300 shooters at Century Range during Bisley's Imperial Meeting, 2008.
Shooting outdoors, whatever the weather conditions, fullbore is a test of accurate shooting and working out how the wind, heat and even rain will affect the bullet as it travels to the target. We call 300 yards to 600 yards "short" range, and we also shoot at targets 800 yards to 1200 yards away. The further away the target, the greater effect the wind and other weather factors have. No telescopic sights are allowed for most ordinary competitons, so the target looks extremely small. In fact at 800 yards the black aiming mark is 4 ft in diameter - but the bull is just 20 inches in diameter. And we do hit the bull's eye a lot of the time. To make sure that the bullet has the best chance of hitting the bull we use 7.62 mm ammunition in high precision single-shot target rifles. The clothing and accuracy enhancing accessories are similar to those used in small bore shooting.
Reading the weather conditions is an acquired skill so for most interclub matches we have a skillful wind coach who sits or lies beside the shooter and watches the changing conditions - altering the sights to compensate. The shooter's job is to lie still and shoot a perfect shot when told to.
This requires a very high degree of cooperation, coordination and trust and is probably unique in sport.
Competitions are typically two sighters (to adjust for wind and elevation) followed by 7 or 10 or 15 shots to count at each range. We typically shoot more than one range in a competition.
Match Rifle is shot at distances up to 1200 yards. Telescopic sights and special techniques are required.
Getting into a team is easy. It is quite usual for a team to be made up of, say, 8 shooters, but with only the best 6 scores to count. This allows the beginner to have a good day, and the expert to have a bad one. Get in touch with the fullbore captain now - if you want to shoot, you will shoot.
The season proper starts in March and runs to October and there are regular team matches. Shooting is always at the weekends and it is possible to spend a full weekend at Bisley and enjoy the shooting and the social life in the evenings.
Most shooting is done using open sights - no scopes. This is called Target Rifle.
Popular amongst older shooters - and some younger ones - is F Class where scopes and rests are allowed.
Then there is Match Rifle. Again telescopic sights are allowed, but distances start at 900 yards and go out to 1200 yards - the effective limit of accuracy for the 7.62mm round.
Although no longer an Olympic sport (small bore only these days), fullbore shooting is practiced all over the world – principally in the Commonwealth countries and the USA. Shooters come to Bisley from all over the world to compete in the annual Imperial Meeting – which is effectively the World Championships. And novice shooters can join in too!
And fullbore is a core event at the Commonwealth games which of course are the second largest games in the world after the Olympics.