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Handgun silhouette is a pistol competition that started in the 1970s. It is derived from a Mexican target competition that started by shooting at live animals at various distances. Americans had a similar tradition with "turkey shoots". Both traditions have transitioned to inanimate targets, which are easier to score, and are more  uniform than live targets.
The targets used today are derived from the live targets. They are steel silhouettes of chickens, pigs, turkeys, and rams. The targets are set on flat bases. They give a satisfying clang when hit. A hit counts for score if the target is knocked over.

There are four stages of five targets each. Each set of five targets are the same silhouette, shot at the same distance.  A match usually consists of 40-80 targets shot at with an equal number of rounds, one shot per target.

The distance to each set of targets and the size of the targets used depend on the category of pistol used in the competition.
There are several categories of firearms to compete in. They include Big Bore, Small bore, Field Pistol, and Air Pistol. 

  Big Bore consists of bottleneck and straight-wall center fire cartridges. 

  Small Bore consists of .22 LR Rimfire ammunition as manufactured.  

  Field Pistol consists of straight-wall center fire pistol cartridges of standard manufacture with a maximum case length of 1.29 inches, the .32-20 cartridge (1.32 inches), the .270 REN, the .22 Hornet, .25-20, and the .22 LR and .22 WMR Rimfire as manufactured.

Air Pistols shall be .22 caliber or smaller.

  Categories are further subdivided into separate competitions for production and unlimited handguns, standing and freestyle positions.   Targets come in full size, half size, 3/8 size, 1/5 size and 1/10 size. The targets are matched to the appropriate categories. The apparent size of the target is similar for each distance shot at.

 Graphic showing the relative size of the targets in minutes of angle. One minute of angle is 1 inch at 100 yards, or 1.1 inches at 100 meters. Each increment on the scale is two minutes of angle. This sounds complicated, but in practice, it is not. It means that the targets will look about the same size to the shooter for all four ranges. Charts showing the targets used for each competition are available in the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) rule book. Handgun Silhouette is a fun sport to shoot and to watch. The targets give off a loud clang and usually fall over when hit.  Sometimes the targets are hit, spin around, but do not go over. That is counted as a miss.

by Dean Weingarten


Ancient Egyptians took hunting seriously. They respected and valued their prey, studied their habitats and habitats, and even worshipped some of them as gods. Stunning tomb paintings and fragmentary manuscripts provide us with a wonderful record of how and what they hunted.

Parts of the green and fertile delta region were preserved for hunting, fowling and fishing. Fleet footed animals in the more arid regions, such as gazelles, antelopes, ostriches and boar, beyond the farmlands allowed for exciting chariot chases, or lazier forms of hunting where hunters lay in ambush near water holes and picked off their thirsty prey with spears and arrows.

Pharaohs were happy to leave the cares of government behind and go on hunting expeditions with their families, courtiers and professional hunters. Their trained hunting dogs are thought to be the ancestors of modern breeds. The atmosphere and enjoyment of one such expedition has been eloquently captured in a fragmentary manuscript named The Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling. It forms a hymn of praise, and tells of Amenemhat II swamp hunting around a lake in Fayum, about 60 miles south west of Cairo, around 1850 BCE. Members of his harem, his children and various deities were among the hunting party.

A much earlier event narrated by the Greek writer, Diodorus, tells how Menes, Egypt’s first pharaoh, almost lost his life on a hunting trip in the Fayum, when his own dogs attacked him near the lake. However, his life was saved by a crocodile, which carried him across the water to safety. As a reward, he declared the lake a sanctuary for crocodiles and founded the city known to the Greeks as Crocodilopolis.

It was more likely that crocodiles were one of the dangers fishers and fowlers were keen to avoid, along with hippopotami, which could overturn a low-lying boat. Professional fishermen generally used nets from a boat, dragnets from shore or bow nets from the narrow banks of the river. Harpoons and spears were also used to catch larger species. Angle fishing was also common, using a hook at the end of a thick hand line cast from a boat or the shore.

