Carbine Rules



The NTSA Rifle/Carbine Match is a timed competition that allows you to use your AR15, Mini-14, M1 Carbine or other similar firearm to engage multiple targets at various distances while shooting different scenarios.  Each match consists of five stages that are designed to test or improve your shooting skills and familiarity with that firearm.  Some stages require shooting and moving, while other stages require shooting while moving, or shooting at a moving target.  Stages require shooting from various positions such as standing, kneeling, or prone, and shooting from strong or weak sides. 


Like the pistol matches, safety is absolutely paramount in the rifle/carbine matches.  A Safety Officer (SO) runs each shooter individually through the stages ensuring that each shooter observes the safety rules.  Minor infractions may incur a simple command from the SO such as "finger", which means finger off of the trigger when not shooting at a target, or "muzzle" which means watch where you are pointing the muzzle of your firearm.  Major infractions like an unintentional discharge will result in an immediate disqualification from the match.

We use Practiscore for pre-match registration.  The match is marked 'private' in Practiscore and cannot be found with a search, the link for sign-up is emailed out on Monday morning in the week of the match.  If you would like to receive the match announcement/results emails, please sign up for the mailing list using the form found here on the web site under 'Action Matches', here:

Squad sizes are set relatively small at the beginning of the week to help keep balance between squads, and may be increased or decreased through the week as needed to support the number of shooters signing up.  If you cannot get on the squad you prefer, email the match director (reply to the match announcement email) with your request and every effort will be made to accomodate the request.  As much as possible shooters are not moved from the squad they sign up on without prior contact from the match director, but a level of balance must be maintained to keep the match flowing smoothly and reduce backups between stages.



North Texas Shooters Association

Carbine Match Safety Briefing & Match Rules

Version 7 March 1, 2021

Section 1 –General Safety Rules - These rules apply to the carbine matches held at the NTSA range.

1.1. This match will be conducted using a "cold range."  All carbines shall be unloaded and remain cased at all times, until directed otherwise by a Range Safety Officer (RSO).  All carbine handling will be done on the firing line or in the designated safe area.  A shooter may load rounds into magazines at any appropriate time but shall not load magazines into the carbine or rounds in the chamber until the shooter is on the firing line and is instructed to uncase and load by the RSO.

1.2. The muzzle of a loaded carbine must always be pointed down range at the berm at all times.  Keep the muzzle parallel to the ground while loading, moving, or unloading so an accidental discharge will impact into the berm and remain inside the range.  Pointing the muzzle above the berm or towards the ground within 10 feet is prohibited.  An exception is permitted if the shooter is engaging cardboard targets within 10 feet during a course of fire (CoF). 

1.3. Unless the shooter is actually firing at target(s), or is moving more than the immediate vicinity, the manual safety shall be ON or engaged. 

1.4. The shooter’s finger must be outside the trigger guard and off of the trigger until the shooter is aimed-in at the target and ready to shoot

1.5. All shooters must be aware where their rounds are impacting or about to impact.  In other words, be aware of the background and do not fire if there is an unsafe condition. 

1.6. Running the carbine match is a team effort.  Everyone present is responsible for ensuring a safe match.  Any person that observes an unsafe condition shall immediately yell Stop”. The shooter will immediately stop, engage the safety, and point the muzzle down range at the berm.  The RSO with the timer will investigate and resolve the unsafe condition.

1.7. All shooters are required to wear eye and ear protection as well as a hat or cap with the brim facing forward.  This is required because of the likelihood that shooters will be hit by falling shot when on the range and out from under the metal roofs.

1.8. RSO’s shall be aware of the possibility that shooters may be down range scoring, taping, or picking up brass and shall ensure that the range is clear before proceeding with the next shooter.

1.9. The MD and RSO’s will follow the guidelines in the NTSA Emergency Response Plan and assign personnel to act in accordance with the Plan in the event of an injury.

Section 2 - General Equipment Rules

2.1. The carbine must comply with federal, state, and local laws.  If any part, configuration, etc. is illegal, then the entire carbine is illegal and is banned from the match.  The intentional violation of this rule may lead to the violator being banned from any further competition or involvement with NTSA.

