THE ORIGINAL PENNSYLVANIA 1000 YARD BENCHREST CLUB INC. by DAVID H. TROXELL
So how did this 1000 Yard Benchrest Club come about in Williamsport, Pennsylvania? What does this club do? Who is to be given credit for it's beginning? When did it begin? Where is it located? How do you get there? The answers to these questions follow:
Many Deer Hunters in Pennsylvania use the type of hunting known as "Long Range Deer Hunting." The steep hills and mountains of Pennsylvania readily lend themselves to this type of hunting. Usually two or more hunters, "a team," will set-up on an over-look, shelf or even by a back road, and shoot across the hollow or ravine onto the hill beyond the ravine. One man does the shooting, the other man or men do the spotting. The deer can be easily seen from the opposite hill, because of the elevation provided. Also, being above the trees at the firing point helps observation. Visibility increases so very tremendously if there is snow on the ground during hunting season. Snow also helps make it easier to get the deer off these steep hills, and to your vehicle.
To shoot a deer or groundhog at long range, one must have the proper rifle. While a 25-06, 270 or even a 30-06 will shoot a long way, one must have an even more powerful, flat shooting rifle to reach 1000 yards or more, accurately. This requirement is how the 6.5-300 was born. The 7mm-300, the 30-378, 308 Norma Magnum, 300 Ackley and others, all came about through wanting a rifle that would shoot long range. Just last summer two local men shot a chuck at 1400 yards. Several men have claimed to have shot chucks at 2400 yards. Some deer have been shot at these ranges too.
William K. Theis, of Williamsport, Pa. was one of these long range hunters. But, Bill wanted more targets, and more shooting. So he thought, "Why not start a long range shooting club?" Bill talked it over with George H. Reeder (another long range deer hunter) and David H. Troxell, both of Williamsport, Pa., and they put their ideas together. Theis, Reeder and Troxell spent one Saturday driving around in three counties trying to find a farm, field, or mountain range on which to hold such a shoot as a 1000 yard shoot, but they didn't find one that day. Then one day George H. Reeder was talking to Merlin Waltz, who suggested they shoot from the neighbors farm onto his farm. Upon getting permission from Carl U. Lynn, his neighbor, we were on our way. By setting a date, and writing and phoning invitations to fellow shooters and hunters, we held our first match on October 1, 1967. We set up our portable 3 legged benches on the Carl U. Lynn farm and shot at 2 X 4 frame targets on the Merlin Waltz farm, a measured distance of a little over 1000 yards. At that time we shot a mere two man relay. This was the beginning of the 1000 yard benchrest club.
William Theis, George Reeder and David Troxell sat one Saturday afternoon in the home of Merlin Waltz and they wrote the following few simple rules:
1. Match will start at 9:00 A.M., conditions permitting.
2. Any rifle may be used, no restrictions as to weight, caliber, trigger, sights or scope used.
3. No restrictions as to shooting position, prone, bench, etc.
4. Shooters will draw from hat for rotation in which they shoot.
5. Shooter will be allowed 6 minutes to get on paper, no limit to how many shots may be fired in these 6 minutes.
6. Shooter will shoot 10 shots in a string in 10 minutes or less, for group and score.
7. Entry fee will be $3.00 per shooter.
8. No shooter may shoot twice in one match, even with different rifles.
9. Any rifle may be used by more than one shooter per match.
Some of the best Long Range Hunters and Shooters from this part of the state assembled to participate. Even then, there were some very fancy rifles and scopes on display. There were rifles weighing 30 pounds, with barrels 32" in length, and at that time, were worth over $700.00. James Barger from Williamsport, Pa. won the very first match, shooting a borrowed Remington 4OX in 7mm Remington Magnum caliber, with a sixteen inch group. There were 27 competitors. The second match of 1967, was held Sunday, October 15th. This match was won by Leon Aunkst of Milton, Pa. with a 12 5/8 inch group. Leon used a 25-06 caliber rifle. There were 53 shooters. The third match of 1967 was held Sunday, November 5th. This match was won by William K. Theis of Williamsport, Pa. with a 19 3/4 inch group. Theis used a 6.5-300 caliber rifle. There were 42 shooters.
The fourth and final match of 1967 was held Sunday, November 19th. This match was won by Clyde Bonnell of Elmira, New York with a group measuring 19 15/16 inches. Clyde used a 6.5-300 caliber rifle. There were 29 shooters.
The various calibers used in the first four matches in 1967 were 7mm Remington Magnum, 30-378, 6.5-300, 25-06, 308 Norma Magnum, 30-350, 300 Winchester Magnum, 308 Winchester and 264 Winchester. William K. Theis was the first President of the club, George H. Reeder was the first Vice President, and David H. Troxell was the first Secretary-Treasurer. The following year Donald Park became Treasurer, and George (Pete) Wurster became the Range Master. These same officers served the first three years of the clubs' beginning. The club was Incorporated during the second year of operation by the above officers.
