By Gary Anderson, DCM Emeritus

The 2017 CMP competition rules are now approved and posted on the CMP website.  The 2017 21st Edition of the CMP Highpower Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules and the 2017 5th Edition of the CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules can be downloaded at http://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-competitions-rulebooks/.

Match officials and competitors need to understand the difference between the two rulebooks and always use the correct rulebook.  The “Highpower Rifle and Pistol Rules” govern traditional Service Rifle and Pistol events as well as all EIC and National Trophy Matches.  The “CMP Games Rules” govern As-Issued Military Rifle and Pistol competitions as well as Rimfire Sporter Rifle events.

rulebook cover

The release of the 2017 CMP Rules marks the third consecutive year with major competition rule changes.  The 2015 Rules opened Service Pistol shooting to a wider variety of pistols and introduced the popular 22 Rimfire Pistol Distinguished Badge.  The 2016 rules authorized limited power optical sights for service and modern military rifles and opened Service Rifle shooting to a wider variety of M16/AR-type rifles.  The 2017 rules authorize residents in states where AR ownership is prohibited to use an Alternative Rifle that is legal in that state.  Also new in 2017 is a competitor classification system and the opening of CMP sanctioned matches to Match Rifles.

SN Announcement

The 22 Rimfire Pistol EIC and Distinguished Badge programs that were introduced in the 2015 Rules have dramatically increased participation in CMP Pistol Matches.

The introduction of an Alternative Rifle rule exemplifies the CMP’s determination to take whatever steps are legally possible to ensure that all competitors in the USA can continue to compete in CMP Highpower Service Rifle competitions.

The new Highpower Alternative Rifle will allow competitors in states where the ownership or possession of M16/AR-type rifles is prohibited to use a rifle that has the same capabilities as an M16/AR-type rifle.  Alternative Rifles may be either semi-auto or manually operated and must be chambered for the 5.56 x 45mm NATO cartridge (.223).  Optical sights with a manufactured maximum of 4.5X are permitted.  These rifles must have a 4.5-pound trigger pull, a maximum barrel length of 20 inches and a fixed sling swivel on their fore-ends.  Alternative Rifles may have stocks with the same adjustment capabilities as Service Rifles, that is butt-stock length may be adjustable, but the cheek-piece and butt-plate must be fixed.  Stock design and magazine configuration is flexible according to what is permitted in the competitor’s state.

The CMP will develop and introduce a new competitor classification system in 2017.  The system will be similar to traditional classification systems where competitors are divided into five classes according to current match score averages.  CMP classifications will initially be available for use by Highpower and Service Rifle match sponsors.  The CMP system will provide for instant, electronic updates of match score data.  Match sponsors will be able to confirm competitor classifications through online look-ups.

service rifle

Service Rifle competitors were allowed to compete with optical sights starting in 2016. In 2017 Service Rifles will be joined by Alternative Rifles that competitors from states were M16/AR-type rifles are illegal will use.

The 2017 CMP Rules will also open the door for Match Rifle competitors to shoot in CMP-sanctioned highpower events.  Due to the advantages these rifles have (more cartridge options, no trigger limitation, infinite stock adjustments and unlimited optical sight power), competitors with Match Rifles will usually compete in a separate or Open Individual Category, but they will now be welcomed in CMP Highpower Matches.  Traditional EIC and National Trophy Match events will still be restricted to Service and Alternative Rifles, but match sponsors can now invite Match Rifle competitors to shoot in CMP-sanctioned events.  Except for EIC and National Trophy Matches, which will continue to be no-sighter matches, the 2017 Rules will permit sighters in other matches.

Most Match Rifle competitors have already competed in CMP Matches with Service Rifles and are familiar with CMP requirements that shooters must start rapid-fire series from standing.  The CMP regards this requirement to quickly go from standing to sitting or prone and place the natural point of aim on the target as a vital skill that highpower rifle shooters should be able to perform.  However, some Match Rifle competitors who have never competed in CMP Matches will find this to be a new and potentially exciting challenge.  They will need to practice this skill a few times in advance of their first CMP match, but they will find that being able to do this adds another positive dimension to highpower rifle shooting.

For those competitors who are over 70 or who have physical impairments, the CMP has lots of experience in making it possible for those competitors to start rapid-fire series in position.  Everyone who is able is expected to start rapid-fire from standing, but those who cannot are allowed to start in position.  These competitors can win special and class awards as well as CMP Achievement Awards; they just cannot win the match.

The CMP rule making process is a yearlong process.  Competitor and match sponsor questions and comments come in throughout the year and are compiled and analyzed by the CMP Staff and its Rules Committee Advisors for presentation to the CMP Rules Committee.  Many recommendations come from the staff and officials who conduct the National Matches and CMP Travel Games or who conduct events on CMP ranges at Camp Perry, Anniston or Talladega.  CMP Shooters News ran a special request last fall for competitor and match sponsor comments and recommendations; there were many helpful responses.  The CMP Rules Committee met in September to make preliminary decisions on new rules.  A drafting and editing process followed that involved multiple conference calls to review drafts.  Final Rules Committee approval was decided in December 2016.

Here are summaries of other rule changes in the 2017 CMP Competition Rules.


  • Safety Flags. CMP Rules and Range Officer scripts will now use the term “safety flags” instead of “ECIs” for the simple reason that everyone, even non-shooters, understands what a safety flag is, while you must be an ‘insider’ to understand what an ECI or CBI is.  The mandatory use of safety flags remains unchanged.
  • CMP Facility Matches. A new category of CMP sponsored competitions called “CMP Facility Matches” was added to designate matches like the Talladega 600 and Camp Perry Open that are now being conducted at CMP owned facilities.  Those unique facilities include The Talladega Marksmanship Park at Talladega, Alabama; The Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center at Camp Perry and The CMP Competition Center at Anniston, Alabama.
  • RO Scripts. Range Officer Scripts for conducting competition events that are printed in the back of both rulebooks were updated.
  • Malfunctions. Except for Bulls-Eye Pistol Matches, CMP matches are no-alibi matches.  If a competitor has a malfunction, they may attempt to clear it and continue shooting, if they can do so safely.  Coming out of position to clear a malfunction is not considered safe.  When a competitor cannot clear a malfunction, they must call a Range Officer.
  • Definition of Loading. “Loading” is clarified as bringing a cartridge or magazine containing cartridges in contact with a rifle or pistol.  This should eliminate arguments over whether placing a cartridge on a loading port is or is not loading.
  • 45-Degree Ready Position for Pistol. Now there is a 5-point penalty for failure to come to a 45-degree position or for an early lift.
  • Electronic Devices. The new rules clarify that the use of “electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets or other hand-held communication devices only to keep time, record shots or compute sight adjustments” is permitted.  However, those devices must not be capable of communicating with other electronic devices (must be placed in airplane mode).

The scores required to receive CMP Achievement medals that are awarded at the National Matches and CMP Travel Games are updated every year based on scores fired in National Matches CMP Games events.


  • Achievement Award Scores. Award scores were updated according to 2016 NM results.  Award scores for the Vintage Sniper Team Match, As-Issued Pistol Matches and the Rimfire Sporter T and O classes were updated.  All other scores remain unchanged.
  • Courses of Fire. An As-Issued Military Rifle 4-Gun Aggregate was added to provide an event for an aggregate of scores in the Garand, Springfield, Vintage Military Rifle and Modern Military Rifle Matches.
  • Grounding Rifles or Remaining in Position. Previous rules required that rifles be cleared and grounded after each firing stage.  Now the rules clarify that when another stage of fire follows, as in the transition from prone slow fire to prone rapid fire in as-issued rifle matches, the competitor may keep his/her sling on and remain in position, if a safety flag is inserted.


  • Highpower Rifle Standard and Long Courses. The rules now provide for both 80-shot and 100-shot highpower rifle courses of fire that can be used in CMP, state championship and club matches.
  • CMP Pistol Aggregate. A 1400-point aggregate consisting of a 40-shot President’s Pistol course and a 30-shot NMC with both the Service Pistol and the 22 Rimfire Pistol was added.
  • Achievement Award Scores. Award scores for 22 Rimfire Pistol EIC Matches were increased.
  • Service Rifle Rules. Additional clarifications were added to the Services Rifle rules regarding authorized alterations to the MIL-SPEC M16.
  • Approved U. S. Service Pistols. M1911 Service Pistols or commercial equivalents may now be chambered for any cartridge with a bore diameter of not less than 9mm nor greater than .45 cal.  Four new Approved Service Pistols were added to the list.
  • Service Pistol Ammunition. Pistol ammunition may now be loaded with metal-jacketed or metal-plated bullets.
  • Sling Use. Slings used with rifles may now have quick detachable sling swivels.  The rules state that slings must continue to be attached during standing position firing, but clarify that they “may not be so tight as to support the back of the hand or wrist.”
  • Shooting Jackets. Competitors are reminded that CMP rules do not permit jackets with back braces or non-flexible liners.  Jacket constructions that use back braces, plastic or other non-flexible liners or other non-flexible materials are prohibited.
  • Sighting Shots. CMP EIC and National Trophy Matches will continue to be no sighter matches, but other CMP sanctioned matches may permit sighters.
  • EIC Minimum Credit Scores. CMP decided not to try to adjust EIC Minimum Credit Scores for weather or other conditions.  The minimum scores necessary to receive EIC credit points are already quite low and finding objective, verifiable standards to make adjustments has not been feasible.

Any competitor or match sponsor with questions about the 2017 CMP Rules is invited to contact CMP Competitions at 419-635-2141, ext. 714 or 722 or by email at [email protected].


10 Responses

  1. I believe the changes to the AR handguard rules is more confusing, not less. Quad rails are fixed or floating, and many, if not most, allow for rails to be added or removed as needed. So, float is not addressed, so I assume it is ok? But it does appear that we must have 4, full-length rails attached, although length of the quadrail is not addressed, either. Sling position is specified, however rails can and do exceed basic handguard lengths, allowing 13 inch points on a 12 inch base guard. Considering that I built a legal 2016 AR with a rail-equipped float tube, I am uncertain as to how much I have to spend to upgrade to 2017. Can I add 4 rails? Do I have to purchase a new, expensive forearm? Can the rails be added and subtracted, or must they be integral to the forearms construction? Can I have a 12 inch forearm and 13+ inch rail? Shooters have negatively reacted to the appearance of my 16 inch stainless .750 barreled AR, stainless DPMS lower (painted black so as not to offend "sensibilities", walnut (approved) butt stock, Russian PE scope (meets rules), and 12.5 inch tube with extended bottom rail for the sling (met 2016 rules). In our CMP nutshell, is a 4-rail tube, 12 o'clock rail height correct, 12.5 inches long, with extended 6 o'clock rail for the sling, legal or not? This is the several hundred dollar question. Thanks.
  2. The link for the 21st Edition of the CMP Highpower Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules is incorrect. It should be http://thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads/Rulebook.pdf?ver=01042017 (note the hyphen between "wp" and "content")
    • Thank you for pointing out our error. The link has been updated.
  3. I appreciate the recent rule clarrifications on handguards. I now believe the rules makes sense and I can comply without undue expense. On a humorus note, I will say that this rule is the most military-like rule I have seen yet. In order to try and satisfy everyone, this new rule requires equipment that we must have, but can't use! Just like the Army I remember! Looking forward to a fun year.
  4. Yes, I've never participated in any CMP events or any events at all. I'm a Army Veteran-11B and I own a Colt 1911 .45cal National Match Series 70 pistol. Can I participate in my local CMP event with my pistol? Thanks very much.
    • A staff member will be in touch with you regarding our competitions and rules. Thank you!
  5. I've been trying to find whether or not this certain magpul stock, magpul hunter x22, would qualify for Rimfire Sporter matches. The rules say no pistol grip or thumbhole stocks, this is neither, but the contour of the stock is different from a 10/22 regular stock. Does this qualify for CMP rimfire sporter? https://www.midwayusa.com/product/2319186467/magpul-hunter-x-22-stock-ruger-10-22-polymer
    • The Magpul hunter x22 stock can be used in the rimfire sporter match and would be considered tactical because of the pistol grip being more vertical than a standard stock. The rules can be found at http://thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads/CMPGamesRules.pdf?ver=06022017, on page 62 starting with rule 8.2.
  6. Is a Rock River Elite Comp legal for modern military matches

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