In NRA Conventional High Power Rifle Competition, shooters compete with either a service rifle or a match rifle. The service rifle category is generally limited to either the unmodified M1, M14, M16, or their commercial equivalents such as an AR15 or M1A. Match rifles typically are of custom make, conforming to the desires of the shooter. They are more free of regulations than are the service rifles. Until recently, all shooting, with the exception of limited long-range events, was done only with metallic aperture, or peep, sights. A 2017 rule change allows unlimited optics to be used on NRA match rifles, and scopes of up to 4.5x magnification are allowed on NRA Service Rifles. Shooting consists of either across the course or prone-only Mid and Long Range matches. Shooters competing over the course are required to fire at distances of 200, 300, and 600 yards. In a typical 800 point aggregate match, the course of fire is a total of 88 shots. Twenty record shots plus 2 sighting shots are fired in each stage. Each shot is worth a maximum of ten points, with the entire match being worth a total of 800 points.
Over The Course (OTC)
– The first stage of fire consists of two sighting shots and 20 shots for record in 20 minutes. These shots are fired at 200 yards in the standing/offhand position. The target used has a 3 inch X-ring, and a 6 inch ten-ring. Each succeeding scoring ring is three inches wide. The aiming black is 13 inches wide, consisting of the 9,10, and X rings. The lowest value ring is the 5-ring. Any shot outside of the 5-ring is considered a miss, and is worth zero points. X’s are scored a value of ten, and are used for tie breaking purposes.
– The second stage of fire consists of two ten-shot strings fired rapid fire from the sitting position with a time limit of 60 seconds for each string. This string is also done at 200 yards using the same target as was used for offhand. The string starts with the shooter in position with an unloaded rifle. Once the clock starts, the shooter loads the rifle and shoots the 10 shots. The shooter is required to perform a magazine change during the string, and is allowed to load either 5 rounds in each mag, or 2 in the first mag, and the remaining 8 in the second.
– The third stage of fire is rapid-fire prone (lying down) at 300 yards. Each of two ten-shot strings are fired in a time limit of 70 seconds. The dimensions of the target are the same as the 200 yard target, with the exception of an additional ring of black to facilitate aiming. The string starts with the shooter in the prone position with rifle unloaded. Once the clock starts, the shooter loads the rifle and shoots the 10 shots. The shooter uses the same re-load procedure as with the 200 yard rapid sitting.
– The final stage is fired at 600 yards. Twenty shots for record are fired slow-fire from the prone position in 20 minutes. The target used has a 6 inch X-ring, and 12 inch 10-ring. The 9 and 8 rings are each three inches wider. Each ring of value below that is six inches wider. The aiming black consists of the 7, 8, 9, 10, and X rings, which constitutes a 36 inch aiming black.
Mid & Long Range
A typical Prone Match will be shot from the prone position in the slow-fire format, the same way the 600-yard stage of an OTC match (above) is fired. Competitors are allotted 60 seconds per shot for Mid Range(600 yards or less), and 90 seconds per shot for Long Range(800 yards or greater). Prone matches will often allow for use of scopes in certain matches.
A Mid-Range Prone is fired at 300, 500 and 600 yards. A match will often consist of 22 shots, 2 sighting and 20 for record, in 22 minutes from the prone position from each yard line, but the course of fire may vary.
A Long Range Match is fired at 1000 yards and is fired from the prone position. They usually consist of 3 or 4 strings of 20 shots for record in 30 minutes. These matches generally have unlimited sighters.
High Power shooters are known for the large amount of equipment that they haul onto the range. Below is the basic equipment used along with a description of its use. Though each of these items are generally necessary, it isn’t necessary to go out and buy all new equipment. In getting started, it’s generally best to ask other shooters opinions about equipment. It’s also much cheaper to buy used equipment rather than new.
Check out the LINKS page for a listing of competitive shooter supplies.
Rifle – Shooters preference as to service or match (NRA)
Sling – For the service rifle, the sling must be of military style. For the match rifle, adjustable slings with arm cuffs and buckle adjustments are the norm.
Shooting jacket – The purpose of the jacket is to provide support, and to pad the shooter to minimize the effect of pulse and recoil. The best coats are the NRA-style of either heavy Cordura or leather make.
Glove – The glove is necessary to pad the hand from the pressures of the rifle. They come as either mitts or gloves. This too is a personal preference.
Shooting Mat – The shooting mat is used to provide some padding between the shooter and the ground.
Spotting Scope and Stand – The spotting scope allows you to see the spotters and scoring disk in your target. They are also often used to locate shot holes during the rapid fire stages. More importantly, when shooting long-range, they allow you to judge the wind by watching the mirage. Scopes vary in power and objective diameter. The power used by most shooters is generally between 20 – 50X. Objective lens diameters should preferably be 50mm or larger. The larger diameter scopes will allow you to see conditions better. Some of the best scopes for this sport are made by Kowa. A scope stand that allows you to adjust the scope so that it can be viewed in all positions is necessary.
A Palma Match, known as the “America’s Cup “ of rifle shooting, is a special type of international High Power long-range match. There are currently very few Palma ranges in the United States. Minnesota is proud to be the home to one of these few. Gopher Rifle and Revolver in Harris, MN is in the home of a Palma range and will be hosting several matches in the summer of 2017.
A Palma match course of fire consist of a total of 45 shots fired for record. The match starts at 800 yards. An unlimited amount of sighters and 15 shots for record are fired in 22 minutes. After shooting has completed, all shooters then move back to the 900 yard firing line. At this point, the shooters are allowed 2 sighter shots and 15 shots for record in 22 minutes. The final stage is then fired at 1000 yards, again 2 sighter shots and 15 shots for record are fired in 22 minutes.
International Palma rules limit matches to a Palma rifle. A Palma rifle consists of a single shot bolt-action rifle weighing less than 6 kg (13.2lbs) in 7.62mm NATO caliber (.308 Winchester) firing a 155 grain Palma bullet. US Palma rules allow any weight bullets, NRA Match and Service Rifles.
Equipment used in a Palma match is identical for that used in a regular High Power rifle competition except that a Palma rifle is used.
Check out the LINKS page for a listing of competitive shooting equipment suppliers.
What is F-Class Competition? Well, it is sort of cross between Palma-style shooting and Conventional Benchrest. You shoot from the ground, like Palma, but you use a high-power scope, front rest (or bipod) and rear bag, like Benchrest. Most matches are scored by hit value like Palma, rather than group size like 1000 yd Benchrest. F-class is one of the fastest growing forms of rifle competition. Scopes allow the shooters to wring the full accuracy out of their guns at long-range. Shooting from the ground allows matches to be conducted at ranges that don’t have benches for long distances.
Being so new, F-Class rules are still evolving, but here in the United States, two classes are recognized: Open, with a rifle weight limit of 10kg (22 lbs), and F/TR (F-Class/Target Rifle) with is restricted to .223Rem. and .308Win. caliber rifles fired off of bipods, with a 18.15 pound weight limit. A rear rest (sandbag or sock) is permitted if wanted.
The MRRA welcomes this new sport and supports it growth. There will be several F-Class matches as well as a State championship this year. Watch for news as well as a F-class section on the MRRA website. Many F-Class matches are sometimes held in conjunction with High Power (midrange), Palma, and International matches.
Check out the LINKS page for more information on F-Class Shooting.
Minnesota is fortunate to have a facility for NRA/ISU 300-meter shooting at the Minneapolis Rifle Club, located Northwest of the Twin Cities. We have the Megalink electronic target system on twelve of twenty points.
300-meter competition is all slow fire at 300-meters, and is generally composed of three positions – prone, standing, and kneeling. 300M shooting is very popular in Europe, and with the Army Marksmanship Unit at fort Benning Georgia. For those who compete in Smallbore, 300M shooting is a natural transition. The support equipment (slings, boots, coats, mats etc.) is the same as used in Smallbore, however, the rifle used is an NRA/ISU free-rifle. The free-rifle is, as you would suspect from the name, a less restrictive class of rifle than the NRA High Power “Any” rifle. The NRA Any rifle is a legal free-rifle but NRA/ISU rules also allow the use of palm rests, a maximum caliber of 8MM and iron sights-corrective lenses are allowed as in High Power shooting. NRA Palma Rifles, NRA Match Rifles, and NRA Service Rifles are legal rifles for 300 Meter shooting.
