Sanctioned Tournament Information | Competitive Shooting Programs

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NRA Sanctioned Tournament Information 

The NRA sanctioning plan for competitions is designed to give the greatest possible enjoyment to the competitor while maintaining nationwide standards.


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NRA Competition

A tournament sponsored by an NRA Affiliated Club or Association that has received the approval of the NRA in advance of firing. There are three types—Approved Tournaments, Registered Tournaments and Sanctioned Leagues.

Tournament: (1.1) A series of matches covered by an official program.

Program: (Sec. 21) The brochure published to give information about the planned tournament to prospective entrants. This includes such information as the name, date and location of the tournament; courses of fire; equipment allowed; eligibility to participate; fees involved; classification and award system to be used; person to whom entry cards are to be mailed; and any special regulations desired by the sponsor.

Sponsor: The organization or club which conducts the tournament by publishing the program, establishing dates, etc.

Host: The organization that conducts the tournament operations. (Generally, the sponsor and host are synonymous, but NRA Sectionals, Regionals and most National Championships are sponsored by the NRA and hosted by the organization conducting the tournament operations. State Associations sponsor State Championships but generally specific clubs host the tournaments.

Match: (1.7a) The basic competition unit. May consist of one or more stages.

Stage: (1.7b) All or part of a match based on the shots fired at one range or one type of firing.

Award Schedule: The method of giving awards. This is generally based on classification. It may be modified by use of categories.

Classification: (Sec. 19) The NRA system of dividing competitors into different skill levels for award purposes. See the section entitled "The NRA Classification System" in this page for additional details

Categories: (Sec. 2) A breakdown of tournament entries based principally on stated groups not related to skill level. A more complete description of categories follows later in this page.

Official Bulletin: (13.4) A final listing of the results of the tournament showing all competitors' scores, award winners, etc. It may be a posted list of a list printed for distribution.

Approved Tournament

Any well-organized Saturday afternoon club practice session can be operated as an NRA Approved Tournament with little extra effort. A well-run practice session will require the same operating personnel and organization that a sanctioned tournament requires.

The following are required by the NRA before a tournament will be sanctioned as an Approved Tournament:

  1. An application form (available from the NRA Competitive Shooting Division) submitted in duplicate to the NRA at least thirty days before the tournament. This application lists the club number, type, name, date and location of the tournament, and names the following: Match Director, the contact person, and the Supervisor (who is selected by the sponsor and who acts as Referee for the tournament, but who does not have to be an appointed Official NRA Referee, Club Jury Representative for Silhouette). A telephone number for contact during normal working hours must also be listed.
  2. Two copies of the proposed program are submitted with the application. The program is reviewed and one copy returned with an NRA sanctioning signature or with suggested changes. (In an Approved Tournament, the program does not have to be reproduced by the sponsor. A single copy may be posted on the range bulletin board. We recommend reproduction, however, for distribution to prospective entrants and to answer inquires).
  3. Any publicity concerning your tournament (or any programs you send out) should carry the information that there will be a charge of $4.50 per competitor payable to the NRA. (Of course, you will have to add this fee to your fees in order to have sufficient funds to pay tournament expenses, including target costs, awards, etc.) This fee is not charged in Silhouette matches.

After the tournament is completed, the sponsor is expected to do the following promptly: 1) mail in appropriate NRA registration and Score Reporting Cards with correct name, address, NRA ID number, scores and number of shots posted for each entry so these can be made part of each competitor's classification record (silhouette competitors have scores posted in their classification score record books) and, 2) submit the NRA registration of $4.50 per competitor. (The Supervisor cannot compete in the tournament but all other officials may.) Tournament sponsors who fail to submit scores and fees required by NRA Rules may be prohibited from conducting further sanctioned tournaments. DO NOT submit applications for future tournaments with the scores and fees.

Registered Tournament

The Registered Tournament is fundamentally the same as the Approved Tournament but is more formal. The differences listed below appear to be many and great, but in actual operation there is very little difference. Most of the requirements of a Registered Tournament are met in a well-run Approved Tournament.

