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June 24th, 2014

Not Bad for a Grand-Dad — Bryant’s Still Got His “A-Game”

gene bukys benchrestTexan Mike Bryant is a superb gunsmith and a very successful benchrest competitor. And though he is getting up in years, he hasn’t lost any of his talent as a trigger-puller. In fact, if recent results are any indication, Mike Bryant isn’t getting older, he’s getting better.

Check out this set of targets Mike recently shot, which represent the best 100-Yard Aggregate of Mike’s shooting career. Maybe being a grandfather has improved his skill set.

Mike reports: “Here’s the set of targets I shot at the East-West HV100. Needless to say, I was tickled to death. This is the best 100-yard Agg I’ve ever shot [in benchrest competition]: 0.1744″ average.”

Click Photo for Full-Size Version
Mike Bryant Agg

Mike is a great gunsmith, but he’s retired for the most part now: “I’ve closed up my shop and won’t be gunsmithing for the general public. I want to help my son on the ranch and shoot more benchrest.”

As far as the “shoot more benchrest” part, it looks like Grandfather Bryant is doing well indeed. Mike credits his recent success to other shooters:

gene bukys benchrest“I owe a lot of what I was able to accomplish with this Agg to Gene Bukys. Gene is currently one of the hottest-shooting benchrest competitors in the United States, and a member of the Benchrest Hall of Fame. After the Cactus Classic this year, Gene shared with us the make, twist rate, and contour of the barrels that he had been using to win everything in sight. He also told me which of his reamers that Dave Kiff had made him that he had been using and which one to order from Kiff to shoot the same chamber.”

“Gene had already matched a die to my previous chamber that [eliminated] the click at the top of the bolt stroke to insure smooth bolt operation. After the Cactus I ordered some of the same barrels that Gene was using and ordered a reamer from Kiff. I chambered two of the barrels with the reamer that Gene was using on Monday and fire-formed brass for them on Tuesday and spent a little time at home trying to get the rifles tuned up for the East-West.”

“On Saturday morning I started with one of the rifles and shot it through the LV 100. Not doing particularly well. So, switched rifles to the other one for the HV 100. It seemed to be working better and seemed to get better as the day went along. After the match, I was out pulling up my flags and Wade Hull walks up to me and holds out his hand and says ‘Congratulations, you won the Heavy 100′.”

Hall of Famers Helping Other Benchresters
Mike concludes: “If there is a story in my experience, it is really about benchresters helping other benchresters. People like Gene Bukys, Jack Neary, and Bart Sauter, all Hall of Fame members, are giving back to other benchrest shooters to help them become better. Jack Neary has been giving Vihtavuori tuning classes for many years, passing on the info that helped him get into the Hall of Fame. Bart Sauter posts on, passing on key secrets of his success. And let’s not forget Tony Boyer who has helped others in many ways, including one-on-one private benchrest lessons. So, if there is a story here, it’s about these guys, not about me.”

Between benchrest matches, Mike Bryant likes to spend “quality time” with his children and grandchildren. Here is Mike on a playground slide with his grandson. Mike’s philosophy is to enjoy life and stay young at heart. We think that’s a good approach to life.

Mike Bryant Agg

Permalink Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
October 18th, 2013

NBRSA Changes Sporter Rules — Bukys Builds to New Standards

The National Benchrest Shooters Association (NBRSA) has adopted new rules, loosening restrictions on the Sporter Class of benchrest rifles. Now a Sporter fore-arm may be any width (or angle), and the underside of the buttstock can have any angle. Previously, fore-arm width was limited to three inches, and the bottom of the buttstock had to be angled up. (NBRSA Rules will continue to require this “up-angle” geometry for all Light Varmint (LV) and Heavy Varmint (HV) rifles). In addition, the NBRSA opened the Sporter Class to any caliber “no larger than .308 Winchester”.

