June 4th, 2019

Quick History of Silhouette Shooting

Silhouette Centerfire high power history formation Mexico Ram Pig Chicken livestock

The NRA Blog ran an feature on Silhouette shooting by NRA Silhouette Program Coordinator Jonathan Leighton. Here are selections from Leighton’s story:

NRA Silhouette Shooting
The loud crack from the bullet exiting the muzzle followed by an even louder ‘clang’ as you watch your target fly off the railing is really a true addiction for most Silhouette shooters. There is nothing better than shooting a game where you actually get to see your target react to the bullet. In my opinion, this is truly what makes this game so much fun.

Metallic Silhouette — A Mexican Import
Silhouette shooting came to this country from Mexico in the 1960s. It is speculated that sport had its origins in shooting contests between Pancho Villa’s men around 1914. After the Mexican Revolution the sport spread quickly throughout Mexico. ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ uses steel silhouettes shaped like game animals. Chickens up front followed by rows of pigs, turkeys, and furthest away, rams. Being that ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ was originally a Mexican sport, it is common to hear the targets referred to by their Spanish names Gallina (chicken), Javelina (pig), Guajalote (turkey) and Borrego (ram). Depending on the discipline one is shooting, these animals are set at different distances from the firing line, but always in the same order.

Before Steel There Was… Barbeque
In the very beginnings of the sport, live farm animals were used as targets, and afterwards, the shooters would have a barbeque with all the livestock and/or game that was shot during the match. The first Silhouette match that used steel targets instead of livestock was conducted in 1948 in Mexico City, Mexico by Don Gonzalo Aguilar. [Some matches hosted by wealthy Mexicans included high-ranking politicians and military leaders]. As the sport spread and gained popularity during the 1950s, shooters from the Southwestern USA started crossing the Mexican border to compete. Silhouette shooting came into the US in 1968 at the Tucson Rifle Club in Arizona. The rules have stayed pretty much the same since the sport has been shot in the US. NRA officially recognized Silhouette as a shooting discipline in 1972, and conducted its first NRA Silhouette Nationals in November of 1972.

Now There Are Multiple Disciplines
The actual sport of Silhouette is broken into several different disciplines. High Power Rifle, Smallbore Rifle, Cowboy Lever Action Rifle, Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, and Hunter’s Pistol are the basic disciplines. Cowboy Lever Action is broken into three sub-categories to include Smallbore Cowboy Rifle, Pistol Cartridge Cowboy Lever Action, and regular Cowboy Lever Action. Black Powder Cartridge Rifle also has a ‘Scope’ class, and Hunter’s Pistol is broken into four sub-categories. Some clubs also offer Military Rifle Silhouette comps.

Here is a rimfire silhouette match conducted by the Sporting Shooters’ Assn. of Australia.
Silhouette Centerfire high power history formation Mexico Ram Pig Chicken livestock

Where to Shoot Silhouette
NRA-Sanctioned matches are found at gun clubs nation-wide. There are also many State, Regional, and National matches across the country as well. You can find match listings on the Shooting Sports USA website or contact the NRA Silhouette Department at (703) 267-1465. For more info, visit SteelChickens.com, the #1 website dedicated to Silhouette shooting sports.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 13 Comments »
November 2nd, 2013

Last U.S. Lead Smelter Closes — Will This Affect Bullet Production?

The last primary lead smelter facility in the United States will be closing soon. The Doe Run Company smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri has been operating since 1892. The facility will be closed permanently under pressure from the EPA. According to MSNBC.com: “Doe Run Co. was ordered by the EPA to install new pollution control technologies needed to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions as required by the Clean Air Act. The company will instead close its lead smelter.”

Doe Run started life in 1864 as the St. Joseph Lead Company, better known as St. Joe, which started lead mining on a small scale in southeastern Missouri. In 1892 it started up its smelter in Herculaneum, where all smelting was consolidated in 1920.

Doe Run Co. Company lead smelter plant Missouri Herculaneum plant closing shut down

Cause for Concern? Our readers have been concerned that the closure of the Doe Run smelter will lead to serious shortages in raw materials for bullet-making. Readers fear that bullet-makers won’t be able to source lead, and so the output of bullets and ammo would be reduced. Curtailed bullet production would lead to higher prices, it is feared.

As it turns out, the situation is not as dire as it seems. At least one bullet-maker says the Doe Run smelter closure will have no immediate effect on its raw material supply chain.

Sierra Bullets Responds: Lead Smelter Closure Should Not Cause Supply Shortage
Addressing the issue of supply shortages, Sierra Bullets posted a notice in the Sierra Blog on November 1, 2013. Sierra Bullets Plant Engineer Darren Leskiw stated that the Doe Run smelter closure should create no problems for his company because it uses only recycled lead:

We have had many customers contact us about the closing of the last primary lead smelting facility in the USA. This facility is operated by Doe Run and is located in Herculaneum, Missouri and is just about a 3-hour drive from our facility in Sedalia, Missouri.

