Friday, July 6, 2012

Always a bridesmaid...

I have shot a few matches since the April 28th match at PASA. I have been steadily maintaining the position of second place.

The May 3rd Club match at St. Louis was the closest of them. I was in the pits scoring when Don Rabun was firing his final shots. His target puller was trying to keep track of the 9’s as he pulled. I knew it was going to be close. I haven’t had to do a shoot off yet, but that was about as close as it could come. I lost by a single X. That one was a heartbreaker.

On May 20th, I headed back to PASA to see if I could put up a better score than the previous match. I had trouble in April because of the gravel firing point. This time I took a piece of wood to put under my bipod and used my Edgewood dead-bottom under my rear bag; it worked much better. Steve Siracusa shot the F-T/R range record at the previous match and was ready to give it another go. When the shooting was complete, his score of 791-30X beat the previous record and my personal best of 787-38X. We were both excited to post High Master scores.

The June 7th Club match at St. Louis was another close one. Winds were light, but there were a couple of reverses that caught me off guard. Steve shot through the conditions and beat me by one point. Don was just ahead of me by a couple of X’s. The competition was tough.

It’s been a month since my last match, an unusual lull in the middle of the packed shooting season. I have four F-Class matches in July. Three more matches plus the National Matches at Camp Perry round out August. You can bet I will be out there trying to find a way to get a couple more points and end up at the top. It's still a blast and I’m having fun the whole time. I hope to see you on the firing line.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rimfire F-Class practice match

Often I am asked what I do to practice for F-Class. Unfortunately, I don’t live near a 600 yard or 1000 yard range. I am limited to a 250 yard range. At 250 yards, a 308 isn’t affected by the wind very much. I can shoot groups to work on my technique, but I usually only shoot groups when I’m working up a load. I am much more interested in learning to read the wind. Shooting a rimfire at 100-200 yards is a good cheap way to keep your wind reading skills sharp. I enjoy friendly competition much more than practicing alone, so that is how our rimfire palma match began.

We have 3 different classes. The F-T/R class is limited to 22LR with a scope, bipod and rear bag. F-Open is open to 22 mag, 17 HMR and 17 HM2 with choice of bipod or front rest and rear support. Palma Class requires the use of 22LR, open sights and sling for support.

F-T/R and F-Open shooters use targets with ½ MOA X-ring (TQ-3/2 @100 & TQ-4 @200). Palma shooters shoot a 1 MOA X-ring (TQ-4 @100 & A-21C @200).

We start the match with unlimited sighters, then shoot 15 shots for score at each target. It is usually possible to shoot a match with less than a box of 50. Since the days have been getting longer, we have plenty of time to get 2 matches in before heading home.

This match has become a fun and cheap way to get some trigger time. I recommend getting together with friends and putting some rounds downrange. This would also be a great way to get new shooters into the shooting sports.

The practice match is enjoyed by High Power, F-Class and Tactical shooters.

High Power shooters kept warm in their shooting jackets.

My Anschutz 64 MP-R works great as a trainer for my F-Class rifle.

 You can see the difference in sizes between the palma and F targets. We shot two matches at 100 yards.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

4-28-12 PASA Park Mid Range match

The weather forecast at Barry looked like it was going to make for an extremely tough day of shooting. It was calling for a Southeast wind at 15 mph switching to the North during the match. I was planning for a wind lesson, but I ended up with a lesson of another type. Barry has gravel firing points, which can cause issues if you aren’t prepared. Last year when I shot at Barry, I was using a HDPE plastic sheet underneath my Sinclair bipod. This sat on top of the gravel and worked excellent. It was the non-height adjustable version, and I used the angled toe of the stock to adjust for my vertical holds. This year I am using a piece of a bathroom mat under a Centershot bipod. The toe on my Stockade stock is straight, so I use the bipod to adjust vertical holds. This works like a charm on solid ground; it didn’t work so well on gravel.

I got through my first match without having any serious issues. My rear bag wouldn’t firmly set on the gravel without sliding, so I held it in place with my left hand. The wind was surprisingly calm and good scores were posted. I shot a 196-5X and Steve shot a 199-9X. He was off to a great start and we were both hoping that the wind wouldn’t pick up.

I started to have some serious issues with my bipod settling into the gravel in my second match. The bipod sank deeper into the gravel with each shot until the height was maxed out. I was doing my best to hold the rear bag still as it slid around. I became frustrated with the setup and rushed through the second match. I shot a 189-5X. Steve adapted to the gravel situation and was doing great. He had phonebooks stacked under his bipod and his rear bag was on his mat. He shot a 198-10X and had a substantial lead. After seeing my score, Steve offered to let me use a couple of small boards that he had with him. I was extremely grateful because I wasn’t looking forward to shooting two more matches with my unstable setup.

