Silhouette Competition
(Rifle - Pistol - Black Powder - Air gun)
For additional information please call the NRA Silhouette Dept. at (703) 267-1474

NRA rules define the rifles and pistols allowed in silhouette shooting. The rules define the most liberal allowable dimensions and weights. Any rifle or pistol which falls within these limitations can be used.

The items of equipment listed below are used in silhouette competition. The best part is that there is very little expense associated with silhouette shooting.

Spotting Scope - The use by the coach of a telescope or other optical device to spot shots is permitted.

A Shooting Mat or ground cloth is permissible in Black Powder Cartridge Rifle competition and Long Range Pistol/Smallbore Pistol Freestyle competition.

Gloves may be worn on either or both hands in pistol competition as long as they don't afford artificial support. In rifle, they may be worn only for warmth.

Clothing - Commercial type trap and skeet vests and shotgun shooting shirts are permitted as well as clothing normally suitable for existing climatic temperatures. Shooting coats, unnecessarily heavy clothing, or anything on the person that would provide artificial support, such as clothing having excess padding or stiffening material, or clothing which restricts or supports the body in the shooting position may not be worn.

High Power Rifles for Silhouette Competition
Big game rifles as well as varmint rifles have proved to be quite satisfactory for this kind of competition, and a number of rifles have been specially built. The use of a specially built rifle does not automatically guarantee a winning score. Since coaching is allowed, the presence of a good coach can make a great deal of difference although the individual shooter still has to perform to his best ability in order to win.

While there is no limitation on the magnification allowed in scopes, shooters now tend to use a scope that is twenty power or higher, although many still use a lower power.

While 6mm is the smallest caliber allowed in High Power competition, it is well known that a 6mm bullet will not knock the sheep target off its stand reliably. For that reason, most silhouette shooters use larger calibers. The most popular one seems to be the .308 Winchester.

Smallbore Rifles in Silhouette Competition
Since Smallbore Rifle silhouette is simply a miniature of the High Power Rifle game, the rifle allowed is defined as being identical to the High Power Rifle. Rifles may be chambered only for the unmodified .22 caliber rimfire short, long, or long rifle. No special hot loads, such as "stingers" may be used. Except for the caliber restriction, all other equipment requirements are the same.

High Power and Smallbore Rifle silhouette both have a Hunter Rifle class where only hunting style rifles may be used. These rifles are lighter in weight and very few modifications are allowed.

Black Powder Cartridge Rifles in Silhouette Competition

Almost any pre-1896 American manufactured single shot hunting or military style rifle with an exposed hammer can be used. The course of fire is the same as High Power Rifle except that only iron sights can be used and the pigs, turkeys and rams can be shot using cross-sticks. The most popular caliber used is .45 70.

Pistols For Use in Silhouette competition
Pistols allowed for Long Range Pistol silhouette are defined in the NRA rules and follow very closely the rules established by the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA). NRA Long Range Pistol silhouette has two basic pistol definitions and forms of competition: 1.) Conventional, which permits minor modifications, and 2.) Unlimited, which allows almost anything that can be done to a pistol within the limits of a 15 inch barrel and an 8 pound weight limit. Also associated with Long Range Pistol is a .22 caliber version called Smallbore Pistol that closely follows the Long Range Pistol courses.

NRA Hunter's Pistol competition is one of the most popular of the NRA silhouette games. Since it is intended as a sport for distances up to 100 meters, only certain calibers are specified as allowable in the rules. The definition is very similar to that of Conventional Long Range Pistol, except that the barrel length is limited to 12 inches and the weight to 5 pounds. Scopes are allowed as well as open sights.

NRA Smallbore Hunter's Pistol is fired with .22 caliber short, long or long rifle cartridges at the same distance and the same size targets as in Hunter's Pistol. The targets are thinner material to permit reliable knockdown by the .22.

Air Guns In Silhouette Competition
Any air rifle weighing no more than 16 lbs. may be used in the Open Air Rifle class. Any unaltered factory target air rifle may be used in the Target Air Rifle class. The Sporter Air Rifle class includes any unaltered factory air rifle weighing less than 11 lbs., complete. Any caliber may be used in Air Pistol and Air Rifle Silhouette competition up to .22 caliber, and may be fired indoors as well as outdoors.

Silhouette Range Facilities
Any silhouette range will have the same basic requirement: provisions for the four difference types of targets, and a single firing line.

Silhouette Targets and Target Stands
Silhouette targets can be cut from various types of steel. It has been found that low strength steels and some high strength steels are not satisfactory, because of the extreme damage done to them by high velocity bullets. For High Power Rifle, Black Powder Cartridge Rifle and Long Range Pistol targets, abrasion resistant alloy steels should be used. For Smallbore Rifle it is not necessary to use the harder steels. For Hunter's Pistol, it is suggested that the harder steels be used for the closer targets. T-1 steel is required for Hunter's Pistol chickens. The "feet" upon which the silhouettes rest should be of the same type of steel as the rest of the target. Silhouettes are set on stands which should be, if possible, two to three feet from the ground so that they can fall free of the stand when hit. Silhouette need not be painted black if another color makes them more visible. On some of the Eastern ranges, targets are painted white or even blaze orange.

NRA rules allow for reduced distance firing provided the targets are reduced proportionately to the distances used. This provision was put into the rules in order to allow those clubs which cannot attain the longer distances to have a silhouette program. If desired, all targets can be set at one minimum distance, such as 200 yards in High Power Rifle. The minimum allowed distances at which reduced courses can be fired are; High Power and Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, 200 yards; Long Range Pistol, 50 yards; Hunter's Pistol, 40 yards, and Smallbore Rifle, 40 yards.