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NRA COMPETITIVE SHOOTING DIVISION 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 Toll Free: 1-877-NRA-MATCH E-mail: silhouette@nrahq.org www.nrablog.com | www.nrahq.org/compete To Join the NRA call 1-800-672-3888



Siluetas Metalicas ORIGIN OF THE SPORT

Siluetas Metalicas, in which steel Silhouettes shaped like game animals and birds are used as targets, was introduced into the southwestern United States from Mexico in the 1960’s. The sport came into being in Mexico during the 1950’s evolving from the old “shooting match” of pioneer times, a form of which survives today in the United States as the popular “turkey shoot.” Originally fired only with the High Power Rifle in this country, the sport has evolved from a relatively simple beginning in Mexico to include the use of pistols, air guns, smallbore rifles, and black powder cartridge rifles. Today, the Spanish-derived name, “Siluetas Metalicas” applies only to the High Power game, with the more familiar French-derived “Silhouette” used as a generic term which takes in all shooting using targets of metal shaped-like game animals. Our Mexican neighbors worked out a set of regulations for conducting Siluetas Metalicas competition in order to achieve uniformity of conditions in their various range locations. The size of the Silhouettes, type and sizes of stands, range distances, shooting equipment allowed, and match operation procedures were all spelled out before the first United States citizen fired in one of the matches. The Mexicans also developed a smallbore rifle competition, where a Paloma, or dove, target was used at a distance of 150 meters. A .22 caliber pistol game used a similar paloma target at 100 meters. When the Siluetas game was brought across the border into Arizona, the Mexican rules were adopted with very few changes. Probably the most significant change was to add horns to the sheep target to give it the appearance of a Rocky Mountain sheep rather then a domestic sheep. As the High Power Rifle game increased in popularity, pistol and smallbore shooters became interested too, and pistol shooters began to hold matches and to develop their own rules. Pistol Silhouette shooters adopted the rifle rules, using the Standard High Power Rifle targets, set at distances from 50 meters to 200 meters. These large, heavy targets required the use of the most powerful pistols available. It was not long before pistols and cartridges appeared which were specifically designed for Silhouette shooting. Pistol Silhouette has become almost as popular and widespread as the High Power Rifle game. In the meantime, Smallbore Rifle Silhouette lagged behind. Several clubs tried to work up targets and distances, but somehow none of them really caught on as had been expected. For example, there was a real problem in determining what kind of smallbore rifle should be used. The Mexican version did not have the appeal of their High Power game, and was never popular, probably because it used only one kind of target at a single distance. Gathering information from several sources, the NRA Silhouette Committee worked out a version which is basically a miniature version of the High Power Rifle game, fired at one-fifth scale targets and one-fifth the distances of High Power Rifle. This provides a very similar challenge to High Power Rifle. NRA has two basic Silhouette programs which stem directly from the original High Power Rifle version of Siluetas Metalicas, which is fired at targets at 200, 300, 385, and 500 meters. These are: (1) Pistol Silhouette, which consists of Long Range Pistol, fired from 50 to 500 meters on the standard High Power Rifle targets; Long Range Pistol, which is fired from 50 to 200 meters on the on 1/2 size standard High Power Rifle targets; Smallbore Pistol, which is fired with the .22 caliber pistol on 1/2 and 3/8 size targets from 40 to 100 yards; Hunter’s Pistol, which is fired from 40 meters to 100 meters on targets one-half the size of standard targets; and Air Pistol, which is fired at 1/10 size targets from 10 to 18 yards. (2) Rifle Silhouette, which is the original Siluetas Metalicas High Power Rifle game; Smallbore Rifle, using rifles chambered for .22 caliber rimfire short, long or long rifle cartridges only, and fired at 1/5 scale targets at distances from 40 meters to 100 meters; Air Rifle, which is fired at 1/10 size targets at 20 to 54 yards; and Black Powder Cartridge Rifle using pre-1896 American manufactured single-shot hunting or military style rifles, fired on High Power Rifle targets at 200 to 500 meters. Regardless of what kind of Silhouette competition is being fired, the attraction and spectator appeal of the sport is very evident at matches. Unlike Conventional and International programs which are fired under strict rules, Silhouette competition, while following their own rules and regulations, is a comparatively informal sport. Families and friends of shooters attend and applaud as the targets crash to the ground. Women seem to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and the shooting as much as the men do, and quite a number of women compete on their own account.

