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











April 9th, 2013

U.S. F-Open Team Gets Ready for Upcoming Championships

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia

This August the U.S. National and World F-Class Championships will be held in Raton, New Mexico. The U.S. F-Class Open Team has been working hard to prepare for the Worlds in Raton. This will be the fourth F-Class World Championship and first time it is being held in the USA. Team Captain Shiraz Balolia and his team-mates hope to successfully defend “home turf” this summer. The F-Class World Championships will run August 23 to 27, 2013. Preceding the World Championships, the U.S. F-Class National Championships will be held from August 18 to 22, 2013.

Team Members and Selection Process
U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz BaloliaThe US F-Class Open Rifle Team consists of the top F-Open shooters in the United States. Some members were on previous teams, but Team Captain Shiraz Balolia explains: “Our try-out process was very stringent and above board, which removed the notion of an ‘old boys club’ and allowed a lot of new blood to try out for the team”.

The selection process was straightforward. Each participant had to have placed in the top 20 of a National Championship or in the top 3 of a regional championship to be able to try out. After that, they had to participate in at least three try-outs over a two-year period. There were about a dozen try-outs at various venues (Houston, Lodi, Raton, Phoenix, Sacramento) which allowed shooters from all over the country to participate. Shooting during all try-outs were conducted at 1000 yards.

The scoring system was based on “Vertical” Score where the goal of the shooter was to hold good vertical elevation with regards to the X-Ring. All try-outs were shot with coaches and the wind calls were the responsibility of the coach. The shooters were not penalized for wide shots if they were on the waterline. The targets had horizontal lines drawn on them and points were deducted for high and low shots.

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia

The targets were photographed and published for the try-out participants to view so everyone knew exactly where they stood. Shiraz notes: “This actually worked really well to raise the overall standard of the team as it increased competitiveness among the shooters”.

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Bilolia

From the initial group, the first cut was made to select the Development Team (DT). These DT shooters then continued further try-outs in 2012 with a similar process. The DT group was then culled to the final team members listed below.

Captain: Shiraz Balolia; Head Coach: Bob Mead; Other Coaches: Trudie Fay, Rick Hunt, Emil Praslick
Shooters (alpha sort)
1. Charles Ballard
2. Danny Biggs
3. David Gosnell
4. David Mann
5. Dean Morris
6. Don Nagel
7. Emil Kovan
8. Herb Edwards
9. Jim Murphy
10. John Dunbar
11. John Gaines
12. John Myers
13. Ken Dickerman
14. Kenny Adams
15. Larry Bartholome
16. Mark Walker
17. Rick Jensen
18. Robert Bock
19. Tony Robertson

F-Class Insights: Q&A with Team Captain Shiraz Balolia

We did a Q&A session with Shiraz Balolia, F-Open Team Captain. Shiraz offered candid answers to “hot topic” questions of interest to F-Class shooters. He also observed that his team is working very, very hard in preparation for the World Championships. After being beaten by the Brits in 2009, Shiraz says: “We have a score to settle….”

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia

Q: The F-Open Team has switched calibers. What was the thinking behind that move?

Shiraz: After we lost to the Brits in 2009, it became a foregone conclusion that we needed to shoot a 7mm cartridge. Charles Ballard and Jim Murphy were among the first guys in the USA to recognize the virtue of the 7 mm (.284) caliber. The choices we had within the .284 family were: straight .284 Win, .284 Shehane, 7 RSAUM, or 7 WSM variant. After much experimentation and thought we decided on the 7 RSAUM and 7 WSM family of casings which allowed us velocities of around 3000 FPS with a 180gr bullet. With the advent of new 180gr bullets from Berger and Sierra, we were able to get extremely flat-shooting groups (tight vertical) with the velocities that we needed.

Q: Foreign teams won the last two F-Class World Championships. How are you going to beat the Brits and South Africans in 2013?

Shiraz: In the previous World Championship (at Bisley in 2009), the Brits had a huge advantage. Almost all of their shooters lived within a few hours of the Bisley range. The coaches they used knew that range inside out and they were able to practice as a team many times on that range before the World Championships. Plus, they were ahead of us in terms of caliber selection and were shooting 7mm cartridges, as were the South Africans. By contrast, our team came from all over the USA and we had very little time together as a team. Things are different this time… yes, our shooters are still from all over the USA, but the amount of training we have done as a unit, a whole team, is much better than last time around. We have a lot of depth in our team. In other words, our worst shooter is not that far behind our best shooter. I do not believe that there has ever been a long range U.S. Team that has trained this hard and this many times as a unit. We are ready to take on the Brits or any other country!

U.S. F-Class Open Team Shiraz Balolia
Shiraz notes: “We did a lot of training on the range as well as in the ‘classroom’ setting with power point presentations. We had numerous sessions like these…. The behind-the-scenes work to deliver ‘same-day’ power-point results (just hours after the scores were shot) provides immediate feedback.”

Q: How Does Successful Team Shooting Differ from Individual Shooting?

Shiraz: In individual matches, you are responsible for making all the wind calls, corrections on the scope and paying attention to all conditions before taking a shot. Sometimes the condition can change between the time you review the flags and the mirage, make an adjustment and take a shot.

In a team setting, the shooter is responsible for making a really good shot. He/she must be a really good trigger puller who has good equipment, good ammo, and who can follow directions. The coach makes all the calls, he often makes adjustments on your scope and all the shooter has to do is make the shot when asked by the coach. Shooters who second-guess a coach or think they can read the wind better than the coach did not make the team!

Q: Will Team USA Enjoy a ‘Home Court Advantage’ at Raton, NM?

Shiraz: Other than Trudie Fay, one of our coaches, we do not have any team members from the Raton area. We are a very large nation, in size, and our shooters come from all four corners and everywhere in between. Raton is not exactly “home court”, but we have trained there as a team several times. The Brits and the South Africans are no slouches either. The Brits spent a whole week in Raton last year in August to get a feel for the range, the temperature, the wind etc.; the Brits also tested loads for their team members. The South Africans came to shoot against us in September last year at the Stars and Stripes match and also shot at the US F-Class Nationals. The competition is certainly stiff and we can not let our guard down or be over-confident.

Q. Are there special skills and capabilities needed to be a successful team shooter?

Shiraz: To be a really good team member, the shoooter must have all these qualities:

1. He must be able to think in terms of what is best for the team rather than himself.

2. He must have really good equipment. That means a really good barrel, a smooth, trouble-free action, good optics, trigger, rest, etc.

3. He must have superior reloading skills, and be capable of producing really good ammo with bullets that perform consistently shot after shot.

4. He must possess the ability to take direction and put himself at the disposal of the coaches. What we look for in a shooter is consistency over a long period of time, not just a flash in the pan.

The shooters we have on our team have passed all the tests we have put them through and what we have today is, without a doubt, the best United States F-Open Team ever put together.

Support Need for Team Expenses
The U.S. F-Class Open Team may be about $3000.00 short on funds. Any donation will help. Please endorse checks to “US F-Class Open Rifle Team” and mail to P.O. Box 3110, Bellingham, WA 98227.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
February 13th, 2013

Match-Winning Rifle: Shiraz Balolia’s .300 WSM F-Open Rig

After Shiraz Balolia (President of Grizzly Industrial) won the F-Open Division at the 2013 Berger Southwest Long Range Nationals, folks wanted to know more about Shiraz’s match-winning .300 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) rifle. That gun is a great piece of work, we can assure you. The Masterclass stock was extensively customized by Shiraz himself, who is a talented wood-worker (as well as a superb F-Class trigger-puller). CLICK PHOTO to see large “centerfold” shot of rifle.

Shiraz Balolia F-Class

Shiraz Balolia F-Class

The rifle features a BAT Machine ‘M’ action, with a 32″, 1:10″-twist Bartlein barrel. Metal work was done by Gordy Gritters. The scope is a March 10-60x52mm, which sits on a +20 MOA angled rail. The primary stockwork, including fitting of the adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate, was done by Alex Sitman of Masterclass Stocks. Shiraz customized the stock with finger grooves, fore-end channel, and a bottom rear slide. Shiraz did the final stock finishing as well.

Shiraz Balolia F-Class

Listen to Shiraz Balolia Talk about his F-Open Victory (Click PLAY to Launch Audio File)

[haiku url=”http://accurateshooter.net/Video/shirazmemo1.mp3″ title=”Shiraz Talks about F-Open”]


Q&A with Shiraz Balolia

Shiraz f-class
Q: Is the .300 WSM the “next big thing” in F-Open Competition?

Shiraz: The .300 WSM takes a bit to get used to. With more powder you have a bigger bang next to your head, plus you have to deal with the mule kick. My gun recoils so hard that it was coming to rest down on the neighbor’s target. I had to be careful about not cross-firing. Once you get these behind you it can be a very accurate caliber to shoot because of the great .30 cal bullet choices. There were about five .300 magnums in Phoenix, but only one in the top ten. You still have to read the wind!

Shiraz Balolia F-Class

Q: What’s your match load for the .300 WSM?

Shiraz: I use Norma brass with turned necks. At the Berger SW Nationals I used Berger 215gr Hybrids, Fed 215 LR magnum primers, and a stout load of Hodgdon H4831 SC. This drives the 215s at around 2910 FPS. If that sounds fast, remember I’m using a a 32″-long barrel.

Q: Can you tell us about your chamber and your fire-forming process?

Shiraz: On the .300” WSM [I run] a tight-neck .336” chamber for turned necks. Basically, I fire-form all my brass in a fire-form barrel and save the good barrels for matches. Gordy is so good that he can chamber different barrels to within .0002” in the headspace dimension. That way I can have several same-caliber barrels and can use the same brass for all those barrels. I use a .0005″ shoulder bump for my brass. I load the bullets so that the bearing surface sits above the doughnut ring.

Q: Do You Think Tuners Will Become Popular in F-Class?

Shiraz fclassShiraz: Tuners are a double-edged sword. In order to use them most efficiently you need to load test the barrel in many different conditions and record the results, fine tuning and turning the dials to find the best harmonic of that barrel in a given condition. When you encounter a similar condition at a match to what you tested previously, you would look up your notes and turn the dials so that it matches your tested condition. I am over-simplifying this, as it is quite complex and there are many articles about tuners. I do not see tuners catching on in F-Class as 99% of the users would not want to go through the aggravation.

Q: The stock looks highly customized. What special work did you do?

Shiraz: The stock is a Master Class F-Class stock that was highly modified by me. I channeled out the fore-end so the stock would ride on two “rails” on the front bag and not rock. I also added a wide 1.25″ base on the bottom of the stock that rides on the rear bag. There is a matching rear bag with a wide slot in it. The gun slides back and forth nicely and is very stable. I wanted finger grooves that fit my hand so I carefully filed those by hand with a round file, making sure to fit it many times during the process. Once all the modifications were complete I sanded and sprayed the stock with clear UV lacquer. My UV booth cures the spray in minutes. I usually assemble the gun the same day I spray it. As you know, I build guitars as a hobby as well.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 9 Comments »
February 11th, 2013

Match Results: Berger Southwest Long Range Nationals

Berger southwest long range nationals 2013

shiraz baloliaThe 2013 Berger Southwest Long Range Nationals (at Ben Avery in AZ) have wrapped up, and some divisional results have arrived. (Stay tuned for more complete results — as they are made available.) Congratulations to Grizzly Industrial President Shiraz Balolia, who won the F-Open Division.

The F-Open competition was very close right down to the end, and the conditions were unforgiving. Shiraz finished with a 1226-55X score, one point ahead of F-Open runner-up Freddy Haltom (1225-60X), who had high X-count among Open-classers. We’re told that Shiraz was using a “shoulder-busting” .300 Win Short Mag in Phoenix. We’ve been promised photos of Balolia’s winning rig as soon as Shiraz gets back from Arizona.

Berger southwest long range nationals 2013

Berger southwest long range nationals 2013

The Top 10 F-Open shooters are listed in the chart above. Note, the 9th and 10th best Aggregate Scores were shot by two “Masters”, who out-shot dozens of “High Masters” to make the Top 10 overall. Steven Blair, who placed 8th Overall in F-Open, told us: “When conditions and competitors are as tough as they were in Phoenix, the winners deserve our accolades. It was no accident or luck that they finished as they did.” Forum member Kelbro agreed: “Except for the practice days, this was a challenging week. Double congrats to the top dogs. They earned it.”

Berger southwest long range nationals 2013

In the F-TR division, John Hayhurst shot well throughout the Nationals to finish first with 1210-25X. Runner-up Lige Harris had 35 Xs, but ended six points down, finishing with 1204-35X. James Crofts, a past F-TR National Champion, finished third with 1203-24X. In F-TR Team Competition, the new Michigan F-TR team coached by Bryan Litz proved to be a powerhouse, securing an impressive team win. Shooters were: Al Barnhart (captain), Doug Boyer, Bill Litz (Bryan’s father), and Dale Sunderman. The second- and third-place teams were both USA F-TR Development squads. USA Team Blue grabbed second place, while USA Team Red took third. We’re told that USA Team blue set a new F-TR Palma record on Saturday. However, Team Michigan came back with a big win in Sunday’s 1000-yard team match, securing the Team Aggregate title.

