The season begins

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Phoenix Meeting, 24-26 May

In many ways, and for many people, the Phoenix is just another Gallery Rifle Action Weekend (GRAW). Four of these are held every season at Bisley.

The spring and autumn action weekends take place as the country adjusts its collective timepieces to take advantage of the daylight saving protocols we know and love so well.

The last bank holiday of the summer, the August Bank Holiday, pays homage to the Gallery Rifle National Championships. The Phoenix Meeting sits squarely in the middle of all this and offers not only the natural plethora of gallery rifle and pistol events but a whole lot more.

As an overall event, the Phoenix is billed as an annual celebration of shooting sports. Whether the competitor’s interests lie in the pure Gallery Rifle (GR) disciplines, rifle events shot back to 1,000 yards, pistol events shot to the same distances (yes, that’s a pistol at 1,000 yards), black powder, target shotgun or even air pistol, the Phoenix will have an event ready and waiting.

Service rifle is a well represented discipline in the coming months

Service rifle is a well represented discipline in the coming months

Understandably some events are popular, but some are surprisingly under-represented. There are so many competitions at the Phoenix. it’s inevitable that some slip under the radar. T&P1 Air Pistol for example, a lot of the Long Barrelled Pistol (LBP) events, some of the longer-range events and a handful of classic and open events are all crying out for more competitive input.

Condensed into a long weekend, the Phoenix has a more intense look and feel about it than the likes of the NRA Imperial Meeting, which is held over a two- to three-week period in high summer.

A major part of this is probably because of the long-standing trade fair, which dates way back to pre-Phoenix days. A lot of people back then used to travel to just visit the trade show, and we’re told this is still the case. Each to their own of course, but it’s possible that people are missing out if they choose to overlook the main reason the ranges exist in the first place.

Team events have been introduced to the Phoenix in recent years to try to encourage members of local clubs to partake. As with all events, these are open to any members of any club to put together a two- or four-person team, take part and get your club’s name into the historical record.

The Phoenix includes long-range rifle events... and long-range pistol too

The Phoenix includes long-range rifle events… and long-range pistol too

Irrespective of all the above, we do need to get a sense of perspective.

After all, are we not all simply shooting against ourselves? Aiming to beat our last outing or personal best?

It’s great to traipse back to our local clubs and ranges, banter with our shooting colleagues about who bettered who, who outshot who, more likely who messed up the least – that’s all part of why we do it.

Numerous other GR events are organised and hosted both at Bisley and throughout the country by local clubs.

In 2012 we created an online database of classified and highest scores so people can keep track of their scores.

In 2013 we plan to enhance this to run a season-wide league table and ranking system for active Gallery Rifle competitors. In this way we aim to keep an ongoing interest in competing on the national circuit.

Keep an open bookmark to galleryrifle.com for all of this information and much more.

What else?

In the next few weeks we have the final two Civilian Service Rifle Winter League events on 3 March and 6 April.

The roots of this discipline are in the Service Rifle competitions where armed forces use the current military issue rifle (the SA80 for British Forces or, for overseas competitors, that of their own country).

The Winter League courses of fire are based on, or have a flavour of those fired by the Armed Forces today and usually involve a physical element (e.g. a 500 to 100 yard run down firing two shots every 100 yards).

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Don’t miss the Phoenix – three days of non-stop target shooting competition

Matches may involve deliberate, rapid fire and snap shooting, and will usually involve firing from a variety of positions including prone, sitting, kneeling and standing.

These positions can be supported or unsupported, e.g. firing around a wall while kneeling or using a post to steady the firing positions.

Competitors use a rifle with a telescopic sight and a magazine capacity of at least 10 shots is advisable. The AR-type firearm with a straight pull action seems to be a popular choice.

The NRA currently has a stock of these in the Armoury for hire and details can be obtained from armoury@nra.org.uk. As these are held monthly the next event’s details are released via the NRA website soon after the preceding event.

Finally, the NRA 300m Championships is held over the weekend of 18-19 May. This is the only NRA discipline governed by International Sport Shooting Federation (ISSF) rules.

It is fired at only one distance, but the rifle may be ‘standard’ or ‘free’ and in any calibre up to 8mm. Matches may be Prone only, or Prone, Standing and Kneeling (PSK).

Firing is from a covered firing point on Century Range and a metric target with smaller scoring rings than Target Rifle is used. For additional information visit the GB 300 metre shooting website at www.gb300m.com

More details and entry to the above events and disciplines can be obtained from the NRA discipline representatives and other knowledgeable volunteers via the NRA shooting and competitions department at shootingdivision@nra.org.uk

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