Benchrest shooting is a rifle sport, where the shooter attempts to place five or ten shots into the smallest possible group at distances of 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards. Rifles are fired from rests which comprise a front rest to support the fore-end of the rifle, and a rear sandbag to support the butt. There are six classes of rifle for group shooting comprised of four centrefire and two rimfire. Benchrest Hunter Class is a shot for score, and has categories for both centrefire and rimfire.
Rifles are custom built from the finest components. Currently in Australia there are several custom benchrest gunsmiths who can build a winning rifle. Ask a benchrest captain, or some of the competitors for details.
Some components, such as high power scopes, have to be imported, but others are obtainable locally.
Most SSAA ranges have an active benchrest section. Persons interested in taking up benchrest shooting should contact the benchrest captain for further guidance.
Major benchrest shoots in Australia are:
* National Championships: held every Easter on a roster system around Australia, where ranges are available. All classes are contested over five days.
* Australia Day Matches: held in Canberra at the end of January, usually for light and heavy varmint.
* NSW State Championships: held over two weekends, usually in July and August.
* Harry Madden Memorial Shoot: held at Belmont Range, Brisbane, usually in November, for light varmint.
Group sizes will be determined by measuring from the centre to centre of the two widest shots in the group. The ultimate group of .000 inches has never been achieved, although the sport has been around since 1948.
For Benchrest Hunter Class, one shot shall be fired on each of the scoring bulls. ‘Best edge’ scoring is used, in that if a shot touches or covers any part of a scoring ring, then that score shall be given.
The official target for benchrest group competition shall contain five concentric rings, an aiming mark and a border surrounding the rings and the aiming mark.
Sighter targets have the addition of two concentric rings in each lower corner and the letter ‘S’ in one other corner. Benchrest Hunter Class targets shall have six ‘bulls’ per target, one of which shall be a sighter, which consists of five concentric scoring rings. There is an X ring in the centre of the ten ring.