Three-Position (3P) Air Rifle Shooting is the most popular and fastest-growing form of shooting sports competition for junior shooters (High School age and younger). The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) conducts two different 3P Air Rifle events. Precision Air Rifle is modeled after Olympic-style shooting and allows the use of specialized target rifles and equipment. Sporter Air Rifle is designed for new competitors or those who desire to compete with a minimum of equipment and expense.
In both types of shooting, competitors fire at targets at a distance of 10 meters in three different positions, prone, standing and kneeling. Three-Position Air Rifle provides young competitors with competitive shooting sports opportunities that can be offered on a wide variety of easily accessible or easily constructed ranges, with equipment that is commonly available at affordable costs.
The CMP actively promotes Three-Position Air Rifle shooting as a premier youth marksmanship competition by providing low-cost equipment and pellets as well as training materials and competition activities. In addition, other air gun events for juniors and adults are hosted by CMP throughout the year. CMP facilities have Open Public Shooting evenings, and matches for air rifle and air pistol take place at the CMP Marksmanship Centers.
Here’s a great feel-good family story. Will McChesney, wife Sarah, and their six (6) children ventured to Camp Perry this year for National Rimfire Sporter Match held August 1, 2015. The McChesneys like to do things together as a family “team”, and competitive shooting was no different. Father Will and all six kids competed in the event while mother Sarah provided logistical and moral support.
All of the six McChesney children fired side-by-side on the firing line during the Rimfire Sporter Match. From bottom right corner: Julia, Cheri, Bria, Judi, Heidi, and Jimmy.
The ace shooter among the McChesneys was 15-year-old daughter Judi, who earned a bronze medal during the Rimfire Match. Judi finished in the Top 20 of the junior marksmen, shooting “clean” in slow fire prone stage along the way. That earned her family bragging rights as she finished ahead of 14-year-old James, the one son in the family. But Jimmy helped his sisters during the match — adjusting their slings and loading their magazines.
This was the first big shooting match for the McChesney clan which hails from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Will did some hunting and varmint shooting as a boy growing up, and he and wife Sarah did enjoy plinking and pistol shooting on Will’s father’s farm in New Galilee, PA.
Later on, when the Beaver Valley Rifle and Pistol Club was looking to expand its youth program, it recruited one of the McChesney daughters. As the club soon found out, the family does absolutely everything together, and recruiting one McChesney meant recruiting all.
The McChesney bunch chose the 2015 National Rimfire Sporter Match as their first real travel match and their first taste of competitive shooting. The days leading up to the match, the entire family practiced together to prepare themselves. All but Sarah actually competed at Perry this year. However, she still came along for support and she plans to compete next year.
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Victor Betzold had a Camp Perry experience for the ages. At the 2015 CMP Games, Betzold won the Garand Match, won the M1 Carbine Match (setting a new Record), and took the 3-Gun Aggregate for the second year in a row. Now that’s an impressive performance. Betzhold is no stranger to shooting – beginning in junior high and firing well into college, then taking his love for guns into the Army. After the years went on and work and family became higher priorities, he fell away from the sport he loved. But now that he’s retired at age 60, he’s had time to practice again – practice that has certainly paid off.
During his remarkable showing at the National Games Matches, Betzold won the Carbine Match with a score of 375-6X, setting a new National Record in the process. In the National Garand Match, Betzold fired a score of 290-7X to become the overall winner of a field of 1213 competitors.
“It feels great,” he said. “I’ve been working at this for a long time.” The 60-year-old Betzold was also the top senior for both the Garand Match and the Carbine Match.
With his outstanding performances in the Garand and Springfield Matches, as well as an exceptional seventh-place finish in the Vintage Military Match, Betzold claimed the 3-Gun Aggregate title for the second year in a row — with a combined score of 865-19X.