In the spring of 1968 we moved operations to the farm of Irvin (Gene) Plants, where the matches are held today. The club has a 99 year lease with Mr. Plants. Early in the spring of 1968 the club broke ground for the pit area, and military type backstop. And I mean "broke" ground. The ground was frozen over 12 inches deep. But, we hired a big dozer, and he made a big pit, complete with a high-banked backstop. The bunker in front of the pit is some 80 feet deep, 10 feet high, and impenetrable. The wall of the pit to our backs is constructed of railroad ties. The officers named above, plus Tom Kenyon, Paul (Nick) Campbell and Merlin Waltz obtained these railroad ties from the Avis railroad yards. After receiving permission to obtain the ties from the railroad. Merlin Waltz arranged for a flat bed truck, on which to haul the railroad ties, a tractor with a manure loader on the front, to load the ties on the flat bed, and a low-boy to haul the tractor. This seven man crew then proceeded to the Avis yards where we, with pick and shovel and ice tongs dug the ties out of the frozen ground, and hand carried them to a level location, where Merlin Waltz loaded them on a flat bed. We worked all day in the cold, and finally had about 250 railroad ties that we then hauled up to the pit area of the range. We then visited the Cascade Inn for something to eat, and the boys introduced me to anisette, and after two shots I quietly slipped under the table. The following weekend, in the mud in the pit, we squared off the back wall and placed the railroad ties. Today those railroad ties have another wall placed in front of them constructed of concrete slabs which were purchased from a construction builder in Wiiliamsport.
Military type target frames were built by Pete Wurster and Nick Campbell. The officers built the benches. At first we had but 5 benches and 5 targets. In 1971 we expanded to 10 benches and 10 targets, and in 1996 we added two more, so there are now 12 benches and 12 targets. About the 5th year of operation we added a roof over all benches.
The official length of the range from benches to the targets is 1022 yards, measured inch by inch, also measured by a surveyor. The reason it isn't exactly 1000 yards is because of the ravine just in front of the benches. We had to back up to get on a high point in order to see the targets. The terrain is rolling between the benches and the targets, and is bordered by woods on the west side. Most days, the wind will blow in three directions simultaneously. The wind blows to the right at the benches, to the left half way to the targets, and again to the right at the targets, or maybe the reverse of the above.
As is often quoted of the 1000 yard benchrest club, "THE CLUB IS ORIGINAL AND THE WIND IS UNIQUE." There were many names suggested for the club, but I David H. Troxell had the privilege of naming the club, and it became official when voted upon: "The Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club Inc." The club is original, it is in Pennsylvania, we shoot 1000 yards, from a benchrest, it is a club, and it is incorporated. By the way, the club is Non Profit, a Private Club, and is open to the public.
The club had a bit of opposition when it first began, specifically from the Township Supervisors. The neighbors near the club grounds objected to the noise and had fears about "wild shots," and thus brought the Supervisors upon us, asking many, many questions. The supervisors called a meeting, and we, the officers, met with them, (and some of the hostile neighbors) in the old school house near the range. (I think at that time this was the township meeting hall.)
First, they wanted an enormous insurance policy initiated to protect everyone from damages. Secondly, they wanted to set many of the rules as to when we would shoot, how long the matches would last, and what time we would start in the morning. After agreeing that we would obtain the necessary insurance, and not starting before 9:00 A.M., and doing some fast talking and explaining how accurately we all shot, they agreed to let us try it for a few weeks, and then they said that they would act accordingly.
I remember during our first match on the present range, one of the supervisors approached me and said, "I'm going to have to shut you down." This was during the second relay, the match was in progress. I ask him, "Why?" He answered, "You are shooting across a public road." I then explained to him that this was legal according to Pennsylvania Game laws, as long as we were shooting above and beyond the vehicles that might travel this public road. He still insisted that it was dangerous, and that we would have to stop. I then ask him to follow me, and we got into my car, and I drove down on the road where the bullets were whizzing overhead, and I got out and walked around to show him that there was no danger. (I'm a Korean Veteran and had bullets snapping over my head within inches, so bullets flying over my head 100 feet above certainly didn"t upset me.) He wouldn't get out of the car. But, after a while, (with me talking all the time trying to convince him there was no danger) he finally got out and realized that the bullets actually were up where I told him, and after drawing him a diagram showing how the trajectory of the bullet actually arched approximately 18 feet above the line of sight, he was convinced. I took him back to the bench area, and he watched for a while and witnessed how we practiced safety. I then showed him some of the groups we had fired, and he was satisfied. He left, and I never saw him again to this day. The neighbors soon gained confidence in us when they heard how well we shot, keeping nearly every shot on paper, and when we showed them some small groups, it helped.
We did not have any stray shot, and we have not had any accidents to date. When we first opened the range a man said, "What the hay, I will stand over there and let you shoot at me all day." (He must have had the 30-30 and 32 Special rifles in mind. When we showed him some of the small groups, he too changed his mind.
