1000-Yard Benchrest Competition
by Jason Baney, 1000yd Editor
The Challenge of Distance
1000-yard Benchrest competition is the ultimate challenge for man and gun. When conditions are right, a good shooter can put ten shots into a pattern you can cover with the palm of your hand. But a wind shift can also throw a shot off-target completely. That's why 1000-yard shooting is as much a mental game as it is a test of equipment. Like golf, the pursuit of perfection is never-ending. Each range, each match, is a new test of a shooter's abilities, and his gun's accuracy.

Relentless Pursuit of Accuracy
You don't need a gun that can shoot .1" groups at 100 yards to be competitive at 1000 yards. Long VLD bullets often do not shine until 300yds since they may not fully stabilize inside 100 yards. The 300 yard-line is where you can assess whether a gun has what it takes to do well at 1000. If you can group at or under 1" at 300 yards, you'll be in the running at 1000 yards. But to reach this level, you need ultra-consistent ammo, proper shooting technique, and a rifle that shoots straight. Very, very straight.

Tools of the Trade
Compared to conventional hunting rifles, 1000-yard guns are streamlined yet massive, with large slab-like front ends and long barrels. No one caliber dominates. 300 mags, 6.5s, and 6mm guns all harvest their share of trophies. Historically, the big 30s have the best track record, but smaller calibers are gaining favor. Now that good 7mm bullets are available we are starting to see .284s and 7mags on 1000-yard firing lines as well. A "top gun" usually sports a custom or trued Rem 700 action, a Leupold or Nightforce scope, and a heavy-contour hand-lapped barrel 28" or longer. We examine, in much greater detail, the components of a match-winning 1000-yard rifle, in Part II of this article.

Shehane MBR Tracker in "Indian Paint" pattern Obeche, with barrel block and Nightforce scope.

Long-Range Shooting Technique
1000-yard rifles are rarely shot free-recoil, unlike point-blank Benchrest (100-200 yards), where free-recoil technique (touch only the trigger and/or trigger guard, then halt recoil with your shoulder) is the norm. Two basic shooting styles are used by 1000-yard shooters. Some grab the fore-end and apply downward pressure to aid tracking and counter barrel hop during recoil. Others use just the trigger hand and shoulder to support the rifle. I use the second method, as I get excessive vertical spread when I grab the fore-end. I can't seem to hold the forend and make it work, but many shooters do it very well. With either method, doing exactly the same thing every shot is key. And now that Richard Schatz set a new 6-target 1000-yard record free-recoiling his 11-lb 6mm Dasher, we may see more shooters trying this method in the future. As I said before, the sport is evolving.

Different Organizations, Different Rules
Three major organizations regulate 1000-yard benchrest matches: IBS, NBRSA, and Williamsport. Unlike short range BR, where score and group are separate competitions, 1000-yard BR groups are scored for both group size and target point value. Wiliamsport uses 10-shot groups for all classes, whereas IBS and NBRSA use 5-shot groups for the Light Guns and 10-shot groups for Heavy Guns. And there are a host of other minor variations in the rules among the three Associations.

Light Gun vs. Heavy Gun
Most matches have two classes, Light Gun and Heavy Gun. Under NBRSA rules, max weight for Light Gun is 17 lbs while the "Heavies" are unlimited. Williamsport sets the Light Gun limit at 16.5 lbs (with scope), and also offers an 11-lb entry class. The 11-lb class allows shooters to try their hand at 1K, before investing heavily in a specialized 1000-yard Light Gun or Heavy Gun. Currently the 11-lb class is dominated by 6 Dasher and 6BR shooters. Using aluminum Viper or Panda actions and ultra-light stocks they can make weight even with 28" or longer heavy-profile barrels. It's not uncommon for these little 11-lb 6mm rifles to post better groups than their bigger brothers! Just this June in Byers, Colorado, Richard Schatz's 11-lb Dasher set a new NBRSA World Record 6-Target Light Gun Aggregate of 6.125".

1000 Yard Links:
Iowa 1000 Yard Benchrest Association (Pella, Iowa)
N. Carolina 1000 Yard Benchrest Shooters Association (Hawks Ridge, NC)
Montana Northwest 1000 Yard Benchrest Association (Deep Creek Range, Missoula, MT)
Ohio 1000 Yard Benchrest Association (Thunder Valley)
Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club (Williamsport)
Virginia 1000 Yard Benchrest Club (Range 4, Quantico)

F-Class Page >

Ready to learn more about 1000-yard Benchrest Shooting?
Then Click here for PART II of our guide to 1000-yard Competition.


Half-moa at 1000 Yards -- Been there, Done That...
Check out this 5.358" ten-shot group. Just shows you what a good Krieger barrel and a fast-cycling Viper action can do. All but one inside the 10-ring! If shot #2 had cut the 10-ring, this group would have set a Williamsport Record. While I'm not as fast as some of the best 1000-yard shooters, I like to shoot my string quickly, when conditions are most favorable. If your gun tracks well you can cycle very quickly and be done with your string in under five minutes. I shot this group in about 50 seconds! Note that it was pretty well centered horizontally, so I guess I picked a good time to "duel with the wind".



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