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John Cranwell

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Vice President



Celebrity Shooter March 2010

BILL SHEHANE is our first celebrity shooter

Bill answers 10 questions and provides a number of insights into our sport


Celebrity Shooter March 2010

I am very pleased to start a new regular article series entitled "Celebrity Shooter" and I'm really pleased to introduce Bill Shehane as the first celebrity to be interviewed for

I plan to have interviews with Celebrity Shooters from all the related shooting disciplines and as F-Class has often been called "benchrest on your belly" we are starting off with benchrest champion Bill Shehane.  The concept is to ask only 10 questions to our Celebrity Shooter and the questions must relate to their personal experience in competitive shooting.

I'd like to thank Bill for taking time out to answer these questions as I know he is a busy man running D&B Supply with his wife Diane in North Carolina.

Bill is a multiple International Benchrest Shooters  record holder (including 1000 yards) and has been responsible for many wildcat cartridge and target  rifle stock designs. The man is an innovator and once he has designed something that works it stays that way until an improvement is found that actually makes a difference.

Bill, please answer these questions anyway you like and thank you for being  so generous with your time and participating for the benefit of our Australian F-Class shooters. 

First off let me say I am no Celebrity Shooter. Just an ole man enjoying this great sport of shooting longer than most who might read this. Add that to tinkering with the status quo in hopes of making it better has kept me out of trouble and let me enjoy making a living doing something I don't look at as a job. What in life could be better than that?

Q1. What do you consider to be your best moment in competition shooting? 

That would be hard to narrow down to one era. Handgun silhouettes in the early days, indoor and outdoor archery, "Point Blank" Benchrest and now long range benchrest. Each one had what I would call my best moments in that discipline but in the long range game I would have to say winning the 2004 IBS 1000yd. National Championship after having been declared over the hill at the ripe old age of 60. Yep, that was one I will always cherish. One of my shooting Buddies made me a hat after that weekend and I still have it in my office-- says Old Dog on the front and New Tricks on the back. Thats what this game is all about--the memories one makes as he plods along.

Q2. What is your favourite caliber/class in benchrest shooting?

Hard to pick one but I guess I did more winning with the 6's and 6.5's in light gun. Then I was prodded to build a real man's rifle in 30 cal. so I had a pretty good streak winning using the 300Ackley on my Maxi Tracker in Heavy Gun. Still I never did like lugging that heavy gun around, especially after I got a bit older. So the light Gun and 6-284 early on and the 6.5-284Shehane later would be my pick.  

Q3. How much in common does benchrest have with F-Class shooting in technique and equipment ?

I'd have to say F class and Benchrest have more in common in equipment than in technique. Most good 600-1000yd. BR rifles ( even though the weight is only 16.5 or 17lbs.) that win at that game would do fine in beginning F class. Other than the feet used on the F class rests they are most all the same. Rear sand bags tend to be close to the same with some F class shooters using spacers under the bags for the differences in the ranges. Scopes, I don't see lots of differences either, other than most F class shooters prefer the side focus over the front focus, but power is normally about the same from 24 up to  and including some 42 & 50's now being tried.  

Not having shot many F class matches but been to many I'd say the technique to do well is a lot different on one's belly. Most benchrest shooters, with the exception of the one's shooting the light guns in 30 or 338 tend to hold the rifle very light and some even shoot what we call free recoil. In my little experience in laying on my belly I tried this too with a little success but see where one would want a stock he could get a good firm cheek weld on and a vertical pistol grip to pull it back against the shoulder for greater overall control of the rifle.  

But to me the big difference is in the way both shooters get their record bullets on target. In all the years I shot 1000yd. BR I have seen very few shooters who could take the complete ten minutes and pick their way through the changing conditions and win. Not having the benefit of scoring each shot during your 5 or 10 shots, one has to be very good or extremely lucky to win picking the conditions. The ones that do this best are the belly shooters or F class shooters who come try their luck in the BR game. Reason being the years of flag reading- shooting and the spotter plotting your shots. That is why your belly shooters always do very well when they take up benchrest shooting and most all BR shooters can learn a ton about condition reading buy shooting F class too.

Now I know I'll hear a lot of flak for this statement but this is the way I feel and I'm gonna say it. Over the years you hear a lot of F class or more belly shooters say most benchrest shooters rely more on luck that skill to shoot good groups and scores. I've heard all about the "Spray & Pray"and "Poke & Hope" BR shooters and understand to an extent. But in today's competition in 600 & 1000yd. benchrest it takes an enormous amount of preparation and practice shooting in all conditions to win.

In any shooting discipline, no matter how you put your shots on target, to win you must do your homework and have a burning desire to win or it just won't happen. You won't back into any championship because you got lucky in the shooting sport. 

Q4. For F-Class ranges from 300 to 1000 yards is one gun or multiple guns the best solution? 

Like I said earlier I've done very little F class shooting but in my way of thinking I'd hate to show up for a 300-1000yd. match of any kind with a 105gn. bullet at 2800fps. in a 6BR if the conditions were really bad. Trust me, I've been there and it ain't no fun!! 1999 IBS Nationals in Va. while hurricane Andrew poured 25"s of rain and wind on us in 3 days. We all thought it was all gone off the coast but it came back in and stayed the whole weekend right on top of us. What I would have given for one of the big 7's on that weekend in both guns, light and heavy. I tend to think those kind of lesions are the ones that stick with me -- I know that did with me.

