Pistol Silhouette

Pistol Silhouette


Pistol Silhouette (also known as NRA Hunter Pistol Silhouette) involves shooting a group of targets that are the side silhouettes of chickens, pigs, turkeys, or long-horned rams. These targets are in groups of five and the objective is to hit the animal and knock it off the stand, so it doesn’t matter where you hit it, so long as it falls off. However, you only get one shot at each animal. For Pistol Silhouette, we use what are called standardized half-size targets. The chickens are at 40 meters and are about the size of a baby chick that is a month or two old. The pigs are at 50 meters and are about the size of a piglet. The turkeys are at 75 meters and are about the size of a full-grown female chicken. The rams are at 100 meters and are about the size of a 20-30 pound dog.


People have had fun shooting stuff since firearms were invented hundreds of years ago. The current forms of metallic silhouette descended from a Mexican sport in the early 1900s, where live game animals were tied to stakes at various distances as targets. After World War II, the sport started using metal cutouts (side profile silhouettes) of the more common animals used. The sport moved to the United States in the late 1960s in Arizona. During the 1970s the NRA become involved in the sport and by the 1980’s it was one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. Today there are various forms of silhouette shooting using various firearms, such as air guns, black-powder rifles, pistols, bolt action rifles, and lever action rifles. Most matches are held to NRA Hunter Pistol Silhouette rules, which can be found by searching the phrase NRA Hunter Pistol Silhouette rules or going to the NRA competition website.


As in all shooting sports, shooting glasses are the equivalent, and hearing protection is required. Hunter Pistol Silhouette has four classes using two types of ammunition. Ammunition used is 22 LR, called small-bore, and pistol cartridges using most straight walled center fired pistol cartridges and some necked down center-fired cartridges, like the 22 Hornet. For each of these types of ammunition, there are two pistol sighting configurations, scoped (Open) and iron sights (Metallic). Maximum barrel length is 12 and almost any pistol can be used. Over the years, most people have migrated to using the highly accurate Thompson Center Contender pistols versus other types. 22 LR ammo is usually a target grade and the most common pistol cartridge is a hand loaded 22 Hornet.

The Basics

A match consists of shooting all four animals in banks of 5 and a minimum of 10 each. Matches can be 40, 60, 80, or 120 total animals with an equal number of each. Most matches are 40 or 60 animals. When shooting a bank the relay will have a 30-second ready and two minutes to shoot a bank of 5 animals. Which is usually more than enough time. Larger matches will often shoot in relays and those not shooting spot for those shooting, which helps improve longer-term results. Beyond the pistol and ammo, a shooter generally needs something to safely carry the pistol around the shooting line and a spotting scope or binoculars. It is generally, good to have sighted your pistol in at 40, 50, 75, and 100 meters before the match, but most matches have practiced before the match starts so some sighting can take place at that time.

Shooting position is an unsupported standing position using two hands. Currently most pistol silhouette shooters use what is called a taco hold where one hand supports the pistol grip and the other is holding the scope or over a hooded front metallic sight. This may seem strange to people at first, but once a shooter becomes accustomed to this seemingly unorthodox hold, their scores increase a fair amount. Neither arm can be braced against the body, so this shooting form is truly a freestyle form.

How To Get Started

Step 1: Join TSRA

Step 2: Contact TSRA Directors below

Terry Vaughn
Pistol Silhouette Director

Matt Lawrence
Pistol Silhouette Director