Prone Rifle – What can you shoot?
NOTE: I will outline my experience of them below –
but the sporting rifle rules and sporting rifle checklist
is what an RO will use to determine what class you are shooting in.
So please refer to those rather than my waffling’s, to be sure, to be sure.
Prone Rifle, as the name suggests, involves shooting rifles while lying prone on the ground.
In NASRPC all Prone disciplines are shot with 22lr rifles.
It is the oldest discipline in the NASRPC – with “Sporting Rifle” gracing the name of the Association.
“Sporting Rifle” was to allow people to shoot the “Olympic” disciplines but with the guns and equipment they already had. Back then, there would have been prone matches, Three Position Matches and a whole range of bespoke competitions.
We have seen the popularity or Prone Rifle Shooting rise and wane over the last 40 or 50 years – but it is arguable at its most popular ever now – since the addition of “Field Sporting Rifle”
So what are the disciplines, what is the difference between them and how do I shoot it?
I will start by saying I am no expert – I shoot Field Sporting Rifle at 50, and 100m – but only took it up relatively recently – shooting my first competition in Eagle Rifle and Pistol Club only a few short years ago.
There are people shooting on the Circuit today who are shooting Prone Sporting Rifle 10, 20, 30 and even 40 and more years.
They will have far more information on how it has developed and the history of it.
(Maybe we will see a few of them put together an article on that – which would be good for the archives)
But I can tell you what I know.
About 10 or 11 years ago I was National Competition Director and noticed that there was a slump in the numbers of people shooting Prone Rifle.
We had the traditional clubs ECSC, RRPC, BRC, Eagles, FRC, etc. who had been shooting this since before I was in short pants. They were all still shooting, but the numbers were not there. There was also very little uptake from other clubs, where this was not a tradition in Club matches.
So I added “50m Prone Sporting Rifle” to any National Competition that had a 50m Range – not much, a detail or two – and it started to climb. People in those clubs saw it, wanted to give it a try and, slowly, a few more people took it up and we saw the numbers recover.
I tried it myself but was using borrowed equipment – I would need to get a fitted jacket and sling – due to my “exceptionally athletic” physique. (I knew I would get to call it a physique one day!!)
Then about 4 years ago – we formed a Working Group to review Prone Rifle shooting and see if anything needed to be changed/fixed.
They decided that Sporting Rifle needed no changes – it has been well defined from the start.
One of their suggestions was “Target Rifle” – which is shot with Iron Sights rather than a scope and with the big heavy Target Riles you would associate with the Olympic disciplines.
It has not seen such a large uptake, but then it does require you to get the equipment to be competitive.
One of their other suggestions was “Field Sporting Rifle” which was the same rifles as Sporting Rifle – but with different “support” options – bipod and back bag.
This was because a lot of people said they had tried shooting the Sporting Rifle discipline – but some didn’t like shooting with the Single Point Sling.
So we trialled “Field Sporting Rifle” and introduced it on the National Circuit and it has been huge – massive growth in virtually all clubs of the NASRPC – every year since.
Again it would appear that offering something for what people already have (A bunny gun and a bipod) – and then doing it in as many places as possible – so everyone gets to see it, and maybe get to have a go – is all it takes.
Even Svelte international athletes such as myself – which when prone, resemble a Turtle on its back and require an entrenching tool to get into position – have taken to this new discipline – which while very challenging, is great to shoot and very rewarding – and will stand to you in other disciplines by enforcing proper trigger and breathing control
So, Prone Rifle is definitely something for everyone to try – you never know – it may have been the thing you were always best at – and just never knew it.
The next time you are at a match where Prone Rifle is being shot – have a look – see what they are doing – see how they are scoring – then see if you can have a go.
What is a Prone match
There are two – 50m and 100m.
The 50m Prone match is shot on a “6 bull target” – with the top two bulls being for sighters and the bottom 4 being scoring targets. The match involves two targets – with 20 scoring shots on each for a maximum of 40 scoring shots.
