Over the past decade precision rifle matches have gained an overwhelming amount of attention. The two most notable organizations, the Precision Rifle Series and Competition Dynamics paved the way for national level matches and inspired hundreds of local matches around the country. With the ever growing number of factory and custom built precision rifles comes the need for more venues for shooters to test themselves and their equipment. Enter The National Rifle League.
The National Rifle League (a 501c3 organization), founded in 2017 by Travis Ishida is a brand new national level precision rifle competition circuit. NRL matches attract some of the biggest names in the country to shoot both field and square range tactical rifle matches. NRL matches are held anywhere from farms to public ranges and offer every rifle shooter something they have not encountered before during a course of fire.
What about the shooters that want to get their feet wet and don’t want to do big matches?
That is where the NRL22 series comes in. The NRL22 series is designed to be a fast, fun easy to run match based on an available 100 yard range. Matches typically do not run longer than 4-5 hours and are a great way to spend a day at the range.
“The goal of the National Rifle League 22 is to make Tactical Rifle shooting more available to every community. The National Rifle League 22 understands that the shooting community is fascinated with Precision Rifle, but most localities are not fortunate enough to have a 1000 yard range. However, nearly all localities have access to 100 yard ranges and most shooters own a 22 rifle. The monthly course of fire, NRL 22 Standard Target Package and standard barricades are all intended to be turnkey solutions to simple, fun and affordable Precision Rifle matches. Local clubs may use and submit scores for the monthly courses of fire to compete with the entire country.”
The NRL22 series is a fresh offering for rimfire enthusiasts where bolt actions, semi autos and straight pulls are invited to participate. There are two classes pertaining to rifle options, Open and Base Class.
- “The Base class is intended to be budget oriented. Any rifle with an MSRP of $350 or less qualifies for Base class. Scopes used in the base class must have an MSRP of $700 or less. Aftermarket cheek risers or modifications to the factory stock for getting proper cheek weld are acceptable. Scope base, rings, levels, suppressors and bipods are also allowable. Factory barrels that have been threaded for a suppressor are allowable. Aftermarket barrels, triggers, including trigger spring kits and any other parts that modify the factory barreled action are not allowed. No modification of any kind may be made to the factory trigger or action. Bolt buffers, auto bolt releases, extended magazine releases and conversion kits for tube fed rifles to become magazine fed are all upgraded safety measures and are allowed.”
- “Open class shooters have no restrictions on equipment.”
There are also classes for Young Guns (ages 8-18) and Ladies.
For more rules info: http://nrl22.org/about/rules/
I have seen a plethora of options from mild to wild including a few boutique options from a name I hear butchered regularly. The most common option however is the Ruger 10/22 because of its commonality and aftermarket support. A few other common options are CZ 455’s, Savage B and A series, Ruger American, AR 22 variants, Remington 597’s, Vudoo V-22, and Marlin (although tube fed rifles are a major disadvantage).
My choice for this endeavor is the Lithgow Arms La101 for use in the “Open Class”. Lithgow Arms is a newcomer to the American market and has created quite a stir from the quality of their product as well as stellar accuracy across their product line. The Lithgow La101 chambered in .22lr is well-suited option for this due to its accuracy and fast action. Some shooters prefer the use of semi-autos but I like to use bolt actions so I can closely mimic my larger match rifles. Shooting and cycling the bolt on positional stages allows for more training time that is closely related to running my bigger bolt guns during matches.
Scope choices can be very hard to make based on ever growing list of options but there are a few options that are a must for these matches.
- Variable magnification, 10x zoom is more than sufficient but a 4-16x will work very well
- Parallax down to 25 yards, this is key because your closest targets will be 25 yards and as small as .25”
- Matching turrets and reticle that can be used to dial or hold (whichever the shooter prefers), wind calls will be utilized so plain plex reticles are a disadvantage.
For this I have been using the Nikko Stirling Diamond FFP with the MIL based PRR reticle.
I have a rifle and a scope, now what?
What I bring to matches:
- Zeroed rifle and bipod with 200rds of ammunition capable of hitting a .25” target at 25 yards consistently.
- 2x 10rd magazines
- Chamber flag
- 1 small rear bag (or Sand Sock)- optional
- Sand Sock Gear Large (pump pillow style) bag- optional
- Armageddon gear game changer bag- optional
- Dope card in 10 yard increments out to 200 yards (or ballistic app on cell phone), masking tape or similar dope device, pen/marker
- Binoculars/spotting scope with tripod to help spot impacts for scoring- optional
- Eye pro, ear pro, water and a backpack to haul everything from stage to stage.
What can I expect at my first match?
Monthly stages (5) are provided by the organization for scoring but match directors are encouraged to come up with additional stages to expand their matches as they see fit. The supplied stages are based for use with the NRL22 target pack which is a required purchase by the participating club, which runs $250 and includes:
Stages often utilize simple, cheap obstacles such as ladders, cinder blocks, 55 gallon drums, tank traps, tires, pallets, fence posts, VTAC walls and etc… The goal of the stages is to keep things as simple as possible while still challenging shooters. Of course, there are plenty of prone and unsupported shooting stages as well!
What is expected of me at my first match?
Shooting, learning and having fun are the basis of competitive shooting but many people get nervous about their first match. From my experience, shooting hundreds of matches in many different facets of shooting I can tell you that the fellow competitors is what makes these matches so enjoyable. Shooting sports offer camaraderie unlike anything else. If advice or gear is needed, it is offered up without hesitation. New shooters are often mentored upon arrival, so ask questions often and learn from the competitors that have been around for a while. While at matches, please assist with setting up, score keeping, clean up and match tear down. Every shooter is expected to help with match functions to keep things moving fluidly and match directors greatly appreciate all hands on deck.
NRL22 matches are fun events! If you have the ability to shoot one in your area, check it out!
To learn more about NRL22, click here.
To learn more about the National Rifle League, click here.
Editor’s note: Matt Hornback is an avid competitive shooter. Currently he works as the Director of Product Development for Legacy Sports International.