This glossary is
of necessity not exhaustive, it concentrates mainly on the
terminology of those aspects of shooting practised
by members of Marple Rifle and Pistol Club (MRPC) within the UK, it is not intended to be a
complete work of reference. If you can think of any items that should be included, please
email your suggestions to:
Where there is more than one way of spelling a term, the most
usual is given first, for example: Fullbore, instead of Full-Bore, or Full Bore.
This page covers glossary terms from K to Z, for
terms from A to J (including numerical terms),
take the link.
... 1) Elongated hole made
in a target by a bullet that is tumbling in flight and
hence striking the target other than point first.
Caused by inadequate rotational stabilization of the bullet,
usually due to insufficient barrel twist or too low a
velocity for the calibre. 2) An example of good shooting when successive shots
are so close together as to form a 'keyhole' shaped group on the target.
Kneeling ... Kneeling is a very stable shooting
position, used mostly in rifle shooting. The degree of steadiness achieved
approaches that of prone shooting, but it takes a great deal of practice to get
the best results. The position is with one knee on the ground and the other foot
flat on the floor, normally a roll of firm material is used under the instep of
the bent leg for support. A sling is often used with rifles for further support
in a similar manner to prone shooting.
The raised portion of rifling.
... The process of repeatedly passing a lead 'slug' (usually a wadcutter bullet mounted on
a cleaning rod) through the bore of a gun barrel in order to lap, or polish it. The
polishing is assisted by means of dipping the slug in a mild metal polish, such as Brasso.
This method is used to remove rough spots from the bore which can give rise to leading:
see Leading below.
Lead ... An elemental metal from which the majority of bullets are made. Dull
grey in colour, it is highly malleable with a low melting temperature and is easily
alloyed with other metals, such as tin in order to make it harder. Plain lead bullets are
limited to about 700-800 fps velocity, those of an alloy of lead, tin and antimony can go
up to about 1400 fps, but beyond that velocity, they must be jacketed in order to prevent
leading: see Jacket above and Leading below.
... The deposition of lead in the bore of a gun due to the passage of lead projectiles
(pronounced: "ledding"). Often caused by firing the bullets at too great a
velocity, or by a slight roughness in the barrel, stripping a sliver of metal off as they
pass: see Lapping above.
... The short unrifled section of the bore, if any, in front of the chamber, into which
the bullet's nose is introduced (pronounced: "leed").
... A somewhat vague term used to describe the release of the sear when the trigger is
pulled to fire the gun. A 'crisp' let-off denotes a sudden release, like the click of a
light switch, a 'rollover' let-off denotes a rather more vague firing point.
... Usually a repeating type of action with a
reciprocating breechblock powered by a finger operated
lever. Commonly these guns have a tubular magazine held
parallel to and under the barrel; a common sight in 'cowboy' films.
A self-healing, or self-sealing rubber sheet material, used in the UK to reduce splatter
from bullets impacting on the bullet catcher: see Anti-splash and Bullet Catcher above).
a) To place a round of ammunition in a firearm chamber or magazine. b) A specific type or
composition of ammunition.
The firing mechanism of a muzzle loading firearm.
Lock and Load ...
A Range Command meaning to close
the breach and chamber a cartridge prior to commencing shooting.
Lock, Stock and Barrel ... a) The three main parts of a muzzle loading gun. b) A general term
used to mean everything associated with some enterprise.
... The time taken from the release of the sear by the trigger to the moment the primer is
struck, usually very short, less than two milliseconds being the aim.
Long-arm ... Any gun held in two hands with a butt piece held against the shoulder.
Machine Rest ... A device for securely holding a gun in a consistent position so as to
allow accuracy testing of gun and ammunition: see Bench Rest above.
Handicap system ... A handicapping system
for competitions that tries to ensure that all participants have an equal chance
of winning by recognising that it takes more effort for a skilled shot to
improve their scores than a beginner.
It is available to use in the form of tables and are rather like a set of mathematical Log tables
... a) A device for holding ammunition ready for loading into the chamber of a repeating
firearm. b) A storage room for ammunition and, or explosives.
