High Power Shooting

High power shooting uses powerful centerfire rifles at distances greater than those of the shorter range rimfire rifles used in smallbore competitions. Scopes become more important and sophisticated due to the longer distances involved. Accessories allowed are correspondingly due to the larger recoil of centerfire guns.

Courses of Fire 

This competition involves four strings of fire, which are the basic building blocks of any National Rifle Association (NRA) High Power Rifle shooting tournament. Any match includes some multiple of these four strings: 

  • Slow Fire, standing - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 10 minutes. 
  • Rapid Fire, sitting or kneeling - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 60 seconds. 
  • Slow Fire, 10 rounds at 500 or 600 yards in 10 minutes. 
  • Rapid Fire, 10 rounds at 300 yards in 70 seconds.

    Slow Fire means the shooter assumes the prescribed (standing) position and is allowed one minute per shot to fire the 10 round string. In Rapid Fire sitting or kneeling, the shooter uses a preparation period to establish that position; then comes to a standing position and, on command, loads either 2 or 5 rounds (depending on the firearm) into the rifle. The sequence is repeated until the 10 rounds are fired.Rifle - High Power Shooting

    Long Range Competition

    NRA rules provide for slow fire from a prone position at ranges beyond 600 yards. Some of these matches permit the use of telescopic sights.

    Reduced Distance Competition

    Every official NRA stage or course of fire that is normally conducted at 200, 300, or 500 yards can be run at 100 yards on the NRA official reduced targets. The reduced sized targets are easily hung on stationary frames and it is easy to walk to the targets after each string and remove them for convenient scoring.

    High Power Sporting Rifle

    This variation uses hunting type rifles, which may be equipped with telescopic sights. The course is fired at either 100 or 200 yards distance. Rapid fire strings are the standard using only 4 rounds that are common to the typical hunting rifle.


    Rifles used in high power rifle competition must be equipped with metallic sights and should be capable of holding at least 5 rounds of ammunition. They must also be adapted to rapid reloading. Some 1,000-yard matches allow the use of any sight.

    Tournament programs often group competitions into two divisions: Service Rifle and Match Rifle. Service rifles include the M1 Garand, M14 carbine, M16 assault type rifle, and their commercial equivalents. Match rifles include the Winchester and Remington Model 70 and Model 40X rifles made in "match" versions, and match rifles made by custom gunsmiths on many military and commercial actions. The 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 non-telescopic rear sights are apertures or peeps with reliable, repeatable .5-minute (or finer) adjustments. Front sights should be of either the post or aperture type.


  • Sling - A shooting sling helps in steadying the gun position and in 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 observing placement of shots on the targets.
  • Shooting Coat - A shooting coat has elbow, shoulder and sling pads, which contribute to the shooter's comfort.
  • 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.
  • 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 s ight black sold in spray cans can be used.
  • Scorebook - This allows the shooter to learn from experience, by recording the conditions and circumstances involved in firing each shot.

    Most competitors eventually turn to handloaded ammunition. Carefully handloaded ammunition is less expensive and often more accurate than mass produced ammunition. NRA rules prohibit the use of tracer and incendiary ammunition. Armor-piercing ammunition may be prohibited by some local regulations.

    Further Information

    NRA Rifle Department
    NRA, Competitions Division
    11250 Waples Mill Road
    Fairfax, VA 22030
    Phone:  (703) 267-1475

    (Material courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation)