Match Rifle Discipline
Match Rifle Shooting competitions are shot at longer ranges compared to Target Rifle – 1000, 1100 and 1200 yards – using rifles based on the 7.62 x 51mm Nato or .308 Winchester cartridge case (same as for Target Rifle). Though there is no limit to the bullet weight for Match Rifle the most popular bullet weights are 190gr, 200gr and 210gr, other bullet weights have been tried up to 240gr as the heavier the bullet the higher the Ballistic Coefficient (BC).
Magnifying or telescopic sights are allowed and either the prone or back firing position can be used.
Apart from the calibre the main specifications for the rifle is a maximum barrel weight of 2.5Kg and minimum trigger pull of 1.5Kg. Although there is no limit to the overall weight of the complete rifle it has to be rested on part of your body. Prone shooters may use a rest to support the hand or forearm though the rifle must not touch the rest or be in contact with the ground.
Shooting back to 1200 yards is very much at the limit of accuracy for the .308 cartridge which limits the amount of powder that can be used and hence the muzzle velocities that can be achieved. As match rifle bullet weights tend to be much heavier than Target Rifle to help maintain velocity down the range, but maintaining supersonic at 1200 yards is difficult and accuracy can be affected if the bullet becomes subsonic. Many shooters produce their own hand loaded ammunition in order to get maximum accuracy but commercial ammunition made specifically for match rifle shooting is available. All bullet heads have to be of a 'match' type construction (not 'designed' to expand).
A spirit level is often fitted to the rifle - canting by 1º results in a shift sideways by about 10" - approx half the bull!
The effect of wind on the flight of the bullet is significant at these ranges and judging wind strength and any changes in the wind is a major part of the sport. Scores have increased in recent years as ammunition and barrel design have improved and scores of 75 ex 75 on 15 round shoots at 1200 yards are becoming more common. However, scores of 100 ex 100 on 20 round matches at 1200 yards are still rare. With a bullseye diameter of 24 inches, a relatively small change in wind speed can result in lost points at 1200 yards if the correct sight adjustments are not made.
It is not uncommon for adjustment for wind to be in excess of 14 minutes of angle. At approx 1ft per minute of angle at 1200yds, this equates to the rifle pointing at the next target for the wind to blow the bullet onto your own target! A further complication shooting at Glen Tilt being that as the range is on the side of a hill, adjustments have to be made for elevation along with wind changes.
|900yds and up||Scoring|
|Black aiming mark*||48"|
|V Bull (broken line)||14.4"||V (5.1)|
|Hit||118"w x 70"h Target frame||1|
Note: V's are added up separately from full points
The main team competition for Match Rifle is the match for the Elcho Shield which was first shot in 1862. This match is shot each year in July at Bisley with teams of 8 firers from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales with each firer shooting 15 rounds at 1000, 1100 and 1200 yards. Compared to other team competitions the Elcho Match is unique in not allowing sighting shots so firers have to be confident of their elevation and wind settings to ensure bullseyes for their first shots to count. Presently, Scotland holds the record score for the match with a score of 1738 ex 1800 achieved in the 2003 match. The other major team competition is for the Woomera Trophy which is a match between National teams, presently Great Britain and Australia, which is shot every 3 or 4 years.
The number of Match Rifle shooters has grown in recent years as the equipment has improved so that accuracy has increased and many shooters find it more satisfying to compete at these longer ranges.