The sport of benchrest shooting, wherein there are no shooting positions but the rifles are firmly supported by some type of media has become quite popular in the past few decades. It truly is wringing out the most in rifle accuracy between 100 and 500 yards. But where did it come from? The modern sport has had various organizations that promoted it, one of the earliest being the Hunter Class competitions originating in 1963 and developing on from that. An organization that took hold from that development was the National Benchrest Shooters Association. The first international benchrest competition took place in France during 1991 and from that the World BenchRest Shooting Federation was formed. There is some historical narrative about competitions sporadically occurring in the early 1900s, but no further back in history.
Unless we look into a book published in the early 1800s titled “Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, from 1763-1783” by a certain Joseph Doddridge. It was initially published in 1876 and subsequently 1912, and an even more recent publication in 1997. Written by a historian and clergyman of the time, it covers life on the early American frontier before and during the American Revolutionary War. A fascinating historical source for those interested in early American history, it contains this passage about a shooting sport that the frontiersmen would participate in:
In this text on Page 177 in the chapter on Games and Diversions, or on Page 124 in different publication versions, Doddridge almost describes the concept of Benchrest shooting down to a tee. Using “moss, or some other soft substance” to keep the flintlock muskets steady while placing them on a log to not allow recoil to affect the position of the barrel as it might have when held offhand. He also talks about holding the rifle as “lightly as possible”. He mentions that the men preferred this sport over offhand shooting because it is truly testing the rifle and seeing just how accurate they could get it. As opposed to how well their individual skill was in an off hand position. The ranges he talks about have to do with the maximum effective range of the muskets in use. Which for that time period, were probably no more than 100-200 yards if that.