I think the last few years F class World Championships can attest to that, in the fact the 168-180gn. bullets faired pretty well against extremely good and experienced condition shooters using the 140-142gn. bullets. I have 2 sets for 1000yd. BR. rifles and one I shoot most of the time I call the other my survival pair. I was at the NBRSA 1000yd. Nationals in  Byers Colorado once shooting a 300gn. bullet in .338 at 3000 fps. in heavy gun and a 142gn. bullet at 3050 fps. in light gun. I can tell you it is a lot easier to keep the big bullets on the paper when one has to dial in 40 "s of windage to stay on paper. Needless to say in heavy gun there were only a few who survived and I'm glad I had my survival gun since it was a good 30 hrs. away from the house. 

Q5. You are an innovator in wildcat cartridges, what do you consider to be your best? 

Hard to pick just one because we are having a good run now with the .284's but my all time favourite has to be the 6's of any kind since I started in this game as a varmint hunter with my 6-284. 

Q6. I am interested in using the Shehane 284 for the long ranges with the high BC 180gr VLDs. Can you offer any insights into the best chamber and brass preparation  for this combo? 

Pretty simple to load for in the fact you have two excellent pieces of brass to start with in the Lapua and Norma. And the older I get the less I like turning necks, especially since the quality of these two cases are very good. I like the no turn neck chamber with a .318 neck and a .188 free bore for the 180's. Dave Kiff ( Pacific Tool Co. ) who makes my reamers also agrees with me on that. For a tight neck turn case then .313 or even .314-.315 would be ok with a pass of the neck turning tool. I just like the .318 no turn neck, all I have to do to prep the brass is to measure the length of the batch of cases I'm making for that rifle ( Usually 100 ) and find the shortest one. Set my Wilson trimmer up to just square the case mouth. Deburr inside and out and trim the balance of the batch to that length. Prime with Federal 210's and set in the loading tray ready to load. I fire form using the 180's into the lands and this shoots extremely well. Some like H4831sc or R-17 and I load up 2 full grains back of my max. load to fire form.  I'll not post how much of either but I'm sure you can work your setup with care to not cause any overloads. After I have fire formed the cases I then cut my primer pockets square and to the proper depth and leave my cutter at that setting. I use the same cutter then after every round to clean the pockets. You will be surprised how it will cut more brass about every time you fire it. I think this helps with ignition uniformity and it has worked for me many years. After you fire the case in the chamber the length will get shorter so since you have already trimmed all to the same length- record that measurement and don't trim again till you exceed that by .015. Like I said, that's simple. 

Q7. I believe the USA F-Class team may be changing over from 6.5mm to 7mm, after the 7mm performed so well at Bisley in the UK. What do you think of this change in caliber? 

Of coarse I think it would be much to their advantage since they are already used to the recoil of the 140gn. bullet going to the 180 won't be that big a deal like it would for a shooter going from 6BR to the 180's.  

Q8. Your innovation also includes stock design, can we expect any big changes to stock design for competitions? 

One never knows and never say never. You have to look and listen a lot to make any change that really works. We make subtle changes on the designs we make now that have proven to make the stock work better. But in this game you best not sit on your fingers and gloat on your success. There is always a better way to make something work. Sometimes it is as simple as a flat up the side of the forend of the stock to stop the rifle from torque-ing in the bags. Other times you work on something you know in your heart will help and it ends up in the kindling box. That don't mean you quit looking, one just goes on to the next idea and tests it till you know it works.

Q9. What does the MBR stand for in the MBR Tracker name? 

M is the Roman numeral for 1000, BR  for benchrest and Tracker is just our brand name.  See how simple! 

Q10. What do you think we as target shooters can do better to promote our sport? 

Simple to say but sometimes hard to do. WOMEN & CHILDREN are the key. I have always said that we have to involve, support and advertise to the women and kids to get them involved in a real Family sport. Once they start we have to help them achieve success and then you could not run them off. Our club here in North Carolina started, many years ago a junior scholarship program to aid young shooters to father their education after high school. A $2000. scholarship is awarded at the clubs awards banquet every year. These are your shooters of tomorrow. They will leave the sport at sometime but most will return if they are involved early in life.

One other thing that is extremely important is this. Young, middle aged and old shooters must have fun at the matches. With everything going on today to pull at the leisure time of everyone, if they do not have fun they won't continue. Make it easier to compete and help them to win and I assure you they will be back. Fuss about rules, a handful of shooters always winning, don't give good awards, don't send in your match reports for the magazines, don't congratulate all the winners and charge too much to shoot and soon you will be shooting by yourself. Fun is and always will be the key to growth in any shooting sport. 

Thanks again for participating Bill! 

If any shooter is curious about Bill Shehane and his products have a look at his very interesting website .  Lots of great products and Australian customers are always welcome.

Note: If like me you are thinking about building a 284 Shehane then Bill is the sole supplier of the Custom Redding Type S Bushing Style Full Length Sizing Die for this calibre. He also can supply the Wilson Chamber Type Bullet Seater. I bought both from Bill and his service is second to none.

Article for by Ian Pavy 10-03-2010