Magnum (Mag) ... a) A loose term used to signify a cartridge, either rimfire or
centrefire of any size, for either rifle or pistol, which is loaded to higher than normal
pressures. b) A term used to describe firearms which are designed to fire magnum
ammunition e.g. a Smith & Wesson model 29 .44 Magnum revolver.
c) A bottle of champagne or other drink of 1.5 litre capacity i.e. with a volume equal to two
Malfunction ... The name given to any kind of inability to discharge a shot when
required. Malfunctions come in two types, Allowable and Non-Allowable. Depending on the
type of competition there may not be any allowance for malfunctions at all. Allowable
malfunctions are those due to gun failure, ammunition failure and target failure.
Non-Allowable malfunctions are due to forgetting to load the gun, forgetting to insert
the magazine, not releasing the trigger enough to allow the next shot to load etc. The
basic rule is that if the malfunction was attributable to the shooter, then it is not
allowed, if it was due to some other, external factor over which the shooter had no
control, then it is allowed. An allowed shot may be retaken under the same conditions as
the original shot.
Martini Rifle ... A type of falling block action used in single shot guns. In the case
of BSA .22 rimfire rifles the block is hinged at the rear. Viewed from the side with the
breech open these guns bear a passing resemblance to Winchester under lever repeating
centre fire rifles.
... a) A string soaked in nitrate so as to burn slowly and steadily without going out in
wind, used to fire a Matchlock gun. b) A shooting competition.
... A muzzle loading firearm which is fired by means of a slowly burning match being
applied to a flash hole by means of the trigger.
Mean Point of Impact, or, MPI ... The mathematical centre of a group of shot holes on the target.
... A somewhat loose term used to describe non-optical sights, especially
open sights as fitted to handguns. Also known as, Iron sights.
Metplat ... The diameter of the tip of a projectile. This is a somewhat difficult
term to define exactly, but is usually taken to mean that part of the projectile after the
dramatic change in radius as the tip is approached. In a full wadcutter bullet, the
metplat and the calibre are one and the same diameter.
An angular unit of measurement much used by the army and
equal to 1/6400 of a complete revolution (thus there are 6400
Mils in 360
degrees and so 1 Mil equals 0.05625 degrees).
Mil subtends an arc of one
metre at a distance of one thousand metres.
Some telescopic sights, especially those intended for military use, are
calibrated in Mil and are referred to as "Mil-Dot" scopes.
Given that the shooter can accurately estimate the size of the target (for
example a particular type of vehicle), the
gradations in the reticule of the Mil-Dot telescopic sight can then be used to estimate the distance (or
See also MOA below.
... One thousandth of a second (1/1000 second).
Minute of Angle (MOA) ...
An angular unit of measurement equal to the radial distance represented by 1/60 of a degree (there being 360
degrees in one revolution and therefore 21,600 minutes).
The MOA is used in target shooting as a handy reference of accuracy and for
sight adjustment. At a range of 100 yards 1 MOA represents a distance of 1.0472
inches (or approximately 1 inch). Sights are normally calibrated in fractions of
a minute, a typical .22 target rifle with aperture sights will have 1/8
minute adjustments i.e. at 100 yards range, 1 click (see above) of the sight
will move the point of impact 1/8
inch. General purpose telescopic sights normally have 1/4 minute adjustments. See
also Mil above.
... A cylindrical shaped bullet used in muzzle-loaders. It has a pointed tip and a hollow
base which spreads to give a good seal to the barrel when it
is fired; in a similar manner to a pellet in an
Ministry of Defence Ranges (MOD Ranges) ... The
armed forces of the UK owned shooting ranges, especially those ranges which
allow their use by civilian clubs to practice outdoor target shooting. There is
an (over 130 year long) arrangement within the UK, which allows civilian clubs
to use MOD ranges when they are not being used by the armed forces. Being
military ranges they usually have a high value Range Safety Certificate, which
means that full loads can be used in the guns.
... The observed apparent movement and or distortion of a target, due only to temperature
created air disturbance between the shooter and the target. Usually, but not always this is
an outdoor, long range phenomena.
Monte Carlo Stock ... A stock with a raised comb which provides elevated eye alignment when
using a telescopic sight, which stands higher above the bore line than metallic sights.
