How to Build the Ultimate Shooting Range Bench
September 24, 2014
A recent move put me a short drive from the family farm and the subsequent ability to create something I've always wanted: my own shooting range.
I'd have unlimited access 24 hours per day and 365 days per year. Better yet, I wouldn't have anyone banging away one bench over with an SKS while I'm trying to squeeze every ¼ MOA out of a precision custom rifle. Having the place all to myself was the goal, but building a range also meant building my own facilities, and that included a shooting bench.
I didn't want a shooting bench — I needed a shooting bench. When I test rifles for publications, I can't lean over the hood of my Tahoe with the rifle rested on a rolled-up jacket to determine accuracy. A writer needs a dead-solid platform from which to test the accuracy potential of rifles.
No folding table or mobile setup will do. When a rifle shows up for evaluation, I have a duty to the publication to evaluate it fairly, a duty to the manufacturer to shoot it to its potential, and a duty to the readers to conduct an unbiased test. All of this means that everyone is counting on me to get it right: no "wobbly bench" excuses allowed.
Steady benches can be built from wood, and that's certainly the easy way to go, but I wanted to do this project once and do it right. I live in southeast Alabama, which means lots of sunshine, rainfall, heat and humidity — factors that are hard on lumber.
Did I mention that my range does double duty as a cow pasture? That's right, a 1,500-pound bull may decide to use my precious bench as a back-scratcher. To do this right, the bench had to be built from poured concrete.
That's when I set out to build the ultimate shooting bench that would invite accurate shooting for generations to come.
Construction happened in three phases: first creating the slab foundation, then the support pillars (legs), and finally the table. I'll discuss each phase, starting with the foundation: