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Why do folks like benchrest competitions?

It seems like it's a LOT more a measure of the gun's accuracy than the shooter. Seems like it's testing the airgun builder or tuner more than the shooter.

Ditto with shooting jackets and other support means.

No? Please educate me.

I feel like there should be a "stock" class. where one has to use off-the-shelf rifles with no support other than one's own body and maybe a pillow under one's bum. Otherwise, what invariably happens is that poor guys can't really compete.
I haven't shot benchrest other than to sight in guns and test pellets, but trying to hit the tiny targets they use would be a challenge even with good equipment in my opinion. Even in very light winds the pellet can deflect a couple inches from point of aim. If you get the chance, I recommend that you go to a benchrest shoot and give it a try yourself and report back with results. I do get your point as a guy who's "value conscious" as a result of being slightly "economically challenged". I shoot a Marauder in Hunter class FT on the rare occasions that time permits. As a partial answer to your "stock" class, there's a basic breakbarrel event that's starting up at some FT shoots. Scope magnification is limited and no adjustments to focus or magnification can be made once the match starts. 
Smaug I shoot a FWB mini in the springer division and at the club I shoot its only PCP shooters and me . Its a lot of fun and met some really cool and helpful people . My rest front and rear cost only 100$ and my rifle with scope was about 500$ and I honestly believe that I could go to most areas with springer shooters and be competitive .
Don't get me wrong some of the guys have incredibly expensive rigs , but it can be what you make of it ...I'm a bag squeezer and just use my front rest adjustments very little . They have different divisions to level the playing field . I use a Leupold 4-12 and actually do quite well ( usually in my own yard lol) but its a lot of fun to me . And if you do it one time , you will see it is a mental discipline for someone as chatter brained as me to stay focused . I didn't think I would care for it as much as I do ....My shooting buddy was intimidated by the really nice and expensive rigs the other guys had when he went with me ...But there's two ways for a working man like me to look at it ...I can be intimidated , and sulk because I can't afford to play with the " big boys " ...Or have a good time seeing how well I can do today in these conditions with what I bring to shoot .
I quit caring what others think of my usually broke ass a long time ago . I wanna play so I do .
Kicker is I get to ry out the Thomas , RAW , AirArms , and such that the guys are cool enough to let me play with ... Its like being able to take a Ferrari for a couple laps !!


May 9, 2015
CA, United States
    In BR there is a great deal of skill involved reading flags and holding off for wind. Yes the equipment is very important - especially barrel and pellet selection. But testing barrels and pellets is quite difficult to do correctly: much trial and error and learning to tell the difference between random errors and systematic inaccuracy.

    FWIW some people have done very well shooting production guns off of simple sandbags.
    Nov 15, 2015
      Although Benchrest seems like it is a measure of the gun maker's art, and it is in part, there is a lot more to the game than first appears. To be competitive, you do need a rifle that is capable of the precision required of the target, which is no longer as remarkable as it once was, but still it is rather impressive. Once you have that rifle, then the following comes into play: 

      First is consistency, consistency, consistency. How you place the rifle on the bags or rest must be the same each time. Specialized benchrest stocks make this task a bit easier and slightly less critical, but this will put your shot off if it is not the same for each shot. Shot let-off or trigger squeeze must be the same each and every time. Even a little bit more downward pressure, or other change can throw the shot off enough to not hit the 10 ring. Pellets must fit the bore, and be loaded without any tilt, for either error here will make a difference on the target. 

      Next, is knowing how the pellet will behave with different wind conditions. Tail or head winds that shift back and forth are the hardest to figure out. Also, different rifles will have slightly different amounts that the pellet will drift, even if the velocity and pellets are the same. You need to know your rifle. 

      Finally, you need to know how to read the wind and predict how it is likely to change, and when it is going to be consistent enough for the shot. There is a time limit, so you need to figure out several different wind conditions in order to finish the match on time. If you wait for the same conditions for each shot, you are likely to run out of time when the wind is shifting and changing as the match progresses. 

      Now for a response to your assertion that shooting coats and slings are unfair supports. I shoot a lot with a coat designed for highpower rifle shooting, along with a sling. These do help a bit with stability, but are primarily useful for the traditional shooting positions. I can shoot nearly as well without the coat, but the sling (which is cheap and everyone should have and learn to use one) is the one bit of help that makes the most difference in position shooting. I even hunt with a sling that I can use for support. 

      But, back to what I think your point really addresses: Classes that restrict specialized equipment and which limit the price of admission are a good way to introduce new shooters, and keep shooters who have a bit more limited income in the sport. This is something that, somehow, gets pushed aside by some folks. However, a good shot with somewhat lessor equipment will beat a not-so-good shot with superb equipment. There is, though, a point at which the lessor equipment can be a handicap when it is not capable of producing a good score, even though the shooter is.
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      Smaug. I don't agree that Bench rest competition is a rich mans sport. My observations from having competed in EBR 2015 for what they are worth. First of all you are going to see some of the most outlandish equipment you can imagine. Especially some of the mechanical rests. Some look like surgical robots. Wild off the wall stuff that streaches the imagination. JUST COOL!. And your going to get to see some of the most expensive air guns made. Again just cool! You will get to see some scopes on top of the most expensive air guns made, that are worth more then the guns. But for the most part you will see off the shelf guns. I observed a guy with the well tuned Mrod on a couple of sandbags that was scoring as high as the guy with the 10K$ rig. You would think throwing $ into equipment would buy higher scores, but it doesn't. I believe it's knowing your gun, practicing and reading the conditions. As for the competition, there are different classes that help put everyone on the same level. I love competing, but the biggest value to me is simply the association with the people. What a great munch of people. And like Joe mentioned, most people are happy to let you look through their scopes and handle their guns. If I'm not mistaken most of the people that won were shooting off of sandbags. 
      Jun 10, 2016
        For me it is very telling of trigger control. Try this sometime........squeeze the trigger in line with your last joint on your trigger finger......shot probably went right. Squeeze with the very tip of the trigger finger......shot left if your right handed. Now....grip the rifle different with your trigger hand and see the small variations in point of impact. The variations may only be 1/8th inch at 20yards......but they're there. I enjoy pursuing perfection off the bench......its not as easy as some make it sound. Notice I said pursuing......just my 2 cents. When Im hunting or shooting offhand......I just shoot and dont particularly pay too much attention to small details.

        Although your question seems almost rhetorical, it is an excellent one nonetheless, since answering it on a deeper level would reveal very much that bench-rest shooting to determine a rifle's true accuracy potential isn’t as easy as it seems. Yes, it might appear like the shooter has a very minor part to play in this type of shooting, and that all it takes is merely pulling the trigger when environmental factors and conditions are permissive (e.g., wind, shooting angle, distance, etc.). However, the plain answer is this: it certainly is not. In fact, it is the reverse; it is the person behind the trigger who is required to play a huge part in the process when it comes to making a precision shot. 

        On the surface, bench-rest shooting does require the elimination of human input as much as possible—to prevent any errors—since the goal is to enable the rifle to naturally and uninhibitedly do its own thing. And by achieving this, there is the need to incorporate the use of proper bench-rest equipment to stabilize the rifle. Despite these measures, though, there yet exists the much-required guidance and skill of the operator. No matter how good and of high quality the shooting equipment and how expensive and state-of-the-art the rifle is, no amount of these things is going to impress you with one-hole precision or net you world-class competition scores (if that’s your thing) if the shooter does not have the fundamental skills to precisely place his shots. Before anything else, it is the rifleman’s expertise that needs to be correctly administered.

        I posted an article on this and another forum related to bench-rest shooting before. One of the ideas I shared in the article was the importance of consistency. Perhaps as you have probably heard and read many times, in order to shoot accurately, off-hand or bench-rest, consistency is vital. Relative to the importance of consistency, there is a key element that I associate it to in the article, and that is consistency needs to also be felt. Because the primary goal is to replicate the shooting position of the gun and shooter every time, such consistency needs to include a sort of self-established personal standard shooting position, or what I like to call, PSSP. It is a position that I have established as the default position and in which the rifle shoots with consistent accuracy. For me, it is much easier to know if my technique and shooting position is a PSSP (whether I am shooting off-hand or bench-rest) when I have perceptive involvement. What I mean by this is that I need to be able to have that feeling when I know my rifle and I have reached the point wherein I am ready to pull the trigger because everything just feels (and not just seems) right. This way, I am able to differentiate between my PSSP and the “off” position. In essence, it is easier to predict where my pellets are going to land once I have the sensation of me and my rifle being at the correct state. This is perhaps why some expert shooters have advised learners to “feel the shot.” I personally agree with that notion.

        Take it however you wish, but I find that I am more accurate when shooting in the off-hand position with respect to what I have just stated above. While it is true that a good way of testing a rifle for its true accuracy potential is by bench-rest shooting it, the shooter must take great care in making sure that everything is, here’s that word again: CONSISTENT; that is, how the gun is benched, what rest points have to be on what spot on the rest(s), that the same pressure is being exerted (or none at all) on the gun and or rest, etc. Not just seeing to it that these things are executed well, I am much more capable of making the confirmation by feeling that they are being applied and executed consistently also. 

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        "feel the shot"

        That can be very true. Especially for spring guns, shooting from the bench can be more challenging than otherwise. The "consistency" needed for spring guns comes from the subtle feel of the rifle as it rests and recoils. The shooter can make the unseen adjustments to the hold to allow the pressure points and movement to be what the gun prefers. That can be hard to reproduce on the bench.

        Part of the effort will be to come up with a resting technique that will allow the rifle to shoot consistently without so much human interaction.

        I'm going to shoot a recoiling piston gun in the airgun Benchrest Nationals. I'm still working on a good rest setup.

        As it is now my, bench scores will be lower than if I was sitting on the ground and holding the rifle.

        I see it as a opportunity to learn more about my rifle and what makes it shoot good.

        When holding and resting the rifle with my body, I can "feel the shot" very well. It is harder to do from a benchrest. So, partly it is more a measure of what the rifle can do with less human input. Not that easy with some guns.

        The last Benchrest Nationals I attended - Shade to shoot under, refreshments near by. Not too much standing or walking. It is a relaxing way to spend a day shooting and competing.

        Learning to feel the shot is one of the things that have enabled me to shoot better. I agree with your statement about part of the effort to get a rifle to shoot consistently is to minimize human interaction. After all, it should be our intent and goal to be less involved as much as possible in the shooting process so that the gun can do what it needs and wants to do on its own. The crucial factor to keep in mind, though, is that a rifle that is left alone and resting on a bench-rest equipment is not actually left on its own and to its devices at all. Instead, we have only left it to develop different contact nodes, which in turn will lead to different shooting dynamics.

        My view of shooting a rifle with as much precision as can be obtained is this: to hold the rifle in a manner that is consistent to that which allows it to shoot accurately regardless of how and where the gun is situated.