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June 20th, 2011

First-Ever Eastern Cooper One-Shot Competition in August

Cooper one-shot competitionCooper’s One-Shot Competition has grown into a nationally-recognized event and this year Cooper Firearms of Montana has added a second shoot to be held at the Capitol City Rifle and Pistol Club in Augusta, Maine. East Coasters can now find out why Cooper owners have returned year after year for the popular One-Shot Event in Montana.

The inaugural Eastern One-Shot Competition will be held August 19-20, 2011 in Augusta, Maine. The Rimfire event will be held on August 19 while the Centerfire competition will be August 20th. Centerfire prizes include money, paintings, and a Cooper rifle awarded to the top shooter. Note: Interested Cooper owners should register early, using the Entry Form. The event is limited to the first forty (40) registered applicants, and entry deadline is July 1, 2011. If you have questions about the event, contact Gary at babydogham[at] or 207-629-9163; or, contact Joe at Joe[at] or 406-777-0373.

Cooper one-shot competition

Cooper One-Shot Competition — How It Works

The Money Shoots
The day begins at 10 am with four and eight person group competitions for cash prizes. A separate, per shot, entry fee of $5 for the eight-shooter groups and $10 for the four-shooter groups is collected with a 100% pay out to each winner. This shoot is designed to allow the competitors to familiarize themselves with the range, zero their weapons and get to know one another before the afternoon’s painting shoot.

The Main Event
Shooters get one shot at a dot the size of a pencil eraser at 150 yards. No sighters. No spotting scopes to dope the wind while other shooters succeed or fail. The closest shooter wins the target to take home to put on his wall and a chance to compete for a new rifle. What makes this competition unique is that the target is on a painting. The names of eight shooters will be assigned to each painting and written around its rim along with a number. That number indicates the order that competitors will shoot. The target will be a ¼ inch dot on a paper paster target that measures about 2 inches in diameter. This target is then taped to the painting. One at a time, competitors will get a shot at their paster. After the shooting flight is finished, the paster’s will be recovered and new ones put in their place. Shooters will be evaluated by the bullet strike relative to this target, not the symbolic target added to the painting as a reference point. The bullet hitting closest to the paster’s center will win the painting. The top two shooters on each painting will be given a chance to compete for the grand prize, a M56 Jackson Game Rifle in .264 Winchester Magnum.

Entry fee is $165.00 for the centerfire One Shot Event. That fee covers lunch at the range and a steak & lobster dinner with an open bar at the after-shoot party. There will also be a Friday 22LR competition using IR 50/50 rules. The entry fee for the rimfire shoot is $50.00 with 100% payout and lunch is on us. CLICK HERE for 2011 Eastern One-Shot Entry Form.

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February 24th, 2011

Match Schedules Set by 1000-Yard Shooting Clubs

NC BR 1000 Yard Association

Both the North Carolina 1000-Yard Benchrest Shooters Assn. and the Montana NW 1000-Yard Benchrest Club have released their 2011 match schedules. You can access the schedules via the links below:

NC 1000-Yard BRSA Schedule

2011 Matches
Match | Date
1 & 2: 4-9-11
3 & 4: 4-30-11
5 & 6: 5-14-11
7 & 8: 6-4-11
Makeup: 7-16-11*
9 & 10: 9-10-11
Makeup: 10-8-11*

*Shot only if regularly scheduled matches are postponed due to inclement weather.

Montana NW 1000-Yard BR Club Schedule

2011 Match Dates
March 26-27
April 23-24
May 14-15
June 11-12
July 9-10.
August 12-14 Championship Shoot

Extra practice days are: March 13th, April 10th, March 26-27, April 23-24, May 14-15, June 11-12, July 9-10.

The 1000 Yard Range is available for practice on Mondays and Fridays, March 1st to August 31st, from 8:00 AM until Noon. We will have the range all day on Friday before each shoot.

NC BR 1000 Yard Association

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October 13th, 2010

NRA Class Records Broken at Missoula’s Deep Creek Range

Four NRA High Power National Records* were either tied or surpassed recently at the Deep Creek Range in Missoula, Montana. With some great weather — nearly ideal with only light breezes — the weekend of Sept 24-26 witnessed some great performances by top shooters. Attendance for the High Power and F-Class Long Range Regional was excellent with 43 competitors filling all available spots.

Missoula, MT High Power

NRA Records Broken or Tied
In the Palma rifle division, All-National Guard shooter SSG Allen Spiker tied the Palma course record. His score of 449-20X ties a six-year-old national record in the Service category. Allen also set a pending Long Range Regional Aggregate record in the Service category. Allen, using his Palma rifle, fired an impressive 1088-47X, topping the existing 10-year-old record by one point.

Two other records were also set this same weekend. In the F-Class (Target Rifle) division, SFC Bob Evans of the Montana Army National Guard, shot a 417-7X in the Palma course. This breaks the current F-TR National Record in the Service category by an impressive 18 points. Evans did this using a M-24 rifle with the standard issue 10X Leupold scope and M118LR ammo. Most other F-TR competitors had custom .308 Win rifles with high-magnification scopes and tailored hand-loads.

Missoula, MT High PowerJunior Sets Record in her First F-Class Match
F-Open shooter, Nicole Hagedorn, set the final National Record for the weekend. Nicole, a junior shooter firing in her first F-Class contest, shot a solid 431-5X in the Palma match. This score establishes a new National Record in the Junior category. Nicole, a college student studying X-ray Technology, revealed that one of her goals for the match was to out-shoot her father, which she did. Nicole’s father, Tim, revealed some surprising facts about his daughter’s record-setting rifle: “I was rebarreling my match rifle to 6.5-284, so I took my old barrel and a bunch of parts I had lying around the shop and used them to assemble a rifle for her. She had never fired the rifle before [she used it at the match on] Saturday, Sept. 25th! In fact, I had to replace the rail with a 20 MOA rail two days before the match. I sighted it in at 100 yards, and then shot it at 600 yards at a steel plate. The next shots fired were Nicole’s sighters at 800 yards.”

Missoula, MT High Power

The Deep Creek range is located in a scenic mountain valley 15 minutes from Missoula and typically provides great conditions for shooting. To learn more about High Power shooting at Deep Creek, contact Jamey Williams at jameydan[at] or visit

*All new Records listed here are “pending” and subject to NRA certification.

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August 22nd, 2010

Dashers Rule at NW 1000-Yard Championship in Montana

The Montana NW 1000-Yard Benchrest Club held its annual Championship at the Deep Creek Range near Missoula, Montana last weekend August 13-15. A record number of shooters attended. The winds were strong and shifty at times, and were “not typical Deep Creek conditions” according to Tom Mousel, the overall Two-Gun Winner. Despite the challenging conditions (some shooters had trouble staying on paper), competitors went home happy as match organizers gave out over $21,500.00 worth of prizes. All 56 shooters left with a prize, and many of the top competitors came home with a brand new Nightforce scope. Top shooters included: 2-Gun Champion – Tom Mousel (Kalispell, MT); Heavy Gun Winner – Ed Janikowsky (Kalispell, MT); 17 lb. Class Winner – Leo Anderson (Kalispell, MT); and 11 lb. Class Winner – Duane Capehart (Sula, MT).

Montana 1000-yard Championship

Montana 1000-yard Championship

Saturday Match Results & Equipment List (MS Word)| Sunday Match Results & Equipment List (MS Word)

Over the course of the weekend, despite the difficult winds, some great groups and scores were shot. Richard Schatz of Bismark, ND, nailed a 100 score/5.502″ group on Saturday, and Scott Nix of Whitefish, MT, shot a remarkable 100 score/4.556″ group on Sunday. Both men were shooting 6mm Dashers. Schatz got his 100 in a Heavy Gun Relay (though his rifle is not a true Heavy), while Nix shot his century score in 17-lb. Relay. Two-Gun Overall Champ Tom Mousel shot a 6mm Dasher in both 17-lb and Heavy Gun Classes. Tom’s match-winning and record-setting Dasher features a Stiller Viper Drop-port action, Krieger 8-twist barrel, Nightforce scope, and Shehane Tracker stock. Tom’s gun was smithed by Montana gunsmith John King (King Machine). Tom shoots Berger 105gr VLDs, pushed by a stout load of H4895, with CCI 400 primers. Tom has at least 12 firings on his Lapua cases, which he anneals every 3-4 firings with a Bench-Source annealing machine.

