Smallbore Rifle


Smallbore shooting has many forms and opportunities. The most popular is Prone (50-100 yards) and 3-Position, or 3-P, which can be shot at 50 feet, 50 yards, or 50 meters, depending upon which course you are shooting and the certification organization. Getting started in the sport can be confusing and caution is suggested.


Smallbore marksmanship in the Unites States began in 1919 when Savage and Winchester introduced specialized .22 caliber target rifles for “miniature” rifle competition. Also during this time the military saw smallbore rifles as an inexpensive training tool and competitive firearm. Since then competitive shooting has grown into one of the most popular in the country, especially with the youth. Military style shooting and rifle stocks was popular as a prone rifle and would dominate the market until WWII. Position shooting as we know today was slow to be accepted in the United States until the U.S. re-entered the international shooting competitions after WWI. The market has exploded, especially in Europe, with modern prone and 3-P rifles.


Equipment for smallbore shooting can be from the very inexpensive to extremely expensive. The best option is to start out very simple and inexpensive and as you grow into the sport add to your wish list with higher quality, equipment. Do not rush to purchase anything. Carefully research what is the best equipment for your needs. Most clubs and shooters will allow you to examine the equipment they use. Many will allow you to try their equipment to see what works best for you and most importantly, fits your needs and body build.

The Shooting Mat

The shooting mat is commonly referred to as the “ground cloth”. Ground cloth may be used providing it is not constructed or used in a manner to provide artificial rest or support.

The Spotting Scope and Scope Stand

Spotting Scopes, like rifles can run from the least expensive to extremely expensive. If you only plan to shoot 50 feet then small scopes usually work. If you plan on shooting 50-100 yards them you will need a larger scope that has an aperture in the 80mm to 100mm range. This will allow sufficient light to see small bullet holes in targets under dim lighting conditions. The mount you choose for your score depends on the type of shooting you will do. If you are only going to shoot prone there are scope stands that have two legs which allow you to move the scope closer to you in the prone position. Large spotting scopes with 100mm objective lenses tend to be very heavy and cause balance problems. Be prepared to have counter weights or a three leg base.

The Rifle

The rifle is your most important piece of equipment. It is also you’re most expensive. You should use extreme caution when purchasing any rifle to make sure the rifle fits the shooter, is designed for the competition intended. It also must fit within your budget. Do the research and ask advice. See what other shooters are shooting. Don’t rush to purchase the first rifle you find, otherwise you will be buying either junk or something that does not meet your needs.


Deciding on quality ammunition is similar to choosing a quality rifle. A good rule of thumb is to pick the least expensive ammunition as you are learning, then as your accuracy increases you will want to choose a quality ammunition that shoots better in your rifle. When first starting smallbore rifle training there are a number of good American made products. Always pick a 40 grain lean round nose “subsonic” bullet.

The Basics

Smallbore rifle competitions are held over distances of 50 feet, 50 yards/meters, and/or 100 yards. Match competition can be as quick as 30 shots (10 shots prone, standing, kneeling) in a league or as long as 40 shots at the National Championships. Most competitions will shoot from 90 to 500 rounds, depending on the length of the competition and structure of individual matches. A match information flier will list the different matches that will be shot and course of fire. Competition is conducted in as many as four positions – prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing – to as few as one – prone only or standing only.

How To Get Started

Step 1: Join TSRA

Step 2: Contact TSRA Directors below

Guy Taylor
Smallbore Rifle Director

Hannah Muegge
Smallbore Rifle Director

Harold Carter
1st Vice President