The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) now sponsors a comprehensive rifle and pistol competition program that is governed by seven different rulebooks. The CMP currently produces rulebooks for 1) Highpower Rifle, 2) Bullseye Pistol, 3) CMP Games (As-Issued Military Rifles and Pistols), 4) Smallbore Rifle, 5) Air Rifle and Air Pistol, 6) Action Pistol and 7) Junior Three-Position Air Rifle. Anyone who is not familiar with the many exciting opportunities offered by this program can find a detailed overview in the CMP Competitions webpage at https://thecmp.org/competitions/.
The annual process of producing the CMP rulebooks that will govern this program during the next competition year is now well underway. This “preview” will give CMP competitors and match sponsors a report on that process and provide advance information regarding rule changes that will be in the 2024 rulebooks. Unlike previous years when there were usually a few major rule changes, 2024 rule changes are mostly clarifications that strengthen existing rules. There are very few truly significant rule changes coming in 2024.
The process the CMP follows to produce its annual rulebook updates begins during the current competition year. CMP Competitions Staff, competitors and match sponsors regularly identify rules issues that require interpretation, clarification, or revision, or they propose new rules intended to improve CMP competition events. These rules issues and recommendations are then reviewed by a group of rule and competition experts called the CMP Rules Advisors. This body is appointed by the CMP Board Chairman and includes CMP Competitions staff and experts who are directly involved in conducting competitions. CMP Rules Advisors decide which changes go into next year’s rulebooks. After those decisions are made, a lengthy process of drafting and editing final versions of each rulebook takes place during the months of September through November. The CMP Rules Committee, which consists members of the CMP Board of Directors who are also appointed by the CMP Board Chairman, must approve final versions of each rulebook.
The goal of the CMP competition rules process is to release electronic versions of all CMP rulebooks for the next competition year by the beginning of January. Current electronic versions of all CMP rulebooks are posted on the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-competitions-rulebooks/. Printed versions of these rulebooks will be available a few weeks later. If any emergency rule changes are found to be necessary during the competition year, those changes will be posted in the electronic version of the rules and these downloadable versions of each rulebook on the CMP website will be the current official version of each rulebook.
CHANGES APPLYING TO ALL RULEBOOKS. Several 2024 changes are general changes that will appear in all CMP rulebooks. Those changes include:
Scorers can use templates to evaluate doubtful shots or possible doubles and they can request that scoring gauges be inserted in doubtful shots, but the person who is scoring must make the initial decisions regarding how many shots there are on a target and whether any doubtful shots are in (+) or out (-).
The second step in scoring is for competitors to decide if they accept Scorer decisions. To do this, competitors must be allowed to see how their targets were scored. In Highpower Rifle and Pistol events, scores are usually recorded on scorecards that are presented for the competitor to sign signifying their acceptance of the score. If the competitor disagrees with a scoring decision, they have a right to “challenge” that decision. The final step in scoring is for a Score Challenge Officer to decide the scoring challenge. In a club match, the Score Challenge Officer will likely be the Chief Statistical Officer. In a larger match, Score Challenge Officers will be appointed scoring experts who are intimately familiar with scoring rules and procedures. In the CMP scoring system, the Score Challenge Officer’s decision on challenges is final; there is no further appeal.
STANDARD RULEBOOK FEATURES. In addition to providing rules and regulations for the conduct of the different shooting disciplines administered by the CMP, CMP rulebooks also provide useful resources for Match Officials and competitions.
CHANGES IN DISCIPLINE RULEBOOKS. This article will not list every change in the 2024 shooting discipline rulebooks because so many 2024 rule changes are simple clarifications. These summaries for each rulebook identify the target disciplines covered by that rulebook and report the most important 2024 changes so competitors can prepare for them. Those rulebooks are:
Perhaps the most significant 2024 change will be a rule that allows the use of short magazines (i.e., ten round) in M16/AR15 and M14/M1A rifles. Previous rules that required Service Rifle magazines to have the standard 20-round service magazine length will no longer apply. The option to use shorter magazines will facilitate improved standing positions for some shooters and eliminate problems with magazines resting on left arms in many prone positions. Short magazines will be required to have “a florescent orange, yellow or similar bright color magazine identifying strip on the lower portion of the magazine which is visible when fully inserted into the receiver.” This is to make sure Range Officers can readily recognize when these magazines are inserted or removed. For competitors who live in restricted magazine states, limited capacity magazines with the external dimensions of a 20-round magazine have been available, but they are increasingly difficult to find. Shorter length 5 or 10-round magazines are easy to find and purchase.
The M16/AR15 pistol grip rule is being changed to allow “A1, A2 or similarly shaped, symmetrical pistol grips with no orthopedic features.”
Rule Changes Discussed but Not Adopted. Competitors and Match Sponsors may also want to know about proposed rule changes that were not adopted. The Rules Advisors had lengthy discussions regarding the mandatory eyewear rule that is enforced in CMP Highpower Rifle and Pistol events. While the Rules Advisors recognize that incidents threatening competitors with serious eye injuries are rare, they are nevertheless aware that such incidents have occurred and concluded that mandatory eyewear rules for Highpower Rifle and Pistol should continue.
Complaints and Protests. One rules issue where a rule change proposal was not adopted concerns the current complaint and protest procedure. CMP Competitions staff occasionally receive allegations of rule violations (usually email messages) that allowed competitors to win titles or awards other competitors think should be taken away. The CMP Rules Advisors had a serious discussion regarding whether the CMP Staff should have the authority to disqualify competitors who have allegedly violated rules, particularly in EIC Matches, where EIC points could be taken away, after a match is over. The discussion concluded that the CMP staff simply would not be able to investigate these allegations fairly and justly after competitions are over and all the competitors have gone home.
The responsibility for dealing with allegations of cheating or rule violations at sanctioned matches belongs with the Match Officials and competitors who are at the match in question. CMP Complaint and Protest Procedures describe what they should do. If there is a problem at a match, talk to the Match Officials (complaint) to see if the concern can be addressed. If there is a serious problem that really should receive rule compliance attention, file a protest. A protest decision can be appealed to the CMP where further evaluation can be done. Don’t wait until after the match to allege that a competitor should not have been allowed to win an award if a rule violation really did take place.
-- Gary Anderson, DCME
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.
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