Fowling was popular among all classes. A coffin text mentions greylag and green-breasted geese, white-fronted ducks and pintail drakes captured by the deceased. Water fowl flocking by the Nile and in marshland were easy to fell using spears and throwing sticks. Nets allowed them to be captured in larger numbers. Hunters frightened exhausted migrating quail that landed in the Delta after crossing the Mediterranean, into rising and get enmeshed in the nets they had spread in their path.

Ducks and geese were more of a challenge. Fowlers constructed a trap using two huge nets that covered a pool. They placed a decoy in the pool and hid out of sight. When a number of birds landed the fowlers pulled a rope to bring the two nets together and trap the birds in between. All the helpers would have shared in the haul and feasted well after a successful hunt.

 article by Celine Castelino


Dogs have been our hunting companions for thousands of years but when did this partnership begin? Scholars believe that dogs descend from the gray wolf, Canis lupus, the largest member of the Canid family, which includes foxes and coyotes, but have not yet established where they were first domesticated. Was it in the Middle or Far East or did dogs accompany our ancestors out of Africa? It is more likely that they were domesticated in several places at different times.

Did we domesticate dogs or did they adopt us? A widely accepted theory suggests that smaller, less-aggressive wolves started hanging around human habitations to scavenge their leftovers. Perhaps they then started following the hunters and joined in the chase; they may have sniffed out the quarry and chased them towards the waiting humans. Or it may have happened the other way round, with humans following dogs and stealing their dinner!

The most tantalizing evidence of dogs living alongside humans comes from the Chauvet Cave in the south of France that dates to around 26,000 years ago, where a 150-foot trail of footprints made by a child, 8 to 10 years old, were found in the clay floor alongside those of a large canid – a dog or wolf. A skull that is more like that of a domesticated dog than a wild wolf was found at Goyet Cave in Belgium and dated even earlier - to 31,700 years ago.

A study of over a 100 dog burials from prehistoric Japan provides very early evidence that dogs did indeed help people hunt. Angela Perri, now a zooarchaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, studied the Jōmon culture, hunter-gatherers living along the east coast of Japan from about 16,000 to 2400 years ago. Around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, as the climate warmed, pine forests gave way to dense woodlands of oak, maple, and birch that attracted prey like deer and wild boar. About 9000 years ago, the Jōmon began to bury their dogs alongside their human dead. Both humans and dogs, in individual graves, were arranged as if they had curled up and gone to sleep. Some dogs were given the same grave goods - shell bracelets and deer antlers, as the humans.

Perri went on a boar hunt in a dense forest near Hiroshima with a group of hunters and their dogs - bloodhounds and shiba inus, to get an idea of how they may have worked together. The dogs dashed into the forest and started barking just 10 minutes later to let the hunters know they had tracked down their prey. Now their role was to warn the hunters when they got near the boars and protect their masters.

Dogs often feature in rock art. A lively red ochre painting from Tassili, Southern Algeria, for example, depicts a hunter and his four dogs pursuing a wounded deer. More elaborate paintings, sculptures and mosaics from early civilizations in Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia and China continued to celebrate dogs as valued companions on the hunt. We shall return to their story later.

A 2500-year-old bronze bell depicting a Jōmon hunt with dogs. from Tokyo National Museum (

Tassili rock painting


Article by Celine Castelino




25 meter rapid fire pistol has been an Olympic sport since the first modern Olympics in 1896.  The early competitions were won with revolvers. In the first games, muzzleloaders were required, eliminating the American competitors from the rapid fire event.


 In 1896, the American Paine brothers, John and Sumner, restricted from the rapid fire event, won the top spots in 25 meter military pistol and 30 meter free pistol events, with nearly twice the scores of the nearest competitors. They used Colt revolvers.


 In the rapid fire event, five relatively large targets are set 25 meters downrange. The targets are 50 centimeters in diameter with a 10 ring of 10 centimeters. The target centers are 75 centimeters apart. Targets at most ranges turn to present themselves to the shooter.  The most sophisticated ranges use lights to start the timed shots, and electronics to score. Shots fired after the time limits are counted as misses.

Shots are fired in strings of five, with time limits of 8, 6, and four seconds. The shot string starts with the pistol held at a 45 degree ready position. Two strings are fired for each time limit. The six shot strings are then repeated.  The maximum possible score is 600 for 60 shots.

