December 2013 Features — 10 December 2013

Embrace the Rimfire Challenge

NSSF is administering a great new event to build range traffic

“Shooter ready. Stand by. Beep”

The NSSF Rimfire Challenge combines speed and accuracy in a low-key competition.

The first time I answered those range commands with gunfire was 1988 at a local club in California that I had just joined. “Combat Shooting,” as it was referred to in less politically correct times, was still a fairly new sport and as such was still evolving rapidly. Then, few veteran shooters, let alone pros, from whom we could draw advice were around, so we just had to jump in with both feet and hope for the best.

My first tournament-level competition was the 1991 World Speed Shooting Championships, and it was intimidating. Back then you would pick up the leading shooting magazines and read about the pros and the world championship events. It looked like a lot of fun. The problem was that we didn’t have a clue as to what it took to compete in those events, so, again, we jumped in head first and hoped that the water was deep enough—but not too deep. Most of us that shoot competitively started just like this, and we continue to compete for love of the sport. It becomes less daunting after a few trips to the shooter’s box. I was very lucky from the start that a group of us that shot together a lot all jumped in together. So even though we were novices, we had a solid support network.

That’s a quaint story, but what’s the point—and what does it have to do with Rimfire Challenge? We’re getting there, but first…we’ve all heard the stories about some father, husband, boyfriend or whatever taking a new female shooter to the range, putting a largebore centerfire handgun in her hands and saying, “Shoot that target.” The aftermath of that misadventure is more often than not the new female shooter deciding that she no longer wants to shoot. Someone who had an interest in a sport who needs all the supporters she can get is at the least no longer interested and at worst is convinced that it is a dangerous pastime with no redeeming social value. Like us, back in 1991, the new shooter needed proper support.

That brings us to these questions: What is the National Shooting Sports Foundation Rimfire Challenge (NSSFRC), and why should you consider holding it at your facility? The Rimfire Challenge is a program originally developed and supported by Sturm, Ruger & Co. to introduce participants to the fun and excitement of competitive shooting in a safe, low-pressure, family-friendly format. NSSF, the trade association of the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports, wished to offer a rimfire program that possessed those same qualities. Because NSSF possesses the infrastructure to bring the program to the public in a major way, Ruger agreed to turn over the administrative reins of the Rimfire Challenge.

The NSSFRC was developed with safety in mind. Shooters are required to compete using any manufacturer’s rifle and handgun chambered in .22 Long rifle caliber. The targets are five to seven steel plates that are set in a course of fire or stage. The stage is designed to be completed by even the most inexperienced shooter using one 10-round magazine without the need to reload “on the clock.” Steel plates were chosen as the targets because they are easy to buy or build and because this type of target provides the shooter with immediate visual and audio feedback. All levels of target shooters—new, novice and experienced—are welcome to compete, and each will find a challenge appropriate to their level of skill.

The Rimfire Challenge was developed not only to attract new shooters, but specifically to draw families, women and juniors, the most underrepresented demographics on the range. NSSFRC is a sport that is designed to create a clientele that will become not only shooters but also competitors—and competitors visit the range on a regular basis. This low-key competition will remind participants that the shooting sports are lifetime activities that are fun and affordable. The reasons for the popularity and success of NSSFRC are simple and many.

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The challenge brings family members together for shooting fun, allowing beginners and experts to compete together, yet at their own level.

The barrier to entry into this sport is very low since the firearms can be purchased inexpensively and can be shot in competition right out of the box. There are no holsters or other accessories needed since this shooting is done from the Low Ready start position, and the stages are stand and shoot. The firearms are fairly lightweight and can be handled by young shooters more easily than their centerfire counterparts. Rimfire allows new shooters to start with firearms that are low in recoil and noise and use inexpensive ammo.

Many ranges already  have equipment to loan or rent if their customers who don’t have all of the necessary guns and gear  want to give it a try. NSSFRC is also a great opportunity to teach novices safety and procedures that most veteran shooters do instinctively.

Many ranges have embraced the NSSFRC model and have created regularly scheduled monthly matches that attract and retain new customers. Another great way to take advantage of Rimfire Challenges popularity is to offer new shooter clinics that are low cost and supply all the necessary components (ammo, firearms and instruction)  to attract new clients to the range.

Getting started in NSSFRC is easy. First visit  and download Rimfire Challenge Rules for Competition, as well as the many other resources available including an instructional video. These resource materials will provide you with all the specifics needed to run a NSSFRC match.  Next you will need the proper targets and timing equipment. Quality 3/8-inch-thick steel (AR400 or harder is recommended) will allow the targets to be used in centerfire shooting as well. An NSSF press release details discounts two manufacturers of these targets are offering to NSSF member ranges (Note: The grants referred to in the press release have been fully awarded, but the discounts remain in effect). NSSFRC can be shot on outdoor and indoor ranges. When shooting on indoor ranges there are some special considerations, but they are very simple to implement. An instructional video on shooting Rimfire Challenge Indoors soon will be available on the website as well. Watch for that, as well as other videos to be produced during the coming year.

Finally, you need to pick a date and gather your customers together for a day fun and excitement. Give NSSFRC a try; you won’t be disappointed.

“Shooter ready. Stand by.” Those words still make my heart race, and they will do the same to your customers and club members when you embrace the NSSF Rimfire Challenge.

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