CMP and NRA Style "High Power" Rifle Competition


These two types of rifle competitions, together, are the fastest growing and most widespread of any of the competitive rifle pastimes! They are also some of the oldest, at least in the USA.

A (very) little history:

When the 1903 Springfield was adopted in its final form, the military established a "qualification" course for serving military personnel. This course of fire was also used in the widespread State Militia and National Guard organizations. Because NRA members and military shooters often used the same ranges and sometimes the same equipment, the NRA adopted a match with similar rules, this set of rules defining NRA "High Power" course of fire. After WW1, the US military reviewed the (poor) marksmanship demonstrated by the US Army draftees during the war and decided something had to be done. The Congress established a "Director of Civilian Marksmanship" and give him the authority and tools to create a body of civilian marksmen, trained in the operation of the current Army issue rifle, and ready to furnish the marksmen of any future wars. Congress funded the Director's program until the mid-1990"s, when the program was re-organized as the "Civilian Marksmanship Program". Many old-timers still refer to the "DCM", but the correct name is now "CMP".

Fast-forwarding to the present, there are two very similar, but distinctly separate, "games", one played by NRA rules and the other played by CMP rules. They are so similar and intertwined that many times I will complete a match and not know if it was a NRA or CMP regulated match.

Let's see if I can further muddy the waters.

CMP matches require that the rifles used be one of the following;

  1. An M1 Garand, in 30 Government or 7.62 NATO caliber - or - the civilian equivalent in 30-06 or 308Win,
  2. An M14 in 7.62 NATO caliber - or - the civilian equivalent in 308Win,
  3. An M16 in 5.56 NATO caliber - or - the civilian equivalent in 223Rem.

NRA matches require iron sighted rifles with a magazine, either detachable or fixed. They are usually either bolt action or semi-automatic. All of the CMP rifles meet these requirements, as do most Mausers and Mauser derivatives.

CMP rules allow little or no modifications to the rifles, while NRA rules allow virtually unlimited modifications.

This is a "civilian equivalent" of an M16 rifle, externally identical to an M16, down to the sling, meeting all CMP match requirements.

This is a view of the receiver and sights, all strictly military.

Above is an NRA rules rifle. This rifle utilizes the same receiver as the "civilian equivalent" of the M16 rifle shown in the top two pics,

but this rifle has been fitted with a micrometer adjustable rear sight, an adjustable rear aperture,

a long barrel, and a hooded, aperture style (Mid-Tompkins $40) front sight. In all of these pictures, the yellow plastic in the receiver is a safety "flag" indicating that the rifle is unloaded and the bolt is open.

This is pretty much what is required to compete in either a CMP or NRA rules match. A rifle, in this case an AR-15, two magazines, a sling, mat, glove and spotting scope. I shot for a few years with an M1 Garand, a scrap of carpet, and one cold weather glove. Later I got a mat and scope, and my carpet scrap is now in use by another shooter.

Lets talk about rifles. At the local matches, the M16 style rifle is very popular, and can be used for both NRA and CMP rules shooting. This rifle has little recoil, ammunition is rather cheap, and it is easy to shoot. At the very top of the heap, in NRA rules shooting, are custom bolt action rifles, usually Mod 70's. In between you can find almost anything that has iron sights, a magazine, and is either semi or bolt operated.

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