The club holds 10 Classic 1000 yard regulation matches each year. It also holds 10 Sporter class (11 and 16 1/2 pound rifle) matches each year. The club holds a Two-Day, World, Open, "Super Shoot" in July each year. At this "Super Shoot," merchants, sporting goods stores, gun dealers and manufacturers donate prizes which are given out to relay winners, best score of the day, smallest group of the day, and the grand prize is given to the aggregate winner in score and group for the two days. Prizes consist of: Rifles in the caliber of the winners choice, rifle barrels, actions, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, bullets from various manufacturers, cleaning rods, chambering jobs from gunsmiths and reloading components.
The entry or match fee is $11.00 per match for club members " and $15.00 per match for non-members.
The individual membership fee is $30.00 per year. A family membership is available for $35.00 per year. The family membership includes a mans' wife and qualified children 12 to 16 years of age, and all in the family membership may shoot for the $11.00 entry fee each match. In 1996 the club had over 200 individual members and 36 family members, in addition to the 13 officers. A lifetime membership is available at $350.00. There are presently 53 of us that hold lifetime membership cards.
A day at the range (Saturdays for the Sporter Rifles, Sundays for the Classic regulation 1000 yard matches) begins at 9:00 A.M. A match has from 65 to 120 contestants. In the 6th match of 1972 (8-13-72) we had 121 shooters, that is the most I know of, to have participated.
Our average number of shooters by years was as follows:
Please note that 1996 has the highest average number of shooters.
A relay has as many as 12 shooters. The match is usually finished by 2:00 P.M. The shoot-off then begins with the winners of each relay for group and score shoot to see who is the group winner and score winner of the day. There is always a group winner and a score winner each Sunday. The total match usually takes from 5 to 6 hours to complete. This makes a lot of volunteer work for the officers. The groups have to be measured and posted on the "Wailing Board," and target shed wall as the match progresses. : The Wailing Board is where the contestants wail, cry, give excuses, alibi, or grin, smile and laugh according to their accomplishments. Group size and score is posted for each shooter. A copy of the official match results is mailed to each participant within several days.
Each and every contestant must do pit duty. (Or you may have someone do it for you, or you will be disqualified for the day.) One duty in the pit is to put up a new target at your station. The sighting-in target is fired upon first, and you must spot each bullet hole during the sighting-in.
During the string of 10 shots in 10 minutes or less, no spotting is done. During the string of 10 shots in 10 minutes or less, a plotting chart is kept of each bullet as it strikes the official match target, showing where bullet 1 hit, where bullet 2 hit, etc. This is done so that the shooter will know where each shot went that he fired, and he may want to discard "bad" brass cartridge cases, or make other corrections, (if) he remembers (the) particular shot that is out of the main grouping of shots.
The military "A" target was used when we first started the club in 1967. The "A" target measured 4 feet by 6 feet with a twelve inch bullseye. The military "A" target used later had a 13 inch bullseye, and measured 4 feet by 6 feet. The targets used today are purchased from The National Target Co. in Maryland, and are similar to the military "A" target, but measure only 68" by 44", but have identical scoring rings, and have the Club logo on it.
Some scopes used are: Unerti, Leupold, Redfield, Bausch & Lomb, Weaver, Night Force and Tasco. Some of these scopes are as high as 36 power. Many scopes have sun shades attached to them. These sun shade tubes are up to 25 inches long. Most sun shade tubes are made of aluminum, but a few are constructed of plastic. The tubes keep out unwanted parallel light, and keep the heat from the barrel from distorting the target picture in the scope. The sun shades must not extend beyond the end of the barrel. The muzzle blast will blow the sun shade completely off the scope if it does. This has happened. A lot of shooters are now attaching things to their barrels with velcro, such as Venetian blind slats, a piece of dark cloth, cardboard, etc. This is partially due to the unavailability of sun shields, and there is no added weight to flex the scope.
Barrels used are: Obermeyer, Kreiger, Douglas, Shilen, Lilja, McMillan, K & P, Black Star, Scheider, Wiseman and Hart.
Although any position may be used in shooting at the 1000 yard benchrest matches; prone, sitting, standing, kneeling, or from the bench, the bench is used 99% of the time. The rifle must be resting on sandbags under the forearm, and butt stock. These sandbags must be flexible and pliable. No return-to-battery systems may be used. The benchrest position also allows more contestants to participate, such as women and those 12 years of age, and young teenagers. Women and teenagers cannot hold these heavy rifles in the prone position. Shooting from the bench makes this a family sport. ..
There have been many discussions about which is more difficult; shooting a minute of angle at 100 and 200 yards, or 1000 yards. Our members will tell you that it is definitely more difficult at 1000 yards. The reasons being that the wind and light conditions magnify at these longer ranges.
In 30 years, our members have found that to be competitive one must have the very best in equipment. The rifle must be of the best component parts. The scope must be high grade. The ammunition must be hand produced of the very best powder, bullets, brass cases, and primers available. Here I would like to interject my opposition to rule number 8 and 9 back on page two. I see no problem with a competitor shooting twice or even three times in a match with different rifles as long as he pays an entry fee for each rifle.
I do disagree however with any one rifle being used more than once or by anyone else in a match. My reason: Most generally the rifle wins, not the shooter. The best shot in the world will never win a match with the worst rifle in the match. But, an average shooter, shooting the best rifle in the match, may. ... At least he has a chance, shooting a poor rifle, he doesn't.
