Precision Rifle is not Service Rifle, nor is it Hi-Power

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!

Will Thompson

What caliber should I choose for precision rifle?

One of the biggest questions on peoples’ mind when they want to get into precision rifle shooting is; “what caliber should I choose?” Five years ago, the answer to this question was more or less a given, almost every shooter elected to start off with a .308 cal. That answer today is not so simple.

Largely due to the explosion in interest in precision rifle shooting and long range hunting over the last decade, may new calibers provide a viable option for both new shooters and skilled long range practitioners. Everyone has seen the new 6.5 mm’s and 6 mm’s Creedmor and 6mm Creedmoor. While these calibers do have substantial benefits when it comes to the long range game, they also have some drawbacks.

I always tell people “long range rifles are like golf clubs, you need a different caliber for different purposes.” This is true, and it’s also an excuse for you to buy more rifles! The same caliber you hunt, and likewise, the 300 Win Mag you plan to use on a hunt out west won’t be the best option for casual shooting or competitions- not unless you want to have your fillings pounded loose. The 6.5 mm Creedmor is quickly emerging as a well-rounded caliber for most long range purposes. This is also the caliber that I recommend to most new shooter. However, the 6.5 mm Creedmoor is somewhat of a jack of all trades, master of nothing caliber.

Ultimately, when a shooter elects a purpose driven caliber, they should take a number of factors into account; including (1) cost for factory ammo; (2) cost to reload; (3) barrel life; (4) max effective range for target shooting, dictated by transonic velocity; and (5) max effective range for hunting, dictated by kinetic energy. The chart below summarizes this information for many of today’s popular calibers. These are factors to take into account when selecting your next caliber.

.223 Cal .308 Cal 6mm CM 6.5mm CM 300 Win Mag
Bullets 75gr-80gr 115gr-168gr 105gr-115gr 120gr-147gr 190gr-230gr
Factory Ammo $1.05/$105 $1.30/$130 $1.40/$140 $1.30/$130 $2.25/$225
Hand Loads $.35/$35 $.56/$56 $.56/$56 $.56/$56 $.75/$75
Barrel Life 3000-8000+ 6000-8000+ 1200-1800 1800-3000 1200-1800
Transonic Max Effective Range 800 yards 1100 yards 1300 yards 1200 yards 1400 yards
Kinetic Energy Effective Range (1000ft/lbs) 100 yards 650 yards 600 yards 550 yards 900 yards