The Sport of Air Rifle Benchrest Shooting in a Nutshell.
The objective of this document is to give an overview of the sport and to try and shed some light on the lesser know details.
Recently some changes were made to the SABSF rules with the objective to attract more shooters to the sport of benchrest shooting. These changes pertain to the different rifle classes/disciplines with respect to the weight of the rifle as well as the foot-pound energy of the rifle. More disciplines were also added to give shooters a wider choice of disciplines to participate in.
Shooting is done outdoors at 25 or 50 meters using a separate front and a rear rest to stabilize the rifle. Due to the small size of the targets a telescope is used and in most cases the higher magnification telescopes are better suited.
A target sheet consists of 25 small scoring targets as well as 10 sighting targets that can be used for sighting purposes. The maximum score that can be achieved is 250 and 25X’s. It may sound an easy task to do but keep in mind that the wind can push the pellet away from the point of aim by as much as 30-40 millimeters.
The ability to “read” the wind and adjust the point of aim accordingly is at the core of benchrest shooting. Shooters also make use of the sighting targets to determine the shift in the point of aim and transfer this deflection to the next scoring target.
The Disciplines Which are Accommodated in Air Rifle Benchrest Shooting for the 2012 Season.
Light Varmint – 12fpe max energy, 10.5lbs max weight (scope incl) & any magnification scope. Shooting distance: 25m
Heavy Varmint – 20fpe max energy, 15lbs max weight (scope incl) & any magnification scope. Shooting distance: 25m
Unlimited Score – 30fpe max energy, 15lbs max weight (scope incl) & any magnification scope. Shooting distance:50 m and then 25m as from 2102.
Grouping – 30fpe max energy, 15lbs max weight (scope incl) & any magnification scope. 5 x 5 shot groups. Shooting distance: 50m
Any pellet type can be used in 4,5 or 5,0 or 5,5 millimeters.
The Rifles Used in Benchrest Shooting.
For many years the sport has been dominated by Air Arms rifles. Typically the S400, MPR and EV2 models. The CZ 200 is a good entry level rifle. Other brands are Steyr, Theoben, Hammerli, Walter and *Daystate. Although there are nothing wrong with springer air rifles, they are not really suited for competitive shooting.
*As per the WRABF rules with electronics other than the electronic trigger cannot be used in Light and Heavy Varmint classes. Such rifles are allowed in Unlimited Score and Grouping.
Air Arms, JSB, Crosman and Daystate are the most commonly used pellets.
How the Different Pieces of the Puzzle Fits Together:
Organized benchrest shooting in South Africa there practiced by five provinces that in actual fact operate as the provincial clubs. They are:
- Western Province Benchrest Shooting Association based at Cape Town
- North West Benchrest Shooting Association based at Klerksdorp - Schoeman Range
- Free State Benchrest Shooting Association based at Welkom – Excalibur Range
- South Gauteng Benchrest Shooting Association based near Meyerton – Sure Focus Range
- Gauteng Benchrest Shooting Association based north of Pretoria – Krokodilspruit Range
These five provinces affiliates their members to the South Africa Benchrest Shooting Federation (SABSF) (http://www.sabsf.co.za ) who is in turn affiliated to the South African Shooting Sports Federation (SASSF). SASSF represents the sport of shooting at the South African Council of Sport. By the way, these are the guys who give the final nod in the awarding of national colours.
These five provincial associations practice air rifle, rim file and centre fire disciplines. South Africa is a founding member of the World Rimfire and Air Rifle Benchrest Federation. (http://www.wrabf.com/index.htm) The WRABF World Championships takes place every four years. The next WRABF Championships will be held in July/August 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina in the USA. South Africa will be sending a team to this event.
Then there is the European Rimfire and Air Rifle Benchrest Shooting Federation (http://www.erabsf.org who hosts the European Championships every four years, probably somewhere in Europe. So there is an opportunity to compete in an international event every two years.
How Benchrest Shooting Takes Place:
In South Africa each province are obliged to annually hosts four league shoots and one open championship. At all of these events/championships shooters from the other provinces can participate. Shooters who are not members of SABSF can also shoot but they are not ranked on the national SABSF ranking system.
Benchrest scores are ranked per discipline at http://www.sapssf.com and updated during the year. The ranking period stretches from one National Championship to the next and the Championship is typically held in April. Shooters are ranked by their best two league score of which each league result contributes 10% towards their ranking. A shooter’s best open championship result contributes another 30% towards their total ranking. At this point a shooter will have a ranking of up to a possible 50%.
Based on the score that a shooter achieved at the previous National Championships or the next National Championships he will be able to contribute another possible 50% of his ranking, which will give him a possible total of 100%.
A shooter’s score in each discipline at each competition is expressed as a percentage of the winning (top) score in the particular discipline on the day.
A typical example of scores expressed as a percentage:
Highest Score, First Place Score - 240 and 8X = 100%
Second Highest Score, Second Place – 239 and 15X = 99.61% (239.15 divided by 240.08 times 100)
Third Highest Score, Third Place – 237 and 2X = 98.72% (237.02 divided by 240.08 times 100)
Fourth Highest Score, Fourth Place – 235 and 10X = 97.92% ( 235.1 divided by 240.08 times 100)
(An X is where the pellet obliterate the inner circle)
This method of scoring will ensure that shooters who shoots the same score and X count will achieve the same percentage. As an example if one should shoot in a gale force wind and end up with a highest score of 200 that shooter will still be achieving 100% for that discipline on the day. Added to this is the normal position placement of first, second…. with tie break rules to determine the respective positions. When it is difficult to call a shot’s score a ,22 plug is used Currently “best edge scoring” is used.
In years when either a World or European Championship takes place the SABSF will select the National team based on the shooter’s overall percentage ranking in the specific discipline that will be shot at the World or European Championship. To ensure that the best team is selected senior shooters (18 years or older) must have achieved a total ranking percentage of 98% or more. Juniors need to achieve 97% or more. Protea Colours are only awarded if a team member participate in the actual international competition.