The CMP’s National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) has been a staple at the National Matches since 1922. Also known as the “Rattle Battle,” the event is one of the most unique in the competitive rifling world — scoring is based on how many hits six-person teams can score on a bank of targets during a series of 50-second firing periods at four yardages. Teams begin the NTIT match with 384 rounds of ammunition, which they fire upon eight silhouette targets from 600, 500, 300 and 200 yards during successive 50-second periods. After each rapid-fire string, team members move forward (to the next-closest distance) carrying all equipment from firing line to firing line. The match emphasizes extremely fast, accurate fire and good communication among teammates. The Rattle Battle is always an exciting competition for spectators to watch. View NTIT match results on the CMP website.
Watch CMP ‘Rattle Battle’ Video — 50 Seconds of Rapid Fire…
The video shows the California Grizzlies, one of the top junior squads. The lead photo shows the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) Team in action during the NTIT match. See more in USAR “Rattle Battle” Video.
Garand matches are among the most popular and well-attended of the CMP competition disciplines. When obtained directly from the CMP, Garands are fun to shoot and affordable. However, with these classic battle rifles, you need to ensure that the headspace is set properly to ensure safe function and good brass life.
In the archives of The FIRST SHOT, the CMP’s online magazine, CMP Armorer John McLean has written an excellent article entitled: “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Checking M1 Garand Head Space.” We recommend all Garand shooters read the article.
McClean explains: “Excessive headspace will cause the brass to stretch more than it should and increases the likelihood of a case failure. Insufficient headspace may contribute to slam fires, light strikes on primers, misfires and more wear on parts due to the additional force needed to chamber the rounds.”
Garand Head Space Gauges
McClean writes: “Both Forster and Clymer make fine gauges but we have found that there are differences between the two companies’ gauges that make the Clymer gauges best for use with the M1. The headspace that the original manufacturers of the M1 considered correct can be determined by checking new or nearly new rifles that we have here at CMP. With that information we have determined that Springfield Armory and the other manufacturers of the M1 used gauges that were very close to the Clymer dimensions… and therefore we use, and recommend using only the Clymer gauges.”
How to Check for Proper Headspace
In the article, McClean goes on to show how to properly use the “GO”, “NO GO”, and “FIELD” gauges. You’ll want to read the Complete Article. One of the important points McClean makes is that the ejector can affect headspace reading. Accordingly, “the bolt must be disassembled and the ejector removed, or clearance notches must be made on the headspace gauges so there will be no contact between the headspace gauges and the ejector.”
This Friday, July 17th, the CMP hosts the Vintage Sniper Rifle Match at Camp Perry. One of the most popular vintage rifle matches held each summer at Perry, this is a two-man team competition using scoped rifles of WWI and WWII Vintage. Many competitors use some version of the M1903 Springfield, but you’ll also see scoped M1 Garands, K31s, Mausers, and even a Lee-Enfield or two.
Two-person teams will fire 10 rounds in 20-second intervals from scoped vintage military rifles set on sand bags. One team marksman shoots from the prone position at 300 and 600 yards, while the other serves as a spotter to relay shot position. Marksman and spotter switch positions on the firing lines, allowing each teammate to play both roles. Scores are then combined for an Aggregate team total.
Two M1 Garands, fitted with scopes and lace-on cheekpads.
Who can identify this rifle, with its unusual scope mount?
Our friends at Criterion Barrels have written an interesting article about last year’s Vintage Sniper Rifle Match. It you want an “insider’s perspective” on the 2014 Match, plus Vintage Sniper gunsmithing tips, read this article. Here are some highlights:
About the Match and the Rifles
The Vintage Sniper Match was the brainchild of Hornady’s Dave Emary. The competition was inspired by his father, a World War II scout sniper, who carried a rifle similar to the 1903A4 rifle builds that can be found today on the Camp Perry firing line. Bob Schanen worked alongside Dave and the CMP staff in establishing the various competition rules prior to the first official Vintage Sniper Match in 2011. The match developers made a point to offer some level of flexibility in rifle configuration, allowing specific types of non-issue optics and rifle rebuilds. This helped make the match more inclusive.
