SSAA Queensland operates events using International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) rules, with events for rimfire and centrefire handguns where competitors aim to knock down metal animal-shaped targets.

It’s as close to hunting with a handgun in Australia as we can get.

While the sport had its origins in Mexico during the 1900s, with troops under General Pancho Villa using live animals for targets, the sport in its modern form uses metal targets and has done since its inception in the late 1960s – so no actual animals are harmed during a match!

In Handgun Metallic Silhouette, competitors shoot a handgun to knock over metal targets shaped like chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams. They are of varying shapes and sizes and are placed at ranges between 25m and 200m, depending on the calibre of the handgun being used.

The targets are placed on steel stands in groups of five and set at a variety of known distances, depending on the type/calibre of firearm to be used. The competitor has two minutes to fire at each bank of five targets.

The targets must be engaged in order from left to right with only one shot fired at each target, and the target must be knocked over to score – targets shot out of sequence are scored as a miss.

Matches

There are three official matches: Big Bore, Small Bore and Field Pistol.  Each match is subdivided into categories depending on the type of handgun and the type of sight used.

Big Bore matches require the use of powerful or large-calibre centrefire handguns to knock down the almost life-sized targets, which are placed as follows: chickens at 50m, pigs at 100m, turkeys at 150m and rams at 200m. The big bore matches are broken up into several main categories for competition.

Small Bore matches require the use of rimfire handguns to knock down chickens at 25m, pigs at 50m, turkeys at 75m and rams at 100m.

The targets are scaled down to three-eighths of full size, which makes this match more difficult to shoot compared to the full-sized Big Bore match.

Small Bore is conducted using the same rules as Big Bore, except only.22 Long Rifle ammunition may be used and it must be fired as manufactured; no Magnum or hyper-velocity (Stinger etc) ammunition may be used.

There is also a 50m Rimfire match, using one-fifth-scale targets, which is popular with clubs having restricted ranges.   The fifth scale targets are the same as used for rimfire rifle silhouette.

Field Pistol is a centrefire match available to clubs with a range limited to 100m. It is shot at the same distances as Small Bore. The targets for this match are scaled-down to half-size but because centrefire pistols are used they are made from much thicker steel than the Small Bore targets.

Field Pistol matches include only two categories: “Production”, which requires basically stock handguns with factory sights, while “Production Any Sight” allows for stock handguns fitted with scopes, red dots or other optical sighting devices. The scope, mounts and other optical devices must be used as manufactured and unmodified, and laser sights are not permitted.

The firearms used in Field Pistol are further limited to chamber only straight-walled handgun cartridges of standard manufacture with a maximum case length of 1.29″ (32.76mm).

Also permitted are the .22 Hornet, the 25-20, the .270 Ren and the 32-20 cartridges, with .22LR and .22 Magnum also allowed.

Firearm Categories

Production category handguns are the mainstay of Handgun Metallic Silhouette. This category was introduced to allow shooters to compete on an even footing as far as equipment was concerned.

The handgun must be used complete in form, finish and mechanical function as manufactured, with few modifications allowed. In simple language money will not buy a better score by allowing someone who can afford a custom pistol to compete against someone with a standard, out of the box, pistol.

Aftermarket sights and grips may be fitted, provided they are catalogue items, available to all shooters, and can be fitted without modification to the handgun or the part. A trigger job may be performed by polishing the sear engagement surfaces of the trigger and hammer. The factory springs may be modified or replaced with aftermarket springs that are a catalogue item made specifically for that pistol.

Barrel length must not exceed 10.75″ (273mm) and the weight of the handgun, with all accessories, must not exceed 4lb (1.814 kg) unloaded.

Bolt-action handguns are not allowed in the Production category, but all other types of action including revolver, single shot and self- loaders are acceptable. Muzzle brakes or ported barrels are not allowed in this category.

The Revolver category is more or less self-explanatory, but the revolver must also meet the Production category rules, in that it must be a “Production” revolver. The handgun must be loaded with five rounds and fired as a revolver, although the same handgun may be loaded singly if later used in the Unlimited category.

The Standing category is also largely self-explanatory; the handgun must be fired from a standing, unsupported position. The firearm used for this category must also be a “Production” class handgun and may be a single-shot, revolver or self-loader. The handgun may be held with one or both hands, but with no support to the shooting arm between the wrist and shoulder.

In the Unlimited categories, the shooter’s imagination and budget can practically run wild as far as handgun selection is concerned. The only restrictions affecting an Unlimited category handgun are the barrel length and sight radius limit of 15″ (381mm) and a maximum weight limit of 6lb (2.72 kg).

There is no restriction on calibre or action type, and many of the centrefire bolt-action handguns are chambered for rifle cartridges.

Muzzle brakes and ported barrels are also allowed, provided the barrel length exceeds 12 inches.

Shooting Positions

The most favoured shooting position is called “Creedmoor”.  In this position the shooter lays on their back with their feet toward the target.  In this position the barrel/fore end may be rested against the calf of the leg and the butt may be rested against the thigh or hip.   The butt may not rest on the ground, the barrel may not rest on the top of a boot – or anything similar.

No part of the shooters body may encroach into the “Danger Zone” which is defined as a 45 degree cone-shaped area extending from the muzzle in line with the bore..

A copy of the Pistol Metallic Silhouette – IHMSA rules is available here , and for more information contact discipline chair John Harding on 0418 136  527.

Further Information

  • Discipline Chairman:
  • John Harding
  • Phone:
  • 0418 136 527

Rule Books*

* May be shot Subject to Range Approval. Approved firearms must still comply with Qld State Laws & Regulations.

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