IX. Competetive Information

I. Highpower Rifle Competition

2. Highpower Rifle Competition

by Robert Gibson (RGIBSON@UA1VM.UA.EDU)

(The first section is copied direct from the NRA brochure of the same name)

                         HIGH POWER RIFLE COMPETITION

There are several forms of competition with high power rifles.  The NRA
sanctions metallic silhouette competition with high power rifles at ranges up
to 500 meters; 300 meter internatinal rifle competition is a high power event;
bench-rest competition is done with high power rifles and, until recently,
running game and biathlon events made use of high power rifles.

High power rifle shooting was originally based on courses of fire for military
instruction.  Today's courses still include both slow and rapid fire stages and
involve shooting from various positions at fixed targets of standard dimensions
at several standard known distances.  The shooter who has mastered the high
power rifle course of fire is not necessarily an accomplished field shot but
he has acquired the basic skills to develop into a first rate shot in the
hunting field or on the field of combat.


There are 4 strings of fire which are the basic building blocks of any NRA high
power course of fire or tournament.  There are:

      Slow fire, standing - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 10 minutes.
      Rapid fire, sitting or kneeling - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 60 seconds.
      Rapid fire, prone - 10 rounds at 300 yards in 70 seconds.
      Slow fire, prone - 10 rounds at 500 or 600 yards in 10 minutes.

Every NRA High Power Rifle match for which classification records are kept is a
multiple or combination of one or more of these strings. The popular NATIONAL
MATCH COURSE, for instance, consists of 10 rounds slow fire standing; 10 rounds
rapid fire sitting or kneeling; 10 rounds rapid fire prone and 20 rounds slow
fire prone.  Matches fired all at one distance and in one position are known as
"single-stage" matches and are usually 20 shot matches (2 times one of the
basic strings).

"Slow fire" does not require much explanation.  The shooter take his position
on the firing line, assumes the prescribed position and is allowed one minute
per shot to fire his string.  "Rapid fire," on the other hand, is more
elaborately choreographed.

In rapid fire sitting or kneeling, the shooter uses a preparation period to
establish his sitting or kneeling position; he then comes to a standing
position and, on command, loads either 2 or 5 rounds (depending upon the
firearm) into his rifle.  When the targets appear or the command to commence
fire is given the shooter gets into his firing position, fires the rounds in
the rifle, reloads with 8 or 5 more for a total of 10 and finishes his string.
The procedure for rapid fire prone differs only in the firing position and the
time limit.


RIFLE -  Rifles to be used in High Power Rifle competition must be equipped
with metallic sights, should be capable of holding at least 5 rounds of
ammunition and should be adapted to rapid reloading. Tournament programs often
group competitors into two division, Service Rifle and Match Rifle. The rifles
currently defined as "Service Rifles"; The M1, M14, M16 and their commercial
equivalents meet these requirements.  Winchester and Remington have made their
Model 70 and Model 40x rifles in "match" versions and custom gunsmiths have
made up match rifles on a number of different military and commercial actions.
1903 and 1903-A3 Springfield, 1917 Enfields and pre-war Winchester Model 70
sporters in .30-06 are all equipped with clip slots for rapid reloading.  The
most suitable rear sights are aperture or "peep" with reliable, repeatable 1/2
minute (or finer) ajustments.  Front sights should be either of the post or
aperture type.

SLING -  The shooting sling is helpful in steadying the positions and
controlling recoil.  The sling may be used in any postion except standing.

AMMUNITION -  Most competitors eventually turn to handloading.  Careful hand-
loading will provide the shooter with ammunition less expensive and more
accurate than he can procure otherwise.  Both tracer and incendary ammunition
are prohibited by NRA Rules and armor-piercing ammunition may be prohibited by
local range regulations.