Hornady’s Dave Emary and “Gunny” R. Lee Ermey (right):
Bob Shanen has two vintage sniper competition rifles. Both builds are based off of the USMC Model 1941 sniper rifle, a design similar to the M1903A1 National Match rifle. Bob’s rifles both carry 8x Lyman Junior Target Spotter scopes with a thin crosshair reticle. Bob attributes a large part of his rifle’s accuracy to the Criterion M1903 match-grade barrels installed on each rifle by Rick Humphreys, a Milwaukee area gunsmith. These tack-driving barrels are capable of half-MOA accuracy.
Camp Perry — The Venue
The hallowed grounds of Camp Perry have hosted some of the nation’s finest shooters each summer for more than a century. Some of the world’s greatest marksmen have accomplished remarkable feats on the ranges of this lakeside military outpost. Located on the coast of Lake Erie, Camp Perry is positioned just outside of the scenic town of Port Clinton, Ohio. It is our firm belief that every shooter should make the pilgrimage to the Camp Perry at least once in their lifetime. If not participating in an event, visitors should at least make an attempt to meet the competitors, witness the wide selection of firearms used by participants, and pay a visit to the various vendors on base.
by Dennis Santiago
Tricked-out match guns are fun but, if you want to prove that you’ve got an eagle eye and steady hands, a true test of skill is the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s As-Issued Four Gun Aggregate.
The Four Gun Aggregate encompasses a series of CMP John C. Garand 30-shot matches (200-yard As-Issued Military Rifle Match Course A) on NRA SR targets at one of the CMP Regional Games or the Nationals officiated by the CMP. These are the only places you can earn the coveted neck-ribbon CMP achievement medals.
You will need four as-issued rifles. The first is the M-1 Garand. (The course of fire is named after this rifle’s inventor.) This remarkable battle rifle will test your prowess at slow prone, rapid prone, and offhand. The match winner will put almost all bullets into a saucer.
You do get to hear that classic “ping” when the en bloc clip ejects with this gun. It’s a good idea to write your firing point number on your hand for each match because you will move around over the course of the tournament.
Next comes the hyper-accurate 1903 Springfield. You can use either the WW I M1903 or the later WW II M1903A3 model with peep sights. A Springfield will typically shoot groups half the size of a Garand with the same ammunition. Think potential in terms of tea cups instead of saucers.
Article based on report by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
The 2015 CMP National National Three Position Air Rifle Championships will be held June 21-23 and June 24-26 at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) South Competition Center in Anniston, Alabama. Junior JROTC, 4-H and club team precision and sporter marksmen involved in the competition began their journey with the CMP Postal Competition in November, where CMP-issued targets were mailed into Headquarters in Ohio for official scoring. Top shooters in the Postal Competition were invited to compete in the Regional Championships in March and April, with the top individuals and teams from that match qualifying for the National Championship.
The CMP’s New Talladega Marksmanship Park in Alabama offically opened this weekend. On hand for the opening ceremonies were Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Congressman Mike Rogers. Joining in the initial competition, Rep. Rogers fired an M1 Garand from the bench.
500-acre Facility Cost Nearly $20 Million to Complete
The new facility features 500 acres of Rifle and Pistol ranges, along with Trap and Sporting Clays fields. The main rifle range boasts state-of-the-art electronic targets at 200, 300, and 600 yards. Chief Operating Officer Mark Johnson said workers completed construction on time and the project came in under the original $20-million budget.
Sam Payne (far left) shot the first-ever “clean” 600-50X score in the CMP Rimfire Sporter Match.
15-year old Sam Payne of Kingston, GA, made history during the Rimfire Sporter Match at the Eastern CMP Games. Sam shot a stunning 600-50X in the T-Class, the first person to clean the Rimfire Sporter Match Course of Fire. (The total possible is 600-60X.) Congratulations to Sam! Full results from CMP Eastern Games can be viewed on the CMP Competition Tracker Site.
