Small-bore Rifle/Air Rifle

Smallbore Rifle/Air Rifle


Smallbore shooting has many forms and opportunities, indoors and outdoors, and has become especially popular among junior-aged shooters (20 years and younger). The two-common events are Prone and 3-Position also referred to as simply 3P. As in the name, 3P consists of three positions, prone, standing, and kneeling, and is typically shot at 50 feet, 50 yards, or 50 meters, depending upon the course of fire you are shooting and the sanctioning organization. There are 4 sanctioning organizations within the sport of smallbore that sanction a variety of programs such as matches (local, state, and national level), postal leagues, and camps and clinics. These sanctioning bodies are the National Rifle Association (NRA), USA Shooting (USAS), Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), and 4-H, and each has its own set of governing rules for the sport, which often overlap.


Smallbore marksmanship in the United States began in 1919 when Savage and Winchester introduced specialized .22 caliber target rifles for miniature rifle competition. Also, during this time, the military saw smallbore rifles as an inexpensive training tool and competitive firearm. Since then, competitive shooting has grown into one of the most popular sports in the country, especially among our youth. Military-style shooting and rifle stocks were popular as a prone rifles and would dominate the market until WWII. Position shooting as we know it today was slow to be accepted in the United States until the U.S. re-entered the international shooting competitions after WWI. The market has exploded, especially in Europe, with modern prone and 3-P rifles.


Getting started in the sport of smallbore shooting can be confusing and caution is recommended, as smallbore equipment is not a one size fit all and can range from inexpensive to an extreme investment. With more options available in today’s market, budget-friendly options are available. The best option is to start out simple with your basic smallbore equipment and as you grow into the sport, then add to your wish list with higher quality and better-fitting equipment. Do not rush to purchase anything. Carefully research what is the best equipment for your needs. Most clubs and shooters will allow you to examine the equipment they use. Many will allow you to try their equipment to see what works best for you and most importantly, fits your needs and body build. Your basic smallbore equipment includes the shooting mat, shooting sling, palm stop, shooting glove, and spotting scope and scope stand. Your most important and expensive piece of equipment will be your smallbore rifle. One should exercise caution when purchasing any rifle to make sure the rifle fits the shooter and is designed for the competition intended. It also must fit within your budget. Do the research and ask for advice. Your first smallbore rifle may not be your last, especially when purchasing for a junior shooter as the range of models available vary from junior/basic to more advanced adjustments. Common smallbore rifle brands include Anschutz, Feinwerkbau, and Walther. For junior shooters when joining an established program, club equipment, including the rifle, can be borrowed to get started. In 3P competition, a shooter will typically have a shooting suit. Shooting suits can be purchased in standard sizes at a budget-friendly price or a custom-fitted suit can be ordered to ensure maximum support.

The Basics

Smallbore rifle competitions are held over distances of 50 feet, 50 yards/meters, and/or 100 yards (prone only). Shooters will compete based on either age or skill classification, depending on the sanctioning organization. Common types of 3P matches are 30 shots (10 shots in each position), 60 shots (20 shots in each position), or 120 shots (40 shots in each position). Respectively referred to as 3×10, 3×20, or 3×40 matches. Common types of prone matches are referred to by the total outcome score possible 600 (60-shots), 1200 (120-shots), 1600 (160-shots), and the multi-day 2400 (240-shots) or 3200 (320-shots). As the format of each match changes, so does the time allotted to complete it. The typical time allotted per shot is 1 minute per shot in prone and 1.5 minutes per shot in standing and kneeling, based on current NRA Smallbore Rules. For each match, a match bulletin is available which details the format of the match, course of fire, time limits, competitor classification, and entry fees to participate. It will also list the Match Director who is the party responsible for organizing and conducting the match. Any question that cannot be answered after reading the available match bulletin can be directed to the match director. As an NRA state-affiliated organization, TSRA annually sponsors State Championships that are sanctioned by NRA. These State Championships include the State Outdoor Prone Match, State Outdoor 3P Match, and the State Indoor Smallbore and Air Rifle Championships. TSRA also sponsors the Junior Olympic State Championships (Qualifier) sanctioned by USA Shooting.

How To Get Started

Step 1: Join TSRA

Step 2: Contact TSRA Directors below

Guy Taylor
Smallbore Rifle Director

Hannah Muegge
Smallbore Rifle Director