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 »
August 26th, 2020

IBS Match Report: 2020 100/200 Meter Score Nationals

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina

2020 has been a challenging year for the shooting sports. The CMP National Matches at Camp Perry and NRA National Championships at Camp Atterbury were cancelled due to Pandemic health concerns. Other major matches have been dropped from the calendar due to COVID-19. That’s why we are pleased to report that the IBS was able to conduct the 2020 Benchrest for Score 100/200 Meter National Championships. Attendance was solid, and competitors had a good time. Here is the match report from IBS member Todd Payseur.

IBS 100/200 Score Nationals at Mid-Carolina Gun Club

Report from Todd Payseur
The morning light breaks and shooters begin to set the final touches on their wind flags. Yes, it’s time for the Nationals! For what has been a crazy COVID-impacted year with a lot of cancelled matches, dates being changed, and some states still not able to hold matches, many shooters had cabin fever for the Nationals.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina

Several people had concerns beforehand with even having a match in August at the Mid-Carolina Gun Club because of how brutal our summers can be, but Mother Nature really blessed us with a calm weekend. Saturday started with overcast skies and projected highs around 87 degrees, which for August is almost unheard of. A few showers during the day, but nothing that really amounted to much or effected any of the relays. The winds stayed calm and 20 VFS shooters stayed clean and 2 Hunter guns went for 250-10X with Peter Hills creedmooring Ronnie Milford for the top 6-power at 100 meters. In VFS a familiar face, Wayne France shot a great 250-21X edging out rookie shooter Will Till at 250-20X.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Lisa Moore, grandmother of Gage and Remy Logsdon, prepares for the next relay with bolt removed.

This is Will’s second season in VFS and he has steadily improved. His second place finish at 100 meters is the start of many great finishes ahead for this young man. Speaking of young people, I’m pleased to say we had a great showing of Junior shooters this year and they all deserve to be mentioned. Defending rookie of the year Tori Allen (below right) was the top junior, followed by first-year rookie Remy Logsdon. Gage Logsdon rounded out the top three junior shooters. With such young talents coming into the benchrest game, we are very optimistic about the future of our sport.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Wayne France (Left) with 100-yard 1st Place Agg patch. Tori Allen (Right) was the top Junior shooter.

Sunday at 200 meters was the Lin Smith show! Lin shot both a Heavy and a Light Varmint rifle and turned in a very impressive 500-17X for the day. This fine work led him to two of the top three places at 200 meters and a first and fourth in the Grand Agg. I can’t say enough about how happy everyone is for Lin. He is one good man that those of us in the southeast region are honored to compete with and call a friend.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Grand Agg winner Lin Smith really put on a display of fine shooting this weekend.

In the 6-power Hunter Rifle class, Jim Cline turned in an impressive 249-5X at 200 meters for the win and that led him to his first place finish in the Grand Agg followed by a solid 245-4X by Ronnie Milford who took second-place in the Grand Agg.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Here are all the winners with their wood. Left to Right: Will Till, Gage Logsdon, Lee Martin, Tori Allen, John Bosley, Lin Smith, Peter Hills, John Ridgeway, Remy Logsdon, Wayne France, Jim Cline and Ronnie Milford.

CLICK Chart for Full Spreadsheet with Results for ALL Shooters
IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeberg south carolina

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
View back to the benches from the 100-meter targets at Mid-Carolina Gun Club. the Orangeburg swirl is lurking in those trees… just waiting to push bullets where they just shouldn’t go!

Great Competition, Great Food, Great Location
Overall we had a good turnout with 35 VFS guns and 8 V/VH guns on Saturday and 34 and 7 on Sunday. Competitors came from as far away as Maine and Michigan and everywhere in between. The food was outstanding with meals available both Friday and Saturday evenings at the range along with lunches Saturday and Sunday. One thing is for certain, if you enjoy great food and great company, then the IBS VFS circuit is something you should come check out, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

About the Mid-Carolina Gun Glub in South Carolina
CLICK HERE for more information on the Mid-Carolina Gun Club in Orangeburg, South Carolina. This club boasts a great facility with plenty of room for cleaning/loading, plus a large, covered eating area with serving line. There is also parking for campers on the club property. I would like to personally thank Jim Cline and the whole Mid-Carolina Crew for another great weekend and cherished memory!

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Jerry Powers from the Ashe County gang setting up a SEB MAX. SEB rests, both MAX and NEO, are very popular with score BR shooters.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, News 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 »
March 16th, 2020

Challenging Conditions at 2020 Cactus Classic in Arizona

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


Rainbow photo by Michelle Gallagher.

