’d be shooting heavy-weight .22-Cal bullets with a stout load this was a good idea. Speedy also cut his trademark grooves into the bolt shroud which looks amazing. His work is top notch! There is zero cratering now, even with the hottest of loads.

Competition Components — 8-32x56mm Sightron and Phoenix Bipod
For an F-TR rig you need a quality high-magnification optic and a premium, wide-base bipod. I installed a 8-32x56mm SIII Sightron. This was another easy choice because of the attractive price and because my family has four other Sightrons that work great.

I installed a fore-end Picatinny rail to attach a Phoenix Bipod. I extended the Mariners wheel handles by adding short sections from an aluminum arrow shaft. This lets me adjust elevation without stretching forward. I also installed a Calvin Elite Timney Trigger set at 6 ounces.

$2500.00 Invested in Rifle Transformation and Upgrade
How much did this all cost? Brandon tells us “I have roughly $2500 into the rebuild of the gun from a .204 Ruger to the .223 Rem.”

Bois Blanc Island in Michigan
Here on Bois Blanc Island we don’t have many amenities, but we do have the ability to shoot 550 yards at our local gravel pit on state land. It’s snow-bound right now as you can see. But later in the year this will be our close-to-home training center.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics

Winter at Bois Blanc Island, Michigan — Here’s the gravel pit where we can load test during
warmer weather. When I took this photo, it was a “balmy” 10-degree day.

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February 24th, 2023

Dad Develops .223 Rem F-TR Load for his Daughter

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Just last week hundreds of F-Class shooters competed at the Southwest Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona. The vast majority of F-TR shooters had rifles chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge (7.62×51), but F-TR rules also allow the .223 Rem (5.56×45). There are some advantages to the smaller .223 Rem round — there’s notably less recoil, bullets and brass are significantly cheaper, and a lot less powder is required. For those who are considering campaigning a .223 Rem F-TR rifle, this story explains how an accurate .223 Rem load was developed. This load development was done by a father for his daughter who was getting started in F-Class competition.

Dad builds an F-TR Rifle for his Daughter and Develops Load

Jeremy Rowland decided to put together an F-TR rifle for his eldest daughter, who enjoys competitive shooting. For his daughter, Rowland chose the .223 Rem option because it has less recoil and components are less costly than the .308 Win. Here is Rowland’s account of how he developed a .223 Rem load. For more details (with data charts), read Jeremy’s FULL STORY on Sierra Bullets Blog.

Journey to Find a .223 Rem F-Class Load

by Jeremy Rowland, Reloading Podcast
My oldest daughter has been to several matches with me, and has even competed in several, using her .243. [A few seasons back] I decided, she would compete with a .223 Rem in F-TR. Looking for a good starter rifle, I settled on the Savage Axis Heavy Barrel since it has a 1:9″ twist. This would be a great little rifle for her to learn on. The rifle was shot unmodified, as it came from the factory. A Sinclair F-Class Bipod w/micro elevation adjustment was fitted to the front.

Next came finding the components I wanted to use for her match loads. After spending hours and hours running numbers on JBM stability calculator as well as in my iPhone Ballistic AE app, the 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing® (TMK) looked really good. So that’s what I decided to go with. I jumped in head first and ordered a bulk pack of the Sierra 69 gr TMKs. I had settled on Hodgdon CFE 223 powder since it shows good velocity. I decided to go with once-fired Lake City brass with CCI BR4 primers.

Next came the testing. I decided to run a ladder test (one shot per charge from min to max looking for the accuracy node). The ladder test ranged from 23.5 grains to 25.6 grains, in 0.3 grain increments.

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Ladder Test Conditions: Temp: 59.4° | Humidity: 63% | Elevation: 486 | Wind: 5-12 mph

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Bullet: 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing®
Case: Lake City (mixed years, sorted by case capacity)
Primer:CCI BR4
Powder: Hodgdon CFE 223 (one round each from 23.5 to 25.6 grains)
Cartridge OAL: 2.378″
Base to Ogive: 1.933″ (.020″ off lands)

After his ladder test, Rowland settled on a load of 25.2 grains of Hodgdon CFE 223. He then fine-tuned his load with different seating depths: “I loaded up 5 rounds each at .020″ off lands, .015″ off lands, .010″ off lands, and .005″ off the lands. Here are the results from the best group for OAL/Ogive fine tuning. As you can see, I think I’ve found a winner in these 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKings.”

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Seating Depth Test Conditions: Temp: 36.3° | Humidity: 73.8% | Elevation: 486 | Wind: 5-7 mph

This article originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
February 22nd, 2023

2023 Southwest Nationals Match Report: F-Open, F-TR, Sling

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2022 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ

The 2023 Southwest Nationals (SWN) have concluded. Though there were very challenging wind/weather conditions this year, the 2023 SWN was a very successful mid-range and long-range event. There was some great shooting in F-Open, F-TR, and Sling divisions. We congratulate the 2023 Long-Range SWN Champions: Erik Cortina (F-Open, 1241-60X); Jeremy Newell (F-TR, 1221-49X); and Justin Skaret (Sling, 1233-50X). Notably, Skaret won Sling Division by 11 points — a big margin. SEE ALL 2023 Results.

