Every now and then, the discussion of what constitutes a Sporter Class gun comes up. Back in 1998, there was a decision made within USBR that we should add more definition to what we consider a Sporter Class gun to be. It was circulated among all the clubs and everyone agreed that the clarification was acceptable and would be adopted. The Rule Book has not been updated since the trial period of this explanation was accepted, but it will be included in the next update. The text of the clarification document is printed below:
Sporter Class Clarifications
Sporter Class is defined as follows:
"Unmodified factory rifles. Trigger work, bedding, and re-crowning is acceptable. A re-crowned barrel may be no more than ½ inch shorter than original length.
Barrel: Unmodified factory Weight limit: 8.5 lbs. Including sights. Scope: No limit Stock: Unmodified factory."
The rule actually contradicts itself in that it states that this class is for "unmodified factory rifles", but then lists a few modifications which are acceptable. Recently, several of us have been having discussions about the exact meaning of Sporter Class, and I felt that it may be helpful to go into depth on each point in order to make the rule more clear and to avoid any misinterpretation in the future.
First of all, this class is intended for non-custom guns. If a gun can be ordered by a catalog number (i.e.: Acme Model XXX-XX), and it meets the other qualifications, it is legal in Sporter Class. If modifications are made, such as ordering or installing a different barrel or trigger than the model of gun came with, then it is deemed to be customized, even if the modification came from the factory or was standard on a similar model, and even if done (whether required by the manufacturer, or not) as part of the original order.
We do allow trigger work, bedding, and re-crowning. I will explain what is acceptable for each:
Trigger work is defined as light polishing of surfaces and tuning using existing adjustment screws. A reworked trigger should look and operate identical to the original, to the point that it would be difficult for a factory technician to be sure that the trigger had been altered.
Bedding work, both "glass" and pillar, is allowed to provide a better mating surface between the action and/or barrel and the stock. This also covers "free floating" the barrel and/or action, and additional bedding of the forend to create a "pressure-point" between the stock and barrel. It does not allow the addition of tuning devices that did not come standard with the rifle. "Glue-ins" are not allowed unless it was standard on that model of gun.
Re-crowning may be desirable if a barrel is damaged, but we do not allow the barrel to be shortened more than ½ inch from the original length. If a barrel is to be re-crowned, it is the responsibility of the competitor to provide proof that the barrel is no shorter than ½ " less than the original length, and the new crown is cut to original factory specs (i.e.: if original crown was rounded, the new crown could not be flat), if ask by the match director or a referee.
If any part, or assembly, must be replaced because of defect or malfunction, it must be replaced with the exact same part number as the original. Just because a manufacturer makes a different part that would fit, or that is used on a similar model, does not make it legal for use as a replacement.
A scope and mounts may be installed. If a scope is installed, existing iron sights may be removed at the owner's discretion. Since this is a bench rest competition where the guns are typically shot from a rest, we also allow the removal of sling studs and swivels, but other original "hardware" such as trigger guards and butt plates must remain attached.
We feel that we must be very strict in observance of the Sporter Class rules. Other shooting organizations have altered their Sporter Class rules and caused big problems for some of their competitors, often reaching the point that their Sporter Class has become just a lighter weight Custom Class. We do not want that to happen in USBR without the opportunity for input from all of our clubs and shooters. As with all USBR rules, this could be changed if enough clubs vote for it, but until that happens we must stick with the rules as written.
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