Tom Mousel 6mm Dasher Record

6mm Dashers Dominate 2010 Montana 1000-Yard Championship
Missoula’s Deep Creek Range is definitely “Dasher Country” and the diminutive 6mmBR Improved cartridge totally dominated the event. Consider this, four out of the top five places in the two-gun overall were shot with Dashers (Barry Bluhm was 5th overall with a 6-6.5×47). All of the top five places in Heavy Gun were Dashers, and in the 17-lb Class, again Dashers were first through fourth, with Bluhm’s 6-6.5×47 in fifth. After the match Barry told us: “You know, my 6-6.5×47 is shooting well, but I’m thinking of going to the Dasher when it’s time to re-barrel. I’m tired of getting beat by them.” The performance of the little cartridge is pretty remarkable, when you consider this entire match is shot at 1000 yards. Check out the equipment list for Saturday’s Heavy Gun Relays 1 & 2 (below). The fact that the “top guns” are running the little Dashers, even in an unlimited weight class, speaks volumes. While other larger cartridges offer superior ballistics at 1K, the Dasher is “inherently accurate”, and its low recoil allows the best shooters to fire ten rounds in well under 30 seconds. When you can nail ten shots all in the same condition, the Dasher is hard to beat.

Montana 1000-yard Championship

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July 16th, 2010

Mousel Breaks 1K Multi-Match Records At Missoula, Montana

Tom Mousel of Kalispell, Montana, has set two new multi-match Aggregate 1000-yard World Records. Shooting at the Deep Creek Range in Missoula, Montana, Mousel set a new 10-Match Light Gun World Record with a 5.8954″ Aggregate. That’s an average group under 6 inches for 10 matches! Mousel also set a new Light Gun 6-Match World Record with a 4.8813″ Aggregate. That 4.8813″ Agg bettered the existing 5.251″ Light Gun 6-Match Record Agg set by Mousel himself last season (2009). Congratulations to Tom for a lot of hard work and some real fine shooting! Tom set these Aggregate records over the course of the 2010 season of the Montana NW 1000-yard Benchrest Club, which is affiliated with the Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club (Williamsport).

Tom Mousel Dasher 1000 yard records

Tom’s record-breaking Light Gun is chambered as a 6mm Dasher (see photo above), which is an “improved” version of the 6mmBR Norma case. Tom uses a Stiller drop-port (bottom-eject) Viper action, set up in a Shehane laminated Tracker stock. Duane Capehart, who competes with Tom at the Deep Creek range, says that bottom-eject action helps Tom “shoot like a house on fire. Tom can get all ten shots off in under 25 seconds. He’s speedy, that’s for sure.” The barrel is a Krieger 1:8″ twist, 4 groove with about 1200 rounds through it so far. Tom has at least 12 firings on his Lapua cases, which he anneals every 3-4 firings with a Bench-Source annealing machine. He currently shoots Berger 105gr VLDs, pushed by a stout load of H4895, with CCI 400 primers. Over the course of the season he has chased the lands to maintain a seating depth about .003-.009 off the lands. Tom explains: “Seating depth is very critical with the VLDs. A few thousandths can make the difference between a fat ugly group, and something to brag about.”

Tom Mousel Dasher 1000 yard records

Noted stock-maker and past 1000-yard Shooter of the Year Bill Shehane observed: “If I am not mistaken, [Mousel’s 10-match Agg] is better than the existing Heavy Gun 10-shot Aggregate group records. I don’t think you or I will live long enough to see either of Tom’s records broken. Think about it — 10 matches over 10 different days in extremely different conditions. That’s 100 shots in under six inches. That’s remarkable for any gun — much less a Light Gun. A 6-match or 10-match Agg is never a fluke. This is an Aggregate record we may never see the likes of again. Tom’s a modest guy and someone needs to give him some credit. I’ve been at this game a long time and know the effort one has to make to accomplish something like this.”

Annual 1000-Yard Championship In August
Missoula Montana rangeIf you want to compete with Tom Mousel and the whole Deep Creek gang, head up to Missoula in August. The Montana NW 1000-yard Benchrest Club will host its 1000-yard Championship Shoot on August 13, 14 and 15. The Montana Club’s current rules allow IBS and NBRSA guns in the 17-lb and Heavy Gun Classes. In addition there is an 11-lb Sporter class. All guns shoot 10-shot groups at 1000 yards.

Entry fees are $30 per gun, per day. Camping is available at the Deep Creek range, and there will be a Catfish Fry on Friday and a Steak Dinner on Sunday after the last match. Tom says: “Come to Montana and shoot with us. We have over $16,000 worth of prizes this year.” For more info, or to request entry forms, contact Tom Mousel at 406-450-0917, or Pat Capehart at 406-821-3737.

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January 29th, 2009

Barney Lawton, Action-Builder and Barrel-Maker, Loses Fight with Cancer

The shooting world has lost a noted designer, machinist, barrel-maker, and record-setting shooter. We’re sad to announce that Barney Lawton passed away earlier this week, after a long battle with brain cancer. As Forum member Barry C. wrote to us: “We have lost a great friend and contributor to the shooting world. A fine man is no longer with us. Not only us shooters here in Montana but all over the country will miss Barney.”

Bobby Lawton, Barney’s son, announced on the 27th: “This greatly saddens me, I dont know exactly how I can put this so I will do my best. My father Barney Lawton’s battle with cancer ended tonight. He was born March 26, 1946. He will be greatly missed by all his friends and family. When he was a boy he enjoyed racing his fast cars and working on them when he could. Fast cars was one thing he loved. He was so fascinated with them he quickly became a expert at automotive machining. He was know well for his amazing engines.

One of his other loves in life was guns…. He built his first long range gun in 1987. He used the manual machines at his disposal (he made the action) in his automotive machine shop. This 30-378 Wby was the first long range gun i ever got to shoot and enjoyed it ever so much.

In the early 90’s my farther went on a few hunts out west in Wyoming. He quickly decided that the west was the place he wanted to be. In June 1991 we made our big move. He worked for a local automotive machine shop for a few years untill he decided to start up his own business….

I will tell you one thing it did not take this brilliant man long to figure out what made things things really tick. Some of my fondest memories I have of this guys was our great hunting trips and just down right throwing those projos down range. I hope I haven’t talked too much. I would like everyone to know that he was a great man. I could not have asked for a better father. Thanks for your time…. God Bless. Bobby.”

To read comments from Barney’s close friends and associates, and view some candid photos taken over the years, visit THIS THREAD on the Forum. If you wish to send condolences to the family, you can write to:

Sue Lawton
580 ½ N. Montana St.
Dillon, MT 59725

As a Shooter, Barney Was Among the Best
Barney was more than a master machinist and barrel-maker. Barney was a great long-range shooter as well. In 2007, Barney used a Lawton Action and Lawton barrel (chambered in 6-6.5×47) to set a spectacular 1000-yard Light Gun record. Lawton’s 10-shot group measured 5.185″. All ten shots were in the 10-Ring for a perfect 100 score. Shown below is Barney with his record target.

Barney Lawton World Record 1000 yards

Rest in Peace, Barney. You may be gone, but you’re not fogotten.

Lawton Machine Will Stay in Operation
The operations of Lawton Machine, LLC will continue, despite Barney’s passing. Lawton Machine will still build actions and craft barrels. Over the past few months, during Barney’s battle with cancer, Bud Williams and Bruce Baer have visited the shop in Dillon, Montana to assist and train employees. Bud has announced: “All necessary arrangements are in place, assuring the continuity of Barney’s legacy. Lawton Machine is looking forward, with your patronage, to providing quality equipment and service to the shooting community for many years to come.”

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December 14th, 2008

Varmint Hunters Association Offers Online Resources

Varmint Hunters AssnThe Varmint Hunters’ Assocation (VHA) publishes an excellent print publication, the Varmint Hunter magazine. In addition, the VHA offers a wealth of online resources. On the VHA Website,, you’ll find lots of useful features, including Event Calendar, online store, shooting and safety tips, and select reprints from Varmint Hunter magazine. Right now you can read a free feature article by Thomas Tabor on the 20 VarTarg cartridge in a Cooper model 21 Montana Varminter. If you’re a fan of small, efficient cartridges for varminting, this article is a “must-read”. Here are links to the 20 VarTarg story, and three other excellent articles from Varmint Hunter Magazine:

20 VarTarg in Cooper Montana Varminter

Precision Ballistic Charts–A Critical Aid To Long-Range Shooting

Trials And Tribulations Of Making The Long Shot

Stand And Deliver: 10 Tricks… To Be A Better Coyote Hunter

Files are Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. Copyrighted photos courtesy Varmint Hunters Association, All Rights Reserved.

