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Old November 26, 2006, 12:24 AM   #1
Justin
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Below is a long, but by no means exhaustive, list of a variety of shooting sports. Feel free to use this list as a place to learn about the various kinds of competitive shooting that are available. If you know of a form of competition that isn't listed here, or would like to correct faulty information, please send me a PM.

► Action Sports ◄

ACTS (American Confederation of Tactical Shooters) – ACTS's goal is to provide a sport in which Civilian rifle owners along with Military and Law Enforcement professionals can practice 'real world' shooting skills in a sporting venue that has not been offered by any other shooting discipline or association.
To promote the safe practical, proficient use of rifles. To foster sportsmanship and camaraderie among rifle owners, and to support and defend the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
ACTS

GSSF – the Glock Shooting Sports Federation sponsors matches around the country which are open to anyone who owns a Glock. GSSF matches are somewhat similar to very simple action pistol stages, but GSSF does not require participants to draw from a holster or do any shooting while moving. While everyone competes together, there are separate prize categories for seniors, youngsters, females, law enforcement, teams, and probably others I've forgotten. A special effort is made to be sure that those at the beginning end of the spectrum have a chance to win some good prizes too. For these reasons, GSSF matches are an excellent choice for beginning shooters who would like to get a little taste of what handgun competition is all about.
GSSF

IPSC (USPSA) – an action pistol sport in which the competitor must try to blend accuracy, power, and speed. Most shooting takes place at close range, and stages may involve multiple targets, moving targets, targets that react when hit, penalty carrying targets, partially covered targets, obstacles, movement, competitive tactics, and any other difficulty the course designer can dream up. Some matches even contain surprise stages where no one knows in advance what to expect.
IPSCUSPSA

IDPA – an action pistol sport similar to IPSC, but with a focus on defensive tactics and situations. Pistols are limited to being in or near stock configuration.
IDPA

ICORE – International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts. Autoloaders need not apply! Similar in some respects to IPSC, IDPA, and Bianchi Cup, ICORE games are the game for the dedicated revolver shooter.
ICORE

PPC (Police Pistol Combat) – more common years ago before IPSC and IDPA really got going, PPC is an old law-enforcement game but matches are generally open to the public as well. Participants typically shoot handguns (traditionally revolvers) at human-shaped silhouette targets at distances which range from 4 yards out to 25 yards or more. There are strict time limits. Not a lot of shooter movement is involved, which makes PPC a good choice for people who want to practice self-defense type shooting without having to work around the run-n-gun style stages common to other action pistol games. Because of PPC's origins, all stages are revolver-friendly.
Police Pistol Combat

Steel Challenge – One of the oldest forms of competitive action shooting. Steel Challenge matches are set up using eight pre-drawn courses of fire that do not change from one match to the next. Each competitor shoots every course of fire five times, with the four best times being averaged. Scoring is based on how quickly the competitor shoots with the only penalty being assessed for targets that are missed. Many local clubs have weekly Steel Challenge matches, and they are an excellent way to get an introduction to action-oriented shooting sports.
Steel Challenge

Sportsman's Team Challenge – get a group of buddies together, practice a bit, and sign up for a team competition. This one uses two or three team members and has six different events for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. The targets are falling steel for the pistol and rifle stages, and moving clays for shotgun.
Many other games also provide for cooperative team efforts. In many competitions, all you need to do is declare that you and your friend(s) are a "team" and enter the team category as well as your own individual category. If in doubt, ask one of the match coordinators if teams are allowed.
Sportsman's Team Challenge Association

Three Gun/Multigun – a sport which is as fast-moving and requires as much strategic planning as the action pistol games. Multigun adds rifles and shotguns to the mix, including transitions and distance shooting. There is no official parent organization for most 3gun matches, although the USPSA has begun to sponsor many 3gun competitions and offers a national 3gun championship every year.
MultigunColorado Multigun

Cowboy Action/SASS – now this one's really cool. Participants get to dress up fancy in old-time western wear, choose amusingly rustic character names, and shoot historic firearms (and replicas) at reactive targets. The stages often involve some activity, such as climbing atop a barrel designed to simulate a cowboy pony, or swaggering through the doors of a saloon to confront bad guys who look suspiciously like steel plates. Some scenarios are designed to mimic true historic events or even movie scenes. The firearms are single-action revolvers, lever-action rifles, and double-barreled shotguns. The costumes are often hand-crafted by the players.
Variant: Cowboy Mounted Shooting has participants shooting blank .45-caliber black-powder guns at balloons, while riding real horses. A hoot to watch, it's really more of a horse game than a gun game. But still cool.