The idea behind these changes is to allow greater innovation in at least one class of benchrest bag guns, and to avoid “redundancy”. Currently a 10.5-lb Light Varmint can be shot as a Sporter, so long as the LV complies with caliber rules. For practical purposes, that meant Sporter Class was redundant with the Light Varmint Class, and there was no real reason for the Sporter Class to exist anymore.

The Sporter weight limit remains unchanged at 10.5 pounds (including optics). All current LV and Sporter rifles will remain 100% legal under the new rule, so no one is forced to go out and build a new rifle to shoot in Sporter class. But if you want to try a more radical stock design, now you have the opportunity to do so. Here is the text of the new rule:

NBRSA Rule Book (New Sporter Rule)
B. Definitions: 2. Equipment (d) Sporter Rifle

A Sporter Rifle is defined as any rifle having a safe manually and mechanically operated firing Mechanism and must not weigh more than 10.5 lbs, inclusive of sights. The stock can be flat, or convex, but not concave. The Forearm can be any width and have any angle. The butt stock can have any angle including a reverse angle, the barrel shall not be less that 18″ long forward of the bolt face and can be any diameter or configuration including a straight taper or a reverse taper. The Sporter Rifle can be no larger than .308 Winchester. Sporter Rifles do not have to conform to the Varmint Rifles diagram. All sand bag rules apply to the Sporter Rifle.

View NBRSA Rule Book (Includes New Sporter Definition) PDF

Bukys Explains the Thinking Behind the Sporter Rule Change

NBRSA Gene BukysOn Benchrest Central, leading benchrest shooter Gene Bukys discussed the new NBRSA Sporter Rule Changes: “[This] does not create a new rifle or an experimental class — it simply removes most of the restrictive rules from the existing Sporter class. Every existing LV rifle and every existing Sporter Rifle in this whole world is still legal, and competitive, under these changes.

My purpose in all of this is to make the Sporter class, and the LV rifle, no longer redundant classes, and to have a class where we can have some innovation in Benchrest. If there is a better stock configuration out there or a better barrel profile shouldn’t we benchrest shooters be the leading edge of this innovation? Benchrest used to be the leading edge of virtually all accuracy innovation. I’m not sure if that’s true anymore. I would like that to be… true again.

For right now, I don’t see this as making any huge radical changes to benchrest, but given time and a venue to work in (Sporter Class) there may be some really meaningful innovation that comes about. Let’s have some fun with this.”

Gene Bukys Commissions New Convertible Sporter/LV Stock by Bob Scoville
Under the new NBRSA Sporter standards, stock designers/fabricators can now experiment with a wider variety of stock shapes and geometry. Gene Bukys commissioned a new stock from Bob Scoville that shows what can be done under the new liberalized Sporter stock rules.

Gene’s latest NBRSA Sporter rifle features a stepped forearm that can fit a 5-inch wide bag rider plate. In the rear, this stock can run different size/shape “keels” (buttstock underbellies). The larger keel, shown attached in the photos, exhibits the flatter angle now allowed under the new NBRSA Sporter rule. (In fact, this keel may have a slight reverse angle, i.e. lower in the front than in the back). At any time, this Scoville stock can be switched back to a 100%-legal Light Varmint configuration by: 1) removing the 5″ front bag-rider plate; and 2) changing to the smaller, up-angled rear keel piece.

CLICK Photos to View Full-Screen Version
Bukys Scoville Carbon Fiber Sporter Benchrest Stock

Bukys Scoville Carbon Fiber Sporter Benchrest Stock

Bukys Scoville Carbon Fiber Sporter Benchrest Stock

Bukys Scoville Carbon Fiber Sporter Benchrest Stock

Photos and Links provided by Pascal Fischbach.
Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
May 29th, 2013

Bukys Wins Super Shoot Two-Gun by .0001 Over Jeff Gaidos

Gene Bukys Super Shoot Kelblys

In one of the closest margins of victory ever, Gene Bukys won the Two-Gun Overall Aggregate at the Kelbly’s Fireams Industry Super Shoot (FISS). Gene’s final Two-Gun Agg was 0.2728, with Jeff Gaidos just .0001 behind at 0.2729. That’s about as close as it can get, and other shooters were not far behind. In third place, at 0.2765, was Jeff Summers, followed by Tony Boyer (0.2827) and Larry Costa (0.2924). Looking at the numbers, only 0.0196 separated the Top Five in the Two-Gun.