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

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

Cactus Classic Benchrest LV HV Ben Avery Phoenix Berger

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


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

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
July 29th, 2019

Jack Neary Shoots WBC Record 0.110″ at 200 Yards in Canada

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championship benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta Canada

No, that’s not two shots — it is FIVE shots, with basically four in one hole and a fifth very slightly over. If that’s not impressive enough, consider this stunning 0.110″ group was shot at TWO HUNDRED yards — the length of two football fields. This amazing group was shot by Jack Neary at the 2019 World Benchrest Championship (WBC) held in Calgary, Alberta earlier this month.

Neary’s 0.110″ 200-yard group establishes a new WBC world record in the Light Varmint (LV) rifle class (10.5-lb max rifle weight). Jack was competing with Team USA “C Squad”, which also captured the WBC 2-Gun Gold Medal in the 4-man Team Championship.

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championships benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta CanadaWorld Benchrest Championships
The World Benchrest Championships are held every two years and attract competitors from over 20 countries. Jack Neary’s .110″ group is now a confirmed WBC 200-yard World Record for smallest 5-shot group. Neary was shooting a 6mm PPC hand-loaded with Vihtavuori N133 powder.

NOTE: This is a record for WBC competition. However, it is slightly larger than current NBRSA and IBS 200-yard Light Varmint (LV) records. The NBRSA LV 200-yard record is 0.075″ set by Johnnie Stewart in 2009. The IBS LV 200-yard record is 0.091″ by David Farrar in 2006. Still, Neary’s 0.110″ 5-shot group is a great accomplishment, set at the highest level of competition, at a match which had very challenging conditions.

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championships benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta Canada

Jack stated, “Vihtavuori’s temperature stability and cleaning burning attributes have been instrumental for competitors to achieve world record accuracy in the furthest corners of the world.”

Vihtavuori powders (predominently N133) were used by nearly every competitor (over 90%) during the World Benchrest Championship. VV N133 continues to dominate the short-range benchrest game. Notably, Vihtavuori powders have also been successful in the Extreme Long Range game, with VV powders used by recent KO2M winners. The next World Benchrest Championship will be held in Fall of 2021 in South Africa.

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championships benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta Canada

Neary Helps Team USA Win Gold at World Championship

Team Lapua’s Jack Neary, along with his Team USA “C Squad” teammates Harley Baker, Gary Bristow, and Jeff Graves, won the 4-Man Team Gold Medal at the 2019 World Benchrest Championship held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada this past week. Neary’s squad had the best overall Grand Aggregate, 0.2598, for the WBC combined 2-Gun Championship. Team USA “A Squad” took second place with a 0.2646 2-Gun Aggregate. CLICK HERE for WBC Team Championship Results.

All Team USA Gold Medalists used Lapua cartridge cases exclusively at the WBC. Lapua cartridge cases are known for superb quality of construction, using only the finest raw materials and superior annealing processes. Each case is machined to exacting dimensions. Lapua brass is renown for its superior consistency and longevity. The best brass also lasts the longest.

Neary stated, “Lapua cases are the foundation [for] our competition hand-loads[.] When competing at the highest levels against the most talented shooters in the world, we need the absolute best components available. There’s no doubt Lapua helped secure the Gold for Team USA.”

Lapua vihtavuori CapstoneAbout Lapua and Vihtavuori
Lapua produces the highest-quality small caliber cartridges and components for civilian and professional use. Vihtavuori is renowned for smokeless powders with superb lot-to-lot consistency that deliver superior accuracy Lapua and Vihtavuori are part of the Capstone Precision Group, exclusive U.S. distributor for Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori and SK-Rimfire products. For more information, visit Lapua.com and Vihtavuori.com.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News, Reloading, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
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 »
September 2nd, 2017

IBS Match Report: 2017 Group Benchrest Nationals in Michigan

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
The IBS Groups Nationals has a 4-man team competition based on the HV Grand Aggregate results. The 2017 winning team was a “Murderer’s Row” consisting of Wayne Campbell, Billy Stevens, Bart Sauter, and Larry Costa. Each boasts Hall of Fame and/or multiple World Team accomplishments. Hamming it up in the background is HOF shooter Jack Neary.

2017 IBS Group Benchrest National Championships

Holton Gun & Bow Club, Holton, Michigan
August 14-19, 2017

Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
This year the 2017 IBS Group Benchrest Championship was held at the Holton Gun & Bow Club, in Holton, Michigan. This is a pretty facility boasting an impressive firing line with forty (40) concrete benches. Monday morning in western Michigan saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling their big railguns to the line. Hall of Fame and multiple World Team shooter Wayne Campbell shot a nice .1858 aggregate for five 10-shot groups. The only other “Teen Agg” was Iowa’s Dave Coots with a .1978. Wayne’s win foretold what was to come the rest of the week.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

Wayne Campbell and Jeff Summers Put on a Show
On Tuesday, the bag guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Mr. Campbell maintained his mojo, shooting yet another “Teen Agg”. Wayne’s .1788 edged fellow HOF member Larry Costa’s .1854. The Light Varmint 100 was also contested on Tuesday. Peter Smith shot a very fine .1658 to beat out Canadian Bill Mitchell at .1960.

Wednesday was reserved for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 100 yards. Holton is Bob Scarbrough’s home range, but he can shoot “lights out” anywhere. Nevertheless, his .1518 had to be satisfying. Wayne Campbell, still on fire, laid down a .1694. In third place, Tennessean Jeff Summers posted a .1800. Mr. Summers is always near the top of any benchrest leader board. He is coming off another Super Shoot win. Most of the time Jeff does not win the small group of the day, but he wins many Aggregates. He is one of the most mistake-free shooters in the game.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
File photo courtesy Holton Gun & Bow Club

Benchrest for Group Basics — Four Classes at Nationals
IBS group competition is contested at 100 and 200 yards. At the National Championships, it takes thirty targets of five shots each and ten targets of 10-shot groups to win a “4 Gun Nationals”. That includes four (4) gun classes: Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, Sporter, and Unlimited. For all practical purposes, the first three are known as “bag guns” while the heavy bench rifles are “railguns”.

In fact, most competitors shooting a bag gun opt for a single rifle, which has been benchrest standard for decades: a 10.5-lb rifle chambered in 6PPC. This can compete in three classes: Sporter, Light Varmint, and Heavy Varmint. The fourth class shot at the Nationals is Unlimited (aka Heavy Benchrest or “HB”). This class features the big, heavy railguns — the most sophisticated Benchrest rigs of all which shoot 10-shot groups at 100 and 200 yards.

For the IBS Nationals, group-shooting competition features 100-yard targets for the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. Six days total. It is done this way to require only one change of wind flags. Nationals competition requires “full rotation”. That means that every time a shooter goes to the line for the next match target, he or she must move a requisite number of benches to the right. At the end of the day a shooter will shoot across the full width of the line. Some ranges offer unique properties that render some parts of the range harder or easier to shoot small groups. Bench rotation is important to even out those factors.

Thursday was set for 200 yards. Starting off was Heavy Bench (HB), the big railguns. Upper Midwest shooter, Mark Buettgen shot steadily for a .2406 Agg, aided by a small .378. His largest group was a .527. Consistency wins bench matches. Lee Hachigian drove in from the Detroit area with his railgun to be next to the winner with a .2608.

On Friday, two Aggs were shot, Light Varmint and Sporter. Larry Costa nearly nicked a Teen Agg to win LV 200 with a .2027. Lurking high in the standings once again was Jeff Summers and his .2352. Wayne Campbell was not asleep. He was merely third at .2480. The Sporter competition was won by the best benchrest shooter of all time, Tony Boyer. Tony shot a .2287 to edge Billy Stevens. Mr. Boyer added another Hall of Fame point. His 170 points are 120 more than the next shooter (Lester Bruno, no slouch!) in the ranking.

Benchrest legend Tony Boyer added another Hall of Fame point to his amazing total. (File photo from 2016 IBS Group Nationals in Weikert, PA)
IBS Benchrest Group Nationals Holton Michigan

The HV guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. Jeff Summers worked a .1868 to the winner’s circle. The always tough Larry Costa was close at .1929.

At the IBS Group Nationals, shooters compete for Grand Aggregate (100+200) honors in four classes: LV, HV, Sporter, and HB. In addition, there are multi-gun titles: 2-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 & 200); 3-gun (all HV, LV, SP in 100 & 200), and 4-gun (all HV, LV, SP and Heavy Benchrest in 100 & 200).

The Grand Aggregate (100+200) winners were:
Heavy Varmint: Bob Scarbrough, Jr. (.1824)
Light Varmint: Jeff Summers (.2313)
Sporter: Wayne Campbell (.2119)
Heavy Bench: Lee Hachigian (.2374)

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

In the prestigious multi-gun competition, Jeff Summers won the 2-Gun. Wayne Campbell added more HOF points by winning BOTH the 3-Gun AND the 4-Gun. With his impressive 3-Gun and 4-Gun victories, the talented Mr. Campbell claimed the title of Top Overall shooter after six days of trigger-pulling.

