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What is it?
Target Shotgun (TS) includes any event that involves the use of a shotgun for the purposes of competition, specifically excluding clay shooting.
The NRA has supported and provided the governance umbrella for this area of shooting for many years and supports it by developing training syllabuses and providing a greater range of competitions at Bisley as well as running a national league to support the sport across the country and encourage grass roots participation. The NRA Shotgun League is the largest of its type in the UK and entry to its matches is open to all, not just NRA members.
Within the overall umbrella of target shotgun there are various sub-disciplines such as GR&P shotgun using solid slug (single projectiles) on paper targets for competitions along the lines of those shot in Gallery Rifle. Long range slug shooting events, and in this instance we mean long range for a shotgun which are shot as slow fire events at 100 and 200 yards with sighting shots to check windage and elevation are correct before shooting for score. Also under the TS umbrella are action/practical events where the competitors are faced with a different shooting challenge at each match and the winner is the person that can shoot all the targets in the shortest time.
Given the diverse nature of the discipline you will find examples of all types of shotguns, ammunition types sighting systems and ancillary equipment in use.
Virtually all the competitions require the use of a high capacity shotgun (one that can hold more than 3 rounds) which must be held on a Firearm Certificate ( FAC) rather than a Shotgun Certificate ( SGC). Action types include semi-automatic, pump action and lever action and you will also see esoteric items such as coach guns with short barrels being used. Depending on the type of event the 3 main types of shotgun ammunition may be used:
1. Birdshot- which in TS events is predominantly used for knocking down steel plates in the action/practical matches
2. Small Game ( SG) , also known as Buckshot which is only used in the action/practical matche
3. Solid Slug- which is mainly used in the GR&P and long range events and occasionally in the action/practical matches
Various different sighting systems are also used ,while many competitors use a red dot or telescopic sight for the GR&P slug events the majority stay with conventional rib and bead sights in the action or dynamic type events.
Some of the events will be very familiar to most Club shooters as they were derived from the old Pistol matches that were continued by the Gallery Rifle and Pistol (GR&P) community after the 1997 handgun ban.
Timed and Precision 1 (T&P1)
Multi – target
NRA Embassy cup
100 and 200 yard
Timed and Precision1 (T&P1) involves the use of Solid Slug ( a single projectile as opposed to birdshot with many projectiles) at distances from 25m to 10m on turning targets which only appear to the shooter for short periods of time. The top scoring “x” ring is not much more than 2” wide and to date only a select few have managed to achieve a highest possible score ( HPS). A similar event is the Multi Target (MT) which involves shooting at two targets at varying distances in differing timings; again the “x” ring is less than 2” across and a highest possible score has proved elusive for many years.
These events are normally shot at the GR&P Action Weekends at Bisley and at Club venues across the country, subject to range certification.
If you wish for a slightly more relaxed competition without time restrictions then perhaps the 100 and 200 yard competitions would be of interest. Long range slug shooting was, curiously enough, pioneered using .410 shotguns but latterly this event have come to be dominated by 12 bore shotguns fitted with optical sights. The 100 and 200 yard events are slow fire (within a set time frame) however they do present a significant challenge and the current high scores reflect this. As you will appreciate the targets are “quite large” measuring almost some 5 feet across and a fair bit of allowance for bullet drop has to be made by the shooter at the 200yrd distance!
From the long range and leisurely to the up close and frenetic action/practical competitions.
These fast growing events require not only marksmanship, but thought, movement, and complete familiarity with the gun and ammunition. Each competitor shoots each stage against the clock under the close supervision of a range officer who wields an electronic timer which picks up the sound of the shots. The shooter with the quickest time usually wins that stage, provided that they have hit all the targets. No two matches are ever the same – steel plates stood on their edges or on fixed base plates that react when hit are shot with birdshot. When hit fair and square they are bowled over and bounce away most satisfyingly. Targets also include lollipop hinged plates, and bigger pepper poppers which are also shot with birdshot, but buckshot is sometimes specified for longer ranges. Paper targets are often used and can be scored and patched when shot with large buckshot, and, best of all with solid slug. Sometimes clay pigeons held on posts by elastic bands are used as targets, and can be a particularly difficult but satisfying target when shot with slug. Sometimes the targets, steel, paper or clay, are attached to a bobber, an apparatus which makes them bob from side to side and makes them even more fun (fun = difficult) to shoot. Moving targets are also used where the club has the facilities and you can be faced with anywhere from 1 to 30 targets at ranges from 5 to 100 metres!
The gun of choice for all Target Shotgun events is either a semi-auto shotgun or a pump-action shotgun with high capacity magazine and which must be held on a Firearms Certificate. Pumps are cheaper, more reliable, and easier to feed than semi-autos but Semi-autos are faster although more expensive and can be choosy with their ammo. If you think you like the look of this discipline, before you go buying a gun, consult with someone experienced and who actually shoots competitions, as it is easy to choose the wrong gun.
A great example of the fun to be had at a shotgun league match can be seen in this film from the Cottesloe Heath Challenge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYF15rWHLHY
The newest of the NRA’s growing repertoire of events is Multi-Gun .
Introduced to the UK by the members of F4i the events have been modified to suit the equipment available to us. Out went the high capacity 9mm and .40 pistols and in came lightweight .22 rifles, the shotguns thankfully remained the same albeit with longer barrels. The basic ethos of Multi-Gun is that it’s not just about accuracy, speed plays a major part though missing is heavily penalised. The targets themselves consist of paper “Roundel” targets and a variety of knock down steel targets and mechanisms. What makes it so different is that the shooter sometimes has to choose which firearm to use to shoot the targets, while this is difficult to work into the stages on most ranges it adds to the excitement. Most stages will involve the use of both a .22 rifle and a shotgun though sometimes a .223 rifle is added to the mix. Those wishing to shoot a .22 LBP are encouraged as this is a trend we want to promote
NRA Shotgun League
The NRA is launched a shotgun league in 2015 with prizes provided by the Edgar Brothers, Beratta , AW Armoury, Facility Solutions and Blueye to name but a few. The prizes are distributed via a ballot at the end of the season, so entering even just one match stands you with a chance of winning a great prize.
How to get involved
Getting into any of the shooting sports can be hurdle however shotgun shooting is one of the easier disciplines to try as you do not need an FAC or be a member of a club to come to one of the NRA Introductory or level 1 skills and development courses. These are run throughout the year at NRA Bisley and also clubs across the country so keep an eye on the calendar for upcoming events.
If you already have an FAC shotgun then you can enter any of the NRA events at Bisley, and no you don’t need to be a member, or any of the NRA Shotgun League matches across the country. With clubs hosting matches from the south coast to the far North of England on a regular basis you are sure to find somewhere to suit you. If you have trouble finding a club please contact the discipline rep for more information.
Click here for details on Skills development courses