IBS 2019 600-Yard Nationals in Minnesota

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

The 2019 IBS 600-Yard Nationals took place October 12-13th at the Gopher Rifle and Revolver Club (GRRC.org) in Harris, Minnesota. It was a challenging event, given the cold and stormy conditions. Nonetheless many of the nation’s top shooters shot very well, and some young newcomers had strong showings. The real star of the match was new 600-Yard National Champion Jason Wolf. He delivered a masterful performance, winning the 2-Gun Overall, Light Gun Overall, and Heavy Gun Overall.

Click HERE for Full Match Results and Equipment List (PDF) »

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Dave Holland, past GRRC Bench Director and Host of 2010 IBS 1000-Yard Nationals.

Match Report by Kent Bratten

MD, IBS 2nd Vice President and Awards Chairman
There was some scrambling before and during the Nationals due to the weather. Gopher Rifle and Revolver Club is a large, multi-discipline range set among marshes and woods just off I-35, about 40 miles north of a large metropolitan area in Minnesota. Because of the topography, winds and mirage can often be tricky.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Due to the forecasted poor weather, a large circus-tent style cover was rented in place of the usual canvas/pole type temporary structure (see AcccurateShooter’s article on the 2010 1000-yard Nationals at Harris). It is likely the clean-up crew would still be picking up the pieces if that structure had been used.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Course of Fire for IBS 600-Yard Nationals
The event was run with the same format as the 2018 IBS 600-Yard Nationals in St. Louis. The course of fire was Light Gun (total weight 17 lbs. max) on Saturday and Heavy Gun (no weight limits) on Sunday. Each of the 63 competitors shot eight (8) targets daily in four relays. Saturday evening Vapor Trail Bullets hosted a banquet, at which time the Light Gun titles were awarded, along with a large prize table drawing afterwards. Sunday was Heavy Gun and had 61 shooters (two dropping out due to a family emergency). Despite no further snow and no ferocious winds, conditions were hardly ideal as it was still cold in the morning with swirling winds throughout the day. Hence on neither day did the group averages drop below two inches and there were only a handful of perfect scores.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Formidable Performances Even in Tough Conditions
Despite the conditions and several DQs on Day One, the top guns still put on a very good performance. Scotty Powell of North Carolina won the Light Gun Group and Chris Nichols, also from North Carolina, won the Heavy Gun Group award. Jason Wolf of South Dakota was the big winner, taking home the Light Gun Score, Light Gun Overall, Heavy Gun Overall, and the 2-Gun Overall titles. Jason’s performance was superb. Along with his LG, HG, and 2-Gun titles, Jason shot the smallest group of the match, a stunning 0.673″ in Heavy Gun. He also placed second in Heavy Gun Group Agg, just 0.166″ off the best, while finishing third in Light Gun Group Agg, .340″ from the top. All in all, it was a dominant showing by the South Dakotan.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Robby Vick smiling despite the cold. But did you really need the fan Robby?

Snow Flurries and Other Shooting Challenges
After the match, we interviewed most of the Top Ten shooters. We covered topics such as as strategies for bad conditions and their previous shooting experience. Several mentioned having trouble seeing the marks on the white-painted steel sighting plates. And, because of snow flurries, some could only see the last round hit (last sighter), about 5-10 seconds before their record target came up. Accordingly, many competitors depended on the tracking ability of their rifles and maintaining their point of aim throughout the record period. As for shooting backgrounds, many of the Top 10 enjoyed long range hunting and varminting — especially prairie dog adventures. Some had started out with rimfire bench competition, some began with short range IBS matches, while others already shoot long distance (1000-Yard) IBS matches and F-Class. For all those interviewed, the result was pretty much the same. After starting in competitive shooting, they had gotten hooked on precision, and sought to push their skills to the limit.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Possible New Trends in Equipment — Wider Stocks
The Top 10 Equipment Lists show the favorite actions (BAT), bullets (Vapor Trail and Bart’s) and scopes (Nightforce) with a sprinkling of different barrels and stocks. We note there does seem to be a trend towards wider stocks. When we reviewed the Top 20 List (about 30% of the pool) we noted a growing number of stocks with wider fore-ends (4 inches or more), especially the Wheeler/McMillan Tracker. As for chamberings, the 6 BRA (6mmBR Ackley Improved) seems to be very popular, but is not dominant over the 6 Dasher yet.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Junior Champ Andrew Powers, setting up. Beside him is his grandfather, Johnny.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

COMMENTARY from Match Director Doc Bratten
It was a somewhat hair-raising experience leading up to the Nationals, with the bad forecast followed by a two-day period before the match when high winds made practice difficult. A major concern was that the weather would worsen and cause a major delay or cancellation. But, like the D-Day invasion of 1944, prayers for a break in the weather were answered. We also had an unexpected shortening of staff. But the Nationals team still did a wonderful job of running the line and everyone chipped in with putting up the “mess tent”, line cover, and helping in the target review area. Also hats off to the target crew and scorers in the Red Shed. With the snow and wind, it could not have been easy working with those targets and drying them after.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Into the quagmire to look at targets…

We are very grateful to all our IBS sponsors, whose generosity ensured rich prize tables for both the Hawk’s Ridge 1000-Yard Nationals and here in Minnesota. I would especially like to thank Sally and Jim Bauer of Vapor Trail Bullets for sponsoring the Awards Banquet. We very much appreciated the Grand Prizes supplied by Alex and Matt Findley of AMP Annealing, David Dorris (and Ms. Krag) of BenchSource, Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy and Bart Sauter of Bart’s Bullets. The full list of IBS 600-yard and 1000-yard Nationals sponsors can be found on the IBS Website.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Finally, we extend a very special thanks to our friends at Gunstop Reloading and Gunstop of Minnetonka gun sales for their trophy donations. We also thank Dave Newell, Past President at GRRC, current Club newsletter editor, and exceptional wedding photographer, for his great photos of the match.

CLICK HERE to View 90+ photos from 600-Yard Nationals »

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Great BBQ lunches were provided by Rick of Dickies. Vapor Trail Bullets sponsored the Awards banquet.

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