2.2. Carbines capable of automatic fire are subject to General Equipment Rule 1 and shall be used in semi-automatic mode ONLY. 

2.3. Trigger activation devices that simulate automatic or burst fire including, but not limited to, "Hellfire" and "Tri-Burst" are prohibited.

2.4. If a shooter has problems with the semi-automatic trigger assembly and it fires more than one shot with each pull of the trigger, the shooter will immediately cease firing that carbine.  The shooter will be allowed to use another carbine in that situation, but he or she will not be allowed to use that carbine again unless the problem is resolved.

2.5.  On the NTSA rifle range, when the CoF is shot from the bench or prone, shooters may use a small folding-leg bipod or small bag that supports only the handguard AND a small, lightweight rear bag under the buttstock.  No large bags that support the entire carbine are allowed.  Other bipods or barrel supporting devices shall not be attached to the carbine or used in competition, unless specified by the MD.  This includes, but is not limited to tripods, mono-pods, or shooting sticks.  

2.6. There shall be no limitation on barrel length, diameter, or overall length of the carbine, other than that it must comply with General Equipment Rule 1.

2.7. Folding or telescopic shoulder stocks and braces shall be permitted provided they are deemed safe and do not violate General Equipment Rule 1.

2.8. The carbine must remain in the same configuration for the duration of the match.  Changing of uppers, lowers barrels, optics or other sights, and/or any other significant component between or during stages is prohibited. An exception is General Equipment Rule 5, where a bipod can be used for a particular stage and removed for the remainder of the match.

2.9. Slings are allowed as an aid to accurate shooting, but not allowed for carrying either muzzle up or down, and must not interfere with the start position.

2.10. No restrictions are placed on the position or type of carrying devices for magazines or ammunition.  Magazines and spare ammo must start in some form of carrier (pockets are allowed).  They may not be held in the teeth, hand(s), under arms or between legs, etc. They may not be stowed (dumped) down a shirt or undershirt.

2.11. Extended magazine release buttons, safety catches, bolt release/locking devices, and/or cocking handles shall be allowed provided they do not make the carbine unsafe.

2.12. Each shooter will need three extra magazines, magazine carriers, a yellow or orange chamber flag that blocks the chamber (or weed eater line), a soft or hard case for the carbine, and ammunition.

2.13. Iron sights that have tritium-dot or fiber-optic inserts are allowed.  Optical (telescopic) sights and Red Dot sights are allowed.   A carbine equipped with a scope and red dot, or a scope and iron sights is also allowed.  Laser sights are allowed. 

2.14. Muzzle brakes, compensators, suppressors, and flash-hiders are allowed subject to General Equipment Rule 1.

2.15. The minimum caliber for the centerfire carbine match shall be .223 Remington/5.56mm (x 45 mm) NATO.  Tracer, incendiary, or armor-piercing ammunition is prohibited. The centerfire ammunition to be shot on the steel targets must be lead-based and copper-jacketed bullets such as pointed soft point, spire point, plastic ballistic tip, or open tip match (hollow point). M855 military green tip is not allowed for steel targets.  Shooters should check the ammunition they intend to use on the steel targets with a magnet and ensure that it is not bi-metal, steel-cored, or contain a steel penetrator because these are not allowed for steel targets by club rules.  Shooters may shoot any type of ammunition including FMJ on the clay and cardboard targets. Steel targets shall not be shot with a centerfire carbine unless they are placed at least 100 yards from the shooter in accordance with the NTSA Steel Reactive Target Training Policy.  Currently, .30-06 ammunition is the maximum caliber that may be used. Ammunition must meet a minimum power factor of 150, which is the bullet weight in grains multiplied by muzzle velocity in feet per second, divided by 1,000.

2.16. Magazines of different capacities (including drums) are allowed and shall be loaded in accordance the stage instructions. If the stage instructions do not specify, the shooter may load to capacity. The stage instructions may require a magazine to be downloaded less than the maximum capacity.

2.17. Magazines may be coupled together to assist in reloading.  However, some stages may restrict the use of such devices and require loading from the magazine carrier.

