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Conygar Quarry, Dunster

Smallbore

Small bore (Rim-fire)

Small bore shooting relates to the diameter of the bullet being less than 0.223 and is sometimes called rim-fire because the firing pin strikes the rim of the bullet casing rather than the centre.

Small bore shooting includes target and hunting disciplines, the latter for small game often with a telescopic sight and a magazine of bullets to allow multiple single shots. Target shooting takes place at distances including 25 yards, 50 metres and 100 yards. The targets are proportionate to the distance so look exactly the same through the rifle sights. Most target rifle shooting is done at a range of 25 yards at a target which has 10 equal sized round diagrams with one shot fired on each diagram. The diagrams have scoring rings ranging from 10 to 6. When shooting at a distance of 50 metres there are two scoring diagrams with 5 shots to be put on each and at 100 yards it is a single diagram with 10 shots fired at it.

Target shooting is done with a single shot rifle with sights often referred to as “open sights” to differentiate them from the telescopic sights used in hunting. The sights consist of a rear-sight with a hole in the centre and a foresight at the front end of the rifle barrel with another hole. The challenge is to perfectly align the front and rear apertures (holes) with the round target diagram. The rear sight can be moved up and down and right and left to be able to adjust the angle between the end of the barrel and the target to ideally hit the middle and score a perfect 10. With the current targets a small misalignment of rear sight, foresight and target diagram can result in a miss! This is why “consistency” shot to shot is the mantra of target shooters. To achieve this consistency shooters do “grouping” exercises where several shots are fired at the same diagram with the intention of achieving a single shot hole because consistency was achieved. As one Club Instructor stated “if you cannot group, you cannot shoot!”

Target shooting is one of the few sports where men, women and juniors all compete on equal terms. It is not a physical sport so those with physical disabilities need not feel excluded. Even those with less than perfect eye-sight can be accommodated and there are now even special targets that allow blind people to shoot using sound waves bouncing back to a special receiver on their rifle, although this is not available at the Minehead Club range.

Rifle target shooting can be carried out standing, up, kneeling or lying down (prone). At Minehead Club we currently only offer prone rifle shooting. Those who might find this difficult can be steered towards the air weapons section where bench-rest shooting (done sitting down) has recently been introduced. Minehead has a 25 yard and 50 metre in-door range with five bays for shooters. The Club has equipment for people new to the sport so that other than the cost of ammunition and an initial three month subscription, there are no further additional costs. Once a beginner feels that they wish to continue with the sport the purchase of a specialist shooting jacket and glove is recommended but not essential as the Club can hire these out.

On first visiting the Club a potential member is given a tour of the facilities together with a safety briefing. No shooting takes place on this first visit. An Application Form is completed giving name, address, date of birth and contact details. A copy of this Form is forwarded to the Firearms Licensing Department of Avon and Somerset Police who carry out a background check to ensure that the applicant is a suitable person to be handling target rifles and air weapons. It should be noted that even minor infringements many years previously may result in an adverse report from the Police.

All new shooters undergo a period of probationary membership. They learn to shoot under the guidance of the Club Instructor and only when it is felt that they are competent do they join the existing shooters on the regular club nights. New shooters need to learn not only the mechanics of shooting but also how to conduct themselves on the range so as not to disturb others who are shooting alongside them.

The Club encourages all members to take part in Club, local, County and national competitions although there is no compulsion to do so. Competitions are often over several months with a series of rounds. Shooters are arranged in Divisions according to their averages so that they are competing against others of a similar standard. The averages are based on the last completed competition or for new comers on their last six completed practice targets shot under competition conditions which means with no coaching support. In this way shooters can measure their progress as they rise through the Divisions. Most competitions are shot on the Minehead range with scores sent to the overall co-ordinator. However, there are also opportunities to shoot on other ranges in what are called “shoulder-to-shoulder” matches. This brings new challenges with especially at the longer ranges light and wind speed playing a part.

Small bore target shooting might seem a solitary sport as you are usually lying down, concentrating on achieving a consistent shot and oblivious to what is going on around you. However, it is also a very social sport with the pleasure of being member of a like-minded group who are willing to share their knowledge and offer advice especially to new-comers as between them they have had the same problems with mastering the sport. It is not a physical sport and there is no age barrier other than for juniors to be at least ten years old and sufficiently strong enough to hold a rifle in the aim.

All members ultimately shoot because they get pleasure from the sport and enjoy the challenge of always trying to improve and measuring themselves against what they have done previously or against others of a similar standard.