2019 ukbra 1000 yd benchrest championship round-up

Mary Marsden (foreground Dasher) and Jeanette Whitney (6mmSwiss Match) dominted the ‘Score’ category in Light Gun and got top six placings in ‘Group’ as well.

Our two long-range Championships – 600 and 1000 yards are held over six shoots. The 1000 yard takes place over the summer and the 600 yard follows over the winter period.  So, the September 1st Shoot was the final 1000 yard competition – until April 2020.

Benchrest of course originated in America and we run our competitions in accordance with IBS (International Benchrest Shooters) rules.  However, we have some differences. In the UK we have always catered for shooters using more modest equipment, with our Factory Sporter Class and, we use electronic targets displaying the appropriate IBS face for group measurement and score.  Originally, we only shot for group but the advent of electronics automatically gives the score so why not?  Finally, in 1000 yard Heavy Gun Class, the Americans shoot 10-shot groups – we tried it but went back to five-shot groups.  Both UK and US shoot five-shot groups at 600 yards.

The laptop is now used to record scores and groups sizes – instantly. Butt crews are a thing of the past!

Factory Sporter Class – Unlike most benchrest classes, there are no weight restrictions in Factory Sporter Class.  However, there are a few other rules:

Rifles may be re-stocked or the existing factory stock modified to better ‘ride the bags’.  Some factory rifles, like the Savage Model 12 Benchrest, already come with a decent wood-laminate benchrest-style stock and are competition-ready right out of the box.  Chambered for the remarkable Norma 6BR, this is an excellent rifle to get into long-range benchrest.  These rifles regularly shoot sub. MOA at 1000 yards.  With more conventional stocks, a three-inch wide ‘bag-rider’ can be fitted to the underside of the fore-end and some competitors also fit a rear bag-rider to the underside of the butt. 

Stuart Benson has demonstrated that the Savage Benchrest rifle chambered for the 6BR is an effective 1000 yard rifle out of the box

A replacement trigger can be fitted.  Originally, we did not allow this but that encouraged competitors to tinker with their trigger with possible disastrous results – far better – and safer –  to have a proper competition trigger fitted.

The barrel MUST be the original barrel manufactured by the company who make the rifle – no problem with Savage, Remington etc but some niche rifle builders do use externally obtained barrels.  If your factory barrel gets shot-out, it can only be replaced like for like – no custom barrels.  Finally, the factory barrel may be re-crowned but it cannot be shortened by more than one inch.  A muzzle-brake, if fitted by the factory, can be used but otherwise, no brakes or moderators.

So let’s see who did what with their factory kit.

Factory Class winner for both Group and Score – Alan Seagrave with his out of the box Tikka. Alan has shot many sub MOA groups

We had about 15 regulars with a great variety of factory rifles.  Alan Seagrave is something of a legend in the UK Factory Class and he has many sub. MOA groups (i.e less than 10 inches) to his credit with his absolutely standard Tikka in 6.5×55.  Alan’s rifle is as standard as it could be – standard plastic stock, trigger etc.  Alan is a past winner of the Championship and he takes the win again this year.  In second spot is a newcomer, Adam Davy – always great to see and Adam also has his two sons shooting with us as well.  In third spot is our ‘Remington Girl’ Toni Young who achieves remarkable things with a very well used 308 Remington!

Toni Young shot small group this year in Factory Sporter with a half MOA group! That’s why we call her ‘Remington Girl’


1st  Alan Seagrave   6.5×55 Tikka

2nd Adam Davey       (Adam has used a couple of different rifles)

3rd  Toni Young       308 Remington

4th  Dave Jackson    6BR Savage

5th  Drake Davey

6th  Trey Davey

Small group of the year:  Toni Young  5.118 inches

In Score:

1st  Alan Seagrave

2nd Adam Davey

3rd  Toni Young

4th  Dave Jackson

5th Trey Davey

6th Drake Davey

High score of the year:  Alan Seagrave  173 (ex.200)

Light Gun Class – This is perhaps the ‘premier’ class. Why?  Well, rifles must be built to a strict weight limit of 17 lbs. including scope.  Unlike with Heavy Gun, to build a competitive 17 lb rifle some compromises must be made.  Barrel weight, length, profile must be carefully chosen.  A typical custom action will weigh between 2.5 to 3lbs.  A heavy, long barrel around 8lbs.  Add a couple of pounds for scope, rings, rail and trigger and it doesn’t leave a lot for the stock.  Small 6mm cartridges like the Dasher, 6BR, Swiss Match and the like are now the most favoured.  There is little interest in running the big barrel-burning WSMs that ruled the roost ten years ago.

This years Championship attracted a regular 20 competitors and this year’s winner is Vince Bottomley.  Yes, Vince has won previously – with a barrel-burning 7mmWSM but now he sticks to the little ‘sixes’ with the Swiss Match taking the honors this year.  

Second place in Light Gun went to Nick Parkin with his immaculate Walker Rifle’s BAT in 6.5-284

Second spot however went to Nick Parkin with a 6.5-284.  This was a popular cartridge many years ago but again, limited barrel-life has seen a demise in this excellent cartridge of late. 

Third place in Light Gun went to Bexi Parkin – in her first year of competitive shooting with her stunning Walker Rifles Savage

Third spot went to Nick’s 16 year old daughter Bexi, shooting a Savage chambered in 6BR.  This rather special rifle was put together by renowned gunsmith Pete Walker as part of Bexi’s Duke of Edinburgh Award and Bexi took an active part in the build – see http://www.targetshooter.co.uk/?s=Bexi She has produced some truly outstanding performances in her first season of competitive shooting.  Her results have now attracted sponsorship from Optics Warehouse and we are all very proud of Bexi’s achievements.


1st  Vince Bottomley   6mm Swiss Match

2nd Nick Parkin  6.5-284

3rd  Bexi Parkin  6mmBR

4th  Mary Marsden  6mm Dasher

5th   Tony Lenton  6.5×47 Lapua

6th Jeanette Whitney  6mm Swiss Match

Small group of the year: Vince Bottomley  4.055 inches


1st   Jeanette Whitney

2nd  Mary Marsden

3rd  Vince Bottomley

4th  Nick Parkin

5th  Ian Dixon  6-6.5×47

6th Tony Lenton

High score of the year:  Mary Marsden  183

Heavy Gun – This year we had 19 Heavy Gun shooters.  In the USA, Heavy Gun means just that –  with rifles typically weighing 40 to 60 lbs!   A lot of our Heavy Guns are really Light Guns that failed to make weight!  Most are only a couple of pounds over weight.  In the US, Heavy Guns shoot 10-shot groups and to do this quickly – typically 10 shots in not much more than 20 seconds – a heavy rifle which hardly moves under recoil is essential.  We do have a couple of true UK Heavy Guns – Les Prior’s 6mmBRA and little Emily Lenton’s 6BR and Les managed second place in the Championship this year but sadly, we’ve seen very little of Emily recently but Dad Bruce did win Heavy Gun with his not-so-heavy 6XC Stolle.

Young Emily’s Black n Heavy 6BR is one of only a couple of true Heavy Guns in the UK

Taking third spot is Jochen Schulz. Jochen gives our shoots an international flavour by making the long trip over from Germany every month to shoot with us and it’s great to see him taking third place as he has had to use a borrowed rifle for some of his shoots due to an essential re-barrel of his comp. gun.

Results: Group

1st  Bruce Lenton   6XC

2nd Les Prior  6mmBRA

3rd  Jochen Schulz  6.5-284

4th  Urbis Funk 6.5×47

5th  Dan Valmont 338 Lap. Mag.

6th  Darrel Evans 6.5×47

Small group of the year: Bruce Lenton   4.724 inches

Results: Score

1st  Bruce Lenton

2nd Urbis Funk

3rd  Les Prior

4th  Jochen Schulz

5th  Mike Perdeaux 248Win

6th  Darrel Evans

High score of the year: Bruce Lenton  182

Although we have seen some very impressive performances, none of our UK records have been broken this year.

Graham Watts shot a sub half MOA group with his factory Ruger Precision rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor

Why benchrest? – So what attracts shooters to long-range benchrest competition?  Accuracy – pure and simple but with the added element of shoulder-to-shoulder competition.  Yes, we are all out to shoot that tiny group but conditions don’t always permit this and really it’s just a matter of beating the guy (or girl) on the other benches!  It’s also a great way to test and refine your equipment and we often have F Class shooters taking part as our electronic targets not only measure your group to the nearest millimetre but also provide other information – terminal velocities and SD readouts (standard deviation) giving valuable information to reloaders. It also teaches shooters about ‘set-up’ and firing the perfect shot – quickly – again and again.

Check out the competition calendar on www.diggleranges.com for details of future shoots.