Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shooting the Extreme Benchrest Speed Shoot

The speed shoot is the atypical armadillo among the three signature shoots at Extreme Benchrest. There are no scoring rings and no X count. Your score is the time it takes to knock down 16 metallic silhouette targets set out from 30 to 60 yards. Fastest gun wins.

One chicken in the air and one to go,

This is not conventional metallic silhouette. The targets are about 40% closer, you get to sit at a bench and time is not a limit it is a gole. They turn the clock off after three minutes, but that is just a time management tool because the winners are decided at the other end of the time spectrum.  The speed shoot is a great hit at ERB, it is also a hit at our airgun club in Idaho, and it could be a hit at yours too.

At EBR the speed shoot is shot over two days. On Saturday each competitor is given thee runs to shoot a time that will qualify for the finals on Sunday. Put another way you get two chances to get into the swing of things and one to qualify. The fastest ten times in Sportsman and Pro Classes shoot together for top score and first place prizes in pro and sportsman class.   

How this works is easier to tell. I shot a .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder with a Wicked Airrifles single shot tray and a 6-20X Simmons set on 12X. Rules say that you can only use a front rest, and your rifle and magazines, if you use them, must be unloaded prior to the start.

I planned to shoot the rams (60 yards) first and work my way to the chickens (30). My rifle shoots better at the beginning of the fill and tapers off on the far side on the bell curve. If it was windy I would shoot the pigs (40) first in order to gage the wind then work out to the rams. The wind didn’t seem too strong but I watched my pellet drift down wind to impact uselessly in the gravel down range.  I held the next shot an inch off the ram’s upwind nose and it missed too! I think that shot may have drifted as much as 9 inches. I switched to turkeys (50).”It can’t be blowing that much,” I told my self. It was. and after a few more shots I was on track, just off the upwind edge, but hopelessly behind the clock. My last pig fell and the clock ran out at three minutes. Looking down range there were 4 standing chickens all giving me the bird.

My third run I beat the clock my one second, I had shot a 2:59 albiit with a few misses. My strategy to shoot the chickens last worked as I mowed them down with 4 shots. This is a personal best that left me a happy airgunner.

What kind of airrifle do you need for the speed shoot. I think that the most important requirement is the ability to be loaded quickly. Last year I used my Air Arms S-400 and it has a longer loading port then the Marauder I used this year. With a single shot tray, the Marauder was OK but I would have liked a longer opening. Similarly the larger .25 pellets are easier for me to handle.

Power is not a problem since the targets are set on cement that is both level and smooth.  Shooting the speed shoot at the Idaho Airgun Field Target club shoots showed us that .177s from 17 to 20 foot pounds of energy will topple a ram at 60 yards.

Shane Keller won the speed shoot with a time of 1:07. That guy has fast hands! You can see video of him shooting on the Airgun Gear Show. He looks like he is cruising through  the course of fire. Try this yourself and you will see what an achievement Shane’s time is.
The only requirements to put on your own speed shoot are a set of ⅕ scale silhouettes. These are the kind used in NRA .22 rifle silhouette matches. The other requirement is a timer of some sort. With two sets of targets you could match shooter against shooter in a double elimination, and not have to deal with timers. The winner of each bout is the first one to knock’m all down.

The speed shoot was new to me in 2013, I hope it stays around for a long time to come.

Photos by Arimo Dave

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Extreme 25 meter benchrest

Now that Dave and I are back in Pocatello, and that the scores, as well as rifles used,are up on the Extreme Benchrest site, It is time to tell about each of the events at EBR and what made each one special.

25 Meter Targets
The 25 meter benchrest is the touchstone of airgun benchrest. It is neither the shortest nor furthest distance, but it is one at which many rifles are competitive. The kind of rifle that most shooters would buy. Not that exclusively rare and phenomenally expensive Pangaea SOB (Super, Over the course Blaster), but hunting air rifles, you know, the ones with wooden stocks and traditional barrel over cylinder design.

I have held benchrest shooting at arms length considering it to be an equipment game until I shot a 25 meter match at Grants Pass Oregon where I was able to dope the wind and squeeze a little more accuracy out of my S-400 by adding my skill to my rifle’s consistency. 