... The name of a shoulder fired muzzle loading, flintlock
which is usually,
but not always, a smoothbore gun held in both
hands. Note that 'Rifled Muskets' have been made and the main
distinguishing feature of such a gun to distinguish it from a true muzzle
loading rifle is that it will have a short stock and thus be intended to be
fired from the standing position.
... The end of the barrel from which the projectile exits.
Muzzle blast ... The blast, or shockwave felt by a shooter and observers when the
bullet exits from the barrel.
Muzzle Brake ... A device consisting of various vents either attached to, or integral
with the end of the barrel which is designed to reduce the amount of felt recoil and
muzzle jump. See compensator above.
Muzzle Crown ... The process whereby the muzzle is rebated, or 'crowned' so as to
provide some measure of protection from accidental damage to the bore of the barrel
when it comes into contact with a hard object.
Muzzle energy ... The energy,
often measured in Foot-Pounds (ft/lb) that a projectile
contains when it leaves the barrel of a gun.
Muzzle Flash ... The flash, caused by unburned powder burning-up in free air after the
bullet has left the barrel.
Muzzle jump (or, climb) ... The vertical movement of the muzzle on firing the gun caused by the
centre of the barrel being higher than the centre of support for the gun.
Muzzle Loader ... Any gun which is loaded from the muzzle end, usually by means of a
separate powder charge, with the bullet seated afterwards. Muzzle loaders can be,
Matchlocks, Wheel Locks, Flintlocks, or Percussion fired. See Breech loader, above.
Loaders Association of Great Britain (MLAGB) ... As the
name implies, the group that deals with muzzle loading regulation and competition within
Muzzle Loaders Association
International Committee (MLAIC) ... The body that governs all
International muzzle loading competitive target shooting.
Muzzle-Loading gauging ... The scoring process whereby the centre of the bullet hole nearest the
centre of the target determines its value. In this method, the shot hole has to cut the
scoring ring to be awarded the higher value. This scoring process allows competitors using
different calibre guns to compete on an equal basis without the use of scoring gauges for
each calibre: see also, Outward gauging below and Inward gauging above.
Muzzle velocity ... The velocity of a projectile as it leaves the barrel of a gun,
normally this is the maximum velocity reached (some military ammunition can be fitted with
a secondary charge which can be fired later on to act as a booster).
What the British army calls bullets, pellets, rockets and shells. See also the entry for,
... A drilled cone shaped part of a Black Powder gun, fitted at the end of the barrel, or
chamber at the closed end and used to hold the percussion cap(s) needed to fire the main
... a) Short for Nitro-cellulose, the standard form of smokeless propellant used today for
cartridge guns of all types b) A term used to describe both the propellant nitro-cellulose
and the guns themselves that have been made to use it.
Nitro-cellulose ... Otherwise called guncotton. This is the basis of all modern smokeless
propellants, it is made by dissolving cotton in nitric acid (do not try this at home).
or NRA ... National Rifle Association (of Great Britain).
The body that deals with fullbore rifle and pistol target shooting in the UK.
or NSRA ... National Smallbore Rifle Association. The
body that deals with .22, airgun and crossbow target shooting in the UK.
Object lens ... The lens of a telescopic sight (or any optical device) nearest the
object being viewed.
Obturation ... The expansion of a cartridge case on firing to seal off the chamber
and prevent gases from escaping.
... The lens at the rear of an
optical device and nearest the
... The curved portion of a projectile between the cylindrical radius and
the metplat (diameter of the tip of the projectile).
Olympic final ... A 10 shot shoot-off between the top 8 shooters in an ISSF
competition. Scoring is done to 1/10 of a point for each shot, with a maximum score for a
perfectly central shot of 10.9 and thus a maximum total score for all 10 shots of 109.
Open Sights ... See metallic sights above.
Outward gauging ... The scoring process whereby the edge of the bullet hole furthest from
the centre determines its value. In this method, the shot hole has only to touch (not cut)
the next lower scoring ring to be awarded the lower value: see also, Inward gauging and
muzzle-loading gauging above.
... Firearms (often shotguns,
especially those used for clay-pigeon shooting) with two barrels placed
one above the other, as distinct from side-by-side (see
Over bore capacity
... Common term used to
describe cartridges with a propellant capacity overly
large in relation to the bore. Expanding gas produced by
propellant combustion can only be forced through a given aperture at a
certain rate. Thereafter
increasing the amount of gas by increasing the amount of
propellant merely raises pressures without raising velocity.