You can, in the time allowed, fire as many sighters as you wish, on the sighting bulls, along with the 5 scoring shots on each of the scoring bulls.
The 100m Prone match is shot on a “3 bull target” – with the top bull being for sighters and the bottom two bulls being scoring targets. The match involves two targets – with 20 scoring shots on each for a maximum of 40 scoring shots.
You can, in the time allowed, fire as many sighters as you wish on the sighter bull, along with 10 scoring shots on each of the scoring bulls.
What is a Sporting Rifle? (SPR50 and SPR100)
Sporting Rifle was always intended to be a “bunny gun” – a 22lr rifle designed for hunting, not specifically designed for Target Shooting.
Something every house would have had back then.
A Sporting Rifle has to be lightweight – max 10.5lbs – so it could be carried about the fields all day. None of us are going to carry a “Target Rifle” for very long.
It has to have a Convex Forend – designed to be held in the front hand – not rested on a flat rest.
It cannot have any of the usual Target Rifle accoutrements – Butt Hook, Movable Swivel mount, etc.
And it is allowed a scope – which Target Rifle is not. (note the rifle, with scope attached, must come under the weight limit)
And as for supports, you are allowed a Sling – no other support is allowed.
It must be a single point sling, meaning it can only be attached to the front swivel point of the rifle, with the other end being around your front arm.
It may sound like it but it is a very challenging discipline to shoot.
So what then is “Field Sporting Rifle”? (FSPR50 and FSPR100)
Field Sporting Rifle is the same rifles as Sporting Rifle – but different support options.
You are allowed a bipod and a back bag.
(In fact, any front rest that has no side to side adjustment – only vertical)
The max weight of the rifle 10.5lbs – must include the Scope and Bipod.
And you also seem to have “Open Field Sporting Rifle” – what’s that about? (OFSPR50 and OFSPR100)
This was created as there was some confusion over what supports were allowed in Field Sporting Rifle.
So, as you read above you can use a Bipod and back bag in Field Sporting Rifle.
But in Open Field Sporting Rifle you can use pretty much what supports you like.
There is also no weight limit on the rifle.
I have heard it referred to a “benchrest lying down” as you see people using a benchrest front rest and back bag.
I even heard someone refer to it as “f-class with a 22” due to the supports used.
I haven’t tried it yet.
And “Target Rifle”? (TR50 and TR100)
Target Rifle is what Sporting Rifle was trying not to be. But that is no reason not to offer both.
Perhaps it is the game for you – and you may have an interest in taking up the Olympic Prone Rifle disciplines?
The obvious main difference is that it is shot iron sights –
so the target is different – instead of a single back centre on the target, it has a white centre with a black outline.
I tried this myself many moons ago, when DURC came to Hilltop to show us the ropes.
Luckily they had a left hand “athletic frame” jacket with them so I was able to give it a go.
(I am right handed and I shoot handguns right handed, but have to shoot long guns left handed as I am “left eyed”)
It is VERY challenging but I did ok once I got used to the gear (I did manage to burst a shooting glove as I also have very “athletic” paws on me!!) – so you will never know, if you don’t give it a go.
For more information on what is or is not allowed in TR – have a look at the NSRA rule book.
I hope that gives you a bit more information on what Prone Rifle is – so when you next see it on a match notice, you know what it means – and maybe, will carve out a bit of your day to compete.
See you all on the line.
Hilltop Shooting Club
You can review all of the Prone Rifle Discipline Leaderboards, where you can see your current classification and ranking, at the following links
no leaderboards as yet
Prone National Champions
The last finals was held in 2019 –
to see who the current National Champions in Prone Rifle are
Prone National Teams
There is, currently, no International Team event in Sporting, Field Sporting or Open Field Sporting Prone Rifle
TR has International Competition up to and including Olympic events.
The Olympic track is looked after Target Shooting Ireland
Individuals frequently travel abroad to compete – perhaps, once you have got some Club and National events under your belt, you will too!
Questions, comments or feedback, as always, welcome.