Educational Zone #178 – Hunter Class Benchrest Rifle

My buddy Boyd came through town last week and was coming from the Gulf Coast Regional Hunter Class Benchrest Competition that was held in Louisiana. He tied in a three-way tie for First place, but won 2nd place due to Xs. He met me at the range and he let me shoot his rifle. It was a very interesting experience and I thought you guys might enjoy learning about the sport.

The Hunter Class Benchrest game is just that…..a shooting game. And like most shooting games, it has a lot of rules. Folks that enjoy this game must learn to “push” the rules as much as possible to be competitive. There are several rules limiting equipment. The rifle used must be configured like a Remington 700. There is a 10 pound weight limit. It can be any centerfire caliber, but almost all competitors shoot a rifle chambered in .30 BR.

Targets are shot at 100, 200, and 300 yards. Here is what the target looks like.

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That is the 200 yard target and has a 1 inch 10 ring and a 1/8th inch X. The X on the 100 yard target is 1/16th, and the X on the 300 yard target is 3/16th inch. Boyd said that if you don’t stay in the 10 ring, you will not place, and you had better have a lot of Xs if you want to place well.

The bottom right target is for Sighters. You can shoot it any time in the match and as often as you please. The other five targets are for score and they are each shot only one time. Each shooter shoots 5 targets at each yardage for a total of 25 shots for each yardage.

But here’s the hard part. You can only use a fixed 6 power scope.

Here’s his rifle.

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He said that almost all competitors use the same equipment, as they have “boiled down” what works best. That means that it is the skill of the shooter that makes or breaks the winners.

The action is a Stolle action. It is required to have a magazine, but you do not have to use the magazine, and the shooters do not. They single feed it.

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It has a stainless bolt and an aluminum receiver.

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The trigger is a Jewel Trigger set at 1/2ounce. That’s right, ½ ounce. Boyd let me try it several times before shooting the rifle so I would know what to expect. Let’s just say that you had better not even touch the trigger until you are ready to fire.

The stock is a McMillan stock.

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Boyd had a higher power scope mounted on the rifle to work up some loads.

The 6 power scope is here. It is actually an old Weaver, as not many manufacturers make a fixed 6 power scope nowadays.

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His barrel is a Rock Creek barrel.

The front of the stock that rests on the rifle rest cannot be over 2 ¼ inches wide.

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Shooters have learned that the rifles perform best when allowed to “free recoil”. That means that the shooter does not place his shoulder on the butt stock, but just allows the rifle to recoil freely.

The only place the shooter touches the rifle is the trigger.

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The front and rear rests are covered in powder to allow the rifle to slide easily.

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The front rest also has a forward “stop” that you push the rifle up against before shooting, to be sure that it is in exactly the same position for every shot.

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Here is the .30 BR cartridge. They shoot a 115 grain bullet at 100 yards, and a 125 grain bullet at 200 and 300 yards.

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Here it is next to a .308 round. Very short and compact. It uses a small rifle primer. Boyd said that almost all competitors use the same bullets and powder and powder charges.

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One of the interesting things in this game is reading the wind. Here is one of Boyd’s wind socks.

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These are placed at several yardages in the field and reading the wind is critical.

Notice the wind pushing this one. Boyd said that much wind would move the bullet about two bullet holes to the left. You have to watch the wind and plan accordingly.

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I shot the rifle several times at 200 yards. It is very interesting to shoot such an accurate rifle. If you do your part, the bullets will go through the same hole.

And, as always, it’s fun to shoot stuff.

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