There’s ammunition…then there’s Ammunition

First a little history. Target Rifle shooting has experienced a lot of change over the last 30 years, and, as with most sports, seen an ever-increasing standard at all levels. Scores have consistently been on a trend upwards. Several factors have contributed to this, the first step change in standard came with the development of rifles specifically designed for Target Rifle shooting. Development around the bolt (which houses the firing pin), barrel technology and sights (enabling better sight pictures and the ability to alter them more accurately) have all contributed to a more accurate, more consistent rifle.

What has also been hugely significant has been the improvement in ammunition. Fullbore target rifle shooting uses .308″ calibre rounds – the diameter of the bullet is 0.308ths of an inch. A round is made up of a brass case to hold the powder that pushes the bullet out when ignited, the “primer” at the rear-end of the case that the firing pin hits to cause the spark to ignite the powder. The bullet is placed in the top of the case and is just under an inch long, made of a lead core wrapped in a copper jacket.

Years ago, ammunition for use in the UK competitions was almost exclusively from Radway Green (RG), using a 144 grain bullet (which means the bullet itself weighs 144 grains, where 437.5 grains = 1 ounce). This tended to be inaccurate at the longest distance (1000 yards) where the bullet would often lose so much velocity that it would become much less accurate. The quality of RG improved after incorporating a new design using a bullet of 155 grains in the 1990s. Other premium quality loads also became available and it is now possible, in reasonable weather, to shoot bull sized groups at 1200 yards with a target rifle; unheard of 20 years ago.

RG is no longer issued in civilian competitions in the UK, but there are many brands available who produce excellent and consistent bullets. The NRA of the UK issues ammunition in its major competitions and this is currently manufactured by GGG.

GBRT however will tend to make their own ammunition as “hand-loading”, when done correctly, is proven to improve scores. International teams weigh and measure out exactly the right amount of each component and tailor loads to individual rifles and barrels. A quick calculation of the time required to make the requirement of about 20,000 needed for a touring team gives a figure of about 150 hours, or 4 working weeks! Just goes to show the dedication GBRT put towards achieving the best performance they possibly can.