2.18. All sighting-in of carbines or sight-in verification must be done before the day of the match.  Before arriving at the match, the shooter should know where the carbine is sighted and where to hold at different distances.

2.19. Each shooter should ensure that their carbines, magazines, and ammunition are functioning properly prior to attending the match.

Section 3 – Carbine Match Rules

3.1. Divisions - There are two “Divisions”: “Heavy” and Minor Caliber (Heavy replaced Major so it is easier to distinguish results in Practiscore).  Within the two divisions, there are three “Classes”, which are Optic, Red Dot and Iron Sights.  Heavy Caliber is for 7.62 NATO, .30-06 and other similar military cartridges.   Minor caliber is for 5.56 NATO, .300 BO, 7.62x39mm, 6.8 SPC, etc. Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) is in the Minor Division.

3.2. Classes - For scoring and classifying purposes, there are three classes depending on the type of sight being used.  “Optic” class is any optical sight that has magnification, including those equipped with illuminated reticles.  “Red Dot” class is any passive sight that uses an illuminated dot or reticle but is not magnified and is not equipped with an external magnifier.  If the red dot is equipped with a magnifier, it is classified as “Optic”.  Shooters may flip an external magnifier to the side but shall not remove a magnifier during the match. “Iron Sight” class is for iron sights only, whether solid or equipped with Tritium or fiber optics.  If a shooter begins the match with a carbine equipped with a sight classified “Red Dot”, and the sight fails or otherwise becomes inoperative, and the shooter is forced to use backup iron sights (BUIS), the shooter will remain classified as “Red Dot”.  A carbine equipped with a scope and a red dot sight will be classified as “Optic”.

3.3. Shooters are expected to remain with the squad they are assigned and help tape or reset targets while not actually shooting or preparing to shoot.  To allow the match to progress more quickly, the following tasks should be performed when the shooting order is called. “Shooter on deck” (next in line to shoot) - prepare to shoot the course of fire by being at the starting point ready to go, but do not uncase or load your carbine until told to do so.  “Shooter in the hole” (second in line to shoot) - tape and help reset targets.

3.4. Shooters who are not preparing to shoot next should pick up brass and assist with resetting/taping the targets.  They should also be aware of what is happening around them and report any unsafe actions to the RSO.

3.5. Range Commands –

"Make Ready" - On command, the shooter will face downrange, ensure that the carbine is parallel to the ground and  pointed downrange at the berm, uncase the carbine, ensure that the safety is ON, turn optics ON (if applicable), load the magazine into the magazine well, and load the chamber.  The shooter will then assume the required start position the stage instructions dictate.

 "Shooter nod or indicate ready?" - The shooter will nod or otherwise clearly indicate that he or she is ready to begin the course of fire.

 "Stand By" - The shooter will remain stationary until the start signal indicates beginning the CoF.  The start signal will normally be the buzzer or beep from the shot timer controlled by the RSO, but other audible or visual start signals may be used at the discretion of the MD.

 "Unload and Show Clear" or “If finished, unload and show clear”- Upon completion of the course of fire, the shooter will remain stationary with the carbine parallel to the ground and the muzzle pointed downrange at the berm, engage the manual safety, remove the magazine, unload the round from the chamber, and lock open the action to allow the RSO to inspect the chamber. 

Flag chamber/Bolt Forward/Safety On” - On the RSO's command, the shooter will insert a chamber flag into the chamber, allow the bolt carrier to move forward on to the orange or yellow flag, and verify that the manual safety is engaged.   The shooter does not drop the hammer so that the safety will already be engaged when the shooter is called for the next stage, uncases the carbine, and loads for the next course of fire.

Case” - The shooter will then place the carbine in the carrying case and completely close the case.  When the case is closed, the RSO will announce that the range is safe.

“Range is Clear/Safe” - Command stating that the shooter has cleared and cased the carbine and it is safe to proceed downrange to score, tape (reset) the targets, and pick up brass.

Muzzle” – Command given to the shooter to when the muzzle is not pointed at the berm. 

Finger”- Command given to the shooter to remove his finger from the trigger guard.

“Safety” – Command given to the shooter when the manual safety is not engaged while moving more than the immediate vicinity.  For example, if a shooter moves from one position to another on a barricade, the engagement of the safety is not required.

