As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.











March 15th, 2021

Benchrest is Back! Lester Bruno Wins Big at 2021 Cactus Classic

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Congrats to Lester Bruno, overall winner of the 2021 Cactus Classic Benchrest Match. This popular NBRSA match is held every year at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. Lester shot brilliantly, particularly at 200 yards, to win the Two-Gun convincingly with an 0.2099 Overall Aggregate. Ed Adams was second with a 0.2303 Two-Gun Agg, with Durward Wofford in third place with 0.2655. Along the way Lester nailed a remarkable 0.1742 200-yard Heavy Varmint Agg. That’s mighty impressive.

Click Image Below for full-screen Panorama Image:
Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Paul Parosky reported: “So the Cactus Classic COVID Edition of 2021 has come to an end. Lester Bruno won with some amazing shooting at the LV and HV 200 yards. Myself? I need some more time behind the rifle and at 200 yards. We came across some nasty mirage that basically it was really hard to see the bullet hole. I still was able to finish in the middle of the pack 29th in the 2-Gun Aggregate, which is OK with me. But most of all had super great time, meeting new people and also putting faces to the FB friends from the group. The referees, Matthew Schwartzkopf and his crew [plus] the Wickenburg School volunteers did a wonderful job keeping the match going flawlessly.”

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

2021 Cactus Classic Top 25 Two-Gun Overall Results:

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

In 100/200 yard Group Benchrest, most top competitors load at the range, tuning their loads for the conditions. Here you can see the portable powder measure (left) and a compact ARKCO Hood Press (right). That blue combo press can both size cases with a screw-in die and seat bullets using a Wilson Seater die (placed on left side). The vast majority of short-range benchrest-for-group competitors run the 6PPC cartridge with fast-burning powders such as Vihtavuori N133.

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Capstone Precision Group (Berger Bullets, Lapua, SK, Vihtavuori) provided many valuable prizes to competitors at the 2021 Cactus Classic.

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
September 27th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Shelley Davidson’s Amazing “Tinker Toy” 30 BR

Shelly Davidson Tinker Toy 30 BR

Editor’s NOTE: Shelley Davidson passed away in 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was one of the great innovators in benchrest rifle design. This article, written before Shelley died, showcases Shelley’s creative talents at their best. His “Tinker Toy” design will always be a tribute to Shelley’s fabricating skills and imagination.


Shelley Davidson — a brilliant innovator. R.I.P. Shelley — you will not be forgotten.

Shelley Davidson’s peers called his radical rifle the “Tinker Toy” gun. We call it revolutionary. Even now, 14 years after its creation, there’s nothing quite like it. This innovative, skeleton design threw conventional wisdom to the winds. Shelley readily concedes he “broke the rules” of benchrest rifle building. But this was inspired rule-breaking, because Davidson’s rifle shot like a house on fire. The Tinker Toy gun won its first matches, both for Score AND for Group. And this rifle also delivered many “zero groups” in Gene Begg’s Texas Tunnel. Hats off to Shelley for conceiving and building a truly radical rifle that was also wicked accurate and successful in competition.

tinker toy davidson 20 BR benchrest rifle

Tinker Toy 30 BR — Radical As It Gets

Report by Shelley Davidson
Although I’m not big on naming rifles, my shooting buddies have christened the gun “Tinker Toy.” I can live with that as it does kind of look as if it was made with a Tinker Toy set.

Origins of the Project
This project began with some wild ideas I had in the fall of 2006 about using magnets to tune a barrel. My idea was to use one magnet on the barrel and another on the stock so they pushed against each other to counter gravity-induced barrel sag (and possibly) tame barrel vibration in a beneficial manner. The only way to test these ideas was to build the device and mount it on a gun. That meant I had to build a new rifle because there was no place to mount a magnet on the stock of a conventional benchrest rig. I had a Kelbly-stocked heavy varmint stock with a Michael Kavanaugh paint job on it. I didn’t think Kav would ever forgive me if I started drilling holes in one of his works of art. My light varmint was in a carbon fiber Scoville stock that costs about a grand. Drilling into the Scoville for an experiment just smacked of bad judgment. So, the magnet thing was my first motivation for designing a new stock. As long as I was building from scratch I decided to offset the barrel and action 0.75″ to the right to counteract the spin/torque from the bullet.

Although there’s nothing new here, my second motivation was to build a 30BR that could shoot in the 10.5 lb light varmint class in NBRSA. The magnetic tuner will automatically make this gun illegal in the IBS. The IBS has declared all barrel attachments un-safe and have outlawed them. I personally feel that the IBS really outlawed all barrel attachments to prevent experimentation and innovation. But at least we have NBRSA matches.

