Russ Baudler participates in the competition.
VIMBAR is an acronym for VIntage Military Bolt Action Rifle. This new shooting sport was created about three years ago by Denny Wilcox and Peter Sodoma of Salt Lake City, Utah. The nature of the game is to use old military bolt action rifles in a fun shooting sport utilizing situations that the guns were originally designed for.
The rules are very simple. The rifle must be a military bolt action rifle in an as-issued, battle-ready condition. The sights must also be of standard issue iron configuration, and the rifle must be chambered in its original military caliber. This concept is a great way for a shooter to go out and purchase an inexpensive Mosian Nagant or Mauser rifle, get some cheap surplus ammo, and get involved in a fun type activity for a very low cost initial investment. The great thing is that you will be just as competitive as the next guy.
VIMSAR (VIntage Military Semi Automatic Rifle) is another sub-discipline of the same concept that uses semi automatic Rifles from all eras up to the mid 1950’s. This discipline is currently a side match but is also growing in popularity. Shooters with SKS’s, FN49’s, Hakim’s and G43’s can now have fun with these fine semi automatic military rifles.
Targets for both sports are all steel and are large in size to simulate real-life shooting situations. The idea is to duplicate the capabilities of these rifles on the battlefield. No modern equipment is allowed to assist the shooter. You will not see any laser range-finders or wind flags at a VIMBAR match. The use of ammo cans and field packs may be used as improvised rests. Other military equipment such as pistol belts, ammo pouches, stripper clips and canteens is encouraged. Some clubs even award extra points if a shooter comes in a period uniform or shoots the entire match with a bayonet mounted on his rifle. There is no set standard course of fire to keep things interesting. This way each club can tailor a course to suit their own capabilities.
The first world championship was held in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Desert Sportsman Rifle and Pistol Club. This club was the home of several Firepower Demonstrations that were held during the old Soldier of Fortune Conventions and was well suited for this competition. VIMBAR shooters from all over the United States put this fine facility to good use. There were ten different stages of fire used to determine the world champion. The stages were all very different and involved more than just rifle shooting. For example, at one stage the shooter had to use three different weapons. The shooter started with pistol and engaged a steel target before running to another position. There he picked up his rifle and, with a mounted bayonet, attacked a hay bale with three bayonet thrusts before then engaging two rifle targets two hundred yards down range from the standing position. The shooter then had to run to another position, pick up a pre-staged shotgun and load three rounds before neutralizing another steel target. This was a timed stage and the faster time was used to break ties in the main match. All pistols and shotguns used also had to be of a vintage military type. A 1911 Colt, Beretta Model 34, P38 and a Walther PP were seen along with a Model 97 Winchester trench gun.
At another stage, each shooter got the opportunity to shoot a 1919A4 Browning belt fed machine gun. The shooter started at the Browning and fired ten rounds at a target three hundred yards away. Bonus points were awarded if this target was hit. The shooter then grabbed his rifle and moved behind a sandbagged bunker. From that position he then fired ten rounds at two steel targets placed at three hundred and three hundred fifty yards. This entire scenario had to be completed in ninety seconds. This stage was a big hit as several shooters had never had the pleasure of shooting a belt fed machine-gun before!
An interesting array of vintage rifles was represented at the match. There were Mausers of several types and variations with Swedes, 98K’s and Yugos being the most prevalent. Mosin Nagants were very abundant along with some straight pull Swiss K31’s. Several Enfields and Springfields were also seen. Even a rare Model 41 Carcano with set triggers was utilized.
At the end of the main match a team event was held. All the shooters using Axis country rifles were pitted against rifles used by the Allies. Shooters using rifles from neutral countries were used to keep the teams even. The event was a log shoot. Both teams opened fire on a 4X4 log and the team that cut it in half first won the match. In this case the Axis powers prevailed.
The prize table was very impressive and well stocked with a great deal of high quality merchandise. In addition, each shooter received a prize bucket that was filled with a variety of useful items that every shooter could use including ammo, cleaning supplies, three different kinds of gun lube, and passes for a free buffet and several drink coupons at a local Las Vegas club. An impressive catered lunch was provided and the cost was included in the entry fee.
Judging by the enthusiastic attendance and the great time had by all, VIMBAR and VIMSAR will surely gain in popularity around the country.
The top ten shooters for the 2003 VIMBAR World Championship are as follows.
1. Tony Dee – 98 Mauser
2. Denny Wilcox – Yugo M48 Mauser
3. Bobby Ramsay – K31 Swiss
4. Bob Hasagawa – 1903A3 Springfield
5. Joe Brennan – 98 Mauser
6. Derrel Carter – K31 Swiss
7. Peter Sodoma – Enfield #4
8. Miguel Qintanilla – 1903A3 Springfield
9. Sam Salvo – 96 Swedish Mauser
10. Clyde Byerly – 1903A3 Springfield
1. Cathie Ringler – 38 Swedish Mauser
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V7N11 (August 2004)|