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High Power
Shooting the Offhand Stage at Ben Avery

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One of the most consistently popular, prestigious and long-lasting of all the competitive shooting sports in the US is Service Rifle.

Modern Service rifle is the direct descendent of the course of fire, techniques and equipment used when the Military modernized their training competitions and ranges when the 1903 springfield rifle became the US Service Rifle, teamed with the .30-06 ammunition, it brought mid/long range capability significantly improved over the Krag and Trap door springfield rifles of the late 1800's.

Suddenly it was realistic for the average soldier to shoot 600 yards. But engagements at half or a third that distance was still realistic, and 1000 yards not out of the question.

A new range at Camp Perry Ohio has firing lines at 200, 300, 600 and 1000 yards that could be operated at the same time.

Following the tradition that was the reason the NRA was founded in 1871, training civilians in marksmanship to better prepare them in the event of war, in 1903, the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice was founded to encourage civilians to shoot the new service rifle. The NBPRP started the National Matches at Camp Perry in 1907. It has been fired there every year since (except for a few war years).

Over the years the course of fire has been modified only a little, the targets just a bit and the rifles have followed the Military lead from the 1903, to the M1, the M14 (civilian M1A), the M16 (civilian AR15), the M4 (scoped ARs).

Today Service Rifle course of fire usually consists of 30 or 50 or 80 shots over 3 or 4 stages

 Today's Service Rifle shooters almost all use the AR-15 with iron sights or with scope.

The National Matches at Camp Perry are the best attended precision shooting event in the western hemisphere with over 1000 shooters competing side-by-side. Every one of them shooting a Semi-automatic military style rifle.

There are also competitions with the same course of fire using non-military rifles with aperture sights (Match Rifles).

Match Rifle shooter
Match Rifle shooter in prone position.


Typically the match will begin with 10 or 20 shots slow-fire Standing (also called "offhand") at 200 yds. There is 1 minute per shot. Some matches start with 2 sighter shots, others don't. 22 minutes doesn't sound like a lot, but standing there, not moving one's feet in order to keep a constant Natural Point of Aim, while carefully aiming, trying to hold steady and firing 22 shots one at a time, requires enormous concentration. The target is marked after each shot, so you can see where you are hitting and correct your sights.

Our 200yd target is a 12" circle on a 6' square piece of cardboard mounted in a movable frame to allow it to be marked by the other relay.

offhand
Standing

The match normally continues with one or two 10-shot strings at 200 yards from the sitting position, with a reload. Some matches have 2 slow fire sighter shots before beginning the rapid fire strings. In matches run under NRA rules you start sitting and at the start of time, pick up and insert the magazine, close the bolt and start shooting. In matches run under CMP rules, you start standing, load on command with an empty chamber, then, at the start of time, sit down, cycle the bolt and start shooting.

That first magazine is 2 rounds, the reload is with 8 rounds.

In sitting you get 60 seconds. This is plenty of time for 10 carefully aimed shots.

The targets are scored at the end of the string.

In 80 shot matches we shoot 2 such strings.

sitting
Sitting

In most full distance matches, we pick up our toys and move back to the 300yd line.

We fire one or two 10 shot strings from the prone position. Time limit is 70 seconds. The aiming black of the target is 18" but the X, 10, 9 etc scoring rings are the same size as at 200.

That makes it a bit tougher to shoot a good score and you have to be more careful about wind.

Prone
Prone up close

prone
Prone

Lastly we shoot 20 shots (10 in some matches) at 600 yd prone (2 of the phoenix ranges use 500 yds instead).

Just like standing, one shot per minute.

But the 30" or 36" target is much tougher and the wind has a much larger effect. It requires even more concentration on the front sight and trigger control.

prone
Prone


 
A “Service Rifle” is a US Military rifle from the WWII to present era, or the civilian equivalent. So the M1 Garand and the M1A (civilian version of the M14) can be used, but are fairly rare. The AR-15 (civilian version of the M16) is by far the most popular with something like 97% of competitors choosing AR-15s. It simply is the best rifle for what is the best attended precision sport shooting competition in the western hemisphere!

The above photos show classic AR15A2 type "service" rifles with iron sights. The new rules from 2016 allow scope sights, see my observations from Camp Perry that year.

M1A shooter
Shooter practicing with an M1A

 

 
Perry

A 200yd rapid fire string scored 100-7X, yeah, an Arizona shooter did that! At the National Championships no less!

 
We have 3 full-distance High power ranges in Phoenix, plus Tucson and shorter distances elsewhere. We have shoots monthly for experienced shooters as well as beginner-friendly 200yd shoots. All shoots are open to all shooters! We have Beginner’s training classes several times a year. email questions to
arizona@rifleshooting.org
.

Arizona is repeatedly ranked NUMBER ONE state for shooters! We really should strive to have a number one service rifle team at the Nationals every year!

Perry

The CMP-run National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry are consistently the best attended serious precision shooting event in the western hemisphere!


Last modified by: Bill Poole (31oct17, 29-Aug-17, 15-Aug-17, 2-Aug-17, 15-Jul-17). (c)
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