Two-Gun Overall, Top 20
1. Gene Bukys, 0.2728
2. Jeff Gaidos, 0.2729
3. Jeff Summers, 0.2765
4. Tony Boyer, 0.2827
5. Larry Costa, 0.2924
6. Bob Scarbrough, Jr., 0.2943
7. Wayne Campbell, 0.2989
8. Lou Murdica, 0.3020
9. Steve Theyes, 0.3078
10. Larry Sharnhorst, 0.3104

11. Ken Hottenstein, 0.3111
12. Joe Hynes, ).3121
13. Dave Coots, 0.3123
14. Cristian Rando, 0.3140
15. Bud Welsh, 0.3193
16. Jeff Graves, 0.3253
17. Geoff Esterline, 0.3254
18. Dean Ekstrom, 0.3315
19. Dave Bruno, 0.3326
20. Bob Brushingham, 0.3339

Conditions were very challenging throughout most of the Super shoot, with strong and often fast-changing winds. Jerry Sharrett posted: “We had some interesting conditions. By the ends of the aggs many of the tails were caught up in the Daisies. For example, during the HV 200 in bench 9 the last three flags were bound up and useless. And many of the front flags, [were the] same way, especially on the right end.” Here is an audio recount of Days 1 through 3 by Ian Kelby (right click to “save as”):

May 23 Audio Report (WAV) | May 24 Audio Report (MP3) | May 25 Audio Report (WAV)

Fellow Shooters Praise Winner
Here are some comments posted on Benchrest

“Congratulations to all of you guys in the top 20, especially to the Grand Master from Texas. Special congrats to my friend Dr. Cristian Rando from Buenos Aires, Argentina, shooting his Argentine CGM1 Thunderbolt, made by gunsmith Carlito Gonzalez.” — Pascal Fischbach

“Congratulations to the great Gene, this guy understands the [wind] conditions and rifle tuning better than anybody.” — Carlos Gonzalez

“A close margin of victory in any sport is a true indicator of the level of competition. In Track and Field,it would be called a ‘photo finish’. The best effort won a hard-fought match. It will be remembered because the margin was so close: 0.0001.” — G. Chism

“I ran the Blue Bonnet match earlier this month and from the range officer’s seat, was fortunate to observe Gene at his best. He just sits and waits for his preferred condition and then just rips off five in about thirty seconds. From his past performances in the last few years, he continues to cement a great legacy in the benchrest world.” — Virf

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
January 8th, 2013

Centerfire Benchrest Shooters Explore Benefits of Tuners

Barrel tuners have been used successfully in rimfire benchrest for many years (see photo below). While there are competing theories as to how and why barrel tuners work on rimfire rifles, there is no question that the accuracy of some rimfire barrels can be improved with the addition of a tuner. By changing the position of weights at the end of the barrel, we’ve seen shooters shrink their average group size as well as adjust the “sweet spot” for different lots of rimfire ammo. On the other hand, tuners can be the source of great frustration; some installations may yield little or no benefit. A shooter may have to experiment with a variety of different tuner designs (and weights) to find the optimal configuration.

Anschutz Tuner

Gene Bukys Barrel Tuner 333smittyCenterfire Tuners–Still a Work in Progress
In centerfire benchrest competition, the vast majority of competitors do not use tuners, though a few short-range shooters such as Gene Bukys and Jackie Schmidt have enjoyed considerable success. Gene has won major championships with tuned rifles. In 2011 Gene won both the Super Shoot and World Benchrest Championship (WBC), and Gene recently set a new NBRSA Sporter Class Grand Agg Record.