Thinking about going to Camp Perry this year? Well registration has opened for the 2015 CMP National Pistol and Rifle Matches. The National Matches at Camp Perry include the CMP National Trophy Rifle and Pistol Matches, the Pistol and Rifle Small Arms Firing Schools, CMP Games rifle events, and the NRA National Pistol, Smallbore Rifle, and High Power Rifle Championships. These matches are conducted jointly by the CMP, NRA, and the Ohio National Guard. Here are registration links for the CMP Trophy events for High Power Rifle, Rimfire Rifle, and Pistol. Note: You will have to register separately for the NRA Events.
It’s rare when Soldiers and Marines agree on anything. But in this case, both Army shooters and Marine marksmen endorsed the electronic target system at Talladega. Members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) and the U.S. Marine Corps Service Rifle Team traveled to Alabama to test the Kongsberg electronic target system at the CMP’s new Talladega Marksmanship Park. Despite wet weather, the system worked well, allowing shooters to see their shot locations (and scores) instantly. At each shooting station a monitor displays the shooter’s target. Shots are plotted as contrasting white dots with shot values automatically calculated. Watch the video below to hear what the Soldiers and Marines thought of this high-tech system.
Video Shows Electronic Target System in Action
SGT Joseph Hall of the USAMU said the target system was “Super-smooth, super-quick. So far everything has been fantastic. We are saving a tremendous amount of time. There are no pit changes because everything is electronic. We are able to concentrate more on the shooting aspect… and less on … taking care of the targets and pit changes and relay changes. The relay changes here are just as simple as moving your equipment and the next guy getting on the line. The amount of time you’re saving is just incredible.”
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CMP Board Members and a few CMP staff members enjoyed a visit to the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park yesterday. They fired a few shots downrange from the 200-yard line. Here’s an image from the Kongsberg electronic target system. Shot impacts are precisely triangulated with sonic target sensors, then shot locations (and scores) are displayed on monitors placed next to each shooter. For more information on the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park, visit http://thecmp.org/competitions/talladega-marksmanship-park/.
The 13,000-square-foot CMP Park Club House overlooks the 600-yard range. Panoramic windows look out towards the firing line and the Alabama woodlands beyond.
Register Now for Inaugural D-Day Match at Talladega
The first official matches at the new CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park will be fired on the weekend of June 6-7, 2015. The celebration is a two-day event which includes tours of the facility. A special John C. Garand “D-Day Anniversary” Rifle Match On Saturday, June 6th will officially open the facility. On Sunday there will be an EIC Service Rifle Match, EIC Service Pistol Match, and a CMP .22 Rimfire EIC Pistol Match. The inagural event is limited to the first 350 Competitors, so register soon via the CMP’s Competition Tracker website.
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Here’s the best use of a convention center we’ve seen yet, thanks to the CMP. A section of the Phoenix Convention Center was transformed into an indoor shooting range for the 2015 JROTC Service Championship. This week (February 19-21), approximately 231 JROTC cadets will compete in Phoenix utilizing the CMP “Mobile Range”. This is a complete 60-station air rifle range that can be trucked from venue to venue and set up in a few hours. That’s pretty slick. Concurrently with the Phoenix event, USMC and NAVY JROTC cadets will be competing in Anniston, Alabama. Results from Phoenix and Anniston will be posted at on the CMP Competition Tracker webpage.
The CMP’s state-of-the art, mobile air gun range boasts 60 electronic MEGAlink targets produced in Norway. MEGAlink is the same target system used at CMP North and South stationary air ranges. The MEGAlink target “boxes” are each connected to a lift system than can raise and lower the targets for 3-position shooting. All of the components are designed so that the range can be quickly assembled by 3-4 workers. A large trailer can haul all 60 targets plus all the related monitors, computers, tables, chairs, and hardware in one load-out.
