Welcome to the 2016 Rifle Season
This year promises to be different than years past in many ways.... The first huge change will be the new CMP and NRA rules in regards to the definition of a service rifle. The entire set of rules can be downloaded from ODCMP.com but the largest change will be the addition of optics on the AR-15 platform rifles. There are mixed reviews from just about every one in the sport at the current time, but the rule change was made with only one goal in mind, to get more people shooting in the sport.
There have also been changes to the allowable rifle "style" to be used in Service rifle competitions. No longer does your AR-15 have to have a 20 inch barrel, or a plastic hand guard, like in the past. The new rules pretty much let you shoot what you have and I believe that this will make the sport more appealing to more shooters as they will not have to have specialized equipment to give the sport a try.
One thing that has not changed this year is the core group of shooters that we have, and there willingness to help new shooters get into this great sport. If you want to give it a try just contact the club in your area through emails located on the contacts page. Within the group there is plenty of equipment and advise to get yours self up and running.
Good Luck to all of the teams this year and we will see if anyone can knock the Chicopee team off the top this year. "My guess is probably not"
Below is a brief explanation of what is involved with a service rifle competition.
Rules, Equipment, and Course of Fire
The most popular form of organized rifle-only competitive shooting in the United States is NRA High Power Competition. There are more High Power matches held across the country than benchrest matches by a huge margin. High Power Competition encompasses primarily Service Rifle and Match Rifle, with the lesser subdiscipline of Sporting Rifle. If you think F-Class* or Benchrest shooting is tough, High Power presents another level of challenge altogether. Apart from a sling, there are no mechanical crutches in High Power--your arms and body must support the full weight of the rifle as you engage the target from a variety of positions. The vast majority of High Power matches are iron sights only. These factors place a premium on good eyesight, training, and overall fitness.
1. Slow Fire, standing - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 10 minutes.
2. Rapid Fire, sitting or kneeling - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 60 seconds.
3. Rapid Fire, 10 rounds prone - 300 yards in 70 seconds.
4. Slow Fire, 20 rounds prone - 600 yards in 20 minutes.
Whether you watched someone compete in a High Power match, or have just heard conversation about it, it's clear that something has peaked your interest in the sport. Being interested in something is great, but without information, it won't get you very far. We have heard new shooters ask people on the range what they need to do to get into High Power and the responses that a lot of people give are scary! The next thing you know, you are in the store spending a few thousand dollars without even knowing why. In an attempt to avoid this situation, lets sit down and talk about some of the essentials, and more important information associated with the sport of High Power Rifle Competition. In most cases, it is entirely possible to compete in a match without buying anything. We will go over the few things that you do need to have to compete, which usually all can be found by just asking around. Does it make more sense to try the sport and make sure that it is something you want to pursue fully before spending a good amount of money? I have been in gun shops in the past and witnessed people trying to return a lot of very expensive shooting equipment because they just did not end up enjoying the sport. Yes, it happens.
The first thing that all new shooters need to understand is that they are entering a sport that is already established. As with any other sport, there are rules and regulations that can be confusing at times. You will also be competing shoulder to shoulder with people of all different classifications and experience levels. This includes shooters who may be in contention to win whatever match it is that you have decided to enter. With that being said, one of the first things that you should track down is the most up to date versions of the NRA High Power Rifle Rules booklet ($2.50 from NRA Program Materials Center), and the CMP Competition Rules (FREE 2007 Edition, 60-page Acrobat file). These can be found easily on-line or by contacting each organization. Section 6.0 of your CMP Rulebook and Section 3 of your NRA Rulebook defines authorized equipment.
Obviously, you will need a rifle. Pay close attention to the types of rifles described in these sections as authorized. More often than not, people are surprised to find that they already own or know someone who owns an authorized High Power Rifle. Most clubs and associations that support a High Power program at their range will have service rifles for new shooters to use in their competitions. There may be a raised match entry fee for this service. If you have no luck after checking these resources, it may be necessary to purchase a rifle. Another call to the CMP can usually help with this. Be sure when you do find a rifle, that you have a minimum of two clips or magazines for that specific system. The other obvious requirement to compete would be ammunition, which is defined in CMP Rule 6.6 or NRA Rule 3.17. That about does it for the necessities.
Right now, you are at the bare minimum of what you need to complete a match. There is some other equipment that is nice to have, and can be substituted to save money. It is a matter of personal choice if and when you want to use any of the following. You will be shooting outdoors, and at times, in adverse conditions. Rain gear is usually helpful in this situation. The classic garbage bag poncho is a cheap alternative, though it doesn't breathe very well. If you decide to only bring out one set of rain gear, do the right thing and give it to your rifle. A rifle case is a helpful addition, for transportation purposes, but should still be covered in the rain. Also bring a small bottle of lubrication, and use it; especially if your rifle does get wet. If you don't like lying on the wet ground, a mat, piece of carpet, or even a poncho could be used as long as it does not create artificial support. You do not need a $300 shooting coat, but something to pad your shoulder from recoil and your arm from the sling, is useful. Many people use a simple issue field jacket, or a sweatshirt. Any kind of a glove that might cut down on the pinching of the sling on your hand, as well. If you own them, try to wear your boots instead of your shoes. It will provide you more support for shooting, and just in general over the day. You may want to bring a towel to wipe away annoying sweat while shooting. Be sure to keep yourself organized. A small backpack can make your life much easier on the range.
Well, that is what to bring to the range. But when? A brand new shooter does not want to fire their first competition at the National Matches. Find that local gun club that supports a High Power Program and ask questions. A list of CMP Affiliated Rifle Matches can be found at the CMP Club & Competition Tracker Page. The more information you have, the better off you will be. Get a copy of their match schedule, and make a plan. Find out the course of fire for the match you will be firing and ensure that you have enough ammunition for your record shots, sighters, and possible alibis. Learn the stages of fire and range commands for the course of fire you will be shooting. All of this information can be found in your CMP and NRA Rulebooks. This information will seriously cut back on confusion throughout the day. You should have your rifle zeroed and ready to go before you try to compete. You do not need to be a member of the NRA to enter in NRA Approved Matches. If you are not already a member, you can still shoot in competition, although membership is not a bad idea. I hope that you do enjoy the sport, and stick with it. As you shoot more, your knowledge of the sport will progress, and with knowledge will come the skill. With the skill, will come an excuse to start buying stuff. Safe and Happy Shooting!