SPOTTING SCOPE, SHOOTING COAT, SHOOTING GLOVE, EYE AND EAR PROTECTION, SIGHT BLACKENER and SCOREBOOK are also other useful items that you will need for successful rifle competiton...however, I'm skipping details at this time. /RG


NRA rules describe a classification system which is designed to let shooters
compete against others at a similar skill level.  Each shooter, depending on
his average competition score, is place in a class designated High Master,
Master, Expert, Sharpshooter or Marksman.  Tournament sponsors generally give
awards in each class. Temporary classification is established after the first
tournament and is maintained by the shooter himself.  When 120 shots fired in
NRA sanctioned competition have been reported to the HRA Heaadquarters, the
shooter will be sent his classification card and will no longer maintain a
temporary classification.


NRA rules provide for slow fire prone competion at ranges beyond 600 yards.
Some of these matches permit the use of telescopic sights. Shots fired in Long
Range competition are not reported for classification.


High power rifle shooting at the full regulation distances requiries a range
with firing lines at 200, 300 and 600 (or 500) yards.

Every official NRA stage or course of fire normally conducted at 200, 300, or
600 yards can be run at 100 yards on NRA official reduced targets.  The SR-1
target simulates the 200 yard target; the SR-21 is the 100 yard equivalent of
the 300 yard target and the MR-31 gives the same appearance at 100 yards as the
normal 600 yard target does at the full distance.

Because of their smaller size, the reduced targets are well adapted to being
hung on stationary frames.  Because of the short distances involved, it is
practicable to walk down to the targets after each string and remove them for
scoring elsewhere or to score then on the frames. The use of stationary target
frames avoids the complications that sometimes arise when the number of
shooters on the line isn't equal to the number of target operators in the pits.

Reduced 300 and 600 yard targets are also available for firing at 200 yards.
The NRA can provide a list of target sources, including reduced targets.


The High Power Sporting Rifle Rules were introduced in 1985. This variation is
fired with hunting-type rifles which may be equipped with telescopic sights.
The course is fired at a single distance - either 100 or 200 yards - and rapid
fire strings are only 4 shots to accommodate the typical hunting rifle.

(End article.)

I hope this'll be of some help and answered a few questions. Just rememember, you don't have to use a "Service Rifle" to fire a match....any Mauser works as well as a M1903-A3; an SKS will work as well as an M1; a MAK90 will work just as well as an M14/M1A or M16/AR15....they are all "doable" under current NRA "Match Rifle" criteria. So take the plunge, go to a match and fire, and don't worry 'bout how you stack up against the old shooters....even though you may be firing with them on the line you are in competition with your peers who are also classified as new shooters...not the older hard holders. Pump the older shooters for all the information you can get, 90% of them will talk your ear off if given half a chance....at least this was true back when I fired in the 60's and 70's. Clubs and organizations that sponsor rifle matches need your support...give it to them by participating when and wherever possible. Always remember, every NRA High Power Master (and High Master) was once a new shooter and didn't have a clue when he fired his first match. Don't put it off, just sign up and do it.....have fun and shoot safe.


Here are a few notes I've sent to various individuals who asked for match
shooting help on one problem or another.  A GIVEN:  I'm no NRA HP Master,
far from it....but the answers I give work for me.  That doesn't mean some
other answer, technique or opinion isn't just as workable and just as valid.
Use the advice given for whatever it is worth to you...if you disagree with
what I say, fine....it means you've found a different, possibly even better
way to solve those pesky shooting problems.  If this is true then by all
means please share it with the new shooters out here to help them discover
what techniques work best for each of them.


  Subject: How do I use the sling in match shooting?

  The sling is attached to the upper left arm by the loop....the left hand
  grasps the stock with the sling coming across the right side of the left
  wrist.  Sling is tightened as much as you can stand and still hold the
  position....be it sitting, or prone (kneeling was no longer used by anyone
  back in my match shooting days, I assume this is still correct).

  When you roll the butt of the weapon into your right shoulder this sling
  arrangement "locks" the weapon into position due the immovable sling's
  contact points...your upper left arm and the front sling swivel, with the
  left hand grasping the stock...when done correctly you don't even need to
  grasp the stock with any degree of pressure, the tension between the two
  contact points will hold the weapon in place.  The third contact point is
  where the butt of the rifle is snugged into your right shoulder.

  Your right arm plays no part with the sling....the right elbow is placed on
  the shooting mat (same as your left elbow) and the right hand grasps weapon
  at the small of the stock with finger on trigger.  As you assume the firing
  position....with left arm/sling adjusted and rifle snugged into the right
  shoulder....you roll toward the right 'til your right elbow contacts the mat.
  You now are in the accepted prone match shooting position. Body on the ground
  with upper torso supported by both elbows, at same time the rifle is "locked"
  into position using sling contact points (upper left arm and sling swivel) on
  the left side and rifle butt plate snugged into shoulder on the right.

  Hope this helps....is it still clear as mud?  It's easy to demonstrate but
  somewhat hard to explain in words.  The sling and the RIGHT arm/hand never
  meet....sling is used exclusively by the LEFT arm/hand.

  Of course, anyone shooting left handed would have to reverse all of this....
  and possibly catch an empty cartridge case in their teeth from time-to-time.


  Subject:  Do I Need a Match Shooting Jacket to Shoot?

  Good shooting jackets are generally somewhat stiff leather or very heavy-
  weight cotton/canvas in construction with rubberized pads at the elbows and
  on the shooting shoulder (where the rifle butt rests againt your body).
  They also have a pad located between the left shoulder and left elbow that
  protects your arm when the sling loop is adjusted to its tightest setting.
  A surplus heavy weight GI field jacket, used with a sweat shirt or two,
  makes a usable substitute....but not in the same league as the real thing.

  The use of the "specialized" equipment designed for shooters is to be
  greatly desired.  To that end I read a post on rec.guns earlier in the
  year that said the  DCM was selling "previously owned" shooting jackets,
  gloves, mats and other equipment turned in by various military sources as
  surplus.  I didn't save it so don't have the details.....sorry.  Maybe
  you saw it?  Maybe some other rec.gunner can give you the details.

  The use of a SHOOTING JACKET, with at least one sweatshirt on underneath
  (two are even better) is a useful addition in all positions....including
  standing off-hand....it acts something like an "exo-skeleton" for added
  support so that your muscles don't have to shoulder the entire load.

  The use of a STOOL so you can rest between shots is another little trick
  one can use to improve standing off-hand scores.  It's perfectly accept-
  able within the rules and everyone used it back when I did my shooting.
  You fired, then immediately sat down with the rifle laying across your
  knees.  If you keep within your practice rhythm you have a full minute
  between shots to sit there, look thru your scope to see if the bullet
  actually went where you thought it should go, collect your thoughts,
  scratch your *whatever*, load up the next round and then stand up and
  set up for next shot.  Beats the absolute hell out of just standing up
  there for the full ten minutes with 9+ pound M14 (or M1, etc.) in-hand
  while trying to dig the next cartridge out of your pocket .

  Always remember....you have 10 minutes to shoot 10 rounds in a slowfire
  stage, use every bit of that time to your advantage...don't rush through
  the stage.  1 minute = 60 seconds for 1 shot....use the time to set up
  the sight picture to suit you; if you don't like it DON'T TRY TO FORCE
  IT!....break position, sit down, recover and relax, then try again.
  There is NO RUSH, you have 10 minutes to fire 10 measly shots....use
  all of these minutes to your best advantage.


Subject:  More Advice to New Shooter Having Problems with Standing Position.

The use of a match shooting jacket (and one or two sweat shirts under it)
can be a real advantage in the standing off-hand position.

I'm not sure how many matches you've participated in or if you've noticed
the somewhat ackward looking stance many hard holding off-hand shooters will
assume....IT ISN'T the "normal" hunting stance where your left arm totally
supports the rifle with the arm extended and the elbow just hanging there
in thin air.  This will produce significant "figure 8" muzzle weave after
just a very few seconds....unless you have the strength of Hercules.

