Everything You Need to Know About Collegiate Shooting Sports

posted on June 12, 2017
If you’re thinking about college, you may be worried that you’ll have to let your shooting skills get rusty. You’ll be glad to know that there are more than 500 shooting programs on college and university campuses across the United States. This is because more and more schools are discovering that shooting programs are considerably less expensive than other athletic programs. They’re also learning what you’ve known for years: Shooting is exceptionally safe and helps develop sportsmanship, leadership, responsibility and concentration. Competitive shooting also teaches self-discipline and teamwork. Generally, collegiate shooting programs appear in the curriculum as educational courses, intramural or recreational programs and intercollegiate competition.

Student-athletes at the 2017 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships, held March 20-24, 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Photo by John Rickards.

One of the easiest ways to shoot as a college student is to join a marksmanship intramural program. Shooting is a coed sport, and virtually all students on campus can take part. Intramurals are fun and can offer dorms and independent groups the chance to compete with each other and learn about the responsibility of using and owning guns.

At the center of most collegiate shooting programs is competition. Intercollegiate clubs or teams engage in postal (competitors are in different locations) or shoulder-to-shoulder (competitors are on the same range) matches. Collegiate shooting championships are considered some of the most competitive of all college sports. NRA Intercollegiate Sectionals provide rifle and pistol shooters the opportunity to compare their marksmanship skills against their peers, nationwide. The Intercollegiate Sectionals are NRA-registered indoor matches held at various locations throughout the United States. Sectional events include Smallbore Rifle, Air Rifle, Standard Pistol, Air Pistol, Free Pistol, Women’s Sport Pistol and Women’s Air Pistol.

A collegiate shooter must participate in an NRA Intercollegiate Sectional in order to qualify for the NRA Championships. Photo by John Parker.

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program offers another means by which college students can participate in collegiate shooting programs. Many ROTC programs offer scholarships through an officer’s commissioning program in one of the military service branches.


Becoming an NRA All-American is the pinnacle of student-athlete success.
The NRA All-American Program, created in 1936, stands out because of its commitment to recognize and honor collegians who have performed remarkable shooting feats during a shooting season. To be named an NRA All-American is the utmost in athletic achievement, requiring consistent, excellent performance. All-Americans are also known for their integrity, respect and responsibility. Therefore, these highly motivated men and women distinguish themselves on additional levels other than just shooting. [Editor's note: Learn more about the history of the award by reading "Olympic Gold: NRA All-Americans at the Olympics."]

NCAA Rifle Championship

The West Virginia University Rifle Team at the 2016 NCAA Rifle Championships. Photo by WVU Athletics.
To be eligible for the NCAA Rifle Championships, an individual or team must represent a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)-affiliated school, and rifle must be officially recognized as a championship sport at that institution. To qualify for the championship, an individual or team must compete in an NCAA qualifier. Click here to learn more: www.ncaa.com/championships/rifle/d1.

NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championship

The firing line at the 2017 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championship. Photo by John Rickards.
The NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships determine the individual and team champions by attracting competitors and schools nationwide. Competitors participate in Free Pistol, Standard Pistol, Air Pistol, Women’s Sport Pistol and Women’s Air Pistol events. The Intercollegiate Sectional scores determine qualifications for an invitation to the championships. Click here to learn more: www.competitions.nra.org/collegiate/intercollegiate-pistol-championships.aspx.

NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships

The Clemson University Rifle Club Team (foreground) shooting an air rifle relay at the 2017 NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships. Photo by John Rickards.
The purpose of this championship is to determine the National Collegiate Rifle Club Individual and Team Champions, as well as ROTC Individual and Team Champions. The championship features Smallbore Rifle and Air Rifle competitions, Training Summits for all participants and coaches, and an opportunity for coaches and shooters to meet others in the sport they may not usually see during the regular season. Click here to learn more: www.competitions.nra.org/collegiate/intercollegiate-rifle-club-championships.aspx.

ACUI Clay Target Championship

Lindenwood University won the 2017 ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championship. Photo by ACUI.
The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) sponsors the National Intercollegiate Clay Target Championships annually. Open to full time college students, the championships are the only national tournament in which shooters may compete in six different clay target games in the same program: American Trap, International Trap, American Skeet, International Skeet, Sporting Clays and Five Stand. Click here to learn more: www.acui.org/claytargets.


The NRA has many resources available to potential collegiate shooters. The best resource for finding collegiate shooting opportunities is the online NRA Collegiate Shooting Sports Directory. With hundreds of entries, the Directory lists information about each shooting discipline offered by a particular college. Each section includes: Contact information, team status, ROTC programs, scholarship availability, shooting equipment, range facilities, web addresses and contact information. Check out the Directory here: www.competitions.nra.org/collegiate-shooting-programs.aspx.

The NRA Collegiate and Schools Program offers a book called Developing a Scholastic Shooting Program. This book offers 10 chapters of useful information that will be helpful to colleges and universities that are developing a shooting program. The topics cover everything from choosing the right shooting program to creating a budget and writing the proposal. It also includes a brief history of collegiate shooting in the United States, NRA activities and much more. Click here to view the book online for free: www.issuu.com/compshoot/docs/shooting_program_scholastic.

For a complete listing and explanation of everything the NRA Collegiate and Schools Programs has to offer, and to find our contact information, check out our website: collegiate.nra.org.


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