Designing the New Gun — Thinking “Outside the Box”
Once I’d decided to build a lightweight stock that could support experimental devices out near the muzzle, I started drawing up some rough plans. I also took a trip to Jerry Stiller’s shop in Wylie, Texas for a brainstorming session with Jerry, the maker of Viper and other Benchrest actions. Jerry is a school-trained mechanical engineer and thinks differently than I do. I came away from Stiller’s shop with my design roughed out and sketched on paper. The design violated several covenants of conventional wisdom for building competition BR rifles. For instance, two-piece stocks stress the action. Stress reduction is why most BR rifles are glued into the stock. Another myth is that metal stocks vibrate too much so wood or foam-filled fiberglass or carbon fiber are used.

Tinker Toy Rifle DESIGN FEATURES

Shelly Davidson’s Rifle was so innovative, that almost every feature, except the bare action, is very different than you’ll find on most Benchrest rigs. Accordingly we felt it would be useful to isolate and describe the key design features, from stem to stern. Click thumbnails to view FULL-SIZE PHOTOS.

Front Bracket with Magnetic Tuner
The tuner consists of one rare earth magnet attached to the stock and another attached to a barrel sleeve with the magnets oriented so as to make the magnetic force repel each other. The purpose is to counter “barrel droop” and, hopefully, dampen barrel vibration. The lower magnet is carried on a threaded shaft (with lock ring), allowing the magnet to be raised up and down to adjust the “up push” on the barrel.

Tubular Fore-Arm Supported by Brackets
Three brackets support two tubes, one on either side of the barrel. The rear-most bracket is sandwiched between the barrel and the action. Four inches forward (max distance allowed for barrel blocks) a second bracket grips the barrel. Near the muzzle a third bracket secures the ends of the tubes and holds the magnetic tuner. To allow barrel offset, the left tube is 1″ diameter tube while the right tube is 5/8″ diameter.

Offset Barrel
The rifle rests on a 3″ wide plate attached to the underside of the two fore-end tubes. With the plate centered in the front sandbag, the barreled action is actually offset 0.75″ to the right (looking forward from the breech). The purpose of this offset is to keep more weight on the right side to counter the tendency of the rifle to torque counter-clockwise. Two different diameter tubes allow for the built-in offset.

Floating Action without Sub-Support or Bedding
On the Tinker Toy gun, the action serves as a load-bearing assembly, holding the barrel in the front, and the skeleton buttstock (or “keel”) in the rear. Shelley was told that accuracy would suffer if you stressed a benchrest action in this manner but that proved untrue. It is a very simple solution to building a rifle, and it eliminates the need to bed the action. The forearm attaches to the action via a bracket installed like a recoil lug.

Skeleton Rear “Keel” Affixed Directly to Action
Davidson’s Tinker Toy does not have a conventional rear buttstock. Instead there is low-profile, v-shaped metal “keel”, as Davidson calls it, that rides the rear bag. The keel is supported by a tubular backbone that attaches at the rear of the Diamondback action. At the butt end is an aluminum plate covered with bubble wrap that serves as a butt pad. The skeletonized rear section helps the rifle maintain a very low center of gravity.

Locked Scope with External Windage and Elevation Adjustment
Shelley ran an older Leupold 36X Benchrest Scope with front-adjusting objective. To eliminate slop or loose tolerances in the erector mechanism that could cause changes in point of impact, the internals have been locked up by Jackie Schmidt. To move the cross-hairs relative to the bore axis, Shelley has a special Jewell/Foster rear ring that allows a limited amount of lateral and vertical movement of the entire scope body.

TINKER TOY SPECIFICATIONS

Action: Stiller SS Diamondback Drop-Port (1/2″ short), with .308 Bolt Face.
Barrel: Shilen .308 caliber, 17-twist, HV.
Chambering: 30BR, .330″ neck, Pacific Tool & Gauge Robinett Reamer.
Stock: Davidson Custom Tubular Stock with 0.75″ Offset Barreled Action.
Tube Construction: 6061 Aluminum, 1″ diameter (left), 5/8″ diameter (right).
Load: H4198 powder and 118gr Ronnie Cheek bullets. Loaded to 2980 fps.
Trigger: Jewell, 2 ounce BR.
Tuner: Custom, Adjustable with Opposing Magnets.
Optics: Leupold 36X (locked by J. Schmidt).
Rings: Jewell Foster External Adjusting Rings.

Stiller Diamondback Action and Shilen 17-Twist Barrel
I had wanted to use an aluminum Stiller Cobra drop port with a 6mmBR bolt face but Jerry had none in stock and he estimated it would be a year before one was available. Although I’ve waited for up to a year for an action in the past, I wanted to build this rifle during the fall of 2006 while the weather was pleasant enough to work in my unheated and un-air-conditioned garage shop. Jerry did have a 1/2″ short stainless steel Diamondback in stock so I purchased it even though it would add 3 ounces to the gun compared to the aluminum Cobra. Three ounces is a lot of weight when you’re working with a 10.5-lb limit. I had a heavy varmint contour Shilen 17-twist barrel that would work nicely and I had a Jewell trigger on a rifle that I wasn’t using at the time. I also decided to use my Leupold 36X (locked-up by Jackie Schmidt) with the Jewell/Foster adjustable rings.

Building the Tube Fore-Arm and Brackets
I took a wild guess as to tubing thickness and settled on .035″ for the 1″ left fore-arm tube and .058″ for the 5/8″ right fore-arm tube. All of the flat stock and tubes are 6061 Aluminum. I did the lathe work and the mill work and every evening I’d put the parts together and think about the proper way to proceed.

tube benchrest rifle

When the parts were mostly made, I started thinking that this was a truly ugly rifle. I thought about painting it but that wasn’t a good option as many of the parts are designed to slide over others and glue together. Anodizing was the best answer so while looking on the Internet for local anodizing shops I Googled “Home Anodizing”. Sure enough there were a few sites that told about how to anodize at home. I picked up some battery acid from NAPA Auto Supply, some Rit Clothes Dye from Wal-Mart, and a bunch of distilled water from the grocery store. Using an old battery charger as my dc power supply I started anodizing and dying the eighteen parts that went into the stock. Although I had to strip and re-anodize some of the parts, the work turned out acceptable.

Putting it All Together–Lug-Mounting the Fore-Arm and Lots of Epoxy
The barrel contour had to be modified to work with the stock which attaches by way of a rear plate which mounts like a recoil lug and a plate that ties the barrel and the stock tubes together 4″ forward of the bolt face. The four-inch maximum distance is a NBRSA rule concerning barrel blocks.

Davidson Benchrest 30BR

Davidson 30BR group targetThe recoil lug-style stock mount is probably the only truly innovative thing I did other than the opposing-magnet tuner. Basically, the rear bracket is sandwiched between the receiver face and the barrel shoulder–positioned where a conventional recoil lug would go. I also added a brass ring (visible in photo) between the anodized bracket and the barrel. This was done to distribute loads over a wider surface area. (I was concerned that the bracket material was fairly soft and I didn’t want to crush it as I torqued the barrel in place.) After fitting the barrel and plates I glued the entire gun together using epoxy and various LocTite adhesives. The rest of the parts were assembled but I did not Loctite the scope bases since I thought I’d be disassembling the rifle for re-work after the first trials. That came back to bite me during later testing when the gun started shooting erratically and I went down a couple of blind alleys before finding the loose bases.

Range Testing–Results Are Very Positive
The first range session was a real shocker. Even though the wind was up to 10mph and twitchy, the rifle showed promise from the very first shot. I really didn’t expect that kind of performance without, at least, some rework. After sighting in, I shot five, 5-shot groups that, when averaged together, measured .223″. That’s good enough to win some benchrest group matches. But I wasn’t finished with the gun yet–I still wanted to try out my magnetic tuner concept.

Magnetic Benchrest Tuner Davidson

The Magnetic Tuner
Next, I built the magnetic tuner. The tuner consists of one rare earth magnet attached to the stock and another attached to a barrel sleeve with the magnets oriented so the magnetic forces repel each other. In order to test the magnets and to determine if the rifle really shot as well as it seemed to, I took it to Gene Beggs’s shooting tunnel in Odessa, Texas. I spent two days at the tunnel testing loads and then installed the magnetic tuner. The gun shoots well with the magnets and shoots well without them. I suppose I can’t make any claims as to how much, if any, improvement the magnets make. Gene said that my gun was the most accurate rifle to be tested at his one-year-old shooting facility: “Shelley Davidson brought one of the most unusual rifles I had ever seen; he called it his ‘Tube Gun.’ And boy, did it ever shoot! It still holds the record in the tunnel as the rifle that shot more zeros than any other to date.” I definitely recommend Gene’s facility for testing and refining shooting techniques and loads.

Competition — Tinker Toy Won Both Score and Group Matches

Finally the big day arrived when I’d shoot the first match with my new gun. The North Texas Shooters Association was holding its first club match of the 2007 season. At the Denton, Texas matches we shoot a Score Match in the morning and a Group Match in the afternoon. The March event was at 100 yards and the April match will be at 200 yards and so on alternating throughout the benchrest season.

Davidson tube BR rifle Score MatchMatch One–Tinker Toy Wins Score with a 250 – 17X
Since the gun is chambered in 30BR and that chambering is almost immune to tuning woes, I preloaded 130 rounds with H4198 powder and 118gr Cheek bullets. I used my SEB front rest and rear bag which are made by Sebastian Lambang in Indonesia. Everything came together, and Tinker Toy demonstrated that the accuracy it showed in the tunnel was no fluke. The gun shot great and I won the morning match with a 250, 17X. The day was quite windy and the next best shooter scored a 250, 15X. So I’d chalked up my first win.

