NOVEMBER 30, 2023

A Preview of 2024 CMP Competition Rules

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

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 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:

  • Scoring Procedures. Previous CMP rulebooks did not accurately reflect how scoring is done in CMP competitions. Several scoring rules have been updated to address how scoring is actually done in CMP competitions. There are new definitions of the Chief Statistical Officer and Score Challenge Officer. New descriptions of the scoring process emphasize the distinction between Scorers and Score Challenge Officers. Someone who is serving as a Scorer must make all initial scoring decisions. Depending upon the discipline, Scorers may be statistical office volunteers or competitors on the range or in highpower rifle pits. When Smallbore Rifle or Air Gun events are fired on paper targets, it is common for Scorers to work in pairs.

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.

  • The rulebooks contain new descriptions of competitor responsibilities that emphasize competitors’ duties to follow Match Official instructions and to act according to general rules of behavior (i.e., no loud or abusive language, etc.).
  • Scope cameras that transmit images to cell phones or tablets are now prohibited.
  • Hearing protection cannot be used to listen to music or communications while on the firing line.
  • Electronic targets that have integral timers will use those timers to determine when rapid-fire firing times end. A late shot according to a computer shot time must be scored as a miss.
  • The use of the word “NOW” in range commands to authorize firing is being replaced with the standard command “TARGETS.”

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.

  • Distinguished Badge Regulations. The CMP Distinguished Badge Program has now expanded to offer eleven different badges. Each rulebook contains EIC Match and Distinguished Badge regulations that are appropriate for that discipline. Regulations for earning the International Distinguished Badge are now published in the Smallbore Rifle and Air Rifle/Air Pistol Rulebooks.
  • Index or Search Features. One of the challenges in using rulebooks is finding the correct rule for a particular situation. All CMP rulebooks have detailed printed indexes. Anyone who downloads a PDF rulebook file from the CMP website can also use the search feature on their computer or handheld to find the rule that they need.
  • Range Officer Scripts. Each rulebook provides complete Range Officer Scripts with the commands and instructions that Range Officers should use to properly conduct the events governed by that particular rulebook. These scripts provide what we call “standard range commands.” They should be used as printed to conduct competition events.

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:

  • 27th Edition 2024 CMP Highpower Rifle Competition Rules. This rulebook is a direct descendant of Army Regulation 920-30 that governed the conduct of the National Matches and Service Rifle and Service Pistol Distinguished Badge Programs before the new CMP was established in 1996. This rulebook, which will now appear in its 27th edition, governs Service Rifle National Trophy and EIC events as well as CMP Cup Match Highpower Rifle events. Rules for Long-Range and Mid-Range Rifle events were added to this rulebook, starting in 2018.

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.”

  • 27th Edition 2024 CMP Pistol Competition Rules. This rulebook governs the conduct of Match Pistol (2700 three-gun aggregates) and National Trophy and EIC events for Service Pistol, 22 Rimfire Pistol and Service Revolver. Other than the general changes noted above, there are no substantial Pistol rule changes coming in 2024.
  • 11th Edition 2024 CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competitions Rules. This rulebook includes rules for As-Issued Military Rifle, Modern Military Rifle, Vintage Sniper Rifle Team, As-Issued Pistol, and Rimfire Sporter Rifle events. Rules for benchrest events (as-issued military rifles at 300 yards, rimfire sporter rifles at 100 yards) that are gaining popularity with older (and younger) rifle competitors are now included in this rulebook. A new Sniper Rifle Team Match category for military sniper rifles (original or replica) “manufactured for sniping from 1954 through 1976” is being introduced. This additional category promises to add a whole new aspect of interest for competitors who are devoted to shooting in Vintage Sniper Rifle Team Matches. The new CMP Reproduction M1 Garands that are slated for release in 2024 will be accepted in “as-issued” military rifle events.
  • 6th Edition 2024 CMP Smallbore Rifle Competition Rules. This rulebook governs the conduct of Smallbore Rifle Position and Smallbore Prone events conducted or sanctioned by the CMP. CMP Smallbore Position rules closely follow ISSF (International) rules because so many competitors in this discipline have goals to compete in college or international events governed by the NCAA or USA Shooting where ISSF rules are followed. CMP Smallbore Prone rules more closely follow traditional American prone events fired on standard American targets. The 5th Edition Smallbore Rifle rules successfully governed the conduct of the 2023 National Smallbore Rifle Position Championship where electronic targets were used and participation doubled over 2022 as well as the Smallbore Prone National Championship that was conducted on electronic targets for the first time ever in 2023. There are no significant changes in the 2024 edition of these rules, except for an adjustment in how crossfires are handled in Smallbore Prone events (a one-point penalty will be applied).
  • The 2nd Edition 2024 CMP Air Rifle and Air Pistol Competition Rules. This rulebook governs Air Rifle and Air Pistol events and also are based on ISSF rules. Match sponsors that have several new competitors with no classifications will be offered a “New Shooter Classification” option that they can use to establish a competition category for these competitors. Some technical rifle requirements were updated to comply with current ISSF rules. A new air rifle butt-plate rule should be easier to interpret and enforce. The coaching rule was updated to allow non-verbal coaching, which is now allowed in ISSF rules.
  • 2nd Edition 2024 CMP Action Pistol Rules. The first edition of this new rulebook was used to govern the conduct of the 2023 Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Championship, which the CMP sponsored for the first time. This 2nd Edition Action Pistol rulebook includes only one significant change, the addition of three new Action Pistol events that match sponsors can use in organizing their 2024 Action Pistol Matches that they sanction with the CMP. The new events are titled Las Alamitos, Speedload Challenge, and International Rapid-Fire.
  • The 14th Edition 2022-2024 National Standard Three-Position Air Rifle Rules. This rulebook governs the conduct of three-position air rifle events for school-age junior athletes. These rulebooks are issued on a two-year basis. This rulebook will not undergo any further changes until the summer or fall of 2024.

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

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