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Many a hunting rifle gets sighted in resting on a rolled-up jacket over a pickup's hood. It works after a fashion though the truck tends to rock in the wind or when you lean against it.

Remember the bore is an inch or two below the scope. Just because you don't see an obstruction through the scope doesn't mean the bore is clear. I recall once riding around with friends in an old Jeep. It had a long rusted scar in the hood, a relic of an occasion when some excited hunter jumped out and took a shot at a black bear. The only one who approved of the results was the bear.

For serious accuracy testing of rifles and ammunition you really need something better. I've used sandbag rests made by cutting the legs from old blue jeans, filling them with sand and tying the ends. Not elegant or convenient but it worked, and the price was right. As with most things, you get what you pay for and precision costs money.

Front rests can run in price from 20 or 30 bucks to $900 and more. The best front rests used by serious benchrest competitors are mechanical works of art, beautifully made precision instruments. Some of the names include Bald Eagle, Farley, Hart, Loh, Mountain Specialties,

Stoney Point shooting sticks are made in 2- and 3-legged versions and in heights for sitting/kneeling and standing positions. They are well made, light and strong. Folded, they can be carried in a web belt case. Components are secured with shock cords and can be quickly prepared for use as a shooting rest.

Harris bipods are made in many styles. Bipods are versatile accessories, useful for bench shooting and practical field shooting. The rifle is a Tikka T3.270 WSM with Leupold 2.5-8X VX-III scope. In the field, Harris bipods can be folded out of the way, yet quickly deployed when needed. The base attaches to front sling swivel stud.

Ransom, SEB, Sinclair and Wichita.

If benchrest competition interests you, or if you simply want the best regardless of cost, a good idea is to find a benchrest match. I wouldn't suggest pestering shooters as they're trying to ease off the last shot of a string with time running out, but you will see what's available.

To some extent choice of rest depends how you shoot. Most of what I know about benchrest shooting technique I learned from Warren Page's The Accurate

Rifle, written in 1973. Consequently, I make fine aiming adjustments with the left hand on the rear bag. The front rest simply holds the forearm of the rifle consistently.

Currently, many shooters use the rear bag only as a buttstock support and make fine adjustments with the front rest. The front rest adjustments must be fine, smooth, repeatable and precise — and precision, remember, costs money.

Most of us shoot from the bench to sight in, test scopes and rifles, compare factory loads and develop handloads. We probably don't need such precision. On the other hand, we are more interested in accuracy, than the casual shooter who just wants to check the sights on his deer rifle once a year.

For around $150 to $250 we can get a rest which will last a lifetime and make bench shooting easier and more pleasant. For several years I've used a Caldwell rest called "The Rock BR" which currently retails at $219. This model has windage and elevation adjusting knobs. I doubt they are as precise as those on models costing three or four times as much, but for my purposes they work fine.

After getting the rest positioned and leveled (using the built-in bubble level) I set the rifle on the rest and rear bag

The Caldwell Rock BR front rest weighs 15-1/2 pounds and has useful features such as a bubble level and windage/elevation adjustment knobs. A front extension is for an optional forearm stop. The Versa Pod (right) base attaches to the rifle (in this case to an integral rail, other options are available). Bipod legs can be easily attached or detached. Legs swivel on base to allow the rifle to be leveled. Rifle is a Les Baer AR.

and use the center post to get roughly on target. I use the windage and elevation knobs to get the reticle settled around the middle of the target. As mentioned I do my fine aiming with the rear bag.

Sinclair International offers an excellent lightweight rest with an allpurpose top. Suggested retail is $159.95. Another excellent rest is the Wichita Precision rifle rest which weighs around 11 pounds and currently lists at $144.58. Sinclair and Wichita are highly respected names among benchrest competitors and the quality of their products is beyond question. If rifle accuracy intrigues you, it's worth spending some time on their Web sites.

The Bipod

I always have a bipod or two in my box of range gear. If I get to the range and both good tables are in use I can always shoot prone with a bipod and rear bag. Bipods are also practical hunting accessories and just generally good things to have.

Harris Engineering offers a wide array of bipods. The "S" series rotates up to 45 degrees, making them especially handy for hunting. You can place the legs on uneven ground, then rotate the rifle to quickly square up the crosshairs. For shooting from the bench or mostly

BATTENFELD TECHNOLOGIES (CALDWELL ROCK BR) 5885 W. VAN HORN TAVERN ROAD COLUMBIA, MO 65203 (573) 445-9200 WWW.BATTENFELDTECHNOLOGIES.COM

BROWNELLS. INC. 200 SOUTH FRONT STREET MONTEzUMA, IA 50171

(800) 741-0015 WWW.BROWNELLS.COM

the legs are on an uneven surface.

Legs are offered in several height ranges (for example 5"-7", 9"-12", 15-1/2" - 23-3/4"). Quality of materials and workmanship is excellent. I first used a Versa Pod on a super accurate Les Baer AR rifle I like to use on prairie dog shoots. Incidentally Les once told me he often uses a Versa Pod and rear bag rest for accuracy testing his rifles.

I see the current Brownells catalog carries the Wichita rest, Harris and Versa Pod bipods, along with the Protecktor series of bench rest bags with front and rear bags available in various sizes and styles. Bags for front rests are available in different styles and sizes (for example, for wide varmint-rifle forearms, or

The Caldwell Rock BR front rest weighs 15-1/2 pounds and has useful features such as a bubble level and windage/elevation adjustment knobs. A front extension is for an optional forearm stop. The Versa Pod (right) base attaches to the rifle (in this case to an integral rail, other options are available). Bipod legs can be easily attached or detached. Legs swivel on base to allow the rifle to be leveled. Rifle is a Les Baer AR.

on level ground the 1A2 series have solid bases (and are priced substantially less).

Some of the height ranges offered are 6"-9", 9"-13", 11"-25", 13"-27". Most attach to the front sling swivel stud and have a padded base to protect the forearm finish. If your rifle doesn't have a swivel stud, Harris makes a wide array of adapters. For example, they have adapters for most Ruger Mini-14s, Remington slide-action and semi-auto centerfires, and accessory rails.

Another bipod I use and like very much is the Versa Pod. This is a 2-part system with a base attaching to the rifle (several adapters are available for mounting to rails or swivel studs) and the bipod legs which easily attach or detach from the base. The legs pivot on the base for quickly leveling the rifle if

BUSHNELL OUTDOORS (STONEY POINT PRODUCTS) 9200 CODY OVERLAND PARK, KS 66214-1734 (800) 423-3537, WWW.STONEYPOINT.COM

HARRIS ENGINEERING, INC. 999 BROADWAY ST., BARLOW, KY 42024 (203) 266-6906, WWW.HARRISBIPODS.COM

KENG'S FIREARMS SPECIALTIES (VERSA POD) 875 WHARTON DRIVE SW, ATLANTA, GA 30336 (404) 691-7611, WWW.VERSAPOD.COM

narrower sporter rifle forearms). These bags protect the forearm from damage, let the rifle slide smoothly during recoil and are very much worth their moderate cost.

Since we're talking rifle rests I should also mention the various 2- and 3-legged shooting sticks offered by Stoney Point. I've used Stoney Point sticks in Africa and on North American big game hunts and prairie dog shoots. I've also used them as camera supports for both still and video cameras. There are too many styles and sizes to list, but options are available to meet most hunting needs. Very useful products indeed, light, strong, versatile, and well made. rflTTO

SINCLAIR INTERNATIONAL 2330 WAYNE HAVEN ST. FORT WAYNE, IN 46803

(800) 717-8211 WWW.SINCLAIRINTL.COM

WICHITA ARMS, INC. 923 E. GILBERT ST. WICHITA, KS 67211 (316) 265-0661 WWW.WICHITAARMS.COM

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Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

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