In the most demanding string, the shooter has to raise the pistol to eye level, and fire five shots at five separate targets in four seconds. 


Video of 2016 Rapid Fire Pistol Competition.

Equipment rules have changed considerably over the years. Over time, equipment became extremely specialized, consisting of heavily ported five shot semi-autos shooting .22 short ammunition, with hand encircling grips. The Russians invented a model with the pistol barrel in line with the shooters wrist, reducing muzzle flip to nearly imperceptible levels.

The equipment race produced a backlash. In 2005, the rules were changed to require a "standard" sport pistol.  


The pistol is required to have a bore line above the web of the hand, to shoot a standard velocity .22 LR cartridge, and not to have wrap around grips, muzzle brakes or ports. Trigger pulls must be above 35 ounces. The overall weight must be below 3.09 pounds.

Fiocchi SM 280 LR ammunition has a fine reputation for 25 meter Olympic Rapid Fire.  At the high levels of the Olympics, absolute reliability and suburb accuracy are a must.

Very few Americans participate in the sport, in part because of a lack of facilities.  Only one range in Arizona is set up for 25 meter rapid fire.  While some exceptional American shooters compete in the sport, only a tiny minority of American shooters attempt it.  


Dean Weingarten








After witnessing a well-known YouTuber complain about the competition-style sights on a competition-built handgun it came to my attention that not everyone understands handgun sights.  I’m not talking about how to aim, or even the difference between fiber-optic and tritium.  The topic of this article is how to understand sight design and hopefully pick what’s right for your needs.

This was the misunderstood sight picture of Warren sights found on the latest Canik pistols.  The wide U-shaped notch does indeed seem to make the front sight wander, but is intended to provide a wide field of view.  Such sights are excellent for quick, point shooting at general areas but can make more precise shooting difficult.  The fiber-optic front sight will grab your eye in daylight more than other methods of illumination.  A drawback to fiber-optic sights can sometimes be that the dot is too bright to focus on, but once again these sights are meant to be acquired quickly for a single shot.




In contrast these night sights found on the IWI Jericho may offer an easy orientation in the dark, but a much narrower field of view which makes for easier bullseye shooting, but also obstructs view of surrounding areas.  White dots surrounding the tritium inserts aid in sight acquisition, but can also be distracting from the true sight alignment.


These traditional 1911 sights on an ATI FX-45 are small and tight.  Aiming precisely with them is time consuming, but can make for tight groups if you have the eyes and patience to match.  Their low profile helps reduce the chance of snagging on the draw but also makes them difficult to see.




A lazy V with a single line and dot have become popular lately like these XS Sights seen on a DoublStar PHD 1911.  The line and dot align naturally and wide-V rear sight keeps your field of view open.  This sight style is very quick, but adds a learning curve to making repeated tight shots.




What’s old is new.  Sight profiles follow trends.  The sloped rear sight seen on the Ruger American was once considered superior for its reduced chance of snagging during a draw.  Recent tacti-cool teachings suggest the older-style wall-like sights on the Zastava EZ-9 in the background are more useful as they can be used to rack the handgun on a table or belt in a one-handed emergency.

Hopefully this primer on handgun sights helps you understand why there are so many options out there.  Just like handgun options, there is a right fit for everyone so don’t immediately accept the argument that one is better than another.  What’s “better” really depends on how you intend to use it.


About Graham Baates
“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on 
Youtube .


This past April I participated in the Texas Hunter Education Annual Conference in Abilene. Rarely have I been in the presence of so many dedicated creative advocates for hunting, hunting ethics and hunting instruction. My presentation included examples of persuading hunting opponents and those neutral about hunting that hunting has benefits, including conservation and the respectful treatment of animals. The text of my talk is available on my website: .


After my talk, Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden Darla Barr approached me and shared an anecdote. Two anti-hunters disdainfully challenged Darla for advocating killing beautiful innocent animals. Darla’s response is a textbook example of effective persuasion. Her words transformed these anti-hunters into persons willing to give thoughtful informed consideration of hunting’s beneficial consequences.


Darla implemented her persuasion strategy with skillful precision. First, she elicited the values of her challengers. The opponents valued animal conservation, the preservation of habitat, acknowledged that animals die from causes other than hunting, such as from disease, injury and starvation and they valued reducing animal suffering.


Second, Darla described a typical hunt. One bullet, one arrow, is, in most instances, sufficient for the hunt. Not always, of course, but when it’s not, the ethical hunter will track the animal and end the suffering effectively. Darla also described reality in vivid detail. Starvation, disease and injury lead to brutal lingering deaths. The predators move in and rip the living animal apart. And the fire ants attack, savage merciless invaders that penetrate the eyes and nose and throat of the animal in excruciating fashion. Sugarcoating reality demeans the animals. Darla did not sugarcoat.  


Third, and most significant, Darla presented the ladies with a binary choice: hunt or do not hunt. Do you prefer a rapid ethical death or an extended painful one? Thirty seconds of pain or several weeks of pain? Darla demanded clarity of values from her audience. It’s either A or its B. You can’t have both. Which do you prefer? People tend to carve out exceptions or alternatives to reality to avoid making uncomfortable choices. This human tendency does not necessarily advance ethical thinking.


There is a tendency to romanticize the lives of animals, as if the mountain lion and the young fawn are lying together on a lush green forest floor as in an Henri Rousseau painting waiting for the arrival of gluten-free, locally-sourced, non-GMO organic broccoli and steamed rice. But that’s not life in Nature. Nature is death, disease, starvation and sometimes fire ants.


The young ladies changed their minds about hunting. They became educated. More importantly, Darla skillfully showed that hunting was consistent with their values. They opposed animal suffering and favored conservation. Even if the ladies will not hunt, their opposition disappeared. The fire ants may have persuaded them.




Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. See his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. Available at


When and how did our ancestors first start using fire? How was it used in hunting for and preparing food? While we cannot pin the date when humans started cooking their food, we can say something about the impact it has had on our evolution. Charles Darwin regarded the ‘discovery’ of fire to be as important as language in human evolution.

Animals fleeing fires set off by lightning striking dry bush or grasslands would have been easy prey for early humans. Perhaps early hunters got their first taste of cooked meat found in the smouldering embers of a bush fire. If it wasn’t too burnt, think how much more delicious the meat coated in melting fat and crisp crackling would seem after their usual fare that took ages to chew and digest. Not only would they have found cooked meat tastier but that it lasted longer. They probably left meat hanging in their smoke-filled caves or shelters and learnt that this dehydrated and preserved it. Perfect to carry for a snack on a hunting expedition.

Foraging for fire, learning which fuels were best for keeping it live and experimenting with different cooking techniques will have taught our ancestors so much. Fire must have seemed magical or divine – early civilizations certainly regarded it as such. Cultures throughout the world have legends explaining how we learned to make fire. The Ancient Greeks believed Prometheus stole fire from the gods for humanity; he was severely punished for his audacity. The Black God of the Navaho, who created the sun and invented the fire drill, gave it to First Man and First Woman. Gods of fire were worshipped in every continent - Agni in India, Ra in Egypt or Pele in Hawaii, and many gods received their offerings through the medium of fire.

Hunting weapons were fashioned using fire: to harden the points of wooden spears, or to melt sticky substances to attach spear or axe heads to their shafts, from the stone age. The first humans probably used fire to hunt and secure their prey, using methods that continued into historic times. In Australia, Martu hunter-gatherers lit fires to reveal the hiding places of monitor lizards called goanna, or force kangaroos out into the open. Native American desert tribes also removed ground cover with fire when hunting lizards. Those in wetter areas dazzled alligators with burning torches so that they were unaware of the spears aimed at them from canoes.

Apaches created smoky areas to attract deer, which were being tormented by insects, where hunters could pick them off with ease. Other tribes used fire to herd deer onto peninsulas where they could be hunted from canoes. It is likely too that Native Americans burned brush and trees to open up areas of grassland that encouraged herds of bison to expand eastwards. As ever human ingenuity enabled our ancestors to move on from fleeing in fear from raging flames to working out how they could control and use it to their advantage.


by Celine Castellino - Archeologist

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