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KaiserKong
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Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
May 22nd, 2024 at 10:55pm
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I wanted to get some feedback on my benchrest set up. I have been compiling photos from several of the old masters (e.g. Charles Rowland and Harvey Donaldson) and have been trying to replicate their set up. See the of photos below, the very bottom is what I'm currently doing with my Aydt rifle. 

A couple of Harvey Donaldsonís articles on benchrest shooting have appeared in recent articles of the ASSRA Journal (originally published in the NRA American Rifleman). From the description the front rest is a wood block with a V-cut out of it and a ĹĒ piece of ďsponge rubberĒ glued in for cushion. The barrel is rested in the block of wood about 6 inches back from the muzzle. 

The toe of the swiss-buttplate simply rests on the wooden table and slides backwards up recoil. Given how much drop typical Schuetzen buttstocks have, having the buttplate ride along the flat wood surface prevents the barrel from tipping up from the recoil as is often the case if one uses a typical sand rearbag rest under the stock.† †I ensure the rifle is returned to the same position after each shot by aligning the butt of the rifle with a mark I have on the wood table. 

Overall Iíve tried to duplicate their set up as much as practical and Iíve also try to hold the rifle similar to Rowland and Donaldson in the photos, keeping my left hand under the stock to provide some stability and any minor adjustments to height. 

I finally made it out to the range to try out this set up. Overall what I found was that this set up wasnít as Ďstableí as I had imagined. In their photos you can see the rifle naturally resting up-right. For me, as shown in the photo I had to add a couple sandbags to keep it from tipping over. (The bags werenít there when I was shooting.) Seems like the rifle could still cant quite a bit in my V-block so I had to be careful each shot to keep the barrel level. Further I found I need to keep considerable cheek and hand pressure on the stock to help reduce the wobbling, but I could then definitely see my front sight bead moving with my pulse. I know if I could reduce the amount of contact/pressure on the rifle that should eliminate that, but right now not sure how to accomplish that.† 

I realize that buying a front rest bag that conforms to my forestock contour or making a muzzle rest would be the more stable approach Iíd really like to figure out how the old masters used this simple set up so effectively. So Iím curious if anyone else has had success with this. 
Thanks
Dave
« Last Edit: May 22nd, 2024 at 11:04pm by KaiserKong »  
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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #1 - May 22nd, 2024 at 11:05pm
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A couple more photos:
  
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frnkeore
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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #2 - May 23rd, 2024 at 3:19am
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If your just wanting a way to shoot a German Schuetzen stock, off the bench. I've shot mine, a lot off the bench and this is is how I do it.

I have wide rear bags, made from the legs of Levi's, about 12" long. I place that forward of the butt plate, fluffing it up to a angle and put my rabbit ears on it, with the butt plate just to the rear of the bench or, over the bench, high enough so, it can not touch the bench.

I use a narrow bag (like yours) in the front rest, with the barrel on it. In that position, the rabbit ears hold it vertical.

I shoot with my upper arm, against the butt plate and get my elevation by sliding the stock, up the rear rabbit ear bag.

My only issue is that I have to remember to slide the rifle, well up the bag so, the barrel weight keeps it from sliding down, when unattended.

A picture of my two System Wills and some 100 yard targets.
  

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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #3 - May 23rd, 2024 at 6:14am
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Iíve aways called the old style set upís muzzle and elbow. Elbows on the bench buttstock on shoulder only part of the rifle rested is the muzzle .

Itís† the best way to shoot a Sporter Position or Offhand rifle from a bench. Way they are stocked, nothing flat or parallel to the bore, they donít ride back straight free recoil or lightly held. Holding the rifle consistently muzzle rest only produces good groups. 

Simular example is the Smallbore prone shooter that shoots smaller groups prone, sling & glove than he can from a bench rest. His rifles not built for bench shooting. Thatís why the old timers used whatís pictured. Guns shown are offhand stocked. I doubt the muzzle and elbow will consistently shoot groups with a modern pure bench set up.

Boats 
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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #4 - May 23rd, 2024 at 2:00pm
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Here's another solution for BR shooting rifles with lots of butt stock drop. It does require gear that is not likely to be part of most shooter's kits however.
In the photo montage below:
- top image is a Pope rest that came out of his New Jersey shop after his passing (Tom Rowe image)
-lower image my rest made from Rodney Storie's casting set.
-right hand image is the rest that, at least once upon a time, was at the ASSRA Beason range.
  

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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #5 - May 23rd, 2024 at 7:06pm
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Some matches are aggregate bench and offhand score combined, ISSA example. Never shot ISSA they may or may not require same rifle. I suspect old days most competition was offhand & bench used to test loads.

Muzzle and elbow fine for load testing. Not a lot of equipment required & zeros very near the same as offhand.

Boat
  
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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #6 - May 24th, 2024 at 1:03am
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Thanks all for the responses so far. 

Boat - to your point on shooting position I was holding the rifle to let the buttplate rest on the wood so the slide back from recoil wouldnít tip the muzzle - but I think your suggestion of still hold it to the shoulder with the buttplate slightly elevated may be a more stable position. Itís hard to tell from the old photos if thatís exactly what they were doing back then. 

Randy - Iíve studied the Mann rests, Pope rests, and others from the various books including yours. One of these days I will build one too, but for the time being Iím focusing on trying to perfect my ĎRowlandí hold. Per your books recommendation on rear bag rests I did buy an Edgewood rear gator bag but realized the challenge to use it with the Aydt and its large drop in the stock. One nifty idea I read in Charlie Dellís book was to make a triangle wood adapter piece that could fit under the stock to give a bottom parallel to the bore. See picture below. To attach it one just unscrews the sling swivel and uses a similar† wood screw, so the modification is fully reversible and doesnít modify the original stock. Thatís up next on my project list - Iíll be curios to see how that compares to the muzzle and elbow method Boat uses. 


Thanks!
-Dave
« Last Edit: May 24th, 2024 at 1:13am by KaiserKong »  
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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #7 - May 25th, 2024 at 11:06pm
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frnkeore wrote on May 23rd, 2024 at 3:19am:
If your just wanting a way to shoot a German Schuetzen stock, off the bench. I've shot mine, a lot off the bench and this is is how I do it.

I have wide rear bags, made from the legs of Levi's, about 12" long. I place that forward of the butt plate, fluffing it up to a angle and put my rabbit ears on it, with the butt plate just to the rear of the bench or, over the bench, high enough so, it can not touch the bench.

I use a narrow bag (like yours) in the front rest, with the barrel on it. In that position, the rabbit ears hold it vertical.

I shoot with my upper arm, against the butt plate and get my elevation by sliding the stock, up the rear rabbit ear bag.

My only issue is that I have to remember to slide the rifle, well up the bag so, the barrel weight keeps it from sliding down, when unattended.

A picture of my two System Wills and some 100 yard targets.

1911 long frame, 1908 short frame with a non standard barrel, am I right? I have a 1911 with a Tyrol stock so radical I canít gain a sight picture, which makes me unhappy as the rifle appeared unfired when I got it in 1986.
Mike
  
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frnkeore
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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #8 - May 26th, 2024 at 3:43am
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Yes, that's right.

My stock looks much like yours. What I found that made the difference on how it needs to be held, is that I stopped fighting it and rolled my cheek into the cheek piece, with full contact. As long as your eye is centered on the rear sight, you can come to shoot it well. I shot mine as my only OH rifles, for my last 5 years. I came to appreciate how it held. 

Regarding the short action, it has a 20" Titherington barrel on it and the stock was modified as well as the hook was ground off to meet the old Small Bore specs of 10 lb. I replaced the butt plate.

Titherington was a famous Small Bore barrel maker from Stockton CA. He was featured in America Rifleman in 1937(Feb I think). Those were the days when the US competed with the UK and some of his barrels were on our team. It's still a extremely competitive rifle, even with Wolf Match.
  

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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #9 - May 26th, 2024 at 8:01am
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Reduce the problem to simplest a rifle recoils as soon as the powder ignites, while the bullets in the barrel. Consistent point of impact requires consistent recoil.

Position shooter, offhand, prone, muzzle and elbow, all  achieve accuracy by holding the gun same way every shot.  Dedicated bench gun achieves accuracy with the outfits design. Solid rest, flat forearm, straight buttstock and more. Rail guns like Charlie Dells probably provide the ultimate accucary potential.

Boats
  
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Re: Replicating Rowland & Donaldson benchrest setup
Reply #10 - May 26th, 2024 at 4:46pm
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Most are not aware that Weaver made/sold a bench setup similar to the Pope etc.
  

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