The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a U.S. government-chartered program that promotes firearms safety training and rifle practice for all qualified U.S. citizens with special emphasis on youth programs.
The CMP operates through a network of affiliated shooting clubs and state associations that covers every state in the U.S. The clubs and associations offer firearms safety training and marksmanship courses as well as the opportunity for continued practice and competition.
History I CMP Highpower Rifle I CMP Smallbore Rifle
The Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) was created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 1903 War Department Appropriations Act. The original purpose was to provide civilians an opportunity to learn and practice marksmanship skills so they would be skilled marksmen if later called on to serve in the U.S. military. Over the years the emphasis of the program shifted to focus on youth development through marksmanship. From 1916 until 1996 the CMP was administered by the U.S. Army. Title XVI of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104-106, 10 February 1996) created the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice & Firearms Safety (CPRPFS) to take over administration and promotion of the CMP.
There are 4 strings of fire which are the basic building blocks of any NRA high power rifle course of fire or tournament. These are:
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 one position are known as “single-stage” matches and are usually 20 shot matches (2 times one of the basic strings).
“Slow Fire” does not require much explanation. The shooter takes his position 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 elaborate. In rapid fire sitting or kneeling, the shooter uses a preparation period to establish sitting or kneeling position; then comes to a standing position and, on command, loads either 2 or 5 rounds (depending on the firearm) into the rifle. When the targets appear or the command to commence fire is given, the shooter gets into the firing position, fires the rounds in the rifle, reloads with 8 or 5 more for a total of 10 and finishes the string. The procedure for rapid fire prone differs only in the firing position and the time spent.
Rifle: Rifles to be used in High Power Rifle competition must be equipped with metallic sights (Some long range, 1000-yard matches allow the use of “any sights”), should be capable of holding at least 5 rounds of ammunition and should be adapted to rapid reloading. Tournament programs often group competitions into two divisions, Service Rifle and Match Rifle. The rifles currently defined as “Service Rifles” include the M1, M14, M16 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 many military and commercial actions. 1903 and 1903-A3 Springfield, 1917 Enfields and pre-war Winchester Model 70 sporters in .30-06 are all equipped with clip slots for rapid reloading. The most suitable rear sights are aperture or “peep” with reliable, repeatable 1/2 minute (or finer) adjustments. Front sights should be of either the post or aperture type.
Sling: The shooting sling is helpful in steadying the positions and controlling recoil. The sling may be used in any position except standing.
Spotting Scope: A spotting scope or a substitute optical device is important for scoring and observing the placement of shot spotters on the target. The beginning shooter will benefit from the use of about any telescope which gives an erect image. The most suitable spotting scopes, however, have a magnification of from 20 to 25 power and an objective lens at least 50mm in diameter. Eyepieces angled at 45 to 90 degrees are convenient for using the scope without disturbing the shooting position.
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 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 several shooting gloves available.
Sight Blackener: The shooter using an exposed front sight such as the blade found on the service rifle will require some means of blackening the sight. A carbide lamp will do this job or a commercial sight black sold in spray cans can be used.
Scorebook: 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 the least important data recorded.
Ammunition: Most competitors eventually turn to handloads. Careful handloading will yield ammunition less expensive and more accurate than otherwise available. Both tracer and incendiary ammunition are prohibited by NRA Rules and armor-piercing ammunition may be prohibited by local range regulations.
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. Some of these matches permit the use of telescopic sights.
High power rifle shooting at the full regulation distances requires a range with firing lines at 200, 300 and 600 (or 500) yards.
Every official NRA stage or course of fire normally conducted at 200, 300, or 500 yards can be run at 100 yards on the NRA official reduced targets. The SR-1 target simulates the 200 yard target; the SR-21 is the 100 yard equivalent of the 300 yard target and the MR-31 gives the same appearance at 100 yards as the normal 600 yard target does at the full distance.
Because of their small size, the reduced targets are well adapted to being hung on stationary frames. Because of the short distances involved, it is practicable to walk down to the targets after each string and remove them for scoring elsewhere or to score them on the frames. The use of stationary target frames eliminates the complications that sometimes arise when the number of shooters on the line is not equal to the number of target operators in the pits.
Reduced 300 and 600 yards targets are also available for firing at 200 yards. The NRA can provide a list of target sources, including reduced targets.
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.
Many individuals become interested in smallbore rifle competition; however, unless they start off with the proper equipment and information, they find it difficult to begin. The cost of equipment is generally a stumbling block. Many feel that unless they have the best of everything they cannot compete. This is not true. Most start with a minimum investment of a .22 caliber rifle (new or used), spotting scope with stand, sling, glove and shooting coat, and most important, eye and ear protection. Match bulletin showing the course of fire are published.
Section 3 of the NRA Smallbore Rifle Rule Book defines authorized equipment and ammunition. This section is not meant to restrict equipment but to define limitations. SCGAA has several experienced competitors with equipment to loan.
Rifle – (light rifle or match rifle) Whichever rifle you select, be sure it will be suited for the rules of the particular type of shooting you wish to do. A reliable gun dealer is most helpful in selecting a proper rifle. Remember, a used rifle for a beginner is not a bad idea if the dealer can certify the condition of the rifle.
Rifle Sights – After checking the rules, the purchase of good quality sights for whatever type of shooting is a sound investment.
Spotting Scope/Stand – It is the most important piece of equipment after the rifle and rifle sights. Allows you to check your target from a distance. Spotting scopes are precision optical instruments (often you get what you pay for). Scope stands should be suited for the job you will want them to do.
Gun Case – Used to protect your rifle as you travel to and from the range. Necessary in some areas to comply with local laws.
Ammunition – Generally, standard velocity ammunition will shoot more accurately than will high velocity. If you wish to become more competitive, tournament quality ammunition best suited to your particular gun will give the best results.
There are many accessories available and no attempt will be made to mention them all. Some of the most common and useful ones will be discussed.
Shooting Box or Kit – Some means is necessary to transport your accessories to and from the range. This can be as elaborate as a leather case or as simple as a large box or cloth. The choice will depend on the type and amount of shooting you do.
Specialty Equipment – Shooting mat, shooting coat, glove, sling, kneeling roll, shooting pants, shooting boots – are too varied to mention. The purchase of such equipment depends on personal preference. However, some of these pieces of equipment can be essential depending on the type of competition in which you wish to become involved.
SCGAA Smallbore rifle competition is held over distances of 50 feet, 50 yards, and/or 100 yards. The majority of SCGAA matches are prone only (lying on your belly) with F-class at 50 yards and 100 yards on our competition Range. The SCGAA prone matches are 120 shots. Match competition can be as quick as 30 shots (10 shots prone, standing, kneeling) in a league or as long as 40 shots at the National Championships. Competition is conducted in as many as four positions – prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing – to as few as one – prone only or standing only. Section 7 of the Smallbore Rifle Rule Book discusses all courses of fire recognized by NRA, while section 17 covers all courses of fire recognized for national records. Smallbore rifle competitions may be fired outdoors or indoors.
A group of matches added together for a total aggregate score is called a tournament. They can be held locally, state-wide, regionally or nationally.