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Getting Started In Precision Rimfire

Anyone who enjoys shooting for fun is going to know the enjoyment that some casual plinking with a .22 rifle brings.

Getting out there and safely shooting at different targets is an opportunity to test our skills. Precision Rimfire shooting is new to the world of shooting and offers shooters of all ages an opportunity to enjoy precision shooting. Organizations like NRL 22 Canada, Outlaw Rimfire Precision Series, Canadian Rimfire Precision Series here in Canada are just 3 of the groups helping grow this sport. There are similar groups world wide doing the same thing.

WHAT IS PRECISION RIMFIRE

For a long time, precision rifle competitions have been held at ranges that are 1000 yards or more. Ranges that distance are few and can be difficult to find.

The Precision Rimfire scales down precision rifle competitions and instead utilizes .22 LR rifles on at ranges from 25-300 yards (yes 300 yards with a .22LR), which are much easier to find and much more accessible.

THE RULES OF PRECISION RIMFIRE

All though rules  vary slightly from organization to organization they are all very similar as to how shoots are held and equipment that can be used. Complete rules are too much to post here but can be found on their main website and get updated from year to year. With that in mind, always look for the most recent version to stay up to date.

According to the current rules and  regulations, basic range safety is paramount.  Range safety includes pointing rifles only at intended targets, wearing appropriate eye and ear protection, and always treating a rifle as though it is loaded.

Expect to adhere to regulations, as safety violations and penalties can result in removal from the current competition.

COMPETE LOCALLY & NATIONALLY AT THE SAME TIME

One of the most rewarding aspects of Precision Rimfire is that with organizations like NRL 22 Canada and the Outlaw Precision Rimfire Series you shoot and compete at your local range against those who are there as well as everybody else in the country.

The way this works Is every month  there are 5 official stages that all matches must shoot and are typically out to 100yrds max although NRL22 Canada has a second option for a course of fire that runs out to 200yrds but the 100 yards option is most common.  What this means is that when you shoot a match at your local range, you’ll have your local results for everybody there. The results of the 5 official stages for the month are entered into the national database to see how you did against everybody in the country.

While you’re competing locally, you also have the option to compete nationally each month shooting the same course of fire (COF) as everyone else that month.

The CRPS monitors and ranks shooters scores nationally as well but each match is a different course of fire design by that venues match director and may reach out to 300 or 350 yards at times. The shoots are also 10 stages instead of the 5.

HOW DO I GET STARTED WITH PRECISION RIMFIRE

First step, go to the organization website and search for a match in your area. You can also ask local ranges if they have have been holding precision rimfire matches and when you can sign up. Practiscore is a web page that lists shooting event from multiple shooting disciplines not just Precision Rimfire.

Next, have a .22 rifle with an optic and preferably 2 magazines of which at least one holds 10 rounds, two 10 round mags is what I recommend. It doesn’t even need to be an expensive one. The most important thing is to just get out there and try it!

In fact, they have two classes just to separate the expensive rifles from the affordable ones. Those two classes are Base or Production class & Open class.

WHY DIFFERENT CLASSES?

In  precision Rimfire Base class is designed for those who are new to the sport, those with a budget in mind, or those who simply want to keep it a little more relaxed. Check out the official rules, as they will have a complete description of what is and is not acceptable in each class. All in all, it’s simple.

COMPETING IN BASE CLASS

To compete in Base Class your rifle plus your scope cannot exceed a combined MSRP of $1500 USD or listed on the organization production list and you must retain the original stock on the rifle.

The MSRP does not include scope rings, bases, aftermarket triggers, and a few other modifications. According to the rules, Base shooters may have a few modifications but those can vary between organizations and is one area that reading the rules is a must.

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH – OPEN CLASS

Maybe you have a higher-end rifle or optic, or you’ve had your eyes on that great looking rifle, but it’s too expensive for Base Class. If so, say hello to Open Class, where you’ll find top tier rifles and optics. You’ll also see some of the toughest competition.

Restrictions on modifications, like changing out that rifle stock to better suit your needs or stepping up to an optic with a true zero stop and ED Prime glass, don’t exist. You’ll also see centerfire precision rifle shooters who have rifles like the Vudoo and RimX actions or Bergara B14-R rifles designed to mimic their centerfire rifle’s handling.

Open Class is a ton of fun and opens a lot of gear possibilities.

CHOICES FOR PRECISION RIMFIRE MATCHES

When we compete, we want the best of the best to know we’ve got an edge over the competition. To try and simplify things, we did some research and have a few recommendations on where to start trying to find the best .22 ammo, optics, and of course, guns.

CHOOSING THE BEST .22 AMMO

In shooting our .22 LR rifles, we want ammo that is going to be accurate. With the hundreds of brands, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so we’re going to let you in on a couple of the ones we like the best.

One of the gold standards in accuracy are SK Rifle Match and Lapua Center X which I guess could be still classed as mid level ammo. They’re clean burning, subsonic match rounds that won’t break the bank.

Another favorite is the Eley line of ammo. Reviews speak highly of the performance we can expect from these rounds. For entry level ammo CCI Standard Velocity is very popular with shooters just learning the game or wanting to save some money.

Whichever route you go with on ammo, we suggest you stick with standard velocity that is subsonic and avoid the temptation to go fast with supersonic ammo. The problem with supersonic ammo is that because of the bullet shape and velocity drag builds up quickly at the speed of sound which in turn causes it to be affect more by wind and it actually slows down faster than standard velocity. One other thing with high velocity ammo is that it’s typically not loaded to the same standards for consistency as most subsonic ammo.  Stick with subsonic and you’ll avoid that problem and shoot true.

SELECTING BEST SCOPES

The first thing you need to know is if you’re going to compete in Base or Open Class as that will ultimately dictate your budget based on your rifle.

If you’re wanting to stay in base class, subtract the MSRP of your rifle from $1600 USD and that’s your optic budget. If you know you want to be in Open Class, the sky’s the limit. Some like the CRPS have a list of common rifles that are classed as base class.

Next, you’re going to want to make sure you have repeatable turrets, preferably in in milliradian (MRAD/MIL) and 10 MIL per revolution although some shooter do use MOA. Neither is really better than the other but 95% of the shooters out there use MIL so it’s nice if you are on the same page as everyone else when talking elevation or windage corrections. You need a minimum parallax focus distance of 25 yards. Your scope should have a first focal plane (more of the difference between First focal and and Second in a future article) with a reticle that has holdovers for windage and elevation for quick target transition. Finally, you need great glass so you can see the target quickly and clearly.

Recommendations for Base Class would be something with a minimum of 4-16x magnification with optics in the 6-24x range probably ranked as most popular with some shooters running optics with magnification as high as 30x. One thing I see newer shooters as well as some more experienced shooter do is run their scope set at too high of a magnification. Just because your optic goes to 24 or 25 doesn’t mean you want to use it at that all the time. A lot of top shooters will typically run in the 12-18x range on most stage giving them a wider field of view making finding your target a lot faster than is search back and forth on a high magnification. Max magnification is usually used while sitting in your rifle, extreme distances and closer distances of under 75 Yards where your target can be as small as ¼” and needs the high magnification just to be able to see it and know if you are actually on the target or just off the edge. You also want as much change in elevation per revolution of the elevation turret as you can get. Because of the low velocity and long range. Making elevation changes of 50MOA or 15MIL are not uncommon which can require out to 3 revolutions of the turret to achieve. It’s takes careful counting when under pressure and on the clock to remember how many you made. This is were a zero stop comes in. My first two seasons I shot with an optic that had no zero stop. I can tell you now it cost me points when miscounting my revolutions and not being back at my original zero and thinking that I was. A zero stop once set leaves little doubt. You dial back down until it stops….no guessing. Additional accessories for your scope can include a sunshade to help with glare and mirage as well as even keep rain off the lens in poor weather along with a throw level for easier magnification changes. Mounting your optics in quality rings that are you to stay tight and hold your scope under even pressure is important. Quality rings though doesn’t mean you need to spend $300+ on a set of rings. Most optic companies have their own line of steel (not aluminum) rings that will do the job nice. They are not cheap like your basic aluminum rings but they won’t break the bank either. Another thing would be a mounting rail instead of bases. A rail gives a lot more options for mounting location help with the correct eye relief as well as being available I. Canted version which can give you an added 20-50moa of elevation for longer ranges with 30 and 40 moa rails being most popular as they still allow for a normal zero distance but will also give you the added elevation adjustment to be able to Dail out to 300yrds or more.

SHOOTING THE BEST GUNS

So, we’ve got the best ammo and the best scope for the job but now what about the gun?

One of the most popular rifles is the  CZ 457. It’s available in many model suitable for base class and higher end models suitable for open class. The biggest differences being the stock or chassis the barrel action sits in and how the rifle is chambered with either a standard 22lr chamber or a tighter match chamber. All the models can be upgraded as well so if you base base class model and decide to move up to open after a season or two there are tons of aftermarket stocks, chassis and barrels available that you can usually swap out yourself with how the CZ barrel system works.

An up-and-comer is the  Tikka T1x MTR. Made in Finland, it’s an extremely accurate rifle that will play well in the Base Class.

If Open Class is your thing, you should check out the CZ Varmint Precision and of course the different custom builds based on  Vudoo, RimX,  line of rimfire actions and using custom barrels from various manufacturers. These builds can run upwards of $5000 with no optic on them. This Is another why there is base and open class. Trying to even out the field.

WHY IS  Precision RIMFIRE TAKING OFF

Precision Rimfire is taking the shooting & competition world by storm, not only in Canada and the USA but world wide. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to learn how to enjoy shooting.

With competitions across the country, it’s easy to get involved even if you don’t have any experience. All we need is to love the sport and get out there and try it……the rest is history.

Good Shooting and hope to see you on the range.

 

NRL22 Canada https://www.nrl22canada.com/

Canadian Precision Rimfire Series https://rimfireprecision.ca/

Outlaw Precision Rimfire Series https://outlawrimfire.com/

Northern Rimfire Series https://www.northernrimfireseries.ca/

 

 

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