Palma competition dates from 1876, featuring long-range rifle shooting out to 1,000 yards. The first Palma Match was contested by teams from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Scotland and Ireland (with muzzle-loading rifles at that time). The Match is the world’s second-oldest International Team Match, behind only the America’s Cup. The matches continued to the late 1920s, and the trophy was eventually lost in Washington DC around the outbreak of WW2. The match was revived in the modern era in 1966 in Canada, and continues between teams from around the world. The bolt-action rifles are to ICFRA TR (Target Rifle) specification and fire Match Grade ammunition using metallic (aperture / iron) sights. The last two International Long-range Target Rifle World Championships were held in the U.S. in 2015 and New Zealand in 2019, when the Palma Trophy was won by Great Britain (2015) and Australia (2019). The modern Palma Match requires Teams of 16 firers occupying 4 Targets: together with 4 Target Wind Coaches, Captain, Manager, Main Wind Coach and 2 Reserves a full strength Palma ‘Squad’ is 25 persons.
The Palma Match course of fire consists of 3 yardages – 800, 900 and 1000 yards or Metric alternatives – with two sighting shots and fifteen shots to count at each. This format is reflected in the courses of fire for the Palma Match and the TR Individual Long Range World Championship. In the Team Matches the course is fired twice over two successive days: for the Individual TR Championship three times plus a ‘final’- an additional 15 shots at 1000 yards for the top 10 scorers to date. Domestic Palma Championships may consist of two or three Palma courses. Another course of fire commonly used has yardages at 600 yards and 1000 yards, with 15- or 20-shot strings at each distance.
Target Rifle is a fullbore rifle discipline shot with iron-sighted rifles at ranges from 300 to 1000 yards or metric equivalents. Shooting is conducted prone with the rifle supported with an adjustable sling comprising a cuff for the upper arm and an adjustable strap connected to the rifle’s fore-end. Special shooting jackets are permitted, which can increase the stability of the shooter, reduce movement of the firearm due to pulse, help with consistent recoil management and provide padding for the elbows against the ground. Because of the tension of the sling and the weight of the rifle, it is common to use a padded shooting glove in the support hand for comfort. No bipods or rests are permitted. Minimum trigger pull weight is 500 grams (approximately 1.1 lbs). The total weight of the rifle is unlimited. The rifle must be chambered for either the unmodified .308 Winchester/ 7.62×51mm or .223 Remington/ 5.56×45mm cartridge cases. Bullet weight for .308 Win must be less than 156 grains (10 grams) (typically 155 grain bullets are used), and less than 91 grains (5.8 grams) for .223 Rem (typically 80 or 90 grain bullets are used).
The reason for limiting bullet weights in the fullbore discipline of Target Rifle is to level the playing field and make the competition about physical and wind reading skills instead of about equipment. Lighter bullets usually have a lower ballistic coefficient and are therefore more susceptible to wind drift.
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