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Reporting back from Extreme Benchrest

Roger Lait heads out to Arizona to take a crack at Extreme Benchrest

“Hi Rog, do you fancy coming along to Extreme Benchrest this year, it’s going to be big?” Well what could I say, other than: “Of course I do! When do I leave?” This is the type of phone call you really want to get from Robert Buchanan of Airguns of Arizona. EBR is a massive event and it’s a real honour to be invited. But to be perfectly honest, I was a little scared.

I have shot loads and loads of HFT, but not much benchrest, so it was time for me to try to get good – really quickly! So it was out with the Daystate Red Wolf and straight to my permission. And it was also out with the scales to weigh pellets again.

Extreme Benchrest comprises a series of competitions, being 50-yard benchrest, 75-yard benchrest and the dreaded 100-yard benchrest, along with a PRL, an extreme FT-style comp and of course the big bore and speed silhouette comps. 

There was so much to do, but how on earth could I learn all of these in time? I have done plenty of 50 and 75-yard target practice sessions and that seemed ok. 

Roger loads a pellet into the breech of his Red Wolf – note the red ribbon he’s tied around the barrel to act as a windicator

EBR 2022 was held at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club just outside Phoenix, an area known for its fickle wind and weather

The 100-yard I had done before, but I prefer the 75-yard. PRL is new, but I have shot a few .22 LR competitions, so I thought that might be ok too. But big bore? Never, and speed silhouette was another discipline that was new to me, and one I was worrying about the most. I had heard talk of a guy called Tom Adams who is ridiculously quick and super-accurate. You have to see this guy. It’s like a blur when he shoots, utterly amazing – and he’s a really great guy as well. 

So out I went then, into the field to practise. My groups were bang on at 50, 75 and 100, so I was very happy with that. The PRL was coming along too, but the speed event practice was shocking and I figured I might swerve this event and maybe fake an injury.


Airport Time

Heathrow is always fun when you have a firearm with you. My firearm was boxed and locked ready to go. I tried to book in online, but because I was carrying my FAC Red Wolf I couldn’t. Booking in is so much better when you don’t have to queue. 

So after three different checks and being put in three different rooms, I was good to go. I hate flying at the best of times, and this was 11 hours and plenty of jet lag to deal with. But then I was off to Airguns of Arizona for a check up on my Red Wolf.


Airguns of Arizona 

What a place, what lovely people and just WOW! I turned up and was met by Chris Jenson of AOA, a really nice guy, and boy can he shoot, as I later found out. 

I was introduced to another guy called Steve, who is the Red Wolf guru. Steve is Robert’s brother. Robert owns Airguns of Arizona and is the big boss. 

Steve took my rifle and assured me that he would go over it with a fine tooth comb, and was he ever true to his word. My gun came back the best it’s ever been. He’s a true master of the Red Wolf indeed. After a few cups of coffee and a good look around AOA, Lauren Parsons very kindly showed me how it all works and explained how AOA is such a success, and you can really see it too. Everyone who works there takes so much pride in their work. 

What a place! If you get the chance to go then you must, because they have everything – and I mean everything. Such friendly people, and so willing to help.


First Comp

So after much jet lag, no sleep and a bunch of coffees, I was up at 03:30 the next morning to prepare myself for my first competition. This was a local competition, and not the main event as such. My gun was returned to me and it was time to see how terrible I was. This was going to be a 75-yard competition, so I felt at least a little confident. But I only had 10 minutes to put my GPO scope in my Eagle Vision mounts and get a rough zero before kick-off. So while everyone else was refining their zero, I was frantically putting my gun back together. This was stressful and did nothing to set me up for the first comp of the trip.

With literally one minute to spare, I finally had a rough zero, and that was that. So with my rifle ready it was time to see what all the fuss was about. I listened to the rules and looked at the wind, and there was plenty, as the wind flags were blowing all over the show. Oddly, some were going one way and others were going the other, so what do you do? Regardless, it was time to jump in.

I don’t really get anxious about many things these days, but I have to admit this was making me nervous. I needed to make a good showing, and that really put the pressure on me. I was trying a new muzzle brake from Eagle Vision too, and I hadn’t had any time to practise with it. I hoped it was going to perform, and as it turned out it really did!

EBR is comprised of a number of different competitions, the main event being the tricky 100-yard shoot

I lined up and the buzzer went off. I had 30 minutes to shoot my 75-yard card, with four shots at each target. Off I went, taking some sighting shots to get my eye in and then on to the targets. I loved it. So I shot all my targets, checked and double-checked that I had taken the required number of shots and then sat back, dreading to learn what score I’d managed. I had completed my whole card in about 10 minutes. Was that the right thing to do? Had I rushed it? Had I done something wrong?

Once the buzzer went again we walked out to recover our targets and get them scored. I got joint fourth place, which I was more than happy with, and no, there were not just five people in that competition!


A Nervous Time

The main competition day came around, and my nerves were running wild. I was buzzing with adrenaline but scared at the same time. I hadn’t slept the night before, due to a combination of remaining jet lag and of course worrying about how I would do against the YouTubers, the top pro shooters and the sponsored shooters. And then there was me!

I shot my first 50-yard card and did OK-ish. I was entered into the one-gun challenge, which means you stick with the same gun for all events. Not the big bore event of course, but for everything else you use the same rifle. My gun was performing faultlessly, and I felt super-confident that I would do well enough.

That 50-yard comp was fun, even though my score was not great. Next up was the 75-yarder, and the wind had got up a bunch. I knew this was going to be more difficult than I had expected. The JSB pellets I was using were doing a great job, but the wind was picking them up, knocking them down and throwing them left and right.

I took plenty of sighting shots, and took much longer to shoot this card. This was where the guys who really knew about this type of contest took the lead. They shot really well. Both my cards were good, but I was left wondering whether they were good enough to qualify me for the dreaded 100-yard competition. 


PRL/FT Shooting 

I love PRL, and I did really well at this. It’s a mixture of FT and shooting off barricades. It was good fun, and if you’ve never shot a PRL-style comp, I suggest you try it. You can do it with sub-12 ft-lb guns. It’s brilliant. I will be doing this loads and loads more. I need to get really good at this. 


Extreme Field Target 

In this, I didn’t do as well as planned and ended up in the middle of the pack. The targets are set out to 100 yards, but I kept giving them sub-12 foot pound windage. I have shot too much FT and HFT in the UK, and I need to practise using high-power rifles for next year. Extreme FT is great fun, and I wish we could do it in England using FAC airguns, but sadly we can’t.

EBR 2022 was the eleventh such event, with the competitors delivering some spectacular shooting across the various competitions


Speed Silhouette

You get three goes, two practices and one timed. My two practices were shocking. When it came to the timed one, I managed to relax and let it happen. And wouldn’t you know it, I nailed it! I went slowly and steadily and didn’t miss a single target. I was a happy man to say the least. I loved this event and am going to practise it loads for next year. Thanks to Tom Adams for the tips, he really helped me out big time.



This was where it all started to go wrong. I shot my first 75-yard card at 2pm and thought the second round was the same time the next day. Oops! My second qualifier was actually 10am the next day, so I missed it. To say I was gutted does not even come close. They let me shoot my card, but would not let me keep the score. According to the law of sod, my 75-yard card was bang on and I would have scored really well.

I knew I could not make the final 100-yard comp, which was sad, but the rules are the rules, so I took it on the chin. 


Summing Up

Extreme Benchrest 2022 was without a doubt the best event I have ever been to. Everyone at Airguns of Arizona went about their business so well to make it the slickest event I have seen. I am counting the days until I can go again. Next time I am going to be far better prepared. I can’t thank Robert Buchanan and the team at Airguns of Arizona enough for inviting me. I had the best time ever and loved the whole thing.

If you get the chance to go you really have to. The place is amazing, the range is incredible and the people are the best!