Centerfire benchrest guns typically employ shorter barrels with a much fatter contour (larger diameter) than rimfire rifles. Because centerfire rounds produce much higher pressures and velocities that a 22LR, a centerfire barrel also exhibits much different vibration characteristics than a typical rimfire barrel. Nonetheless, there are pioneers working with centerfire tuners who believe that tuning may be the “next leap forward” in centerfire accuracy.

Shown below is a switch-barrel benchrest rifle built by Forum member Eddie W. of Texas. It features a dual-port Hall “M” action with a ShadeTree Engineering Tuner crafted by Butch Lambert. The gun is designed to take both a 6PPC barrel for group shooting and a 30BR barrel for score shooting. The gun was barreled by Wayne Shaw, and Eddie did the stock work himself. Eddie reports: “It is a very accurate rifle.”

Lambert Tuner

Will we see more tuners on centerfire rifles? Only time will tell. Some folks believe that, since one can easily adjust the loads shot by centerfire guns (by tinkering with the powder charge and seating depth), tuners have limited utility. On the other hand, tuner advocates such as Gene Beggs believe tuners can help keep your group sizes small even as conditions (temperature, humidity) change. Gene believes that, with an appropriate tuner, you can spend less time fiddling with the load specs (changing your powder charge) and instead “dial in” your sweet spot using the tuner.

Lambert Tuner

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 5 Comments »
December 28th, 2012

Gene Bukys Sets New Sporter 100/200 NBRSA Grand Agg Record

Gene Bukys NBRSA Record ArizonaBenchrest shooter Gene Bukys has smashed the existing Sporter Class 100+200 yard Grand Aggregate record, lowering the NBRSA record from 0.1886 to 0.1777. That’s a big deal in the short-range benchrest game. This record was shot in October, 2012 at the Arizona Nationals.

On Benchrest Central, NBRSA SW Regional Director Tom Libby reported:

“Yes it’s said that ‘Every Thing is Bigger in Texas’. Well in this case ‘Smaller is Better’ and Gene has done it with his new World Record for five 5-shot groups at both 100 and 200 yards in the Sporter Class Grand Aggregate.

The Old Record: .1886
The New Record: .1777

[That includes five targets at EACH distance, ten targets total.]

Great Job Eugene G. Bukys!

It is my understanding that Gene has bought a new special cowboy hat to start putting his awards on it but don’t get to close to him as the brim will hit you in the head.

Bukys and Barrel Tuners
Commenting on Buky’s record-setting performance, Boyd Allen writes: “Gene has a fine record as a shooter, and his rifles have tuners (at least the bag guns do, I’m not sure about the rail.) In contrast to other users of tuners, I’m told that Gene tunes his to the middle of a node, locks it down, and does not move it again, preferring to tune with normal means. I think that the effectiveness of this approach is pretty evident — the proof is now in the record books! Gene would tell you that he has never seen a barrel’s accuracy increased by the addition of a tuner, but that, with a tuner, accuracy nodes are wider. I would add that, while Gene’s tuner is an important component, we must acknowledge Gene’s outstanding shooting skills — this man can win with or without a tuner.”

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
September 18th, 2011

NBRSA Approves Quick-Loading Tray for Benchrest Competition

Get ready for a major new technology that could change the benchrest game. Carlos (Carlito) Gonzales, a benchrest shooter (and Professor of Engineering) from Argentina, has perfected a horizontal, external “floating” cartridge loader that can reliably feed PPC cartridges as fast as you can work the bolt.

We have received a report that Gonzales’s fast-feeding device has been approved by the NBRSA for use in benchrest matches. Pascal Fischbach told us: “I had an email September 17th from Gene Bukys, [stating] that the board of directors of the NBRSA approved the use of the ‘[Gonzales] manual cartridge feeder’ for use in NBRSA competitions.” [Editor’s note: We don’t yet know if the device is approved for all NBRSA benchrest matches, or just short-range matches.] Pascal added: “The device was presented at the delegates meeting of the WBC11 in France and approved for use during the World Championships. The next step for Carlito will be to market it. He is also willing to license the concept, plans, and methods to a machinist capable of manufacturing it in the USA.” See Discussion Thread.

External Horizontal Cartridge-Feeder
The Gonzales loading device is an open-ended, covered metal tray situated on the left side of the action (but it does not touch the gun — it is supported by an arm attached to the front rest). This feeds into the left-side loading port. The cases are gravity-fed, but the shooter has positive control over feeding. A cable with a push-button control runs from the magazine down to the rear foot of the pedestal rest. You just push the button to drop one cartridge from the magazine. We don’t know exactly how the cartridge is released in the magazine itself, but in the video below you can see how the push-button works.

You push the button as soon as a spent cartridge ejects (watch Carlito’s left hand in the video above). It is a clever set-up that works very, very fast. The video shows Carlos running five cartridges through his action in just 9 seconds (time marker 00:31 – 00:40). That’s fast! On a repeat viewing focus on Carlito’s left hand to see how he works the push-button cartridge dispensing control.

Credit to Pascale Fischbach for sourcing this story and video link.
Permalink New Product, News 1 Comment »
August 30th, 2011

More Results from World Benchrest Championship

2011 WBC benchrestHere’s a follow-up on the World Benchrest Championship held last week in Volmerange-Les-Mines, France. As you may know by now, Gene Bukys was the two-gun overall winner, finishing just .001 MOA (0.028mm) ahead of fellow American Mike Ratigan. Tony Boyer finished third in the Two-Gun Aggregate. At least three new world records were set at the event:

LV 100m: 1.51mm (Steven Williams, South Africa)
LV 200m: 2.27mm (Carlos Pacheco, France)
HV 200m: 4.21mm (Larry DaCosta, USA)

Team USA ‘A’ won the team two-gun aggregate with a 5.881 mm (0.212 MOA) Aggregate. The next four teams in order were: Team USA ‘B’, Italy, Australia, and France.

For each class and yardage, here are the event winners and runners-up:

100m Light Varmint
Vera Carter, 4.912 mm (0.193 inches) | Carlos Costavich, 5.160 mm
200m Light Varmint
Mike Ratigan, 8.872 mm (0.349 inches) | Andy Shifflett, 10.948 mm
100m Heavy Varmint
Jack Neary, 4.064 mm (0.160 inches) | Cristian Rando, 4.518 mm
200m Heavy Varmint
Tony Boyer, 9.764 mm ( 0.384 inches) | Gene Bukys, 9.990 mm

2011 WBC benchrest

To learn more about the 2011 WBC, visit the Federation Francaise de Tir website. There you’ll find Complete WBC Results and an extensive WBC Photo Gallery.

Story tip by Luc K., and photos courtesy Federation Francaise de Tir, © Crédit FFTir GDumery.
Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
August 26th, 2011

Breaking News — Bukys Wins World Benchrest Championship

Gene Bukys, reigning 2011 Supershoot Champ, racked up another prestigious title. Is this guy on a roll or what? We’ve just received news that Bukys won the Two-Gun Overall Title at the World Benchrest Championship (WBC) held in Volmerange-Les-Mines, France. James Mock reports: “Gene won the WBC Two-Gun Championship by outlasting Mike Ratigan (by .001 MOA) and Tony Boyer. Bukys and Boyer were also on the winning USA ‘A’ team. (Ratigan was on the USA ‘B’ team). Congratulations also go to all members of our three teams. Outstanding shooting was done by Larry Costa, Jack Neary, and Andy Shifflett. Our teams have ‘done us proud’.”

Eugene Gene Bukys 2011 WBC

Since there are only two classes at the WBC, Light Varmint and Heavy Varmint, Bukys’ Two-Gun title essentially makes Gene the overall WBC individual Champion, giving Gene bragging rights as the best shortrange benchrest shooter in the world. WBC matches were conducted at 100m and 200m, equivalent to 109.4 yards and 218.7 yards respectively. There is one final 200m HV 10-shot group match to be held Saturday. That will be followed by the Awards Ceremony and Closing Ceremony.

