Participation in NRA Shooting Program Increases by 23% in 2012 | Outdoor Channel
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Participation in NRA Shooting Program Increases by 23% in 2012

Almost 500 shooters reached the highest level of NRA marksmanship program (Distinguished Expert) in 2012

By: Kyle Jillson,


Fairfax, Virginia - The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program saw a 23% increase in Distinguished Experts this past year.

The program, designed to be an informal, year-round recreational shooting activity, provides family fun and enjoyment no matter what you shoot. Qualification shooting encourages the development and improvement of your marksmanship skill through incremental challenges and even provides prizes along the way.

"I think we're seeing more participants because of the shooting sports' increased popularity," said Program Coordinator Claudia Olsen, recent recipient of the Crosman Champions of Youth Marksmanship Award. "There's so much exposure now with gun-themed TV shows that it's no wonder folks are trying it out for themselves."

The beauty of the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is that shooting can be conducted anywhere - on public ranges, at your favorite club range, even on your own home range - and year-round. The program is run on the honor system and there's no incentive to cheat since you're just working on marksmanship. The only competition is yourself.

Distinguished Expert pins and rockers from the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program

Performance is measured against established par scores and any shooter who meets or exceeds those scores is entitled to the corresponding recognition awards for that rating.

Competitive shooting is a great way to exercise your Second Amendment right, but it can be tough to find a match in your area. What if scoring and shooting with the pros is a little daunting and you're not yet ready for a match? If you can't take a lot of time off work and/or don't want to travel a long way to a match, or aren't ready to compete, Qualification shooting is perfect for you.

"Programs like this are definitely a great match for women who go through Women On Target and want to get more involved with the shooting sports," Olsen said.

From BB gun to air rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, pistol and rifle, the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program has it all.

As you progress through the program and reach the different rating levels, you'll receive a medal, certificate and patch to recognize your shooting prowess. Everyone starts out with a large discipline patch and the rating patches are smaller so that they can be arranged around the larger one.

Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program awards are given as accuracy improves with each program milestone

While the program starts at the basic levels (Pro-Marksman, Marksman), shooters will travel up the ladder to intermediate levels (Marksman 1st Class, Sharpshooter, Expert) and eventually the nationally recognized skill level - Distinguished Expert - the pinnacle of the program. The Distinguished Expert rating is parallel to a competitively classified Sharpshooter. From there you can jump to that classification tree and rise to Expert, Master and High Master.

The program saw 463 new Distinguished Experts in 2012, a 23% rise from 376 in 2011. Broken down, there was a 61% increase in pistol while and rifle and shotgun remained the same.

If you go all the way through the program, you should be more than qualified to compete against fellow shooters in a match. Check out the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program website for more information and start having some challenging fun that can last a lifetime.

NRAblog is your connection to the programs of the NRA. It is a project of the NRA’s Media Relations Division.


NRA Executive Director: Kyle Weaver


Lars Dalseide. E-mail him at

Kyle Jillson. E-mail him at

Justin McDaniel E-mail him at

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