portunity to observe how it is conducted and talk to the sponsor and competitors. Be sure you do not disturb the competitors during the match, the time between relays is a good time to talk to them. You will see a variety of equipment and accessories. Every competitor has his or her own opinion as to what is best. This may sound confusing, but remember, you are there to gather information. If there is a club in your area, make arrangements to attend one or more of their practice sessions. This will serve the same purpose as attending a tournament except a practice session is not always conducted under match conditions. However, this will give you a better opportunity to talk about equipment. Also you may have an opportunity to actually shoot one or more types (brands) of firearms which will help you to decide which seems best for you. Should you decide that competitive Silhouette shooting is your sport of choice, you may find that you wish to join a local club. Ask three questions of your prospective club leaders: 1. Does the Club have a range or access to a range? 2. Does the Club have an active Silhouette program? 3. Is the membership open? If you can answer “Yes” to all three of these questions, then you have found a good starting place (most shooting activities are sponsored by local gun clubs).

SHOOTING EQUIPMENT NRA rules define the rifles and pistols allowed in Silhouette shooting. The rules define the most liberal allowable dimensions and weights. Any rifle or pistol which falls within these limitations can be used. The items of equipment listed below are used in Silhouette competition. The best part is there is very little expense associated with Silhouette shooting. Spotting Scope - The use by the coach of a telescope or other optical device to spot shots is permitted. Shooting Mat - This or a ground cloth is permissible in Black Powder Cartridge Rifle competition and Long Range Pistol Freestyle competition. Gloves - May be worn on either or both hands in pistol competition as long as they do not afford artificial support. In rifle, they may be worn only for warmth. Clothing - Commercial type trap and skeet vests and shotgun shooting shirts are permitted as well as clothing normally suitable for existing climatic conditions. Shooting coats, unnecessarily heavy clothing, or anything on the person that would provide artificial support, such as clothing having excess padding or stiffening material, or clothing which restricts or supports the body in the shooting position may not be worn.

HIGH POWER RIFLE SILHOUETTE COMPETITION Big game rifles as well as varmint rifles have proved to be quite satisfactory for this kind of competition, and a number of rifles have been specially built. The use of a specially-built rifle does not automatically guarantee a winning score. Since coaching is allowed, the presence of a good coach can make a great deal of difference although the individual shooter still has to perform to his or her best ability in order to win. While there is no limitation on the magnification allowed in scopes, shooters now tend to use a scope that is ten power or higher. While 6mm is the smallest caliber allowed in High Power competition, it is well known that a 6mm bullet will not knock the sheep target off its stand reliably. For that reason, most Silhouette shooters use larger calibers. The most popular one seems to be the .308 Winchester.

SMALLBORE RIFLE SILHOUETTE COMPETITION Since Smallbore Rifle Silhouette is simply a miniature of the High Power Rifle game, the rifle allowed is defined as being identical to the High Power Rifle. Rifles may be chambered only for the unmodified .22 caliber rimfire short, long, or long rifle. No special hot loads, such as “stingers” may be used. Except for the caliber restriction, all other equipment requirements are the same. High Power and Smallbore Rifle Silhouette both have a Hunter Rifle class where only hunting style rifles may be used. These rifles are lighter in weight.


If you have an interest in trying Silhouette competition, it is recommended that you read the latest edition of Shooting Sports USA. The online magazine is available by following this link: http://www.nrapublications.org/ssusa/index.html The “Coming Events” section of Shooting Sports USA lists NRA sanctioned tournaments for each year. Find a tournament being conducted near you and contact the listed sponsor and request a program. Attend this tournament as a spectator; this will give you an op-

Coaching is allowed in Silhouette competition.


Cowboy Lever Action rifle silhouette competition.

BLACK POWDER CARTRIDGE RIFLE SILHOUETTE COMPETITION Almost any pre-1896 American manufactured single shot hunting or military style rifle with an exposed hammer can be used. The course of fire is the same as High Power Rifle except that only iron sights can be used and the pigs, turkeys, and rams can be shot using cross-sticks. The most popular caliber used is .45-70.

