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NRA COMPETITIVE SHOOTING DIVISION 11250 Waples Mill Road | Fairfax VA | 22030 Membership Information: 1-800-672-3888 e-mail:

High Power Rifle

The sport known as NRA High Power rifle competition was originally based on courses of fire for military instruction. Today’s courses still include both slow and rapid fire stages and involve shooting from various positions at fixed targets of standard dimensions at several standard known distances.

Course of Fire:

There are four strings of fire which are the basic building blocks of any NRA High Power rifle course of fire or tournament. These are: •Slow fire, standing - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 10 min. •Rapid fire, sitting or kneeling - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 60 seconds •Rapid fire, prone - 10 rounds at 300 yards in 70 seconds •Slow fire, prone - 20 rounds in 20 minutes Every NRA high power rifle match for which classification records are kept is a multiple or a combination of one or more of these strings. The popular National Match Course, for instance, consists of 10 rounds slow fire standing; 10 rounds rapid fire sitting or kneeling; 10 rounds rapid fire prone, and 20 rounds slow fire prone. Matches fired all at one distance and in position are known as “single-stage” matches and are usually 20 shot matches (two times one of the basic strings.) “Slow fire” does not require much explanation. The shooter takes his or her place on the firing line, assumes the prescribed position and is allowed one minute per shot to fire the string. “Rapid fire,” on the other hand, is more elaborately choreographed. In rapid fire sitting or kneeling, the shooter uses a preparation period to establish a sitting or kneeling position. When the targets appear or the command to “Commence Fire” is given, the shooter loads either 2 or 5 rounds (depending upon the firearm) into the rifle, fires the rounds in the rifle, reloads with 5 or 8 more rounds for a total of 10 rounds and finishes the string. The procedure for rapid fire prone differs only in the firing position and the time limit.

Equipment Rifle:

Rifles to be used in high power rifle competition equipped with metallic or optical sights, must be capable of holding at least five rounds of ammunition and must be adapted to rapid reloading. Tournament programs often group competitors into two division, Service Rifle and Match Rifle. The rifles currently defined as service rifles include: the M1, M14, M16, M110 and their commercial equivalents. Winchester and Remington have made their Model 70 and Model 40x rifles in “match” versions and custom gunsmiths have made up match rifles on a number of different military and commercial actions. 1903 and 1903-A3 Springfields, 1917 Enfields and pre-war Winchester Model 70 sporters in .30-06 are all equipped with clip slots for rapid reloading. The best rear sights are aperture, or “peep sights”, with reliable, repeatable 1/4 minute (or finer) adjustments. Front sights should be either of the post or aperture type.

The AR-15 and its variants are an extremely popular high power rifle.


The shooting sling is helpful in steadying the positions and controlling recoil. The sling is attached to the fore end of the rifle and wraps around the upper arm The sling may be used in any position except standing.

Spotting Scope:

A spotting scope or a substitute optical device is an important accessory for scoring and observing the placement of shot spotters on the target. The beginning shooter will benefit from the use of almost any telescope which gives an erect image. The most suitable spotting scopes, however, have a magnification of 20 to 25 power and an objective lens at least 50 mm in diameter. Eyepieces angled at 45 degrees are convenient for using the scope without disturbing the shooting position. A stable stand to hold the spotting scope in position is also a great help.

Shooting Coat:

The shooting coat is equipped with elbow, shoulder, and sling pads which contribute to the shooter’s comfort. Since there are several styles of shooting coats of varying cost, the shooter is advised to try out several types of coats before making an investment.

Shooting Glove:

The shooting glove’s primary function is to protect the forward hand from the pressure of the sling. Any heavy glove will serve the purpose until the shooter makes a final choice among the several shooting gloves available High power rifle shooters in the prone position.

Eye and Ear Protection:

You will need protection for your eyes and ears. Ear muffs and ear plugs are available; many shooters wear both. Your prescription glasses will afford protection if they have hardened lenses. If you do not ordinarily wear glasses, you should acquire shooting glasses made for that purpose. Shooting glasses are available with clear lenses or in a selection of tints, which can be helpful under various light conditions.

Long Range Competition

NRA Rules provide for slow fire prone competition at ranges beyond 600 yards. The Palma match is one such event. It is conducted at distances of 800, 900, and 1000 yards and is popular worldwide. The NRA sponsors a Palma Team that travels to the International Palma Championships every four years.

Mid Range Prone Competition

High power rifle mid range prone is fired at 300, 500, or 600 yards, or any combination thereof. The MR-63 target is required for 300 yards, the MR-65 target is required for 500 yards, and the MR-1 target is required for 600 yards. The Competitive Shooting Division website has a list of licensed target manufacturers. Check

F-Class Competition

Every high power rifle shooter can expect to put in his or her shift in the target pits.

By far the fastest growing shooting sport, F-Class is shot prone at distances of 300 to 1200 yards. Competitors may use up to a .35 caliber rifle, a scope, and a front and rear rest or bipod. F-Class shooters use targets half the size of the long range targets. F-Class can be shot concurrently with long-range and Palma shooting. F-Class is an ideal sport for beginning competitive shooters, both male and female, young and old. See the high power rulebook for more information on F-Class competition.

Sight Blackener:

High Power Sporting Rifle

The shooter using an exposed front sight such as the blade found on the service rifle will require some means of blackening the sight to help make the sight clearer and aiming more precise. A carbide lamp will do this or a commercial sight blackener sold in spray cans can be used.

The High Power Sporting Rifle Rules were introduced in 1985. This variation is fired with hunting-type rifles which may be equipped with telescopic sights. The course is fired at a single distance - either 100 or 200 yards - and rapid fire strings are only 4 shots to accommodate the typical hunting rifle.


If the shooter is to learn from experience, they should record the conditions and circumstances involved in firing each shot. Sight settings, sling adjustments, wind and light conditions, and ammunition used all have a place in the scorebook. Actual shot value is probably the least important data recorded.


Most competitors eventually turn to handloading. Careful handloading will provide the shooter with ammunition less expensive and more accurate than can normally be procured otherwise. Both tracer and incendiary ammunition are prohibited by NRA Rules and armor-piercing ammunition may be prohibited by local range regulations.

NRA Classification System

NRA Rules describe a classification system which is designed to allow shooters to compete against others at a similar skill level. Each shooter, depending on his or her average competition score, is placed in a class designated High Master, Master, Expert, Sharpshooter, or Marksman. Tournament sponsors generally give awards in each class. A temporary classification is established after the first tournament and is maintained by the shooters using the Temporary Score Record Book. When 120 shots fired in NRA sanctioned competition have been reported to NRA Headquarters, the shooter will be sent a classification card and will no longer need to maintain the temporary classification book. Classifications are given for High Power, Long Range, Mid-Range, F-Class, and International Fullbore Prone. The “Grizzly Bear� Trophy, above, is awarded at Camp Perry to the High Civilian team using the Service Rifle in the Rumbold Match.

Getting Started Both the club considering sponsoring a tournament and the individual who wants to start competing would benefit from observing tournaments being run by an experienced match sponsor. The “Coming Events” section of Shooting Sports USA lists NRA sanctioned tournaments for six months following the date of publication. You can request a complimentary copy by contacting the Competitive Shooting Division at (703) 267-1450. NRA sanctioned tournaments can be conducted only by NRA affiliated organizations. Affiliation is neither complicated nor difficult, and a packet containing all the necessary information to affiliate your club can be obtained from the NRA Clubs and Associations Department at (703) 267-1343. The paperwork required to sanction your tournament with NRA is minimal and easily completed. If your club wishes to sponsor an NRA High Power rifle tournament, write to the High Power Rifle Department, Competitive Shooting Division, National Rifle Association, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA, 22030. You can also call (703) 267-1479 or email For information on individual affiliation, please contact NRA Membership at 1-800-672-3888.

“Where Can I Get...”

NRA Rule Books

Much of the equipment used by the competitive rifle shooter is specialized and normally not available from the ordinary sporting goods store or gun dealer. If your local dealer cannot fill your requirements, you can turn to one of the vendors who stock equipment needed by the target shooter. (If you order firearms and certain ammunition components from a dealer outside of your own state, or in your state but too far for you to take delivery on the dealer’s premises, you must ask your local licensed dealer to order for you. They may charge for this service.) Each of the dealers on the partial listing which follows has a product catalog which will be sent to you on request.

All competitors are expected to comply with the rules. The best way to become familiar with the rules is to acquire a current copy and read it. Most questions regarding competition are answered in the rulebook. Rulebooks are available online at compete/nra-rule-books.asp. They can be purchased from the NRA Program Materials Center as well.

High Power Rifle Rules

Champion’s Choice, Inc., 201 International Blvd, LaVergne, TN 37086 1-800-345-7179

Champion Shooters Supply, PO Box 303, New Albany, OH 97401 1-800-821-4867

Creedmoor Sports, Inc., 1405 South Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054 1-800-CREEDMOOR

MCS, Inc., 166 Pocono Road, Brookfield, CT 06804 (203) 775-1013

O.K. Weber, PO Box 7485, Eugene, OR 97401 (541) 747-0458

Sinclair International, 2330 Wayne Haven St., Ft. Wayne, IN 46803 1-800-717-8211


High Power Sporting Rifle Rules


Order from:

Web: Phone: 1-800-336-7402

NRA GUN SAFETY RULES THE FUNDAMENTAL NRA RULES FOR SAFE GUN HANDLING ARE: • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

• • • • •

Use only the correct ammunition for your gun Know your target and what is beyond Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons

WHEN USING OR STORING A GUN, ALWAYS FOLLOW THESE NRA RULES: • Be sure the gun is safe to operate. • Know how to safely use the gun

Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions Keep guns cased, holstered, or boxed until at the firing line. Follow commands from the range officer.

To learn more about gun safety, enroll in an NRA safety training or basic marksmanship course, NRA hunter clinic or state hunter education class. NR43100CT17000


Designed by John Parker, NRA Competitive Shooting

NRA High Power Rifle Competition Guide  
NRA High Power Rifle Competition Guide  

A primer for prospective NRA High Power Rifle competitors. Covering