Hey sharpshooters, here’s a “how to” video on benchrest rifle shooting—mastering the precision rifle, close up!
I took this two-minute video at a registered NBRSA (National Benchrest Shooters Association) match at the Fairchance rifle range in Pennsylvania
—of me shooting a 0.373” group at 200 yards
—that's under two-tenths inch Minute of Angle.
Watch the video—now that's how it's done!
Seven shooting tips from the video
Here are seven shooting tips to watch for in this video. Practice these tricks to improve your precision benchrest rifle skills:
- Line up the rifle so the front rest is in line with the stock—the gun should return to battery in a straight line, easily and consistently. I hold my aiming point on the record portion of the target for speed, but some shooters steer down to the sighting target between shots.
- Get behind the gun so the rifle recoils into your shoulder. If you're not squarely behind the gun, you'll push the stock and bag sideways with each shot.
- Position you head so you have a clear sight picture without being too close to the scope. Move your seating height if you're leaning too far over the gun, which can lead to a nasty “half-moon” gash in the forehead.
- Keep your head down behind the rifle while you're shooting. I need to look up periodically due to poor vision in my left eye, but when I start to shoot my head and body remain consistently behind the gun.
- Properly sized brass loads and ejects smoothly; in the video you can see me opening the bolt with my index finger. If your bolt is hard closing and opening, the rifle will cant in the rest. It's hard to rise to the top of your game while wrestling with the gun. A hard opening bolt is also a sign of excessive pressure—stop shooting and reduce your load immediately.
- You don't need to shoot quickly to win benchrest rifle matches. Smooth is fast. When you see a condition that will hold for several seconds, get your shots downrange without dawdling or second-guessing yourself and you'll shoot smaller aggregates.
- Continuing with the safety theme, ensure you wear hearing and eye protection. I know, in this video it's a case of “do as I say, not as I do”, but seriously, if a piece of brass separates you could find your face in the line of hot gases and debris. I'll make a point of wearing eye protection in future videos to demonstrate safety.
Five precision benchrest rifle shots on record
Here's the target I shot during the video, which snagged me fourth place in the match (out of 89 competitors).
My About Us page mentions that George and I have limited resources and time, and often go to shoots anticipating the need to troubleshoot equipment on the fly.
This was our first match of the season and it was no exception. But we went with the expectation to blow out the cobwebs before the Super Shoot.
I finished 17th in that yardage, and a respectable 29th in the 2-gun (both Light and Heavy Varmint classes).
Not a bad start for the 2016 season!
Shooting in the wind
The wind challenged everyone over the week-end of short-range benchrest shooting. Bullets were pushing out one full Minute of Angle (MOA), which is two inches at 200 yards.
In the target on the right, I was aiming at the bottom of the middle ring, or at six o'clock on the mothball. In the three o'clock full condition blow, the bullets were landing on the far left edge of the record.
You can still shoot a good target in the wind! This one measured 0.509″, about a quarter inch MOA.
Some shooters were making windage adjustments while others, like me, chose to take the chance that the wind would quieten during the seven-minute match (where you could ‘run’ five shots in a calm condition—which is what I did in the video).
Or worse, the wind could reverse completely, which happened periodically during the two days of shooting. This could leave you sighted on the wrong edge of the target.
After a cold front blew through that’s exactly what happened, in the last two matches of the day. I didn't change my aiming point, and you can see the shift in the point of impact on the target.
Notice how the point of impact is angled down and to the right in the nine o'clock blow, but slightly up and to the left in the three o'clock condition.
I give a brief overview of this in my blog post on reading the wind.
Almost four inches of bullet travel at 200 yards—that’s tough sledding to pull off the < 0.2” aggregate needed to win!
Precision benchrest rifle shooters are serious competitors!
Did I mention this was a qualifier for both the U.S. and Canadian World Benchrest Teams?
Sure, it wasn’t the only qualifier—you could shoot poorly, or skip it altogether and make up the points at another competition—but there are limited opportunities to qualify in the season before the Worlds, held every odd year.
So the stakes were high, as usual, for the highly-competitive benchrest crowd.
Sharpshooters stay tuned!
The full results of the Fairchance benchrest shoot will be posted on this website shortly.
