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Getting Started in NRL22 Competition Shooting

NRL22 is a relatively new competition sport that has sprung up in recent years, mostly fueled by the interest in things like the centerfire Precision Rifle Series and of course the National Rifle League itself. 

NRL22 is basically a scaled-down version of these events using 22LR rimfire rifles instead of the 6mm (and larger) centerfire cartridges that dominate the larger events. Most NRL22 matches don’t actually go beyond 200 yards, and most are even within 100 yards, making the sport extremely accessible for anyone interested in precision shooting.

Sound like fun?

Getting started with this type of competition shooting is easier than you might think…the whole sport is specifically designed to be accessible, and even caters to younger shooters who are interested in learning and growing their skillset.

The low cost and relatively straightforward equipment setup makes NRL22 a perfect starting point for new shooters, but it’s also a great training ground for more experienced shooters looking to get some match training in during the offseason for the larger leagues.

Background on NRL22


NRL22 is actually a registered non-profit, with the stated goal of making precision rifle shooting more accessible to a wider variety of shooters. 

Centerfire precision competition has a high cost of entry, even compared to other expensive competition shooting pursuits, and you need a 1000 yard (or longer) range to compete, or even practice fully.

But in the words of Travis Ishida, the founder of NRL22 “Nearly all areas have access to 100-yard ranges, and most shooters own a 22LR rifle.”

True, and true. Using rimfire rifles significantly reduces the cost and complexity of precision shooting and  makes the sport perfect for anyone looking to compete, become a better shooter, or get into precision rifle shooting.

On top of that, NRL22 uses a standard steel targe package for matches that can be had for $330 and publishes a new course of fire every month. This includes five stages (usually themed for the month in question) that's set up with the target pack, and some commonly available shooting props like folding chairs, sawhorses, and cinder blocks. 

This, along with the way they’ve streamlined setting up a local club, makes NRL22 one of the fastest growing shooting competitions because just about anyone (and four friends) can set up a club and start competing. 

Best of all, that course of fire that gets published every month is then run all around the country, so you can compare your scores against other shooters who competed on the same stage, effectively making every match, even a five person local shootout, potentially a nationally-ranked competition.

 After the match, your match director will upload your scores to the NRL22 database, and you can quickly see how you stack up against the pros. 

NRL22 Rules and Divisions

Right now, the NRL22 has five divisions: Base, Open, Young Guns, Ladies, and the newest class, Air Rifles.

Base Class

Base class is like Limited or Production divisions in other shooting sports, except instead of having a list of approved models of rifle, the only requirement is that the MSRP of your rifle and scope together must be less than $1050. That doesn't include scope rings or bases, aftermarket triggers, and a few other bits and pieces, but in general, this will be the class where anyone with a stock rifle can just show up and shoot.

Check the updated rules on the NRL22 website to find out exactly what's allowed in Base class.

Open Class

Open class is a little more…open. As the name implies, basically anything safe is permitted here, just like in all the Open and Outlaw open classes in other competitions. Expect to see the best scores posted in this class, and expect to see rifle and optic combos in the $4,000+ range, especially custom rigs like the Vudoo V-22.

This class is perfect for the shooter who wants to use NRL22 as a training tool for precision rifle shooting in general, but especially those who already have a .22 trainer that mimics their PRS/NRL gun.

Then again, if you just want to use a more expensive rifle or scope, and you don’t mind competing against the big boys, this is a great way to test your setup and your skills against the very best.

Young Guns Class

The Young Guns class is one of the most popular in NRL22, both in terms of participation, and in terms of how many people will stop what they’re doing to watch.

This class is specifically for shooters ages 8-16, and is a great way to get kids more involved in shooting sports, and is the ideal jumping off point into precision rifle shooting, or even hunting. 

The Young Guns class is truly open to all younger shooters, and there are no equipment restrictions, so anything that is usable in Open, Base, or Air Rifles classes is allowed. This can get pretty competitive however, so don’t be surprised if your little shooter starts asking for a nice Volquartsen for Christmas.

Ladies Class

Ladies Class is, as you probably guessed, for the ladies. Like Young Guns, Open, Base, or Air Rifle-legal guns are all allowed, though as the class grows, I bet we’ll see this class get separated into at least Open and Base.

Air Rifles Class

Don’t have a .22? Maybe you live somewhere that even a 22LR rifle is hard to get? Air Rifle class is for you.

Caliber must be .30 or lower, and the projectiles must be mass-produced, and domed pellets, slugs, and other cast bullets are not allowed. 


Vudoo 5

Gear for these events is fairly affordable. The main expenses are rifle and scope, and for base class you’re actually limited to just over a grand to keep the competition focused on marksmanship instead of finance. 

I’m going to divide these up into Open and Base recommendations just for the sake of keeping this short. Consider these sample loadouts.

Open Gear

  • Rifle: Vuduu V-22,  Volquartsen Summit, or CZ Varmint Precision
  • Scope: Vortex Razor HD Gen II, Bushnell Elite Tactical, or whatever scope you already use on your PRS rifle

Base Class Gear

  • Rifle: Ruger 10/22 (ole reliable), Bergara BXR, Tikka T1x MTR, Ruger Precision Rimfire
  • Scope: Athlon Argos BTR, Vortex Diamondback, or Bushnell Tactical

General Shooting Gear

Other things you’ll want are a bipod, a sling, an empty chamber indicator, and a shooting bag. Check out the Wiebad Fortune Cookie and the Armageddon Gear gamechanger.


Match-grade 22LR is almost required here, but you can get by with cheap value pack stuff if that’s all you have on hand. For me, I usually go with CCI ammo if I don’t have a large amount of nicer stuff on hand, and my preference is for SK Ammo 40gr Solid RN Rifle Match if I can get it. 

Oh, and try and stick with subsonic ammo. Most 22LR really doesn’t do well with the transition from supersonic to subsonic and this can mess with your longer shots a lot. 

Before Your First Match

All you need to do is sign up on the NRL22 website and look for a match in your area. Other than that, read the rules, and load up your gear. Get to the match early, and make sure you’re in time for the safety briefing. 

Other than that, show up ready to have a good time, and enjoy some of the best competition around…without breaking the bank.

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