bench rest technique

  • Last Post 16 July 2018
loophole posted this 14 July 2018

My first serious centerfire rifle was a Mod. 700 Remington .22-250.  I learned what I know about benchrest shooting with that and a series of varmint/benchrest rifles. I had help from friends who were experts and one of the things they taught me was consistent hold on the rifle and a solid cheek weld.  I accumulated all the proper equiptment--good bags and a Wilson rest.

I spent a fair effort shooting flintlock rifles, then got interested in single shot and lever guns, all shot  mostly off cross-sticks and offhand. I know that vintage stock design is in large part to bring the eye into line with low mounted iron sights and early scopes shot offhand.  Used on the bench the drop in the comb does not allow the shooter to see the sights with a firm cheek wield and the buttplate is too low to allow it to be firmly pulled into the proper place on the shoulder.

My back, as my Appalachian granddad used to say, went Democrat (quit working) a few years ago so benchrest shooting is about all I can do.  I find myself shooting with my cheek held over the stock unless I rest my left hand under my chin on the stock, and it is very uncomfortable to try to find a consistent buttstock/shoulder position.  My Mod'86 and any old military rifle are punishing with recoil.

How do you boys deal with this.  I have never seen or read advice on shooting these old rifles off the bench.

Steve K

If at first you don't secede, try, try again. 



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onondaga posted this 14 July 2018

I deal with your dilemma in a very specific way. I changed my bench position from low and leaning into the shot to using a high scissor jack front rest and an ultra Mag rear bench pad. The new setup allows me to adjust it to sit very straight up with the rifle butt on my shoulder. This is comfortable with scopes or open sights on my flintlock.An expected advantage of this setup is also significantly more comfort shooting my Colt Sauer Grand African.458 Win Mag. People that lean into a .458 are low IQ people.



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RicinYakima posted this 15 July 2018

Like Gary and you, I have the age issue to deal with. I use a high front rest, support under the rear bag, and use a strap on leather cheek piece. FWIW

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 15 July 2018

.... a few years ago when i was shooting full power loads in my r3 45-70 .... i considered a " lead sled " type rest from midway ...  

...... i suspect that the zero might be different with 25 pounds of lead shot behind the buttplate ... but the groups will likely be the same ...  and the pain will be much less ....

... i think a CONSISTENT * none  * cheek pressure  ....  will give the same groups as a CONSISTENT cheek pressure ....

.... i might have a go at a lead sled yet ; i have never tried full loads in my 300 win. mag because of the dislocated joints factor ( g ) ...


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Scearcy posted this 15 July 2018

My prairie dogging partner uses a lead sled. He has found that he need to pull the rifle quite firmly into the pocket for the stock to avoid vertical stringing.

In a match I use copious amounts of talcum powder as well as teflon tape to keep the rifle recoiling smoothly


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delmarskid posted this 15 July 2018

I have been able to use my jaw line as a substitute for the cheek as a sighting anchor. This also helps me to keep my head up so that I am looking straight through my sighting eye. Using a cheek weld ,even with a gun that fits, makes me tip my face forward which in turn makes me look through the top of my eye. Let's less light through.

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joeb33050 posted this 15 July 2018

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R. Dupraz posted this 15 July 2018


IQ has nothing to do with anything. It's a matter of having a problem and then figuring out a solution that works for you. And it sounds like you have the bench technique fundamentals down.

I shoot mostly old military rifles now but in the past I spent quite some time behind a 45x2.4 Shiloh Sharps loaded with a 550 grain cast bullet with a full a case of ff or fff goex., off the bench and other wise. As you can Imagine , it's no pussy cat over bags. 

In both cases, one on going problem was excessive stock drop when using a scopes on military rifles or the ladder sights on the Sharps when trying to maintain a consistent cheek weld.

My fix for the Sharps was to make a leather sleeve for the butt as shown that is secured to the stock with Velcro. I put a section of foam water pipe insulation inside the top of the sleeve to gain the height that I needed. This pipe insulation comes in different diameters and is split so that it can be opened up and set on the comb of the butt stock. And then bought a Limb Saver slip on pad for the butt. There are lace on leather sleeves available and don't know why the same thing couldn't be done with one of those by using sections of the pipe insulation to build the height that you need.

For the military rifles, I either use the leather sleeve or just the water pipe insulation alone set on top of the comb and secured with tape around the butt stock.. More permanent for the rifles that I use regularly and I can then get a proper cheek weld. Isn't pretty but it works and I don't care. Inaccurate rifles are ugly anyway no matter what they look like.

And, yes, my bench technique is such that I do lean forward at the bench. No problem. Works for me.  

Hope this tribe is of some use.





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jchiggins posted this 15 July 2018

I use VetRap over foam to build up the stock.  It goes on easily, stays on and is easily removable and doesn't ruin the stock finish. Got the idea off the Internet; it was posted by one of our servicemen serving in the MidEast.  He said a number of them wrap their stocks so they can get a better & quicker sight on target.  He suggested using mole skin over the wrap if something softer is desired.  I wish I had his name to thank him for the idea.  VetRap is cheap and comes in a variety of colors.  Hopefully a picture of it on my M96 appears:

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loophole posted this 16 July 2018

Boys, y'all are a goldmine of experience and good ideas.  As soon as I saw Gary's post I realized that the classic benchrest shooting position is the root of my problem, and each of you has given me more food for thought.  With any luck I can start using a sitting-upright position and start shooting more comfortably and maybe more accurately.  Thanks.

Steve K

If at first you don't secede, try, try again. 

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Brodie posted this 16 July 2018

I found when shooting heavy loads in a .458 Win. that if I sat a little more upright and wrapped my arm in the sling it made the recoil much more bearable (3/4" for three shots 68gr. IMR 3031, 500gr. Hornady soft point and readily repeatable.).  I only shot 3 shot groups because I found that after that third shot my concentration and trigger squeeze suffered.  I could have just taken a long rest between shots, but I was 50 yrs younger and in a bigger hurry than I am now. 


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