Gallery rifles employ an underlever action. This classic design is by far the most common but there are modern variations on the underlever theme used by some.They are very specialist, quite expensive and outside the scope of these notes. There are two popular brands of rifle in general use - Winchester and Marlin from the USA. There's one other readily available in the UK - Rossi from Brazil. All of these rifles fire pistol calibre rounds, typically .38” special, .357” magnum and .44” magnum.
The rifle pictured is a Rossi, chambered for .38/.357” magnum in stainless steel. It has a 24" heavyweight octagonal barrel and the magazine holds 12 rounds. It's a top eject, i.e., spent cases are ejected straight up from the top of the action. This means that fitting a scope or red dot sight is not easy. Winchester and Marlin both produce side eject models, making it easy to mount a scope.
Barrel length is an important consideration when buying one of these rifles. A shorter barrel means a shorter magazine tube with less capacity and many competitions allow 10 rounds to be loaded at the start. If you cannot get 10 rounds into the gun you will not be competitive in timed events.
A brand new rifle will cost £500 or so, but good used examples can be picked up from £200. Some also invest in a cartridge belt, but at club level spare ammo in a pocket is more usual.
The club courses of fire are varied, often involving shooter movement and a variety of targets. Although there are prizes at the end of the year the atmosphere at these competitions is totally informal. A typical 25 metre turning target routine might be:
- Load 10 rounds. Gun in shoulder, barrel pointed down at 45 degrees. Target turns and faces you for 2 seconds, fire one round. Target turns away for 4 seconds, then faces you for 2 seconds - fire one round. Repeat 10 times.
- Using the same targets, the second stage starts as before - loaded with 10 rounds, pointed down at 45 degrees. This time the targets face you for 4 seconds, you fire 2 rounds, then they turn away for 4 seconds. Continue until 10 rounds fired.
An alternative routine might be:
- With your rifle placed on a chair beside you, load 10 rounds into the magazine (chamber empty), Stand 15 metres from the targets.
- On the start signal retrieve the rifle, load a round into chamber and pull a string activating a hidden target. Shoot at least one round at the mover before it disappears. From the same position, engage and knock down 6 skittles on the sand backstop. Reload as necessary.
- Move to right hand side of the range (barrel pointed downrange, or you'll be disqualified), pull string to activate another mover and engage with 2 rounds.
- From the same position knock down 6 baton rounds on the sand backstop.
- Move to the centre of the range and engage 4 paper targets, one shot on each through the opening in a door.
Throughout the stage reloading takes place as and when required. This type of shooting is against the clock and your score on the targets is divided by the time taken. Great fun!