The wind picked up for our third match, but I was shooting off a much better setup. I lost a few points to the wind. I shot a 192-3X to Steve’s 196-6X. He was shooting lights out. He is using the 185 Berger Hybrids. With his accurate rifle and wind reading skills, Steve is hard to beat. His lead wasn’t going anywhere. In our final match, Steve added a few more points with a 195-7X to my 193-3X. After watching our targets come up at the same time, I am a believer that the 180’s will shoot inside a 155 in windy conditions.

Steve shot absolutely amazing and took the win. His score of 788-32X could very well be the highest F-T/R score recorded at PASA Park.

D Jones MR 198-9X 198-7X 196-7X 198-9X 790-32X
K Cramberg SR 192-8X 193-5X 187-6X 188-5X 760-24X
K Dobbs SR 193-4X 173-3X 194-7X 194-7X 754-18X
B Reed SR 190-6X 187-5X 179-4X 187-5X 743-20X
M Spence SR 174-3X 171-1X 179-4X 187-5X 711-13X
J Couch SR 179-3X 179-2X 172-1X 171-0X 701-6X
S Siracusa F 199-9X 198-10X 196-6X 195-7X 788-32X
R Cokerham F 196-5X 189-5X 192-3X 193-3X 770-16X
J Forbis F 182-4X 189-4X 198-7X 192-5X 761-20X
G Miller F 181-2X 187-3X 178-3X 187-3X 733-11X
M Hauptman F 167-1X 173-0X 172-1X 171-0X 683-2X
R Short F 121-0X 117-0X 94-0X 103-0X 435-0X

 Steve's high tech setup consisted of two phone books and a bathroom mat. It worked perfect.

I fought the gravel and lost.

We had about 10 minutes of rain when we were in the pits. There was a nasty storm that barely missed us.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Missouri F-Class State Championship

The Missouri F-Class State Championship started off with a chill in the air. It was in the mid 40’s when the match began. It had been in the 70’s just a couple of days earlier, so there were a few shivering shooters on the line. The wind was a steady 4-5 mph for the first two relays, but that changed fairly quickly. In the 3rd relay, a very switchy 10mph wind caused several shooters to have problems with vertical as well as the typical horizontal. There were several scores in the 180s from seasoned shooters. The wind seemed to pick up and let off as the relays were run. Everyone had a couple of cake relays as well as a very difficult one. I had a good start with a 196-6X. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because this was my first attempt at 600 yards with the new Berger 155 hybrid bullets. It turned out that vertical adjustment at 600 was within ½ moa of the Sierra 155 palma. This was a great boost of confidence since I was uncertain if I was going to be wasting my sighters trying to get on target.

When I returned from the pits, I found out that I was in the lead by 1 point. Sierra Scott was 1 behind me and Don Rabun was trailing by 2. I knew that I would have to shoot my best if I was going to maintain the lead. This match was the first time that I was able to take advantage of my spotting scope. The sun came out and the mirage was heavy enough to get a good reading. I adjusted the focus to 300 yards and watched as the mirage switched back and forth and went into a boil. I took my time and made sure each shot broke clean, as the conditions were favorable. I ended up with a 197-6X. It felt great to finally use some patience and come up with a good score. This added a couple of points to my lead.

In the next relay, I decided to try the same strategy. I set up a timer to make sure that I used the time available. Right before the firing started, the sun went behind the clouds and it dropped a few degrees. The mirage disappeared. I was going to have to do something different. I still planned to take my time. I started with a couple of 9's and knew that I would be in for a long relay. After about the 10th shot, I finally settled in and started shooting consistent 10's. I caught a condition and fired 3 X’s in a row. When I loaded the next round, it required firm pressure to close the bolt. I held in the same spot and pulled the trigger. The target was down for longer than usual and it came up with an 8 vertically centered, but wide left. Huh? I thought about it for a couple of seconds and used the spotting scope to look at the targets around me. I didn’t see any other shots to the left, so I chambered another round and aimed center X. I hit right where I was aiming. I shot one more X before getting a couple of 10’s and finishing with a 9. I have thought about what might have happened to cause my X, X, X, 8, X, X and decided that when I closed the bolt, the pressure caused the rear bag to turn slightly left. This made the rifle recoil to the left and throw the shot. It was a tough relay. I ended up with a 193-7X. Several of us were picking up our equipment and we were talking about what our scores were on the relay. Sierra said that she had also shot a 193, but “at least I didn’t shoot an 8.” We all had a laugh. There were a few low scores for that relay, so I was still barely in the lead. The wind pretty much stayed the same for the rest of the day, but the sun came back out and the mirage picked up. It was pretty much a boil as we lined up for the last match. I was able to take my time and read the mirage. I finished with a 196- 3X. I ran to the pits to score two more relays. When the shooting was all finished, we put away the targets and gathered around for the awards presentation. I was able to hold on to the lead to win the F-T/R title.