PISTOL SILHOUETTE COMPETITION Pistols allowed for Long Range Pistol Silhouette are defined in the NRA rules and follow very closely the rules established by the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA). NRA Long Range Pistol Silhouette has two basic pistol definitions and forms of competition: (1) Conventional, which permits minor modifications; and (2) Unlimited, which allows almost anything that can be done to a pistol, within the limits of a 15-inch barrel and 5 or 8 pound weight limit. Also associated with Long Range Pistol is a .22 caliber version called Smallbore Pistol that closely follow the Long Range Pistol courses. NRA Hunter’s Pistol competition is one of the most popular of the NRA Silhouette games. Since it is intended as a sport for distances up to 100 meters, only certain calibers are specified as allowable in the rules. The definition is very similar to that of Conventional Long Range Pistol, except that the barrel length is limited to 12 inches and the weight to 5 pounds. NRA Smallbore Hunter’s Pistol is fired with .22 caliber short, long, or long rifle cartridges at the same distance and the same size targets as in Hunter’s Pistol. The targets are thinner material to permit reliable knockdown by the .22.

AIR GUN SILHOUETTE COMPETITION Any air rifle weighing no more than 16 pounds may be used in the Open Air Rifle class. Any unaltered factory target air rifle may be used in the Target Air Rifle class. The Sporter Air Rifle class includes any unaltered factory air rifle weighing less than 11 pounds complete. Any caliber may be used in Air Pistol and Air Rifle Silhouette competition up to .22 caliber, and may be fired indoors as well as outdoors.


The three classes of Cowboy Silhouette Rifles allow competitors who enjoy hunting to try their hand on a competitive course of fire. Cowboy Lever Action .25 caliber or larger out to 200 meters, Pistol Cartridge Cowboy Lever Action with a selection of rimmed pistol cartridges and Smallbore Cowboy Rifle for the .22 long rifle class.

SILHOUETTE RANGE FACILITIES Any Silhouette range will have the same basic requirement: provisions for the four different types of target, and a single firing line.

Parts of the Silhouette Nationals are held at the NRA Whittington Center each year

Silhouette targets can be cut from various types of steel. It has been found that low strength steels and some high strength steels are unsatisfactory, because of the extreme damage done to them by high velocity bullets. For High Power Rifle, Black Powder Cartridge Rifle and Long Range pistol targets, abrasion resistant alloy steels should be used. For Smallbore Rifle it is not necessary to use the harder steels. For Hunter’s Pistol, it is suggested that the harder steels be used for the closer targets. T-1 Steel is required for Hunter’s Pistol chickens. The “feet” upon which the Silhouettes rest should be the same type of steel as the rest of the target. Silhouettes are set on stands which should be, if possible, two to three feet from the ground so that they can fall free of the stand when hit. Silhouettes need not be painted black if another color makes them more visible. On some of the Eastern ranges, targets are painted white or even blaze orange. While the standard firing distances are listed below, NRA rules allow for reduced distance firing provided the targets are reduced proportionately to the distances used. This provision was put into the rules in order to allow those clubs which cannot attain the longer distances to have a Silhouette program. If desired, all targets can be set at one minimum distance, such as 200 yards in High Power Rifle. The minimum allowed distances at which reduced courses can be fired are: High Power and Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, 200 yards; Long Range Pistol, 50 yards; Hunter’s Pistol, 40 yards; and Smallbore Rifle, 40 yards.

SILHOUETTE MATCH OPERATION Upon arrival at a match, a competitor must have a classification book in order to enter. Classification books are issued by sponsoring clubs at a cost of $12.00 each, and are valid for the calendar year in which they are issued. If a shooter does not have a classification book, he must purchase one upon entering. The classification book is retained by the match personnel until the end of the match, so that scores and classification may be entered. It is then returned to its owner. In their first match new shooters must either shoot in the highest available class, or in a special Unclassified class if provided by the match sponsor. Upon completion of his first match, the sponsor assigns the new shooter to the correct classification, which the shooter will then use until he or she shoots at least two scores in a higher classification. All classification books are good for one calendar year. Listed below are the classification tables for a 40-shot match in High Power Rifle and Hunter’s Pistol. They are only two of the 32 tables used in the Silhouette shooting programs. High Power Rifle