Permalink Competition, News 4 Comments »
June 16th, 2011

2011 Kelbly’s Super Shoot — Complete Results

We previously reported that Texan Gene Bukys won the Two-Gun Championship at the 39th Firearms Industry Super Shoot (FISS) held at Kelbly’s Range in North Lawrence, Ohio. This was a notable performance, as Bukys started out Friday with a 1.249 LV group at 200 yards and came back (in tough weather conditions) to win the Two-Gun. Bukys’ Aggregate for 100/200 yards in both the 10.5-lb (Light Varmint) and 13.5-lb class was .2240″. Larry Costa (Florida), the 2008 Two-Gun Champion, finished a close second with a 0.2247″ Two-Gun (all yardage) Agg, while Wayne Campbell (Virginia) finished 3rd with a 0.2302″ Two-Gun (all yardage) Agg. Costa also had the best 10.5-lb class 100/200 Agg, at 0.2173, while Bukys had the best 13.5-lb class 100/200 Agg, at 0.1902. Bukys, Costa, and Campbell will all be on the USA team at the 2011 World Benchrest Championships held in France this summer.

Gene Bukys Super Shoot

Berger’s Stecker Nails Small Group
Notably, Berger Bullets Master Bulletsmith Eric Stecker shot the smallest group in the entire competition, a stunning 0.054″ in the 10.5-lb class at 100 yards. Yes that’s 0.054 for FIVE rounds — it appears those Berger guys do know how to make some pretty good projectiles. Andy Shifflett had an 0.084″ small group in the HV class.

In linked PDF files below, you’ll find complete results for the 2011 Super Shoot. Considered by many to be the major 100/200 yard benchrest event in the world, the Super Shoot was held May 25th through 28th. Over 250 of the top benchrest shooters from 12 countries competed in this four day, two-gun event. Conditions were tough with constantly changing wind conditions in addition to thunderstorms, intermittent rain/hail and the inevitable mud.

These Downloadable PDF Files Contain the Complete Super Shoot Results:

FISS Top 20 Category Summaries | FISS Comprehensive 2011 (All Shooters, all Relays)

Two-GunGrand Agg
(100 + 200)
1. GENE BUKYS 0.2240
2. LARRY COSTA 0.2247
4. JACK NEARY 0.2434
5. CHRIS HARRIS 0.2447
6. BART SAUTER 0.2485
7. JEFF SUMMERS 0.2506
8. TONY BOYER 0.2553
9. LESTER BRUNO 0.2580
10. HARLEY BAKER 0.2635

10.5-lb LV Grand Agg
(100 + 200)
1. LARRY COSTA 0.2193
3. LESTER BRUNO 0.2396
4. DON NIELSON 0.2474
5. TONY BOYER 0.2502
6. JACK NEARY 0.2511
7. BART SAUTER 0.2514
9. GENE BUKYS 0.2578
10. L. HOTTENSTEIN 0.2605

13.5-lb HV Grand Agg
(100 + 200)
1. GENE BUKYS 0.1902
2. JEFF SUMMERS 0.2085
3. AL BLACKWELL 0.2169
4. CHRIS HARRIS 0.2186
5. JEFF GRAVES 0.2188
6. DAVE COOTS 0.2255
7. LARRY COSTA 0.2302
8. KEVIN HUFF 0.2329
10. STEVE THEYE 0.2332

Permalink Competition 2 Comments »
May 30th, 2011

Gene Bukys Wins 2011 Super Shoot

Report by Forum member James Mock
Not only did Gene win the 2-gun at Chippewa SS Warm-up, and the “Heartbreak award for one bad group that cost him last year’s SS; BUT he has now won the BIG ONE. The 2011 Super Shoot champion is Gene Bukys. He persevered after shooting a 1 1/4 inch group at 200 yards. Congratulations to Gene! — James

Further Super Shoot Results will be provided as soon as available. Photo courtesy James Mock.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »