As its name states, position rifle shooting involves shooting from various positions during various stages of a match. The regulation of this sport is governed by two bodies: the International Shooting Sports Foundation Union (ISSF-shooting) specifies standing (off-hand), kneeling, and prone (lying down) positions; and, the National Rifle Association (NRA) uses the same three shooting postures, plus the sitting position in some matches.
Course of Fire
A typical match will consist of several stages fired at varying distances and with different time limits, from each position. Round black bulls eye targets are used with numerical scoring rings radiating outwards from a center 10-ring or X-ring. Both rimfire and centerfire rifles are used. Smallbore (rimfire) competitors engage targets at ranges from 50 feet to 100 yards, while high-power shooters contend with targets at ranges up to 1,000 yards. Air rifle matches have become increasingly popular with targets set at 10 meters (33 feet).
Time limits vary with the stage and distance. For example, high-power shooters, firing at 600 yards, are allotted 20 minutes for 20 shots, while the rapid-fire stage, conducted at 200 yards, allows 60 seconds for 10 shots.
The total number of points accumulated by a shooter, as indicated by hits in the scoring ring, determines a competitor's score. In the event of a tie, the number of X-rings or "bulls eye" hits determines the winner. Shooters are classified according to skill level based upon previous scores and compete only against those within the same class.
The rifles used are highly refined precision target shooting arms costing from about $800 to several thousand dollars. Competitors invariably invest additional sums for custom tuning of their arms. Top shooters make use of a wide variety of accessories including tightly-fitted shooting jackets, gloves, spotting scopes, slings, detachable palm rests, ground pads, and other permitted items designed to increase efficiency and comfort. Local gun shops are a good choice for finding this equipment while keeping in mind that good used equipment can be an excellent value, especially if the dealer will guarantee it. Other sources for equipment can be tournament competitors and local gun clubs. The American Rifleman and the Shooting Sports USA magazine (both published by the NRA) often carry classified advertisements offering such gear.
Position shooting is one of rifle shootings most demanding disciplines, requiring training, practice and dedication, if one is to reach the pinnacle of competition, Olympic games or become a national champion.
NRA Competitions Department
NRA, Competitions Division
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: (703) 267-1450
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)
11 Mile Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470-2359
Phone: (203) 426-1320
Fax: (203) 426-1087
National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA)
P.O. Box 67
Friendship, IN 47021
Phone: (812) 667-5131
Fax: (812) 667-5136
Single Action Shooting Society (SASS)
23255-A La Palma Avenue
Yorba Linda, California 92887
Phone: (714) 694-1800
Fax: (714) 694-1815
(Material courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation)