How to get into… Action Match

If you think Cherie Blake’s face looks familiar, you wouldn’t be alone. The talented Aussie shooter won the Ladies Division of the illustrious Bianchi Cup, held in Columbia, Missouri, this year, and made it onto Shooting Sports USA’s list of Top 50 Women in Competitive Shooting recently. Here she gives us an overview of the exciting discipline of Action Match.

Cherie takes out the Ladies Division at the 2017 Bianchi Cup

Tell us about your background in Action Match and your achievements to date

I’ve been handgun shooting since I was 12 and I started out in ISSF (Olympic Matches) as a junior, but as life changes the amount of time and effort you can put in varies. After my daughter was born,  I was doing the bare minimum of attendances and not shooting any competitions. Later, about 6 years ago, Mark, my husband, and I were introduced to Action Match at our local club and we thought that looked like fun and something we can do together – we are pretty competitive! We both have a pretty good background in various shooting [disciplines] and competition and started practicing the match.  We bought our open guns in 2012 and by the end of that year we had both won a National Championship Title. We were excited by this and it lit a fire under us.  We went to our first Bianchi Cup in 2013 and it was addictive – it’s such a big occasion event and the who’s who of shooting are competing.

Since that first Action Pistol National Championship title in 2012 I have won four more in Action Match, placed second lady and fifth overall at last year’s World Action Pistol Championships in New Zealand. This year I won the Ladies Division at the Bianchi Cup – this is by far my greatest shooting achievement.

Shooting the mover

What’s the best bit about Action Match?

I love the fact that Action Match is challenging – you have to bring your A game to each stage of each event of each match.  The other great thing about Action Match is that because it’s a set course of fire and the score is what you shoot on the target, not dependent on other shooters, so you can set goals and see your improvement.  I also like the set format because it allows you to focus and train for the specific match and makes you work for the best you can shoot.

The match is graded and also broken down into the handgun division too (Open, Metallic and Production). The people are great too – you will find yourself laughing a lot at any open competition you go to! And it’s a great excuse to travel – domestically or internationally.

Going prone in the plates event at Bianchi Cup

What happens in an Action match?

There are four events that make up Action match – each match is a set course of fire and is 48 rounds, for a total possible score of 480. The four events aggregate for a match total perfect score of 1920. The match has it’s origins in law enforcement in the 1970s and therefore the courses of fire are based on six shots, so it is also revolver friendly.

Mover – The moving target travels 60ft in six seconds, you shoot six shots when the target passes from right to left, and again left to right at both 10 and 15 yards. Then at 20 and 25 yards you shoot three shots at each pass, but there are four passes at these distances.

Barricade – This event is six shots from each side of a fixed barricade at 10, 15, 25 and 35 yards, the timings start with five seconds at the closest distance and increase by a second for each distance.

Practical – This event sees the competitor fire at two targets from 10, 15, 25 and 50 yards. Again, timings vary depending on the number of shots and the distance but the killer in this event is swapping to your weak hand for six shots – yep it’s a challenge!

Plates – There are six plates, one shot per plate from 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards. Timings start at six seconds at the closest distance and increase by a second at each distance.

Shooting the plates event

There are also another 15 different matches under the Action Match banner and can be found in the NRA Rule Book but the above four events are the ones that all state, national and international Action Matches are competed on.

How do I locate a shooting club that offers Action?

There are about 35 – 40 clubs around Australia that shoot Action Match to some degree. There seems to be a resurgence in the event at the moment, which is great (see list of clubs, below). Action ranges are a bit harder to set up than some other disciplines for clubs but the basics of Action Match can be practiced on any 50 yard range,  and if your club doesn’t have a plate rack it will be a great investment – everyone loves shooting plates because they are reactive!  We didn’t have access to a mover for the first few years of shooting action and we would go to open competitions a day early and have a practice on the range.

Also use social media to make contact, there are great shooting groups on Facebook and people are always happy to help out new shooters.

Shooting the barricades event – open gun can be mounted and held on the barricade

Which organisation/s do I need to join to compete?

Action Match is governed by two national bodies in Australia – Pistol Australia (PA) and Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA).   Both bodies send funded or partially funded teams to the Bianchi Cup and to the World Championships.

I want to compete in the Bianchi Cup – what do I need to do?

Fill out an entry form and go! You need to be affiliated with either PA or SSAA.  It is an open competition and you are able to enter – then you just have to get yourself over to the USA.  The Bianchi Cup is a great  event and you can rub shoulders with and watch shooting royalty.  There may be a possibility of the reintroduction of a Pro Shooter Clinic which allows access to past Bianchi Champions and Pro shooters for a day before the Cup starts. Every year I’ve been to Bianchi there has always been a good contingent of Australians at the event – some in teams and some not.

What other international matches can I compete in?

Every second year there are World Championships – last year it was in New Zealand and next year it is planned to be in USA. The event will either be the weekend before or weekend  after Bianchi Cup so you can get more bang for your buck on one trip to the USA in 2018. There are also competitions in Europe.

Open metallic division guns

What sort of firearm do I need to buy to compete?

The firearm division you want to compete in will dictate the type of firearm you need. There is production division which allows any production firearm. The trigger must lift 3.5lbs and more details can be found in the NRA rule book. If you are buying a production handgun for Action Match I would avoid any semi autos that have a double action first shot as you must shoot double action every time you start a series within each event and this will be a disadvantage.

Metallic division is dominated by 1911 style handguns, you can change the sights and add a mag well/base pad which will help when shooting from the prone position (which is a huge advantage especially at those longer ranges).  Also the trigger only has to lift 2lbs.

Open division firearms look like no other handguns you’ve seen and are built for the specifics of Action Match, with optics, base pad, wings (for barricade shooting), mover mount and compensator. If your goal is to represent Australia you will need to compete in this category as both governing bodies only send open teams at this stage.

But really any handgun you have will probably fit into one of the categories above and most clubs are relaxed about the firearm division – however, rulings on firearm divisions are adhered to if you start competing at opens or higher level competitions.

What other equipment do I need?

You will need a holster, that matches you handgun division and it is a preference to have eight magazines. On top of that is just the usual shooting equipment of glasses and hearing protection.

Close up of holstered open gun

Do you have any advice for a new shooter starting out in Action?

Go and have a try and you will find the match, although challenging, is really rewarding. Once you’re hooked and want to improve, my advice is to break the events down into stages and practice the components of each match – then put it all together. There are plenty of great Action shooters in Australia and all will help new shooters with equipment and technique advice.

When it comes to women in action match, we are quality not quantity but it would be great to have more women shooting action match – so come on and give it a try – it’s a great match with great opportunities!

Read more about Cherie in my Women of Calibre post.


List of Australian clubs that offer Action Match 


Wodonga  Handgun Club

Ballarat Pistol Club

Geelong Pistol Club

Yarra Pistol Club

Echuca Pistol Club

Mildura Pistol Club

Portland Pistol Club



New South Wales

Blacktown Pistol Club

Cessnok Pistol Club

St Ives Pistol Club

Grafton Pistol Club

Orana Pistol Club (Work in Progress)

Hume Pistol Club (Albury)





Australian Capital Territory

Canberra National Pistol Club

Sporting Shooters Pistol Club



Tasmanian Pistol and Rifle Club – pontville


South Australia

Adelaide Pistol Club


Western Australia


Whiteman Park

Broome (work in progress)



Gold Coast Pistol Club

City Of Brisbane Pistol Club

Toowoomba Pistol Club

Warwick Pistol Club

Bundaberg SSAA

Mr Perry (Work in Progress)


Townsville (limited)

SSAA Brisbane (limited)

SSAA Ipswich

SSAA Gladstone (Work in Progress)


Northern Territory




Alice Springs


Did we miss any? Let me know here.


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