IBS Feature: Boop Memorial BR Shoot
Field Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
In IBS-land you know that spring has sprung when the Memorial Shoot at Weikert, PA comes along. This year was the 28th edition which honors the memories of Nate Boop and Rich Altemus. These two gentlemen started the benchrest program at the Union County Sportsmen’s Club. This is one of the finest ranges you will find anywhere in the country. Both the range itself and its setting are world-class.
This year 42 shooters hit the benches at the Weikert range. Saturday’s 100-yard targets were shot in somewhat tricky, but shootable conditions — attested by four teen Aggs. Shooters enjoyed the readable conditions on Saturday but the 200-yard stage on Sunday was another matter — with strong breezes that switched on a thin dime. Red with tails out for 10 seconds, then green with tails out for 8 seconds. Then there was a nice mix of both — with tails erect all around. Some of us love to shoot tailwinds, which were there for a few fleeting moments. But there is a lot of target real estate — over an inch — between a tailwind with a wee bit of green and a tiny smidge of red.
Though Weikert is a gorgeous range, it has one drawback. The central Pennsylvania countryside only allowed for an east-facing range. So, on a sunny day, the first three targets or so are shot with most shooters hanging blue tarps from the range roof to block the sun. This works well and does not inhibit small groups.
Curtis Nelson lines up for first shot, with blue tarp sun shade in place.
The Light Varmint 100-yard stage looked to be all Harley Baker, one of the newest inductees into the U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame. Harley arrives at any match with impeccably prepared equipment tuned to a knife’s edge. He is tough to beat at any range. He was cruising to yet another Agg win, with Smiley Hensley pretty far behind. To finish off with a flourish, Harley nailed a very nice .190 on his last target.
Many times at the last match of an Aggregate, shooters will banter, “last chance to be a hero”. It is so trite as to not get much reaction from the line. Well, some days a hero does emerge. Smiley shot a .071″ group in Match 5 to win the LV 100 Aggregate with a .1902. Harley settled for a flat .2 and second place. Smiley may have won the battle, but not the war, as we shall see.
Most Shooters Use 10.5-pounders Even in Heavy Varmint Class
In the Heavy Varmint class shooters could be shouldering a 13.5-pound rifle. Most, however, stick to their 10.5-pound Sporters (a Light Varmint rifle with a 6mm bore) for an entire weekend. Many times in the loading area you’ll hear, “what are we shooting?” Yes, there a few shooters that will pull out a favored “real” Heavy Varmint, but that is pretty rare these days.
The competition in Heavy Varmint 100 was pretty fierce. Small groups were shot. Teen Aggs were possible. Al Auman shot a fine .1808 to win the Agg. Other Aggregates under 0.2 were shot by Harley Baker (.1950) and master accuracy gunsmith Sid Goodling (.1990).
First Time’s a Charm for Troy Twist. Benchrest Novice Shoots 0.126″ Group.
Shooting a .126 group would make any Benchrest shooter happy. If you accomplish that feat the very first time you ever shot a bench rifle, and in a real match to boot, then you have Troy Twist’s story.
Troy works with Dale Boop and was always talking guns. Dale convinced Troy to show up for the 100-yard stage and Dale let Troy shoot one of Dale’s rifles. Troy performed like a champ, drilling a 0.126″ group — not too bad for a rookie! Nothing like a small group to get a new shooter interested in our game.
Sunday was beautiful with sunny skies and pleasant temps. The wind was another matter. The Heavy Varmint 200-yard stage was conquered by Harley Baker with a .2689 Aggregate. No Match 5 heroes emerged to take away another Agg win from Harley. The only other Aggregate under 0.3 was posted by Jeff Peinhardt. Jeff is a newer shooter that is making a name for himself in Benchrest. Finishing off the top three in the Agg was Wayne Shaw. Wayne is sometimes more associated with score shooting, but he is a top-flight group shooter as well.
The afternoon was set for Light Varmint 200 while the kaleidoscope of rapidly-changing flag colors continued. Jeff Stover led the way with a .2602 Agg. He tried to shoot whatever tail wind was available, and do it as fast as possible. Jeff got away with this sometimes dangerous tailwind strategy for four targets; on the fifth he was not burned as bad as he might have been. Closing in towards the end was Russell Rains with a .2904. Canadian Andy Laidlaw snuck into third place with a .2937 with the only remaining Aggregate under 0.3.
Andy Laidlaw from Canada loads between stages.
In the overall 2-Gun, Harley Baker was the class of the field with a .2466 for twenty targets. Stover followed with a rather distant .2791. Steady Kent Harshman finished close behind with a .2833. Interestingly, both Stover and Harshman were shooting pull-down 8208 powder (from the Vietnam War era) rather than Vihtavuori 133 or the new kid on the block, Accurate Powder LT-32.
Two-Gun Top 3: Kent Harshman (Third), Harley Baker (Winner), Jeff Stover (Second).
Moving backers are used in 100/200/300 yard benchrest competition.
Dale and Russ Boop, shown above, are the sons of Nate Boop, in whose honor this Match has been held for 28 straight years. The Brothers Boop have been shooting Benchrest since they were little kids. Russ is in the Benchrest Hall of Fame and Dale is currently only two points out.
Father and Son Team — The Peinhardts
Jeff Peinhardt from Quarryville, PA owns PR2 Racing Technology. His company does national level motorcycle race engine development and tuning. His operation is a sophisticated engineering facility with CNC and the latest equipment. He has brought this analytical outlook and expertise to Benchrest.
Jeff is relatively new to the game, but has already excelled. His 16-year old son, Wyatt, has now moved from Junior Shooter to Rookie to Tough Competitor. Wyatt now runs with the “big dogs”. His father says the tougher the conditions, the better Wyatt does; he is a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.