Back in April, I had the opportunity to take a fast early look at Crosman’s new three-position, sporter level PCP match rifle, the Challenger 2009. I was impressed. Based on the Discovery chassis, the Challenger incorporates some goodies – notably the trigger – from Crosman’s Marauder air rifle and some of the Marauder’s tuning capabilities. The result is an entry level match rifle that does a lot of things well.
One of the things that slipped by me when I first looked at the Challenger 2009 is how incredibly versatile this air rifle is. To start, you can shoot three-position air rifle with it, and you can use it as an entry level rifle for shooting Olympic-style ten-meter competition.
But the Challenger also qualifies for the new competition developed by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, called National Match Air Rifle (NMAR). Shot indoors or outdoors on 10-meter ranges, NMAR events simulate highpower rifle shooting and are shot at reduced highpower rifle targets. There are two official NMAR targets. The AR-SR is an exact, proportionate reduction of the standard highpower rifle 200-yard short-range target. The AR-MR is a similarly reduced version of the 600-yard mid-range target.
Three classes of air rifles qualify for NMAR competition: AR Class, Match and Sporter. The AR class – or so-called “clone” rifles – are modified sporter or precision class air rifles with stock systems configured similar to M16/AR15-type rifles. The NMAR Match air rifle class includes any precision air rifle that is ISSF legal. The Sporter class includes air rifles of 7.5 lbs maximum with 1.5 lb minimum trigger pull. That’s where the Challenger 2009 fits in.
There are two basic courses of fire for NMAR. The standing course consists of two sighting shots and 20 shots for record on the AR-SR (200-yard) target in the standing position. The full course/half course consists of 20 (full course) or 10 (half course) shots each in the standing, sitting or kneeling, and prone position, fired in that order of the AR-SR (for sitting and standing) and AR-MR (600-yard) (for prone) targets.
There are lots of other things you can do with the Challenger. Get yourself some of Lee Shaver’s blackpowder silhouette sight inserts (available from many gun shops), slip the post-and-bead insert into the Challenger’s front globe sight, and make like Matthew Quigley shooting at the UJ Quigley Bucket Challenge.
(I feel like one of those silly infomercials here) But wait! There’s more! If you mount a scope on the Challenger, which is really easy to do, thanks to its scope rails, and put some spent 9mm brass out at 35 yards, you can minisnipe with the Challenger. With a scope, you also can (and some folks have already done it very successfully) shoot NRA air rifle silhouette in the “match” category. Beyond that, the engineers at Crosman are also exploring the options for turning the Challenger 2009 into an entry-level field target rifle.
At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the Challenger’s other admirable qualities. First, it’s really, really accurate. With a big scope mounted, I found I could hit the exact spot on the target that I wanted at 20 yards . . . for example, that little spec of white still showing where I had already blown the center out of the bullseye. That’s the kind of accuracy that puts a grin on my face.
Second, the trigger is excellent and makes it easy to shoot well. Third, the Challenger delivers 100 shots from a 2000 psi fill. That means if you fill it with a high pressure hand pump, it will be relatively easy to get it up to pressure (certainly easier than going to 3,000 psi) and you won’t be refilling the Challenger every two seconds. And if you fill the Challenger from a 3,000 psi SCUBA tank, you’ll get a lot of fills before you have to go back to the dive shop for a refill.
In addition, the Challenger is makes very little noise, which if you live close to others, is excellent for maintaining good neighbor relations. Last but not least, the Challenger has a highly adjustable stock, including a length of pull that is adjustable from 12.5 to 16 inches, which means it will fit a wide range of different size shooters.
In short, the Challenger is a very versatile air rifle, offering its owner the ability to compete in many different shooting disciplines, and providing access to a whole lot of fun in formal competition and the back yard.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott