Metallic silhouette shooting
Metallic silhouette shooting is a group of target shooting disciplines that involves shooting at steel targets representing game animals at varying distances, seeking to knock the metal target over. Metallic silhouette shooting can be done with airguns, black-powder firearms, modern handguns, or modern rifles. A related genre is shot with bow and arrow, the metal targets being replaced with cardboard or foam. The targets used are rams, turkeys, pigs, and chickens, which are cut to different scales and set at certain distances from the shooter depending on the specific discipline.
Metallic silhouette is descended from an old Mexican sport, dating back to the early 1900s, where live game animals were staked out at varying distances as targets. By 1948, metal cutouts of the animals were used instead of live animals, and the first metallic silhouette match was held in Mexico City. Because of its Mexican roots, in America the silhouettes are often referred to by their Spanish names, Gallina (chicken), Javali (pig), Guajalote (turkey), and Borrego (ram).
The International Metallic Silhouette Shooting Union (IMSSU) is the international federation controlling Metallic Silhouette for both rifle and pistol competitions. There are also two major USA-based bodies; the National Rifle Association covers all types of silhouette shooting in the United States, and the USA-based International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA), founded in 1976. There are some minor differences between the international federations IMSSU rules and those of the NRA and IHMSA, but it is generally possible to compete in all with the same equipment.
At this point, the NRA has stopped holding their national championship match for pistol silhouette, and numbers of shooters for IHMSA has fallen to record lows, as the financial health of the once thriving organization established by Elgin Gates has reached critical levels.
Course of fire
Targets are set up in groups of 5 of each kind, with a silhouette's width between targets, laid out at the required distances for the given match. Each group of targets must be shot left to right; if a target is missed then the next shot is taken at the next target. Any target hit out of order is considered a miss. Targets are engaged in order of distance: chickens, pigs, turkeys, rams. The target must be knocked down or pushed off the target stand in order to score a hit; even a shot ricocheting off the ground in front of the target will count if it takes down the correct target. Shooters are allowed to have a spotter with them, who watches where the shots land and advises the shooter on corrections to make.
All disciplines require a minimum of 10 shots at each type of target, for a minimum of 40 shots per match; normal matches are 40, 60, 80, or 120 shots. To score a hit, the target must be knocked off its stand, so each cartridge used must provide sufficient momentum to knock the heavy metal targets over. Scores are recorded as the number of hits per rounds fired, so 30 hits with 40 shots would be a score of 30x40.
A tie can be broken in one of two ways: A sudden death shoot-off, used at all National and large regional competitions and for the overall match winner. Master class and AAA shooters would shoot at Turkeys, AA class shoot at Rams, A shoots at Chickens and B class shoots at Pigs. To save time and effort, a reverse animal count can also be used (number of hits on hardest animal to easiest), Whoever hits the most Turkeys would be the winner. If a tie still exists whoever hit the most Rams would be the winner. This would continue to Chickens and finally Pigs.
For IHMSA competition, tie scores are broken by either Reverse Animal Count, or by Shootoffs, as determined by the match director, however, for State, Regional and International Championships, shootoffs will be used to determine the winners in all categories and classes. For Reverse Animal Count, scores are compared starting at rams...the shooter with the most rams is the winner. This procedure is used sequentially down through turkeys, pigs and chickens. If a tie still exists, a shootoff will be used to determine the winner. Shootoffs will be in banks of 5 targets and can be any type or size, placed at any distance out to the maximum ram distance for the competition. Shooting strings will continue until all ties are broken. Sudden Death shootoffs are not allowed.
Handgunners may be required to shoot from an unsupported standing position (two hands may be used), or from a "freestyle" position. Freestyle includes some unusual positions, such as the Creedmoor position, which is shot lying on the back, legs bent and feet flat on the ground, with the pistol resting on the shooter's right leg. In a freestyle position the pistol may only contact the shooter's body, no rests may be used (not even, in the case of the Creedmore position, the top of a boot).
There are informal matches for special classes, like Cowboy rifles and pistols and vintage military surplus rifles.
All rifle shooting is done standing, with the firearm unsupported. The exception to this is black-powder rifle; the ranges are the same as large-bore rifle, but only chickens must be shot unsupported; all other targets may be shot from any position, including crossed sticks, a bench may not be used. Pistol shooting, unless in a designated standing event, can be shot from any unsupported position. Like the any-position pistol shooters, standing pistol shooters adopt odd positions in their quest for the most stable possible shooting position. Standing pistol is the most difficult discipline; no one has shot a perfect 40x40. Standing big-bore any-sight pistol matches are often tied with perfect scores, and decided by a tiebreaker.
|Width||13 in (33 cm)||22 in (56 cm)||19 in (48 cm)||32 in (81 cm)|
|Height||11 in (28 cm)||14 in (36 cm)||23 in (58 cm)||27 in (69 cm)|
To allow shooting at ranges which may not have space for a full target layout, NRA rules allow the use of reduced scale pigs, turkeys and rams placed at the same distance as chickens. The scale will be reduced proportional to the change in distance, so the targets will cover the same angular distance as they would if set up at full range. Reduced scale matches fired at paper targets are also popular for informal competitions, especially for Internet based matches where the shooters may reside in different countries. These are generally fired with rimfires or airguns.
Targets for large bore use are 1/2" to 3/8" thick steel; small bore targets are 3/16" to 1/4" steel, and airgun targets are 1/8" steel, although some aluminum targets are produced.
Ranges may be measured in yards or meters, but all targets in a match must be set using the same unit of measure, and the shooters must be informed of the unit used. The exception is the new IHMSA Air Pistol discipline, which is in yards only.
|Large bore rifle||200||300||385||500||full|
|Small bore rifle||40||60||77||100||1/5|
|Cowboy pistol caliber and small bore ||40||50||75||100||1/2|
|Large bore pistol||50||100||150||200||Full|
|Small bore pistol||25||50||75||100||3/8|
|Air pistol (yds. only)||10||12.5||15||18||1/10|
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- International Metallic Silhouette Shooting Union
- The National Rifle Association page covering NRA rifle and pistol silhouette shooting.
- The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) homepage
- The IHMSA 2009 Rulebook
- IHMSA Australia (IHMSA Australia) homepage