The centerfire pistol is another matter; most pistols of this type are designed for defensive use, a use which requires far less accuracy. The most common centerfire pistol is the M1911 design, usually built or accurized by a gunsmith who specializes in bullseye pistol work. All areas of the operating mechanism must fit tightly enough to allow the required consistency, while remaining reliable enough to not jam during a match.
While many shooters use the .45 for the centerfire stages of competition, some shooters prefer a third gun. European models such as .32 S&W automatics from Walther and other makers are a suitable choice, as are M1911 variants in smaller calibers, such as .38 Special or .38 Super The smaller calibers have significantly less recoil than the .45 ACP, but that advantage is offset by the cost of buying and learning to shoot proficiently with a third gun.
S&W revolvers are most common among shooters who prefer revolvers; S&W makes suitable double action revolvers in .22 Long Rifle, .38 Special, and .45 ACP. Custom gunsmithing is common here as well, to increase reliability and usability.
Centerfire ammunition is often handloaded, with very careful selection of components to allow the maximum precision. Lighter weight bullets and lower velocities than standard are normally used to minimize the recoil.
Three courses of fire are followed: Slow Fire, in which ten rounds are fired in ten minutes, Timed Fire, consisting of two five-round strings with twenty seconds for each string, and Rapid Fire, which has a ten second limit for each of the two five-round strings. All shooting is done one-handed, standing, with no support.
Depending on the match format, the competitor may be required to shoot as many as 90 rounds from each of three handguns. Each shot scores a maximum of 10 points. Hence, a one-gun competition is often referred to as a "900" whereas a three-gun competition is a "2700". A shorter form is the National Match Course consisting of a single Slow Fire, a Timed and a Rapid Fire target, 30 shots for a maximum score of 300. Single gun competitions using only the rimfire pistol are common, as they provide an inexpensive entry into the sport.
Outdoor competitions are typically fired at 50 yards (slow fire) and 25 yards (Timed & Rapid Fire) using the same target. A "short course" will shoot only at 25 yards and use a reduced-size target for the Slow Fire segment. All courses of fire at an indoor competition are typically fired at 50 feet with appropriately scaled targets.
Recorded scores are used to rank shooters into Tyro (no scores on record), Marksman (360 recorded shots but below the 85% mark), Sharpshooter (85-89.99%), Expert (90-94.99%), Master (95-96.99%) and High Master (97% and above) categories. While 300 point stages have been shot in all stages, no shooter has ever scored a 2700 in a sanctioned match; the current record is 2680-159x, held by Hershel Anderson That is a score of 2680 out of 2700, with 159 of 270 shots hitting the "X" ring, which is half the size of the 10 ring. "X" ring shots still count 10 points, but in the case of a tie in points, the higher "X" ring count wins.
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