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Benchrest... Shooting off front and rear bags... etc...

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Afy, Nov 23, 2008.

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  1. Afy

    Afy Member

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    What is the correct way to shoulder and shoot the rifle?

    I know that if you are shooting while seated, the left hand has no role to play.

    However :

    1. How do you place your thumb. Along the axis fo the rifle or in the traditional across the butt?
    2. Contact with the shoulder? Firm, pulled in tight, loose to allow free recoil?
    3. What dry fire techniques?

    How do you improve your technique?
     
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    i usually squeeze the rear bag with it for micro elevation adjustments, with my elbow as far forward as is comfortable so i can relax my shoulders

    i don't recall ever dry firing off bags

    i like shooting with my shoulder into it, but often as not these days, i get way to much pulse bounce and so i back off til that stops
     
  3. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I had one gun that would shoot lights out shooting free recoil, but I like to "handle" it a bit, so I sold it. Some folks shoot free recoil and some don't.

    If you don't you must be VERY consistent with shoulder pressure, hand pressure, even how those things "track" with the recoil. Free recoil takes some of that out of the mix.

    My thumb is neither across or along the axis. The meat where it meets my hand and the first part is all that is on the rifle. The rest is just hanging out there along the axis, but not actually on the rifle.

    You must try different things and settle on what works for you.
     
  4. Afy

    Afy Member

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    Are there any good books that I can read?
     
  5. plinky

    plinky Member

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    "Learn to shoot and you won't need no fancy pants benchrest and sandbags".

    Sorry, just getting that out of the way. It would inevitably be said. :eek::mad::D

    I'm not a great shot but I am honing my technique as you are.

    I like a firm hold for most rifles. It seems to help. Even in a .22LR with it's long barrel time. Unless it is really heavy, free recoil enlarges my groups. Free recoil works for some people and I expect it is in rifles of high weight shooting light bullets at high speed.

    Like Taliv said, you want to fine-aim the rifle with yout left hand on the rear bag. Aiming with pressure on the stock will cause problems,

    There probably are benefits to be had from dry fire. I've done it enough to see that the fall of the firing pin is jarring and that the rifle must be controlled during the period of locktime. I should try some different holds to minimize the crosshair jump. It's getting too cold and windy for good shooting though. Something to work on in the Spring.

    I'm reading "The accurate rifle" by Warren Page right now. It's an old book but I'm amazed how little things have changed (BR wise) since 1972. It's an easy and interesting read. Not a "how-to" but it contains a lot of useful info.
     
  6. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    I have several sandbags of various sizes. I set things up so I can get the rifle aimed and it will stay very close without my having to hold it.

    A key point is to have the same position of the front sandbag for each shot. I set that bag in the same place under the forearm as where I put my hand when in the field.

    I use my off-hand to squeeze the rear sandbag for "perfect" sight alignment. :)

    I lean in on the butt pad, but don't pull back strongly with the firing hand. But, I don't pull back real hard in the field, either. Firm, yeah, but no strain.

    There is no "right" way to set up. Whatever gives a steady, consistent position of the rifle is as good as you'll get.

    If I'm sighting in a "thumper" for somebody, I'll often interpose a small sandbag between the butt pad and my shoulder. I'm not a masochist.

    Tricks: Learn to shoot between heartbeats. You have almost a full second, after all. Then, realize that there is a two-tenths of a second time lag between the time your brain says, "Do it!" and your trigger finger actually moves. If you have any problem holding steady with the crosshairs, learn to anticipate where they will be in 0.2 seconds and that's when you signal your finger to move. It ain't easy, but it's doable.
     
  7. Afy

    Afy Member

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    Art... given a resting rate in the high 70's and High BP I doubt if I will ever be able to shoot between beats.

    I do want to improve my shooting and unfortunately right now wont get a chance to shoot for another month. :(
     
  8. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    +1 on what Art says.

    Sandbags should always be used to sight-in a rifle, and then used as little as possible after that... unless they they are piled up in front of you for cover.. ;)
     
  9. plinky

    plinky Member

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    To each his own as they say, but benchrest shooting (which is the subject of this thread) without sandbags would be unusual and probably frustrating.

    Or maybe you are saying that you consider benchrest shooting to be an illegitimate form of marksmanship. If that is the case, I don't know why you opened this thread. Maybe just to stir things up?

    Seriously, I'm trying to grasp the thinking of those who inevitably bomb on benchrest shooting as an end in itself. I've yet to see benchrest shooters pick on those who stuggle mightily to shoot "minute of deer". Oddly it seems to always be the opposite. :confused:
     
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    It would be an even bigger head banger than it is. :D

    Saying my custom "Benchrest" gun or my custom "High Power" gun will whip your box stock factory deer rifle would be like a Black Belt picking on a newbie. It just would not be nice, and would prove nothing.

    Here are some pics of my home made Benchrest "Bench Box" It stayed on the firing line near the bench until I shot. (I am inactive at the present time :()

    The gadget on the rear leg of the front rest was for running up and down from the target to the sighter. I got to where I did not use it, but ran the rifle on the bags instead. I did use the fine adjustment some, but squeezed the bag for fine adjustments.
     

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  11. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    I find the "thumbhole" style of the choate "ultimate" stocks to be very conducive to shooting dinky lil groups. I typically set the bag up front halfway down the forend and use my left hand inside the thumbhole to adjust the elevation thumbscrew in for those final few militads.

    For my other rifles I employ the "squeeze bag" method others mention

    I've tried free recoiling but I honestly haven't noted any diffrence in my groups using this technique



    given the level of participation I've garnered in some of my offhanded shooting matches it's pretty safe to say that your average THR'er doesn't shoot half as well as they say they do away from the bench. All I've asked for is for participants to hit a paper plate 5 times at 100 yet nobody other than myself has entered a target. BESIDES It's rather difficult to shoot 1" groups at 300m with a 20lb rifle offhanded
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2008
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Perhaps a few.

    Where? I missed that.

    I'll take the bait. Can we just shoot a plate (off hand of course) and post a pic? I'll even tell you what rifles I have and you can tell me which one to shoot. I feel challenged my good man. :D
     
  13. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    Several years ago I had my wife sew 1 inch thick sponge rubber in the shoulders some old shirts. This works very well with a heavy kicker. It even tames the recoil of my 6.5 pound .375 Alaskan Improved.

    Shot off sandbags for decades before getting an adjustable front rest and a rabbit ear rear bag: Wish I had done it a lot sooner.
     
  14. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    sorry bout not posting targets, kroch. it was seriously my intent to enter. i've had 4 matches in 3 weekends and been out of state on business the previous 3 weeks so i just haven't had time. i have some vaca time coming up and i will try to whack a couple paper plates for you soon.
     
  15. Horsemany

    Horsemany Member

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    Seriously? That's your only explanation. That's quite an assumption. Perhaps others shoot with a less competitive nature. Not everyone who knows how to shoot well is jumping at the chance to earn your respect.
     
  16. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    PUH lese it's not like there's anything at stake in these matches. I set them up with the idea of people having fun and showing off what their various rifles are capable of.

    Hey I'm just sick and tired of those minute of car door shooters running down those of us who enjoy shooting rifles for their utmost accuracy potential. They always assume that because someone mentions benchrest shooting that that's the ONLY way they can shoot, when in fact offhanded most of us bench guys can still shoot circles around your average shooter


    The current match expires on thanksgiving, it's an any off bench shooting position position match with only one caveat, you must use steel cased ammunition. Look for the sticky at the top of this forum.

    If you guys will PLEASE shoot me some targets I'll extend the deadline
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Well just S***. I pretty much can't do that anymore. Oh to be young again. :p
     
  18. The Annoyed Man

    The Annoyed Man Member

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    I don't compete, but I do enjoy spending an afternoon at the range trying to shoot small groups. The rifle is a Remington 700 VSF in .308 which is box stock except for a lightened trigger. I like to shoot off of sandbags under the forend, and a "rabbit ear" sandbag at the rear. Like several others here, I use the rear bag to make micro adjustments, except that I'm shooting left handed, so my right hand makes the adjustments. I hold the rifle in a regular grip, and I pull it in fairly firmly to the shoulder. I've tried free-recoiling, but it doesn't work well for me. I do control my breathing, and I try to shoot between heartbeats (although not always successfully). I haven't really tried dry firing at the bench to see what happens. I'm going to the range again next weekend. I'll have to try that and see.
     
  19. Afy

    Afy Member

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    Group from a few weeks ago... off a bipod @100M
    [​IMG]
     
  20. plinky

    plinky Member

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    That's how I spell satisfaction. You realize I was being sarcastic with that comment, right? Nice shooting!

    What kills me is that a real BR shooter (not me) will cut that group in half. :confused:
     
  21. Afy

    Afy Member

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    I know... which is something I want to do as well. Though I know next to nothing about benchrest.

    have only recently ventured into ensuring that I trim every time, use bushing dies, compitition seaters, and now starting with neck turning.

    Looking for a one hole group.
     
  22. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    A couple of targets.

    The 5 shots in .186 group shows what the rifle can do. Actually, it can do better.

    The 4 shots in and 1 shot out .398 group shows what the nut behind the trigger can do. :eek:
     
  23. Afy

    Afy Member

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    The .186 group is what I am striving for and will accept all help in getting there.
     
  24. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Aren't we all. It is just tough to shoot them, even when the rifle is capable.

    The Ultimate In Rifle Accuracy by Glen Newick is a good book to read. A bit dated, but still very good.

    Benchrest Central is a huge source of info from those that know how and can do it as well.

    I was lucky. When I started shooting Benchrest I picked up with someone a few miles down the road, they turned me on to a good deal on a used rifle and some equipment from a fellow who was quitting. I started going to matches and the other shooters taught all kinds of things. They would answer any question I had and teach me all they could. A super crowd to compete with. They would help you all they could, and then try to beat your eyes out. I would have it no other way.
     
  25. plinky

    plinky Member

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    [​IMG]

    My best from the latest outing. Shot two groups about like this and two bigger. The rifle is doing better every trip. Maybe that's a tip right there. This rifle has made me believe in barrel break in. I guess some rifles are lasers right out of the box but this one has been thoroughly cleaned @ every 20 rds and is better and better every week.

    I know I will never set any records but for me this is a good result. If I can get the average to 1/2" I'll be satisfied...for now.

    Oh yeah, the target is a modified benchrest one. I shoot it upside down, aiming at the square with the bull being 2.3" high (my 100yd zero). I'm holding in the center of the square. Probably not ideal. I'd say though that a good aiming point will shave a bit from groups.

    I was considering going to a 40X scope but Warren Page wrote that 24-25X was ideal in his opinion. Any more and mirage becomes overwhelming.
     
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