Hunter’s Pistol


32 to 40


36 to 40


26 to 31


30 to 35


20 to 25


22 to 29


13 to 19


15 to 21


0 to 12


0 to 14

FIRING PROCEDURE Upon entry, a shooter is assigned a relay number and target number on which to shoot. These numbers will be different depending on the number of target bays available to the individual club. If there is only one set of each type of target, a relay would consist of four shooters, one firing on each type of target. When called to the firing line, a shooter would go to the firing point assigned to the particular target at which he or she will shoot first. Each competitor then fires 1 shot at each Silhouette in his target bay. Depending on how the club has decided to operate its match, the competitor may remain on the firing line while targets are reset, and complete his 10 shots at the same type of target, or he or she may be required to leave the firing line and come back to complete the 10-shot stage later. Relays are usually intermixed so that there is a rest period between firing periods. Two and one-half minutes (two in pistol competition, five in Black Powder Cartridge Rifle) are allowed for each five shots. Competitors must fire at the targets in sequence, beginning at the left and progressing to the right. No hits are allowed for targets fired out of sequence. Targets must be knocked from their stands in order to be counted as hits. Turning the target sideways on the stand does not count. Since all hits count equally, the person with the highest number of hits is the winner. In the event of tie scores, shootoffs are held. The procedure for shootoffs is described in detail in the rulebook.

Chickens, Pigs, Turkeys, and Rams, the Silhouette Shooting Targets



There are three range commands, which may be either English or Spanish at the choice of the match sponsor, “Ready”, or “Listo”, means that the relay has been called to the firing line, and that shooters may handle and load their guns. “Fire”, or “Fuego”, is given at the end of the time firing period, at which time all guns must be unloaded and placed on the bench or ground and not handled. In the case of any emergency, the command “Cease Fire” may be given at any time during firing. Safety rules should be explained to each relay as it comes to the firing line, and should be posted and strictly enforced. The Range Officer should explain range commands at the start of the match.

Competitors are expected to comply with the rules. The best way to become familiar with the rules is to acquire a copy of them and read it. Most questions regarding competition are answered in the rulebook. Rulebooks can be purchased from the NRA Program Materials Center. ORDER FROM:

http://materials.nrahq.org/ 1-800-336-7402

“WHERE CAN I GET....” Many new competitors often ask where to get various equipment and accessories. First, check with local gun shops keeping in mind that good used equipment is an excellent value, especially if your dealer will guarantee it. If your local gunshop does not carry the type of competition equipment you want, check with competitors at the tournaments you visit or at your local gun club. Also check the American Rifleman and Shooting Sports USA, viewable at this URL:

Rifle Silhouette Rules

Item # CS 16820

Pistol Silhouette Rules

Item # CS 16830


for competition equipment in the classified advertisements sections. You have your equipment, your contacts, and tournament locations. You are ready to participate in a lifetime sport. Good shooting! Contact the NRA Competitive Shooting division at 1-877-672-6282 if you have any additional questions. Press “7” on your touch-tone phone to be directly connected to the Silhouette department. EYE AND EAR PROTECTION - These items are a must and should be the first accessories you purchase. If you normally wear glasses and they have hardened lenses you are covered for eye protection. If not, you should acquire shooting glasses designed for that purpose. Ear plugs or muffs are necessary also. Some shooters wear both.





High Power Rifle & Black Powder Cartridge Rifle

200 m

300 m

385 m

500 m

Long Range Pistol

50 m

100 m

150 m

200 m

40 yds

50 yds

75 yds

100 yds

40 m

50 m

75 m

100 m

Smallbore Pistol Hunter’s Pistol/Smallbore Hunter’s Pistol Smallbore Rifle

40 m

60 m

77 m

100 m

Air Rifle

20 yds

30 yds

36 yds

45 yds

Air Pistol

10 yds

12.5 yds

15 yds

18 yds

Cowboy Lever Action

50 m

100 m

150 m

200 m

Cowboy Pistol Cartridge

40 m

50 m

75 m

100 m

Smallbore Cowboy Rifle

40 m

50 m

75 m

100 m

NRA GUN SAFETY RULES The fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are: • • •

ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

When using or storing a gun always follow these NRA rules: • • •

Be sure the gun is safe to operate. Know how to safely use the gun. Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.


• • • •

Know your target and what is beyond. Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate. Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting. Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons. Be aware that certain types of guns and shooting activities require additional safety precautions. To learn about gun safety, enroll in an NRA Safety training or basic marksmanship course. Visit the website below: http://www.nrainstructors.org/searchcourse.aspx 05/11

Profile for National Rifle Association - Competitive Shooting

NRA Silhouette Brochure  

A guide for beginning NRA Silhouette shooters. Silhouette began in Mexico and rapidly spread across the border into the U.S., where it is e...

NRA Silhouette Brochure  

A guide for beginning NRA Silhouette shooters. Silhouette began in Mexico and rapidly spread across the border into the U.S., where it is e...

Profile for compshoot