Minneapolis Rifle Club’s 300M rules allow NRA High Power equipment such as coats, slings, boots and mats in 300M matches to promote the sport, and make it more accessible to High Power shooters. Hunting bullets and composite tipped bullets such as the Hornady A-Max and the Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets, and any magnum caliber cartridges are not allowed, as they can damage the electronic targets. Minnesota matches are generally half course matches. This means that they consist of 60 record shots: 20 prone/ 20 standing/ 20 kneeling with unlimited sighting shots in each stage. Competitors are allowed 30 minutes per stage, so when the matches start at 10:00 a.m. they are usually completed by 1:00 or 2:00 p.m., and no pit duty is required! A full course match consists of 120 record shots 40 prone/ 40 standing/ 40 kneeling.
The 300-meter metric target is very challenging, and shooting it can dramatically improve High Power scores for those who are serious. High Power shooters who generally fire in the low to mid 190’s at 200 yards standing will likely score in the 150’s to 160’s on the 300 meter targets. In Prone, a clean 200 is very rare on a 300-meter target and you will find the 2 inch x-ring a challenge. The wind is very much a factor in prone shooting, and 300 meter shooting is an excellent way to improve long-range skills as well. The kneeling position may be new to High Power shooters, but with some effort it too can be mastered. Occasionally we all need a new challenge, and 300-meter shooting may be just that for you, give it a try.
Equipment used in an International match at Minneapolis Rifle Club is identical for that used in a regular High Power Rifle Competition, except that:
1) An international “Free” rifle can be used along with any NRA Any/Match/Service/Palma rifle.
2) If you shoot an International match at the Minneapolis Rifle Club , you will not need a spotting scope, since your shots are displayed on a computer monitor.
Kneeling Roll. – This kneeling roll fits under the rear leg between the ground and the top of your foot. These are rather inexpensive and can also be made very easily.
Check out the LINKS page for a listing of competitive shooting equipment suppliers.
There have been several questions about the Mid Range Course. As your hard working local HP Guru, I have attempted to get those answers. I will try to pass on what I have learned and explain some of the possibilities & combinations of shooting this course; but first, a short history lesson.
Today’s History Lesson
Until about the mid 90’s everybody had 1 high power rifle classification. This one classification served for everything, over the course, 1000 yard, 4 gun 600, Palma, standing, service rifle. The NRA, at the request of shooters, agreed that prone shooting was clearly different than over the course so they created the LONG RANGE classification. Long range was defined as prone matches fired at 600 yards and beyond. Six & five hundred yard scores fired in conjunction with over the course matches were not used toward your LR classification.Only scores fired in 600, 800, 900 and 1000 yard matches such as 3 gun or 4 gun 600’s, 1000 yard and Palma were used in this system. As it developed, scores fired at 600 were averaging higher than those fired at 1000 or in Palma matches. This was partly due to the fact that there are very few ranges to practice and compete in 1000 yard and Palma shooting. Conversely there are a lot of 600 yard ranges and lots of 600 yard competition. Also by its nature Palma and 1000 yard are more difficult even without the handicap of fewer opportunities to shoot these longer distances. Wind and flag reading skills are more critical at 1000 yards. The bullseye has a different perspective on the 1000 yard target. This requires different aperture settings on the front sight. The result of this was that most shooters earned their long range classification shooting at 600 yards. When these 600 yard shooters shot Palma and 1000 yard most were disappointed that they were not shooting the same class scores. Many said the heck with it and gave up Palma and 1000 yard while others wrote to NRA about the problem. NRA listened and created the new mid range course for those who do not have access to Palma ranges. So now you have the opportunity to shoot two different competitions with two classifications in prone slow fire.
On to the Good Stuff
Since the prone scores at 3-5 & 600 are generally a little higher, the NRA decided to increase the percentage averages for each class in the new mid range course. You will now have to shoot 1.5% higher for each particular class. For example high master long range requires a 97% average whereas high master for mid range will require a 98.5%. This means you will need to average 444 out of 450 for high master on the standard mid range course; and 788 out of 800 in the 4 gun 600 events.
The basic course of fire is 2 sighters and 15 shots for record in 22 minutes at 300, 500 & 600 yards. The course can be fired with any suitable prone rifle and with iron sights or any sights. Suitable rifles or cartridges can be AR15’s through 338 Winchester single shots and everything in between that you normally see on the high power range. The program will state any limitations such as iron sights or any sights. See my editorial at the end of this article regarding cartridge limits. The NRA will keep national records for individuals and teams in this event at registered matches.
Very few clubs have firing points at these three distances. Fortunately the good news is that there are many variations in this mid range competition. For example the 4 gun 600 we all know and love is a mid range match. Those will continue just as in the past at most clubs. A 4 gun mid range can now be fired at 500 yards on the MR65. At this time (December 2006) the North Star Rifle Club in Red Wing is the only Minnesota club that has firing points at the 3 distances to shoot the so called standard mid range match of 15 shots each at 300, 500 & 600 yards. North Star has several mid range events scheduled for 2007.
Here are some possible combinations of mid range competition. At North Star I am planning on the 45 shot mid range with iron sights. This will be followed by a 20 shot string at 600 with iron sights followed by a 20 shot string with any sight for a total of 85 shots. This could be done in reverse with any sight allowed in the first 2 and irons in the last 20 shot match, but I’m going with mostly irons. If your club has only 300 yards you can shoot a 4 gun (20 shots each) just like the olden days of 4 gun 600. It would be fired on the MR63 and could be set up with all irons, all scope or half and half. If your club has only 500 yards it’s the same as 300. You can also shoot 1 iron and 1 scope at 300 followed by 1 each at 500 or 600. If you have only 3 and 500 you can shoot the 15 shot each range with two 15 shot strings at 500. I would guess that fired this way would not count toward national records. You can shoot 2 scope matches at 300 and 2 iron matches at 5 or 600 or reverse.
As most of you know a first time shooter in an NRA match must enter as an unclassified master. After your first match you may use a temporary scorebook or just the results bulletin from this match. This score can be used to enter in the proper class for all your next few matches until 120 record shots have been reported to NRA. You will be further classified upward after NRA receives your next 240 record shots or 120 shots for long range. You should also be aware that NRA will only move you up in classification. No matter how poorly you shoot even for 5 years NRA will not move you down in class. If you are shooting below your average for quite a while you might consider writing NRA and requesting a downward adjustment to your class. They will review your scores and move you downward to the proper classification. Remember, however that this downward move is a once in your lifetime deal. If you move from any class downward then subsequently shoot well enough to move back up you will again move. If you again go into a slump and shoot lower scores NRA will not move you down again. Use this option wisely!
Upon discussion with other match sponsors I think we all agree that for first timers in mid range in 2007 we will use your long range class if you have one. Otherwise you will be an unclassified master. Remember, you need to shoot only 120 rounds to get the new card and 2 matches will satisfy this.
In my humble opinion there should be 1 more rule that NRA did not use. It’s my opinion that this course should be limited to cartridges suitable for over the course guns. Of course one could build a 5 shot repeater for the 6.5X284 or 338 Winchester for a legal OTC gun. “GOOFY” would be one way to describe a person who would go to this trouble in my opinion. I would instead limit the cartridge to 308 Winchester case capacity; and yes I know there are folks out there still shooting the 30-06 and even 280 Remington over the course. PUH-LEESE, we are well into the 21st century! I have been considering a 308 capacity limitation in the program for the matches I run at Northstar. As usual the shooters opinion weigh heavily in the way I conduct matches so contact me with your thoughts on this or any other high power questions.
Capt’n Bob Peasley | MN’s Local High Power Guru
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