I wrote to the officials at Camp Perry twenty eight years ago and ask them what was the smallest group they ever recorded. (Camp Perry is just off lake Erie, and they have very windy conditions out there.) They replied that they do not measure for group. They record score, and use a 24 inch bull, and the shooters qualify by score. They did say that they had some perfect scores. Everyone in our club has shot a perfect score by their standards.
Here I must mention a tribute to the late Alex Hoyer of Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. Alex Hoyer was a full time gunsmith, and has been called the dean of long range shooting. For many years he was involved in long range shooting and varmint hunting. Hoyer was very instrumental in developing the wildcat 6.5-300 WWH cartridge. He used the Weatherby 300 case and necked it down to take the 6.5 or .264 diameter bullets. WWH stands for Weatherby, Wright, Hoyer. Wright was an engineer who helped Hoyer in developing the 6.5-300 cartridge using the Weatherby case. Many long range hunters still feel that the 6.5-300 cartridge is still the finest long range hunting cartridge available.
Come to one or more of these 1000 yard benchrest matches, and listen to the arguments (discussions. . . .) as to which is the best caliber and rifle in existence. Even with the results on the wailing board, these results are not concrete according to the shooters. It is impossible to get any group to agree, which rifle is the best. If one rifle wins, "It is because of the conditions," they will say. Or, "It was just an accident that such and such a rifle won." Who knows?
One of the heaviest rifles weighs 100 pounds, owned by Terry Myers of Jersey Shore, Pa. The barrels average 30 inches in length and have been 36 to 43 inches long. The barrel on Terry Myers" rifle is 2 inches in diameter at the muzzle.
Some of the newer calibers used in matches are the 308 Baer, and the 338 Baer. The 338 Baer is the 378 Weatherby case necked down to 33 caliber with a tight neck. The 308 Baer, which is the 340 Weatherby case blown out with a tight neck, and necked down to 30 caliber. The 340 Weatherby case is used to make the 308 Baer so that there is adequate brass in the neck area of the case when it is necked down to 30 caliber. After the 340 Weatherby case is necked down to 30 caliber, the neck area is turned smooth, concentric to the case, and a bit larger in diameter in the neck area than most 30 caliber cartridges. This case treatment makes for a tighter neck fit to prevent blow-back.
The calibers used in the matches consist of the standard calibers such as the 300 Winchester, 7mm Remington Mag., 300 Weatherby, 340 Weatherby, 6.5-300, 308 Norma Mag., and then some that are not quite so standard, such as: 308 Baer, 330 Baer, 338 Baer, 308 K, 30 HV, 7mm Booboo, 30 Goodling, 308 Improved, 30 JK, 340 Lilja, 30 Wolfe, 30 SHV, 30-375, 308 Super, 240 Weatherby, 6-284/ 22 Cheeta, 300 Weatherby Improved, 300 Ace, 22-243, 30 Ranger, 300 Hakes, 300 Ackley, 30-375 Taylor, 338 Hart, 338-404, 30 BM, 30 Ace, 30 Booboo and 30 BNN.
Some of the contestants today shoot a "block rifle." An aluminum or steel block measuring 3" x 3" x 9" is drilled with a hole that will accept the diameter of the barrel just ahead of the action. This block is then cut in half lengthwise. Or, the block may be made of two pieces with a spacer. The two pieces then have a hole drilled through them, through the center, lengthwise. The spacer is then removed to provide the clamping effect. The barrel is then clamped into this block and bolted together around the chamber area of the barrel just ahead of the action or receiver. The block is then fiberglassed into a wooden, fiberglass, aluminum, or solid steel stock. The barrel and receiver do not touch the stock, but are suspended by the block. A more recent development in the "block rifle" is the use of a one piece block. The barrel is fastened into the block by approximately a 1/8" coating of an epoxy such as metal set with a rubber gasket on each end to prevent seepage. The hole in the block is approximately the diameter of the barrel, the barrel is then turned to a lesser diameter, for the length of the block, to make room for the epoxy.
The velocities of these "big" rifles can reach 3500 feet per second, and some have remaining velocities at 1000 yards of 2100 feet per second. Two of the powder charges used by the 308 Baer rifle are 77.5 grains of Reloader 22 and 82.5 grains of H1000 with the Sierra 220 grain bullet. The powder charges of the 30-378 can be as much as 110 grains of H1000 powder, with a 220 grain Sierra bullet. Another load for the 30-378 is 104 grains of 5010 with a 200 grain Sierra Match bullet. Most of the shooters use the Federal 215 primer. The bullets most used are the Sierra Matchking, in 30 caliber, in 200 and 220 grains. The Burger 210 grain bullet with Moly-coat is gaining popularity.
Earl Chronister is presently working with a cartridge built on the 50 caliber machine gun case. He is shortening the case, and necking it down to take a .338 caliber, 300 grain bullet. He told me that he has shot under 20" groups with this cartridge so far. It is still in the developmental stage.
Earl Chronister also was experimenting with a 30-378 case, threading a tube into the flash hole from the inside of the case so that the primer flash would ignite the powder just behind the bullet rather than the conventional way of ignition being just ahead of the flash hole. This is an inverted ignition system. He shot ammunition loaded in this inverted system in the super match in 1993, and did well, but not much better than the conventional way of priming.
World record holders over the past years for smallest group ever shot have been:
|Leonard Aunkst||Milton, Pa.||12.625"||10/67|
|Paul Kempfer||Wellsburg, New York||8.500"||4/68|
|Lee Hocker||Camp Hill, Pa.||8.468"||8/69|
|Mary L. Devito||Williamsport, Pa.||7.687"||10/70|
|Kenneth Keefer||New Columbia, Pa.||6.125"||9/74|
|Rick Taylor||Annapolis, Maryland||5.039"||8/80|
|Earl Chronister||York, Pa.||4.375"||7/87|
|Robert Frey||Airville, Pa.||4.076"||7/93|
|Frank Weber||Steelton, Pa.||3.960"||11/93|
|John K. Voneida II||White Deer, Pa.||3.151"||7/95|
Kenneth Keefer shot his group of 6.125 on September of 1974, he also shot a perfect score of 100 with his group. Earl Chronister shot a perfect score of 100 and had a 5.500" group in August of 1986. Frank Weber shot a perfect score of fifty on the old military "A" target with the 12" bullseye. John Voneida shot a perfect score of 100 with his group on July 8, 1995. These are the only 4 perfect scores ever shot in the 1000 yard benchrest club history. To clarify this, there have only been 3 perfect "100" scores shot, but there have been 4 perfect "50's" shot. The first by Cliff Hocker 6/8/69, Frank Weber 10/25/70, Lowell Amand 11/11/79 in the banquet shoot, and Ken Ridenour 11/10/85 in the super shoot.
This variation of perfect scores brought about by the different targets used over the years.
Robert Frey, of Airville, Pa., shot a world record group of 4.076" on July 25th, 1993. The previous record was 4.375 inches set in July of 1987 by Earl Chronister of York, Pa. Bob's group was shot in the second relay of the match at approximately 9:45 A.M. under sunny skies and calm conditions. Bob is 42 years old' and has shot at this range for 10 years. His gun is a 308 Baer with a Hart barrel. Browning action, and he uses a 24 power Leupold scope. The rifle was chambered by Bruce Baer, blocked and bedded by Bob Frey. This record group was entered in the Guinnes Book of Records as are all world record groups. Probably the desire to hold the world record for the smallest group ever fired is the strongest driving force among all the 1000 yard benchrest shooters. Many feel that aggregate for group for the year, and aggregate for score for the year are equally important. More emphasis has been placed on score in recent years than on group. Many say, "Sure you have to be good to shoot a small group, but you can place that group anywhere on the target. But you have to place your shots in the center of the target to shoot a high score."
The next world record holder was Frank Weber of Steelton, Pa., with a group of 3.960 inches, shot on November 14th, 1993. Frank's group was shot in the first relay of the day, about 10; 30 A.M. The conditions were wet and rainy, very still, and very unusual for this range. Frank has been with the club from near the very beginning. His rifle is a 308 Baer, with an Obermeyer barrel, chambered by Bruce Baer, using a Unerti scope.
John K. Voneida II of White Deer, Pa., holds the present World Record group of 3.151 inches, shot on July 8, 1995. John does his own gunsmithing, and made up his own rifle consisting of a 721 Remington Action, with a barrel made by Clyde Hart in New York, and a cartridge made out of 375 H & H brass puckered down to 30 caliber, and shoots Sierra 200 grain Match King bullets. He told me he got hold of some old bullets that were at least 10 years old, and were "extra special." When he went to the match that day, he didn't think he would do very well because he though his barrel was "shot out." His rifle weighs but a mere 35 pounds, wood laminated stock, with a 24 power Leupold scope. As has been said, "He done good, that day."
David Shull shot a club record 10 match score aggregate of 900 in 1984, and this is the longest standing club record to date ....
Gene Plants, who owned the rifle range at the time, had the distinction of shooting the LARGEST group ever shot. Gene's group measured 79 inches. Remember, the target is only 72 inches wide. Gene shot his group, in the wind, corner to corner on the target.
Over the years. Bill Hagerman and Earl Chronister have been the "hottest" shooters in the club. Both have won many awards. Both have won the aggregate award more than once.
Bill Hagerman, from West Long Branch, New Jersey, shoots a 308 Baer rifle. In 1992 Bill Hagerman shot in; all 10 matches, had all 10 shot on paper each match, and his groups averaged 9.515". In the "Best 6 Matches of the Year contest," Bill averaged 8.005" per group per match, and had an average score of 94 per match. The fact most fascinating about Bill's shooting ability is the speed with which he shoots. He is not only accurate, he is fast. Bill shoots his 10 shots accurately on the target, and close to the center in less than 32 SECONDS. Yes, I said, "In less than 32 seconds." Come to the range and witness it for yourself. I have.
