Smallbore Rifle shooting

Smallbore rifle shooting, involves the use of .22 calibre target rifles firing .22 rimfire ammunition fired at paper, cardboard or electronic targets at distances from 15 yards up to 100 yards. The practical skills involved are very similar to those used for both full-bore and air rifle shooting with the main difference being the type of rifle and ammunition used.

Lightweight Sporting rifle, Field Target and other types of rifle shooting are availble and are covered under the disciplines link on the left. Here we will confine ourselves to talking about smallbore Prone and 3P shooting. Prone shooting is very popular at Tondu and a few members also shoot 3P (three positional) which is prone, standing and kneeling. The International distance for prone and 3P is 50m with both being shot on our 20 position 50m outdoor range. Our 100 yard outdoor range is only approved for prone .22 rifle shooting.

A little known fact about shooting is that it is a surprisingly common activity. There are over 600 clubs with over 10,000 people shooting smallbore rifle on a regular basis in the United Kingdom alone. For some people shooting is a recreational sport to be enjoyed with friends and provides an environment to meet like minded people. For others it is an intense challenge requiring discipline and effort with the goal of competing at club, county or international level.

Rifle shooting is one of a small number of sports that is open to almost anyone irrespective of any disabilities, age, gender and fitness, which do not by themselves define who will be good or bad at shooting as they do with some other sports. (There are limitations to the type of shooting that can be done by people with a criminal record).

Each person takes something different from the sport. Some find it helps with concentration and patience, for others it provides them with an experience that is very different from their usual day to day activities.

Although target shooting was one of the original founding sports for the modern Olympic Games started in 1896, its popularity amongst civilians only really took off in 1900 as a consequence of the Boer War. The Boers' superior marksmanship lead to increasing concern at the capability of the Army to defend the population against invasion. The call went out for the populace to learn to shoot to defend their country and in due course civilian small-bore shooting clubs were formed from which the sport grew - and that is where our club came in, formed in 1896 - see the club History under the 'Our club' link on the left.

Shooting is accessible at over 600 clubs around the country that have a variety of indoor and outdoor ranges. Small-bore rifle shooting is mostly carried out over distances of between 15-25 yards (usually on indoor ranges), 50 yards or meters and 100 yards, both of these longer ranges are shot outdoors. Clubs provide all the equipment required to learn to shoot, together with all necessary coaching. All you need to bring is yourself and enthusiasm.

This is one of the few sports where male and female and the able and those with disabilities compete equally against one another. Age is no bar to competition*. You can start as soon as you are physically strong enough to hold a firearm safely (with supervision) and you can continue well beyond retirement age. Once you are proficient there are many competitions around the country open to you so you are not restricted to just one venue.

The governing body of the sport is the National Small-bore Rifle Association.

A Smallbore Target Rifle

The diagram and descriptions below give some basic information about the different parts of a smallbore target rifle.


1. Stock: The body of the rifle. Historically this is made from a single, solid piece of wood (walnut or ash), but modern rifles can have laminated wood or Aluminium stocks and can be made up of multiple sections. This is the part of the rifle that the shooter will have contact with whilst holding the rifle.
2. Butt: This part of the stock sits against the shooter’s shoulder when the rifle is held.
3. Cheek piece:
The cheek of the shooter will be placed on/against this whilst firing and it provides a platform to help align the eye with the sights.
4. Pistol grip: The firing hand of the shooter lightly grips the pistol grip and provides the correct position for the trigger finger.
5. Trigger guard: This is a protective guard that is fitted to the stock and prevents the trigger from being knocked or damaged accidentally when the rifle is being moved.
6. Trigger:
The trigger is the device that translates the motion of the finger into the firing of the rifle and is fixed to the underside of the action.
7. Action:
a metal housing that is fixed into the stock that connects the trigger, bolt and barrel together.
8. Breech: This is an opening in the top of the action where the ammunition is loaded into the rifle and is the entry point to the chamber.
9. Bolt:
The bolt is used to push the round fully into the chamber, provides a seal around the end of the chamber during firing and it also holds the firing pin. When the round had been fired the bolt is used to extract the empty ammunition case from the chamber and eject it from the rifle.
10. Chamber:
The ammunition will be sealed into the chamber prior to firing. The chamber also contains the force of the explosion used to propel the bullet through the barrel.
11. Rear sight: This is used in conjunction with the foresight to aim the rifle at the target and is positioned on top of the action about 3 inches in front of the eye that is used for aiming.
12. Barrel:
The metal tube that connects into the action and sits on top of the stock. The inside of the tube has a spiral twist cut into it which makes the bullet spin as it flies through the air.
13. Foresight:
The foresight is fitted to the muzzle end of the barrel and is lined up with the rear sight and the target to accurately aim the rifle.
14. Muzzle:
The end of the barrel where the bullet will emerge when the rifle is fired.