Stephen Archer informs on ‘three position’ shooting, popular in the US
Competitive airgun shooting in the USA takes a number of forms, and this month we’ll take a look at the most popular of them. It may not be quite what you would expect!
By far the largest structured, competitive airgun discipline is three-position, air rifle target shooting. This is way, way more popular than field target, silhouette or benchrest shooting in the US, although we’ll see these other disciplines in future stories.
There are no big-bore airguns and none of the ‘zillion FPS’ air rifles that fill the shelves of American stores, of both on-line and bricks and mortar varieties. In fact, the guns are low power, .177 calibre precision PCP air rifles producing little more than 6 ft.lbs of muzzle energy.
THREE POSITION TARGET SHOOTING
Three position shooting is fired at 10 metres range. Those three positions are standing, kneeling and prone, as you might have guessed.
Three Position, or ‘3P’, one of the inevitable abbreviations that abound throughout the American-English language, is highly-organised and structured. It’s primarily based on clubs that are associated with the military, like the British Cadets, or Scouts, and even in some schools. Just imagine that; airgun shooting can be on the curriculum in secondary schools in some states, and there are even a few universities that offer shooting scholarships to attract students.
For many youths, this can form their first introduction to shooting, particularly if they come from urban backgrounds. Multiple benefits are credited to 3P shooting, including responsibility, co-ordination, patience and self-control, all of which were exemplified in the competitors I saw, but missing in so many other young people. Yes, that certainly shows my age, doesn’t it?
Not only this, but it’s also about the safest sport that there is! No one has heard of an injury caused by target shooting. Compare that to the huge number of injuries sustained annually by those playing football – always called soccer here, for some reason – American football (called ‘football’), baseball, rugby and other more physical sports.
3P shooting is also open to both boys and girls on an equal basis. In fact, it seems like more girls than boys are getting interested in 3P shooting – and these girls really can shoot!
CAMP PERRY - THE AMERICAN BISLEY
To see junior 3P shooting at the highest level, I visited Camp Perry. This, of course, is the home of US high-power rifle shooting. It’s military-run and, just like Bisley, there’s a huge number of long-distance ranges for shooting out to 1,000 yards. Anyone who knows Bisley would feel at home at Camp Perry. Just think of a ‘Bisley-onsea’ and you’ll be right there, although, to be fair, it’s rather bigger and smarter than I remember Bisley.
Camp Perry is in Ohio, about 300 miles west from my home. That’s pretty close by US standards. It’s right on the southern shore of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. Camp Perry is home to the Civilian Marksmanship Program
The shooting hall of the Gary Anderson Competition Center has 40 target lanes on each side. Spectators sit in the middle, together with the elevated ‘command centre’ for the Chief Range Officer and control over the scoring system.
The day I visited, it was absolutely pouring with rain, so the CMP supplied this photograph of the Gary Anderson Competition Center building.
You can really see the concentration on the faces of the competitors during the standing event.