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A solid, dependable shooting bench is vital for the serious shooter, whether your goal is to zero in your rifle before a big hunting trip or to do some bench rest shooting. And you have a variety of options when it comes to building a shooting bench – you just have to find the one that's right for you.
Depending on the circumstances, your bench can be simple or complex, permanent or portable. It can be customized to your personal build, or built to an average standard to be able to accommodate most shooters.
Here's how to make your shooting bench project a reality:
Building a permanent bench
A bench's permanency determines the type and amount of materials you'll need to complete the project. If you want your bench to be a permanent installation, you’ll need to construct it using weatherproof wood (such as pressure-treated wood) and rust-resistant hardware, including bolts, nuts and screws.
Building a portable bench
A portable bench is one you can assemble at the range, then fold up or disassemble to take home and store until you need it again.
If that's the design you want, consider building your bench using both wood and steel. A ½-inch plywood top mounted to a collapsible steel frame can be both sturdy to furnish a stable rest and light enough to load into and out of your vehicle.
Visit an established shooting range and look at the shooting benches in use there. They may or may not have been designed by shooters or for shooting the way you plan to shoot. Sit at the benches and take note of how they fit you and how user-friendly they are. Take measurements and draw diagrams of these benches. Use a digital camera to take photos, then make notes about the features you like and dislike.
Depending on where the bench will be located and how much shooting will be done from it, plan special features that will increase your enjoyment of the bench. On a permanent installation, things like a roof can provide shade on hot days, rain protection on wet days and longevity to the construction.
You may wish to install it on a concrete pad, which will add stability and facilitate retrieval of the spent brass. Bullet holders, built-in gun rests, padded seating and even lockable and/or weatherproof storage for ear and eye protection, small tools and other supplies needed for a shooting session can be provided.
Mike Schoonveld has been writing since 1989 with magazine credits including "Outdoor Life," "Fur-Fish-Game," "The Rotarian" and numerous regional publications. Schoonveld earned a Master Captain License from the Coast Guard. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife science from Purdue University.