“Just below the belly line,” the spotter shouted to inform the shooter that his bullet had struck the steel pig target a little low.
“Okay, that's centered up over the front leg,” another spotter yelled to a different shooter.
“That's a pretty good hit! A couple of inches left of dead center,” came yet another shout from down the firing line.
That was the kind of chatter overheard Friday morning and will be overheard all week at the Oklahoma City Gun Club, where the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association is holding its world championship.
More than 100 of the best marksmen in the world have convened at the OKC Gun Club near Arcadia this week to shoot steel targets of rams, chickens, pigs and turkeys with handguns from distances as far away as 200 meters.
Shooting is daily through Friday. Spectators are welcome, but eye and ear protection are required.
Sebastian Gorostiaga is a South American champion from Paraguay. He has traveled to Oklahoma City to see how his shooting skills measure up to some of the best marksmen from the United States, Brazil, Canada and Australia.
“It's amazing to me the precision of a handgun when you can hit a ram at 200 yards,” said the 31-year-old dentist from Paraguay.
Russell Mowles, 62, is one of four shooters from Australia competing this week. This is the eighth time Mowles has traveled to the United States to enter the world championship.
“I just enjoy shooting, especially this match,” Mowles said. “When you hit those steel targets and look up at the end of a five-shot stringer and they are all down, it's just a good feeling.”
A metallic silhouette range at the OKC Gun Club has existed since 1976, but this is the first year the club has hosted the world championship. The metallic silhouette range is just one of 20 shooting divisions in the gun club.
Monthly matches on the metallic silhouette range are held for members where they can shoot at targets as far as 500 meters away. To score a hit, the heavy target must be knocked off its stand.
The IHMSA only sanctions matches at 200 meters or less because most gun ranges don't have the capability to shoot at distances beyond that, said Jim Fields, member of the OKC Gun Club, director of the silhouette range and holder of eight world records in the sport.
On Saturday, after the IHMSA world championship is completed, there will be a special challenge match at the OKC Gun Club for handgun shooters at the 500-meter distance.
“If you tell somebody that you can you hit a 12-inch target at 500 meters with a handgun they will tell you that you are nuts,” said Fields, who started shooting metal silhouettes at age 42 and turns 76 next month.
“You can almost fire the gun and take a puff off a cigarette before you hear the bullet clang the target.”
Did you know?
The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association World Championship consists of 80 rounds.
It is a timed event. Shooters have a 30-second load command and two minutes to fire upon a group of five targets.
IHMSA handguns are broken down by action type, sights, and caliber. Positions include standing or freestyle.
The targets are steel silhouettes of chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams. The animal targets are life-size in the big bore division, three-eighths the size of normal targets in the small bore category and as tiny as thumbnails in air pistol shooting.
Distances of the targets range from 10 to 18 yards in the air pistol matches. In the small bore division (pistols chambered for .22 long rifle cartridge only), the distances range from 25 to 100 yards.
In big bore (powerful centerfire handguns only), the distances range from 50 meters to 200 meters.