Author Topic: Looking for pointers on better setup for load development shooting off a bench  (Read 735 times)

Offline JimGnitecki

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I am not, at least yet, a "benchrester", but I figure I should post here on a Benchrest site in order to get some guidance on proper form and proper use of equipment when specifically doing load development shooting from a bench.

Currently, I am an experienced shooter, but mostly handgun, and very casual and short range rifle. I am trying to learn all the necessary aspects of F-Class shooting (600 to 1000 yards) and PRS shooting. I'm finding there is a lot to learn.

But my greatest challenge right now is that my rifle, and my test ammunition handloads so far, appear to both perform better than I do. I have never been coached on how to set up my rifle, my accessories, and my body to achieve consistent enough results.

Yes, "sometimes" I can shoot 5-shot groups in the .25" or .30" size range, but I shoot at least half my groups larger than that (as bad as to 3/4" currently), and that's simply not consistent enough to PROPERLY evaluate one handload versus another. It's also not necessarily "good enough", since I am load testing at 100 yards, where F-Class shooting is done at 600 to 1000 yards! In essence, I am a big uncontrolled variable in my load testing, and since the rifle, and even the initial test loads are apparently quite good, my shortfalls are masking the true differences in performance of the different handloads.

This is despite my conscious focus on fundamentals such as scope setup, natural sight picture, breathing, and trigger control. One specific issue is that I don't feel totally relaxed, although I am certainly more relaxed than I was a few weeks ago.

I had an epiphany a few days ago at my last range session. I was shooting my typical mix of inconsistent group sizes, and suddenly realized that I was very subtly STRAINING to get my head high enough to get the cheek weld and scope sight picture needed. In examining why, I realized I was sitting on a different chair than at my last range session.

For the first time, I actually thought about the chairs at our club range. They are all "donated" by members, and they are all mostly different. Some are padded, some not, and the heights and overall dimensions vary. I grabbed a piece of scrap carpeting typically used by club members on the wooden bench tops, folded it up, place dit on the chair, and adjusted the carpet height until I could get a good cheek weld and scope sight picture without straining.

The next several groups I fired were instantly notably smaller than the earlier ones, and also notably more consistent (although still not great!  :) ) So, I ordered a strong, adjustable stool that I will bring to the range when doing load devlopment, and find what height seems to work best for me, and then KEEP that height consistent.

That made me wonder what OTHER body positioning mistakes I might be making. I've never been taught how exactly to sit when at a shooting bench, what is ideal sitting height for a 5'7" shooter, how far forward or rearward on the adjustable comb is optimal, should my head be level front to back (cannot be level side to side because runs into the comb before getting the right sight picture in the scope), should my back be upright or leaned into the rifle, how far right should I be into the t-shaped bench (I am righthanded), what scope magnification is appropriate for 100 yard and later 200 yards load development shooting off a bench, etc. etc.

I have a great F-Class buddy who advises me on a lot of shooting aspects and handloading, but he does NOT do any benchrest shooting, so he can't guide me on this.

If there is anyone here who thinks they might be able to offer some guidance, I can post details of my rifle, my available accessories, my physical build, etc. I would like to be able to do things RIGHT before I practice with bad habits that could be hard to break later.

Jim G


Offline rpollock

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Jim, there are a whole gaggle of BR shooters in Campbell River. Good guys that can help you out. Send me an email if you want a contact. rickpollock@shaw.ca

Offline JimGnitecki

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Rick: Thank-you! I sent you an email!

Jim G

 

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