I love to shoot airguns. Its a good thing, because I do it for a living. There are so many ways to have fun shooting in the back yard with your airgun. You can plink spinners, shoot the new “Pregame” Birchwood Casey targets, shoot plain old paper targets and a lot more. If you want to see some great options, just review the “Target & Traps” section of our site. I’m sure you’ll find something to shoot! One of the more serious forms of back yard fun is competitive bench rest shooting, and that’s what Im going to talk about today.
What is it?
First and foremost, I’m no expert, but I’ll share what I’ve learned about it so far. It seems 25 meters is the starting distance for shooting outdoors, and 25 yards for shooting indoors. I don’t have 25 meters in my yard, so I shoot at 20 yards for practice (and for fun) and then reset at 25 meters when I can go down to the local range. It’s not ideal, but I still get in a lot of trigger time. If you want to learn more and really get into the various rules and classes, you can visit http://www.usairriflebenchrest.com/ for all the details. There are also international rules and classes if you are interested in learning about those as well.
The basic concept is to shoot a series of shots at single bulls and then score the target. The targets I’m using have 25 individual bulls and 5 sighting bulls. Generally there’s a time limit for how long you have to shoot each set of targets, but I’ve not been able to find an exact amount. It’s just something to keep in mind if you are looking to officially compete sometime down the road. For me, it’s about having fun with my airgun and seeing just how precise I can be with my shots.
Scoring is the challenging part
Shooting I can do. Lots of shooting I can do. It’s the tedium of scoring the cards that I find really NOT fun about the process. To have a truly accurate score that will be accepted by WRABF (World Rimfire and Air Rifle Benchrest Federation) rules, you need to print their official targets on special paper, or purchase their targets. You then need a special tool called a “plug” that opens the holes uniformly to .224″. Some plugs have built in magnifiers to make seeing the scoring lines easier to read. Most critically, you are not permitted to score your own targets. Of course if you are doing this just for fun and the personal challenge, it’s no big deal. But what if there was a MUCH easier way?
OnTarget TDS (http://ontargetshooting.com/tds/) is a software package that runs on your PC, has dozens of built in targets, and will interface with your scanner to score your targets. It also generates a WRABF score with WRABF compatible targets. Currently the cost of the software is $75 and has all the bells and whistles for airgun, rimfire, and center fire shooting. It’s extremely versatile and easy to use. The good news is that I’ve been talking with them for about a year now and they are considering creating an airgun related version that will be less expensive. That’s really good news and it will cover not only airgun benchrest but also 10 meter precision and 10 meter sporter as well. It’s a work in progress, and I will let you all know how things proceed with the project.
How does it work?
The process is very simple. There are a couple of targets specifically designed for bench rest and 10m precision. For this example I’m going to use target #36 which is a WRABF 25m target with 25 bulls. After I check my aim point with the sighting bulls, it’s time to start. I’m shooting my Walther Terrus with the first tin of pellets I could grab, which happened to be the H&N field Target Trophy pellets. After I complete all 25 shots it’s time to place the target on the scanner and get a score.
Here’s the feedback that you get once the target is scored in the system. The first thing that I notice is that I need a lot more practice with this rifle! But that’s beside the point. My CTC Spread is .975 and I’m basically shooting left a fraction at -.162″. The up and down variances that I’m noticing tell me that I need to work a lot more on my hold for this rifle. I guess I’ve been spoiled shooting too many PCP guns and need to practice my artillery hold some more. Lastly, I get my score, which is a pretty sad 197-1x out of a possible 250-25x. Yep, definitely need some more trigger time with my spring guns.
What do you think?
Personally, I’m a numbers and data kind of guy. Knowing that my groups are .162″ to the left of center tells me that I need a minor scope adjustment and I’m going to shoot a much better score. Seeing how my shots break down over the course of shooting all 25 tells me that I need to develop more technique if I’m ever going to get my scores up. For me it’s also a lot of fun. But, I’m curious as to what you all may think of this idea? Let me know through the comments if you all think this is a project worth developing. I think it is. What do you think?