Match Two–Tinker Toy Wins Group with a .2282″ Agg
Tinker Toy won the afternoon group match I entered with a five-group Aggregate of .2282″. (The second place score was .2568″.) My groups were .149″, .197″, .243″, .302″ (oops), and .250″. You know how some folks say a 30BR can’t be competitive with a PPC? Well that .2282″ Agg won’t break any records, but it is good enough to win some regional registered BR matches. So this rifle has demonstrated an ability to win in both Score and Group matches. Obviously I have a very good Shilen barrel, great Cheek bullets and the rest of the components are doing their jobs as well. But, the stock is also working well.

Score Shooting vs. Group Shooting–The Rules
In a score match, the shooter shoots one bullet at each of five record targets, which are clustered on one target sheet. The Aggregate score of five of these targets determines the winner. If the shooter touches the 10 ring on all of his 25 targets he can score a “clean” 250 score. Usually there will be more than one shooter who scores a 250 so the winner is determined by the X-count. The 1/2″ 10-point ring has a 1/16″ dot in its center. Touching the X dot adds to the shooters X count. In short-range group matches, the shooter must try to put five bullets through the same hole. At each distance (100 or 200), five, 5-shot matches are scored, the group sizes are added together (MOA equivalent at 200) and the total is divided by five to arrive at an Aggregate score.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
June 1st, 2020

Short-Range Benchrest Game Captured on Video

Benchrest IBS 100 yards 6PPC Video

We know that many of our readers have never personally participated in a short-range (100/200 yard) benchrest match. That’s understandable — moving backers are required in registered 100/200 benchrest (for group) matches, yet only a small percentage of ranges have that equipment. If you’re curious about the “point-blank” benchrest game, but haven’t had the chance to see it first-hand, check out this video created by youtuber “Taofledermaus”. On his YouTube Channel, you’ll find many other interesting shooting videos, including slow-motion target impact clips. This video shows the LV and HV guns, the flags, the gun-handling, the reloading set-ups, and of course, tiny little groups on targets.

Registered 100/200 Benchrest Match

Viewer Comments on the Video:

“There is a lot more to this game than just pulling the trigger. Record targets are 5-shot groups, 5 averaged together for an Aggregate. Most times the winning Agg is under .250″ for 25 shots at 100 yards. Rifles weigh 10.5 pounds for LV class. Used rifles can be had for about $1500. Then add in another $1000 for rest, bags, loading tools, bullets, powder, not to mention windflags.” — Vmhtr

“Benchrest shooting is sort of an ‘academy of shooting’. Lots of academic thought and measurements, handloading made with anal attention at detail. It’s much more thought than action. Most of those people made their tools themselves. [There are] It’s plenty of seniors because it takes patience, lots of patience. Sure a teenager ain’t gonna bother it.” — THP

“I was surprised they did all their hand loading right there on the spot. — I think you nailed it. It’s a super-precise sport. It’s expensive, it’s slow, and it requires a lot of travel, so it’s well-suited for retired folks. It’s gotta beat golfing!” — Tao

“I used to shoot 6mm PPC in a BR rifle. I spent so much time at the reloading bench that I just gave up on it all and switched to 22 rimfire gallery matches. Saved a lot of my sanity doing that….” — Walt

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
August 23rd, 2018

Insanely Small Groups — World Champion Reveals His Techniques

200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia tiny group 6 PPC

With the recent IBS 100/200 Group Nationals in Pennsylvania, we thought our readers might like to learn more about the short-range Benchrest game. Seeing the tiny groups 6 PPC aces produce, it’s easy to think the precision is all about the equipment. But there is a lot more involved. A talented human still has to watch the flags, run the gun properly, and tune his loads for the conditions. Here are some tips from one of the world’s best benchresters, Charles Huckeba.

Texan Charles Huckeba was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.

Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.

Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships

Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia

Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good

Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.

1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.

2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.

Charles Huckeba PPC World Benchrest joystick handle3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.

4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.

5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).

To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:

“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.

This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”

Video find by Boyd Allen. Video by Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply, Brisbane, Australia.
Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
January 10th, 2018

Blast from the Past — Angelina Beats Benchrest Hall of Famers

Angelina Benchrest girl phoenix

We first ran this story in 2014, when Angelina was just ten years old. A Forum member recently asked if she was still shooting benchrest, and we can say the answer is yes — under the guidance of her grandfather Lou Murdica. So we are repeating the story today, to inspire all the other granddads who might encourage a little lady to take up the sport…

Angelina Benchrest girl phoenixYou have to love this story, supplied by our friend Lou Murdica. It seems that a petite little 10-year-old school girl finished fourth in a 100-Yard Benchrest match in Phoenix, beating some of the best in the business, including many Benchrest Hall of Famers. That’s right, shooting a remarkable 0.1612 Aggregate, little Angelina G. put a whupping on some very big names in the Benchrest game, including Lou Murdica himself. Angelina finished just .008 behind Hall of Famer Gary Ocock, beating other Benchrest superstars such as Bob Brackney, Lester Bruno, and Tom Libby. Angelina also beat legendary bullet-maker Walt Berger, but we’ll cut Walt some slack. Now in his 80s, Walt deserves praise for doing so well at the opposite end of the age spectrum.

