Metallic Silhouette shooting is a series of target shooting matches that involve shooting at metal cutouts of rams, pigs, chickens and turkeys cut to different scales and set at varying distances from the competitor depending on the specific match. Matches can be shot with air guns, black powder firearms, handguns and rifles.
Metallic Silhouette shooting descended from a Mexican sport dating back to the early 1900s where live animals were used as targets and the bounty was feasted on after the competition. By 1948 metal animal silhouettes (cutouts) were used in place of livestock and the first metallic silhouette match, known as Siluetas Metalicas, was held in Mexico City in 1952. However, at that time the sport was mainly for high power rifles and consisted of 30 shots - 10 shots each at chickens at 200m, turkeys at 385m and rams at 500m.
The competition found its way into southern USA and the pig silhouette shot at 300m was added in 1967. The first major Pistol Metallic Silhouette Championships was held in Tucson, Arizona, in 1975 and following the 2nd Championships in El Paso, Texas in 1976, rules for pistol shooting including the size and type of silhouettes, stand height, range distances, shooting equipment allowed and match operation procedures were further developed. With some modifications these original rules still form the basis for the matches contested today.
Metallic Silhouette shooting was established in Australia in the early 1980s and was completely different to all other pistol matches in Australia at that time. Many shooters doubted the possibility that pistols could be used accurately at range distances up to 200m to hit and knock over a steel target weighing more than 25kgs for the score to count.
Enthusiasm did, however, prevail and a number of clubs built small, basic ranges and Open competitions were held. Ranges became more and more elaborate and led to some in Australia that are equal to any in the world today. The competitions grew and State Championships were conducted until the first Amateur Pistol Shooting Union of Australia (now Pistol Australia Inc.) National Championship was held in Narrabri, NSW in March 1987.
Not surprisingly, the pistols and loads of yesteryear also developed into the specialist equipment available to today’s keen competitor.
All targets should be made from various types of hardened steel to avoid projectile damage and steel thickness varies depending on the type of match. In the Big Bore match the chicken and pig silhouettes are made from 12mm steel while turkey and ram silhouettes are made from 9mm steel. In the 50m Rimfire match the targets are made from 5mm or 6.5mm steel at 1/5th scale while targets in the 100m Rimfire match are made from 5mm or 6.5mm steel at 3/8th scale. In Field Pistol the targets are made from 9mm or 12mm steel at ½ the scale and the targets in Air Pistol are made from 3mm steel plate at 1/10th scale
Metallic Silhouette targets are usually painted black, however, because of environmental conditions in other countries, colours such as white and blaze orange are also used for better visibility. Each silhouette is set on a pedestal, stand or rail installed above the ground so that they can fall free of the stand when hit.
Course of Fire
Targets are set up in groups of 5 known as “Banks” with a silhouette’s width between each. Banks are laid out at the required distance for each specific match and each bank must be shot in 2 minutes in order from left to right. If the competitor is required to shoot 10 targets in a relay then he/she must shoot 2 banks of 5 silhouettes. Similarly if the competitor is required to shoot 15 targets in a relay then he/she must shoot 3 banks of 5 silhouettes etc. When the competitor has finished shooting the first bank, the silhouettes are reset and a second bank of the same animal is engaged. Most ranges in Australia accommodate two banks of the same 5 targets at each distance and the targets are reset after the two banks are shot.
Any target hit out of order is considered a miss as is the intended target. The target must be hit off its stand in order for the score to count therefore each cartridge used must have enough inertia to knock the heavy target over. Interestingly, a shot that ricochets off the ground (or elsewhere) and knocks the correct target off its stand is also counted.
Categories of Metallic Silhouette competitions include Big Bore, Small Bore (or Rim-fire), Field Pistol and Air Pistol. Big Bore, Small Bore and Air Pistol matches include Production, Revolver, Standing, Unlimited, half size unlimited and unlimited standing. Field Pistol matches include Production and Production Any Sight.
All Metallic Silhouette matches require a minimum of 10 shots at each type of target for a minimum of 40 shots per match. However, 60 and 80 shot matches are also conducted with maximum match scores of 60 and 80 points respectively. Scoring is simple with 1 point counted for a hit and 0 for a miss and the score is recorded as the number of hits per shot fired. The scorecard is marked with an “X” for a hit and “0” for a miss. Matches progress with equal shots taken at each of the 4 animal silhouettes. Therefore in a 40 (60, 80) round match the competitor will take 10 (15, 20) shots at each type of target and each round consists of 4 (6, 8) relays of 10 shots at each type of target.
In Big Bore Metallic Silhouette shooting, chickens silhouettes are set at a distance of 50m, pigs at 100m, turkeys at 150m and rams at 200m. In Rimfire and Field Pistol, chickens silhouettes are set at a distance of 25m, pigs at 50m, turkeys at 75m and ram at 100m.
The competitor is allowed a spotter (coach) who, using a telescope or binoculars, watches where the shots land and advises the competitor on adjustments to be made. The competitor with the highest score is declared the winner and in the case of a tie, the competitor with the greater number of hits on the furthest targets wins. If scores are still tied after all targets at all distances are considered then a tiebreaker round is fired and consists of shooting strings of 5 or 10 targets of any type out to a maximum range in the category i.e. shooting chickens at the distance at which rams are normally placed.
Tied shooters will continue to shoot until one shooter hits more targets than the other and thus wins the match. Alternatively the first bank of 5 shoot-off targets is on total number of targets scored and if scores are still tied, then the sudden death principle is applied for each successive bank of 5 shoot-off targets until the tie is resolved. In sudden death, tied shooters continue to shoot each successive target and when a target is missed limitation may occur. The competitor having shot the most successive targets wins the match.
Big Bore Metallic Silhouette
A big bore match consists of six categories including Production, Revolver, Standing, Unlimited, Unlimited ½ size and Unlimited Standing. It is shot with centre fire ammunition at full size targets set at varying distances i.e. chickens are set at 50m, pigs at 100m, turkeys at 150m and rams at 200m.
Production, Revolver and Unlimited matches are shot in positions known as “freestyle” including variations of the “Creedmore” position, which entails the competitor lying on his/her back, legs bent, feet flat on the ground and with the pistol resting on the right leg. In the freestyle position the pistol may only make contact with the competitor’s body, no rests may be used and in the case of the Creedmore position the pistol cannot touch the competitor’s boot.
Small Bore Metallic Silhouette
Rimfire matches are shot with .22 rimfire ammunition over 50m and/or over 100m. In the 50m match, chicken silhouettes are set at 20m, pigs at 30m, turkeys at 40m and rams at 50m. Most 50m ISSF ranges are suitable for this match and ISSF pistols can be used.
In the 100m match, chicken silhouettes are set at 25m, pigs at 50m, turkeys at 75m and rams at 100m. Some ISSF pistols are suitable, but pistols specifically designed for the match are generally better.
Field Pistol consists of two categories, Production and Production Any Sight and is shot with Production compliant centre fire pistols. Field Pistol matches are only shot from the standing position and optical sights are allowed in one of the matches. Chicken silhouettes are set at 25m, pigs at 50m, turkeys at 75m and rams at 100m.
Rules for Field Pistol Production are the same as for the Production category in big bore and rimfire matches.
In Air pistol metallic silhouette shooting the competitor uses any 4.5mm (0.177) air pistol that conforms to ISSF criteria and specifications. The match is shot over 25m with chicken silhouettes set at 10m, pigs at 15m, turkeys at 20m and rams at 25m.