Stay tuned for more, the Super Shoot is fast approaching!
P.S. If you have a second, I'd love you to leave me a comment, and share this article with your followers! (It’s just below).
Vera, you looked lovely as usual. But please start wearing eye protection..you and I both don’t have eyes to spare.
see you and George at Kelblys.
Hi Jerry, thanks for leaving a comment! Yes agreed safety first, also I need to portray a good leadership example in these videos! See you at Kelbly’s!
Vera, other than the absence of glasses, I like your video. To avoid the appearance that glasses don’t matter my suggestion is that you delete this video and post another one.
Good suggestion Bill, thanks 🙂
hello Vera ..good to see you still shooting say hi to the old guy!!
Hi Alex, been a long time – good to hear from you!
Hi! I’m new to shooting and your website is interesting. Thanks!
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Hi Vera, thanks for the video and shooting info. Bill Fletcher
Thanks for the video
Hope we can look forward to this being “The Benchrest Site”! You’re enthusiasm is duly noted…
Thanks Larry, am working on more content, busy writing books but want to post more videos in 2019! Appreciate your watching 🙂
I wonder what Mr. Bob Munden would think about all this so called shooting? Granted modern day equipment has facilitated extraordinary long range capabilities. All in all though, if you can’t hit an 8″ target at 200 yards offhand with a rifle, it is debatable if you really can consider yourself a true shooter. Still Kudos to Vera, she certainly has talent.
Hi Vera, my wife and I are about to get our gun licences and start doing competition Rimfire .22 Benchrest at 50 meters in Australia. Trying to get hold of as much info help as possible to help with learning curve. We are looking at the March 48*52 fixed magnitude scope. Is there any better scopes or would you consider it the best. It’s not really about cost for us…just want to get best set up. It’s going on a custom made rifle designed specifically for the task!
Hi Glenn, thanks for posting! You and your wife are joining one of the best sports in the world. My husband and I have years of enjoyment shooting together, and have made lifetime friends from around the world – including Stuart and Annie Elliot from Australia. Stuart helped start International Rimfire Benchrest (IRB) and introduced 1000-yard benchrest to Australia. March scopes are among the best in the world, and are used by top benchrest competitors. The March will retain its value over time, which is a bonus when horsetrading equipment. Some folks don’t like the high magnification scopes because they can be a handful in heavy mirage. However I prefer the high magnification precisely because mirage is visible in the scope, and I rely on mirage as a wind indicator. The big March lets in a lot of light which some find to be too much – a ring comes with the scope to screw on the front and cut down on the light. Again, I don’t use the ring because I like the amount of light entering the scope so I can read mirage in the early morning when light is low and the flags are hanging. Another consideration is reticle style – I prefer fine cross-hairs, but my husband finds the fine cross-hairs wash out with the higher magnification on a sunny day. He shoots a dot, either 1/8 or 1/4 MOA. The dot can be especially good for score which you will likely be shooting at 50m. So you can see how personal preference plays a lot into what scope will be the best for you. Start with one and don’t be afraid to shoot other models when you have the opportunity – the combinations can be limitless between scope brand, magnification, and reticle.
Hi Vera, I’ve had a chat to Stuart Elliott…turns out he was off a farm (like myself) from the same hometown. Small world! Stuart’s got us set up and started. He’s been a wealth of knowledge for us newbies! Thanks for your kind help.
Perfect! Say hi to Stuart and Annie when you see them next, and have fun with your benchrest shoots! Hope we get out more in 2021 than we did this year 🙂
Vera, great article! I was looking for a video to promote learning to benchrest shoot for a friend of mine. Yours was perfect AND you threw in written comments! Thank you,
Awesome Roger! I’m glad you liked it – I’ve been working on more content on benchrest shooting, have tons of good video footage – will post more information soon. Cheers, Vera : )
Hello Ms Vera. I had lunch with Don Geraci this past week. The seafood in New Orleans was delicious. I brought Don a treat … 800+ Ralph Council 155 30 cal bullets that I’ve had forever. He snatched ’em up and was very grateful. He, like you, is also a big believer in the 6PPC. He hasn’t competed centerfire in some time, but he is building some mighty fine rifles. Wonderful blog … thank you!
Kind words John, thank you !