NRA Competition Classifications — What You Need to Know
2014 NRA High Power Champion Joseph Hendricks
Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert, Master, High Master — how are those classifications set up and how does one move up (or down) from one classification to another? These questions and more are answered by the NRA in a Shooting Sports USA article.
The purpose of the classification system is to allow competitors of the same relative ability to compete on a level playing field. That way relatively new or inexperienced shooters can compete in a class with others of the same skill levels, and be recognized. Likewise, the most skilled or successful shooters compete in the Master and High Master categories. But now and then a Marksman or Sharpshooter can indeed win a match outright or place in the top ten.
How Does a Competitor Receive a Classification?
You begin the classification process by competing in a sanctioned, registered tournament. The match sponsor then sends the scores to the NRA within 30 days. If you are an NRA member, your NRA membership number is your classification ID. Non-NRA members are assigned a classification number.
Competitors may check their classification status at any time via the NRA Classification Page.
What are the Standards for Each Classification (Marksman, Sharpshooter etc.)?
Section 19 in each NRA Rule Book covers the classification rules for that discipline. This section includes the course-of-fire used for classification, number of shots required and the percentage for each class. For example, in High Power Rifle competition a minimum of 120 shots is required for the first classification card. The High Power performance-based classification levels are:
Marksman: Below 84 percent
Sharpshooter: 84-88.99 percent
Expert: 89-93.99 percent
Master: 94-96.99 percent
High Master: 97 percent or above
NOTE: After the initial High Power classification, an additional 240 shots will be required to reevaluate a classification — and each time thereafter.
How Long Does the Classfication Card Remain Valid?
A classification card remains valid as long as the competitor competes in an NRA-sanctioned tournament at least once every three years (five years if the competitor holds a Master card). The date on all classification cards is the effective date, not an expiration date. You do NOT have to shoot three matches a year to maintain your classification (a common misconception).
Is an NRA Classification Card Required to Enter a Tournament?
NRA has no such rule, generally speaking. However, some tournament sponsors may require this as part of their local regulations. You may use a Temporary Score Record Book for your first few tournaments while awaiting your classification card. These books are free and are provided either by your tournament sponsor or by the NRA Competitive Shooting Division. Note that until you are classified, you must compete in the master class for your first few tournaments.
NOTE: Some high-level matches do require NRA membership. For example the 2016 NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships Program stated: “Competitors who do not hold an NRA Official Classification, either in the type of competition being fired, or an Assigned Classification, will not be allowed to enter.”
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