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October 4th, 2008

Excellent Article on 20 Vartarg from Cooper Firearms

Cooper Firearms and the 20 VarTarg cartridge are featured in Varmint Hunter Magazine, a publication of the Varmint Hunters Association (VHA). Author Thomas Tabor recounts the fascinating history of Dan Cooper’s successful Montana-based company. Tabor then field-tests a Cooper Model 21 Montana Varminter chambered in 20 VarTarg.

CLICK HERE to Download Cooper Firearms 20 VarTarg Story (.PDF File)

20 Vartarg Cooper Firearms

The 20 VarTarg is based on the 221 Fireball case necked-down to 20 caliber. Invented in 1995 by Todd Kindler (of Small Caliber News), the VarTarg is an accurate and ultra-efficient cartridge. With just 18-19 grains of powder the VarTarg can drive a 32gr bullet at 3750 fps.

Tabor explains the simple procedure for forming 20 VarTarg cases and compares the VarTarg to other popular 20 caliber cartridges. He notes that “the popularity of the 20 VarTarg is growing dramatically, particularly with both varmint hunters and [small caliber] target shooters. While the .204 Ruger offers about 200 fps higher velocity, Tabor argues that: “the 20 VarTarg is a superior cartridge in some ways to the 204 Ruger… based on the fact that the VarTarg is considerably more efficient.”

20 Vartarg Cooper FirearmsTabor visited the varmint fields to give the 20 VarTarg Cooper a real-world test: “As was expected, the 20 VarTarg was an exceptional performer on ground squirrels. Out to 250 yards both the cartridge and rifle were deadly accurate.” Tabor was impressed by the little VarTarg. He found that the VarTarg rivaled the larger .204 Ruger, while being kinder to barrels since the VarTarg burns much less powder.

Overall, this article is a “must-read” for all Cooper Firearms fans. There are many interesting anecdotes about the early years of the company, and the author provides a wealth of useful info for anyone thinking about buying or building a 20-caliber varmint rifle.

Photos © 2008 VHA, All Rights Reserved

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August 16th, 2008

Cooper Firearms One-Shot Competition in Montana

Today, Cooper Firearms hosts its annual One-Shot Competition. Originally conceived as a fun promotional contest to help Cooper find its niche with the shooting public, the One-Shot Competition has grown into a nationally-recognized event. Rifles must have Cooper actions and stocks made by Cooper or a recognized Cooper Arms vendor. The premise is straightforward. Shooters get one (1) shot at a dot the size of a pencil eraser at 150 yards. No sighters. No spotting scopes. The closest shooter wins the target to take home to put on his wall and a chance to compete for a new rifle.

Cooper Firearms One-Shot

One Shot at a Dot on an Oil Painting
What makes this competition unique is that the targets are placed on a collection of oil paintings! Eight shooters are assigned to each painting. Their eight names, and corresponding numbers (1-8), are written around the edge of the canvas. The target is a 1/4″ dot on a paper paster target that measures about 2 inches in diameter. One at a time, competitors take a shot at their paster. Shooters are judged by the bullet strike relative to this 2″ paster, not the symbolic target added to the painting as a reference point. The bullet hitting closest to the target’s center will win the painting. The top two shooters on each painting get a chance to compete for the grand prize, a wood-stocked Cooper TRP-3 rimfire benchrest rifle.

Cooper Firearms One-Shot

The one-shot competition carries a hefty $150.00 entry fee, but there is a 100% payout of the entry fee to the winners of each group shoot. The one-shot competition officially begins today, August 16, at 9:30 am. After lunch (catered by Cooper), the painting shoots commence. The final competition for the TRP-3 will begin around 3:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m., Cooper’s all-you-can-eat and drink party (which is rightfully as famous as the competition itself) caps off the event.

Note: It’s too late to sign up for the 2008 event, but next year, if you own a Cooper, you might head up to Montana and join the Cooper folks for a one-of-a-kind competition.

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