Better Practice Makes for Better Marksmanship
By OutdoorAly

Posted: July 20, 2014

As a NRA instructor, I quite often have prospective students say to me “I know how to shoot!” In fact, they know how to load their gun, aim, and press the trigger with the hope that the bullet will hit somewhere on the target. After attending a NRA firearms course, most students realize that they really didn’t know all that much about shooting and marksmanship, and after the course is over they want to practice what they have learned, and also develop new shooting skills.


So how does one practice to improve marksmanship and develop new skills? I have found that the Winchester/ NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is a terrific aid in becoming a better shooter. This program offers a pathway to marksmanship that is easy to follow, can be done at one’s own pace, and has tangible rewards for anyone willing to put in a little time and effort. Here is a list of the courses of fire available for awards:

DP Pistol


  • Pistol
  • Defensive Pistol I and Defensive Pistol II
  • Conventional Bullseye Pistol
  • Air Pistol
  • International Air Pistol
  • International Air Rifle
  • Air Rifle Qualification
  • Smallbore Rifle
  • Rimfire Rifle
  • 4-Position Rifle Qualification
  • High Power Rifle
  • Tactical Rifle
  • Recreational Clay Target Shooting


  • Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays and 5-Stand
  • Muzzle Loading
  • Hunter Marksmanship

By following the program guidelines for each course of fire, practice sessions will be more fun, more varied, and the shooter will most likely become more motivated to be better. I have seen others and have personally experienced the feeling of accomplishment at achieving a higher level of competence.

The levels of qualification in the program are:


  • Pro-Marksman
  • Marksman
  • Marksman 1st Class
  • Sharpshooter
  • Expert
  • Distinguished Expert

The Distinguished Expert qualification must be witnessed by a NRA member, instructor, or coach, and a special form submitted to the NRA. Upon approval, the shooter will receive a Certificate, Medal, Pin, and Rocker signifying their accomplishment.


The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Program has a course of fire for anyone interested in virtually any type of firearm available. If you are interested in participating, contact a NRA Instructor or Coach near you or go to this website:

So get your BB gun, rimfire pistol, shotgun, muzzleloader, or big game rife, gather the family and get to the range. Have some fun, earn awards and be a better shooter.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore

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