(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. COURSE OF FIRE: 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. EQUIPMENT: 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 CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM: 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. LONG RANGE COMPETITION: 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. REDUCED-DISTANCE: 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. HIGH POWER SPORTING RIFLE: 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.)
============================================================================ INTRODUCTION: 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