May 29th, 2021

Six Tips for Success at Local Fun Matches

Varmint silhouette fun match

Summer’s almost here! Every summer weekend, there are hundreds of local club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bag
We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also have a piece of tape that I’ve placed on the golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop.”

2. Avoid Contact Interference
We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

varmint fun match groundhog

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One
This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a mechanical measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating
Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners
Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even with a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal shooting.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before
Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

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May 6th, 2020

Shooting USA — SHOT Show Product Reviews and More

Shot Show shoooting usa 2020 tv broadcast gear review

Turn on your TVs and break out the popcorn — it’s a big week on Shooting USA. A full hour of SHOT Show coverage runs tonight (5/6/20) at 9:00 pm ET. This episode provides a “first look” at the new guns, optics, and gear introduced for 2020. Shooting USA’s team looks at over 65 new products.

2020 SHOT Show Highlights: Colt Python, Hornady A-Tip bullets, Manners PRS Stock, Volquartsen Summit .17 WSM, Ruger-57 Pistol, Pinnacle Precision Rifle, HK SP5, Impact Sport Muffs, Laugo Arms Alien Pistol, Vortex 1-10X Scope, Glock 44 Pistol, Hornady Rapid Safe and more.

This SHOT Show 2020 episode airs on the Outdoor Channel Wednesday, May 6 at 9:00 pm ET and Thursday, May 7 at 3:00 pm ET. If you miss those broadcasts, you can watch this and ALL episodes of Shooting USA on Vimeo.com by subscription. The SHOT Show 2020 edition is just $0.99.

Great Shooting USA Episodes

For our Bulletin followers, here are two of our favorite full-length Shooting USA episodes, and well as two excellent instructional segments, one with past NRA High Power Champion SGT Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Texas Varmint Silhouette Match — 200 Meters to 750 Yards

We love shooting reactive targets. This Texas varmint silhouette match features multiple target shapes, 10 at each distance: Tiny Prairie Dogs at 200m, 3″x3″ Armadillos at 300m; 3″x5″ Coyotes at 385m; 5″x4″ Hogs at 500m; Chickens (on swingers) at 600 yards; and Pigs (on Swingers) at 750 yards. Competitors are allowed 10 rounds and 10 minutes to hit each set of targets.

EDITOR: We strongly recommend you take the time to watch this Shooting USA feature — it shows some top-flight benchrest rifles, and also covers the origins of benchrest varmint silhouette in Pennsylvania. There are even some AccurateShooter Forum members on screen. John Scoutten also does a nice job explaining the challenges of shooting this discipline with a PRS rig. We think any benchrest or tactical shooter will really enjoy this video.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

Travis Frazier of Field & Cave Outfitters says shooters love the reactive targets: “The most exciting thing is seeing your hits — these [targets] really go airborne”. Yep, that’s the best thing about Varmint Silhouette matches — hits deliver instant gratification. Travis designs and produces these steel targets.

Vintage Sniper Match and GAP Grind PRS Match

Historic Rifles are on the firing line! It’s the Vintage Sniper Match in Talladega for collectors competing with classic rifles and historically accurate optics from the two World Wars. A team from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit also takes the challenge with a reproduction 03A4.

vintage sniper rifle match

Plus, John Scoutten welcomes a new shooter to Precision Rifle (PRS) Competition. The two team up to take on 25 grueling stages at the Bushnell GAP Grind in Tennessee. With a special Pro/Am format, the GAP Grind is one of the most popular tactical matches in the country

GAP Grind

Reading the Wind — SGT Sherri Jo Gallager (USAMU)

This segment, created when Sherri Jo was shooting with the USAMU team, explains how to evaluate wind conditions and adjust your hold for long range.

Minute of Angle (MOA) Defined with Jim Scoutten

Minute of Angle (MOA) — what does it actually mean? And what do you get when a rifle manufacturer guarantees one-half MOA accuracy? Jim Scoutten answers these questions and explains MOA basics. One MOA is an angular measurement equivalent to 1.047″ at 100 yards.