Stop” – Command given to the shooter to stop all shooting and movement, to engage the safety, and point the muzzle at the berm.

3.6. Start Position - The standard start position is normally the “Belt” position where the carbine is parallel to the ground, muzzle pointed at the berm, buttstock at the belt, and the manual safety on.  The “Low Ready” position may be used if specified by the MD.  The “Low Ready” position begins with both hands on the carbine ready to shoot with the butt stock in the shoulder, NO cheek weld, muzzle pointed down-range at the berm, safety ON, and finger outside of the trigger guard.  The shooter will start standing upright unless the course description states otherwise. Other positions may be used such as sitting, prone, and “in position” on the “riser” as described in the stage instructions.

3.7. Stages may have loaded or unloaded starts. In an unloaded start, the shooter must not touch their carbine, magazines, or ammo loading devices.  An "unloaded start" means the chamber is empty of any ammunition, bolt open or closed, and the safety ON.

3.8. Each shooter is required to shoot the course of fire as described by the MD.  An unintentional failure to shoot the course as instructed will result in a 5 second “Procedural” penalty.  If the shooter intentionally tries to circumvent the course instructions to gain a competitive advantage, the shooter will be given a match DQ. 

3.9. If a shooter hits a “no shoot” target, the shooter will receive a 10 second penalty.  Each no-shoot target hit can only be penalized once.  In other words, if there are multiple hits on a no shoot target, only one penalty is recorded.  Shots that go through the no shoot target and hit the intended target are not counted as hits on the intended target but scored as misses.  “No shoot” targets may be indicated with open hands painted on the target, “X’s” painted on the target, or by using the white side of USPSA targets.

3.10. Targets may have portions of the target painted black which restrict the area available for score.  These areas are “hard targets” and are used to indicate a target behind hard cover.  A hit in the blackened areas is a miss.

3.11. All shoot targets must have at least one hit in the “0” or “1” scoring area.  Otherwise, the target will be scored as a Failure to Neutralize (FTN), which is a 5 second penalty.

3.12. If a shooter's carbine becomes unserviceable during the match, a similar carbine may be substituted at the discretion of the RSO.  A shooter may not use a carbine equipped with a high powered scope on Stage 1 and switch to another carbine with a red dot or LPVO for the remaining stages.

3.13. Malfunctions - The shooter should attempt to clear the malfunction and continue on with the stage.  In the event that the shooter cannot clear the malfunction, the RSO should assist the shooter with clearing the malfunction and ensuring that the carbine is safe before the shooter leaves the firing line.  If the carbine cannot be cleared, the RSO should ask another RSO to escort the shooter with the malfunction to a safe area after making the carbine safe as possible including casing the carbine.  If necessary, the RSO shall physically take possession of the carbine and hold it muzzle up while escorting the shooter to the safe area.  If there is a malfunction that is safety related, such as “doubling”, or some other similar mechanical issue, the shooter shall switch to another carbine and shall not be allowed to continue with that carbine.

3.14. Reshoots - A shooter is allowed to reshoot a stage when there is a malfunction of the timer, stage equipment, targets are not taped, a failure to record the time, an error in recording the scores, etc.  A malfunction caused by the carbine or ammunition is generally not allowed a reshoot. As described above, shooters are encouraged to work through malfunctions during a run.  However, if there is a carbine or ammunition malfunction, particularly at the beginning of the stage, the RSO will decide whether or not the shooter will reshoot the stage.  Re-shoots shall not be allowed for not following or understanding the course of fire instructions.

3.16. Emergency and Tactical reloads – Emergency or bolt-lock reloads occur when the last round is fired and the bolt carrier locks back.  In this case, the shooter may allow the magazine to drop to the ground as another magazine is loaded.  Tactical reloads or reloads with retention occur when rounds are remaining in the magazine, but the shooter is required to load another magazine that theoretically has more rounds in it.  In this case, the shooter must retain the partially filled magazine for use another time.

3.17. Upon completion of a course of fire and after the carbine has been unloaded and cased, the RSO (timer) will immediately note the elapsed time on the timer and call it out to the RSO (scorekeeper) recording the times on the tablet.  After the carbine is made safe and cased, the RSO will announce that the range is safe to go forward to score and paste the targets.  The RSO (timer) will call the hits to the RSO (scorekeeper).  Targets shall not be taped until the target is scored and recorded.  The shooter is encouraged to accompany the RSO’s and observe the scoring process.  However, the RSO’s will not wait for the shooter to pick up brass, etc. to begin scoring.

3.18. The RSO (timer) is responsible for ensuring the safe execution of the stage in accordance with the stage instructions.  The RSO shall observe the shooter and carbine from the time it is loaded until the stage is completed and the carbine is unloaded and cased.  The RSO (scorekeeper) shall also observe the shooter complete the course of fire and mark any penalties.  Both RSO’s will do their utmost to officiate the match consistently and fairly, treat each shooter with courtesy and respect, provide the shooter with the benefit of the doubt in the case of hit breaking a scoring ring, and provide the shooter the opportunity to have a safe and positive experience.

3.19. Dropped Ammunition/Magazines - Live ammunition or magazines that are dropped on the ground after the buzzer and during the CoF is considered lost and must not be picked up by the shooter until the stage is complete.  

3.20. Slipping/Falling -If a shooter slips and falls on the ground while running a stage, the shooter should carefully get up while pointing the carbine at the berm. The RSO should stop the shooter and assist as necessary. The shooter will be allowed to reshoot the stage at a later time.

Section 4 - Penalties and/or Disciplinary Actions including Disqualifications and Accidental Discharges - The goal is to ensure a safe environment without being excessively harsh and driving shooters away from matches.  The RSO (Timer or Scorekeeper) shall call penalties, not another shooter or bystander.

4.1 Stage DQ’s - Warning for first offense, stage DQ for second, repeated offenses may result in match DQ:

.1. Muzzle in unsafe direction and/or not pointed at berm,

.2. Finger in trigger guard while moving and not aimed in at target and firing,

.3. Safety not engaged while moving beyond the immediate vicinity,

.4. Uncasing early (before command is issued),

.5. Sweeping (muzzle aimed at self or other person), cold range,

.6. Picking up dropped magazine during the CoF is a Stage DQ with no warning.

4.2 Match DQs -

.1. Uncased or loaded gun brought to firing line,

.2. Sweeping (muzzle aimed at self or other person), hot range,

.3. Wrong ammo used on steel target,

.4. Unsafe gun handling (see MD),

.5. Shot hits side wall and not berm (either concrete or RR tie),

.6. Breaking the berm rule repeatedly,

.7. Dropping a loaded carbine during the CoF,

.8. Shooter received two stage DQ’s in same match.

4.3. When a match disqualification (DQ) is issued, the MD must be notified as soon as possible.

4.4 Accidental Discharges - An AD is a match DQ if it impacts within 10 feet of the shooter or a side wall (concrete or RR tie), exits the range, or causes personal or property damage.  An accidental shot fired that hits the berm is not a DQ.

4.5. Procedural Errors - If a shooter fails to follow the stage instructions for that CoF, it is a Procedural Error (PE), which is a 5 second penalty for each violation.  If the shooter continues to do the same PE, the shooter will be DQ’d, based on the judgment of the RSO and/or the MD. 

4.6. Penalties shall be explained to the shooter after the stage is completed and the carbine is made safe.

Section 5 - Target Scoring Instructions

5.1. Cardboard Targets - The Timer should call out the points down on each target and the Scorekeeper should repeat the call.  Only the RSO’s shall actually score the targets. The shooter or the Scorekeeper can question the Timer on a score, as necessary.  Targets should not be taped until the issue is resolved. 

5.2. To score head shots on the IDSA cardboard targets, use a straight edge to connect the corners of the perforated lines on both sides of the neck.  If a round touches that imaginary line, it is scored as a head shot.  Headshots are scored as a “0”, “1”, or miss.

5.3. Steel Targets – All reactive knock-down steel targets must fall to be counted as a hit, unless otherwise directed in the stage instructions.  On the 100 and 200-yard stages, hits on steel targets should be counted and verified by the RSO’s. The RSO’s should observe hits by the bullet splatter on the steel, movement of the flash target, flashing of the target hit indicator lights, rounds that hit the dirt behind the target, and by the sound of the hits.  Be aware that it is possible for a round to hit the edge of the target and the target not react or sound the same as a solid hit.  To avoid confusion, the RSO should only call hits, not misses. At the completion of the stage, the RSO’s should confirm the number of hits and record the number.  The RSO’s may enlist another shooter help with observing the hits with a scope or binoculars, but only the RSOs’ decision is to be recorded. 

5.5. Clay Targets – Clay targets must be broken or chipped by a bullet to count as a hit. 

5.6. No-Shoot Targets – If the outside perforated line is broken on a no-shoot target, the target has been hit.  Multiple hits on the same no-shoot target count as one no-shoot penalty.

5.7. Pass Through(s) – Rounds that strike a no-shoot target, hardcover or scored target and pass through to hit another scored target do not count as a hit.  The MD may indicate in the stage instructions when a pass through shot on a no- shoot targets is allowed.

5.8. IDSA Cardboard Target Scoring Values - Points (Seconds) down calculated as 0, 1, 3, or 10 –

1.      0 points – Center (5) area of target,

2.      1 points - Middle (4/3) area next to center,

3.      3 points – Outside (3/2) area.

4.      10 points – Target missed (10 seconds for each bullet hole less than the minimum required in target).

5.      Shots in hard cover are a miss.

5.9. Shots must break the perforated line to score the next higher area.  Give the shooter the benefit of the doubt if the hit is close.

5.10. Procedural Error (each violation) -

1.      Failure to engage targets in proper order as described in the match instructions,

2.      Failure to perform a reload as required,

3.      Firing more shots than specified on a limited stage, (also results in loss of highest scored hit).

4.      Stopping to shoot when required to shoot while moving.

5.11. Hit no Shoot - Hitting any no shoot target, such as targets with large “X” across the target, targets with “hand palm facing outward”, a white USPSA target, or any target designated as a no-shoot in the stage description 10 second penalty).

5.12. Failure to Neutralize – shooter assessed a 5 second penalty.

1.      Target without a 0 or 1 (5 or 4/3) hit scored,

2.      Target Not Engaged,

3.      Shooter runs out of ammo before engaging all targets in a stage,

4.      Shooter decides not to reload for last target even though he has additional ammunition.

5.14. Disputes - The RSO’s call on a dispute is final.  If the two RSO’s disagree, the Match Director will resolve the dispute.

Section 6 - Final Actions, Take Down and Clean Up

6.1. Match Directors - The Match Director is responsible for his match and must ensure that the equipment is properly stored, the sheds locked, the ranges are clean (trash barrels emptied), and all target frames are back in place on the ranges before he leaves.  The MD should conduct a final inspection prior to leaving the ranges to be certain that everything is back in order.

6.2. RSO’s- Inspect the scoring tablets for your squad to determine if the scores appear to be correct, complete, and legible.  Ensure that the tablets, timers, tape dispensers, etc. are turned in to the MD.  After the match is completed, RSO’s should encourage the shooters to assist with taking down the stages and properly storing the equipment.  It may be possible to keep the barricades, barrels, and fencing up on the Middle and West Bays of Pistol Bay 1.  Check with the MD.   A RSO should station himself at each shed to supervise where the equipment is placed.  Generally, the equipment should be stored neatly so that it is easy to remove other equipment. Inspect ranges for cleanliness, etc., and correct as necessary. If acting as the MD, ensure that the NTSA sign-in sheet is filled in properly and pay the NTSA range officer the appropriate amount before leaving the range.

6.3. Carbine Match Ranges/50-yard Intermediate Range – Take down and restore these ranges for use by casual shooters as soon as possible.  However, do not clear the 50 yard range for use by casual shooters until PB1 is completely cleared. To remove the target motor drive, it is necessary for a person to climb on the ladder adjacent to the 50 yard range.

6.4. Pistol Bay One – Do not take down the East and west bay stages until the shooting is completed on the middle bay.  It is disruptive and unsafe if active shooters are still on the middle bay.