Modern day combat matches have their beginning with the Commonwealth nations. The British Army Rifle Association (ARA) was formed in 1893 and is a public organization officially recognized the by the British Army. In 1908 events featuring figure targets were introduced and Service, or combat, Shooting became its own discipline. The British Army Combat Shooting Team (BACST) is a branch of the ARA and forms teams to compete around the world.
These matches are not only great training but provide the best road for members of the armed forces to get involved in higher level marksmanship. Within the National Guard each state has a Small Arms Readiness Training Section (SARTS) tasked to put on events to choose teams to attend the Winston P. Wilson (WPW) Nationals at Camp Robinson, near Little Rock, Arkansas, held during the Fall of each year. The top Guard shooters comprise the All Guard team. The Army Reserve doesn’t currently have a feeder system like this but the USAR shooting program has had a Combat Team since the early 1990’s. The Active components, through the Army Marksmanship Unit and Marine Corps have fielded teams as well.
These local events culminate in international events held throughout NATO. Within the United States the biggest on-going international military combat match is AFSAM (Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting) held in conjunction with WPW, typically hosting teams from seven or eight other countries.
Combat competition shooting has evolved over the years and some of these courses have been integrated into Commonwealth marksmanship qualifications. The targets we use in competition look the same but feature score rings. Figure 11 targets are full sized silhouettes depicting an aggressive bayonet-wielding foe. For rifle, the center point is surrounded by a six-inch V-ring, ten-inch five ring, and 18-inch four ring. A hit anywhere else on the target scores three points. The pistol version has smaller score rings, with a four-inch five ring, six-inch four ring, eight-inch three ring (no V-ring) with the rest of the target being two points.
Figure 12 targets, also used on rifle courses, has the same size score rings as the rifle Figure 11 but the target encompasses only the head and shoulders. Other targets include the Figure 14 (Sniper window target or “Hun’s Head”), Precision Target (same target size as the Figure 12, but with more outer score rings and mounted on a KD screen) and steel targets for Fire Team Assault (falling plates) matches.
Military Combat Competition provides a unique, practical shooting challenge. Organized competition finds your best performers and here they must shoot issue guns, gear and ammo. The training benefit is obvious and the best small arms instructors within the Army have consistently been top Combat competitors.