For example a .300 H&H case necked down to .22 calibre has twice the
powder capacity of a .22-250 and produces maximum
pressures that are much higher, but without noticeably higher
... The rise in local air pressure caused by the firing of a gun, something that
is especially noticeable with the muzzle blast from a black powder pistol which
can often be felt by the shooter and bystanders.
Over-travel ... The amount of rearward travel of the trigger after the release of the
... 1) A
height adjustable support for the non-firing hand of
the user of a target rifle, extending downward
from the forearm of the stock. 2) A height adjustable rest at
the base of the grip of a handgun.
That part of a matchlock, wheel lock or flintlock muzzle loading gun that holds the
priming powder next to the flash hole so that the main charge can be ignited by it.
Parabellum ... a) A term synonymous with the 9 mm pistol calibre cartridge. b) A
contraction of the quotation from Vegetius in the 4th century AD, the original Latin of
which is, "Qui desidererat pacem praeparet bellum", or in English, "If you
wish peace, prepare for war".
... The apparent shift in position of a viewed object attributable to the difference
between two separate and distinct points of view. A major problem for users of telescopic
sights without parallax adjustment, as these sights will only
be free of error at one distance, which is usually 100 yards.
Note that this is not the same thing as focussing
a telescopic sight does not have an adjuster ring near the object lens, then almost
certainly it does not have parallax adjustment. This means
that apart from the one distance at which it is parallax free (usually 100 yards) it will
be of little value for accurate target shooting purposes, no matter with what
gun or ammunition it is used.
Patch ... a) A
small piece of leather or cloth that is greased and placed around a bullet before ramming
it down the barrel of a muzzle-loader so as to hold it firmly in place and prevent it
rolling out. b) A piece of cloth drawn through the bore of a firearm to clean it. c) The
action of covering bullet holes in a target using small adhesive disks, so as to extend its
... Either an airgun projectile, usually of lead, or a component of a shotgun cartridge
which is fired out of the gun. Normally shotgun pellets are round balls of lead, or often
these days, of steel.
Percussion (gun and / or method of
firing) ... The name given to firing a gun by means of a
percussion cap placed over the flash hole (called a 'nipple' on a percussion gun).
Percussion guns are normally muzzle loaders and can be either single shot, or multi shot
like the first Colt revolvers ('Six Shooters').
... A relatively short barrelled gun, usually under 24 inches long
overall and held in one or both hands
without any other support.
Typically it will fire a reduced load cartridge compared to a rifle and normally in modern
construction the barrel will be rifled to improve accuracy. See also the entries for
Automatic and Revolver.
... An American term for casual, non-precision shooting, usually aimed at informal targets
such as tin cans etc.
1 (PP1) ... A competition where 12 shots are fired (in two groups of 6) at a
man-sized target at 25 metres in two minutes (including reloading). This is followed by 12
shots, one shot every 2 seconds with 5 second intervals, at 15 metres, followed by 6
shots, two shots at a time in 2 second bursts with 5 second intervals, at 10 metres. Total
number of shots is thus 30 and there are no allowances for any kind of malfunctions.
... The position of the body of the shooter when firing, for competition under ISSF rules,
this will be either, standing, kneeling or prone (lying face down): see Prone, Standing
and Kneeling below. Other positions used for non-ISSF shooting are, sitting, which is
quite rare and supine (lying on the back) which is used for long range rifle shooting.
Possible, Poss, Highest possible
score, HPS ... The highest possible score on competition
targets, normally this has a value of 100 when shot to international rules. Exceptionally,
in the case of a 10 shot Olympic Final, where scoring is done in 1/10 points, the maximum
... a) An explosive compound fitted either
all around the rim of a rimfire cartridge case, or in a centrally mounted cap (usually
replaceable) for centre fire cartridges. It is used to set off the main charge. b) The
small charge of fine grained Black Powder used to ignite the main charge of a Matchlock,
Wheel Lock or Flintlock gun.
... The recess in the base of the cartridge case that
accepts the primer. In military ammunition it is usually crimped and sealed with
a red coloured lacquer sealant for water-proofing.
