Getting into competition used to be a matter of just stepping off the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim. We went from hunting and casual plinking to spending big money on a National Match rifle and pricey gear and entering our first high power match under the intimidating “undesignated High Master” requirement, lucky to shoot a lowly Marksman score.
The NRA has been at the forefront of formal shooting competitions for more than a century. In our everlasting quest to attract more people into the shooting sports, about two decades ago clubs and organizations began to invent games with a lower intimidation factor, and more importantly―less expensive for the newbie.
In this spirit, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) created the Rimfire Challenge, a game of steel plates limited to the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The sport has grown, and this year the Rimfire Challenge World Championships will be held in October at Cavern Cove Rimfire in Woodville, AL. Additionally, new games cropping up, such as the ELEY Practical Rimfire Challenge (PRC) are creating new avenues for rimfire competition that both beginners and more advanced shooters can participate in.
What’s the Rimfire Challenge?
The NSSF Rimfire Challenge is a .22 rifle and pistol program created to introduce new people to the shooting sports.
Several factors make Rimfire Challenge appropriate for the beginner. First is the caliber―.22LR. Minimal report and non-existent recoil make it ideal for shooters just starting out. The small, unjacketed lead bullets offer near-zero prospect of backsplash from the steel targets. And in the unlikely event of a mishap, injury from a .22LR would generally be considerably less serious than from a centerfire caliber. Also:
Shooting distance is manageably close, from 7 to 20 yards for handguns and 35 yards for rifles.
Steel targets offer the instant gratification of a rewarding ring when struck.
Shooting from the ready position (or with revolvers laid on a table for the Cowboy/Cowgirl class) precludes the potential safety concerns of a newbie drawing from the holster in a timed event. Same goes for not including any magazine changes or shooter movement during firing stages.
Shooting Rimfire Challenge is comparatively cheap. Precision firearms are not necessary to be competitive at the Rimfire Challenge’s short distances, nor is expensive match grade ammo. No costly spotting scopes or specialized equipment is needed, just eye and ear protection and a range bag.
The uncomplicated rulebook has only 31 pages and leaves target layout options open to your own creativity.
Furthermore, Rimfire Challenge is adaptable to games your own club may want to host. One NRA-affiliated club’s paper target version, fired with any safe rimfire rifle from the bench, is popular with older shooters who “can’t get into position anymore,” as well as being another safe and inviting way to get new shooters interested.
ELEY Practical Rimfire Challenge
The ELEY Practical Rimfire Challenge is a rimfire take on precision long range rifle shooting.
A new discipline, the ELEY PRC is much different from NSSF Rimfire Challenge―except for shooting steel with a .22LR firearm. In PRC, the steel targets can be 13 to 300 yards away. Only rifles are allowed―bolt-action and semi-auto rimfire models with magnified optics are the norm. Think of it as precision long range rifle, only fired at shorter distances with a .22LR. Movement and shooting from different positions are a part of every PRC match stage. In addition, some stages have competitors firing off a barricade.
To ensure that PRC is still family-friendly, concessions are made for junior shooters to complete stages. This makes it easy for parents to compete with their kids. However, shooters should have a strong working knowledge of their equipment to successfully compete in PRC.
The final ELEY PRC of 2017 will be conducted this September at Peacemaker National Training Center in Gerrardstown, WV. Read our match report on the May ELEY PRC in the July 2017 issue of Shooting Sports USA to learn more about this new rimfire discipline.
Competition doesn’t have to be a sink-or-swim commitment, and rimfire is a great way for beginning competitors to get their toes wet, and also for the more experienced to try something different.