The Benchrest community is best known as the people who shoot little groups. Though this is only one type of competition we conduct, it is the one all others are related to. While competition guns are specially built, every firearm is judged by it's ability to group shots at one time or another. This is a game requiring precision and repeatability. A gun must consistently place shots into a small area to be competitive. The shooter has to read range conditions and adjust the point of aim to compensate for variables. Most modern varmint guns will out perform their operator. This is the challenge of shooting groups! Tuning your gun, learning to read the wind, and adjusting for range variables all contribute to an interesting day at a match. Group placement on the target isn't scored. Simply put them all "through the same hole".
Groups are shot in traditional Benchrest matches and are scored in our 1000-Yard matches. Five shot groups are fired in Varmint matches and 10 shots are the norm in Heavy Bench. Groups are scored by measuring the distance between the centres of the two shots farthest apart on the target. Matches are held at 100, 200 and 300 yards or meters. Five shot matches are 7 minutes long and 10 shot matches last 12 minutes. The target is divided horizontally into a record target, the upper half, and a sighter target, the lower half. You may fire as many, or as few, shots as you want on the sighter but be sure to get the required number on your record before the cease-fire. Moving backers, paper sheets placed behind each target, constantly traverse the record target. These move at a speed great enough to separate each shot from the others. The target crew, and the referees if necessary, will check backers for the required number of shots. A "warm up match" and 5 record matches make up an aggregate. The record matches are scored then averaged to compile your "AGG". The competitor with the smallest average wins. This format furthers the need to be consistent, though you can always "shoot a little one" and lower your average. Many shooters feel this is one of group shooting's strong points. A poorly shot match can always be followed be a great one, allowing for a come back.
Many of the group events involve shooting multiple classes and multiple yardages. Each class and distance is scored separately then combined. Relating all the events fired to "minute of angle" measurements then averaging the scores does this. Each class and then all classes and distances combined are recognized for awards. A shooter doesn't have to fire in all the aggregates of any event. You are free to choose any single class, yardage, or any combination at any of our events. The only requirement is a gun that conforms to the rules for that class. Matches are held in several locations around the world. The match schedule runs year round.
In the sport of Benchrest there are two completely different scoring methods. In group shooting one must put five shots in the smallest group possible. In score shooting each and every shot is scored separately. Therefore, in essence, one could say that score shooting consists of twenty-five one-shot matches at a set distance (100, 200, 300 yards). By this statement we mean that once the shot is fired, and on the target, there is absolutely nothing that can change the score.
A score shooting target consists of 6 targets (a sighter target and 5 record targets) each having rings with a bull and centre dot called an "x". The value of the shot is determined by the highest scoring ring touched. If the shot touches the centre dot or "x", it is scored a 10X - the highest possible score. The five record targets are added together to determine the match score -- highest possible score is 50- 5X. The sighter target may have as many shots on it as you need. The five matches are added to determine the day's score -- highest possible score is 250-25X. Since the inception of score shooting, the Varmint for Score class has reached this highest possible score of 250-25X and now records are kept by wipe-outs. A wipe-out is when the center dot or "x" is completely gone. The other classes will do the same once their records reach the 250-25X mark.
A score shooting match is usually a one-day competition with minimal entry fee. At a normal one-day match the competitor does NOT rotate benches. He draws a bench at the time of registration and stays there the entire match. During a two-day event usually you rotate at the end of the first day (bench rotation means that after shooting either a yardage or a match, you move your equipment a specific number of benches before shooting the next yardage or match).
Although this sounds rather complicated, it is not. With the average competition having 3 to 4 relays of shooters, a match is completed in between 4 to 5 hours. It can be a very relaxing day for the competitor - if he keeps his cool.
Score Shooting consists of three classes plus a club optional factory class. Following is a short description of each class:
- Hunter Class A 10 pound rifle; any cartridge with no less than 30-30 case capacity (45 grains of water); any sights, scopes must be 6X or less (variables must be set and taped); rebarrelling, restocking, and special triggers permitted.
- Varmint-Hunter Class a 10 pound rifle; any centrefire cartridge; any sights, scopes must be 6X or less (variables must be set and taped); rebarrelling, restocking, and special triggers permitted.
- Varmint for Score Class The rifle must meet Light Varmint (10 1/2 pounds) or Heavy Varmint (13 1/2 pounds) specifications.
- Factory There are no specific rules designating this class. It is generally any centrefire rifle that can be purchased with no restocking, rebarrelling, or special triggers. There are no awards or records maintained for this class.
This is an accuracy sport that the serious rifleman and handloader can compete without giving up a complete weekend. The format of a match is such that the rules governing score shooting allow coaching for the new and/or young shooter. If you are interested in competitive shooting, are serious about your rifle, reloading, improving accuracy, and have limited time, try SCORE SHOOTING. There is a competitive class for you and your rifle.
The difference between long range shooting and short is in short range you can see the bullet holes with your rifle scope. In the 1950s, the emphasis was on creating accurate rifles, so many things were tried. Today, equipment for shooting 100 and 200 yard benchrest has been almost standardized, much of this through a long list of rules. Winning a conventional BR match has largely become a matter of reading the conditions at a particular range and adapting to them. It's very different in long range shooting. In 1998, the rifles used to win 600 and 1000 yard matches ranged from the 6 BR to the .338 Weatherby Magnum.
There are currently two classes of rifles used in competition, Light Gun and Heavy Gun. While you shouldn't build either one without checking the rule book, the rules are relatively straightforward.
Essentially, the Light Gun must weigh under 10.5 pounds, and be under .40 caliber. A front pedestal like conventional benchrest is allowed, and the rear bag must conform to conventional benchrest rules. The rules for the rifles themselves are wide open. Muzzle breaks, stocks wider than 3 inches, guide rails on the stocks, and barrels of any taper are all allowed. The weight limit and the sandbags level the playing field, and everybody has to answer several questions, including "Are you better off with a large caliber and its wind-bucking capability, or a smaller one where you can shoot free recoil?" Or "How do you control barrel vibrations with the longer barrels, simply tune the load, or would a different barrel contour offer help"? The answers are NOT obvious.
There is currently no weight limit in Heavy Gun, though this is being considered. If implemented, a weight limit would likely be in the 80 to 120 pound range. Heavy Guns too must be under .40 caliber. Mechanical rear rests are allowed, but the front and rear rest cannot interact or be joined. There must be at least one-half inch of sand in the bags between the rifle and the pedestals. While muzzle breaks are not allowed, almost anything else goes.
In a long range matche, you shoot for both group and score. Except for some Championships, you compete only against the others in your relay. Individual relay winners move on to a shoot-off, non-winners "wait until next time." You may not win both group and score; if you have the smallest group and highest score, you win group, the score winner is the competitor with the next highest score. 600 yards differ a bit and host group and score and an agg of each for 4 targets and no shoot off. Score tie is broken by group and vice-versa.
In competition, both Light Gun and Heavy Gun have a six-minute sight-in period, followed by a 10-minute period for record shots. No sighters are allowed during the record period. In the Light Gun class, the competitor fires 5 rounds at the target, in the Heavy Gun class, 10 rounds. The same rounds count for both score and group. 600 yards shoots 5 shot groups and for score, and are averaged.
A Word about the Target
The 10-ring is 7 inches. Additional rings add 3 inches a side; i.e., the 9-ring measures 13 inches, the eight-ring 19 inches, the 7-ring is 25 inches, the 6-ring is 31 inches, and the 5-ring 37 inches. The paper is 42 inches square. A competitor must have all shots on the paper to receive either a group or a score. Ties in score are broken by Group size, not x-count. The 600 yard target is a 1000 yard target reduced by 40%.
For further information please check back for completion dates.
This article is with thanks from International Benchrest Shooters: www.internationalbenchrest.com