Practical Rifle has been around since the late 1800's but the development of firearms technology and the impact of the self-loading rifle ban following the Hungerford tragedy have guided the sport into its current format.
Pete Bloom summarised practical rifle in his book Practical Rifle Marksmanship as:
'...shooting at any sized target at any range from any position, all within the practical capabilities of the modern rifle. In essence practical rifle is about shooting at fleeting or indistinct targets...as opposed to the shooter being given a long exposure in which to fire a deliberate shot from a stable and comfortable position'
Practical rifle courses of fire are often shot on MoD ranges using standard Fig. 11, 12, 12c and 14 silhouette targetry (or their NRA equivalents). The targets are usually mounted on hand held frames so that the butt crew can give the shooters short 3 to 5 second exposures or present targets that move across the width of the shooters 'lane'
Most practical rifle matches are shot over several distances anywhere between 100 to 1,000yards and each practice may require 10, 20 or 30 rounds. A practical rifle match such as The Kemble will require upto 150 rounds in total spread over 6 or 7 practices
Shooters are often required to change position (e.g. standing, kneeling, squatting, prone), move between firing points, shoot round barricades and shoot left and right handed. Most practices will involve several changes in position and some will involve all combinations listed above including a compulsory magazine change
In summary, practical rifle involves, quick thinking, good observation skills and some degree of physical exertion in addition to good shooting and rifle handling techniques
(above): Advancing to the firing point to shoot around a barricade (ie the white post)
(below): Shooter at the Standing Ready Alert position waiting for a pop up target. Note that each shooter has their own range safety officer (in addition to the Chief Range Officer)