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How to get maximum accuracy from your rifle

By By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
Sept. 19, 2003
Whether you want to handload finely tuned ammunition for your rifle or just sight it in with factory loads for deer season, what you need is a good shooting bench. For a few dollars you can have a rock solid rest every time you fire your rifle. You will be able to hold the crosshairs steady and call each shot, improving your technique and building confidence that you can take a buck as far as your cartridge is effective.
A comfortable rest that holds your rifle in place so that the trigger squeeze does not move it will much more precisely reveal what your gun will do than will shots fired with a car hood, tripod or the side of a tree for a rest. A shooting bench will do the trick.
Three sections of an abandoned light or telephone pole that has been treated for long life will fortify the flat surface from which you will shoot. Cut them about four and a half feet long and sink them 18 inches into the ground in a triangle arrangement with two posts forward and one to the rear. Tie them together with cross braces or treated one by eights that connect their tops.
Top surface
Cover the top, creating a table-like structure, using treated planks of course. Cut one or two planks short at the rear to accommodate your torso. Build a seat onto the single post. Extending the seat equidistant on the two sides and shortening the top boards on each side at the rear will result in a bench for either right or left handed shooters.
An adjustable rest for the forearm of your rifle is handy, but a stack of sand bags will work fine. If you use the commercial rest, plop a sandbag on top of it on which to lay the rifle. Never rest the barrel on anything while shooting, just the forearm.
I make great sandbags from the legs of worn out pants. Tie a knot in one end of the leg and fill it with dry sand and then tie the other end. If you want waterproof sandbags so they can be left outside, line the inside of the pant legs with a kitchen size plastic bag before filling in the sand. Nothing steadies a rifle on a bench like a few sandbags.
Shooting technique
The old proven technique for firing off your shooting bench is to rest the forend of the rifle in a notch wallowed out on a sandbag. Make the forward sandbag high enough that the butt of your stock is an inch or two above the flat surface when the scope is aligned on the target. Under the buttstock place a small sandbag. The rifle should rest on these two bags with the scope looking a little above the target.
Right handers should rest the right arm on the bench surface with finger on the trigger. The left hand squeezes the little sand bag beneath the buttstock so that it lifts the stock and brings the crosshairs in line with the target. The cheek is firm against the stock and adds to the stability of the rifle.
Use a rangefinder if you have one or can borrow one from a bowhunting friend to mark off exactly a hundred yards for your shooting range. Two or three hundred yard targets make for an even better range. Be sure you have a good backstop that no bullet can get through, even if you have to move some soil.
Such a shooting range and the shooting approach noted here will yield such accurate shooting that you will save your targets for evidence as you brag to your friends.