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Three-Position Rifle

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Smallbore Free Rifle is a discipline that is fired from 3 positions (prone, standing and kneeling) at a range of 50 meters.  This discipline of shooting is also widely known as “Olympic Free Rifle” and/or “3 Position (3-P) Rifle”.  3-P Rifle events are open to men and women, adults and juniors.  The 3-P rifle classification is shot in accordance with the rules and regulations as stipulated by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) and Shooting Federation Canada (SFC).

A brief two minute video is available on YouTube.
It was created by “USA Shooting” and it neatly summarizes 3-position shooting: 3-Position Rifle


Typically the 3-P rifle discipline is very similar to the “match” rifle discipline. It is a .22 calibre rimfire, highly specialized, precision target rifle.  During the “standing” course of fire the rifle is held and fired unsupported by any sling or other means (as in the photo above).  However, between shots the rifle can be rested and reloaded on a stand. During the kneeling and prone phases of 3-P shooting, the rifle may be supported by one arm and a sling.

Like match rifle the only allowable sights are “iron” sights meaning no telescopic sights are allowed, and no “optics” may be attached to the rifle sights that magnify or enhance the target or target image.

The maximum allowable weight of the 3-P rifle (with all attachments) is 8.0 Kg (17.64 lbs) for men and 6.5 kg (14.33 lbs) for women.

3-position rifle competitors will typically wear a heavy canvas or leather jacket to provide support to the upper body in order to hold the rifle unsupported (except for the rifle sling).  Specialized leather and canvas pants and shoes may also be worn for additional support in the standing and kneeling phase.  The prone portion of 3-P rifle is practically identical to prone match rifle (see the match rifle section for details).

During kneeling and prone portions the sling is attached to the fore end of the rifle stock and then to the supporting arm.  Kneeling rolls may be used for kneeling support, and shooters will lay on a mat to provide comfort and adherence for the elbows during prone shooting.  Spotting scopes on their own stands are used for the shooter to “spot” his or her shots on the targets at 50 meters.  If electronic target systems are used, then a small monitor is provided in lieu of the spotting scope.


Specific rules that govern the equipment for 3-P rifle can be found in chapter 7 of the ISSF rule book.

Course of fire

The 50 metre 3-P match rifle event is fired in accordance with International Sport Shooting Federation (ISSF) rules and regulations.  The course of fire for 3-P is: prone, standing and then kneeling.

The “match” consists of 3 x 40 scoring shots for men (3 x 20 shots for women) from:

1: the prone position (40 shots men, 20 shots women);
2: then the standing position (40 shots men, 20 shots women); and
3: then finally the kneeling position (40 shots men, 20 shots women).

The time limit for men is 45 minutes from the prone position, then 75 minutes standing followed by 60 minutes kneeling.  For women the total time limit is 2 hours and 15 minutes for the entire course of fire (all three positions).

The standard ISSF smallbore 50 meter target measures 15.5cms in diameter.  The “10” ring is 1cm (10 mm) in diameter with an inner “X” ring that is a mere 5mm in diameter.