Whether your goal is to fire a few shots to zero in your rifle before a hunting trip or to do some serious bench rest shooting, a well-built, solid shooting bench is important. Depending on the circumstances, you can build one that is simple or complex, permanent or portable. It can be customised to your personal build, or built to an average standard to be able to accommodate most shooters.
Permanent or Portable
Decide whether the bench is going to be a permanent installation or one you will assemble at the range, then fold up or disassemble to take home to store until needed again. This will determine the type and amount of materials needed to complete the project. If the bench is to be permanent, you'll need to construct it using weatherproof wood (such as pressure-treated) and rust-resistant hardware, including bolts, nuts and screws. If the bench is to be portable, consider building it 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.