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IRSA Bench Rest Competitions

Dal Birrell, Bench Rest Captain.


Bench Rest competitions generally cater for those with a passion for rifle accuracy. However those very small groups we read about from time to time are the result of not only dedication to the sport, but to spending large sums of money on equipment and many hours in practice. Like too many of the shooting sports, participation at or near the top level has become prohibitively expensive and attracts fewer and fewer people.

When I started our BR competition I wanted matches where a person could use their regular sporting rifle rather than any specialised one. To cater for those who wanted to take a step up and maybe use more expensive gear, on more demanding targets, I included an Open Competition in both Rimfire and Centrefire. The challenge to get the most out of your rifles is still the main aim, but hopefully without having to sacrifice an arm and a leg in dollars and time. Reading the wind is often the biggest challenge rather than how many dollars have been spent.

I have recently moved to divide the competition into grades. This will reward shooters who are at different levels, encourage them to improve and move up through the grades.

We shoot on score targets because the odd shot not in the right place is not disastrous to the score as it is when shooting groups, and also so that we can use a variety of interesting targets. Score targets are also faster and easier to score.

Following the lead of the SSAA BR30 and similar overseas competitions, there is a handicap system based on rifle weight (as shot, including bolt and magazine), which rewards lighter rifles and penalises heavier rifles by as much as 12%, although the majority of rifles fall within + 8% to – 2%. Rifles from 4.6 to 4.9 Kg have no penalty or reward. We use a very similar weight system to BR30, which can be looked up on the SSAA website. This has proven to be a very fair handicapping system.

Rimfire competitions are shot at 50m; 20 shots in 15 minutes. There is time before the matches to sight in. Spotting scopes can be used and where a sighting target is available during a match, an unlimited number of sighting shots can be fired within the 15 minutes allowed.

In the Sporter Match scope power is restricted to 6.5 X maximum. Shooters using a variable power scope must not wind the power up to spot their shots, which is why we encourage the use of spotting scopes. In the Open Match there is no restriction on scope power.

Centrefire competitions are shot at 100m; 15 shots in 20 minutes. Otherwise the rules are the same as in Rimfire.


There are many ways to score targets. I have chosen to use the most generous method, which is simply that a shot only has to touch the line to score. For example, a shot which is almost completely within the 8 scoring zone, but which just touches the 9 zone scores 9. It does not have to break the line, just touch it. All bullet holes which are close to an upper score line need to be gauged because the bullet hole is almost always smaller than the bullet diameter. Shooters should check the scoring of their targets and if in doubt about any close shot which has been scored down, should ask that it be gauged to check. If you take your targets home and discover any scoring error, it is too late to do anything about it.

Weighing rifles is done before the match. The rifle will be weighed to the nearest 0.1 Kg. The shooter is responsible for writing that weight onto the squad sheet for that match.

The scorer will look up the handicap which applies to that weight and enter it onto the squad sheet. The handicap sheet is available to all shooters. Please always check that you have been given the correct handicap. Errors need to be drawn to my attention ASAP. I have made errors in the past despite my best efforts so I am not offended by anyone checking.

Final scores are calculated by multiplying the handicap by the raw score. Two examples are included below. Please take the opportunity to check that your final score is correct, and if not bring it to my attention ASAP and absolutely BEFORE the presentation of medals.

Rifle Weight     Handicap        Raw score               Handicap score

  1. Kg            1.08                   195                    195 X 1.08 = 210.6

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