Progressive ... Name given to a type of reloading press whereby one pull of the
operating lever competes one stage of the process and allows the press to be moved to the
Projectile ... The name given to any item coming out of the barrel of any type of
gun when it is fired. See also the item for, nature.
... The process of proving a gun safe for use, usually done by firing a special
test cartridge which will apply at least 30% more pressure to the gun than its
quoted limit. In the UK this work is carried out at either the
or London Proof Houses.
... The stamping on the barrel of a firearm to how that it has passed the proof test. In
the case of a revolver, each chamber is separately proofed. Note that European countries
accept each others proof system, but guns imported from the USA into the UK have to be
proofed before they can be sold (this is because there is no universal Federal system of
proof across the USA). In the UK, currently a new proof mark for nitro powder from
Birmingham is shown as, "BNP" and from London as, "NP"
... Prone shooting is mostly for rifle and is done
lying face down, supporting the upper body on the elbows. The rifle is held by
both hands and often braced by a sling, which attaches to the fore end of the
gun at one end and the shooters upper arm by means of a cuff at the other.
Pistol can be shot prone, but it is an uncomfortable experience involving
considerable neck strain and requires the use of both hands.
Prone, Standing and Kneeling, PSK,
Three Positional, 3P ... As the name implies, a competition
which is shot using three different body positions to support the gun. It is for rifle
only and shot at 50 metres for international competition over a total of 60 shots, 20 from
each position and is for the .22 rimfire calibre using single shot guns.
... Any substance which can be used to operate a gun by burning in a
controlled manner. In the UK propellants are not subject to the laws governing explosives
and so can be freely bought by anyone over the age of 16 without a licence. Propellants
are substances that support the spread of combustion at speeds below that of sound
(approximately 1100 fps). They cannot be sent through the post within the UK.
Proving safe ... The action of demonstrating that a gun is not loaded.
... A Black Powder substitute: in the UK it is classed as a propellant and is thus free of
licensing restrictions. It is corrosive to steel both before
and after firing and guns have to be cleaned thoroughly
... A rod of non ferrous construction used to 'ram' the ball (or bullet) down the barrel
of a muzzle loading gun so as to seat it firmly on the charge of Black Powder. It must be
made of a material which cannot strike sparks off the steel of the barrel. The ramrod can
also be used to determine if a muzzle loading gun is actually loaded, by marking it so
that one can tell when it reaches the end of the chamber and thus indicates that there is
no charge present.
... a) The distance from the firing point to the target. b) The location, either indoors
or outdoors at which shooting takes place.
Range Commands ... The instructions given by the Range Officer to the shooters,
detailing how the current course of fire is to be carried out. These can vary from the
very simple, "Fire" and "Cease Fire", to quite elaborate instructions,
depending on the event.
Range Officer, RO, Range Conducting
Officer, RCO ... The person in charge of shooting on the
Range Safety Certificate ... The certificate supplied by the Army (in the UK), stating the maximum
calibre, muzzle velocity and muzzle energy that can be used and over what distances and
from what firing positions for any given Range. It is not permitted to operate a Range
without this document having been issued by the Army following a formal inspection of the premises.
Rate Of Twist
... The length over which the rifling grooves in a barrel make one complete
revolution of 360 degrees. For example, a rate of 1:10 equates to one revolution
in 10 inches. The required rate differs from calibre to calibre and in general
is more rapid for small diameters than for large. Bullet weight must be
appropriate to the rate of twist or bullets will not be stabilised in flight.
The heavier and therefore the longer the bullet for any given calibre, the
faster the rate of twist must be. See Greenhill's formula above.
... The part of a breech loading firearm comprising of the chamber end of the barrel with
the loading / unloading port.
... The rearward movement of a gun when fired. Note that it is in general more comfortable
to fire a gun with heavy recoil from the standing, rather than the prone position. See
also: felt recoil.
Regulate / Barrel Regulation
... In double-barrel rifles, the process of getting
both barrels to shoot to the same point of impact with a given load at a given
distance. This distance is normally
set to the range for which the gun is intended to be
used and for big game rifles it is often quite short (under 100 yards).
