| BPCR Silhouette | Fast
Draw | Cowboy Action Shooting
of the fastest growing shooting sports is Black Powder Cartridge
Rifle Silhouette (BPCRS). In this sport, shooters use authentic
or reproduction rifles to knock down four different steel silhouettes
at four different ranges. The sport was organized in 1985 by shooters
who recognized the great interest in the U.S. in the black powder
cartridge rifles of the era preceding 1896. BPCRS harkens back to
this time, a time of big-bore, single shot rifles, a time of long-range
target shooting and buffalo hunting.
BPCRS, shooters must knock down steel silhouette chickens at 200
meters (656 ft.), pigs at 300 meters (984 ft.), turkeys at 385 meters
(1,262 ft.) and rams at 500 meters (1,639 ft.). As in high-power
rifle silhouette competitions, the chickens must be shot off-hand
in the standing position. However, BPCRS differs in that the pigs,
turkeys and rams may be shot in a prone or sitting position using
a cross-stick rest. Ten shots are fired at each target, for a total
of 40 shots per match. The challenge is in the equipment: only original
or reproduction single shot rifles that shoot cartridges loaded
with black powder or Pyrodex are allowed. Only original sights may
be used no scopes.
was organized in 1985 at the NRAs Whittington Center near
Raton, New Mexico. There was great interest in the U.S. in black
powder cartridge rifles of the era prior to 1896, and BPCRS was
created to provide an outlet for this interest.
of 34 competitors attended the first BPCRS match. The following
year, the number of shooters had increased to 50. Now satisfied
that the game had potential, the NRA organized the first official
National Championship in 1987, with 71 shooters in attendance. By
1996, the sports popularity had grown immensely. The championship
that year drew 347 shooters, more than any silhouette national championship
of any type that the NRA has ever hosted. Dozens of BPCRS clubs
have sprung up around the country, which host their own shoots.
isnt the only thing that has increased in BPCRS so
has shooter proficiency. In 1985, shooters found it very difficult
to hit the 200-meter chickens because of the required off-hand position.
Today, 200-meter scores of 7 and 8 out of 10 are fairly common.
not just the chickens that shooters are hitting more. The 1985 match
was won by Ed Middleton of Kansas, whose two-day score was 32 hits
out of 80 possible (40 percent). The 1998 National Championship
was won by Steve Brooks of Montana, who hit 91 of 120 targets (75.8
percent), a new national record. In 13 years, proficiency among
the top shooters has increased almost twofold.
was aimed at traditional-minded shooters and organized in a way
that would protect it from modernization. From the very beginning,
NRA rules called for rifles to weigh no more than 12 pounds, 2 ounces,
including sights. Stock measurements, such as width, length and
depth of buttplate, and buttstock drop, were stringent. These rules
were devised to keep the sport traditional and keep the focus on
proficiency, and away from turning into an arms race.
organizers have largely succeeded in keeping BPCRS traditional,
as the sport remains much the same as it was in 1985.
is limited to single shot, exposed-hammer, American rifles of the
era preceding 1896. Cartridges are required to be from the black
powder era, of any caliber, but only of American make. Black powder
or Pyrodex are the only allowed propellants; duplex loads (loads
partially containing smokeless powder) are not permitted.
and forearms must be natural wood, must emulate the stock designs
of the pre-1896 era, and must be within a stringent set of measurements.
Cheekpieces, pistol grips and crescent butts are permitted, but
the latter must also meet specifications. Only cast bullets of plain
base configuration are permitted. No Scheutzen-style rifles are
each bank of five targets, the competitors are allowed 2-1/2 minutes
to get off their five shots.
- Allowed is any pre-1896 single-shot rifle, original or replica,
chambered for an American Black Powder Cartridge, with exposed hammer.
The rifle can be military or commercial. Popular rifles include
the Model 1874 Sharps, the Remington Rolling Block, and the Model
1885 High Wall. The total weight of the rifle, including sights,
must be less than 12 lbs 2 oz.
- No scopes are allowed. A tang-mounted, veneer-style peep sight
is considered a necessity, as is a front sight taking interchangeable
inserts. The most popular type of rear sight is the "Soule"
- Cartridges must be loaded with plain base cast or swaged, paper
patched or grease groove bullet. Only straight black powder or straight
Pyrodex is allowed. Popular cartridges for BPCR competition include
the .40-65 WCF, .40-70 Sharps Straight, .45-70 and .45-90 WCF.
- Cross-stick rests may be any length, but are limited to 1"
x 2" in thickness and width, or 1 1/2 in diameter. The sticks
must be hinged by bolt so they can pivot. Spikes are limited to
3". One layer of padding is allowed on the sticks.
- A good black powder cartridge rifle costs as little as $500 to
as much as $4,000.