What are the differences? Briefly,

  1. Except for High Power Rifle, an Official NRA Referee (when available) is provided at no cost to the tournament sponsor for State, Regional and Sectional Championships. When a Referee is not available, a Jury (composed of 3 members) may be formed.
  2. National Records will be recognized if fired and properly reported on the NRA-supplied form;
  3. The Referee, Match Director, Deputy Match Director, Chief Range Officer, Chief Pit Officer, and Chief Statistical Officer cannot compete in the tournament, except in silhouette tournaments;
  4. Some specific courses of fire must be offered; NRA classification and an awards schedule must be used; Earlier notification to the NRA is required (at least 45 days);
  5. The Program must be available for distribution and a Final Results Bulletin must be printed and distributed to each competitor and to the NRA.
  6. The NRA Registration fee is $5.25 per competitor.

We advise that sponsors run Approved Tournaments before scheduling a Registered Tournament. As with the Approved Tournament, a Registered Tournament application packet is available from the NRA.

The NRA Classification System

The NRA Classification System was devised to help maintain interest by breaking down the competitors into groups of approximately equal skill. Tournament sponsors may award prizes within each group. This is simply a form of handicapping and has an advantage over a score handicap system because it permits the use of scores actually fired.

Except in silhouette, upon entering any tournament, a competitor must complete an NRA SR-1 (for conventional) card and SR-1A (for NRA style international), an SR-27 (for shotgun events) or an SR-45 (for Action Pistol). Information which must be supplied includes the full name, address, and most important, the NRA identification number (non-members who are classified are assigned an identification number). Competitors should be sure to use the same name and address of record with NRA in the same way every time. For example, if initials are used, such as "J.D. Smith," then continue to use initials, rather than sometimes using "Joe Smith." This will speed up the classification system because cross checks will not have to be made to determine if it is the same person. Additional information needed on the SR-1, SR-1A, SR-27 or SR-45 card includes the type of shooting fired, the classification (if any), and the place and date of firing.

Competitors are classified as High Master, (High Power Rifle, Action Pistol, Pistol and Police Pistol only), Master, Expert, Sharpshooter or Marksman (Master AA through D for shotgun and Master through B for Silhouette). A competitor is placed in one of these classes after he has fired a required number of shots for the type of shooting involved. Individual and team scores must be fired in NRA Registered or Approved Tournaments or in Sanctioned Leagues to be used for classification. After the required number of shots has been fired, the score average is determined, establishing the classification to which the competitor belongs, except in Silhouette in which no averaging is done.

When new competitors enter their first NRA sanctioned tournament, they MUST fire in the Master Class. This is in effect for the first tournament only. The new competitor should ask for and receive a Temporary Score Record Book from the Sponsor or Referee. This Temporary Score Record Book will help to determine the competitor's temporary classification until he or she has fired sufficient shots which have been reported to NRA to earn a regular classification card.

After the first tournament, the new competitors are required to maintain the Temporary Score Record Book as their temporary classification. They must use this temporary classification and keep their Score Record Book up to date until they receive their official NRA classification. Each classification card has an effective date which makes the Score Record Book obsolete. The competitor must compete in the classification earned in all tournaments of that type of shooting or a higher one if they so choose (NRA Rule 19.8). NRA does not issue Temporary Classification Cards. See Rule 19.6 for use of "Assigned Classification."

As new scores are received from tournament sponsors, they are recorded at NRA Headquarters and averages are checked in accordance with the specific number of shots required as listed in the pertinent rule book. As a competitor progresses, scores improve and averages increase to the point where the competitor will be assigned a higher classification and a new card will be issued.

Team shooting is also based on the classification system. The method of arriving at a team's classification is explained in each rule book and amounts to an average classification for all the team members involved.

Provisions in the system allow for lowering a classification when justified and requested, in writing, by the competitor.

Classification Averages

A competitor's classification is based on a percentage as listed in the appropriate NRA Rule Book. A minimum number of shots must be posted to the competitor's record before a card is issued. This minimum varies with each shooting program as shown in the proper Rule Book.

The Silhouette classification system is handled in a different way. Check Section 19 of a current NRA Silhouette Rule Book for details.


The term "category" is used to separate competitors into distinct groups without regard to any skill level. Regular award categories are normally divided into classes for skill level awards. There can be several Regular Award Categories which are in common use (Check the appropriate Rule Book for the precise definition).

  1. Civilian - Defined in Rule 2.2; Generally, competitors who do not fall into the following categories:
  2. Police - As defined in Rule 2.4. This is also a specific group and limited as far as interpretation is concerned. A person, based on employment, either falls into the police category or does not.
  3. Service - Defined in Rules 2.5 (National Guard), 2.6 (Regular Service) and 2.7 (Reserve Components); Competitors who are members of the Armed Forces generally fall into one of these categories. Exceptions are based on duty status and/or military support to the competitor during the calendar year.
  4. Junior - Rules 2,3; 2.3.1; and 2.3.2,

The Regular Award Categories above are normally subdivided into classes determined by skill level. In addition to the Regular Award categories mentioned, there are several Special Award categories. These apply to certain individuals regardless of their place in the Regular Award categories. Special categories most commonly used are listed below, although this is not an all-inclusive list because of their nature. Special categories can be established by any tournament sponsor. Special awards are normally given only to one person in a match or an aggregate, and are not necessarily given by skill level as are Regular Award Categories.

  1. Senior - A person who has reached an age as defined in Rule 2.2.1. Such a person could also win Regular Awards and/or other Special Awards.
  2. Women - The comment under "Senior" would also apply to women competitors. They, too, would also fall into one of the standard categories as well as this special one.
  3. College, School, ROTC - These are special in that competitors are also in one of the standard categories.
  4. Junior - In some tournaments Juniors can be either in the Special Award or Regular Award area. Generally, the "Junior" category is used as a Regular (classified) category only in Smallbore Rifle competitions.

When a tournament sponsor decides to use the category award play, he is responsible for clearly defining in the tournament program the categories he intends to use. This does not mean awards must be provided in each standard category but only that the program must stipulate which categories are established.

For example, a sponsor may decide to give awards in two categories—Regular Service and Civilian. He must then state in the program that the Service category will be as defined in Rule 2.6 and that all others shall enter as Civilians. Under different circumstances, the sponsor may state that awards will be given in two categories, such as civilian and police, police to be as defined in Rule 2.4 and all others to enter as civilians. In each of these examples, all competitors will be covered. But, when a program merely states there will be a Service category and a civilian category without any further elaboration, there will be confusion. As an example, if a police officer wanted to enter such a tournament, he would find in Rule 2.2 (under the example given) that police may not compete as civilians. Since he knows that he is not eligible for the Service category, he can find no category to enter. A statement such as, "Awards will be given in a Service category and a non-Service category," with the specification that the Service category will consist of those who fall in the categories as defined by Rules 2.5, 2.6 and 2.7, with all others entering the non-service category, informs everyone exactly how they should enter the tournament. Sponsors may wish to provide special awards for those people who may fall into special categories. The program of the tournament should list each such special award, the eligibility for these awards, and any limitations such as: only one award per match, priority of awards, etc.

Sponsors who use the classification-category award system generally provide for the contingency of only two or three competitors entering in a given class and category. The program should clearly state the method of combining categories and classes, and the manner in which this will be done. We recommend that categories be combined within the same class (skill level) before different classes are combined. It is fairer to the individual competitor to be entered with competitors from other categories of the same skill level than to be forced to compete with people who are recognized to be better competitors and in a higher classification. If groups cannot be put together in the same classification, then there is no alternative but to combine classifications in order to get a base for giving awards.


The Classification System is used solely in formal competitions. The Qualification System, on the other hand, provides a program for individual training and achievement. The Classification System is used by the NRA Competitive Shooting Division. The Qualification System is used by the NRA Education & Training Division.

In contrast to a formal "classification" which can only be earned in NRA sanctioned competition, qualification ratings can be earned by participating in the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program.

Questions & Answers

How do I start an NRA competitive shooting league?

Read this guide for details on scheduling, awards, etc. A must-read for those just starting a league.

Where does a tournament sponsor get entry cards (NRA SR-1, SR-1A, SR-45, SR-27, SR-500 cards)?

Individual Score Reporting Forms (SR cards) are available for downloading in PDF format. Once downloaded you may make as many copies as you need for the competitors in your tournament. Note: These are only the part of the SR card that is submitted to the NRA.

NRA Conventional Tournaments (Except High Power Rifle)  Download 
NRA International Tournaments  Download 
NRA High Power Rifle Tournaments only  Download 
NRA Intl Fullbore Prone Tournaments only  Download 
NRA Black Powder Target Rifle and Muzzle Loading  Download 
NRA Action Shooting  Download 
Silhouette Jury Report  Download 

Where do you get statistical forms for use in operating a sanctioned tournament?

These may be purchased from the NRA. A tournament supplies list and order form are included in each tournament packet. (This is the packet that contains the application for Registered or Approved Tournaments).

Should competitors use their full name when completing the entry card?

Competitors should use their given name, middle initial, surname, NRA ID number and address as shown on current NRA membership card. Competitors should use the same name to enter every tournament.  The NRA maintains a large number of classifications and is unable to determine whether "R.O. Smith" is the same person as "Robert O. Smith", even if they have the same address. 

What is the advantage of advance entries?

Advance entries permit the tournament sponsor to assign firing points and times to "squad" his tournament. The sponsor will have some idea of the number of relays that will be required and also the number of awards that must be provided. Shooters should send in their entry to a tournament at the earliest possible date.

How much should a tournament sponsor charge for an entry fee?

There is considerable variation in the fees charged. The total cost for attending a tournament may vary anywhere from five dollars per match to as much as $100 per match. It is up to the tournament sponsor to keep his fee at the lowest possible figure to permit shooters to attend. This can be done by using volunteer labor and keeping the awards reasonable.

What use is made of NRA tournament registration fees?

These fees are used to offset a portion of the costs of the administration of NRA sanctioned tournaments and maintenance of the NRA competitor classification system. These fees are also used to pay the referee's expenses in the case of Championship Tournaments.

Why should the statement "NRA Rules shall govern," be in every program?

The tournament program is the vehicle which is used to cover all regulations concerning the tournament operation. For this reason, it is necessary that some such statement be made in order to let all competitors know the specific rules under which they are firing. The tournament sponsor has, in some cases, the privilege of specifying which NRA Rule will be in effect.

Who is eligible to enter an NRA sanctioned tournament?

NRA rules do not require membership for participation in either Approved Tournaments or Sanctioned Leagues. NRA membership is encouraged but not required of all competitors in a Registered Tournament. NRA membership is required for National Records. If other restrictions are made by the tournament sponsor, they must be clearly stated in the Tournament Program. Restrictions placed on participation must not be in violation of any local, state or federal legislation.

May special regulations be included in a program?

Yes. Such special regulations cannot contradict NRA tournament rules but may set up special "ground rules" for the range, a special firing procedure, a special award program, etc.

What reports must be made to the NRA after a tournament has been completed?

The Referee, Jury Chairman or appointed Supervisor is responsible for making a personal report to the NRA and forms are provided for this purpose. An SR-1 card is also required for each competitor (SR-1A for international, SR-45 for Action Pistol and SR-27 for shotgun). The bottom part of this two part card is to have the total number of shots and total score posted by the sponsor and be forwarded to NRA to be used for classification purposes. The tournament sponsor must remit registration fees to the NRA, and a tournament report form must be submitted. A copy of the final results bulletin must be forwarded to the NRA for every Registered Tournament. Approved Tournaments which publish such official bulletins should also send a copy to the NRA. This must be done within 30 days of firing (Rule 19.13) at the same time as the scores and fees are submitted. Programs and applications for future tournaments MUST be sent separately from the scores and fees of a previously fired tournament.

Can a computer generated report be sent to NRA instead of the SR cards?

Yes. However, the report must include the tournament date, location and type of tournament (rifle, pistol, etc.). It must also include the following information for each competitor: NRA ID number, complete name & address, total shots fired and total score for the tournament. Do not include averages. The type size must be large enough to read for data entry purposes.

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For more information about the Competitions Division, call us at (877) 672-6282 or email [email protected].


Competitive Shooting Programs

The Competitive Shooting Division of the NRA offers a wide range of activities in all types of shooting, sanctions over 11,000 shooting tournaments and sponsors over 50 national championships each year.