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March 13th, 2019

Varmint Silhouette Competition in Texas — Video Feature

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

If you like accurate rifles and reactive targets, you’ll enjoy this 48-minute video from Shooting USA TV, which features long-range varmint silhouette competition in Texas, the Lone Star State. We have participated in these kind of matches on the West Coast — they are definitely a ton of fun. The sport combines the pure accuracy of benchrest competition with the fun of knocking down critter targets. These are smaller than standard silhouettes, so it’s quite a challenge to hit them at 300 yards and beyond.

In this episode, host John Scoutten competes with his 6.5 Creedmoor PRS rifle. He found that 1-MOA Coyotes offered plenty of challenge at 385 meters! Most shooters use benchrest-grade rifles with premium front rests.

Full 48-Minute Episode of Shooting USA featuring Texas Varmint Silhouette:

Steel Targets by Distance:
Mini Prairie Dogs — 200 Meters
3″x3″ Armadillos — 300 Meters
3″x5″ Coyotes — 385 Meters
5″x4″ Hogs — 500 Meters
Chickens (on Swingers) — 600 Yards
Pigs (on Swingers) — 750 Yards

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

EDITOR: We strongly recommend you take the time to watch this Shooting USA feature — it shows some top-flight benchrest rifles, and also covers the origins of benchrest varmint silhouette in Pennsylvania. There are even some AccurateShooter Forum members on screen. John Scoutten also does nice job explaining the challenges of shooting this discipline with a PRS rig. We think any benchrest or tactical shooter will really enjoy watching this video.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

Travis Frazier of Field & Cave Outfitters says shooters love the reactive targets: “The most exciting thing is seeing your hits — these [targets] really go airborne”. Yep, that’s the best thing about Varmint Silhouette matches — hits deliver instant gratification. Travis designs and produces these steel targets.

This Texas match features multiple target shapes, 10 at each distance: Tiny Prairie Dogs at 200m, 3″x3″ Armadillos at 300m; 3″x5″ Coyotes at 385m; 5″x4″ Hogs at 500m; Chickens (on swingers) at 600 yards; and Pigs (on Swingers) at 750 yards. Competitors are allowed 10 rounds and 10 minutes to hit each set of targets.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

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August 23rd, 2017

Shooting USA Spotlights Texas Benchrest Varmint Silhouette

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

If you like accurate rifles and reactive targets, you’ll enjoy this episode of Shooting USA TV, which features long-range varmint silhouette competition in Texas, the Lone Star State. We have participated in these kind of matches on the West Coast — they are definitely a ton of fun. The sport combines the pure accuracy of benchrest competition with the fun of knocking down critter targets. These are smaller than standard silhouettes, so it’s quite a challenge to hit them at 300 yards and beyond. In this episode, host John Scoutten competes with his 6.5 Creedmoor PRS rifle. He found that 1-MOA Coyotes offered plenty of challenge at 385 meters! Most shooters use benchrest-grade rifles with premium front rests.

EDITOR: We strongly recommend you take the time to watch this Shooting USA feature — it shows some top-flight benchrest rifles, and also covers the origins of benchrest varmint silhouette in Pennsylvania. There are even some AccurateShooter Forum members on screen. John Scoutten also does nice job explaining the challenges of shooting this discipline with a PRS rig. We think any benchrest or tactical shooter will really enjoy watching this video.

Full 48-Minute Episode of Shooting USA featuring TX Varmint Silhouette:

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

Travis Frazier of Field & Cave Outfitters says shooters love the reactive targets: “The most exciting thing is seeing your hits — these [targets] really go airborne”. Yep, that’s the best thing about Varmint Silhouette matches — hits deliver instant gratification. Travis designs and produces these steel targets.

This Texas match features multiple target shapes, 10 at each distance: Tiny Prairie Dogs at 200m, 3″x3″ Armadillos at 300m; 3″x5″ Coyotes at 385m; 5″x4″ Hogs at 500m; Chickens (on swingers) at 600 yards; and Pigs (on Swingers) at 750 yards. Competitors are allowed 10 rounds and 10 minutes to hit each set of targets.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

BONUS Features in this Shooting USA Episode

Rimfire Challenge World Championship
This episode also includes the Rimfire Challenge World Championship in Alabama (starting at 33:25). This event attracts hundreds of shooters who ring steel with .22 LR rifles and pistols. This may be the ultimate fun match for the whole family. Many of the top shooters are juniors, who can run the all-steel stages in three seconds. The 16 stages each have 5 to 8 steel targets that can be shot in any order, but the last round must go on the red-marked “Stop Plate”.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

History of the Gun: Remington 700
This week’s gun history segment of Shooting USA features the Remington 700, one of the most successful bolt-action rifles ever, with over 5 million produced. The Rem 700 has served hunters, military marksmen, and Rem 700 actions have been used for countless competition rifles.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten.

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May 3rd, 2012

Double Dose of Varmint Silhouette Action This Month at Pala, CA

About 24 miles east of Oceanside, California (near the Camp Pendleton Marine base) is the Pala Reservation. On that Native American land you’ll find a Casino Resort, plus an excellent shooting range. Each month, shooters come to Pala for the Varmint Silhouette Match hosted by the North County Shootist Association. Normally there is one match, held on the first Sunday of even month. But in May, you can “double your fun” because there will be TWO (2) matches. The first will be held this Sunday, May 6th, 2012. The second match takes place on Sunday, May 20th. On both match days, gates open at 7:30 am with practice from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. On Friday, May 4th, the range will be open for practice 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, while on Friday, May 18th, the range opens at 10:30 am.

Pala Varmint Silhouette

Course of Fire: Five Yardages, 50 Critters
At five different yardages, ten steel “critter” targets are set as follows: 200 Meters – Field Mice (“pikas”); 300 meters – Crows; 385 meters – Ground Squirrels; 500 meters – Jack Rabbits; 600 yards – Prairie Dogs. The folks at Pala run a tight ship, cycling multiple relays efficiently, so everybody gets to shoot 50 targets (10 each at five different yardages), and the show is usually completed by 1:00 pm. There’s a one-hour sight-in period starting at 8:00 am, and the match starts at 9:00 am sharp. Newcomers should definitely arrive no later than 7:45 am, because you may need that full sight-in period to acquire solid zeros at all five yardages. CLICK HERE for full match INFO.

pala range san diego varmint

What to bring to Pala
ammo 6mm GrendelYou’ll need an accurate rifle, plus at least 80 rounds of ammo (bring 100 rounds if you have no idea about your come-ups at these distances). You can shoot either rested prone (F-Class style), from bipod, or from a portable bench with front pedestal and rear bag. Most guys shoot from benches. Any rifle 6.5 caliber or under is allowed, with no weight restrictions. Any good varmint rifle can be competitive. Muzzle brakes are permitted. Spotter assistants are allowed, so bring a friend along — he/she can shoot in a different relay. Bring cleaning gear if your rifle can’t run 80+ rounds without losing accuracy. Pastry snacks are often provided, but bring water, a sandwich and your preferred non-alcoholic beverage. You’ll spend some time in the sun helping to set targets, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Fun Weekend for the Whole Family
Pala California Shooting RangeThere is a deluxe Indian Casino/Spa a half-mile from the range. So don’t hesitate to bring the wife. If she’s not a shooter, she can enjoy a fancy brunch or spa treatment while you’re having fun mowing down metal critters. Pala is a 30 minutes from the Pacific Ocean and beautiful beaches, so you can make this a weekend holiday for the whole family — kids love sand and surf.

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