This was another reader request in regards to shooting from a bench. We’ll discuss how to go about shooting from a bench and how it’s different than prone. I’m not going to claim Benchrest levels of precision because that’s a whole other sport. However, we frequently find ourselves shooting from positions other than prone. So discussing how shooting from a bench can be different and some tricks to make it more stable can be useful. This is also the position a lot of people tend to learn how to shoot from with a parent at the range. So there’s definitely some merit to discussing it and that’s the focus of today’s article!
Shooting From a Bench
How is shooting from a bench different than shooting from prone or other positions? I’ll talk about some of the differences in a second. What I want to stress from the beginning is that you should treat shooting from a bench just like shooting from prone. That means pointing the rifle at the target. Making sure your shoulders, hips, and knees are all at a 90 degree angle from the direction of fire. Load the bipod just like you would from prone. Exercise the same control of your breathing rhythm and check your natural point of aim the same way you would if shooting prone. The more you treat it like shooting from prone, the less the differences will matter to you!
Keep your expectations in check as well. I took these photos at a range in a local state park. It’s great because it’s local and isn’t infested with mosquitoes right now. However, you can see the “bench” actually runs all the way down between lanes. So having other shooters shooting and bumping into it at the same time can affect how accurate I’m able to shoot. Keep the same things in your own mind. If it’s a good concrete bench that’s free standing any accuracy issues are likely your own. If it isn’t as well designed and you’re getting movement from other shooters you have to expect some growth in the consistency of your group sizes. The farther you get away from the ground, the less stable you become. It doesn’t mean you can’t shoot a good group at 100 or make a first round hit at 700, it’s just something you have to keep in mind.
We talked a little about how shooting from a bench is mechanically the same as shooting from the ground. Treat it the same way as shooting from prone and keep a grasp of the fundamentals the same way. However, it is different than shooting from prone. The rifle is just as stable in most cases supported by a bipod and a rear bag. What’s different is the shooter. We’re supporting our weight with a bench or stool that we’re sitting on and our whole upper torso is usually free to float and move around. When you combine some of that inherent instability with some of the whacky ways people line themselves up with the bench itself, it can be frustrating for somebody used to prone shooting.
One thing I’ve found over the years is to try and get as much of your upper torso up on the bench as possible. If you think of your sternum as a sort of ledge or shelf you can try to rest it up on the bench or table or whatever you happen to be shooting from. By doing that you can rest the majority of your body weight on the seat and you can stabilize your upper torso by resting it on the bench itself. Obviously how the bench is set up affects whether or not you can do this. It’s harder to do on a short bench because as you push your chest up and forward, the gun needs to move forward too. If it’s a short bench, you may not have the room to do it.
In addition to being square to the direction of fire, try to move your shoulders forward in front of your hips. This may sound like some kind of voodoo trick but it’s pretty universal even in pistol shooting. If you’re standing straight up recoil tends to push you around. It’s the same when shooting from a bench. Lean forward into the gun a bit and don’t let it push you around. Combine the forward lean with loading the bipod as a way to remember it. Your neck is at a different angle when shooting from a bench so be mindful of that. If you’re getting shadowing in your sight picture you may need to adjust your stock’s comb height a bit. This is also why you need that forward lean, it helps reduce the severity of that angle and brings it closer to what you see shooting prone.
Keep the article suggestions coming! Leave a comment below or shoot us an email and that’s all it takes. We can’t think of everything and there are honestly times I’m not sure what to write about for our readers so having you guys let us know what you want to hear about helps. I typically write it down immediately and try to move it to the top of the list of articles I’m working on. Remember that shooting from a bench is mechanically the same as prone. You go through the same steps and the fundamentals apply the same way. You’re just a little less stable and the angle you’re interacting with the rifle is a bit different. If you can, support your upper torso on the bench and reduce some of the instability of the position in general. As always if you have any tips, especially you F Class and Benchrest guys…drop them below!