by the NRA Competitive Shooting Division
Tournament officials are not the only ones who have duties at a
match. The success of any match depends as much on competitors as it
does on the proper functioning of the tournament officials. Match
personnel and competitors must work together during a tournament.
Here are some general rules which, if practiced consistently, will
contribute to the smooth operation of any match as well as making
you a welcome addition to that competition.
Know the Program
The only way to know both what to expect at a match, as well as what
is expected of you, is to get a copy of the program and read it
thoroughly. Saying "I didn't know that" isn't going to make any
difference to other competitors or to a jury. The conditions under
which the match is going to be fired are listed in the program. Once
you've paid your entry fee, you've accepted those conditions.
Familiarizing yourself with the program in advance is the only way
to be sure that you'll be free to concentrate on your shooting.
Check Your Equipment
The night before you leave for a match, get all your equipment
together in one place and make sure you have everything you'll need.
Be sure that your ammo is right for the gun you'll be shooting, and
that you have enough for the course of fire planned. Take along a
screwdriver, pencil or ballpoint pen (fiber tips are terrible in the
rain) and your eye and ear protection. Even if you don't normally
wear glasses, and you're sure that shooting .22 caliber won't bother
you, you need eye and ear protection. Many ranges have a mandatory
eye and ear protection requirement. Don't forget rain gear - you'd
rather have it and not need it than the other way around. Be sure to
take your data book, classification card or Silhouette book and your
NRA membership card.
Guns and Ammo
Make absolutely certain that the gun or guns you are going to use
are clean, in the best of condition, zeroed and legal for the
tournament. Where appropriate, you'll want to take along extra
magazines or clips. Again, be sure you have enough ammunition to
complete the tournament, including extras for possible refires or
shootoffs. You'd hate to forfeit a match because you run out of ammo
halfway through a shootoff. Make sure to bring the right amount for
the gun you will be shooting.
Know the Rules
How well do you know the rules? All competitive shooters, novice or
experienced, should have a copy of the current rule book for the
competition they're shooting, and should be familiar with it. If a
rule is unclear to you, you can ask a tournament official, Official
Referee or Match Supervisor for help, or contact the NRA
Competitions Division for clarification. There are two important
things to remember about the rules:
1. The rules apply to everyone, from a High Master with several
National Championships to his credit to a Marksman attending their
second match, and
2. You may not agree with all the rules, but you must follow them,
both in spirit and in letter.
There are a few details not generally covered by rule books or
tournament programs, but which are important:
- Be sure your entry card is filled out completely, correctly
and legibly. Include current classification and special category,
when appropriate. Your NRA ID number is required as it is the key
to your records.
- At any match where competitors score for each other, you must
make neat, legible figures. There must be no question whether a
figure is a "1" or a "7", and each box on the scorecard must be
properly filled in with a figure. For example, in High Power Rifle
matches, a miss is an "M", it is not an empty space, a dash, or
anything else. In any match, an "X" in the first box, followed by
a line through the next nine boxes DOES NOT mean 10 X's, but 1 X
and 9 misses. As the scorer, how would you like to inform the
shooter that their first "clean" ever doesn't exist as far as the
Stat Office is concerned?
- To carry our example further, the shooter also has a
responsibility to make sure the score fired has been marked on the
card properly, and if not, to take the proper steps to change it
through the Range Officer. Never sign your scorecard until you
have fired the match and have verified the shot values and total
score shown on the card. Once you and the scorer have signed the
card, you've accepted the shot values indicated there and have no
- Know the difference between a "challenge" and a "protest". You
challenge the evaluation of a particular shot. You protest a) any
injustice you feel has been done to you (except evaluation of a
target): b) the conditions under which another shooter has been
permitted to fire, or c) the equipment which another competitor
has been permitted to use.
Some competitors feel that protesting is "causing trouble" and
they "don't want to make waves." These same competitors will then
complain "unofficially" about another competitor and everything
"that person's allowed to get away with." Don't forget, if you're
not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. If you, as a
competitor, see valid rule infractions which are not corrected
after notifying a match official, protest and get an official from
a Referee or Jury.
- Be punctual: Better than being punctual, get there early. An
hour is sometimes not too long to get squadding, get out your
gear, and ready to participate. If the program states the match
begins at 8:00 am, you can be 99% sure that the first relay will
be on the line at 8:00 am ready to shoot. Allow yourself plenty of
time to get to the match, especially if the location of the range
is unfamiliar to you. Arriving late and rushing about to get
yourself and your equipment ready is almost guaranteed to ruin
your shooting day, so give yourself plenty of time. If you arrive
after the 3 minute preparation period, you might not be able to
shoot at all.
- Don't be afraid to go to your first match. Everyone has to
start somewhere. Provided you follow the rules, other shooters are
always happy and willing to answer questions and help you along.
- Offer to help out. The vast majority of tournaments are
conducted by just a handful of volunteers. Extra help is always
welcome. Granted, you've paid your entry fee and are entitled to
devote your attention to your shooting, but you can still offer to
police the range after the match, put away equipment or any number
of other tasks. Without the people who give up their shooting time
in order to provide it for others, there wouldn't be a tournament.
So do your part as a competitor.
- Be sure clothing worn to a tournament reflects your concern
for comfort and safety as well as recognition on your part that
competitive shooting should be represented in as positive a manner
as possible. Especially when TV or newspaper coverage will take
place, attire should be in good taste in order to enhance the
image of this sport being conveyed to the general public. Items
containing controversial or offensive slogans or which, in any
other way, could detract from the traditional sporting aspect of
competition are unnecessary and strongly discouraged. In some
cases, inappropriate clothing could be the basis for a match
sponsor not allowing a competitor to participate.
- Enjoy yourself. Sometimes it's hard to remember to do that,
but try to keep in mind that while competitive shooting can be
serious, demanding, and nerve-wracking, it is still great fun and
is populated by the nicest people in the world - other shooters.
Permission is granted to reproduce this document provided credit
is given to the NRA
© National Rifle Association of America