Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shooting the NRA's Pistol Course for Handgun Qualification

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. I don't know whether or not my excitement was evident in that post, but I can assure you I did everything in my power to conceal it. Let me start this post by saying that this program is not only an awesome opportunity to achieve NRA qualifications, it's also incredibly fun.

Although today was a bit overcast, my wife and I ventured out to the range with the gentleman I shot with on Friday. It was sprinkling a little bit and cold. The coffee was just barely enough to keep me motivated to even make it. When we pulled in, we discussed our options. I explained that I had printed out the course of fire for working towards the pistol certifications. We read through it together, assessed our ammunition and proceeded to hang targets.

The first requirement is met by completing "the practical exercise conducted during the NRA Basic Pistol Course." Having met the basic requirements, we moved on to shooting towards the Pro-Marksman rating. The Pro-Marksman rating is achieved by shooting 10 standard 9-inch paper plates with 5 shots on each plate. The shot grouping must fall inside 1/2" from the edge of the plate. Shots are fired two-handed. In addition, the course of fire is supported meaning that the shooter may be shooting from a bench rest. The targets are shot from a distance of 15 feet. I can proudly report that all three of us have met the requirements for certification as Handgun Pro-Marksman.

Having met the requirements for Pro-Marksman, we moved on to the third course of fire, shooting for Marksman certification. Marksman is the same course of fire only instead of shooting from a bench rest, the shooting is done from a standing position. The other change is that twice as many shots are placed. 10 plates with 10-shots are to be acquired with the groups falling inside a 1 1/2" ring inside the outer edge. It's important to note that not all 10 plates must be shot successively or on the same day. Another course of fire complete and two more qualifications. Marksman down, we can proceed to Marksman 1st Class.

After shooting for qualification, we moved on to ventilating zombie targets at 50-yards and using half-size man-size targets. We pulled out the .308 rifle, AR-15, and a Russian made Mosin Nagant in 7.62x54. I have to say, I think we discovered my wife's strength in shooting when it came to the scoped rifle. We'll definitely have to get her her own! Only one shot fell outside the 9-point ring with the majority well inside the bull. All in all, the rifle and it's shooters were all on fire today. Half inch groups were common and the zombie definitely did not survive.

Admittedly, we lost track of time and our new shooting partner was almost late to work. My wife and I finished the day by doing a very thorough clean of our firearms. It's important to make sure they are cleaned, dried, and lightly lubricated anytime they come in contact with water. I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday. You can learn more about the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program at Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program.


  1. It was most definitely fun. The Russian rifle caliber is 7.62x54R, a little bigger than the 39 haha. You should also send me pics from the 2 days of shooting.... And when are we gunna go get out marksman 1st class? Haha

  2. I'm ready when you are, sir. Thanks for the update on that cartridge, I have edited the post to reflect your information.