What you want to do is thrust your left hip toward the target, while at the
same time leaning your upper torso to the right to balance....and also you
want to lean the head down to achieve a good sight picture with the rifle's
sights...this produces the somewhat weird "hunched over" look good shooters
will use.

The trick is to assume a good firing position, then lean your entire upper
torso to the right side while still keeping your shoulder and head level...
..this gives a somewhat "hunched over" look.  This leaning produces a small
shelf or "point of support" just above your left hip.  You tuck your left
arm in against your body with the elbow's point of contact at this "shelf"
while keeping the left forearm pointed straight up.  You then place your
left hand at the balance point of whichever rifle you're firing....for the
M1 Garand it is just in front of the trigger housing....on M14/M1A it is
directly under magazine.  Shooting the M14/M1A has slight advantage due to
the added length of the magazine....you don't have to "hunch" head quite as
much.  When used correctly you've effectively created a support column for
the rifle's weight, starting at your hips and passed directly up the left
arm's skeleton structure to the rifle itself.  There is very little, if any,
effort expended holding or grasping the rifle with the left hand...it should
be balanced on top of the left hand.  Some use an open-palm hold, other like
using finger-tips (although I found this to be a strain on the fingers), and
others would fold the hand into a somewhat loose fist and set rifle up on
top of folded hand.  Using the M14 I used open-palm with the M14's magazine
sitting in my palm, positioned just over the supporting left arm's bone.  I
also used my shooting glove to cancel out any pulse beat coming thru my palm,
no matter how small and insignificant.  OTOH, some shooters prefer to support
the rifle with the naked hand, believing it gave them a better "feel" for the
rifle.  I didn't agree, but if it works for them then that's the main thing.

I hope this description makes sense to you....it's always much easier to show
during a demonstration then trying to describe it.

Anyway, this is where the shooting jacket/sweat shirt "exo-skeleton" adds much
to the basic "hip thrust/hunched head" position.  Not only is the rather thick
DCM/NRA shooting jacket's heavy canvas or leather material adding support to
your left arm's bone support, the left elbow pad on the shooting jacket, which
is made of rubber, really locks in and "sticks" to the material of the jacket
just above the left hip....every little bit helps.

This position works with or without the shooting jacket....but best results
come from using the right equipment and can improve the position by several
orders of magnitude.

Hope this helps.


Subject: My advice on living with "muzzle-weave' in Standing Position.

  I'm assuming the problems you're having holding the M1A steady is only
  when you're shooting off-hand....right?  Once you get into sitting and
  prone you'll find the position -plus- the sling will steady the rifle
  down immensely.

  In the off-hand position the constant weaving of the muzzle is something
  every shooter must come to terms with....it is normal for it to travel in
  a horizontal "figure 8"....back 'n forth....back 'n forth.  It's caused
  by the shooter's inability to hold rock steady in position (the horizontal
  movement) and your breathing and heartbeat that causes it to move slightly
  in the vertical plane...together you get the classic horizontal "figure 8."

  Some very hard holders can achieve a rock steady off-hand position....it
  goes without saying I wasn't one of them. <===== Major understatement!

  I got around this by **MUCH** practice in the off-hand position and becoming
  accustom to the exact point where my trigger would "let off" the round as I
  squeezed it.  It was then fairly simple to time this "let off" to occur as
  the sights centered the target.  It's worth repeating, this took some amount
  of practice and dedication on my part.....and I never achieved perfection.

  Some are able to control weave to the point where it virtually disappears,
  my hat is off to them....I never mastered this.  The technique I used and
  practiced is what worked for me....most of the time.  On occasion I'd get
  one of those #($*&%) fliers....a bullet hole *WAY* out from the group.

  Off-hand was my weakest position by far....shooting sitting, and even prone
  at 600 yards was a snap compared to shooting off-hand.  The best I ever did
  was just "good enough" to get by....and make it up in the other positions.

  Keep working at it....it takes time and dedication.

Robert Gibson