Frequently Asked Questions | Law Enforcement Firearm Competitions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions concerning NRA's Tactical Police Competitions. If you have a question that needs answered, don't hesitate to send it our way!

Who can compete in TPC matches?

Matches are open to the following personnel:

Full-Time Sworn Law Enforcement: Regular full-time sworn law enforcement officers of a regularly constituted law enforcement agency of a municipal, county, state or federal government.

Full-Time Certified Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor: Full-time certified Law Enforcement Firearm Instructors employed by public law enforcement agencies, academies or private law enforcement agencies.

Full-Time Private Law Enforcement Officer: Transit police, corrections officers, industrial police, and individuals working as licensed, armed private security professionals.

Reserve or Auxiliary Officers: Officers of a regularly organized reserve or auxiliary unit who perform the same duties as full-time officers, have sworn arrest powers, and are authorized to be armed.

Retired Law Enforcement Officers: Officers who retire and receive retirement credentials from any of the above categories.

Armed Forces Personnel: Active duty and reserve personnel serving in the United States Armed Forces or National Guard.

Non-U.S. Law Enforcement: Sworn law enforcement officers from other countries with proof of identity and position.

Do I have to be an NRA member to participate?

No. NRA membership is encouraged, but it is not required.

Can I shoot any type of duty handgun?

Yes, with a limitation that the participant may shoot either a semi-automatic handgun or revolver in competition.

Patrol & Tactical Division Handguns

Handgun Type: Semi-automatic and revolvers commonly used as a duty handgun for law enforcement uniformed patrol. Double Action semi-automatic pistols must fire the first shot of every course Double Action. No thumb cocking is allowed.

Handgun Size: Unloaded handguns, with unloaded magazine inserted, must fit within a box with the internal dimensions of 8 3/4" x 6" x 1 5/8". The handgun must pass the handgun size test with all magazines used by the competitor.

Handgun Caliber: Minimum of 9 mm (9x19) for semi-automatics and .38 Special for revolvers.

Barrel Length: Maximum barrel length of 5.5 inches. No porting or compensators permitted.

Sights: Only fixed or adjustable iron sights are permitted. Factory or after-market iron sights, night sights and fiber optic sights are permissible.

Magazine Capacity: No magazine used during the match may exceed the handgun manufacturer's specification for standard duty magazines for that model. Round capacity may not be increased by use of extended base pads or floor plates. They can be used for grip enhancement but the handgun must meet the handgun size restriction listed above with the extended magazine installed.

Grips: Factory original or aftermarket grips/stocks of the same size and design. Finger groove slip on grips, grip decals and grip tape is allowed. Stocks may be modified or changed because of the size of a competitor's hand. Thumb rest grips/stocks or weighted grips are not allowed.

Add On Magazine Wells: Devices to facilitate reloading are allowed if the handgun meets the handgun size requirements with the device installed.

What division do I compete in with a pump shotgun and a rifle with a scope?

You would be competing in the Tactical Division.

Patrol Division: All firearms used must have mechanical sights (iron). Shotgun must be pump action.

Tactical Division: handgun and shotgun must have mechanical sights. Shotgun may be pump or semi-automatic action. Rifle may have one optical sight, such as a telescopic, red-dot or holographic sight.

What is the minimum trigger pull for a firearm that I use in the TPC event?

No firearm may have a trigger pull less than 3.5 pounds.

Can I use my competition handgun when shooting TPC?

No, firearms designed for competitive shooting, even those based on duty gun models, and firearms that have competitive accessories or modifications, are not allowed.

What type of ammunition can I use in a TPC match?

Ammunition: Competitors are financially responsible for any damage to range props or targets damaged by the use of unauthorized ammunition.

Handgun: factory ammunition; remanufactured or reloaded ammunition meeting duty ammunition specifications for bullet weight, velocity, etc. No downloaded or reduced loads allowed.

Rifle: No armor-piercing, incendiary, tracer or steel core ammunition is permitted. Rifle ammunition will be checked with a magnet to protect range steel.

Shotgun: slugs, buckshot or birdshot as specified by the Match Director. NO steel shot, armor piercing, incendiary, tracer, sabot, or other rounds that may damage steel targets or create a fire hazard are allowed.

Is there a barrel length restriction for shotguns?

Yes, shotgun barrels may be no longer than 22 inches.

Patrol & Tactical Division Shotguns

Shotgun Type: shotguns primarily manufactured and marketed to law enforcement agencies for use as patrol duty shotguns. Examples include: Remington 870 and 11-87 law enforcement models; FNH pump and self-loading law enforcement models; Mossberg 500 and 590 law enforcement models; and Benelli Super 90, M2 and M4 law enforcement models.

Patrol Division 
Only law enforcement pump-action shotguns are permitted in the Patrol Division. Models that have duel action systems (pump and semi-auto) may be used but must be used in pump-action mode.

Tactical Division 
Law enforcement semi-automatic or pump-action shotguns are permitted.

Shotgun Gauge: Only 12 gauge is permitted.

Handgun Caliber: Minimum of 9 mm (9x19) for semi-automatics and .38 Special for revolvers.

Barrel Length: Barrel length may not exceed 22 inches. No porting or compensators permitted.

Choke: Fixed or interchangeable: Choke size must allow for the firing of slugs.

Sights: Only mechanical fixed or adjustable sights are permitted. Factory or after-market iron sights, night sights or fiber optic sights are permissible.

Magazine Capacity: Magazine tube may be factory original or aftermarket and may not extend past the end of the muzzle. Loading may be restricted by course of fire instructions.

Is there a barrel length restriction for rifles?

Yes, rifle barrels can be no longer than 20 inches.

Type: Any action type: Bolt, semi-automatic, lever, pump, etc. Competitors legally possessing select-fire rifles or pistol-caliber carbines may use in TPC matches but they may not be used in full-auto mode.

Rifle Caliber: Minimum caliber of .223 / 5.56 mm. Competitor may use a pistol-caliber carbine in rifle courses (9 mm or larger). Match Director may limit maximum caliber due to range restrictions, steel target limitations, etc.

Barrel Length: Barrel length may not exceed 20 inches. Factory installed or aftermarket Flash Hiders and Muzzle Brakes that meet original factory design/specifications for that model, such as a standard M16/AR-15 with A2 flash hider, are permitted. In no case will the device diameter exceed 0.95 inches. The device will be considered part of the barrel when measuring barrel length.

Patrol Division: Only mechanical fixed or adjustable sights are permitted. Factory or aftermarket iron sights, night sights or fiber optic sights are permissible.
Tactical Division: Rifle may be equipped with one optical sight. Sight may be a telescopic, red dot or holographic type sight. Rifle may also be equipped with co-witnessed backup iron sights, but must be mounted in line with the optic.

Magazine Capacity: No more than 30 rounds. Magazine loading may be restricted by course instructions.

Can I use a C-Beta Mag in my patrol rifle?

No, magazine capacity for rifles is limited to 30 rounds.

Can I use my off-duty holster with no retention device in a TPC match?

No, the holster must be manufactured and marketed as a law enforcement duty holster for uniformed patrol or plain-clothes duty. The holster must have at least one active locking retention mechanism that must be manually disengaged by the primary hand to draw the firearm. Friction-only retention holsters are not permitted.

Can I use a thigh holster?

Yes, a tactical thigh holster is permitted as long as it meets all other requirements.

Do I have to use my snap or Velcro covers on my magazine pouches?

Yes, the magazine must have a retention system, such as a flap that secures with a snap or Velcro, or friction retention system. Magazines must be retained by the retention system when the magazine pouch is turned upside down.

Can I carry extra magazine pouches on my duty belt?

Additional spare magazines may be carried in secondary magazine pouches, carried in pockets, mounted on thigh rigs, etc. Belt-mounted secondary magazine pouches must be located to the rear of the center line of the leg, and meet the same requirements as primary magazine pouches. Spare magazines may not be carried in the hand, mouth or other non-secure manner.

Can I use an ammunition carrier mounted on the rifle?

Rifle and pistol caliber carbine spare magazines may be carried in rifle-mounted ammunition carriers, in pockets, belt-mounted magazine pouches, thigh carriers, etc. Spare ammunition may not be carried in the hand, mouth or other non-secure manner.

I am issued a pistol-caliber carbine, can I use this in a TPC event?

Yes, competitors may use a pistol-caliber carbine in rifle courses (9 mm or larger).

Can I use a bi-pod on my rifle during the competition?

Rifles may be equipped with a bipod, mono-pod or other stabilizing device. However, such device may only be used when firing in the Tactical Division. At the beginning of the course, the device must be in the stowed position, and cannot be deployed until the RO gives the course of fire Start Signal. Rope, cord or other material cannot be attached to the device to speed deployment of the device.

What is a penalty for a miss?

Paper targets must have at least two scored hits. For each missing hit, a 10-second penalty is added to the fired time. Any steel that fails to fall, or is not called as a hit by the RO, is scored as a target miss.

Must reloads be done from behind cover?

No, there is no requirement to reload from cover when available. The tactical decision when and where to reload is the competitor's. However, if the shooter is firing from a position providing cover, he cannot leave the position unless the handgun is loaded and ready to fire. A round in the chamber is considered loaded. Leaving cover with an unloaded handgun will result is a 10-second procedural penalty. Course instructions may exempt this requirement.

What happens if I drop any firearm during a course of fire?

If a competitor drops a loaded or unloaded firearm during a course of fire they may not retrieve the firearm. They must immediately STOP the course and await instructions from the Range Officer. Dropping a firearm during a course will result in the competitor being disqualified from the course, and may be disqualified from the match based on the circumstances of the incident.

Would I get credit for a hit if half of the bullet breaks the scoring line on the edge of the target?

In real life, we know that a round that strikes a lethal threat with part of the bullet (an edge hit on a range target) will have little effect. A round that only strikes the edge of the vital zone being aimed at cannot be counted on as being effective in stopping the threat.

In keeping with the NRA Law Enforcement Division's training philosophy of making range training and qualifications mirror street realities where possible, breaking rounds are scored differently in TPC. In TPC scoring:

  • Rounds partially breaking a scoring ring are scored the LESSER value.
  • Rounds partially breaking the edge of the target are scored as MISSES.

Do I need to take a class to participate in a TPC event?

No, there is no course required just be proficient in the safe handling and use of the firearms used in the TPC events.

Do I need to be classified to participate?

No, as there are no participant classifications in TPC events.

Can I use my competition equipment in TPC?

In most cases, no; but you may be able to remove or alter your equipment to fit within the TPC rules. Contact the TPC staff if you have any questions regarding your equipment.

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For more information about the Law Enforcement Division, call us at (703) 267-1632 or email [email protected].


Law Enforcement Firearm Competitions

The NRA Law Enforcement Division offers a complete police shooting program to police departments and law enforcement agencies to encourage patrol officers to gain more experience, training and time on the range using their duty firearms.