Virtual Benchrest

Copyright(C) 1996 by Bill Giel of Moondog Software
Thanks to Bill for allowing us to use his Java Applet here in Mayberry.

An applet that simulates Benchrest target shooting, VBR will appeal to all the benchrest shooters on the Internet. A few comments about this sport will help you better understand how to play the game.

Object of this Game
The Target
What is a Match?
Playing Virtual Benchrest
Windage and Elevation Sliders
What's a Good Score?

The Object of this Game

This applet simulates an aspect of Benchrest known as "Group Shooting," and the object is to fire five shots at a target and have all five bullets go through the same bullet hole. This doesn't happen too often, so BR shooters generally strive to get the smallest cluster of bullet holes that is possible. This cluster often looks like a single bullet hole to the uninitiated, so scores are determined by carefully measuring the largest dimension of the hole with calipers, and subtracting one bullet diameter from this measurement. The result is a center-to-center measurement, that cancels out the effect of different caliber rifles that shooters may choose.

And, unlike score shooting, this bullet hole group can be anywhere on the record target... not necessarily in the center ring, or "mothball." All that counts is the size of the group.

BR rifles are precision instruments, designed from the ground up to shoot tiny groups. BR shooters prep their custom made ammo to tool and die tolerances, and generally spare no effort or expense in pursuit of the elusive one-hole group. With all this equipment, fancy sandbag rests, 36-power optics, and typically, a trunk-full of accessories, special tools and gadgets, you might ask, "Where's the challenge? This looks easy!"

Looks are deceiving. Enter Mr. Wind. Thanks to Mother Nature, all the mechanical perfection that goes into a BR rifle and ammunition can often seem like a complete waste of time and money, unless the BR shooter can read the wind conditions. To help with this, the field in a Benchrest shoot will be festooned with various wind sensing devices, streamers, pinwheels, and sundry other contraptions to help the shooters decide when to pull the trigger. A good BR shooter knows how to "dance with the wind."

The Target

A benchrest target consists of two identical targets on a single sheet of paper. The uppermost target, enclosed within a printed square, is the record target. Shots on this target count towards the score.

Below the record target is another, similar target which is the sighter. Shots taken at the sighter do not count, and can be used to warm up the rifles barrel, or to test the effects of different observed wind conditions on bullet impact before taking a shot on the record.

What is a Match?

A match consists of 5 shots on the record target. This is important. You can shoot more than 5 if you want, but for each shot less than 5 you will be penalized by having 2 inches added to your group size. You will be given 7 minutes to put 5 shots into the record target.

During this 7 minute match, you can shoot as many shots at the sighter that you need.

Playing Virtual Benchrest

To start, press the "New Match" button. You will hear the range officer announce "Commence Fire," and the 7 minute timer will start ticking down. Starting a new match will enable the "Shoot!" and "Cease Fire" buttons.

Move the crosshairs by dragging them with the mouse, or simply click on the point that you want to shoot at. Good firearms practice requires that you only shoot at the target.

Keep an eye on the Wind Conditions panel, indicating the direction the wind is blowing, and its intensity. The wind will definitely push your bullets into places you'd rather not have them go. A bad string of shots spread out left-to-right on the target is often called a "Weather Report."

Try to take your shots when the wind conditions are the same. You can either try to "run" a condition... that is get off 5 shots before the wind changes, or shoot different conditions by shooting at the sighter and adjusting your point of aim to compensate for different conditions, a sort of scientific version of "Kentucky Windage."

In a real BR match, it is up to each shooter to keep track of how many shots are in the record target. If it is less than 5, the range officers will know because there is a slowly moving backer behind each target. In Virtual BR, the computer keeps track for you and shows the number of shots in a counter display to the right of the target.

After you've placed your shots in the record target, you can press the "Cease Fire" button, which will stop the clock, and add your group score to the scrolling log displayed at the bottom of the applet.

The applet will calculate a running average of your group sizes, which is the "aggregate." A real BR shoot consists of 5 such matches. However, you can shoot as many as you want.

You can re-initialize the match counters and aggregate scoring by pressing "Reset All."

Windage and Elevation Sliders

By default, your rifle is sighted so that the bullet impact is the same as the point of aim in calm conditions. Most BR shooters don't like this, because the bullets can chew away their aiming point. Typically, shooters aim at the top or center of the center ring and adjust the elevation on their scope to let the bullets drop above or below the point of aim. You might choose to use a corner of the "aiming square" of a BR target as your point of aim, and use the windage and elevation sliders to move the point of impact to a suitable place on the target.

What is a Good Score?

BR is like golf in many ways, but especially in score. The smaller the group the better. A decent, competitive group size is around 0.250 inches. Consistently shooting less than 0.200 inches is great, possibly match-winning quality. Anything less than 0.100 inches is called an Official Screamer, and in real-life would earn the shooter a custom patch, get his/her name mentioned in Precision Shooting magazine, probably take a prize for the smallest group of the match, and in a money shoot, win some money. Screamers are good. Unfortunately, they are infrequent.