25 Meter is ERB’s  linc with benchrest competition. It really helps that one of the most active airgun benchrest clubs is in Phoenix. Those folks from the Phoenix Airgun Benchrest and Silhouette Club bring a lot to the table. First they know how to shoot and how to run a match. Most interesting, they use a computer scanner to score the targets. For me scoring is harder than shooting; it is definitely more stressful. God forbid that a first time competitor winds up  scoring the winning target with the potential winner, the club hot shot, and the club statistician all looking over his shoulder.  They use the Orion Scoring System,  http://www.orionresults.com/phoenixairgun . The targets are fed into a scanner and the software delivers a print out with every shot as well as some interesting statistics including group area and group roundness. There is a graphic showing all the hits on each 25 shot target superposed over the scoring rings as well as a graphic of the targets showing every bullseye.

It also enforces the rules.  I fired two shots into one bull, and the software identified my error gave me the lower of the two shots, and assessed me one penalty point. It even cited the rule for extra 

A Rapid Air Weapons BM-500, This one is in Venezuelan colors.

25 meters isn’t easy, but it is also accessible. If you or your club hasn't tried it you should.


Monday, November 17, 2014

McMurry wins 75 yard 2014 Extreme Benchrest

Tim McMurry won the 75 yard Extreme Benchrest with a score in the 239-8X.

Tim McMurry, right, winner of 75 yard pro benchrest. Arimo Dave, left, shared his rifle with me in the 25 meter event

Tim shot a custom USFT with a .30 caliber barrel outshooting a host of Daystates, FXs and Rapid Air Weapons rifles many of them in .30 caliber. The USFT is sold by Mac 1 Airguns and was designed by Larry Durham. It was first used for field target, but over time has made its mark in benchrest.  Tim’s USFT was modified to take a .750 inch barrel, and a large, regulated Ninja HPA tank. There were weights on the hammer to open the valve for a blast of air sufficient to launch a .30 pellet down range. Tim called the gun “the beast”, and from two benches away, I heard its distinctive bellow loud and clear.

You will be able to get all the scores and gun information from the Extreme Benchrest page at the Airguns Of Arizona web site. It may take a couple of days to all the information posted. Give the folks from AOA a brake, they put in a lot of time to make this tournament work, and they will need to chill out for a bit. 

Tim's USFT Lone Ranger .30 here being fired by Bobby Corcran Yes, that is Tim's pink rest.

Arimo Dave and I traded guns on both the 25 meter and 75 yard benchrest. Dave’s custom, ,177 Marauder is great for the 25 meter event, and my ,25 is better for bucking the wind out to 75 yards.  We were on separate relays for each event so it worked out. Out scores also worked out in a very interesting way.

At 75 yards, Dave shot a 197 and I shot a 191 1X. He was shooting my .25 Marauder.

In the 25 meter Benchrest, I shot a 672-4X, and Dave shot a 658-7. I was shooting Dave’s ,177 Marauder.

So, he beat me with my rifle, but I beat him with his rifle.

The top Marauder score was 227-4X shot with a .30 custom with a carbon fiber sleeved barrel. This shooter shot second place in Sportsman class and has been advanced to Pro class.

More to come about the matches and the people and the rifles at Extreme Benchrest.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday at Extreme Benchrest

Today is registration. Dave and I then went to the range to check our rifles’ zeros after the two day drive from Idaho. If we can get on separate relays I will shoot Daves custom Marauder in the 25 yard benchrest match. Among other things, it has a 16 mm Lothar Walther barrel that he fitted to a .177 action.  

Rifle shrouded in mystery arrives from UK

Giles Barry and Andrew Huggett were there shooting the benchrest Wolverine. Anderw is standing in for the DOC’s Simon Cockhyne who was unable to attended the match. They spent the day getting use to rhe new, to them, rifle and to the shifting winds of the Quail Creek range. Those winds were not conducive to zeroing any rifle but like the rest of us, Andrew and Giles worked through the rough spots and looked confident at the end of the day.

