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Chapter 14

Smallbore Target Rifle – Prone and 3 Position Shooting

Smallbore Rifle shooting is carried out using .22LR single shot rifles specially designed for target shooting with aperture ‘iron’ sights. Smallbore is practiced indoors at 25 yards and occasionally at 15, or 20 yards, and outdoors at 50 yards, 50 metres or 100 yards.

The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) recognises two international competitions: a) Prone – competitions comprise 60 shots prone at 50m; and b) 3 Position – competitions comprise 3 x 40 shots (Men), and 3 x 20 shots (Women) shot, respectively, prone, standing, kneeling at 50m.

Prone shooting has the largest following in the UK and is usually the position in which the beginner starts the discipline, unless they have started with 10m Air Rifle, which is shot standing.

Rifles and Ammunition

Smallbore rifles are specially designed bolt-action, single-shot .22LR rifles with aperture sights adjustable for elevation and windage. Smallbore rifles typically have a stock with an adjustable butt plate and cheek piece, and a fore-end with an adjustable handstop to which is attached the sling. Smallbore rifles can have either a single-stage or two-stage trigger.

For 3 Position shooting, the target rifles have fully adjustable stocks, allowing the shooter to reposition the drop of the butt plate, height of the comb, and even angle of the cheekpiece.

The Smallbore rifles have a maximum overall weight of 8kg for men and 6.5kg for women.

Ranges and Targets

As discussed, Smallbore is shoot indoors at 15, 20 and 25 yards, and outdoors at 50 yards, 50 metres and 100 yards.

In the rifle events competitors shot at 10-ring targets. Scores range from one point for hitting the outside zone, to 10 for a hit in the 10 ring. If a shot hits the line between two zones, the higher score is awarded. In the international events at 50m there is a qualifying round and then, in the final, the 10 rings on the target are sub-divided into 10 score zones, with the highest score for a shot 10.9. The final round and qualifying scores are added together to determine the winner.


Besides the Smallbore rifle, you will need a ‘single-point’ target sling that goes around your upper arm and attaches to the fore-end of the rifle.

You will need a simple spotting scope with stand, glove and shooting coat, a mat and most important, eye and ear protection. In addition, you will need a timer, scorecards and a pencil/pen to record your scores. However, most clubs have club equipment which you can borrow to get started.


At the club level, competitions vary from country-to-country and club-to-club, and whether shooting on an indoor or outdoor range.

International (ISSF) competitions

ISSF competitions are shot at 50m and comprise:

  • 50m Rifle Prone (men only) - Sixty shots (.22LR) are fired in the prone position at a target 50 meters away, all fired within a time limit of 1 hour 15 minutes including unlimited sighting shots.
  • 50m Rifle 3-Position (Men “3 x 40”) - The shooter fires three rounds of 40 shots (.22LR) each in the prone, standing and kneeling positions at a target 50 meters away. Unlimited sighting shots may be taken before starting in each position. Each of the three stages is timed and must be completed within its own time frame including the sighting shots – prone within 1 hour, standing in 1 hour 30 minutes and finally kneeling in 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • 50m Rifle 3-Position (Women “3 x 20”) - The shooter fires three rounds of 20 shots (.22LR) each in the prone, standing and kneeling positions at a target 50 meters away. The three stages must be completed with 2 hours 15 minutes overall including unlimited sighting shots.

UK Outdoor Matches

Example outdoor competitions in the UK comprise:

  • English Match – a match comprises a total of 60 shots at 50 metres.
  • Scottish Match – a match comprises a total of 60 shots at 100 yards.
  • Dewar Match – a match comprises a total of 40 counting shots; 20 shot at 50 metres and 20 shot at 100 yards.

Further Information

  1. Bill Pullum and Frank Hanankrat, “New Position Rifle Shooting”, Target Sports Education Center (1997), ISBN 10: 0965578003.
  2. Chris Fordham, “Prone to Win: The Art and Science of Smallbore Target Rifle Shooting”, Brookwood Publishing Ltd. (2000) ISBN-10: 0953909107.
  3. Gaby Buhlmann, Heinz Reinkemeier, Maik Eckhardt, “Ways of the Rifle”, MEC, ISBN 3-00-009478-4


A comprehensive list of target shooting organisations can be found in the appendix.


Organisation National Smallbore Rifle Association
Telephone 01483 485505
Address Bisley Camp, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey GU24 0NP
Web site
Organisation National Target Shooting Association of Ireland
Telephone 00 866 504 9073
Address PO Box 9, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Web site
Organisation English Smallbore Shooting Union
Address The ESSU, 125 Turnpike Link, Croydon, Surrey CRO 5NU
Web site
Organisation Scottish Smallbore Rifle Association
Web site
Organisation Welsh Smallbore Rifle Association
Web site
Organisation Northern Ireland Smallbore Shooting Union
Telephone 028 9446 4514
page14.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/12 13:59 by joe

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