Benchrest Scores


      By Bill Ditman      
  What is benchrest? Benchrest shooting is the search for the ultimate in rifle precision. Benchrest shooters worry about thousandths of an inch on the target because the matches are usually won by just a few thousandths. Winners of a benchrest match must not only have first-rate equipment but must master shooting technique and be able to read shooting conditions. Load development is crucial and will change with weather conditions and barrel wear.  
    This is what benchrest shooters are trying to achieve. This is a  .076 group-5 shots at 100 yards  
BENCHREST Matches at River Bend
Benchrest matches are held at River Bend every month except January and February. Matches are held on MultiPurpose 1 range and are usually fired at 100 and 200 yards. Most matches fire two or three classifications, Benchrest, Modified and Production. If there are not many modified and production rifles at a match those two categories may be combined. We are a NBRSA (National Benchrest Shooters Association) club and usually have one sanctioned match per year. For 2002 and 2003 the sanctioned match has been the Southeast Region Sporter and Unlimited Championship match.
Match Types
Two types of matches are shot. We shoot group matches and score matches on alternate months. Group matches are those matches where the scoring is done by measuring the size of a five shot group. Groups are measured center to center of the two shots farthest apart. The winner is determined by who fires the smallest average group. Score matches are fired at five individual targets per match and scored according to number of Xs, 10s, 9s etc the shooter scores. A perfect score for one match would be a 50-5X. These are occasionally fired but not often.
Firing Procedure
Bench rest shooting as the name implies is shot from a bench. There are twenty concrete benches on the Multipurpose 1 range. All shooting is done from a sitting position. The front of the rifle is supported by a mechanical rest and /or sandbag. The rear of the rifle is supported by a sandbag. The challenge in benchrest shooting is to shoot he smallest size group or highest score. This requires the shooter to develop the optimum load for his rifle and the prevailing weather conditions, pay attention to the scores of details in shooting, and allowing for the proper wind conditions. Benchrest is a sport for the tinkerer who always thinks there is another small change which will improve his score.
Benchrest Rifles
Benchrest rifles are usually custom built rifles with high power scopes. A typical rifle will be a custom action or sometimes a Remington, custom barrel and stock, and light trigger. The most common caliber is 6PPC. Trigger pulls of one or two ounces are common. Scopes are usually 36 or 45 power. A benchrest rifle usually has no safety. When not ready to fire the bolt is removed. Rifles are built in four classes, Light Varmint 10 pounds max, Heavy Varmint 13 1/5 pound max, Sporter 10 pound max minimum of 23 caliber, and Unlimited which are any weight and almost any configuration. For the monthly matches we do not separate the benchrest rifles by category.
Modified Rifles
Any production built rifle which has been modified except it cannot have the 3 inch wide fore end found on bench rest class rifles. Most modified rifles are rebarreled production guns, some of which may be restocked and a custom trigger installed. Light calibers are common such as 223 or 22-250 although thirty calibers are sometimes shot. High power scopes (up to 45 X) are common.
Production Rifles
Any production rifle which has not been rebarreled. Remingtons of various calibers and Savages in 223 or 22-250 are common and do very well. High power scopes are common.
Miscellaneous Equipment

This is where benchrest shooters really stand out. Benchrest shooters are gadget fanatics. Almost everyone loads at the range. Look at a benchrest shooters range setup and its difficult to tell if they are going to shoot a rifle or perhaps build one. The shooter will have one or more shooting boxes with powder measures, at least one loading press, usually an arbor press type, loading dies, priming tool, bullet seater, various measuring tools, cleaning rods, cleaning cradle, several types of cleaning solvents, loading blocks, bullets and a dozen other gadgets. Most benchrest shooters use wind flags to help determine when to shoot and how far off to hold to compensate for wind drift. Three to five wind flags per shooter is common.
  Getting Started
Most people start shooting in the production class. This takes the least capital outlay and permits the shooter to determine if benchrest shooting is his cup of tea. New shooters will find that the established shooters are very helpful. Advice is freely given and equipment is often loaned to a new shooter so they can see what a real benchrest rifle will really do. Come watch a match and talk to the shooters.