Derek Rodgers is from Albuquerque, NM. As a child, he was introduced to shooting by his father. His passion for hunting and shooting continued to grow through his formative years. Derek discovered F-Class in 2006. This discipline matched his desire to become a better hunter and long range shooter. Derek shot his first NRA sanctioned match in 2007, and has since won several major National level matches.
In 2010, Derek won the F-Open Nationals in Sacramento, CA. He also won the 2013 F-TR Nationals, making him the only person to win both divisions. He has added numerous gold medals from various matches, including the 2013 Sinclair East Coast Nationals and the 2015 Berger SW Nationals. Derek holds both, past and present 1000 yard, 20 shot, National Records with the current score of 200-12x. Derek enjoys spending his time outdoors with his wife and two daughters, ages 12 and 7. He is blessed by his faith and supported by his family. He is humbled by his many accomplishments. Derek is most satisfied knowing he has been able to overcome the long strides at perfecting his skills and continues to learn from his errors. His goal is to be able to pass on what he has learned to the next generation.
My individual and team results at the U.S. F-Class National Championships in FTR were as follows:
2007 – My first NRA sanctioned F-Class match. I placed middle of FTR; 1st Team
2008 – (Did not attend / My 2nd beautiful baby girl was born)
2009 – 3rd FTR Individual; 1st Team
2010 – 1st OPEN Individual; Team Sinclair did Not shoot
2011 – Middle of pack individually; 1st Team
2012 – Gun bedding issues; I placed in the middle; 1st Team
2013 – 1st FTR Individual; 1st Team
2014 – 2nd FTR Individual; 1st Team
2015 – Looking for a top finish …..
My individual and team results at the World F-Class Championships in FTR were as follows:
2013 – 9th individual; 1st Team USA
I was a member of the 2009 and 2013 USA F-Class FTR team. I hold many U.S. National Records in open and civilian categories, both in team and individual competition. I am also the previous and current Individual F-TR National Record holder at 1000 yards. 200-11x and now the pending record of 200-12x.
Your favorite reloading product?
I really like my Bench Source Case Annealer. There is something about watching fire that I find relaxing. I can watch those shells go around the wheel for hours.
Optic you find most useful?
Nightforce NXS Scopes
Rest, bipod or shooting accessory you can’t live without?
I’m currently using a Duplin bipod. At 17.2 ozs it allows me a solid platform to shoot from and the extra wiggle room to make weight with a heavy barrel and Nightforce NXS scope.
How did you get started shooting?
I was raised in New Mexico where outdoor activities are abundant. Once my father introduced me to a Crossman Pellet gun, all I wanted to do was shoot and refine my skills. Shooting evolved into hunting and then into perfecting my skills in off-season matches. Shooting local F-Class matches made me better as a marksman. Now I feel like I am competitive with anyone. However, I will never forget where my roots started with hunting and still cherish the opportunity to hunt, as well as, compete when I get the chance.
Why did you get into FTR shooting?
During hunting season I would always see something that was out of my range. I always pondered on how I could close that distance in areas that would not allow a closer stalk. I figured a 50 cal was the ticket and proceeded with a big, heavy gun and began shooting competitions with it at the Whittington Center. I soon realized, I wasn’t that good, the rifle wasn’t that accurate and it really wasn’t what I was hoping for. Fortunately I read an article that a local shooter was in and at that moment was introduced to F-Class. I began attending and shooting local matches with calibers and twists that weren’t ideal for F-Class. It was on one normal windy New Mexico day that a shooter said they never held outside of the 9 ring. I was shooting flat based bullets that would stabilize in my slow twist rate barrel and I had to hold all the way off the target board to hit the center of the target! That is when I realized I needed better gear suited for long range shooting.
What do you find most challenging?
What I find most challenging about precision shooting sports is how great shooters are able to reflect on what was learned; both positively and negatively. It is important to slow down and perform this step. Stopping to reflect and learn from mistakes I’ve made on the firing line is challenging. Not many people enjoy accurately critiquing themselves. Also the wind usually blows here in New Mexico and choosing the right time to shoot and to stop is important. It’s often tempting to try to finish out a string of fire. But sometimes challenging yourself to quit and wait out some wind will pay off if you have the time.
What is the one piece of gear you cannot do without?
I can’t do without my board under the bipod. We shoot off sand at my local range and in most cases the feet will tend to dig holes if not supported. It is necessary gear for me.
What is the one piece of shooting gear that people would not suspect that is a mainstay in your bag?
Chronograph. I use a Magneto speed to slow down or speed up loads into an accuracy node. It is amazing that most barrels will shoot very accurately when fired at certain known velocity nodes.
What is in range bag for meet days?
Multi Piece Brownells tool set, RX Glasses, Sunglasses, Range Rod, Towel, ECI’s, Jacket, Sunscreen, Foam Ear Protection, Ear Muffs, Data Book, Plot Sheets, Pen, Clip Board, Ipod with ballistic Data and gum.
Walk us through an average day at the range. What training drills do you use?
I go the range with a specific purpose on what I wish to accomplish for the outing. Usually I’m testing and tweaking a load that shows potential. I may also shoot groups over my chronograph to find velocity and standard deviations per load. If I question a load I will sometimes also put a known load through an “acid” test. I see if it will wash out by giving a good load no preference to special loading practices. At the end of the day a great load needs to be accurate. So it’s good to put the load through a variety of tests. I usually do any final verification at local matches. I do not like testing at local matches. I’d much rather use local matches as if I’m hiring an inexpensive target puller to make a final confirmation the load is a keeper.
Who would you recommend for metal work on your rifle?
I have used some good gunsmiths over the years. The best recommendation I can give is for a person to get to know a gunsmith. If you can find a local gunsmith that is available--even better! If you run into a snag along the way, it is so nice to be able to work it out without sending things back and forth. Be honest, realistic with your expectations and tell the gunsmith what you want. If he only wants to do things his way, or takes extra or excessive time in meeting the goals, you may want to consider someone else.
Who would you recommend for stock work on your rifle?
Alex Sitman from Master Class Stocks and Doan Trevor can build or fix most anything.
Who has been your biggest influence in shooting?
My biggest influence in shooting early on is my dad for getting me into shooting as a sport. Now my wife and girls support me and help keep my desire to shoot against the best shooters fueled. I can always rely on my wife giving me a pep talk if I don’t shoot well.
What rear bag do you use?
I have an Edgewood bag that I’ve used for years. Recently, I got a SEB Bigfoot and like how it supports gun and stay put under recoil.
What do you do to mentally prepare before you shoot? Walk us through your pre-competition preparation?
I relax and try to remember I do this for fun. I anticipate what game plan I want to go to the line with. I also try to take small snapshots of the conditions. I do not like getting overloaded with staring down a spotting scope for long periods of time. I try not to get overwhelmed with the match and just shoot my game. 1 shot at a time--good or bad. I will usually tell my scorer what I’m going to do so he / she is ready as well.
What is something you would not recommend before a shoot?
I do not recommend coming unprepared. If you are late, scrambling around, or do not have your gear in order, you will not perform at your best.
Did you come from another discipline?
Yes, I shot 50 BMG, 1000 yard matches for a couple years before FTR.
When not shooting FTR what other things do you enjoy doing?
Spending time doing family things, outdoor activities, fishing & hunting.
What style of action are you using? (Right feed/Right eject)
Left bolt / Left port
What is your process when beginning to work up a load? Walk us through your load development.
I have 2 log books that have many combinations that work with 308’s. I have tried to keep detailed notes in these books. Now I am reaping the rewards, as I can go back to a particular twist and barrel length and find something very close. I usually start with 3-shot groups and check the chamber behavior. If something looks promising I will go back to the range and load up 6 shot groups. If those shoot well, I take it to a match to verify it in a 20 shot string. If it passes that test it is either good to go or I table it and try another. I tend to pick mild loads that the cartridge shoots well--consistently.
Best advice you would give a beginner?
Partner up with an experienced shooter that is ranked nationally. Mentoring under a veteran shooter would be the best way to help save time learning instead of experimenting. Chances are an experienced shooter has already tried what you are considering. As a new shooter, do not get sucked into reading all of the opinionated blogs on the internet. Stick to good information. www.6mmbr.com is a great resource with a wealth of information from knowledgeable writers. This site has articles that are based from facts and/or industry news and information.
What your ingredients to the winning team Sinclair recipe? (What is your strength in team Sinclair?)
We have team synergy. It is hard to get that amongst a team. I don’t have to wonder if my team is behind me. They are there and that is important for me to know. They give me the confidence to push harder. They are positive and encouraging. We are always respectful of each other and our shooting peers.
How often do you practice?
I try to shoot 1 x a week if I can get away in the evening or on the weekend. If I am close to finding a load I may try to get out more until I exhaust that load as an option. So there may be occasions that I will try to shoot 3x a week. Fortunately, the winters are mild in New Mexico and it allows me to shoot year round. I actually shoot more when it is colder. The summer sun here can create mirage that is nearly impossible to learn anything in.
How many rounds do you shoot in a year?
What do you wish would be available to further the sport?
I always encourage families to attend. However, shooting long range is sometimes boring for spectators. I have always thought site seeing / day trip touring events or something along that line would be fun for spectators instead of waiting out a long day of shooting. This would help encourage spouses and children to return to events with someone that is in attendance.
What do you need to compete?
I need a solid foundation at home, some extra spending cash, and a gun that is capable to run with the pack.
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