Target Rifle Shooting


Target Rifle Shooting has many different disciplines with different rules concerning the types of rifle, ammunition, targets and aids-to-accuracy which are permitted.  All combine co-ordination of hand and eye, with control of breathing and trigger release, to deliver a shot as near to the centre of the target as possible.

Target Rifle Shooting has one great advantage over most other sports – male and female can compete on equal terms, and age is no barrier.  Club ranges often have male female, school children and pensioners firing side-by-side.



Smallbore is fired both indoors and outdoors, using commercial target ammunition.  The standard distance indoors is 25 yards but proportionate targets are available for 20 yard and 15 yard ranges.  The standard distance outdoors is 50 meters and this is the Internationally recognised distance for European and Olympic smallbore shooting.  The British and Americans also have competitions at 100 yards.  In general, indoor shooting takes place in winter and outdoor in summer but many more shooters fire indoors than outdoors.  The large majority of smallbore shooters fire in the prone position but a smaller number of International level shooters also fire Kneeling and Standing – known as 3-Position shooting.

Smallbore shooters may use a shooting jacket, often made of canvas or leather, a sling and a glove, as aids to holding the rifle steady.  A spotting telescope is used to spot the fall of shot on the target but telescopes are not permitted on the rifle.

The standard indoor course of fire is 10 shots with sighting shots permitted but the card must usually be completed in 10 minutes.  The standard outdoor course of fire in local league competitions is 20 shots plus sighters, fired in 20 minutes.  In higher level shoulder-to-shoulder competitions, the usual course of fire is 60 shots.  If fired at paper targets, this is done in 3 lots of 20.  If electronic targets are used, the 60 shots are fired in 90 minutes.

Members of the URA are regularly chosen for teams in local and national level competitions.

The Ulster Rifle Association has a full range of equipment – rifles, slings, shooting jackets etc – for new members to borrow until they decide to get their own.  There are also a number of qualified and experienced coaches in the club.

Smallbore Shooting is governed by the National Smallbore Rifle Association (NSRA), which is based at the national shooting Centre at Bisley in Surrey.



This is currently split into three separate disciplines:

Fullbore Target Rifle

Fullbore Target Rifle is fired in the prone position, outdoors at distances from 300 yards to 1000 yards.  Most clubs hire range space on military ranges since a fullbore range is very expensive to build and maintain and uses a lot of land. The URA shares range space in Ballykinler with other N Ireland Fullbore clubs and cadet force shooters.

Shooters are permitted to use a similar range of aids-to-accuracy as smallbore shooters – gloves, jackets, slings.  The ammunition used is standard military pattern 7.62mm ammunition and most competitions require all competitors to use the same ammunition.

Fullbore Shooters are normally only permitted 2 sighting shots and the usual courses of fire are 7 shots, 10 shots or 15 shots.  A complete competition may require one of these courses of fire at a series of distances.

Several disciplines of Fullbore Shooting are governed by the National Rifle Association, also based at the National Shooting Centre at Bisley.

URA members participate in competition at both local and National level.  Club members have represented N Ireland and Great Britain, in both junior and Senior Competitions, up to International Level.

F Open Class

The rules for competitions are the same as for Target Rifle, but the equipment rules are different.  The targets are also significantly smaller.

Rifle:  Any rifle suitable for firing any cartridge with a calibre of up to 8mm.

Supports:  A bipod or front rest is permitted to support the rifle or hand. A sling may be used.

Sights:  Any scope or sighting method may be used

Rear rests:  One or two sandbags may be used to support the butt. No

mechanical rear rests are allowed.

Rifle weight:  Maximum weight 10kg.

FTR Class

The rules for competitions are the same as for Target Rifle, but the equipment rules are different.  The targets are also significantly smaller.

Calibre:  .223” Remington or .308” Winchester, or their metric equivalents, only.

Chamber:  Must conform to SAAMI or CIP dimensions or to the dimensional requirements of Para 150.

Attachments:  An attached bipod is permitted.

Supports:  A sling is permitted as a support in addition to a bipod, optionally together with a rear bag which provides no positive mechanical means of returning the rifle to its precise point of aim for the next shot.

Sights:  Any scope or sighting method may be used

Rifle weight:  Maximum weight 8.25kg including all attachments (such as, but not limited to, sights, sound moderator and bipod, if any).

Ammunition:  There is no restriction on bullet weight.



As its name suggests, it is fired at 300 metres only, on slightly different targets.  There is some variation allowed in the calibre of ammunition allowed and it can be fired also Standing and Kneeling.  Clothing is similar to that permitted in smallbore and fullbore.  The URA fires 300m, but with their standard target rifles, about once a year.



As a shooting discipline, match rifle can trace its beginnings to the very start of competition shooting and is the father of current Target Rifle shooting. To describe fully Match Rifle one would have also to describe the “Elcho match”, for the two are closely linked through their lives. The match started in 1862 between England and Scotland, Ireland joined in 1865 and provision was made in 1895 for Wales to provide a team, it would be 1991 before they would enter the Elcho. In recent years there have been matches between GB and America and more recently between GB and Australia in what is known as the “Woomera Match”, the Elcho remains a home countries event and applications for Canada, America and Australia to compete have been refused.

Often looked upon as a place where old Target Rifle shooters go to retire, this couldn’t be further from the truth, having retained a remarkably stable entry, contrary to the fluctuations of other disciplines. Match Rifle was originally shot at 800, 900 and 1000yds, the then current Long-Range Target distances with Blackpowder Muzzle loading rifles, as expertise grew so the competition moved to increasingly longer distances first in 1910 to 900, 1000 and 1100yds – and in 1957 to the current 1000, 1100 and 1200yds, the longest distances regularly shot in competition.

The rules for MR have been remarkably stable, in relatively recent times the increasingly hard to find quality .303 ‘Streamline’ ammunition forced a move to 7.62mm/.308W in 1964, while in recent years 5.56mm/.223Rem has been allowed, though few have taken this step, finding it hard to deal with at extreme ranges. Another rule limits the Barrel weight to 2.5kg (5.5lbs), in reality this means either a heavy profile 30” or more commonly a 34” Fluted barrel in a variety of twist rates, typically 1-12” or 1-10” (1 bullet revolution in 12 or 10 inches of barrel length). Match Rifle can be shot in either front (belly) or Supine (back) positions, the latter until recently with Galilean magnifying sights – the rear one attached to the rifle butt, dominated MR, while in recent years front gunners have started to dominate. Recently several supine shooters have started to mount telescopic sights with increasing success. Both positions have their good and bad points, Supine being the more stable, while front gun is more adaptable to changing conditions, notably rapid wind changes.

To be competitive in Match Rifle the prospective entrant would need a proven strong rifle action capable of fitting a 30” or longer barrel and be proficient in reloading techniques, so that the competitor may tune his ammunition to the best capabilities of the barrel and distances. While commercial Match Rifle ammunition is available, competent use of advanced cartridge case preparation and ammunition reloading techniques will exceed the accuracy provided by commercial ammunition.