Bench rifle shooting at 25 yards has its origins in providing those with limited mobility an opportunity to shoot. With the level of enthusiastic support bench now enjoys it has grown to encompass longer ranges and high precision shooting as well.
Getting down to the prone position (and getting up again!) can become more and more of a challenge as shooters age. But limited ability can arise from a whole array of causes other than age.
It is now recognised that sitting at a bench supporting the rifle with the forearm or a fore-end rest and using normal “open” sights is an acceptable alternative to prone shooting. A photo and associated details are required to formally register ones position with the NSRA, from which point normal competitions over 25, 50 & 100yds can be entered. The longer ranges being better suited to LR technologies.
A similar arrangement exists for those of limited mobility, shooting from a wheelchair.
With the introduction of telescopic sights groups of shots naturally became much closer.
To differentiate this form of shooting from “open” sights shooting, the standard NSRA ten bull target was adapted to include a smaller “X” ring, within the bull. Thus, another group of competitions was born. We enter a number of such “Bench” discipline competitions to accommodate this group of our shooters.
At the top of the bench discipline the quality and consistency of ammunition, weight and stability of the rifle become increasingly important factors and at the extreme end of the sport there is much attention paid to such details. It is here that bench shooting leans towards budget and technology. We haven’t entered this specialist arena – yet!
With the introduction of PCP air rifles there is little to distinguish between the accuracy of Air and LR rifles over the 25 yard distance and a number of competitions allow either format to be used. Air (.177”) is often a less costly and popular point of entry than LR.
Bench shooting with a fore-end rest and “open” sights makes a safe and ideal taster/introduction to shooting, as it involves less emphasis on position or specialist equipment to achieve encouraging results.