Rifle Metallic Silhouette shooting is considered by many to be the ultimate rifle challenge. The sport originated in Mexico in the days of Poncho Villa as entertainment. Live animals were tethered and shot at from long distances. Live animal shooting evolved into metallic silhouette shooting to save on targets. The sport was very popular in Mexico and US shooters traveled south of the border to compete.
The sport emigrated to the US in the early 70's. The first sanctioned shoot was held in Tucson in 1973 when the NRA sponsored the first national championship. Roy Dunlop, noted gunsmith, is considered to be responsible for popularizing the sport in the US.
Unlike other forms of competition, a class system exists so shooters compete against shooters of or near the same ability. Beginning shooters need not shoot against master class shooters. Everyone has a chance win his or her class. Classes are Master, AAA, AA, A, and B.
Both highpower and smallbore categories exist. The targets consist of chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams. The highpower targets are made of high strength steel to avoid damage. The chickens are placed at 200 meters; the pigs at 300 meters; the turkeys at 385 meters; and the rams at 500 meters. All shooting is done offhand without slings or shooting jackets.
In smallbore, the targets are 1/5 the size of the highpower targets, and placed at 1/5 the distances. Thus the chickens are shot at 40 meters; the pigs at 60 meters; the turkeys at 77 meters; and the rams at 100 meters. The body of the chicken is about the size of half-dollar. Each target gets larger in size, and most shooters consider the turkey to be the most difficult because of its shape.
Targets are placed in banks of 5. A complete round is 40 targets- 10 of each animal. A shooter gets 2-1/2 minutes to shoot a bank of targets. After a brief rest, the second bank is shot. Then, each shooter moves to a different target until all 40 targets have been fired at. The targets must be knocked off their stands in order from left to right.
In the highpower division of rifle silhouette there are two subdivisions:
- So-called standard or silhouette rifle can have bull or reverse taper barrel and/or have tuner (no muzzle-break) or added disc like weights that act like tuner, but the rifle/scope combo can not weigh greater than 10lb 2oz, no saftey is required and no restrictions on trigger weight albeit it has to be safe and no release type triggers allowed. stock can be thumbhole - see NRA rule book for additional restrictions (barrel not more than 30 inches)
- Hunting rifle can be used in both standard and hunter rifle sub-divisions. rifle/scope can not weigh more than 9lbs, barrel length not above 26in, and the barrel must be tapered towards muzzle. Additionally, the trigger pull can not be less than 2lbs., magazine can only be loaded with 5 rounds and during a match rounds must be chambered from magazine - see NRA rule book for other details
In smallbore division of rifle silhouette there two sub-divisions
- So-called standard or silhouette rifle identical to high power except chambered for 22 rimfire short,long or long rifle.
- Hunting rifle with scope can not weigh more than 8lb 8oz. and it may be a single loading 22rimfire. Hunting rifle may be used in both standard and hunter rifle matches. The barrel and trigger restrictions same as high power hunter.
Ammo for rimfire does not include "stingers or other hot loads" that could damage targets. Ammo for high power division excludes magnums, any caliber less than 6mm. or any ammo that damages targets. Most popular calibers for high power are 6.5 x 47 Lapua, 260 Rem. and 7mm 08 - most competitors use heavier bullet for rams (they weigh 52lbs) - 308 still sees some use however, the accumulative recoil over 40 shots is a negitive factor. Likewise, 105gr bullet for 243 may not consistently knock over rams in all conditions, but is still used. The 6.5mm Swedish Mauser is as good as any and inexpensive Tikka brand is good starter for shooting both classes of high power.
Most popular scopes for both high power and smallbore rifle are Weaver T series or Leopould fixed or variable - most shooters prefer target knobs and 16-36 power and target dot 3/8-1/2 MOA.
While shooting at these distances off hand is challenging, it is amazing how one can improve with practice and the instant gratification of the animal falling is exciting!! Acting as spotter for a shooting companion is fun and gives positive feedback.