CLICK HERE for FULL IBS GROUP Nationals RESULTS »

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

2017 IBS Nationals Powderpuff Exhibition Shoot
For decades, IBS hosts an exhibition shoot on the afternoon of a day when only one Aggregate is contested instead of two. It is called the Powderpuff and is intended to allow family members and others who do not shoot competitively to give benchrest shooting a try. Each shooter is assisted by a coach who instructs the shooter. World-class shooters such as Billy Stevens and Bob Scarbrough give their time and talents to assist the novice competitors. There is no time limit to rattle the inexperienced shooters.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
File Photo from previous Powderpuff Event at 2015 IBS Group Nationals

The competition is financially supported by the IBS President’s Fund. This year, at Holton in Michigan, we had four youth and 11 adult competitors. Chris Jeffers won the adult category with a nice .204″ group, while Jake Henderson put his five shots into a .244″ to win the youth division. Congratulations to all the Powderpuff competitors — we hope this inspires them to get more involved in Benchrest shooting.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
March 2nd, 2017

NBRSA Rule Change Inspires Radical New Front Bag Design

NBRSA New Front bag wrap around sandbag benchrest

The NBRSA has liberalized its rules regarding front sandbags. Until this year, NBRSA rules required that benchrest competitors be able to lift their rifle fore-ends freely from the front bag. Accordingly, front bags could not “capture” the forearm or hold the gun down (i.e. keep it from rising). In order to meet this requirement, “legal” bags had straight sides that didn’t stand too far up.

Now the NBRSA rules have changed. You no longer have to be able to lift the gun up freely from the bag without interference. It’s now permissible to have a bag that offers some up/down retention. Check out this new bag from Edgewood Shooting Bags. Call “The EDGE”, it offers taller side sections that can hold the fore-arm in place and counter torque.

NBRSA New Front bag wrap around sandbag benchrest

Edgewood’s designers state: “There are a couple of [NBRSA] rule changes for 2017. The change we found most intriguing was that the requirement of being able to lift your fore end freely from the front rest has been removed. So, we came up with a new design with super tall ears which will allow the innovators to push the envelope. Let’s see what you can do with these…”

We expect this new type of front bag will help stabilize short-range benchrest rifles, particularly in the 10.5-lb Sporter and Light Varmint classes. But we expect the biggest gains will be had with the big-caliber rifles used in Mid-Range and Long Range benchrest competition. In the 1000-yard game, heavy-recoiling 7mm and .30 caliber cartridges are popular with many shooters. These big guns generate considerable torque despite their ample weight. We predict these “super-sized” front bags will reduce both hop and rolling motion (torque) in the big guns.

We also expect that some varmint hunters will experiment with high-sided front bags that wrap around the fore-end. Such front bags may prove a real boon for guns with narrower, sporter-style fore-ends. And it would be interesting to see if this kind of tall-sided bag design will be incorporated into portable sandbags for the PRS game. We shall see…

Rule Change and Product Tip from EdLongrange. Product Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
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 »
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 »
August 2nd, 2013

Mike Stinnett Breaks ‘Unbreakable Record’ with .0077″ Group

.0077 World record benchrest groupOne of the most remarkable shooting records — and one that has stood for four decades — is the 0.009″ five-shot group credited to Mac McMillan. The NBRSA Light Varmint Record of .009″ for five shots (at 100 yards) was set on 9/23/1973, forty years ago. Experts have considered that record “untouchable”, “unassailable” — in other words “unbreakable.”

Well records are meant to be broken. It appears that Texan Mike Stinnett has broken the “unbreakable” .009″ NBRSA record. Mike shot a .0077″ five-shot group at 100 yards in a registered short-range benchrest match at Denton, Texas. This will be a new NBRSA record (and all-time world record) if approved. Mike was shooting a .30-caliber cartridge, listed as a 30 PPC, but there’s some talk that the cases were formed from a Lapua 6.5 Grendel case. No matter — this is a mind-blowing accomplishment, particularly considering that Stinnett was shooting a .30-caliber gun, which has considerably more recoil than a 22 PPC or 6 PPC.

Forum member Wes J. (aka “P1ZombieKiller”) reports: “My buddy Mike Stinnett was just confirmed as having beat the world record LV group at 100 yards in a registered match. His group measured .0077″ and he did it with his 30 caliber.”

Wes adds: “Mike shoots thousands of rounds a year… I have sat on the bench right next to him several times, and he has rattled off five shots down range in a matter of 2-3 seconds, and the groups have measured in the .1s. The guy can flat shoot. His wind reading abilities are mind-blowing. When he gets the right condition, he is fast. REALLY FAST.”

NOTE: We will publish photos of Mike Stinnett and his target as soon as they are available.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »