Bench shooting technique question

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by Jim Oliver, May 5, 2012.

  1. Jim Oliver

    Jim Oliver Well-Known Member

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    There was a time, years ago, when I could shoot sub MOA groups from almost any old sandbag from the top of my car, etc.

    Now, I have a shooting house with solid bench (still using home made sand bags) and don't seem to be able to get it together :(

    When I dry fire from my bench position, I can see the cross hair move on almost every shot; usually goes up and right---sometimes just up a bit. Not surprisingly, my groups reflect what I see when dry firing.

    Do you guys use a real front rest (mechanical) with a rear bag or one of the Bull Bags (one piece that holds the rifle in position or what?? I have not tried a bi-pod and don't really want to add the weight and bulk to the rifle but would consider it for testing.

    I know that some of the bench rest shooters use the free recoil technique but I don't think that will work for hunting rifles with recoil. I also know that the rifle should line up on target with no "corrective" pressure from the shooter, but I'm having real difficulty getting this to happen. That may be my biggest problem.........

    What equipment and technique do YOU use?

    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  2. 7stw

    7stw Well-Known Member

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    Yea, been there, done that. I have a Caldwell. Rock BR front rest, and two different rabbit ear rear bags that i have had for so long that the brand is worn off.I was having the same problem intil I got the rest. My groups instantly improved, and I was actually able to learn what loads shoot, and which one didn"t. At least I can rule out movement at the rest. Now the rest that I have is not the best in the business, but I have no problems with it at all. Get a rest, you will be better off in the long run.
     

  3. Jim Oliver

    Jim Oliver Well-Known Member

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    When using the Caldwell rest with something like the STW, do you use the free recoil method? Is the recoil pad in contact with your shoulder?

    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  4. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    Did you develop loads on your sandbags?
     
  5. Jim Oliver

    Jim Oliver Well-Known Member

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    My intent is to develop loads for a couple of new rifles. Can't do it until I can get repeatable data (group size).

    A five round group with two or three rounds touching and two or three from 1 to 1.5 inches out ain't gonna get it :(

    Jim
     
  6. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    Jim it seems like you realize that you should use the best rest you can get, and/or same as used in the field, to reduce problems related from the 'noise'.
    I wondered if you had developed off specific bags already, because doing so -and then changing bags, changes results.
    A bench rest is nice because it enables precision and repeatability in your shooting. At least that much is improved right there.
     
  7. Jim Oliver

    Jim Oliver Well-Known Member

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    Yeah---I know that changing technique can change the whole program. A bench zero probably won't be the same as a tight sling zero or an offhand zero. That's not my problem -----I just need to be able to shoot "honest" groups by some means :)

    I talked with a benchrest shooter/rifle builder/hunter today about his hunting rifle bench testing technique and learned a couple of things that will be helpful to me. He uses a front rest and a rear bag (bunny bag) and uses a firm grip on the forearm (just behind the front rest) while pulling the stock firmly into his shoulder with the shooting hand.

    We'll see what happens.........

    Thanks for the comments :)
    Jim
     
  8. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

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    I usually go with bipods because that's what I hunt with. Even so, a bipod sitting at a solid bench vs the same bipod prone in the dirt can give slightly different results.

    Sandbags are fine, but they require more fiddling depending on the rifle/stock to get the natural point of aim set just right.

    The best bench rest I have (and could afford) is a Caldwell Fire Control front rest which is rock solid. It's very adjustable for various rifle stocks and allows one hand fine tuning of the windage and elevation without breaking your cheek weld.

    I have several different Protektor rear bags depending on the type of buttstock I'm shooting.

    A lot of guys use the Lead Sled for big cartridges since it absorbs the recoil. But like Mikecr points out, you ultimately want to verify your load using hunting conditions or whatever competition criteria you shoot.

    -- richard
     
  9. 7stw

    7stw Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, my shoulder is in contact with stock, and LIGHT pressure on grip, the less the better. Ironically, when I sight in my guns like this, and when I am developing loads, the POI dosen't change in the hunting field. I use a bag on the edge of my box blind.
     
  10. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like good advice to me
     
  11. Bart B

    Bart B Well-Known Member

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    You're doing most of the right stuff if you see the crosshairs move when the firing pin falls. The reason it move's typically how you're managing the trigger. Most folks subcontiously flick their fingers off the trigger as soon as their nervous system feels the sear release the firing pin. I did that when I started rifle shooting. It took someone watching me shoot who told me I was doing it. I had to learn to keep full pressure on the trigger until the rifle stops moving from recoil. Otherwise, the barrel will move of its intended pointing place while the bullet's going down the barrel and it won't end up on target where you want it to. So, don't be a finger flicker like I was. With a little practice, it's easy to do.

    Few folks can shoot really accurate, a shoulder fired medium to heavy recoiling rifle with a 2 pound or more trigger pull held by hand with it resting atop something on a bench. Us humans are just not that repeatable in how we hold the rifle. Which is why benchresters don't touch their free recoiling rifles (except for a finger tip on their 2 ounce trigger) and those rifles behave exactly the same way for each shot.

    It also helps to have ones trigger finger on the trigger such that the force it puts on the trigger is straight back. If the sights move to the left when dry firing by a right hand shooter, the trigger finger's too far to the right on the trigger. Change the position of your finger on the trigger and see what happens. And using a firm grip on the rifle's pistol grip will help keep the trigger hand in place using heavier trigger pulls most rifles have.

    I suggest one learns to shoot slung up in prone with the fore end and stock toe resting on bags. Most folks who do this well shoot almost as (sometimes just as) well as benchresters shooting their hardware in free recoil.
     
  12. Jim Oliver

    Jim Oliver Well-Known Member

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    Bart,
    Thanks for the reply.
    As an old pistol shooter, I remember about the fringer position and straight to the rear pull.

    I think I have figured out what I'm doing wrong------just gotta have the discipline to fix it!!

    And, you're right about the tight sling/prone with rest stuff; with my coat, glove and sling, my Garand shoots from the prone as well as it shoots off the bench.

    Jim
     
  13. Bart B

    Bart B Well-Known Member

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    That brings back memories.

    I shot bullseye pistol competition from the early through late '60's. The Small Arms Marksmanship Instructor at the military base I was stationed at said he would issue me match grade ammo for my .45 ACP hardball and softball guns (both had 4-pound triggers) when I could do the following.

    Cock the M1911, set an empty .22 rimfire case on the flat top front sight, then dry fire it without that empty case falling off. . . . .10 times in a row. Took me two months of practice at 2 or 3 nights a week, but I finally did it.
     
  14. Jim Oliver

    Jim Oliver Well-Known Member

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    Hi Bart,

    Never in the military, but I used a dime laid across the front sight......:)

    Jim