600 Yard Benchrest
3rd Sunday of the month 7:30 AM
Guests: $20 + $10 guest fee (valid all day)
Ojai Valley Gun Club hosts National Bench Rest Shooters Association matches held six times a year in January, March, May, July, September and November
Find National Bench Rest Shooters Association Rules Here:
Typically two matches are shot to start with, in the best wind conditions. We try to start by 7:30 if people are ready.
Our targets are NBRSA 600 yard: X- ring is 1.20 inches currently. For the first match, six minutes of warm-up on a practice target, where each shot is marked by a large dot lets the shooter see his point of impact. Following this the shooter has 10 minutes to put five rounds on the score target, which is not marked during this shot string. The second match is the same as the first, except that the warm-up period is shortened to 3 minutes. Each relay shoots both their score targets while at the benches, making only one downrange swap necessary.
Long-Range Benchrest- An Overview
Long range target shooting can be enjoyed from many different levels. The number one problem people have on their first attempt at 600 yards is inadequate elevation adjustment in their scopes to let them hit near target, more bullet drop than they realized. Careful study of ballistics charts for your caliber will help prepare you, and a ramped scope base may be needed to keep the scope adjustment centered where optical quality is most consistent. For example, the .308 caliber needs to be sighted in 18 inches high of center at 100 yards to be on target at 600 yards, a pronounced “lob” trajectory that you can see in the vortex shadow as the bullet travels downrange, in some optics. Various manufacturers such as Nightforce Optics and Badger Ordnance offer one-piece or two-piece scope mounts with up to 20 minutes of angle taper built in Bipods can be used effectively on some stocks, but generally do not produce as consistent shots as can be coaxed from front rest rear bag combinations. At the entry level bring what you have and enjoy the challenge! Next level up might be using an adjustable front rest and rear bag to stabilize the gun and produce better shot consistency. Up from that might be upgrading to a target stock with flat forend, designed to track smoothly in the rests. At the high end front rests with windage cross slides let you set up on target one on the left and “dial” across the lineup, producing very consistent results.
A broad range of calibers can be effective at this game, with manageable recoil being a consideration. Even with a spotter calling your point of impact on each shot, there is a distinct advantage to being able to maintain your sight picture through the rifle’s recoil. A lightweight hunting rifle will not be as manageable as a benchrest gun partly because the target image feedback is not the same.
Differences in accuracy at long distances are pronounced with variations in ammunition. At 600 yards it is always worth starting with at least factory Match grade and working up from there. You can try shooting your plinking reloads, or standard boxed rounds, but the results will be a discouraging score in this game. Entire books have been written on reloading for accuracy, but we can touch on the basics important for this game. Safety First! Work up your loads from below the maximum recommendations, the tightest groups may come from the middle of the spread. Matching the overall length to the chamber is important for accuracy, with guns individually “liking” certain length and component combination
Reloading tooling matters. Sorting and checking components matters. Beam scales appear to be more accurate than digital, breezes in the workshop matter.
There is no such thing as going overboard in ammunition building. Once your hardware and optics are as right as you care to spend, your ammunition and your head are the other big variables within your control. The more care you bring to ammunition construction the tighter your groups can be.
Heavier calibers may be less affected by wind. Typically the calmest air is in the morning, with afternoon winds creating more of a challenge. If you are planning on trying a variety of bullet weights, you might shoot the lighter rounds early in the day and save the heavier rounds or larger calibers for afternoon.
You don’t have to be a fanatic to have fun at this game, but it helps. WARNING! PRECISION RELOADING CAN LEAD TO OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOR! Do a reality check once in a while or have somebody hit you with a board and remind you there is more to life than precision shooting. No, don’t ask what!
Electronic Ear Muffs
These are worth considering for protecting your hearing and enhancing your enjoyment of the experience. As with most things you get what you pay for, and the more expensive units are well worth the price in my opinion. Being able to hear and take part in conversations is important, and you will learn a lot faster when you can catch comments that you might have missed wearing passive hearing protection. Some of the better units will amplify sounds by up to 18 decibels, while limiting noise levels to 85 decibels. The higher the Noise Reduction Rating the more noise the unit will be able to filter out, very important if you are set up next to someone using a muzzle brake.
There are some inexpensive electronic muffs on the market, and these can be very helpful in proving the concept without breaking the bank. The pair I have shuts off amplification completely rather than compressing the sound level, and takes 2-3 seconds to recover amplification after shut-off. The result on the firing line is that half the time you can’t hear anything, every conversation is chopped up. Fine for some applications but less than desirable for competition use in my opinion.