Precision Rifle is not Service Rifle nor is it Hi-Power. There is a misconception amongst shooters that the Precision Rifle discipline is somehow related to Service Rifle or Hi-Power shooting-this is not the case.
Precision Rifle involves using a rifle (usually in a short action caliber) and an adjustable scope to hit targets that are “precise.” Explained in a little more detail, the goal of precision rifle shooting is to engage targets of various sizes at distances that maximize on the rifle’s accuracy and scope capabilities. For example, “1 MOA,” or one minute of angle target, is usually the benchmark to measure precision rifle targets by. This roughly equates to a roughly 1” target at 100 yards, or a 6” target at 600 yards. The size of a target will often vary based on the difficulty of a particular position or course of fire. So for example, it’s possible to have a 3 MOA target at 400 yards if a stage calls for a shooter to be in a supported standing position (this size target would be similar to the steel wild board targets we use during our matches and practice).
The biggest difference between Precision Rifle and disciplines like Service Rifle and Hi-Power Rifle is the lack of rigidly in the sport. Service Rifle and Hi-Power are very strict in the types of equipment you can use and also the courses of fire. In contrast, precision rifle is basically open to all centerfire rifles and scope combinations that shoot projectiles under 3,100fps. Note, however, you wouldn’t want to use a 30-30 for precision rifle shooting due to the ballistics of the round. People usually opt for the flatter shooting calibers for Precision Rifle shooting.
Another major difference focuses around where the shooting disciplines were derived from. Service Rifle and Hi-Power are derivatives of military style courses of fire and still are strictly aligned with these set courses of fire. Whereas, Precision Rifle is really a blend of long-range hunting, benchrest, and military style shooting. Because Precision Rifle shooting is a “hybrid,” so to speak, stages and match formats vary across the board. In contrast, a Service Rifle match will be the same whether you shoot it in Michigan, Ohio, or California (if people can still own guns there).
All the differences aside, there are some similarities between Precision Rifle, Service Rifle, and Hi-Power. First and foremost, all of the disciplines above center around being a good marksman, so the fundamentals of breathing, trigger control, sight alignment, and sight picture all still apply. Second, the use of positional shooting and slings for support are consistent amongst all three of these disciplines. Lastly, in an effort to “modernize” Service Rifle shooters are now permitted to use adjustable scopes. Although Service Rifle shooters are limited in the types of scopes they can use and magnification range, this does have the slight effect of making the discipline more practical and adds one more similarity to Precision Rifle shooting. Nonetheless, all three disciplines are welcome activities within the shooting sports world.
Every match the Precision Rifle Division has people who just come out to watch for fun. On October 20th, we are having our Varmint Shoot, which would be a great match to come and see. I hope to see some new faces!