There's a distinct difference between knowing about a sport and knowing of a sport and therein lies the dilemma with bench-rest shooting. I'd heard of bench-rest shooting, but never really knew about the sport until attending the Bench Rest National Championships.
The roots of shooting competitions are primarily hunting or military based. Clay target got its start from bird hunting. Pistol and rifle competitions took their lead from the military. Bench-rest competition is neither. It's laboratory based. It's research and experimentation. It's removing as much of the human element out of a single shot to achieve as much precision and accuracy as possible.
In all sports, the ultimate goal is perfection. Executing every aspect of the game perfectly, every time. In bench rest, the goal still applies, but there's an added element: understanding how to approach perfection. The competitors in bench-rest shooting have taken perfection to a level so high, it's practicably unobtainable. And that's the appeal of the game.
A bench-rest competitor is an extremist. The type of person who has a love of the meticulous and the passion and perspective of a detailed, analytical mind. The type of mind found in mathematicians, engineers, machinists and inventors. A type of mindset lost on most people.
The current membership of the NBRSA (National Bench Rest Shooters Association) varies between 1,500 and 2,000 shooters and it's been around those numbers for a while. The sport doesn't see much growth. But for those who participate, it's an obsession.
Bench-rest shooting is about the development and encouragement of extreme accuracy and precision in rifles, ammunition, equipment and shooting methods. This game is about judging your own skill as a shooter, understanding accuracy, manipulating the equipment, being proficient in deciphering weather conditions and bringing all that together to make the perfect shot. The level of precision and accuracy is taken to such an extreme and the amount of error so minuscule, it is the most difficult shooting sport to succeed at. There are no perfect scores.
The game is unique because of its lack of restrictions. In most sports there are rules and regulations ranging from clothing to equipment. Not so in bench rest. There are some rules, but they're minimal compared to other rifle sports and the rules in place are mostly concerned with weight and stock configurations.
There is only one caliber limitation...