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A deep boom, a cloud of smoke, the clang of a steel target hit with a 500 gr cast bullet, and watching it fall off the rail through the iron sights.

That’s what hooked me the first time I shot a Black Powder Cartridge Rifle silhouette match in Livingston, MT.

If you are looking for immediate feedback in a shooting competition, well, you might have to wait just a bit. It takes those same 500 gr. lead bullets about 1.3 seconds to get to the Ram silhouette at 500 meters and almost 1.5 seconds for the sound of the bullet striking to get back to the firing line.

Unlike most shooting sports, which use paper targets, BPCR silhouette uses reactive steel targets.  Four different steel animal silhouettes (chickens, pigs, turkeys and ramrams) are set out at four different distances (200m, 300m, 385m, and 500m).  A typical match consists of 10 of each animal silhouette for a total of forty targets.

Competitors take one shot at each target.  If the target is hit and knocked over the competitor scores one point.  Thus, a maximum score for a forty shot match is forty points.

 Course of Fire

10 Chickens   200m (offhand)

10 Pigs           300m (sitting or prone from cross sticks)

10 Turkeys     385m (sitting or prone from cross sticks)

10 Rams         500m (sitting or prone from cross sticks)

Time Limits:  1st half of relay, 7 minutes for unlimited sighters and 5 score shots. Once competitor goes for score no more sighter shots allowed.  2nd half of relay, 5 minutes for 5 score shots, no sighters.


Since the sport of BPCR silhouette began in 1985, only one competitor has shot a perfect 40 in a match. (Brian Chilson, of Nelson, PA, in 2009).  The good news is you can compete against others at whatever level you may be, from beginner to seasoned expert.

Individual Classifications (40 shot match):

Master             31-40

AAA                26-30

AA                   21-25

A                      16-20

B                       0-15



Basic equipment needed:  Rifle, 60 rds ammo, blow tube, cross sticks, shooting mat, spotting scope, chair, tripod, spotting board and timer.  In practice the most popular rifles are those built on Winchester Highwall, Ballard, Remington Rolling block, Sharps, and Hepburn actions. Popular cartridges include 45-70, 45-90, 40-65. Cartridges must be loaded with straight black powder or Pyrodex. Plain based cast bullets must be used.

  • Single shot rifles made in the US before 1896 that have an exposed hammer, or replicas of those rifles.
  • Iron sights or period scopes allowed.
  • Cartridges must be those that were originally loaded with black powder of 32 cal or larger.
  • Rifle weight must be 12 pounds 2 ounces or less with sights.
  • No mechanical rests, no shooting jackets or shooting gloves permitted.
  • Complete rules can be obtained from the National Rifle Association at 800-267-3888 or at
  • Desire to have fun, shoot with people who will be happy to loan you what you don’t have, give you advice, loading data, sight settings and whatever else you might need to get started.

BPCR Silhouette shooting is a team sport - one team member shoots while the other watches for changes in the wind and mirage, spots the hits and misses and keeps track of score. It’s a great way to spend time with a son or daughter or a wife or dad, whether both shoot or one of you only does the important job, spotting.  I encourage everyone to come check out a match, one of the competitors will likely offer you the chance to shoot a few rounds and get hooked on a great sport!

- Mark Griffis, MRPA BPCR Chairman



Black Powder Target Rifle (Creedmoor/Mid-range)

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Black powder target rifles are single-shot, breech loaded cartridge rifles that shoot lead projectiles propelled by black powder or black powder substitute. No smokeless powder in any quantity may be used. No gas checks are allowed.

Any metallic sights that are period correct, pre-1896, are allowed. No optics other than sight corrected shooting glasses permitted.

Period correct scopes are allowed with a tube body diameter of 3/4" or less and objective lens ring no larger than 1" in diameter. Mounts must also be period correct with windage and elevation adjustments incorporated into the mounts. No internal scope adjustments for windage or elevation are allowed. No click adjustments are allowed.

Matches and tournaments are per NRA Black Powder Target Rifle rules. Squads consist of a two-shooter relay.

For Creemoor matches (800 900, 1000yds.) each shooting team will have a 3-minute ready period followed by 60 minutes to fire unlimited sighters and 10 shots for record.

For Mid-range matches (200, 300, 600yds) each team will have a 3-minute ready plus  50 minutes for record.

Each target will be assigned a two-man team in the pits.

Shooter classifications are Master, Expert, Sharpshooter, and Marksman and are officially assigned by the NRA from sanctioned events. If a shooter does not have long range classification from the NRA his BPCR Silhouette classification may be used. If no classification has been assigned, shooters will enter competition as a temporary Master per NRA rules.

Any legal NRA Black Powder Target Rifle position may be used. NRA approved cross-sticks or slings may be used. If a sling is used the forward forearm must be clear of the ground from the elbow forward. Grounding the rifle in any form is prohibited

Mid-range can be broken down into 2 disciplines, position and prone:

  • Position is fired from standing (200yds. on SR target), sitting (300yds. on SR-3 target), and any position, usually prone (600yds. on MR-1 target).
  • Prone is fired from any position using the same distances and targets.


Mid Range (200-300-600yds) Targets:

                      SR (13” black)                                          SR-3 (19" black)                                         MR (24” black)

 SR  SR3  MR



Long RangeTarget (800-800-1000yds):

            Creedmoor LR (44” black)

 LR Target


- Mark Griffis, MRPA BPCR Chairman