The main question asked is “Will this shut down your supply of lead?” The answer to that is no. First, Sierra buys lead from several different vendors to maintain constant supply. Second, this facility only smelts primary lead or lead ore. This is lead ore that has just been brought out of the earth. Sierra uses no primary lead at all and never has, so we use nothing directly from this facility. The lead we buy from Doe Run comes from their recycling facility in Boss, MO that is about 90 miles away from the smelter that is closing.

The facility we buy from is still going strong and delivering to us as scheduled. The lead from this facility is from recycled lead, mostly coming from car batteries. This is a continuing “in and out” cycle for them and the smelter closing will not affect this facility.

Our supply should not be in jeopardy and we do not anticipate any changes in our supply chain at this time. Could the lack of primary lead create a little more demand for recycled lead? Sure, but how much is unknown. Could this increase in demand also create an increase in price? Sure, but again, by how much is unknown at this time.

There are many other primary lead smelters in the world and so the flow of primary lead will not be shut off. Where there is a need for primary lead, I am sure there will be a salesman more than happy to pick up the business. In short, we do not see any reason for alarm. We expect our supply to continue and keep feeding our production lines which are still running 24 hours per day to return our inventory levels to where they should be.


Lead Smelting Operations Have Moved to Mexico
Posting on SnipersHide.com, one industry insider says shooters should not be overly concerned about the Doe Run shut-down, because smelting is still being done in nearby Mexico:

“The lead industry has been transitioning out of the United States for over a decade now. 85% of the lead smelting industry capacity migrated over the Mexican border where there are [fewer environmental regulations]. The remainder of production capacity will be online and running by the third quarter of 2014. There has been no production disruption to speak of in obtaining lead or lead products. The auto battery industry among others has prepared for this eventuality for some time….

The last lead smelter closing in December did not have enough capacity to supply even 10% of the battery industry much less the ammunition industry. The lead being used in ammunition today hasn’t been coming from the United States for years already. The closing of that plant will not have any appreciable effect on lead availability at all. There is a great deal of lead processed here being extruded, made into shot, converted to wire, etc., but the smelting operation is only one part of the production process.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 8 Comments »
October 18th, 2011

USA Shooters Win Gold and Silver at Pan American Games

PanAmerican GamesThe 2011 Pan American Games are underway in Guadalajara, Mexico, and American shooters have already distinguished themselves. The Games opened on October 14th and will continue through October 30th, though the last day of shooting is Saturday, October 22nd. The Pan American Games, always held the year preceding the Olympic Games, have attracted athletes from 41 North-, Central- and South-American nations. For the latest shooting results and news, visit USAShooting.org.

Americans have already won Gold Medals in the competition. On the first day of competition, Two-time Olympian SFC Daryl Szarenski, a member of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, won gold in the 10m Pistol event, setting a Pan American Games record for total points with 681.7 points.

PanAmerican GamesOn Monday, Oct. 17, Emily Caruso won the 10m Air Rifle Gold Medal, tying the Pan American record with a 396 score. In the Mens’ 10m Air Rifle, American Matt Rawlings set a new Pan American games record with his 696.7 score in the finals. (He had previously broken his own PanAm Games record in the qualifying round). Team-mate Jonathan Hall took the Silver Medal. Rawlings’ win and Hall’s second-place finish earned the USA two coveted quotas for next year’s Olympics. “I came here for the quota,” Hall said, “and I’m proud to bring it home to my country.”

The Trap and Skeet Shooters will be competing Oct. 18-21. The U.S. Team has high hopes for male Trap shooters Matt Gossett, and Jake Turner. Gossett, the current USA Mean’s National Champion, finished fourth at the 2010 World Championship. Olympic Gold Medalist Kim Rhodes competes in the Skeet event on Oct. 21, while fellow U.S. Olympic Team member Vincent Hancock goes for the gold on Oct. 22. Hancock won the men’s Skeet event at the 2008 Olympics. Also on the 22nd, the final day for shooting matches, Team USA shooters will compete in the Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position and Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol events. You’ll find complete match results on the official Pan American Games Website. In addition, USAShooting.org features shooter profiles, match reports, and Team USA photos.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
August 4th, 2009

NRA Smallbore Silhouette Championships Conclude Today

Roughly 130 competitors have gathered at the NRA Whittington Center for the NRA Smallbore Silhouette Championships held August 2-4. Today the final matches will be held for the Smallbore Rifle Class and Hunting Rifle Class Silhouette Championships.

This year, 13 shooters have traveled from Mexico to compete against some of the best Smallbore Silhouette shooters in the United States. Seven of these Mexican competitors made the 20-hour journey together. Surprisingly however, the Mexican contingent did NOT include Agustin Sanchez, Jr. this year. Agustin, the “Tiger Woods of Silhouette” has won the event for the past six years, but now someone else will take his title. “It’s up for grabs,” said NRA Silhouette Program Coordinator Jonathan Leighton. “There are a lot of good shooters here, so it’s anyone’s game right now.”

