The open rifle event, also known as the fullbore rifle, is the only Commonwealth Games event contested equally by men or women. The event pits the shooters against each other and the elements over distances from 300 to 1,000 yards, using the 7.62mm calibre single shot target rifles. Open rifle competitions rarely stop for the weather only when it is not possible to see the targets! So in addition to all the technical skills of shooting, the competitor has to be able to judge the effect of the wind on the path of the bullet, making adjustments to their sights in order to hit the central bullseye.
Shots are fired from the prone position and rifles have to conform to rigidly enforced weight and other technical specifications. Telescopic sights are not allowed, the shooter using a "peep" sight that is adjustable to compensate for wind and elevation. A freestanding telescope is used to see the spotting disk on the target (showing where the shot has struck). The shooters rely on their experience and judgement, looking at the way the wind-flags are blowing and through their spotting telescopes at the mirage, to assess the strength and direction of the wind. Each competitor has to use ammunition as issued by the organisers to ensure competition on equal terms.
The targets have wooden frames with a hessian backed white paper surface and a circular black aiming mark. Shot values on the five ring targets are 5 (bullseye), 4 (inner), 3 (magpie), 2 (outer), and 1 (a hit). There is a central ring within the bullseye (known as the central or vee-bull) that is used for breaking tied scores. A prescribed set of radio messages between the range officer on the firing point and the butts officer is used to deal with queries from the shooter, such as "message 5 challenge for higher value".
After warm up "badge" shoots the competitors, two from each country, will shoot the pairs' team match and then the individual competition, both over a course of fire based on the format of the historic Queens Prize:
- pairs (over two days): stage 1 seven shots at 300, 500 and 600 yards; stage 2 10 shots at 300, 500 and 600 yards; stage 3 15 shots at 900 and 1,000 yards. Each member of the pair has to shoot and also coaches their team partner. The aggregate of pairs scores over the three stages decides the medal placings.
- individual: the competitors shoot against each other, with no outside assistance, over the same course of fire, again over three days. The three highest individual aggregate scores over the three stages determine the medal placings. If there is a tie for first place with scores equal on points and centrals, there is an immediate tie shoot between the competitors on equal score.
Use this link to access the National Rifle Association website for more about fullbore rifle shooting in the UK.