August 14th, 2022
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Sunday GunDay: Erin Go BR — Rimfire Benchest in Ireland
Rimfire Benchrest can be fun and rewarding. It can also be frustrating because sourcing superior lots of ammo is a never-ending challenge. Still we like rimfire benchrest because you don’t need to load at the range. Plus rimfire barrels last a very long time (our friend Joe Friedrich set an ARA Benchrest record with a 100,000+ round-count barrel). Here’s a great video from the National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI). Production quality is excellent! We highly recommend you watch this video, which does a great job illustrating both the fun and challenge of rimfire benchrest competition.
“If you need to get your mind away from everything… then look down a scope, concentrate, and be disciplined.”
“Comradery is one of our organization’s key traits… there are no barriers of gender, age or mobility. Just a very diverse, bunch of good people enjoying a sport together.”
“The skill, in brief, is having the ability to hit the equivalent of the top of a pinhead at 50 meters, in all conditions with a .22 round. Not easy, especially when you have to do it 50 times to get a maximum score of 500 [points], 250 per sheet.”
Back in the USA — The New National 50 Benchrest League
If this article has motivated you to try rimfire benchrest competition back here in the good ol’ USA, there is a new organization that can help. Launched just a couple seasons ago, the National 50 League has easy-to-understand rules, and offers competition with a wide variety of rifles, even including Air Rifles. The whole idea was to make competition more affordable and get more shooters on the firing line. There are three classes — Pellet, Sportsman, and PRO. One can be very competitive in the Sportsman Class with a basic factory .22 LR rig or Air Rifle.
N50 competition is unique in allowing air rifle shooters to compete side-by-side with rimfire shooters. This allows folks to compete without the cost of expensive “top-dollar” rimfire ammo. Pellets are relatively inexpensive, and yes air is still free!
About N50 — The National 50 Benchrest League
Commentary by Joe Friedrich, Open Grove Benchrest
The new National 50 Benchrest League (N50) is a unique shooting experience. We shoot air rifles with pellets and slugs alongside .22 LR Rimfire shooters. We currently have sanctioned clubs throughout the USA offering competition and good fellowship.
N50 has three Classes: Pellet, Sportsman, and PRO. The first Pellet Class is strictly for pellet airguns ranging in calibers from .177-.30 using Diabolo-style pellets from various manufacturers.
The second class is the Sportsman Slug/Rimfire. This combined class allows any factory air rifle shooting commercially-made slugs in calibers from .177-.30 to compete against any factory rimfire that utilizes a factory-barreled action with no attachments to barrel. Pellet air rifles may also compete in this class.
The third class is the PRO Class, and no you do not have to have some magic card that says “Professional” to compete. This class allows purpose-built air rifles, and what we call “unlimited” rimfire rifles to compete. Three types of loads are allowed in PRO Class: .177 slug air-driven, .22 slug air-driven, and any .22 LR ammunition.
Another point — in N50, competitors are allowed to move up in class — you aren’t restricted to a “lower” division. For example, Pellet Class shooters can also move up to shoot in Sportsman and Pro. In addition, Factory rimfires are allowed in Pro Class. This way shooters with the less-expensive rifles can shoot more relays and also see how they compete with the unlimited rigs. It’s all about having fun.
We wanted to make N50 as simple as we could combining air rifles with rimfire so folks who have a factory rimfire can participate and have fun. We also did not want a lot of classes, so combining the two gun types would be simpler. To be honest we were worried that the rimfires will outpace the air rifles, but that was not the case at this year’s Nationals.
Air Rifle on beautifully crafted, plated Pappas Rest.
National 50 Benchrest League Rules and Course of Fire
The official N50 website, National50.org, lists N50 rules, classes, courses of fire, and membership requirements. There are currently 16 affiliated clubs nationwide, with more coming soon.
General Rules — Here are some of the more notable N50 General Rules that apply to N50 matches:
Target Distance: 50 yards
As far as hardware, N50 is pretty open. For all 3 classes, any scope is allowed and any trigger is allowed. For all 3 classes, stocks are unrestricted, stocks may be bedded, and rifle weight is unlimited. However, the Sportsman Class must retain factory barrel and action. N50 competitors in all classes may use 1-piece rests, 2-piece rests, bags, or bipods — whatever they prefer.
CLICK HERE for a free, printable version of the N50 practice target shown above. After clicking, SCROLL DOWN the page and you will see the left and right pages the will print on 8.5×11? paper. You can also purchase the Official N50 11? x 17? printed Match Targets for $25 per 100 plus shipping.
.22 LR, Air Rifle, Benchrest, Dublin, Eire, Ireland, N50, National 50, NRBAI, Smallbore