The further away from this regulated distance one shoots, the more one must
compensate for left/right point of impact, also it is normal
for the manufacturer to specify which barrel should be fired first for best
accuracy. The points of impact for the two barrels are
usually quite badly affected by heating and so these guns are not intended for
sustained rates of fire.
... The practice of reloading brass cartridge cases with primer, propellant and bullet so
as to use them again. With light target loads straight-walled brass cartridge cases can be
reloaded 20+ times. Note that other materials than brass have been used for cases, but
brass is the only material to date which has demonstrated sufficient flexibility and
elasticity to allow successful reloading of high pressure ammunition.
... The aiming device built into a telescopic sight, usually in the form of cross-hairs
for target shooting purposes. There are many different forms of reticule for sporting use.
... The light sensitive
layer of cells at the back of the eye. It consists of
two main types of cell, rods, for
mainly black & white sensitive vision and cones
for colour sensitive vision. The
point where the optic nerve connects to the retina is bereft of light sensitive cells and is
known as, 'the blind spot'.
... A pistol with a revolving cylinder that can hold (usually) 5 or 6 rounds. They can be
either front loaded Black Powder guns, or fire metallic cartridges from bored-through
... A long gun with a rifled barrel that is held in both hands and is further supported by
the shoulder, normally the shooters cheek rests on the rear stock of the gun.
... Spiral grooving in the bore of a firearm that is used to spin-stabilise the projectile
and thus improve its accuracy after leaving the barrel. Rifling can be either clock, or
anti-clockwise in direction and can have either an even, or an odd number of grooves.
Pistols can and usually do have rifled barrels, the system is not unique to 'rifles'.
... On a cartridge case, the lip or flange around the
case head, which provides purchase for the extractor claw. Initially all cases
had projecting rims, i.e. rims larger in diameter than the case body,
for example the .303 cartridge (today these
cases are known as "rimmed" or "flanged" cases).
The next type of case to be developed was the so-called "rimless" and in this
instance the rim is of the same diameter as the body of the case, for example
the 7.62 cartridge. There are a small group of cartridges with "rebated rim"
cases, where the rim is smaller than the diameter of the case, for example the
or Rim-Fire or Rim Fire
... A system of priming a cartridge case where the primer is held in the rim of the case
and is set off by the cartridge case rim being struck and crushed. The cases cannot be
reloaded and the system is only suitable for low pressure ammunition such as the .22
Long Rifle cartridge
commonly used for target shooting.
Round ... A complete item of ammunition with all components present to allow
the firing of one shot. It can take several forms: a) for modern metallic ammunition it
consists of a cartridge case with fitted primer, main charge and projectile(s) all
assembled together, that is all the components together required to fire one shot. Or b)
for muzzle loading guns it refers to all the required components either in loose, or
part assembled form to fire one shot (see this glossary for description of individual
Round nose ... A bullet with a rounded head such as used in most .22 rimfire target
cartridges. These bullets need the use of a scoring gauge on the target in order to
determine the true value of the shot, due to the way that the hole closes up after they
have passed through the paper.
SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition
Manufactures Institute) ... The American body that quotes
many of the data used in reloading, such as the maximum working pressures for cartridge
... A lightweight carrier in which a sub-calibre projectile is carried: it comes from the
French for a clog or shoe. The term, Sabotage, comes from the practice,
during the Industrial Revolution, of disenchanted workers throwing their sabots into the
new-fangled machines in order to break them.
Safety (Safety Catch) ... A mechanical device to reduce the likelihood of accidental discharge
of any gun to which it is fitted (provided that it has been engaged at the time): not much
used in target shooting circles.
The part of a gun's action that is 'tripped' by the trigger to release the hammer, or
firing pin and initiate firing the cartridge.
Sectional density (SD)
... The ratio of the bullet mass to the square of its
diameter in inches, so therefore SD=bullet weight in pounds / bullet diameter in
inches x 2.
Semi-automatic ... See the entry for, automatic, above.
Semi-wadcutter ... A bullet shape halfway between roundnose and wadcutter. Often used in
semi-automatic guns to facilitate easy feeding of ammunition from the magazine to the
chamber. The shape of the bullet head makes for a neater hole that is easier to score than
that of a roundnose.
... The inner,
granular, starchy endosperm of hard or durum wheat,
used as a filler material for black powder guns, it is more or less inert
and being readily bio-degradable is very suitable for use on outdoor ranges.
... The part of the action of a Matchlock gun which carries the match to the pan when the
trigger is pulled in order to ignite the priming powder and hence fire the gun.
Set Trigger ... A very light trigger that is prepared, or set, by the operation of
either another lever, or by manipulating the trigger itself.
... A double-barrelled
gun, the barrels of which are
horizontally aligned, one beside the other, as distinct from an,
over-and-under. This is the
traditional arrangement for shotguns and big game rifles.
... Device fitted to a gun to assist the aiming of it in relation to a target. Non optical
sights are in two parts, the fore sight mounted at the muzzle end and the rear sight
mounted as far to the rear as practical.
Sight adjustment ... 1) With adjustable rear sights, move the sight adjuster in the
direction you wish the shot to go on the target. To move the shot right, move the rear
sight to the right etc. Usually sights have right-hand threads on their adjusting screws
and this means that clockwise = up on the elevation adjuster and clockwise = right on the
lateral (or 'windage') adjuster. 2) With adjustable front sights, move the sight adjuster
in the opposite direction that you wish the shot to go on the target.
3) Note that some sights, especially those of German make,
use the system whereby if the shots are going to the left, then turning the
adjuster in the direction marked "L" will move the point of impact to the right:
this needs to be thoroughly understood if disaster is to be avoided! 4) In
German, "L" stands for "Links", which means "Left". "R" stands for "Recht",
which means "Right". "H" stands for "Hoch", which means "High" and "T" stands
for "Tief", which means "Low".
Sighting picture ... The appearance of the sights when they are correctly aligned with
each other before the target is in view. See also, aiming picture.
Single Action ... The type of firearm action whereby one pull of the trigger performs
the single function of firing the gun. This term is often used to refer to revolvers, but
it applies to all classes of firearm (see Double Action above).
... The name given to any six shot revolver, especially those associated with
the Wild West of America.
... A shot that hits a turning target whilst it is turning and thus produces an elongated
hole. Depending on the length of the 'skid' the shot may be discounted from the total
score and thus count as a miss.
Smallarm(s) ... A military term used to mean any gun designed to be held in the hand
... Generally taken to mean .22 rimfire.
Smokeless powder ... A term usually used to refer to nitro powders. Note that nitro is not
totally smoke-free, but compared to Black Powder (gun powder) it is a huge improvement.
Smoothbore ... A gun which is not rifled and whose barrel is completely 'smooth' all
the way from breech to muzzle. The projectile is not spin-stabilised and hence the guns
are relatively inaccurate. The most common modern hand-held gun that is a smoothbore is a shotgun.
Some military large calibre guns are smoothbores, but they use fin-stabilised
projectiles to ensure good accuracy.
... An inert cartridge with a spring loaded primer, used to check gun functioning and for
dry fire practice: see Dry Fire above.
A companion to the shooter on the firing point, who undertakes recording the accuracy of
shooting and can advise on wind conditions, especially for long range shooting.
Spotting Scope ... A telescope on a stand, used to observe the position of a shot on the
target from a distance and without having to retrieve it. This is done either by directly
viewing the hole, or watching the signals of a marker in the butts (especially at long
ranges). Normally a magnification of between 20 and 30 times is used.
Standing ... Shooting from the unraced standing
position is the most difficult of all, as it is the most unstable of all the
positions. Training can help a great deal, but nothing can remove all the wobble
experienced by the marksman. A rifle is held in both hands and a pistol can be
held in either one, or two hands depending on competition rules, or shooter
... A process of manufacturing bullets out of lead wire using great pressure to cut and
'swage', or 'squeeze' the bullet into shape. Swaged bullets can be jacketed. This is not
usually a practical proposition for home manufacture, due to the large forces and
relatively expensive equipment involved.
Swarfega ... This is a propriety hand-cleaner much used in the past within the UK to seal the open ends
of revolver chambers, so as to prevent a chain-fire taking place. Not much used
today due to the mess it makes on indoor ranges: see Grease and Felt Wads above
for more detail.
... Very fine Black Powder, finer than FFFFg and used as a primer in muzzle loading guns.
... The object, usually made of thin card, at which shooting is directed and which enables
scoring of the results.
Telescopic Sight ... A sight built into a telescope and designed such that the reticule
and the target are in focus at the same time. For target shooting purposes the sight must
have parallax correction to be of any use.
... The unrifled part of the bore immediately in front of the chamber.
Throat erosion ... The erosion of the throat area caused by the hot gasses of the
propellant burning away the metal and limiting the barrel's useful life. This is mainly a
problem of high pressure rifle cartridges.
Torque reaction ... The tendency for the gun when fired to twist in the opposite
direction to the rifling. This can be a real
problem for pistols when shot single handed,
less so for rifles due to their greater bulk and increased
support, but the phenomena still
exists to some extent in all rifled weapons.
Trajectory ... See bullet path above.
... The device normally operated by the shooter's index finger that initiates the firing
of a gun.
Trigger Shoe ... A device which fits over the standard trigger so as to offer a wider
surface to the trigger finger and thus give the impression of reducing its apparent
Trigger stop ... A device to limit the over-travel of a trigger when pulled: see
Trigger Weight ... a) The weight that a trigger must support to comply with competition
rules e.g. for air pistol it is 500 grams, for air rifle there is no lower limit as long
as the gun is safe to use. b) The weight (often made of brass) used to check a
competitor's trigger before passing the gun as complying with the rules for shooting.
Turning Targets ... A device, usually electrically operated
(but may be pneumatic) that twists a target through
90o very rapidly so as to present the target to the shooter. Used in timed fire
events and controlled by an electronic timer.
... The turn of the rifling. For example a barrel with a 12 inch twist means that for
every 12 inches of movement down the barrel towards the muzzle, the projectile makes one
complete turn (revolution).
Two stage trigger ... A type of trigger which has (normally) about half the trigger weight
to fire the gun taken up by a relatively long rearward movement and the remainder by a
crisp sudden let off. This is a device to enable easier shooting, by giving the shooter
some idea as to how much weight has been taken up before the shot is fired.
Union International de Tir (UIT)
... The old (French) name for the International governing body of target
shooting. It means, International shooting union: see also ISU and ISSF above.
... The speed of a projectile after it has left the barrel, usually quoted as so many, fps
(feet per second): see above.
A disk, or series of disks of soft material used to seal the projectile and powder into
the cartridge and or, gun.
... A bullet with a flat, circular head the same diameter all the way along its length.
Especially used in target shooting as they punch a neat round hole the same diameter as
the bullet and thus make scoring easier.
Wheel Lock ... An early type of muzzle loader lock system which came before the
flintlock. A spring driven wheel was released by the trigger. This spinning wheel struck a
shower of sparks off a lump of pyrite which led to ignition of the priming charge and
hence the main charge. Wheel Lock guns were expensive to make
and relatively difficult to keep in good working order; as a consequence many
were converted to Flintlock operation.
... A cartridge designed and made by a handloader by
altering an existing cartridge case
and usually displaying enhanced velocity over the original donor cartridge.
... The lateral sight adjustment so as to move the point of impact sideways on the target,
this is usually, but not always done by the rear sight.
... The ability to read the changing wind conditions at long range
outdoors, so as to be able to compensate for them on a shot-by-shot basis.
Wiping-out ... A somewhat vague term, used to indicate the removal of oil from a
muzzle loading gun, before attempting to load it for the first time at a shoot and also the
quick clean and squirt of oil down the barrel at the end of a shoot before packing up to
leave the range.
... The name given to a smaller inner ring enclosed within the 10 ring and used
as a tie-breaker. Normally the X-Ring does not have a numerical value: see also
'Inner 10' above.
... The motion of a
bullet in flight spinning erratically around its own
axis, this is mostly due to air pressure on the nose of the
The sight settings in windage (lateral) and elevation (vertical) where the point of aim
and the point of impact coincide. It can be set to any range desired.
A term used to describe variable magnification optical devices. In the case of telescopic
sights a magnification of about 4x is the maximum for shooting from the
unsupported standing position,
10x for prone shooting and anything up to 30x and above, for bench-rest shooting.
Glossary terms from A to J
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