NRA Smallbore Silhouette

Above, Gabriel Guerra of Mexico shoots while Carlos Mercado spots for him. Guerra loves Silhouette shooting for the comradery and the challenge: “I enjoy the mental game, and it’s a very fun sport. You meet nice people, here and in Mexico. I like the friendship of the teams.”

Invented in Mexico, Adopted in America
It’s thought that silhouette shooting began in Mexico around 1914 as a marksmanship contest between Pancho Villa’s men. The sport spread throughout Mexico following the Mexican Revolution, eventually making its way to America in the 1960s. Silhouette shooting started as a centerfire sport, but over the years rimfire silhouette has become more popular. CLICK HERE to read about the history of silhouette competition.

Smallbore Silhouette

If you’re interested in getting involved in smallbore silhouette, a fun yet challenging discipline, you’ll find a Summary of Silhouette Basics in our Daily Bulletin Archives. You’ll also find more information, including current rules, on the Steelchickens.com website.

Smallbore Silhouette Course of Fire and Rifle Classes
At an official Smallbore Silhouette match, you’ll shoot at least 40 shots, ten each at four sets of 1/5th size standard High Power Rifle Silhouette targets. The smallest targets, the chickens, are set at 40 yards, Pigs are at 60 yards, Turkeys are at 77 yards, and Rams are at 100 yards. (Alternatively, metric distances are used.) Though the rams are the largest targets, hitting them is far from easy. At 100 yards, a little bit of wind will blow you off the target. Two classes of rifles are used in Rimfire Silhouette: Standard and Hunter Class. Standard rifles can weigh up to 10 pounds, 2 oz. (with sights) and have no restriction on trigger pull weight. The fore-end shall not exceed 2 1/4″ wide, and 2 1/4″ deep measured from the centerline of the bore.

Permalink Competition, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
December 21st, 2008

A Short History of Silhouette Shooting

The NRA Blog recently ran a story on Silhouette shooting by NRA Silhouette Program Coordinator Jonathan Leighton. Here are selections from Leighton’s story:

NRA Silhouette Shooting
The loud crack from the bullet exiting the muzzle followed by an even louder ‘clang’ as you watch your target fly off the railing is really a true addiction for most Silhouette shooters. There is nothing better than shooting a game where you actually get to see your target react to the bullet. In my opinion, this is truly what makes this game so much fun.

Metallic Silhouette — A Mexican Import
Silhouette shooting came to this country from Mexico in the 1960s. It is speculated that sport had its origins in shooting contests between Pancho Villa’s men around 1914. After the Mexican Revolution the sport spread quickly throughout Mexico. ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ uses steel silhouettes shaped like game animals. Chickens up front followed by rows of pigs, turkeys, and furthest away, rams. Being that ‘Siluetas Metalicas’ was originally a Mexican sport, it is common to hear the targets referred to by their Spanish names Gallina (chicken), Javelina (pig), Guajalote (turkey) and Borrego (ram). Depending on the discipline one is shooting, these animals are set at different distances from the firing line, but always in the same order.

Before Steel There Was… Barbeque
In the very beginnings of the sport, live farm animals were used as targets, and afterwards, the shooters would have a barbeque with all the livestock and/or game that was shot during the match. The first Silhouette match that used steel targets instead of livestock was conducted in 1948 in Mexico City, Mexico by Don Gongalo Qguilar. [Some matches hosted by wealthy Mexicans included high-ranking politicians and military leaders]. As the sport spread and gained popularity during the 1950s, shooters from the Southwestern USA started crossing the Mexican border to compete. Silhouette shooting came into the US in 1968 at the Tucson Rifle Club in Arizona. The rules have stayed pretty much the same since the sport has been shot in the US. NRA officially recognized Silhouette as a shooting discipline in 1972, and conducted its first NRA Silhouette Nationals in November of 1972.

Now There Are Multiple Disciplines
The actual sport of Silhouette is broken into several different disciplines. High Power Rifle, Smallbore Rifle, Cowboy Lever Action Rifle, Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, and Hunter’s Pistol are the basic disciplines. Cowboy Lever Action is broken into three subcategories to include Smallbore Cowboy Rifle, Pistol Cartridge Cowboy Lever Action, and regular Cowboy Lever Action. Black Powder Cartridge Rifle also has a ‘Scope’ class, and Hunter’s Pistol is broken into four sub-categories.

Where to Shoot Silhouette
NRA-Sanctioned matches are found at gun clubs nation-wide. There are also many State, Regional, and National matches across the country as well. You can find match listings on the Shooting Sports USA website or contact the NRA Silhouette Department at (703) 267-1465. For more info, visit SteelChickens.com, the #1 website dedicated to Silhouette shooting sports.

Permalink Competition 1 Comment »