Bill Hagerman's theory on shooting fast is to get there with all 10 shots quickly, before the wind or conditions change. Bill shot one windy day, put them all down there quickly and shot an 8 inch group. All the other competitors in that same relay shot groups of 36 inches or larger. It must pay to get them down there rapid fire. Many think, "Get there fastest with the mostest."
Many shooters "dope" the conditions. They check the wind directions by reading the flags available at the benches, at 300 yards, at 600 yards and at the targets; read the mirage and light conditions, and then shoot when conditions are similar for each shot. Bill Hagerman pours them down there when he feels the conditions are most calm and constant, then fires quickly and accurately.
Back around Christmas time in 1967, after we had held the first 4 1000 yard matches, and the smallest group was a little over 12 inches, I bet Bill The is $5.00 that no one would ever shoot a group under 10 inches. I had a rifle at that time that would shoot 5 shot groups under a quarter inch at 100 yards, and the best I could do with it was 17 inches at 1000 yards. The rifles we had then were nothing more that heavy deer rifles. The traditional wooden stock, heavy barrel (inch and a quarter at the muzzle) with a mauser or military action, and the two guard screws coming up through the stock to the action.
Most generally the barreled actions were pressure bedded in the stock. This type of gun shoots well, but not well enough to compete at 1000 yards. I read and studied the results of the 9th match in 1996, and there were 80 participants that actually shot, and 26 of these shooters had. groups under 10 inches. That is 32 percent. Imagine, 32 percent of the shooters in the match shot under 10 inches. Ten inches at 1022 yards is less than a minute of angle. Just impossible. The average person can not sight that fine. I was master of ceremonies at the 1996 banquet, I told the story of the $5.00 bet:above, called Bill Theis up to the microphone, and paid him his $5.00 in front of all the 104 witnesses. He thanked me, and wanted to know where the compound interest was? I told him to see my wife about that...
At the 29th annual banquet, on October 9th, 1996, at the Holiday Inn on East Third Street, in Williamsport, Pa., I, as I mentioned above, was the master of ceremonies, and had the honor and privilege of presenting the first ever. Hall of Fame Awards. A member enters the Hall of Fame the year after he accumulates 125 points for accomplished achievement and recognition. Points are given to a shooter for place in aggregate - group and score, 6 and 10 match, and small group and high score each year. Points are also given for record group, "100" score, and record aggregates, and for setting world records.
Nineteen men and one woman were inducted into the club Hall of Fame on October 9th, 1996. The nineteen men were: George Stephanis, Bill Hagerman, Les Wilcox, Al Teichner, Howard Wolfe, Clair Peters, Joe Doebler, Bob Wolfe, Earl Chronister, Lowell Amand, George Reeder, David Shull, Greg Amand, Bruce Baer, Rick Taylor, Paul Dewalt, Les Hagerman, Kenneth Keefer, and Alien Eveler. The only woman inducted out of the over 200 members in the club, most of them being men, was Sarah Morgan, the club secretary, from Williamsport Pennsylvania.
At the 29th annual banquet, club president Bill Hagerman gave recognition and presented elaborate and attractive plaques to the three original Founding Fathers; William K. Theis, George H. Reeder, and David H. Troxell, all originally from the Williamsport, Pa. area. These three men each gave comments about how the club came about, and what part each played in organizing the club back in 1967. Plaques were given to Tom Kenyon, Donald Park, Nick Campbell and Pete Wurster as well, for becoming Founding Fathers in the year 1968.
The club built a building, a "Club House" that measures 30 feet by 60 feet. Besides being used for storing the targets and other equipment, the building is used for meetings, and during the shoots they measure the targets in there in the comfort of warmth and shelter. Spring plans are to use a corner of the club house to display the Hall of Fame Awards, trophies and a list of the Founding Fathers Awards.
Paul Dewalt, now 90 years of age, shot in all 10 matches in 1992, and kept all 10 shots on paper for each match, and had a group average of 11.117: for the year. Paul led the club in 6 match aggregate for group in 1990 with 7.973 inches, and again in 1991 with 8.530 inches. In 1990, Paul also led the club in score with 890 points for 10 matches.
There were over 190 members in the club as of June 15, 1993. These 190 plus members are more than likely some of the very best shots in the country. In 1992 the first 17 shooters averaged under 10" groups for the year. The first 30 shooters shot under 11 inch groups. Seventy of the shooters that kept ail 10 shots on paper for all the 10 scheduled shoots shot under 21 inches for the year. (By the way, in 1968 only two shooters kept all 10 shots on paper for all the 10 scheduled matches: Kenneth Reeder and David Troxell.) For score;, the first 10 shooters averaged over 91 out of a possible 100 score. Fifty eight of the 70 shooters averaged over 80 in score.
In 1993, for the year's ten scheduled matches, there were 155 different competitors as compared to 139 for 1992. There was an average of 88 shooters per match, the youngest being Tamara Bryan, of Williamsport, Pa., age 13, and the oldest competitor was Paul Dewalt, age 87. Eleven women competed in the ten sanctioned matches. The smallest group for a woman 7.506" was shot by Alice Moody and the highest score shot by a woman was 97, fired by Linda Hagerman. The smallest group for the men was 3.960 shot by Frank Weber (a world record at the time) of Steelton, Pa./ and the highest score 99 was shot by Les Hagerman and also by John Voneida.
The year 1993 was very exciting. The groups keep getting smaller and the scores getting higher. For the ten aggregate matches (including shoot-offs) the club had a total of 159 groups shot under 10 inches. There were two 4" groups, two 5" groups, twelve 6" groups, twenty two 7" groups, forty five 8" groups and seventy six 9" groups. Also, for the ten aggregate matches, (including shoot-offs) the club had a total of 71 scores of 94 or better. Two 99 scores, seven 98 scores, five 97 scores, eighteen 96 scores, eighteen 95 scores, and twenty one 94 scores. There were 44 targets measured that had all 10 shots in the black and we had 41 shooters with 10 shots on target for all 10 matches.
In 1994 we had a total of 194 groups shot under 10 inches. There were six 5" groups, twenty 6" groups, thirty-seven 7" groups, seventy 8" groups and sixty one 9" groups. For the 10 aggregate matches (including shoot-offs), we had a total of 91 scores of 94 or better. There were 78 targets measured that had all 10 shots in the black, and 40 shooters had all 10 shots on target for all 10 matches. The smallest group for a woman 5.823 was shot by Machell McCoy, and the highest score shot by a woman (98) was fired by Dollie Keefer. The smallest group for the men was 5.177 shot by Harvey Metz. Jr. Out of 10 matches. Bill Hagerman and John Brownlee each won 6 relays in the group catagory. The top aggregate 22 shooters in 1994 averaged groups under 10 inches.
This is the year (1995) that the world record group of 3.151 inches was set by John Voneida. He had a perfect score of 100 and had 5 X's. This year's ten aggregate matches brought in 144 different competitors and we had an average of 94.6 shooters per match. The smallest group shot by a woman was 6.056 inches by Dollie Keefer,, and the highest score shot by a woman (95) was fired by both Dollie Keefer and Betty Lauver. The smallest group measured for the men, in an aggregate match was 5.928 fired by Bill Kottmyer. (John Voneida's 3.151 World record and Ed Mackert's second highest group of 5.282 was fired in the Super shoot.) For the ten aggregate matches (including shoot-offs) we had a total of 174 groups shot under 10 inches. There was one 5" group, twelve 6" groups, twenty-six 7" groups, sixty-four 8" groups and seventy-one 9" groups. Also, for the ten aggregate matches (including shoot-off s) we had a total of 65 scores of 94 or better. There were 46 targets measured (including shoot-offs and Super Shoot) that had all 10 shots in the black. Out of ten matches (in group) Les Wilcox won 5 relays and Walt Bryan and Wayne Eveler both won 4.
In 1995, Hubie Hakes in the 16 1/2 pound rifle sporter class, for the year, took first place in group with 12.063 aggregate, and first place for score with an aggregate score of 85.750.
The 1996 shooting season for the Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club was another banner year. This years ten aggregate matches brought in 158 different competitors and out of this number of shooters we had 83 who competed in 6 or more matches making them eligible for aggregate awards. There were 44 shooters who shot in all ten matches keeping all ten shots on target. For the ten aggregate matches (including shoot-offs) we had a total of 167 groups under 10 inches and 21 shooters with scores of 96 or better. There were four 5" groups, twelve 6" groups, thirty 7" groups, forty-four 8" groups, and seventy-seven 9" groups. There were 41 groups shot all in the black. Fourteen women and a number of young shooters competed regularly in the sanctioned matches. The smallest group for a woman was 7.179 inches, shot by Carol Cassel, and the highest score was fired by Sarah Morgan with a 97. Eighteen shooters averaged under 10" for the year. Forty Five shot groups averaging under 12", and 74 of the shooters averaged under 15 inches.
In 1996, the top shooters of the year were: Wayne Eveler for the best group aggregate with an average group of 9.440 inches for 10 matches. Bill Bowman had the best score average of 88.6 for 10 matches. Kenneth Keefer had the highest score of the year with 99. Ray Culp shot the smallest group of the year measuring 5.494 inches. The best woman shooter for the year with a group average of 9.804" was Sarah Morgan. The best average score winner for the year by a woman was Kathy Saltalmachia with a score average of 93.
George H. Reeder is a very prominent, very active member. He is one of the original organizers, a Founding Father, has been a member since the club's inception. He was the club's first Vice President, the second President, and then became the Range Master. George has been an advisor for many years and was Assistant Range Master again in 1996.
We have had shooters from all over the U.S. compete in our matches. Shooters come from Long Branch, New Jersey; Akron, Ohio; Whitman, Massachusetts; Seabrook, Maryland; Wellsburg, New York; Twin Falls, Idaho; Pasadena and West Hollywood, California; St. Anns, Missouri; Tasmania, Australia; Mexico City, Mexico; and literally from all across the state of Pennsylvania.
Surprise - Surprise
On July 13th and 14th 1996, the club held their annual Two-Day, World, Open, Super Shoot. There were 92 shooters on Saturday, and 102 shooters on Sunday. Jamie Cass from Danbury, North Carolina just might have dispelled "The Experts" theory that a .224 diameter bullet cannot shoot accurately at 1022 yards. Using his 22-243, with 75 grain JLK bullets, Jamie out-gunned everyone to win the Grand Champion Award at The Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club Inc. two day Super Shoot. His 8.862" and 9.394" groups for a.two-day aggregate of 9.128" along with scores of 98 and 94 for a two-day score aggregate of 96 enabled him to take home to North Carolina the top prize of a Black Star barrel of his choice and 50% off any Night Force scope (total retail value of approximately $1000). Jamie Cass uses a Lilja barrel, Hall action and a Tasco scope. Jamie does his own gunsmith work. Competitors these two days came from as far away as the state of Washington.
Proof that this really is a family sport, there have been at least 74 women participate in sanctioned competition, and many young competitors. Mary Louise DeVito set the world record in September 1970 with a group of 7.687 inches. Nellie Bitner shot the highest score by a woman in 1972 with a score of 48. Judy Smith shot the smallest group of 1975 with a group of 8.062 inches. August 2, 1987, Tonya Ridenour shot the highest score ever by a woman, a 99. Women who have shot 98's are, Sarah Morgan, Shirley Graybill, Shirley Graybill (again), and Dollie Keefer. Sarah Morgan won the 10 match group aggregate in 1991 with a 9.768 group average. Kathy Saltaiamachia won the 10 match score aggregate in 1994 with a total score of 870. In the 1994 Super Shoot, Kathy Saltaiamachia shot a "2 day aggregate" of 6.167" with groups of 5.571" and 6.762." The group of 5.571 inches is the smallest group ever fired on our range by a woman. June 26, 1994, Machell McCoy shot the smallest aggregate match group by a woman, 5.823 inches.
The officers for 1997 are; President: Bill Hagerman, Vice President: Bill Miller, Secretary: Sarah Morgan, Treasurer: Kenneth Keefer, Range Master: Hubie Hakes, Assistant Range Master: Bob Aronson, Target Chairman: Tom Kenyon, Assistant Target Chairman: Paul (Pete) Shaffer, Pit Chairman; Tilden Kuhns, Assistant Pit Chairman: Betty Lauver, Public Relations Officer: Darryl Cassel.
The club is located 22.8 miles North East of Williamsport, Pa. It is in Kellyburg, Pa. Drive North out of Williamsport, Pa., on route 15, 10.1 miles. At Trout Run, Pa., go onto route 14. Travel North on 14, 6.8 miles to Bodines, Pa. Turn right at Bodines and follow the road 4.2 miles to the top of the hill to the pine trees that form a dead end. Turn left, and one and one half miles later you will come to an old school house (on your right). Bear left onto the dirt road, and travel 500 yards. The range is on your left. Have fun.
The schedule for the club for 1997 for the official Benchrest 1000 yard matches is as follows: May 4, May 18, June 1, June 22, July 27, August 10, August 24, September 7, September 21, October 5. The Two-Day, World, Open, Super Shoot is on July llth and 12th. The banquet in 1997 is on November 8th. The banquet shoot in 1997 is on November 9th.
The sporter rifle schedule (11 and 16 1/2 pound class) schedule is as follows: May 3, May 17, May 31, June 21, July 26, August 9, August 23, September 6, September 20, October 4.
If you wish to contact the club to ask questions, obtain a membership application, or for any reason, contact: Sarah Morgan, Secretary, P. 0. Box 1413, Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 17703
What has made this club thrive during it's 30 years of operation? The cooperation of the members is the secret of their success. They have worked together in the past, and the present members "get the job done." All past and present officers have worked hard to make it happen. The original officers that started this club did the actual labor required to assemble the range. They built the benches, target frames, wall in the pit, wind socks at the 600 yard mark, range officers hut, installed phone lines, and cleared brush and trees in the line of fire. (I remember working with Ralph Spinney one whole Saturday cutting the limbs off the apple trees just down over the bank in front of the benches. We used hand saws, no chain saws were available.) The present officers and members do the physical labor required too, including clearing the brush.
Our members enjoy their activity tremendously. The members are very friendly. These shooters will help you with your problems. Any member will give you advice if you ask for it. They will even give you proven secrets on how to do well, but are still very competitive and will try their best to beat you. We invite you all to participate, or just observe. There are no STRANGERS at The Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club Inc., just FRIENDS you have yet to meet. Remember, OUR CLUB IS ORIGINAL AND THE WIND IS UNIQUE.
David H. Troxell
A big personal footnote. This article consists of 473 sentences. There are 7,272 words, and approximately 32,231 letters. I lost this complete article three times in a day and a half in my IBM computer and had to re-type it three times until I figured I had overloaded the computer and it couldn't hold it as one article. I cut it in half, made two sections, and now everything is OK. In all, I typed 96,693 key punches in order to get this finished product. It took me 12 hours to produce the first copy. Hope you thoroughly enjoyed reading it, if so, that is thanks enough for my efforts.