In F-Open division, we’re told that Team UHaul finished first, with great shooting by Matt Davis, Herb Edwards, David Gosnell, and David Mann. Team Tex-Mex was second, with strong performances by Bryan Chatwell, Freddy Haltom, Ben Milam, and Cory Bizzel. Team Grizzly ended up third despite a cross-fire in one match. Team Grizzly is composed of F-Open winner Shiraz Bilolia, Emil Kovan, John Myers, and Tony Robertson.

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
September 19th, 2012

U.S. F-Class Team Wins Stars & Stripes Challenge Match

Congrats to the U.S.A. F-Class Team which triumphed in the 2012 Stars & Stripes Challenge Match held September 16 at Raton, New Mexico. The showcase event in the Stars & Stripes Match is a team competition with 8-man national teams. Team USA finished first with a 3443-107X combined score. In second place was the South Africa Protea Team with 3428-88X. Team Australia came in thirds with 3398-81X, and Team Canada scored 3364-63X to secure fourth place. In the photo below, Team USA members celebrate their victory. Shown (left to right) are: Charles Ballard, Larry Taite, Laura Perry, John Weil, Trudie Fay, Shiraz Balolia (Captain), Bob Mead, Rick Hunt, Jeff Rorer, Darrell Buell, Jim Murphy and Larry Bartholome.

U.S. F-Class Team Stars and Stripes

U.S. F-Class Team Stars and Stripes

U.S. F-Class Team Stars and Stripes U.S. F-Class Team Stars and Stripes

Along with the signature National Team Event, the Stars & Stripes event featured 4-person team matches for both F-Open and F-TR divisions. Winner of the F-Open 4-person event, with a 1757-65X score, was Team Long Shots, captained by Mark Walker and coached by Michelle Gallagher. Team shooters were: David Baily, David Gosnell, Ken Dickerman, and Mark Walker. Finishing first in the 4-person F-TR team event was Team Misfits, coached and captained by Lige Harris. Lige also shot on the team, along with Leslie Jones, Tom Jones, and John Kills. Team Misfits scored 1710-34X to secure a 16-point victory over F-TR runner-up U.S. Development Team #4.

CLICK HERE for Complete Stars & Stripes Challenge Match Results.

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
March 31st, 2012

U.S. F-Class Open Development Team Announced

After a series of try-outs, 28 shooters have been selected to the U.S. F-Class Open Development Team. From this select group of 28 shooters, F-Open Team USA squads will be filled for future international team matches. After further try-outs, the top 18 (16 + 2 alternates) will be selected for the final F-Open team that represents the United States in the next World F-Class Championship in 2013.

F-Class Open USA Development Team

The idea behind the Development Team is that having a larger group of qualified individuals to draw from makes it easier to field a strong team at any given time. Not everyone can travel at the same time — particularly to international matches. From the 28 current Development Team members, a final 18-shooter team will be chosen prior to the 2013 World Championships at Raton, New Mexico.

The U.S. F-Open Development Team — Officers, Coaches, Shooters

Captain: Shiraz Balolia
Vice Captain: Bryan Otey
Head Coach: Bob Mead
Coaches: Emil Praslick, Rick Hunt, Trudie Fay

Shooters
(sorted by first name)
Bob Bock (Senior)
Charles Ballard
Charles Clark
Danny Biggs
David Gosnell
David Mann
Dean Morris
Doc Bock
Don Nagel
Emil Kovan
Erik Cortina
Herb Edwards
Jim Fowler
Jim Murphy
John Brewer
John Dunbar
John Gaines
John Myers
Ken Dickerman
Kenny Adams
Larry Bartholome
Larry Taite
Mark Walker
Rick Jensen
Ron Herms
Ryan Pierce
Tony Robertson
Walter Lange

The Try-Out Process for the F-Class Open Development Team
The U.S. F-Class Open Rifle Team held nine try-outs throughout the country in six different cities over the course of the last two years. These shooters had to prove themselves multiple times shooting at 1000 yards. The shooters were tested on their ability to shoot under a coach and hold vertical. Each and every shooter had to meet minimum standards. The process was very transparent with all shooters being able to view other shooters’ scores and targets.

F-Class Open USA Development Team

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »