Everything you need to know – the organizations, match types, scoring, and how to get started.
First, congratulations, starting a new discipline such as Precision Rifle can be a very daunting task due to the sheer amount of knowledge and equipment that comes along with it. How do you even begin to start obtaining that knowledge and even start shooting? In this article we will go over how to get involved with organizations within the precision rifle world, what those organizations and match types may be, and how to get started shooting your first match.
Precision rifle organizations involve a multitude of different types of matches. This can be with a bolt gun, a gas gun such as an AR-15 or AR-10 build, your hunting rifle or even a rimfire match such as with your .22. To understand lingo, most matches will be known as either a “rimfire” or “centerfire” match. This means .22 for rimfire, or centerfire being a larger caliber gun such as 6.5creedmoor. Matches can also have physical requirements such as a ruck march or fitness competitions thrown in. There is a flavor for everyone.
Non Affiliated Club Matches
There are certain larger organizations in precision rifle that have smaller matches under the larger organizations affiliation. For example, the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) has other match directors (MD), those who direct the individual match, host matches under the PRS organization. Thus making it a PRS match.
Some clubs go by no affiliation though. For instance, a range in Reno, Nevada called 2A Ranch holds monthly club matches for both rimfire and centerfire directed by Matt Hornback. This is a non affiliated club match due to falling under no larger organization.
Larger Organizations within Precision Rifle are organizations such as the National Rifle League, Precision Rifle Series, Extreme Long Range Shooting Organization (ELRSO) or Quantified Performance. These organizations will reach out to other match directors to host matches under that organization but in a different area and range to reach a larger amount of shooters. This also brings location into the mix as some organizations have more matches in a certain part of the country vs others. You may find yourself leaning towards shooting with one organization just due to those matches being closest to where you live, or you may find yourself shooting at your local club due to distance and friends shooting there. Support local you know?
Within these organizations are different types of matches and different ways of scoring.
When it comes to scoring within these matches a lot will be based on your ability to hit steel targets. No paper targets. In some match types there will be unlimited rounds to hit steel, in some it will be 1 chance per target. There will also be time restraints such as 2 minutes to hit all of the steel in the course of fire and as long as you finish the course of fire within that 2 minutes you’re good. Sometimes it will be completely time based as, who can finish the course of fire the fastest.
National Rifle League Hunter: Hunter matches fall under the National Rifle League organization. This type of match involves finding your steel animal targets, ranging your targets, and engaging your targets all on your own. There will be no distances or target locations given. These matches often end up being on open land and targets can reach over 1k in distance. There is a 12 and 16lb weight limit for firearms. This is a two day match.
National Rifle League .22: This is a monthly rimfire match. You will be shooting small steel targets on a flat range on a par time and sometimes shooting off of barricades. A lot of local ranges will host these matches under the NRL organization. NRL also has NRL22X matches which is even further engagements for rimfire guns. NRL 22 is a one day match and NRL 22x is a two day match.
Steel Safari: Steel Safari can be shot both individually or on a team and involves finding your targets, ranging them, and engaging them. All of your gear must be carried on your back.
This is a two day match.
Precision Rifle Series Centerfire and Rimfire: The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) has both centerfire and rimfire regional matches across the Country. This match type has a laid out course of fire. Shooters are given the course of fire and will be scored based on impacts within a lotted amount of time and lotted amount of rounds. This can be a one or two day match.
Tactical Games Sniper Challenge: The Tactical Games are known for fitness forward matches with a pistol and carbine however in this specific match type you will be engaging out to 1200yds with included ruck marches and fitness challenges. This is a two day match.
Guardian Long Range: This is an organization that hosts centerfire matches but focuses on helping new shooters as usually on the second day the last and first place shooters based on scores are matched together to shoot the match. This is a two day match.
Quantified Performance: This organization is based on gas guns. QP matches are being hosted around the country under this organization. This type of match is scored on time. Usually with an unlimited amount of rounds, finish the course of fire as quick as possible. This can be a one or two day match.
IWI Gas Gun Challenge: This is a local club match in the Pennsylvania area. It is geared towards gas guns/the AR platform but is scored off of points per impact, not time. You will get a match book of target distances and the course of fire and will often be shooting off of barricades. It is a one day match.
Extreme Long Range Shooting Organization: ELRSO is a precision rifle organization in which they shoot out further than normal precision rifle matches. In ELR they will be shooting past two mile engagements. This involves a large gun and a large caliber. Usually a two day match.
Divisions and Classes
Within these match types are certain divisions and classes. For instance, certain gun divisions can involve caliber restrictions, weight restrictions, and equipment restrictions such as barrel length or use of a bipod. A firearm that you want to use for a certain match may not fall into any division, or the division you want to shoot, so be sure to check the rulebook for each match type so you know which division to sign up for.
Classes are less about the firearm and more about the shooter. For many of these matches there are classes such as Lady, Junior, or MIL/LE. Therefore when signing up you may be signing up for a division and a class type if you fall into any of those categories.
There are a few methods to getting involved into precision rifle without totally diving in head first… yet.
Join a Facebook Group
A quick search on facebook with your state and then “Precision Rifle” after it will often turn up groups that involve other shooters in your state. You can then start creating connections and finding what ranges local to you offer matches. Use the search bar within that group to find other questions that people have asked about gear and rifle set ups.
To test this, a quick search on Facebook of “Washington Precision Rifle” Turn up the “Precision Rifle WA” fb group. A group of over 500 shooters in the state of Washington.
Attend a Local Match
Another option after finding local to you matches is honestly just showing up. Sometimes they even have loaner guns for new shooters to use. However, you should reach out to the MD or club to ensure that you follow the correct route to get onto the range safely.
Be a Range Officer (R/O) for a Match
This is probably the best way to show that you want to contribute to the sport. It also helps you meet others and learn the sport before shooting it. Matches will often need help from R/O’s to run each stage. Let the MD know that you’re new to the sport and would like to help out.
Use Loaner Equipment or Sign up for a New Shooter Division
If you’re worried about your equipment set up, don’t be afraid to see if the match has loaner guns and equipment available. A lot of matches will offer up a gun for someones first match as a way to have new shooters be able to shoot the match. Some matches even have divisions that allow shooters to “shoot what they brought”. Such as NRL Hunter which has the skills division. In this division which as a smaller sign up fee, you won’t be able to walk the prize table but will be able to shoot with your firearm even though it doesn’t meet the requirements and get a feel for that match.
To find these matches and even the Match Directors email to reach out..Practiscore.com is your friend.
Practiscore is the usual way that matches will have you sign up for a match, track your scores, and upload scores. It is a great tool for you as well.
After creating an account in Practiscore you can then find matches in your region by hitting “matches” on the top. You can also add certain ranges to “follow” which then populates a calendar showing future events that you can sign up for. It’s a pretty cool tool.
This website will be used for score tracking as well. During a stage you will see R/O’s holding tablets taking down your score as you shoot. These tablets then push these scores onto Practiscore. It is a way to ensure everything is tracked, no score edits, shooters can see their individual score and arbitrate if a mistake was made, etc., etc.
Finding a Mentor is Easy
If there is anything to really sum up the precision rifle sport and those who compete within it is that everyone is very kind and willing to help new shooters. Finding a mentor is usually as simple as just asking someone you meet. The goal is to keep this sport around and growing, especially due to the large battle happening with firearm owners in this country. We need all the help we can get to continue to shoot recreationally and for sport. New shooters are needed for this sport and are welcomed with a helping hand. So get out and shoot!