Biathlon – a race with a difference. Participants shoot highly-accurate straight-pull .22LR rifles at small 50-yard targets, making the game similar to most precision target games. The difference is that players must ski cross-country from one shooting station to the next, adding in a high degree of difficulty as they must be able to calm their breathing and slow their heartbeats on demand. Not for the unfit, biathlon is an Olympic sport.
US BiathlonColorado Biathlon

Variant: Summer Biathlon combines cross-country running with rifle shooting.

Modern Pentathlon – Also an Olympic sport, Modern Pentathlon requires competitors to master running, swimming, horseback riding, Epee fencing, and 10 meter air pistol.
Modern Pentathlon

► Precision Sports ◄

10 Meter Air Pistol – Participants have a set amount of time to fire 60 (men) or 45 (women) shots offhand with a single-shot air pistol. An Olympic sport somewhat similar to NRA Bullseye competitions.
ISSFUSA Shooting

10 Meter Air Rifle – Similar to air pistol, competitors fire at targets that are much smaller than those used for air pistol. This is also an Olympic event.
ISSF list of Olympic Shooting SportsUSA Shooting

10 Meter Running Target – An event with much history and popularity in Europe, running target involves shooting an air rifle at a horizontally moving target that is only visible for a short period of time.

25 Meter Rapid Fire Pistol – From a static standing position, a competitor must raise the pistol and fire five shots on five separate targets under time constraints of eight, six, and four seconds. Pistols are chambered in .22 LR and fired from the offhand position. Also an Olympic sport.
ISSF list of Olympic Shooting SportsUSA Shooting

25 Meter Standard Pistol – Extremely similar to the .22 LR course of fire shot in NRA Bullseye. The shooter fires a total of four strings consisting of five shots each in a trio of events. Slow Fire allows 2-1/2 minutes for each five shot string. Timed Fire allows 20 seconds for each string, and Rapid Fire allows 10 seconds for each string. Unlike NRA Bullseye, scopes are not allowed.
Pilkington Description of 25 Meter Standard PistolUSA Shooting

25 Meter Centerfire Pistol – The rules are exactly the same as for 25 Meter Women's Pistol, except that the shooter must use a pistol chambered for a round with a caliber ranging from .30-.38. Most competitors use pistols that are chambered for .32 S&W Long. Many of the .22 LR target pistols on the market also have optional conversion kits for shooting centerfire.

25 Meter Women's Pistol – An Olympic sport only open to women, 30 shots are fired in a precision slow-fire segment, and 30 shots are fired in a duel (pronounced dew-el) section. The duel course of fire involves five-shot strings shot on a turning target. When the target turns to face the competitor, she has three seconds to raise the pistol and fire a single shot. The target then faces away for seven seconds before offering the shooter another three seconds. While this is only a women's sport in the Olympics, many club-level competitions allow both male and females to enter.
ISSF list of Olympic Shooting SportsUSA Shooting

.50 BMG Rifle Competition – For the owners of the biggest thundersticks available. Shot at distances of 1,000 yards with scoped rifles.
The Fifty Caliber Shooter's Association

50 Meter Free Pistol – Nothing but pure accuracy. A single-shot, iron-sighted .22 LR pistol, 50 meters, and a target about the size of those used in 10 Meter Air Pistol. Competitors have a set amount of time to complete a course of fire. The pistols are free only insofar as there are very few rules governing their configuration.
Pilkington Info Page on Free Pistol

50 Meter Prone Rifle – In the prone position, the competitor fires 60 shots with a .22 rifle. This is an Olympic event.
ISSF list of Olympic Shooting SportsUSA Shooting

50 Meter 3 Position Rifle – The shooter fires 40 shots of record in each of three positions: prone, standing, and kneeling. An excellent sport for learning rifle shooting. Also a men's sport in the Olympics. .22 LR guns are used.
ISSF list of Olympic Shooting SportsUSA Shooting