The 600-yard champions were: Louis Buatt (F-Open, 600-39X), Luke Ramsey (F-TR, 596-31X), and Randy Teissedre (Sling, 597-33X). Buatt shoot a remarkable “clean” 600-yard match, not dropping a single point while amassing 39 “X”s. Superb performance by Louis!

Shown below is F-Open Long-Range (1000-yard) Winner Erik Cortina. Erik’s purple F-Open rifle was chambered for the new wildcat cartridge based on the 6.5 PRC necked up to 7mm. This drives high-BC 7mm Berger bullets at 2950 fps.

Berger Southwest SW Nationals erik cortina 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ

Our friend Gary Eliseo, maker of Competition Machine rifle chassis systems, said this was a tough match this year: “The 2023 SWN is in the books. This year we faced extremely challenging conditions with very strong erratic winds and cold temps but it was great catching up with so many friends from around the country, thank you all….”

Berger Southwest SW Nationals erik cortina 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ

The F-Class Worlds will be held in South Africa this year. The 2023 SWN offered good practice conditions for Team USA, which posted: “The USA F-Open team had two very successful days of practice for the upcoming World Championship in South Africa. We were also blessed to have five USA rifle team members in the top 10, with Erik Cortina taking the win and Bill Kolodziej taking silver.”

Here are the Long-Range TOP TEN for each of the three divisions. CLICK HERE for ALL results:

2023 Southwest Nationals Top 10 Long Range Competitors by Division
F-Open Class

Erik Cortina, 1241-60X
William Kolodziej, 1239-60X
Tim Vaught, 1236-59X
Noman Harrold, 1234-63X
Johnny Ingram, 1234-59X
Matthew Basalla, 1234-54X
Ken Dickerman, 1234-49X
Tod Hendricks, 1232-58X
Dan Bramley, 1232-49X
Doug Skogman, 1231-58X

F-TR Class

Jeremy Newell, 1221-49X
Luke Ramsey, 1218-47X
James Crofts, 1217-57X
Mark Fairbairn, 1217-47X
Allen Tampke, 1214-38X
Scott Fulmer, 1213-44X
Jennifer Bondurant, 1213-36X
Randy Littleton, 1211-39X
Alton Johnson, 1210-39X
Greg Barkley, 1206-44X

Sling Class

Justin Skaret, 1233-50X
John Friguglietti, 1222-37X
Amanda Elsenboss, 1220-55X
Curtis Bohlman, 1220-53X
Stephan Bunde, 1218-56X
Justin Utley, 1218-56X
Jon Rhynard, 1218-46X
Kent Shomber, 1217-46X
Joe Blacksmith, 1217-43X
Nate Guernsey, 1216-47X

The SWN was made possible this year through the participation of three dozen sponsors including Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori, Applied Ballistics, SEB Rests, Lilja Barrels, F-Class Products, Forster Products, Sightron, PMA Tool, K&M, Creedmoor Sorts, McMillan Stocks, Nancy Tompkins, and many other companies.

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2022 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2022 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ

Click the links below for full results, including Grand Aggs and day-by-day performances. You can also find further results plus a large collection of photos at

F-Open 1K Results | F-TR 1K Results | Sling Division 1K Results

600 Yard Results (All Divisions) | TEAM Results (All Divisions)

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ
The Berger SW Nationals is one of the few American events where sling shooters compete on the same firing line as F-Class competitors (though in separate groups).

Team competitions were closely fought. In the F-TR Division, Team USA Blue (2505-70X) edged Team Texas (2504-76X) to win by one point. In F-0pen, Team Rollin Coal (2558-129X) finished three points ahead of runner-up Team Grizzly (2555-102X). In the Sling Division, U.S. Palma Gold Team (2555-104X) took first-place, ahead of U.S. NRT Gold (2504-104X).

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ
Reading the wind can be challenging at Ben Avery. What’s your wind call here?

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ
Top competitors show focus and concentration in mid-range match 2022.

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ
Stunning F-Open rifle with SEB Mini front rest with Blake Machine accessories.

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2023 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ
Working in the pits is part of the Berger SWN experience.

Hundreds of Competitors from the USA and 8 Other Countries
Along with top American F-Class and sling shooters, the Southwest Nationals attracts competitors from around the world. Last year, on Day 1 of the 2022 SW Nationals, Nancy Tompkins posted: “We started the day off with National anthems for Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico, Scotland, the United Kingdom, and the USA.”

Berger Southwest SW Nationals 2023 2022 f-class f-open f-tr 1000 yards palma sling match Ben Avery Phoenix AZ
Photo by Nancy Tompkins near Ben Avery Shooting Facility in 2022. Nancy posted: “Thank you to all of the sponsors, volunteers, and shooters who have traveled from all over… to make this match so special.”

See you next year!

This article Copyright 2023 Any republication on a different website is unauthorized.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
February 16th, 2023

Getting Started in F-Class — F-TR vs. F-Open and Gear Options

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

With the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) underway this week at Ben Avery outside Phoenix, Arizona, we’ll take a look at F-Class competition. The majority of SWN shooters compete in F-TR and F-Open divisions. On the firing line you’ll see the latest and greatest stocks, actions, optics, bipods (for F-TR), and Front Rests (for F-Open). This article looks at the two F-Class divisions.

A while back, our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK wrote an excellent article for Target Shooter Magazine. Vince offers “solid-gold” advice for new F-TR and F-Open shooters. Vince reviews the cartridge options, and offers suggestions for a shooter’s first (and hopefully affordable) F-Class rifle. Vince also reviews various bipod choices for F-TR and discusses optics options (from $300 to $3000).

Here’s a short sample from the Target Shooter Magazine article:

Getting Started in F-Class by Vince Bottomley
As membership secretary of a large club, one of the questions I’m frequently asked – “What’s the best way to get started in F-Class?” My club has an F-Class shoot every couple of weeks at ranges from 300 to 1000 yards and, not surprisingly, it’s very popular.

F-TR or Open Class?
From a shaky start way back in 2004, the F-TR Class is now proving as popular as Open Class and, at GBFCA League shoots and club shoots, many shooters choose to start with a 308, shooting off a bi-pod – in other words F-TR. In Open Class, the 7mm WSM soon established itself as the “must have” cartridge – if you wanted to win but, the WSM’s appetite for barrels eventually brought another 7mm cartridge into play – the 284 Winchester. This 50-year-old stalwart was revived a decade or so ago as the 6.5-284 and indeed this cartridge found some favor with F-Class pioneers – before the potency of the WSM was discovered. If you don’t mind shelling out for a couple of barrels per year (barrel life is about 750 rounds with the WSM) go for the 7mm WSM but, if you require a decent round-count, then opt for the .284 Win and learn to read the wind a bit better!

[Editor: In the last couple of years, another option has emerged — the 6.5 PRC necked up to 7mm. This wildcat 7-6.5 PRC offers a bit more velocity than a .284 Win or its “improved” cousin the .284 Shehane.]

F-TR f-class rifle match ben avery AZ
F-Open rifles on the firing line at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Scopes for F-Class
If you will be shooting 1000 yards then I would recommend at least 32 power and preferably a variable – like the 8-32. The cheapest “usable” scope in this range is the Sightron. It’s a great scope for the money and at under $900 (in the USA) it’s half the price of its nearest competitor. It’s also light – at 1.5 lbs – and there are some great reticles for the F-Class shooter – like the LRMOA.

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

Read Full Article on Target Shooter Magazine Website.

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February 15th, 2023

2023 Southwest Nationals Event Starts Today in Phoenix

2023 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery palma f-open f-tr

The 2023 Southwest Nationals (SWN) competition kicks off today at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. This major F-Class, Palma, and Any Rifle event runs February 15-19, 2023. The match begins with Mid-Range competition starting at 8:30 am on Wednesday, February 15th. There will be a barbeque in the Indoor Range at the completion of firing Saturday (Approx. 5:30 PM) and then there will be an awards ceremony at the completion of firing Sunday. CLICK HERE for SWN 2023 official program.

2023 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery palma f-open f-tr

Below is the schedule for the entire 5-day event, one of the biggest mid-range and long-range rifle matches of the year in the United States. There are typically over 300 competitors, the majority shooting F-TR and F-Open. For further information, squadding lists, and daily results, visit:

2023 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery palma f-open f-tr

2023 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery palma f-open f-tr

Southwest Nationals 2023 MATCH SCHEDULE

1. Mid-Range Match — Divisions: F-Open, F-TR, Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight
Wednesday, 15 February 2023, 8:30 AM
MATCH A: Any rifle-Any sight. Unlimited sighters and 20 shots for record at 600 yards.
MATCH B: Any rifle-Any sight. Unlimited sighters and 20 shots for record at 600 yards.
MATCH C: Any rifle-Any sight. Unlimited sighters and 20 shots for record at 600 yards.
MATCH D: Any rifle-Any sight. Aggregate of Matches A, B and C.

2. Palma 4-Man Team Match — Divisions: F-Open, F-TR, Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight
Thursday, 16 February 2023, 8:30 AM
MATCH 1: Unlimited sighters and 15 shots for record at 800 yards.
2 sighters and 15 shots for record at 900 yards.
2 sighters and 15 shots for record at 1000 yards.
Teams will consist of four firing members, a captain, a coach and an alternate.

3. Palma Match — Divisions: F-Open, F-TR, Palma, Optic
Friday, 17 February 2023, 8:30 AM
MATCH 2: Unlimited sighters and 15 shots for record at 800 yards.
2 sighters and 15 shots for record at 900 yards.
2 sighters and 15 shots for record at 1000 yards

4. 1000-Yard Match — Divisions: F-Open, F-TR, Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, Optic
Saturday, 18 February 2023, 8:30 AM
MATCH 3: Any rifle-Iron sight. Any sight for F-Class shooters. Unlimited sighters and 20 shots for record at 1000 yards
MATCH 4: Any rifle-Iron sight. Any sight for F-Class shooters. Unlimited sighters and 20 shots for record at 1000 yards.
MATCH 5: 4 Man Team Match. Any rifle-Iron sight. Any sight for F-Class shooters. 2 sighters and 20 shots for record at 1000 yards.
Teams will consist of four firing members, a captain, a coach and an alternate.
MATCH 6: Any rifle-Iron sight Championship: Aggregate of matches #3 and #4.