As always, the facilities at the St. Louis Benchrest Club were in pristine shape and everything ran smoothly. The range officer kept everyone in line and things running promptly. With 60 shooters and 4 relays, this isn’t an easy task.

These are the results from the match:

Missouri F-Class State Championship 4-21-12
Match 1 Match 2 Match 3 Match 4 Aggregate
FO Brian Suhr 197-7 195-6 200-11 199-3 791-37 F-Open Winner
FO Brad Plant 199-9 194-10 194-8 196-8 783-35 F-Open 2nd
FT Ryan Cokerham 196-6 197-6 193-7 196-3 782-22 F-T/R Winner
FO Mike Jakubczak 191-4 200-8 191-9 199-10 781-31 F-Open 3rd
FT Kenneth Schilling 194-7 192-2 192-5 197-10 775-24 F-T/R 2nd
FT Sierra Scott 195-5 195-4 191-5 193-5 774-19 Top Woman/ F-T/R 3rd
FO Sam Jakubczak 194-3 194-8 190-3 196-4 774-18 Top Junior
FT Don Rabun 194-6 189-4 197-9 192-4 772-23 F-T/R Senior
FT Steve Siracusa 194-6 190-2 193-4 193-6 770-18
FT  Paul Siracusa 191-4 190-3 194-7 193-7 768-21
FO John Perkins 196-7 196-7 186-1 190-3 768-18 F-Open Senior
FO Adam Bell 190-3 188-1 192-4 194-6 764-14
FT Brett Stark 191-3 190-6 192-2 190-0 763-11
FT Paul Scott 191-4 189-0 190-4 192-8 762-16
FT Scott McRee 191-3 189-1 192-8 187-5 759-17
FO Lenny Bagden 198-5 186-0 186-1 180-1 750-7
FT Dwight Kraai 182-5 190-3 189-4 187-4 748-16
FT Don Martin 179-0 191-3 188-2 190-1 748-6
FT Steven Finnell 191-6 181-5 171-0 187-4 730-15
FT Corey Siebert 180-2 181-1 194-2 174-1 729-6
FT John Ross 167-0 191-4 184-0 186-3 728-7
FT Chet Boisen 179-2 186-2 168-0 187-7 720-11
FT Jason Miller 184-3 174-0 181-2 179-2 718-7
FT Daniel Muller 180-2 178-3 179-1 176-3 713-9
FO Steve Ward 176-2 174-0 179-2 183-1 712-5
FT Kathleen Burdett-Mcree 173-1 184-2 163-0 177-1 697-4
FT Brett Mitchell 184-2 179-3 172-1 158-0 693-6
FT Bobbie Mitchell 171-0 162-1 182-2 165-3 680-6
FO Brett VanDyke 188-5 186-1 182-0 0-0 556-6

From left to right: Ryan Cokerham, Sierra Scott, Kenneth Schilling, John Perkins, Brian Suhr, Brad Plant, Don Rabun, Sam Jakubczak  

Brian Suhr won F-Open with a score of 791-37X. He was awarded a concentricity gauge generously donated by John Perkins at 21st Century Shooting for top score. This was a outstanding score for the conditions.

I won F-T/R and high state resident with a score of 782-22X. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Omega powder trickler


This is a short video that I made to show the usefulness of one of my favorite new reloading tools. The Omega powder trickler speeds up what is normally a very tedious process. There are two speeds. One is very fast and the other is slow enough to dispense one kernel at a time.

The scale shown is the Acculab Vic-123. It measures to 2 hundredths of a grain and is very easy to use. In the video, you can see that my powder tray weighs 142.88 grains and the target powder charge is 46 grains. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

F-Class ammo holder

This is a small project that I was able to put together from materials that I already had. I’m not planning to sell or patent these. Feel free to use this idea as you wish.


April 5th Club Match

The first match of the year is always a test of your nerves. You wonder if you can still shoot. Does the gun still shoot? What am I forgetting? It’s easy for uncertainty to creep into the back of your mind and affect your shooting. I am not immune to this problem. I had trouble getting everything ready the night before the match. I ran to the range after work to make sure everything was good to go. I shot enough rounds to be comfortable with my rifle, but I was still thinking about the match.

It was in the high 40s as we drove to St. Louis. I was glad that I brought a light jacket as well as my rain gear. I layered the two and got my rifle ready to sight in. This informal match has a period where everyone is allowed to shoot a few times at the steel plates to check zeros. It was a good boost of confidence for everyone. I think I saw a few rifles on the line that actually had dust on them. After the sight in period, I made my way up and down the line to say hello to familiar faces and introduce myself to the new shooters. There were several folks that seemed to have forgot how Missouri weather will switch at any minute. It was calm and 50 degrees when we flipped the coin to determine which relay would shoot first. It had been 80 degrees two days earlier.

My relay loaded up on the trailer and we headed to the pits. It is a 600 yard trip that I wouldn’t mind starting every morning with. We set up the targets and called to the line to let them know we were ready. I heard one of the new shooters say, “That’s funny, the wind just picked up.” Without skipping a beat, one of the regulars said, “Happens every time.”

When the shooting started, it was clear that a few of the gentlemen on the line had been practicing. There was a clean 150, a 149 and a couple of 148’s. When it was our turn to get started, I made sure to dry fire several times before firing my first sighter. It was a high 9. I was on paper and feeling great. I came down 1 moa and fired my next sighter. I caught a gust of wind and it was an 8 to the left. I had a taste of what was to come. I waited a couple of minutes to get started as I studied the wind flags. When my first string was finished, I had shot a 143. It was pretty discouraging because my last four shots were 9s. The wind flags were speaking to me in a language that I didn’t understand. I saw from the shrugs of the other shooters that I wasn’t alone in my frustration. Everyone was looking the same except Don Rabun. Don is an excellent shooter that I have shot with a few times. He usually shoots F-Open and wins, so I was surprised when he told me that he was shooting F-T/R. He had purchased an extremely nice rifle from Charles Ballard and decided to try his luck with a 308 and bipod. His luck, actually skill, had paid off. Don is an excellent wind reader. He shot a very respectable 147 and was in the lead.

The wind continued to pick up after our first string. There wasn’t going to be another 150 for the Bench shooters. When we got back the line, the wind let up a little. I went in to the second string knowing that Don had a 4 point lead and I would have to shoot my very best to make up the spread. I started off strong and felt good until the middle where I had two 9s followed by an 8. I took a short break to figure out what happened, then finished out with X, X, X, 10, X, X. I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to beat Don, but it felt great to finish strong on a day in tough conditions. I had shot a 144 and Don finished with a 145. He earned the win.

Rich Griffin followed his 150 with a 146 to win Bench Open. Bob Christensen took top honors in Bench F-T/R with a 288.  Mike Jakubczak finished first and last in F-Open with a 294. Don Rabun took top honors in F-T/R with a 292. 

Left to right: Bob Christensen, Rich Griffin, Don Rabun, Mike Jakubczak

April 5th 2012
Shooter Class Caliber Score X-Count
Bob Christensen Bench F-T/R 308 288 6
Keith Lichay Bench F-T/R 308 272 2
Rick Hargett Bench F-T/R 223 265 1
Leon Domijan Bench F-T/R 308 262 1
Rich Griffin Bench Open 6mm 296 14
Neil Greenwell Bench Open 6BRX 295 12
Lenny Bagdon Bench Open 6BRX 293 12
Mark Walker Bench Open 6mm 291 8
John Ross Bench Open 6 Dasher 290 11
Jerry Kloeppel Bench Open 6 Dasher 288 5
Jerry Byrd Bench Open 6.5 x 47 287 6
Brett Mitchell Bench Open 308 286 4
Butch Harley Bench Open 6.5 Creedmoor 283 3
Sal Vanlenti Bench Open 6 BR 279 5
Robert Freund Bench Open 6WSM 276 3
John Bobbitt Bench Open 308 266 4
Steve Freund Bench Open 22 BR 263 7
Don Rabun F-T/R 308 292 10
Ryan Cokerham F-T/R 308 287 9
Paul Siracusa F-T/R 308 283 6
Dave Jones F-T/R 308 282 6
Don Martin F-T/R 308 281 3
Steve Siracusa F-T/R 308 281 1
Corey Siebert F-T/R 308 279 7
Bobbie Mitchell F-T/R 308 277 4
Aaron Madrid F-T/R 308 277 2
Nick Mertz F-T/R 223 273 5
Mike Jakubczak F-Open 6XC 294 13