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Benchrest

Benchrest

Benchrest is a precision rifle shooting discipline where shooters aim to put five or 10 shots into the smallest possible group on paper targets placed at 50m, 100, 200 and 300 yards. Groups are measured from the centre to the centre of the two widest shots in a group. Rifles are fired from rests, comprising a front rest to support the fore-end and a rear sandbag to support the rifle’s butt. Benchrest includes 10 main classes within this discipline, with the differences largely determined by rifle weight and calibre.

  • History

    Benchrest rifle shooting is all about placing five or 10 shots into the smallest possible group size at various ranges. This sport originated in the United States around 1947 and came to Australia in the 1950s, with the first benchline thought to be at the old Baulkham Hills Range near Sydney. The sport has grown significantly over the years, with competitions in every state and National Championships held every year for the various Benchrest classes. SSAA Australian Team shooters have competed in the Oceania, Pacific Regional and World Championships.

    View the World Benchrest Shooting Federation Championship manual, World Benchrest Shooting Federation Official rule book, and World Benchrest Shooting Federation Official rule book rimfire competition for international rules.

  • Firearms and classes

    There are 10 main classes within Benchrest, four of which are centrefire rifle group shooting classes, two are rimfire group shooting classes and four are Hunter Class ‘application’ or score shooting classes. In Hunter Class, there are competitions for both rimfire and centrefire rifles and it is a requirement that these rifles have a safe trigger mechanism and triggerguard.

    Experimental/Unlimited Benchrest

    Experimental/Unlimited Benchrest is a centrefire class, which requires shooters to fire 10-shot groups, while all other classes fire five-shot groups. There are no rifle weight restrictions, but the length of the barrel must not be less than 457.2mm (18"). A safe trigger mechanism must be used and the rifle may be fired from any type of rest.

    Heavy Benchrest

    Heavy Benchrest is a centrefire class in which the maximum total weight of the rifle including a telescope must not exceed 6.123kg (13lb 8oz). The stock width must not exceed 76.2mm (3") at any point and the length of the barrel must not be less than 457.2mm (18"). There are no restrictions on scope power. A safe trigger mechanism must be used and the rifle must be shot from restricted rests, such as sandbags at the front and rear.

    Light Benchrest

    Light Benchrest is a centrefire class in which the maximum total weight of the rifle must not exceed 4.763kg (10lb 8oz). The rifle must otherwise meet the specifications of the Heavy Benchrest class.

    Sporter Benchrest

    Sporter Benchrest is a centrefire class in which the maximum total weight of the rifle must not exceed 4.082kg (9lb). The rifle must otherwise meet the specifications of the Heavy Benchrest class.

    .22 Rimfire Benchrest Rifle

    .22 Rimfire Benchrest Rifle includes a Light and Heavy class, with both allowing the use of any rimfire rifle chambered for the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge. In the Light class, the total maximum weight of the rifle including a telescope must not exceed 3.515kg (7lb 12oz), the stock width must not exceed 57.15mm (2.25") at any point, and the scope power is restricted to 6x magnification. In the Heavy class, the total maximum weight of the rifle including a telescope must not exceed 6.350kg (14lb). In both classes, the rifle must otherwise meet the specifications of the Heavy Benchrest class.

    Centrefire Hunter Class

    Centrefire Hunter Class includes a Light and Heavy class, with both allowing the use of centrefire rifles. In the Light class, the total maximum weight of the rifle must not exceed 4.536kg (10lb) and the stock width must not exceed 457.2mm (3") at any point. The rifle must have a functioning magazine that will hold two or more cartridges that can be fed, chambered and made ready for firing and extracted solely by the bolt in the normal manner. Scope power is restricted to 6x magnification and the rifle must be fired from restricted rests only. In the Heavy class, the maximum total weight of the rifle must not exceed 6.35kg (14lb) and the rifle must otherwise meet the specifications of the Heavy Benchrest class.

    Rimfire Hunter Class

    Rimfire Hunter Class includes a Light and Heavy class, with both allowing the use of .22LR rimfire rifles. In the Light class, the total maximum weight of the rifle must not exceed 3.515kg (7lb 12oz) and the stock width must not exceed 57.15mm (2.25") at any point. In the Heavy class, the maximum total weight of the rifle including a telescope must not exceed 6.35kg (14lb) and the rifle must otherwise meet the specifications of the Heavy Benchrest class.

  • Targets, scoring and matches

    Targets and scoring

    All Benchrest targets have an application section and a sighting section. On group shooting targets, the two areas are divided by a line through the centre of the target. There is no restriction on the number of ‘sighter’ shots that may be fired. On Hunter Class score targets, there are five scoring roundels and a specific sighting target, which is identified by a line around it. The sighter for Fly Shooting is a metal plate set near the scoring target and only three sighting shots are allowed per target.

    Competitors try to shoot the required number of shots into the smallest possible group spread on each target and the five groups are added together to form an overall aggregate, which decides the finishing order of the competitors. Groups are measured with devices that can identify the exact centre of the two widest shots. The ultimate would be to put five or 10 shots into one single bullet hole. However, in 60 years of Benchrest shooting, this has never been done, although many have come very close. The target backer systems in use at registered matches ensure that the correct number of shots have passed through the scoring target.

    Hunter Class is shot for a score out of a possible 250 points at each yardage. There are five scoring targets on each card and five of these targets are shot. Many shooters have achieved a ‘possible’ of 250 points, but each target has a tiny dot within the 10-ring, which is referred to as a ‘10x’. This is used to decide the winner and so far, no-one has shot 250 .25x. The times allowed for each target are the same as for group shooting.

    Courses of fire

    For all Benchrest group shooting matches, there are five targets shot at each range. The majority of matches are shot at 100 and 200 yards - the distances and group sizes are expressed in imperial measurement in Australia. For the first five-shot group of a class or after a change of distance, 10 minutes shall be given to complete firing - all other groups have a seven-minute time limit. For 10-shot groups, as in the Experimental/Unlimited Benchrest class, the time limits are 15 and 12 minutes.

  • Subdisciplines

    Benchrest shooting as an accuracy discipline continues to grow, not only in the number of participants, but also in the variety of classes and matches available. Indeed, in 2010, two new matches, International Rimfire Benchrest (IRB) and Fly Shoot, were added to the rule book and official event calendar.

    International Rimfire Benchrest

    International Rimfire Benchrest (IRB) allows the use of .22LR rimfire rifles. The total maximum weight of the rifle must not exceed 6.35kg (14lb) and the scope power is unlimited. The match is shot at 50m for score, with a 25-bull target being shot over 30 minutes from the bench. A match comprises three targets.

    IRB is affiliated with the World Benchrest Shooting Federation (WBSF), which manages Benchrest at the world level and of which Australia was a founding member. The WBSF now includes more than 30 member countries.

    Fly Shoot

    Fly Shoot includes Rimfire and Centrefire matches shot at 200m and 500m respectively. The Rimfire match allows the use of any .22LR rimfire rifle and the total maximum weight of the rifle must not exceed 7.711kg (17lb). The Centrefire match includes a Light and Heavy class, with both allowing any legal, registered centrefire rifle up to and including .49-calibre. In the Light class, the total maximum weight of the rifle including a bipod must not exceed 7.711kg (17lb), while in the Heavy class, the rifle may have an unlimited weight, but it must be manually lifted onto the bench. Each match comprises five targets, with the target having a ‘fly’ 30mm in size as the X-ring and score rings around it. This is a unique match, as the group size and scores both count towards the final result. It is best to try to keep the five-shot group as close to the fly as possible for a maximum score.

Competition Results
Contacts
National Discipline Chairman
David Billinghurst
National Award Secretary
Max Coady
PO Box 221, Crookwell NSW 2583

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