We've been covering a number of competitive shooting matches as the weather has been getting warmer and there are many more to come before summer ends.
Competitive shooting is a great way to test your aim against others, but what if it's tough to find a match in your area? What if you've just picked up shooting and aren't quite ready to step to the line with other shooters? What if you don't have the time to travel, or put a good chuck of time towards a match?
Instead of just going to the shooting range and putting a few rounds downrange, you can participate in an individual activity that encourages the development and improvement of your marksmanship skills and even provides prizes along the way - the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program.
Qualification shooting can be completely informal and is available throughout the entire year. The program sets milestones for progress and it's up to you to go out and reach them at whatever pace you want.
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.
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 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. Because of this, the program is run on the honor system and there's no incentive to cheat since you're just working on marksmanship and not competing with other shooters.
Air gun qualification courses are especially suited for informal home air gun ranges and family learning environments, so good news for all you BB and pellet gun shooters. Parents can shoot side by side with their children or start a neighborhood air gun shooting sports program for their children and their friends.
BB gun, air rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, pistol, rifle, the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program has it all and anyone can participate. Check out their website for more information and start having some individual or group fun that can last a lifetime.