The Daystate benchrest rifle, which I understand has been in the British airgun magazines,  is a Wolverine with a carbon fiber bottle. The stock is a one-off Gary Cane design milled from a wooden laminate of contrasting colors. The stock is wide and nearly encloses the carbon fiber bottle. It appears to be very functional for benchrest shooting.  Equipped with a Hogget moderator, the rife sounds like no pellet was loaded. What you hear is a sigh as air is exhaled from the moderator boudy.

Blueflax clandestine personnel were able to obtain photo intelligence of this new benchrest rifle. Thru deception and stealth they were able to elude Quail Creek Security and photograph it in a fleeting, unguarded moment. Few North American eyes have seen the picture below.

Custom Marauders

There are more Marauders here than last year. Besides Dave’s rifle we sar several other custom Marauders. I saw one with an extended air tube and one in .30 caliber with a carbon fiber tube slid over the barrel. This rifle shot a good sight in target today in shifting winds that were not conducive to precision shooting. 

Today we could not get out to the range until about noon when the wind pickups. The 75 yard match on Sunday will start before 7:00 AM when the winds ought to be less.

There are several shooters here planning to shoot springers in the 25 yard benchrest match. I saw at least two on the firing line. They are here at the encouragement of Garret from the Phoenix club, He and I spent some time talking about building the sport and attracting new shooters. Dave and I wish him all the success in the world.

Tomorrow is 25 yard benchrest and the qualifying round for the speed shoot.

Thanks to all the folks on several forums who wished us good luck. This match is as much about people as it is about airguns.

By the way, there were a lot of neat guns on the line today


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Yahoo, we are in green Valley, Arizona!

Target frames for 25 yard benchrest
The flat tiles are for the silhouettes 

We arrived in Green Valley after driving from Flagstaff, We stopped by the range where folks from Phenix Benchrest, Airgunners of Arizona, the FT club, and AOA were setting things up. In the photos of last year’s match, you will remember that the firing line was covered. This cover was being set up when we got there. I had thought is was a year round feature. The range is is on the property of the Quail Creek development, and operated by the local airgun club.

The range is set on a level piece of ground that looks to be an old corral used for turning out and gathering livestock. Now it is covered by ranks and files of roofing tile that support silhouette targets for the speed shoot. There large target frames that can be moved from 25 to 75 yards for the different benchrest matches.

Shooting benches, the cover will be erected over them.

Tomorrow is registration. A time to see who has come, and for renewing friendship from last year.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Extreme Benchrest

Tomorrow Dave and I set out for Extreme Benchrest. Driving from Pocatello through UT and AZ (via Flagstaff) it is just over 900 miles.

We are taking three Marauders. Dave’s custom Gen 1 .177 with a Lothar Walther barrel. My Gen 1 with a Steve from NC HDD and a Wicked Airrifles barrel band. Also my box stock Gen 2 .25 with a Wicked Airrifles single shot tray.

Extreme Benchrest features three matches, 75 yard benchrest, speed silhouette and 25 yard benchrest. Also there is a field target course, and pistol matches to round out an airgun shooting festival.

Similar shoots are springing up around the country. The newest was announced by Gateway to Airguns. It will be held in Kentucky in 2015. I think these shoots are useful in 1) expanding airgun shooting opportunities, 2) showcasing new airgun technologies and capabilities, and 3) demonstrating new matches that local clubs could put on.

More to come as the week rolls on.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Extreme Benchrest speed shoot

Extreme Benchrest speed shoot with my Generation II .25 Marauder, sometimes known as the evil black rifle.

The Match

This course of fire is 16, ⅕ scale silhouette targets set out at 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. A good workout for a shooter with a hunting rifle powerful enough to hack the program at 60 yards. A 20 FPE .177 will do quite nicely by the way. If you can hit the rams at 60 yards, and your rifle will shoot 20 good shots on one fill you've got the basics for this match. I bought the evil black rifle with the intention of turning it down to 35 FPE, but the rules were changed to allow up to 50 FPE, so I left it in its factory tune. I did buy a Wicked Airrifles single shot tray, because in the speed shoot loading magazines is the quick way to come in last. That still could happen, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

My Marauder

My Gen II Marauder will shoot three magazines (24 shots) before pellets drop off the target . I can only shoot three banks of targets on my home range so I set up 5 each Turkeys, 50, Pigs ,40, and chickens, 30 yards. With a 3 K fill and a 50 yard zero,  I hit em all with 16 shots. My holds were dead on for 50 then belly line on pigs, and foot for chickens. Ending pressure was 2 K. Three more shots conformed all zeros. This gun has the air to go the distance.

My Scope

My scope is a Simmons Whitetail Classic 6.5 - 20 power with a dual X reticle.  A throwback to my pre mildot days, it has been on several rifles before landing on my Marauder. Set on 12 X the lower picket is zero at 60 yards, and the cross hairs are 50. I have to hold about ½ inch low at 40 and 1 inch low at 30.

Many Marauder owners, that post on the web, tune and modify their air rifles for performance. I think it is interesting that a stock Marauder has what it takes for this course of fire, and that it would serve most hunters well as it came from Crosman.

Speed Shoot Strategy

I made a hash out of this match in 2013, but came away with some ideas to do better in 2014. First is to use pellets larger than .177 or get a hand transplant with much smaller fingers. Second don’t try to pluck the pellets out of the tin. dump then out on the bench. Third, fire and forget, don’t watch the targets fall, use that time to start reloading the next shot. Lastly shoot the targets from far to near. Groups tend to open up near the end of the shot string. So, use those shots on the closest targets.

Today, I shot a practice run at 16 targets, turkeys, pigs and chickens, All the zeros were good. 16 shots ran the air cylinder down from 3 K to 2 K. Four more shots at 50 were all hits on a swinger so 20 shots give me 16 record shots and 4 for a cushion.

Next I’ll try it with rams.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Wicked Airrifels Barrel Band

A new Marauder owner wrote to me, “Ron, I just got a gen1 .25 mrod and was wondering what settings to try for benchrest? Will probably be using JSB pellets.   Thanks

 Wicked Airriles barrel band 

I wrote back, “As far as shooting benchrest, The best thing I have done is install a barrel band form Wicked Airrifles.  This is the barrel band with three set screws that bear on the barrel shroud, and hold it steady. That really helped. Before, my rifle shot flyers at 10 and 4 oclock. After the barrel band the groups became more round. That helps me not only from lost points, but to spot hits that are the result in the change in the wind. It did reduce the group size slightly but the elimination of flyers in my gun was a big improvement for benchrest shooting”.

40 shots  at 75 yards

In the photo above the chickens are 1/2 size and the turkeys are 1/5. All shots with gen one Marauder with barrel band and HDD, They were shot left to right then left to right for the next clip. Each target's group were shot 8 shots apart. The rifle was refiled to 2.5 K after the second clip.

I went on to write about settings, “I have an HDD in my gen 1, so my settings are different from most of what you find on the forums. They are something like 7 CW on the hammer spring, 5 CW on the hammer throw and 4.5 out on the velocity screw. The HDD radically altered the way my Marauder handles air flow. Bottom line is I get 30 shots from a 2.5 K fill at 38 FPE. Above 2.5 I get valve lock and a lot of low shots. It is as though I over filled a stock Marauder to 3.5 K, which I did at Extreme Benchrest last year, and my first sighter was 8 or 9 inches low. I had to shoot it down to zero before firing my first record shot”.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The AirgunGearShow

Giles Barry with a Daystate Wolverine

If you haven’t watched the AirgunGearShow on Youtube you have missed a treat. Following a format of airguns and entertainment, the larger than life (he’s a big guy, folks) Giles Barry from the United Kingdom has created an airgun show is neither stogy or self important. Best of all, Giles is coming to the USA for his second Extreme Benchrest which is coming up in November.

Giles and several others from the UK were at last year’s Extreme Benchrest and he put up a series of videos about the tournament that I recommend anyone with an interest in airguns watch. His website is http://www.airgungear.co.uk/ where you will find links to his vidieos. If you watch his Extreme Benchrest videos, He interviewed me. Thank you Giles. The interview is about half way thru the one on 75 Yard shooting.

I hope you will take a look at the AirgunGearShow videos about the 2013 Extreme Benchrest, and that you will keep an eye out for Giles coverage of the upcoming 2014 event. It is going to be great.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shoebox Odyssey 2

“My Momma told me, ‘Son, you’d better shop around’”.

This is called the 15 inch  Tank by Crosman

My 3K dive tank failed visual inspection, so I was up a creek. I wanted to go to a 4.5 K tank but they are expensive and there is nowhere local I can get a 4.5 K fill. I shopped around and found a rental on a large steel 4.5 K tank, bun rent, refills  and other charges would cost me over $1400 for two years. Other folks would sell me a Freedom 8 compressor and a carbon fiber tank from $1600 to $1800.All the Freedom 8 and Shoebox compressors require you have a shop compressor.

Other options like larger tanks, driving to Salt Lake City (155 miles) for fills, larger compressors are all significantly more money. 3K tanks are not an option since some guns require 3 K fills, and that means one fill with those tanks.  

Best deal I found was a Shoebox from the manufacture @ $650 (700 delivered). A Crosman 90 cubic inch carbon fiber tank @ $400 from Airgun Depot (free shipping). A shop compressor from Harbor Freight @130 (local store). For $1180 plus the odd house and connectors, I would be in business.

I guess that fate has caught up with me for all the free fills I got on my $75 tank from H&H Dive.
I laid this out to George in Idaho and George wrote back.

“Looking forward to seeing your system in action.  Do not understand 90 cubic inch tank   (Is it) from Crosman ?   Was this tank made by Crosman or purchased on the forum? Can you fill the little bottle to 4500 psi ?”

The 90 cubic inch bottle is a Crosman product which I bought from Airgun Depot. It looks like Crosman outsources the tank and filling system. An unexpected benefit is that the fill system is from AirTanksForSale (Joe B) and that’s a good thing. This bottle can be filled to 4500 psi.

George continues, “By comparison, I purchased the 80 cubic ft (3000) bottle for $225.00   To fill my 48 cubic inch bottle (that has a 2200 reg.  I then need only to carry the little bottle to the range on shoot day.  The little bottle will fill all my guns because  I dropped the operating pressure of my  AS gun to 1250”.

George with his AS (Air Source) gun

You have to understand that George works with PCP guns he builds from Crosman CO2 guns. He has worked to get the most shots he can from them, and that he is working with pressured lower than a Marauder. Operating pressure aside his comments are to the point, “If you were to go away from your compressor to the range, how many shots would you get?”

More on that to come.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Shoebox Odyssey

These .25 Marauders use a lot of air between then but there are others, and they are all hungry!

Over 15 years ago I bought a used SCUBA tank at the one and only dive shop in Pocatello Idaho. They had to be convinced that I was Ok, but I had been doing that by filling my Airforce bottle for a couple of years so by now I was a valued customer. It helped that I had sent a couple of others to the shop. A dive shop in SE Idaho needs all the business it can get. At the time I had two PPC airguns.
It had now become clear that one 3000 psi tank was not enough. With five PPC guns I was always running out. I spent more time planning which guns to fill and in what order as the pressure in my gun and the tank’s pressure dropped. New guns all seemed to want 3K air.

I thought I had it figured out. I would get a small 4500 psi tank and keep the dive tank. I would cascade my fill and use the little tank to get up to 3000. It would work and the cost would be budget friendly. I could not get a 4.5K fill locally, but I travel from time to time. Sadly, fate intervened.

“It has been a good run for 37 years,”

“But, it’s come to an end,” said the guy at my local dive shop. My faithful tank, veteran of Extreme Benchrest, two FT Nationals and a host of local and regional shoots, failed a visual inspection. Failed as in dead, dead dead. The cracks were there one was across two threads and the other across one thread in the neck where the valve screws in. They marked the DOT number out with a cold chisel, and returned the tank so I could recycle it ($0.75/pound). I unceremoniously dumped my tank into the back of my pickup, and thought, “Now what?”