5. 1000-Yard Match — Divisions: F-Open, F-TR, Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, Optic
Sunday, 19 February 2023, 8:30 AM
MATCH 7: Any rifle-Any sight. Unlimited sighters and 20 shots for record at 1000 yards.
MATCH 8: Any rifle-Any sight. Unlimited sighters and 20 shots for record at 1000 yards.

For the multi-match Aggregate Awards, these are the combined “Match” designations:
MATCH 9: Any rifle-Any sight Championship: Aggregate of matches #7 and #8.
MATCH 10: Team Match Aggregate – #1 and #5. Firing members must shoot both matches.
MATCH 11: 1000 Yard Championship: Aggregate of #6 and #9.
MATCH 12: Southwest Long Range Nationals – Aggregate of #2 and #11.

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December 25th, 2022

Sunday GunDay: X-Max for Xmas — Red Rifle from South Africa

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock
Proud owner Dirk L. says: “This is my first build — never thought it would be a .308!”

Here’s a handsome F-TR rifle with a beautiful red stock that suits the holiday season. This ruby red beauty was a recent addition to the long-running Pride and Joy Rifle thread in our Shooters’ Forum. The rifle belongs to Forum member Dirk L. (aka “Pinkes”) who hails from South Africa. This is a .308 Win, with 30″ Bartlein barrel, and X-Max action. The stock is a custom composite with carbon fiber for strength and lightness. And yes this rifle shoots as good as it looks. Check out the impressive 5-shot groups below…

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

X-Max for Xmas — Impressive Metal-work
Along with that beautiful red stock, this F-TR rig has some very cool features, including a South African-crafted X-Max Action. The action designer Piet Welgemoed explains: “The X-Max action body is 17-4PH stainless steel pre-hardened to 44° Rockwell. Bolt and handle are one-piece stainless steel, nitrated to 55° Rockwell 0.2mm deep. Bolt is also fluted. Inside is the firing pin with washers (see below). The washer cuts the lock-time almost by half and also weighs less. The bolt-knob and bolt shroud are CNC aluminum. The action has very tight tolerances.” The complete action with +20 MOA rail and trigger weighs 1.475 kg (3.25 lbs).” Owner Dirk notes that the competition trigger, set at 3.0 ounces, is also Welgemoed’s design.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Wicked Accuracy with Bartlein Barrel, Varget, and 220gr SMKs
This gun has already proven to be a great shooter. Below are two FIVE-shot groups at 100 meters. The group on the left is in the low threes, with three of five shots essentially in one hole. Dirk loads Lapua .308 Palma brass and #2231 200gr Sierra Matchkings, seated 20 thousandths off the lands. The Varget powder and CCI primers drives the 200gr SMKs at 2620 fps.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Brass: Lapua .308 Win Palma (small primer) | Primers: CCI 450 | Powder: Varget
Bullet: New 200gr SMK #2231 | Seating: 0.020″ Off | Velocity: 2620fps

Composite Stock — One of Three by Renier Mostert
And what about that beautiful red stock? The rifle’s owner told us: “This was one of three similar stocks built as a test run by Renier Mostert, a professional composite stock builder and former benchrest shooter from Pretoria, South Africa. Renier was approached by three friends, who were all looking for decent, custom-built FTR composite stocks. There were a number of stocks available to them (mostly imported), but [those] were either made of wood or aluminum. The requirements for the composite stock build was very specific. Aluminum V-Blocks for the actions were required. The stocks had to be light enough to carry some beefy barrels and optics without compromising rigidity and still be within the F-TR weight limit. The three friends supplied Renier with an imported wooden stock as their shape of choice. Although the shape was quite straight-forward, Renier made a few dimensional changes to features which were not symmetrically correct on the sample, and then built a mold from it.”

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Renier uses several methods to craft composite stocks for various disciplines: F-Class, benchrest, competition rimfire, hunting, and tactical. For this build he chose to build a shell constructed of a well-planned mix of woven fiberglass cloth and bi-directionally woven carbon fiber with aerospace quality epoxy resin to reduce weight in some areas and increase stiffness in other areas. He used a wet lay-up process where the two halves gets laid up and joined together while still wet to form a complete, continuous shell. The closed mold gets cured under pressure in an oven for several hours at very specific temperatures. After curing, the shell is filled with a high-tech mix of lightweight filler and epoxy resin. The composition of the mix varies in different areas of the stock to facilitate more strength or reduced weight where applicable.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

After the initial build, the aluminum hardware was installed. An adjustable cheek piece, Anschutz rail, and adjustable recoil pad mechanism were installed. The stocks were inletted by Renier, while the final fitting and bedding procedures were left for each customer’s gunsmith to complete. The stocks were light enough for the rifles to comfortably be within the F-TR weight limit. A barrel tuner was mounted on one of the rifles, and the rifle still made the F-TR Class weight limit, 8.25 kg (including bipod). The bipod shown in photos in the SEB Joy-Pod.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Paint — Candy Apple Red over Metallic Silver Base
After final gunsmithing, the stocks were returned to Renier Mostert for custom painting. The rifle featured in this article was done in Candy-Apple Red paint from DNA Paints (an Australian company). To get the desired effect, a metallic silver base coat was used, enhanced with a modest amount of medium coarse glitter, followed with multiple layers of candy until the correct shade was achieved. A high-quality automotive clear coat was used to finish off the paintwork.

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November 26th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Cortina Interviews World-Class Shooters

Erik Cortina YouTube interview john whidden seb lambang Lonny Basham Bart Sauter Video Interview

Interview with NBRSA 3-Gun and Tackdriver Champ Bart Sauter

Bullet-maker Bart Sauter is one of the world’s best benchrest shooters. He won the 2022 NBRSA 3-Gun National Championship this year, and he also has won the multi-class Tack Driver event two years in a row. Plus he has set small-group world record at 600 yards. In this very informative interview, Bart talks about bullets, equipment selection, match preparation, and shooting techniques. We think every benchrest shooter should watch this video.

Master at Work — Sauter in Action
If you want to see how a world-class bench shooter runs his rifle, check out this short video showing Bart Sauter in action. He runs five shots in about 9 seconds.

Interview with 6-Time Nat’l Long Range Champion John Whidden

CLICK HERE for full 81-minute interview with John Whidden.

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks is one of the greatest American marksman in history. Shooting sling rifles, John has won the U.S. Long Range National Championship a remarkable six times. He has also won a Palma World Championship, and this summer John won the 2022 Smallbore Prone U.S. National Championship. While a humble individual, John has superb shooting skills and unrivaled mental toughness. In this interview, John talks about the challenges of competition and what motivates him to excel. John also talks about the products he has developed for Whidden Gunworks.

Interview with Tod Hendricks, 2021 F-Open National Champion

A member of Team Lapua/Brux/Borden, Tod Hendricks has been one of the most talented and consistent F-Open competitors for many years. He used his mental toughness and wind-reading skills to capture a National Championship in 2021. In this wide-ranging interview with his team-mate Erik Cortina, Tod reveals what it takes to win in F-Open these days, covering equipment, ammo quality, and match preparation.

NOTE: While the video title frame states Tod Hendricks was 2020 National F-Open Champion, he actually won the 2021 NRA F-Open Long-Range Championship at Camp Atterbury, IN. Tod finished 3rd at the 2020 Nat’l Championship at the Ben Avery Range, AZ.

Interview with Ken Clemens of Brux Barrels

Brux Barrels is a machine tool company located in Lodi, Wisconsin, specializing in premium, custom, cut-rifled barrels. Brux barrels have set some impressive benchrest records, and have won championships in multiple disciplines. In this video Erik Cortina interviews Ken Clemens of Brux. They discuss the production process at Brux, from the selection of top-quality steel blanks to the final hand-lapping procedures.

Interview with Lanny Bassham, Olympic Gold Medalist and Author

Erik Cortina recently interviewed noted author and Olympic Gold Medal-winning shooter Lanny Bassham. Erik asked Lanny about his book With Winning in Mind. Lanny discussed the “mental game” in the shooting sports and Lanny’s program for visualization of a winning performance. Lanny explains that after you have mastered your rifle skills, and learned to read the wind, it is important to adopt a winning mentality and to visualize success. Lanny should know. He won a shooting Gold Medal in the Olympics along with 22 world individual and team titles.

Interview with Lindsey Paul, Queen of 2 Miles

Lindsey Paul is the only women to win the King of Two Miles ELR competition, becoming the first-ever QUEEN of Two Miles, shooting a .375 CheyTac. In 2021, the talented lady Texan beat a field of top competitors, including past KO2M Champions, all guys. Lindsey had a truly outstanding performance, including 3 hits in 5 shots at the max distance, 2.0 miles (3520 yards). In this interview, Lindsey, who works in the law enforcement field, talks about the Extreme Long Range (ELR) game, and she also explains what it’s like to shoot the heavy-recoiling .375 CheyTac.

Interview with Frank Galli — Founder of Sniper’s Hide

The founder of the popular Sniper’s Hide Forum, Frank Galli is an online pioneer and living legend in the tactical shooting sports world. A former U.S. Marine Scout-Sniper, Frank (aka “Lowlight”) runs a very active Forum with over 180,000 members. Along with moderating his Forum, Frank runs training clinics and hosts regular podcasts. Frank is also the author of the book Precision Rifle Marksmanship: The Fundamentals, an excellent resource for PRS/NRL competitors as well as tactical marksmen.

BONUS Videos — Two Great Tech and Reloading Videos

How to Find Jam Point on your Barrel

Loading for F-Class

Erik Cortina produces his own line of EC Barrel Tuners and Tuner Brakes. These have been used successfully by many top shooters. View the full line of Cortina Precision products at:

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October 24th, 2022

2022 NRA F-Class National Championships Results

NRA 2022 F-Class F-Open F-TR national championship ben avery phoenix Arizona AZ

The 2022 NRA F-Class National Championships concluded on Sunday, October 23rd after 8 days of competition. Held at the Ben Avery range in Arizona, the F-Class Nationals were popular this year. There was a good turn-out for both the 600-yard Mid-Range event and the 1000-yard Long-Range competition. For the Long Range event, there were over 100 shooters in the F-Open division and over 70 competitors in the F-TR Division. We congratulate the new NRA F-Class National Champions in the two Divisions (F-TR and F-Open) and two distances (600 yards and 1000 yards). Hail to the Champs!

2022 NRA F-Class National Champions, F-TR and F-Open

Keith Trapp, F-TR 1000-Yard Champion Tim Vaught, F-Open 1000-Yard Champion
James Crofts, F-TR 600-Yard Champion Eric Wuestenhoefer, F-Open 600-Yard Champion

Among many notable showings, we were impressed by Eric Wuestenhoefer’s and James Crofts’ winning totals at 600 yards. F-Open competitor Eric finished with a superb 1795-117X Mid-Range Grand Agg, while F-TR ace James racked up a stellar 1782-100X Mid-Range final tally.

We list the Top 10 for Mid-Range and Long-Range Championships for both classes below. There were some very close competitions this year. The F-TR 1000-yard event went down to the wire with 2022 Champion Keith Trap (1572-63X) edging past Champion Ian Klemm (1572-58X) by X-count. In the F-Open Mid-Range Championships, 2022 Champ Eric Wuestenhoefer won by a single point over Pat Scully, who had the high X-Count. Get full match results on the Desert Sharpshooters Website:

CLICK HERE for Full 2022 NRA F-Class Nationals Results »

F-TR Long Range Top 10

1. Keith Trapp, 1572-63X CHAMPION
2. Ian Klemm, 1572-58X
3. Mike Francis, 1569-68X
4. Tracy Hogg, 1569-48X
5. Carl Matthews, 1564-58X
6. Edward Shelley, 1563-63X
7. Luke Ramsey, 1563-60X
8. Nancy Tompkins, 1561-60X
9. Brad Sauve, 1560-60X
10. Dale Lucy, 1559-57X

F-Open Long Range Top 10

1. Tim Vaught, 1586-87X CHAMPION
2. Tracy Harrold, 1584-78X, High Woman
3. Peter Johns, 1583-81X
4. Norman Harrold, 1582-80X
5. Eric Wuestenhoefer, 1580-80X
6. Matthew Basalla, 1580-74X
7. John Stewart, 1579-69X
8. Doug Skogman, 1578-77X, High Senior
9. David Gosnell, 1578-75X
10. William Kolodziej, 1576-75X

F-TR Mid-Range Top 10

1. James Crofts, 1782-100X CHAMPION
2. Richard Dixon, 1778-94X
3. Tracy Hogg, 1777-75X
4. Matthew Schwartzkopf, 1776-78X
5. Luke Ramsey, 1775-90X
6. Keith Trapp, 1775-76X
7. Raymond Weaver, 1768-71X
8. Henry Rockhill, 1765-73X
9. Philip Kelley Jr., 1763-75X
10. Steve Ernst, 1763-71X

F-Open Mid-Range Top 10

1. Eric Wuestenhoefer, 1794-117X CHAMPION
2. Pat Scully, 1793-121X
3. Josephy Cordeiro, 1792-116X
4. Tracy Harrold, 1791-104X
5. Jim Murphy, 1790-96X
6. John Masek, 1789-108X
7. Norman Harrold, 1788-115X
8. Jesse Ford, 1788-101X
9. Ken Dickerman, 1786-102X
10. Dan Bramley, 1786-96X

Here’s a video from John Masek who finished sixth in the F-Open 600-yard Championship. You’ll find many informative videos on John’s popular F-Class John YouTube Channel.

NRA 2022 F-Class F-Open F-TR national championship ben avery phoenix Arizona AZ sponsors

Want to see more photos? Over 800 photos from the 2022 NRA F-Class Championships are linked via our Shooter’s Forum. These hi-rez images by Forum member Turbulent Turtle cover all the F-Class Nationals matches, both individual and team. The image below captures the final Team Day on 10/22/22, with Team in the orange jerseys.

NRA 2022 F-Class F-Open F-TR national championship ben avery phoenix Arizona AZ sponsors

F-TR Team Results

1000-Yard F-TR Top Three Teams

USA F-T/R BLUE HM 1576-64X
USA F-T/R RED MA 1541-45X

F-Open Team Results

1000-Yard F-Open Top Three Teams


F-TR Team Results

600-Yard F-TR Top Three Teams

USA F-T/R BLUE HM 1573-72X
USA F-T/R RED HM 1571-63X

F-TR Team Results

600-Yard F-Open Top Three Teams


NRA 2022 F-Class F-Open F-TR national championship ben avery phoenix Arizona AZ sponsors

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October 22nd, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: F-Class Showcase — Events, Gear, Loads

Saturday movies F-Class Bisley Ben Avery NRA Championships F-Open F-TR

The 2022 NRA F-Class National Championships have been underway at the Ben Avery Range in Arizona this past week. The Mid-Range F-Class Nationals ran October 16-19, and the Long Range (1000-yard) event started on October 20 and concludes on Sunday, October 23, 2022. Many of the nation’s leading F-TR and F-Open shooters are battling it out at Ben Avery right now. The week of competition will conclude on Sunday October 23, 2022 with the final 1000-yard relays followed by award ceremonies.

Saturday movies F-Class Bisley Ben Avery NRA Championships F-Open F-TR
Looking down-range with F-TR rifle at Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

F-Class Shooting at Bisley Range in the United Kingdom

F-Class Bisley England UK European Championships

F-Class competition is popular around the world, and the UK is a major center of F-Class shooting in Europe. The Bisley range is justly famous, with a long heritage of shooting competitions. This video features the European F-Class Championship held at Bisley in 2015.

Highlights from Day 1 of 2021 F-Class Nationals

In 2021 the NRA F-Class National Championships were held at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. Here is interesting footage from Day 1 of the Long-Range 1000-yard match. The video is narrated by our friend Erik Cortina, a top F-class shooter and member of Team Lapua-Brux-Borden. Erik has a popular YouTube Channel featuring interviews with many top shooters as well as reloading and tech tips.

WICKED WINDS — At Ben Avery with 18-30 mph Winds

Long-range F-Class shooters will tell you that the winds can be the biggest challenge in a match. And things can get pretty wild at times as the Ben Avery range in Phoenix, site of the 2022 NRA F-Class National Championships. In this video, shooters fight through extremely strong 18-30 mph winds at 600 yards. In these kind of extreme conditions, a major unexpected gust can send your bullet off-target.

F-Class F-Open stock Ben Avery
F-0pen rifle at the Berger SW Nationals at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ.

Front Rest Options for F-Open (and Benchrest) Competition

If you are shopping for a front rest, definitely watch this comprehensive 42-minute video from start to finish. This is probably the most informative video about premium shooting rests available on YouTube. Top F-Class shooter and video-maker F-Class John covers a wide selection of front rests, with some observations about coaxial bipods as well. John covers the impressive new SEB NEO-X, the easy-to-transport SEB Mini-X, the excellent Rodzilla Rest, the innovative 21st Century Hybrid Rest, the sleek Italian Lenzi Rest. And at the end of the video John reviews the very affordable Caldwell Fire Control Rest ($204.99 on Amazon), explaining how it can be a decent choice for shooters on a limited budget.

Newbie Perspective — First Time Shooting F-Class

Saturday movies F-Class Australia Bribane Tikka T3 F-Open F-TRJust getting started in F-Class? Then you would appreciate this video, which covers the experience of an F-Class novice from Australia. The host of the video shot his first F-Class match at 600 yards with the Brisbane Mariners Rifle Club (BMRC) in Brisbane, Australia. He was using a Tikka T3 factory rifle with a $40 bipod. He enjoyed the challenge and had a good experience. This video shows that club-level F-Class can be fun, even with a modestly-priced factory rig. NOTE: This video is filmed indoors after the match, NOT on the lovely BMRC range shown above.

Reloading for F-Class — Interview with Erik Cortina

In this Precision Rifle Network video, Erik Cortina of Team Lapua-Brux-Borden covers the reloading process for his F-Class rifle. All phases of reloading are noted — brass prep, annealing, primer seating, precision powder measuring (to the kernel), and bullet seating. Erik also talk about load testing and use of barrel tuners. Erik produces the EC Barrel Tuner which is used by many top competitors.

Building a Modern F-Open Stock for Competition

In this video, our friend F-Class John explains the process for building two custom laminated stocks for his F-Open rifles. John selected handsome, highly-figured African hardwoods, which were then laminated into layers with purple-tinted heart-wood and dark Wenge wood stringers in the middle. The stock-maker then sliced the wood into layers (1:02) and then glued the layers together (1:40). After final cutting, the stocks are shown at 2:00, and then the video shows how the stocks received their final finish. Both stocks are fitted with the R.A.D. recoil-reduction system. See the bedding at 19:00 and the fully finished rifles at 19:12 with barreled actions fitted.

Saturday movies F-Class Bisley Ben Avery NRA Championships F-Open F-TR
Here is another beautiful F-Open stock, on the firing line at Ben Avery with a SEB Mini front rest. Note the metal side-bars on the front of the forearm. These metal fittings extend the stock’s “wheelbase” while also lowering the rifle’s center of gravity.


Crazy Small F-Class Group — Five Shots in 1.3″ at 1000 Yards

This video might just make you slap your forehead and say “that’s amazing!” During a practice session, Erik Cortina had a camera set up on the firing line along with a ShotMarker system on the target 1000 yards away. Erik recorded himself nailing a 1.3″ five-shot group, with four of the shots all touching in just 0.3″. The full group size, 1.3″, works out to 0.124 MOA — amazing accuracy for a big 7mm cartridge! And the four touching shots in 0.3″ represent an insane 0.029 MOA cluster! (1 MOA at 1000 yards is 10.47″.) As this was not shot in a competition, Erik’s 1.3″ group doesn’t count as a record, but it just shows how accurate a modern F-Open rifle can be when all the stars align for a talented trigger-puller.

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October 20th, 2022

Train for F-Class Competition with 300-yard Target Centers

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

The 2022 F-Class National Championships are underway right now at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mid-Range Championship (Oct. 16-19) finished yesterday, and now the Long-Range Championship runs today, October 20, through Sunday, October 23. With economic inflation and the high price of gas in particular 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 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 14th, 2022

Avoid Having a ‘Train Wreck’ at the 2022 F-Class Nationals

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

The 2022 NRA F-Class National Championships commence this weekend at the Ben Avery range in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mid-Range F-Class Nationals commence this Sunday, October 16, with practice on Saturday, October 15. The 1000-yard Long Range match starts on October 20th.

2022 NRA F-Class Nationals Ben Avery AZ train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

How to Avoid “Train Wrecks” In Competition

In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, past F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC.

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

[Editor’s Note: The 2016 F-Class Nationals will employ electronic targets so conventional pit duties won’t be required. However, the following advice does apply for matches with conventional targets.]

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

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October 11th, 2022

2022 F-Class Nationals October 16-23 at Ben Avery in Arizona

2015 F-Class Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona James Crofts

The 2022 United States F-Class National Championships commence Sunday, October 16, 2022 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility (BASF) in Phoenix. There’s a “hybrid” format this year. (The range should be open for practice on Saturday 10/15/2022). For 2022, the Nationals combine both Mid-Range and Long-Range competitions in one extended mega-match. The Mid-Range U.S. F-Class Nationals take place October 16-19, 2022, with all shooting at 600-yard targets. The Long Range F-Class National Championships then run Thursday, October 20 through Sunday October 23, 2022. All Long Range matches are at 1000 yards. The competitions will have two different divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle). Registration is now closed for both Mid-Range and Long-Range Championships.*

CLICK HERE for 2022 F-Class Nationals Match Program »

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Coronavirus Health Covid-19

Located on 1,650 acres in north Phoenix, Ben Avery 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. A camping area is available for competitors. Contact Ben Avery Shooting Range Camping to reserve a camping spot.

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

You’ll see some serious hardware on the firing line at Ben Avery. Here’s a modern F-Open rig with a handsome maple stock. The gun, belonging to David Mann of Texas, shoots as good as it looks.

Ben Avery F-Class Nationals Championship Phoenix Arizona

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NRA 2022 F-Class Nationals Key Guidelines:

RULES: Current NRA F-Class Rules shall apply.
TARGETS: MR-1FC at 600 yards and LRFC at 1000 yards.
TARGET SERVICE: Competitors will pull their own targets.
SCORING: Competitors will score. Any competitor failing to perform his scoring duties may be disqualified.
SQUADDING: All matches will be squadded. Squadding tickets for individual matches will be issued at the Stat. Office starting at 6:30 AM Sunday 16 October. Any competitor who fails to obtain his squadding ticket by 7:30 AM will only be squadded to fill up vacancies.
CLASSIFICATION: NRA F-Class Classifications will be used. Those competitors unclassified or without proof of a lower classification, will be required to compete in the Master class. Please indicate classification on the registration and entry form.
EMPTY CHAMBER INDICATOR (ECI): Approved NRA empty chamber indicators are required to be used at all times except during the preparation period time and firing.

Ben Avery F-Class Nationals Championship Phoenix Arizona

* Registration officially ended on Monday, October 10, 2022. Entries after this time are considered late entries and may be accepted to fill vacancies on existing relays only. An additional $20.00 will be charged for late entries.

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September 15th, 2022

Weakside Bolt Placement — When and Why It Works

left port McMillan Rifle

Most bolt-action rifle shooters work the bolt with their trigger-pulling hand. This is because most rifles sold to right-handed shooters come with right-side bolts, while “lefty” rifles come with left-side bolts. This “standard” configuration requires the shooter to take his dominant, trigger-pulling hand off the stock to cycle the bolt, then re-position his hand on the stock, and “re-claim” the trigger. Often the shooter must lift or move his head to work the bolt, and that also requires him to re-establish his cheek weld after each and every shot. Not good.

This really doesn’t make much sense for precision shooting with fore-end support*. There is a better way. If you leave your trigger hand in position and work the bolt (and feed rounds) with the opposite hand, then you don’t need to shift grip and head position with each shot. All this requires is a weakside-placed bolt, i.e. a left bolt for a right-handed shooter or a right bolt for a left-handed shooter. The video below shows a “Lefty” working a right bolt. Note how efficient this is:

As our friend Boyd Allen explains: “If you think about it, if you are going to work with a factory action where your options are left bolt and left port or right bolt and right port, and you are building a rifle that will only be shot from a rest, using the left/left for a RH shooter or using a right/right for a LH shooter works better than the conventional configuration”.

Shoot Like a Champ and Work the Bolt with Your Weakside Hand
Derek Rodgers, the reigning F-TR World Champion and the only person to have won BOTH F-Open and F-TR U.S. National Championships plus the King of 2 Miles Match, runs this kind of “opposite” bolt set-up. Yep, Derek shoots right-handed with a left bolt. Though Derek is a right-hander, he shoots with a Left Bolt/Left Port (LBLP) action. He pulls the trigger with his right index finger, while working the left-side bolt with his left (weakside) hand. This allows him to stay in position, and maintain his cheekweld. He places his right hand on the grip, while manipulating the bolt (and feeding rounds) with his non-trigger-pulling hand.

Recent F-TR World Champion and King of 2 Miles Derek Rodgers
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

This is the rifle with which Derek won the 2013 F-TR National Championship.
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

*For true standing, off-hand shooting (whether in competition or on a hunt), a conventional strongside bolt placement makes sense, since the non-dominant arm must support the front of the rifle all the time. When shooting from bipod or rest, it’s a different story.

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