IBS 2014 Benchrest for Group Nationals
Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
Photos by Vera Carter
Smooth. Efficient. Well-run. Lots of small groups. Those words pretty much spell out the 45th annual IBS Group Nationals at Fairchance, PA. Match Director Bill Reahard and his crew put on a great show that consists of six days of competition from Monday through Saturday. Bill and his team spent days getting their southwestern Pennsylvania range ready for the nearly 80 shooters who attended. Fairchance is no stranger to big matches as the club has hosted previous Nationals and World Team qualifiers.
Six Days of Competition in Four Classes
Some say that the IBS Group Nationals is a marathon. Six days of competition at both 100 and 200 yards with four classes of rifles: Light Varmint (10.5 lb.); Sporter (10.5 lb. – 6mm min caliber); Heavy Varmint (13.5 lb.) and Heavy Bench (known as ‘Unlimited’ in NBRSA-land). The first three classes are simply known as the “bag guns”. Most competitors use a 10.5-lb. rifle in 6PPC and compete in all three classes. The Heavy Bench (HB) class requires 10-shot groups as opposed to 5-shot groups for the bag guns. There is no prohibition to shooting your 10.5 lb. rifle in HB, but bag guns are simply outclassed by the rail guns, especially for 10-shot groups.
All 100-yard targets were shot the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. It is done in this sequence to require only one change of wind flags.
Natalie from the Target Crew during the Powder-Puff match.
The week delivered pretty typical mid-Atlantic August weather: hazy sun with 80% humidity in the morning dropping to 50% as the temperature warmed. Fairchance is sometimes known to offer strong crosswinds that challenge the best of shooters. This week, however, the breezes were light to moderate and switchy. A shooter on his game with a well-tuned rifle could assemble a string of good groups. There were many ‘Teen Aggs’ (sub-.200 five target averages) shot this week.
Musical Chairs at the Group Nationals
IBS Nationals competition requires ‘full rotation’. That means that every time a shooter goes to the line for the next match target, he or she must move a requisite number of benches to the right. At the end of the day a shooter will shoot across the full width of the line. Some ranges offer unique properties that render some parts of the range harder or easier to shoot small groups. Bench rotation is important to even out those factors.
View looking down-range. This is a beautiful place to shoot.
Monday morning saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling the big rail guns to the line. Bill Symons led the way at 100 yards with the only ‘Teen Agg’ in HB, a fine .1972. The 200-yard stage for HB would not be held until Saturday morning.
On Tuesday the bag guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Conditions allowed for quite a few very good groups. When the top five are under .1900 you know two things — Nationals competitors brought their “A Game” and the conditions were manageable. Sporter was not too much different as the first four were in the ‘teens. Ohio’s Jeff Gaidos led the way in LV with a .1714. In SP, Wayne Campbell from Virginia won with a .1902.
Sporter 100 “Top Guns” (L to R): Charles Miller, Steve Lee, Al Auman, Wayne Campbell, Larry Costa.
Wednesday was reserved for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 100 yards. Steve Lee worked his magic with a .1742. Reportedly, he was using some new Bart’s bullets on new Bart’s jackets. Steve shot well all week. Those new bullets certainly contributed to his success.
Wednesday afternoon saw the moving of flags for the 200-yard stage of the competition. The SP and LV 200 yard targets were Thursday’s course of fire. In LV, Hal Drake shot a .2045 Aggregate which edged Larry Costa’s .2076. At 200 yards the Aggregates are measure on MOA. Therefore, Hal’s .2045 Aggregate translates to an average 200 yard target measurement of .409”. The afternoon was reserved for SP targets. Wayne Campbell shot a .2250 to win the afternoon’s contest.
On Friday, a single Aggregate of five record targets were shot for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 200 yards. Harley Baker had his mojo working with a tiny .1674 Aggregate — not far off from the IBS record. On Friday afternoon many of the awards for the bag guns were given out. Saturday was reserved for HB 200. Since some of the bag gun shooters do not shoot a rail gun a number of competitors left Friday afternoon. The rail guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. The winner was Jack Neary who shot a .2324 Aggregate to edge Steve Lee’s .2361.
IBS 2014 Group Shooting National Championships — Top Fives
About the IBS Awards at the Group Nationals
The IBS recognizes winners as follows: Range Aggregates for each of the four classes of rifles; Grand (100 and 200) Aggregates in each of the four classes; 2-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 & 200); 3-gun (HV, LV, SP in 100 & 200) and 4-gun (HV, LV, SP and HB in 100 & 200). For the multi-gun competition, Florida’s Larry Costa won both the 2-Gun and 3-Gun titles. In the 4-gun, however, it was Michigander Bill Symons who took the 4-Gun title with an excellent .2332.