Progressive Position Air Pistol – A sport developed specifically for kids. It allows children who may not yet possess the dexterity or strength to fire an unsupported air pistol with a single hand to learn the basics of marksmanship and competition by progressing through a number of shooting positions, starting with a benched two-handed position. As skill and strength develop, the shooter is moved towards developing into using the traditional offhand stance. An excellent way to introduce a young one to competitive shooting.
USA Shooting Description of Progressive Position Air PistolNRA description of sactioned airgun sports

High Power – A rifle sport which requires competitors to shoot centerfire rifles accurately over distances of 200, 300 and 600 yards. Positions include standing, sitting, and prone. The rifles are generally broken down into the categories of Service Rifle and National Match Rifle. Service rifles must conform to certain specifications and must be in an external configuration very similar to those issued in the military. The AR15, M1A, M1 Garand and Springfield rifles are all popular choices for this kind of shooting. National Match rifles do not have nearly as many rules to abide by, and are available in a number of interesting configurations. Scopes are not allowed. The rules are deceptively simple; attaining a competitive score is not.
The NRA Headquarters Introduction to High PowerThe Civilian Marksmanship Program

Smallbore Rifle – using .22-caliber rifles, the game is to shoot quarter-sized targets at 25 yards distance, from four basic rifle positions (prone, sitting, kneeling, and off-hand/standing). The accuracy demands are very stringent, and competition targets usually involve 10 separate bullseyes so that scorers have an easier time determining where each shot fell.
There are lots of variations on this basic accuracy game, with different rules and courses of fire.
This is still a common sport at the high school level in many rural areas, and some colleges offer scholarships to the best players.
The NRA Junior Marksmanship program moves youngsters through various levels of smallbore rifle competition.

Bullseye Pistol – Another really challenging target sport. If you want to learn precision pistol shooting, this is your game. The competitor fires six strings of five shots in a trio of events:
Slow Fire- each string allows a maximum time limit of five minutes for five shots at 50 yards (for an outdoor match) or 25 yards for an indoor match.
Timed Fire – each string has a maximum time limit for five shots at 25 yards.
Rapid Fire – each five-shot string has a time limit of ten seconds fired at 25 yards.
The Encyclopedia of Bullseye Pistol

Bullseye matches require participants to shoot the same courses of fire three times over: once with a .22 caliber pistol, once with anything larger than a .32 caliber pistol, and once with a .45-caliber pistol. Many shooters opt to use their .45 for both centerfire events, however.

F-Class Long-Distance Rifle Shooting¹– Generally shot at distances of 1,000 yards, F-Class has been called "Belly Benchrest." Competitors shoot scoped bolt-action rifles in the prone position. There are generally two recognized classifications: F-Class Open, which has few restrictions on caliber and configuration, and F-Class Target Rifle which is limited to rifles chambered in .223 and .308.
6mmBR F-Class FAQ
US F-Class Rifle Team

Benchrest – this one involves funky-looking rifles designed to be shot from a rest rather than from field positions. The competition places a premium on good equipment, and the firearms are often heavily modified by participants. Participants usually create their own handloaded ammunition which is custom-matched to the firearms they use.

► Shotgun Sports ◄

Skeet – a formalized shotgun contest. Shooters fire a total of 25 rounds from 8 different locations arranged around a semi-circle (well, okay -- technically there are 7 positions around the semi-circle, and an 8th one which is halfway across the semi-circle between stations 1 & 7). Each location is called a "stand" or a "station." Formal competitions usually divide shooters based upon the shotgun gauge being used.
The targets are called "clays," "clay pigeons," or "birds." They are clay discs, somewhat frisbee-shaped but only a hand's width across.
When two birds are flown at once, they are called a double. Each round involves a certain number of doubles, and some variations of this game involve only doubles.
One type of skeet game is called Olympic Skeet, because it is an Olympic sport. But there are lots of skeet competitions at the local, regional, and national level which are not in any way connected to the Olympic event.

Sporting Clays– often described as "golf with a shotgun," sporting clays is probably a more challenging game than skeet although it is very similar to that game in a lot of ways. The clays are launched at different velocities from more locations than in skeet, and the course of fire was designed to mimic bird hunting as closely as possible. Participants typically fire from 14 different stations, with varying numbers of birds being thrown for each station. The total number of shots fired by each competitor usually equals 50 or 100 depending upon the exact game variant being played. The shotguns used can be semi-automatics, pumps, over/unders, or side-by-sides, but if you use a semi-automatic your gun should be equipped with a shell catcher.

Trap – another game which uses clay pigeons. In some versions of this game, the end of the trap (out of which the birds fly) may be set to move back and forth, so that it is impossible to know at what angle the birds will be ejected. Other versions require the trap be fixed in place so that the birds appear to be flying straight away from the shooter on some stations. The shotguns used can be semi-automatics, pumps, over/unders, or side-by-sides, but if you use a semi-automatic your gun should be equipped with a shell catcher. Firing distances vary according to the exact version being played, but the usual distances are from 16 to 27 yards. There are five shooting stations. Shooters usually fire once at each of 25 targets in each round of competition.
There are many different regional and national variations of the basic game.
Some well-known versions include Single Trap, American Trap, Double Trap, Nordic Trap, and Olympic Trap. Wobble Trap is another version which is even more challenging than most other forms of the game.

¹ The contributions made by THR members in this thread were invaluable in creating this entry.
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Old November 27, 2006, 05:36 PM   #2
Justin
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► Interesting Target Games ◄

Steel – most of them look somewhat like dinner plates, but they're made out of metal and you knock them over. Sometimes called "falling steel" because when you hit them, they fall down (d'oh!)
Steel comes in many shapes other than the familiar round one: stars, triangles, and squares are also common, as well as vaguely humanoid silhouettes.
Steel matches are available in pistol, shotgun, and rifle variants.
Some steel matches include swinging or rotating targets.

Silhouette – the game is to shoot metal plates. The gimmick is that the plates are shaped like various animals: a chicken, a ram, a turkey, a pig. The plates are shot from extreme distances. There are lots of variations on the basic game.
Handgun Silhouette matches are sponsored by the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA), by the NRA, and by many local clubs.
Smallbore Silhouette matches use .22 caliber rifles. They are sponsored by local clubs and by the NRA. In smallbore silhouette, the metal targets are positioned at 40, 60, 77, and 100 meters. Due to the irregular target shapes, this competition is a lot more difficult than it appears at first glance.
Highpower Silhouette matches use centerfire rifles and are sponsored by local clubs and by the NRA.

Bowling Pin– the game is to knock bowling pins off a table. Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised how difficult it can be. There are a lot of variations on this game, which can be played with nearly any type of firearm. The fun usually starts when a pin goes over but not off the table -- lots of hilarity for the watchers and plenty of frustration for the competitors.

► Other Games and Sports ◄

Hunting – it's not everyone's cup of tea, but there's a lot of joy to be found by spending days in the woods, getting in tune with the natural world and learning its rhythms well enough to play the same game every animal plays.

The North-South Skirmish Association²- Participants use Civil War-era weapons in both individual and team competition. The teams represent actual units that served in the war, wearing appropriate uniforms.

Weapons types used are revolvers, smooth bore muskets, carbines, repeaters/internally primed rifles, and standard rifles/rifled muskets. Individual competitions use paper targets shot at 50 and 100 yards for long arms and 25 and 50 yards for the revolvers. There are also divisions for cannon and mortar.

Team competition is against the clock using breakable targets. Distances are the same as the individual competition.

Shooters are classified according to ability in both team and individual events so that you compete at your own level.

For the younger set, there is a BB gun competition using targets similar to those in the other events.
The North-South Skirmish Association

Plinking – it's not a competition, but it sure can be fun to just settle in for a pleasant summer afternoon on the range enjoying the sunshine, visiting with a friend while sending rounds downrange. For ultimate plinking satisfaction, pick up some reactive targets and watch the grins begin.
Black Powder -- this one's a natural for antique buffs, but there are plenty of modern black powder firearms too.
Black powder divisions and game variants are available within many of the shooting sports.

Paralympic Shooting Sports– The Paralympics are open to athletes with physical disabilities. Many of the Paralympic shooting events are similar to those shot in the Olympic games, but with the rules and classifications designed to accommodate the needs of these competitors.
Paralympic Shooting Sports PageNRA Disabled Shooting Services



Much of the original information and writing for this was done by Pax, and can be found at her website Cornered Cat

² Thanks to THR member Hawkeye748 for the information about The North-South Skirmish Association.
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