Congratulations to Angelina on some great shooting in the Unlimited Class. Her five groups measured: 0.186, 0.172, 0.173, 0.121, 0.155. That’s impressive consistency. You go girl!

Point to ponder: If Angelina was shooting a Rail Gun, her rifle probably weighed more than she did.

Check out the big names who finished behind little Angelina.

Angelina Benchrest girl phoenix

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
November 28th, 2017

World Benchrest Shooting Championship in New Zealand

2017 World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand
Photo courtesy Australia WBC 2017 Team

The World Benchrest Shooting Championship (WBC) was held in New Zealand earlier this month. The 14th WBC was conducted November 7-11, 2017 at the Packers Creek Range, Nelson, New Zealand. The match was hosted by the Nelson Branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association on behalf of the World Benchrest Shooting Federation (WBSF). There were 76 competitors from 14 nations. Many competitors said this was one of the prettiest ranges they had ever seen. The Kiwi hosts put on a great event in a beautiful South Island shooting venue.

There were both individual and team awards. The Australian Benchrest Team 1 took top honors in the Two-Gun Team Match. Congrats to the Aussies, who had a great team effort to post a winning 0.283212 Agg. Finishing Second in the Two-Gun Overall was Team US1 with 0.286112. The 4-Man US1 Squad also won the Heavy Varmint Team Competition with a 0.270162 Agg, while the US2 foursome won the Light Varmint Team title with a 0.290925 Agg.

Standing atop the podium (center) are the four members of Team Australia 1, winners of the 2017 WBSF Team Championship:
2017 World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand

Championship Organizer Graeme Smith said that the Championship got away to a cracking start with Kiwi shooter Greg Couper winning the Light Varmint Small Group contest with a Group of .076, just over the current world record. Overall the day was won by American Wayne Campbell, who was in hot form having recently won the USA Nationals. Day 2 provided the only new World Record shot at the Championship with Australia’s Steve Sori shooting a new Small Group record at 200 yards of 0.138, well under the existing WBSF record of .160. Mike Conry of the USA led the field for the day. The next two days followed the previous pattern with Wayne Campbell taking the Heavy Varmint 100-yard contest and Mike Conry the 200-yard event. The most sought-after medals were for the Two-Gun Aggregate, covering four days of competition. Mike Conry dominated the field, winning the Gold Medal, followed by Wayne Campbell taking Silver, and David Kerr of Australia earning Bronze.

In short-range benchrest, final standings can turn on a few thousands of an inch, so groups must be measured with great precision.
2017 World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand
Photo Courtesy AMP Annealing.

Shooting in Paradise…
The Packers Creek Range outside Nelson is a lovely shooting venue.
World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand 2017 world record

The “top gun” at the match was American Mike Conry from Texas. Mike won the Heavy Varmint Grand Agg as well as the Two Gun Overall Aggregate. Mike received glory, medals, and most importantly, a new AMP Annealing machine from the New Zealand-based manufacturer, AMP Annealing. AMP’s President, Alex Findlay told us: “Mike Conry was definitely the dominant shooter. By the end of the awards he was just about weighed down with all the medals around his neck.”

WBC 2017 Equipment List | WBC 2017 Teams 2-Gun Aggregate Results | WBC Match Results

U.S. shooters filled the podium for the 200-yard Heavy Varmint. Winner Mike Conry (0.2458), flanked by Gene Bukys (R) and Ed Adams (L). Conry was also top individual shooter at the 2017 WBC, winning the Two-Gun Overall, as well as the HV Grand Agg.

World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand 2017 world record

Top Individual Winners at 2017 World Benchrest Championships
Two-Gun First Place: Mike Conry (USA) – 0.2597
Two-Gun Second Place: Wayne Campbell (USA) – 0.2655
Two-Gun Third Place: David Kerr (AUS) – 0.2795
Two-Gun Fourth Place: Mitchell Tallar (AUS) – 0.2813
Two-Gun Fifth Place: Larry Costa (USA) – 0.2833

World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand 2017 world recordAussie Steve Sori Sets Record
There were some ultra-small groups shot at the match. Shown below is an amazing 200-yard 5-shot Light Varmint Group shot by Australian Steve Sori. This tiny 0.138 group is a pending new World Benchrest Shooting Federation Record. Steve’s LV rig featured a BAT action, 1:13.5″-twist Krieger barrel, Scoville stock, and March High Master 48X scope. The cartridge was the 6PPC (of course), with Bart’s 68gr Bullets pushed by N133 and Federal 205m primers in Lapua Brass. Bullet-maker Bart Sauter is a Forum Member — its’ great to see his bullets perform so well at the WBC.

While this was an internationally-sanctioned match, the yardages shot were 100 yards and 200 yards. This was NOT a Metric Match with targets at 100m and 200m.

World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand 2017 world record

Record Target and Range Photos courtesy Team Australia WBC 2017 Facebook Page.

American competitor Wayne Campbell watches a 100-yard Heavy Varmint Relay.
World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand 2017 world record

Shooters from 14 nations came to New Zealand’s South Island to compete. Match Director Graeme Smith said the weather for New Zealand spring time could hardly been better with one wet day in 10 (including the practice days).
2017 World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand

2017 World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand

The reloading tent was full of equipment. In this discipline, most shooters load at the match between relays. That enables them to tune their loads to the conditions.
World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand 2017 world record

Parting Shot — Little Emily Has Fun in New Zealand

Emily, an English schoolgirl, traveled with Team UK to help her father Bruce Lenton who was shooting in the competition. Emily provided updates on social media during the match. Emily does shoot benchrest matches (Read Story), but she was not shooting for Team UK on this trip.

World Benchrest Championship Nelson New Zealand 2017 world record

Vince Bottomley reports: “Emily was a huge hit over in NZ — she was given the honor of hoisting the New Zealand flag at the opening ceremony, she drove the target changer’s buggy, did some impressive shirt-swapping.” Here she is wearing a Team Canada Jersey — a bit big for pint-size Emily.

Permalink News 2 Comments »
May 27th, 2016

Kelbly’s Super Shoot Draws World’s Best Benchrest Shooters

Kelbly Kelbly's Super Shoot Benchrest IBS Tony Boyer Light Varmint Heavy

It’s Super Shoot time. The “Top Guns” of Point Blank Benchrest are battling for prizes and glory at Kelbly’s Rifle Range in North Lawrence, Ohio. This annual event, held May 25-28 this year, draws some of the best 100-yard and 200-yard benchrest shooters in the world. Recent Super Shoots have drawn 300+ competitors from the USA and more than a dozen other countries (about 15% of the competitors come from overseas).

Past Super Shoot Highlights Video (Watch This — It’s Very Well Done!)

If you’ve never attended the Super Shoot before, and don’t know what to expect, former Sinclair International President Bill Gravatt offers some insights into this great event:

Super Shoot — What It’s All About

The excitement and anticipation leading up to a Super Shoot can be hard to explain to those who haven’t been to one. Every year, some shooters arrive at the Super Shoot a week early to dial in their rifles, learn wind conditions for the range, and enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow shooters. As the match draws closer, campers and RVs fill the area behind the range, and shooters stake out turf all over the property with their reloading and cleaning equipment setups.

Many shooters choose to load cartridges in the main barn directly behind the 60-bench firing line, while others decide to work in pop-ups, campers and other outbuildings around the facility. Benchrest shooters tend to load in small batches, and some most load cartridges between each match. Many shooters clean their rifles after each match, while others sometimes go two or three matches between cleanings, depending on the number of rounds they fire.

Another part of high-level benchrest competition that will amaze first-time attendees is the quality and amount of equipment benchrest shooters use. Just in front of the shooting benches and the targets, range flags of all kinds sprout up, from the typical “daisy wheel” flags to very sophisticated velocity indicators that show varying wind intensity. Shooters adjust their flags to align with the particular target in front of a specific bench, just slightly below the path of the bullet but still partially visible in the high-powered scopes.

Kelbly Kelbly's Super Shoot Benchrest IBS Tony Boyer Light Varmint Heavy

The rifles represent a variety of actions, usually custom, with heavy benchrest barrels by various barrel makers. The most popular cartridge used is the 6mm PPC, but occasionally you will run into someone using a 6mm BR or a slightly modified 6mm BR, and as well as a few other cartridges. Rifle rests used are typically heavy tripods or plate rests. You see a lot of Sinclair rests, Farley rests, and a variety of others, including a few homemade rests. Bags are typically Edgewood or Protektor.

Super Shoot — Runners, Pickers and the Pursuit of Perfection
The techniques vary between shooters, and they are interesting to observe. Some shooters “run” their targets and will shoot a quick sighter and then run all 5 shots as fast as they can before conditions change. Others are “pickers” and shoot each shot carefully, going back and forth between the record target and the sighter target to verify wind conditions and bullet drift. These guys will sometimes shoot up to 10 sighters and use the full seven minutes. Both styles of shooting work and many shooters use both techniques depending on the match conditions[.]

Anyone who attends the Super Shoot will come away with a greater appreciation of precision benchrest shooting. Experienced benchresters already know there will be windy days that drive them crazy, and less experienced shooters can get completely lost when… holding off a shot in the wind. But the reward is worth it. It’s very satisfying to hold off a full inch at 100 yards because the wind changes during your string and drop your fifth shot into a sub 0.100″ group with only seconds remaining on the clock. And that’s what the Super Shoot is all about.

Permalink - Videos, Competition No Comments »
November 10th, 2015

IBS Match Report: “Mainville Mania” in Pennsylvania

Mainville PA match report score shoot benchrest IBS Heavy Light Varmint

IBS Match Report by Bob White
The “Mainville Mania” match marked the last International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) group shoot of 2015 on September 26-27, 2015. It was held at the Mainville Sportsman Club in Mainville, PA, and was attended by 30 shooters. Shooting conditions were good, with light winds and temperatures ranging from the upper 50s to high 70s both days. The “Mainville Mania” Two-Gun Aggregate winner for 2015 was Al Auman who recorded an impressive .2294 Overall Agg. There was some very tight competitition this year — second to sixth place in the Two-Gun Agg was separated by only 0.008. Jeff Peinhardt was the Two-Gun runner-up with 0.2545, while Harley Baker placed third with 0.2569.

The Mainville Sportsman Club is a very scenic venue, set in wooded countryside. Here is the view of the covered rifle benches, as seen from the target bays.
Mainville PA match report score shoot benchrest IBS Heavy Light Varmint

Saturday Start to a Great Event
The Saturday morning warm-up began with Light Varmint (LV) class. Sarah Dolinsky, a first-year rookie, shot the smallest group: 0.111 inch. With the start of the record matches, Barney Small jumped out in front with a 0.139 but his lead was short-lived as Howie Levy shot his second sub-0.2 group in match Two to take over first place. Bill McIntyre’s 0.114 placed him on top after match Three. Bill maintained his lead through match Four with a slightly larger Agg. Following match Five and completion of the yardage, by virtue of his 0.121 final group, Wyatt Peinhardt won with a superb 0.1830 LV Aggregate.

Mainville PA match report score shoot benchrest IBS Heavy Light Varmint

Following lunch in the clubhouse (the “Mainville Cafe”), the Heavy Varmint 100-yard event began with record match number One. Al Auman took the lead with a 0.122 group. After match Two, Auman was still on top. But Harley Baker took the lead with a 0.158 after match Three. A new leader emerged after match Four as Howie Levy posted a 0.217 to take the number one spot on the leader board. On the fifth and final group, Bob White, who had been in third to seventh place all afternoon, fired a 0.121 to steal the HV 100-yard Agg. White’s final group edged out Howie Levy by a mere .002 for the win.

Mainville PA match report score shoot benchrest IBS Heavy Light Varmint

Mainville PA match report score shoot benchrest IBS Heavy Light VarmintMore Mirage on Day Two
Sunday’s weather conditions had more mirage, but were still quite shootable. Once again Sarah Dolinsky claimed small group on the warm-up in the Heavy Varmint (HV) class. Not content with a 0.277, she shot a 0.263 in match One. The lead changed to Al Auman in match Two following his first and second groups in the “threes”. However, Al wasn’t done — he improved with a 0.283 in match Three, giving him a 0.1637 Agg (as corrected for 200 yards). It appeared that a record Agg might be possible. Al maintained his lead throughout the match, finishing with a 0.2068 Agg for a solid win.

In the Sunday Afternoon Light Varmint event, Barney Small’s 0.277 in Match One had him on top. He maintained this spot through match Three, but Bob Brushingham was nipping at Barney’s heels. After match Four, Brushingham took the lead with a 0.2011. The final group gave Bob Brushingham the yardage win with a flat .2100 followed by Barney at 0.265 and first year Rookie Jason Brown in third with his 0.2707.

LV and HV Grand Agg Top Guns
Looking at Grand Agg standings in Light Varmint, Wyatt Peinhardt took third with a 0.2595. In second was Al Auman at 0.2476 and Top Dog was Bob Brushingham with a 0.2366. In the Heavy Varmint Grand Agg, Al Auman was the winner with a fine 0.2112. Harley Baker was second with 0.2395 and Howie Levy placed third with a .2423.

As awards were ending Brian Dolinsky (patriarch of the famous shooting Dolinskys) offered a $100 cash prize for the best Mainville three-match Two-Gun Agg average for the 2016 season. Bob Brushingham won the special award for best three-match Aggregate in 200-yard Light Varmint. The $100 award was donated by Kent Harshman to reward the shooter who excels in what are usually the last five targets shot in two-day match. The Mainville Club welcomes other cash award offers for its 2016 season.

Mainville PA match report score shoot benchrest IBS Heavy Light Varmint

Mainville PA match report score shoot benchrest IBS Heavy Light VarmintThe Mainville Sportsman Club (MSC) was founded in the mid-60s to promote pistol and rifle shooting. With over 400 members, the Club hosts benchrest rifle competitions, pistol matches, Cowboy Action events, Buffalo Shoots, and an annual Ground Hog Shoot.

The Club operates a covered 40-bench rifle range, a 6-lane Cowboy Action Shooting area, plus an indoor meeting facility. The rifle range has targets set at 100, 200, and 300 yards. The club also offers Hunter Safety Courses. The facility is located in the Northeast corner of Pennsylvania near Bloomsburg, PA, about 5 miles east of exit 242 on I-80 near Mainville, PA.

The Mainville Sportsman Club has a rich history. In the early years the organization held Dinner-Dances which were popular throughout the community. MSC also held Beef Shoots featuring 6″ black targets shot off-hand at 100 yards. These events were well-attended, with as many as 100 shooters.

Permalink Competition 2 Comments »
September 26th, 2015

USA Wins World Benchrest Championship Amidst Controversy

World Benchrest Championship St. Louis Team USA Russia Accuracy Benchrest Rifle
Benchrest legend Tony Boyer finished fifth overall in the individual standings.

Congratulations to USA Team 2, which won the “battle of the nations” at the World Benchrest Championship. Team 2 members are: Lester Bruno, Wayne Campbell, Larry Costa, and Billy Stevens. Wayne Campbell also won the individual Championship, earning him the title of 2015 World Benchrest Champion. Wayne is now officially the best point-blank benchrester on the planet! We wish to acknowledge all the many competitors, from 24 nations, who attended this prestigious event.

Penalties and DQs
Other USA Teams might have finished in the top five, but there were some major mishaps at this event. USA Team 1 suffered a big penalty because of a 5-shot cross-fire at 200 yards. USA Team 3 was disqualified from the event due to a late shot after the “Cease Fire” command (DQ details below).

Report by Vince Bottomley, Target Shooter Magazine

Here’s how the Teams Match ended up. USA Team 2 finished first, followed by three Australian squads, with Canada Team 1 finishing fifth:

World Benchrest Championship St. Louis Team USA Russia Accuracy Benchrest Rifle1. USA Team 2 – 0.2230 MOA
2. Australia Team 1 – 0.2441
3. Australia Team 3 – 0.2463
4. Australia Team 2 – 0.2635
5. Canada Team 1 – 0.2678

Wayne Campbell Wins WBC with 0.1866 Agg
But who is the individual World Benchrest Champion? That would be American Team member Wayne Campbell — a very popular result. Wayne shot a remarkable 0.1866 MOA Agg over the four-day event, combining 100- and 200-yard LV and HV matches. That shows you how accurate today’s Benchrest rifles can be (and the skill of the top shooters). Here are the top five individuals, all of whom Agg’d under 0.2100:

1. Wayne Campbell (USA) – 0.1866 MOA
2. Gene Bukys (USA) – 0.1973
3. Murray Hicks (Australia) – 0.2062
4. Larry Costa (USA) – 0.2087
5. Tony Boyer (USA) – 0.2095

The USA took four out of the Top Five individual spots. Living legend Tony Boyer proved he’s still got his stuff. Tony finished just .0033 off the podium, which saw Boyer protege Wayne Campbell in 1st place, Gene Bukys in second, and Australian Murray Hicks in third. The best of the two Great Britain Teams finished in 13th spot (out of 24 teams) with a 0.2998 MOA Agg. Top individual Brit was Bruce Lenton in 31st place with a very creditable 0.2666 MOA Agg.

Shooters from 24 nations competed at the 2015 World Benchrest Championship. Here Alexander Skuratov from Russia prepares ammo for a match.
World Benchrest Championship St. Louis Team USA Russia Accuracy Benchrest Rifle


DAY Four (Friday) Match Report
The fabulous St Louis weather was with us again for the last day and this is the first World Championship I can remember that didn’t have rain! Facilities at this fabulous Benchrest range are second to none and the event has run like the proverbial clockwork. That is a credit to the Club and its helpers and officials who have worked tirelessly for two weeks, as of course the NBRSA Nationals preceded the 2015 WBC.

Today, on the final day, Heavy Varmint rifles shot at 200 yards. Winds were again light, except for the odd relay but the top shooters again banged in those itty-bitty groups that the rest of us can only dream about. Just one non-American managed to sneak into the top five:

Friday Results, 200-Yard Heavy Varmint

1. Wayne Campbell (USA) – 0.1866 MOA
2. Gene Bukys (USA) – 0.1973
3. Murray Hicks (Australia) 0.2062
4. Larry Costa (USA) – 0.2087
5. Tony Boyer (USA) – 0.2095

Thursday DQ Drama — Disqualification and Penalty for American Teams
On Thursday, we had drama when one of the three USA Teams suffered a ten-inch penalty but such is the strength of American Benchrest that USA Team 1 members fought themselves back into contention. The ten-inch penalty was given when a USA Team 1 shooter fired all five shots on the wrong target at 200 yards. But, just as things were looking possible for an American 1, 2, 3 sweep, yet more drama occurred with the disqualification of USA Team 3! That’s right, the entire team was DQ’d as the result of a safety breach. Apparently, a USA Team 3 shooter fired AFTER the “Cease fire” command. That serious rule violation caused the disqualification.

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »