Rifle Metallic Silhouette

Rifle Metallic Silhouette

Rifle Metallic Silhouette is an air, rimfire, centrefire, service and black powder rifle shooting discipline where competitors aim to knock down metal animal-shaped targets. The targets are placed on steel stands in banks of five and set at a variety of known distances, with the competitors having a certain amount of time to knock as many down as they can. The various competitions are shot from a range of distance and positions, depending on the firearm calibre and category, but all competitions aim to improve hunting marksmanship skills under range conditions.

  • History

    Rifle Metallic Silhouette is a sport in which rifles are used to knock down metal targets at a variety of distances. The sport originated in Mexico in the early 1950s, arrived in Australia in the late 1970s and is now a sanctioned and popular discipline of the SSAA. Each year, there are state and national championships, as well as postal competitions. International matches are a common event, with SSAA teams regularly competing in NRA Metallic Silhouette Championships.

    Silhouette shooting continued to grow in popularity, and in 2006, the Rifle Metallic Silhouette discipline was approved to run NRA Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette as a national event, with the first National Championships held in 2008. This match is conducted on existing Handgun Metallic Silhouette ranges and opens up Rifle Metallic Silhouette shooting to a larger number of shooters who wouldn’t usually have access to a 500m range. Also, because the cartridges used for Cowboy Lever Action hit the targets with less energy than the handguns used in Handgun Metallic Silhouette, target damage and fall-out zones are greatly reduced.

  • Firearms and classes

    Rifle Metallic Silhouette usually caters for centrefire and rimfire rifles, air rifles, service rifles and black powder cartridge rifles. The range is set up with the targets at their appropriate distances from a common firing point. Most SSAA branches can accommodate the 100m range required for the Rimfire matches. However, 500m Centrefire ranges are not as common because of the large amount of land required to contain both the range and safety zone.

    Centrefire Silhouette Rifle

    Centrefire Silhouette Rifle has fairly liberal rules governing weight and dimensions and allows shooters to use custom rifles based on a wide choice of calibres, actions, barrels, triggers and stocks. The rifle is permitted to be of 6mm/.243-calibre or larger, with a maximum weight of 4.6kg including the sights. Any sights are permitted to be used, except for sighting devices programmed to activate the firing mechanism. Any functional trigger of any release weight is permitted.

    Centrefire Hunting Rifle

    Centrefire Hunting Rifle only allows for commercially available or previously commercially available sporting- and hunting-style rifles that have not been modified. Custom-made rifles are not permitted. The rifle is permitted to be of 6mm/.243-calibre or larger, with a maximum weight of 4.2kg including the sights. The trigger may be adjusted, but not replaced with a custom trigger. It is also required to have a minimum pull weight of 2lb and be equipped with a functional safety. Swivels and slings are permitted, but slings may not be used for arm support when shooting.

    Rimfire Silhouette Rifle

    Rimfire Silhouette Rifle is identical to Centrefire Silhouette Rifle, except that the rifle is to be chambered for the .22-calibre Short, Long or Long Rifle cartridge only.

    Rimfire Hunting Rifle

    Rimfire Hunting Rifle is identical to Centrefire Hunting Rifle, except that the rifle is to be chambered for the .22-calibre Short, Long or Long Rifle cartridge only and has a maximum weight of 3.86kg including the sights.

    Air Rifle

    Air Rifle permits the use of any air rifle of any calibre, with a maximum weight of 7kg including sights, except for sighting devices programmed to activate the firing mechanism. Any functional trigger of any release weight is permitted. Hooked buttplates are not permitted.

    Service Rifle

    Service Rifle is identical to Centrefire Silhouette Rifle, except that any centrefire service rifle may be used if it is ‘as-issued’ for general service use by the armed forces of any nation. The rifle is permitted to be of 6mm/.243-calibre or larger and must be standard to that particular model of rifle. The weight, sights and stock of the rifle must be as-issued. The trigger pull must be as-issued and no less than 2lb. Special models, limited editions, experimental models and specially modified rifles are not permitted. External modifications of the rifle are not permitted.

    Black Powder Cartridge Rifle

    Black Powder Cartridge Rifle requires the use of any original or replica hunting or military-style single-shot rifle, originally made for black powder and manufactured prior to 1896. If replacement barrels, stocks or other parts are used, they must be of the original period style. Schuetzen-style rifles are not permitted. The rifle must weigh no more than 5.5kg and the sights must be any original or replica model manufactured prior to 1896. The trigger is to be in the spirit of the original design.

  • Targets, scoring and ammunition

    Targets and scoring

    The targets are metallic cut-outs in the shape of chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams, which are of varying thicknesses and placed at varying distances, depending on the calibre of the rifle being used. A steel stand is set into the ground and the targets are placed on it. There are 10 targets placed at each distance, set out in two banks of five targets.

    Matches consist of 10 shots taken at each of the four types of targets, resulting in 40 shots overall. All Rifle Metallic Silhouette matches are shot from the standing offhand position, with no support during competition, not even a sling.

    For all matches, in all classes, the time limit for firing the five shots is two and a half minutes. The sequence is repeated until the required number of shots is fired at the required number of targets. To score a hit, these armour-plated animals must be knocked off their stands in the correct order and within the time limit. Each shooter normally has a spotter/scorer recording the shots and making sure the shooter abides by the rules.

    In the Centrefire matches, chickens are placed at 200m, pigs at 300m, turkeys at 385m and rams at 500m. In the Rimfire matches, the targets and the ranges at which they are shot are scaled down to one-fifth the size of the Centrefire match, with the chickens placed at 40m, pigs at 60m, turkeys at 77m and rams at 100m. In the Air Rifle matches, the targets and the ranges at which they are shot are scaled down to one-tenth the size of the Centrefire match, with the chickens placed at 20 yards (note yards and not metres this time), pigs at 30 yards, turkeys at 36 yards and rams at 45 yards.


    The .308 Winchester has traditionally been the most popular calibre, though the development of lighter recoiling calibres with sufficient energy is becoming more common. The 7mm-08 Remington appears to meet the requirements of high energy and low recoil.

    While custom silhouette rifles can use wildcat cartridges, the Hunting class only allows calibres that are commercially available for the rifle. Fortunately, a number of manufacturers are producing hunting rifles in a 7mm-08 Remington version. Of course, there are many lighter calibres suitable for Rifle Metallic Silhouette, including any of the 6.5mm variants. Because the ram targets require around 1000 ft-lb of energy to remove them from their stand, their load needs to be hotter and have a heavier projectile to guarantee knockdown.

    Silhouette shooters tend to load their own ammo for the Centrefire matches. Apart from financial benefits, it provides a choice of loads for different ranges. Silhouette Rimfire ammunition must be of standard velocity to reduce damage to the targets. .22 Magnum and hot loads such as ‘stingers’ are not permitted.

    Other rules

    Commercial-type Trap and Skeet sleeveless shotgun shooting vests and shotgun shooting shirts are permitted, as is clothing suitable for the existing climatic conditions. Shooting gloves, shooting coats, unnecessarily heavy clothing and any clothing that provides artificial support is not permitted.

    Spotting scopes are permitted in most Rifle Metallic Silhouette matches, except for Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette Rifle matches. Shooting mats or ground clothes are only permitted in the Black Powder Rifle Cartridge events. Slings may be attached to the rifle, but they may not be used for support of the hand or arm during competition. Palm rests are not permitted. Compensators, muzzle brakes and barrel porting is not permitted, except in Air Rifle events if factory fitted.

  • Subdisciplines

    Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette Rifle

    Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette Rifle matches follow NRA rules, which creates opportunities for shooters to compete internationally. There are three classes of rifles used: Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette, Pistol Cartridge Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette and Smallbore Cowboy Rifle Silhouette. These classes establish a match for common hunting carbines and other lever-action rifles, with the match catering to shooters who enjoy shooting hunting arms, but do not necessarily want to make the investment required of other specialised types of shooting competitions.

    Depending on the match, the calibres shot range from the .22LR up to larger centrefire calibres, including pistol cartridges. Ammunition may be loaded with smokeless or black powder, using jacketed or cast bullets, with or without gas checks. All bullets must be flat-nose or round-nose, suitable for tubular magazine use. Any cartridge causing target damage or deemed unsafe may be prohibited.

    In Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette Rifle matches, the Big Bore Pistol targets are shot at 50, 100, 150 and 200m, while the Field Pistol targets and Smallbore Pistol targets are both shot at 40, 50, 75 and 100m.

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