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What lives in the Alabama backwoods and has 54 sets of ears? The answer is the new, $20 million-dollar CMP Marksmanship Park in Talladega. This new facility, set to open in May, boasts electronic Kongsberg Target Systems (KTS) at 200, 300, and 600 yards. All totaled, there are 54 Kongsberg target units, each with its own acoustic sensors — the “ears” as it were. Each KTS target has a set of acoustic sensors (very precise microphones) that plot the shot location using sound triangulation. Shot locations are accurate within a fraction of a millimeter. What’s more, because electronic targets do not expand or shrink with humidity levels, as paper does, scoring should be more consistent match to match.
Monitors Display Score and Shot Location Instantly
Each target connects to a monitor that displays the hit locations to the shooter. Easy push-button controls allow the shooter to cycle through hits and options without having to change positions. The monitors employ non-glare glass protected by an aluminum frame that acts as a shade. This ensures good visibility for the shooter.
Engineered in Norway, Kongsberg target systems do more than just display shot locations to competitors. The system automatically calculate scores, and every target is networked to a central, “command” computer. This can provide updated competitor rankings, and can even display the results to event spectators on large view screens. See how it works in this animated demo video from Kongsberg:
Video Demonstrates Kongsberg Target System
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Do you shoot an air rifle or air pistol? Want to test your skills against other shooters across the country? Then sign up for a fun new “Aces” postal match in January. The CMP’s inaugural “Aces” postal match offers airgun marksman a nation-wide competition with Air Rifle, Air Pistol, and Para-Air Rifle/Air Pistol events. Match Registration opens on January 1, 2015 for the initial January-March (Q1) match period.
COURSE OF FIRE
All 3×20 courses of fire are 20 shots prone, 20 shots standing, and 20 shots kneeling in integer format while all other rifle courses of fire are 60 shots in decimal format. All PPP courses of fire are 40 shots with the rest of the pistol events in 60 shots, both in integer format.
Special “Aces” Event Poker Chips — One Per Quarter
Every competitor in the CMP “Aces” Postal Match will receive a specially- designed participation poker chip. There will be a different color each quarter, so collect all four!
Quarterly matches can be shot on Orion paper targets or electronic targets. Orion targets must be requested from the CMP and will be mailed to participants. All Orion targets must be returned for scoring at CMP. Current National Standard Three-Position Air Rifle Rules and USA Shooting Air Rifle and Pistol rules apply. CLICK HERE for more information and schedules.
Modern competition air rifles are decidedly high-tech. Check out this Feinwerkbau:
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Readers often ask us: “Is there an inexpensive way I can get started in position shooting?” The answer is “yes” — across the country CMP-affiliated clubs host Rimfire Sporter matches. You can use a wide variety of .22LR rimfire rifles — manual actions (such as a Winchester model 52) or semi-automatics (such as a Ruger 10/22). There are prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing stages. CMP rules provide separate classifications for scoped rifles, open-sighted rifles, and aperature-sighted rifles. The matches are fun, the ammo is inexpensive, and everyone has a good time while improving their marksmanship.
Our friend Dennis Santiago recently helped run a CMP Rimfire Sporter Match in Southern California. Dennis reports: “You want something challenging? Well that X-Ring 50 yards away is the diameter of a 50 cent piece, and there are people out there that can womp that thing with iron sights.”
The rapid-fire sitting or kneeling stage of a CMP-sanctioned .22 Sporter Match consists of two, 5-shot strings. A manually-operated or semi-automatic rifle may be used for this match. Below is a video Dennis made that shows a sitting/kneeling rapid fire stage.
