As a long time benchrest shooter – long and short range – I’m always banging on to new shooters about the importance of set-up – the set-up of the front and rear bags that is. Alignment and stability are critical. The rear bag should be a ‘rock’ – it should never move during the firing process – essential if follow-up shots are to be fired quickly and accurately.
Remember, in benchrest competition, we are often required to discharge our five shots in around 15 seconds – to beat the wind. The set-up must permit an accurate ‘return to battery’ when the rifle is pushed forward following recoil. If you’ve done your job with set-up, the crosshairs will be very close to your aim-point – requiring just the slightest tweak of the front rest joystick.
F Class shooters will aim for a similar set-up but will rarely achieve it – the ‘effer’ shoots from a grassy firing-point – not a rock-solid concrete bench. With one of Seb Lanbang’s excellent rests – be it the SEB NEO or SEB Joy-pod – the front end of the set-up is pretty well sorted but that back bag – sat on a padded mat, sat on a grassy firing-point is hardly ‘rock’ solid.
Recently I’ve discovered a few of products which have helped me improve my F Class set-up. The first was the Osprey shooting mat from GS Precision – see our review at http://www.targetshooter.co.uk/?p=3125 This mat is much thinner than the ever-popular AIM mat and it’s also larger. On a grassy firing-point, the reduced padding is not a problem as it certainly provides a more stable platform for my second purchase – a Lenzi rear bag – see http://www.targetshooter.co.uk/?p=3094
The third product, which I only tried for the first time this week, is a rear-bag ‘platform’ from Fox Firearms. The Fox bag platform is a similar idea to the Dolphin version – which is a large, heavy lump of aluminium, recessed to exactly hold your bag. It works very well and the only way in which the Fox improves things – it’s adjustable, so not dedicated to one particular bag.
My recently purchased Lenzi bag offers a larger ‘footprint’ than the average bag and is therefore heavier than the usual Edgewood versions and the Lenzi leather is superb. They are designed by a leading Italian benchrest shooter so he knows all about set-up. If you had one of the aforementioned Dolphin aluminium bag-stabilisers then unfortunately, the Lenzi won’t fit. This is where the Fox version scores – it’s adjustable and will fit the Lenzi or pretty-well any other bag you are likely to have.
The base is made from 12mm stainless steel plate. It’s polished to a mirror finish on one side – for no good reason other than it looks nice and blingy! There are a series of slotted holes around the perimeter and plastic ‘bobbins’ retained by ‘T’ nuts and socket-head screws hold the bag in place. Without the bag in place it looks – and feels a bit like a manhole cover!
The bare base weighs a whopping 13 lbs – add the 16 lb weight of the Lenzi and we are looking at one heavy lump of kit! As if we didn’t have enough to cart around the range….. I didn’t enjoy carrying it – plus my rifle, mat, Joypod, ammo etc. but as soon as I set up that was forgotten – I could feel the solidity of the back support – just like I’m used to on the bench. During the 1000 yard shoot I never even thought about the back bag – it just stayed there, doing its job – solid as a rock. I was pleased to take second place, just one point behind the winner.
OK, I’m not saying this set-up will turn you into a winner but it will certainly improve a lot of the set-ups I see and that must be a good thing. The base costs £ 90 and you can pick one up from Fox Firearms at the Diggle Ranges shop. If you want it posted it will be another £9.00 www.foxfirearmsuk.com Contact www.marchscopes.co.uk and for the Lenzi bags and for the Osprey mat e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org