MATCH RIFLE (MR)
MATCH RIFLE (MR)
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What is it?
Match Rifle can be thought of as an extreme, experimental version of Target Rifle. Whilst the same calibres are permitted (.308” Winchester / 7.62 x 51 mm NATO and .223” Remington / 5.56 x 45 mm NATO), Match Rifle starts at 1000 yards where TR finishes, and goes up to 1200 yards.
Telescopic sights are permitted, as is hand-loaded ammunition (typically for .308 / 7.62 with bullets weighing between 190 and 220 grains, as opposed to the 155 grain bullets normally used in TR); unlike TR, a rest may be used to support, or steady, the hand supporting the rifle (a sling as used in TR is also an option), but the rifle may not be directly supported by a rest or bipod.
Whilst most people shoot Match Rifle prone, a sizeable minority shoot supine (“back position”), and a small number (who would be unable for medical reasons to shoot prone or supine) shoot seated at tables.
Most shoots involve 15 or 20 shots to count (usually with two convertible sighting shots permitted) at each of 1000, 1100 and 1200 yards. With few ranges extending back to Match Rifle distances, most shooting in the UK takes place on Stickledown at Bisley.
It’s easy to start Match Rifle by attaching a telescopic sight to a Target Rifle, and then progress from there.
The highlight of the MR season is the Hopton, four days of individual entry competitions from First Saturday to First Tuesday of the Bisley Meeting in July. This is followed on the Wednesday by the Elcho, a match between teams of eight from each of the Home Nations, with each shooter firing 15 shots at each distance without the benefit of any sighters. The Elcho was first shot in 1862 between Scotland and England, and is one of the oldest international team matches in any sport.
Other key open competitions at Bisley include two-day Spring and Autumn meetings organised by the English Eight Club (www.englisheight.org.uk), one-day individual and team matches organised by the London and Middlesex Rifle Association (www.lmra.co.uk) and a one-day meeting organised by the Welsh RA. Away from Bisley, the National Rifle Club of Scotland (www.nrcofs.org) organises weekend meetings twice a year at picturesque Jubilee Range in Glen Tilt, near Blair Atholl.
Currently, the only other country to shoot Match Rifle seriously is Australia (www.matchrifle.org). Australia challenged GB to a match for the Woomera Trophy in 1997; since then, matches have taken place every few years, alternating between Bisley and Australia (see www.gbmrt2016.org.uk).
How to get involved
Most people come to Match Rifle having gained some experience of another discipline, most usually Target Rifle; the often-challenging wind at Match Rifle distances, and the need for hand-loaded ammunition, mean Match Rifle isn’t an obvious choice for the newcomer to fullbore target shooting.
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