Dennis notes: “There are six (6) stages of fire on a tough little target. Notice the rifles that can be used run the gamut from pump and bolt actions to variations on the semi-auto theme. All still require a good eye and a steady hold to earn one’s bragging rights for the day. A match takes about an hour and a half per relay. The slowest part of the match is initial sighting in. It’ll take longer than the allocated 5 minutes for the typical first timer coming to a club match.”
At Dennis’s Burbank Rifle & Revolver Club (BRRC), procedures are modified a little bit: “What we typically do at BRRC is run two relays. Experienced competitors shoot per the full rulebook. New shooters are afforded a bit more relaxed environment to make the experience more fun and inviting. We do the same thing in our M-1 Garand Clinic/Match series.”
Rimfire Sporter Match Basics
The CMP Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match is an inexpensive, fun-oriented competition using .22 caliber sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles) commonly owned by most gun enthusiasts. To compete, all you need is a basic rifle, safety gear, and ammunition. No fancy, high-dollar rifles are required.
The event is shot with standard sporter-type, rimfire rifles weighing no more than 7 ½ lbs, with sights and sling. Rifles may be manually-operated or semi-automatic. Shooters with manually-operated actions are given extra time in the rapid-fire stage to compensate for the difference. (See Video).
There are three classes of competition — the standard “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T-Class” for telescope-sighted and rear aperture-sighted rifles and “Tactical Rimfire” class, which is a .22 caliber A4 or AR15 style rifle. Firing for all classes is done at 50 and 25 yards on a target with a 1.78″ ten-ring and an 18″ outer one-ring. Even new shooters can get hits on this target, but it’s still tough enough that no one yet has fired a perfect 600×600 score.
50 years ago today, October 15, 1964, Gary Anderson (now CMP Director Emeritus) celebrated his Gold Medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics. Gary earned Olympic Gold for winning the 300m rifle event. A few days later, Gary’s team-mate, Lones Wigger, won a gold medal for the USA in 50m rifle competition.
Want to learn the basics of position shooting? Then you should check out an article by Gary Anderson, DCM Emeritus, in the current issue of On the Mark digital magazine. This article covers all the key elements: body position (prone, sitting, standing), sling use/adjustment, sight picture, aiming process, and trigger control. While this 8-page article was specifically written for Rimfire Sporter shooters, the techniques described by Anderson apply to all types of position shooting, whether you shoot air rifles, smallbore rifles, or centerfire rifles.
Here’s what Anderson says about aiming — how to keep your sights steady and get them centered on the middle of the target:
Trigger Contact and Center
As soon as aiming at the target begins, the index finger must move from the trigger-guard to contact the trigger. It is important to get initial pressure on the trigger as soon as aiming begins. Then the shooter must focus on the sight picture and centering the sight picture movements over the aiming point. No one, not even champion shooters, can hold the aligned sights perfectly still. The sights are going to move a little bit or a lot, depending on the shooter’s skill level. The secret is to center those sight picture movements over the aiming point on the target (see trace illustration) before pulling the trigger.
When the sight picture movements on the target are centered, the last step in firing the shot is to add… smooth pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks.
Anderson also discusses the 5 Basics of Shot Technique:
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As part of the Ohio Day at the Range program, CMP volunteers provided training in Air Rifle shooting and Archery for persons with disabilities. For the participants, some wheel-chair-bound, this was a special event. Though they may not be able to run or jump, they CAN shoot a rifle from a rest. This type of event gives disabled youngsters and adults a chance to enjoy a sport just as able-bodied persons do. We commend the CMP and all those who helped make the Day at the Range a memorable event.
As reported in the BCSN Blade Blog, this program gave participants a chance to learn outdoor skills: “The whole purpose of this is to show that anybody has the ability to hunt, fish, camp — do anything they want to do in the outdoors,” said Tory Thompson, Outreach Director for The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, Ohio. “We want these individuals and their family members to see that the opportunity is there. It will be very gratifying to see that moment when they get to experience something they thought they would never be able to do because of their disability — We hope this opens their eyes and lets everyone see past the stereotypes.”
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