Get Started in the World of NRL22 and PRS22: A Beginner's Guide

May 16, 2023

Get Started in the World of NRL22 and PRS22: A Beginner's Guide

Are you interested in precision shooting but don't know where to start? Precision .22 rimfire competitions like NRL22 and PRS22 may be a great place to start. PRS22 and NRL22 are very similar, except PRS22 Matches tend to be longer distances. In this blog, we will talk about the NRL22. NRL22 is a fast-growing sport that combines the challenge of long-range shooting without the cost and travel associated with centerfire matches, as more ranges can accommodate rimfire competitions, and ammo is more affordable.

What is NRL22?

NRL22 stands for "National Rifle League 22," which refers to a specific type of precision rimfire rifle competition that is organized and regulated by the National Rifle League (NRL). It is a shooting discipline that focuses on long-range shooting using .22 rimfire rifles. The competitions are designed to be fun and accessible for shooters of all levels. It consists of stages, each with multiple targets at various distances, usually anywhere from 20 yards up to 200. Targets range from a ¼ inch to a 4" plate size. For example, there are targets at 25-35 yards that are only ¼". Usually, larger targets are further back. 

Warne showing NRL22 Stages

Shooters are timed, and scores are recorded for each stage. The shooter with the highest overall score at the end of the match is the winner.

Precision rimfire shooting matches - focus on accuracy vs. just speed alone. The appeal is that it simulates centerfire precision matches like PRS which use long range rifles like the 6.5 and 6 Creedmoor for distances over 800 yards. Not many ranges have the capability to facilitate multiple long-range lanes which would require most shooters to have to travel great distances to participate regularly. NRL/PRS.22 uses the same skillset for stabilizing your rifle, following your impacts, and dialing, but most under 200-300 yards, making it easier to find a range.

Most guns are zeroed for 50 yards.

Warne showing NRL22 shooting in a prone position

Do I Need a Fancy Precision Rifle and Scope to Get Started in NRL22?

Before I go into recommendations, it is important to note we all start somewhere. You don't need to run out and buy all new gear to get started in NRL22. You are good to go if you already have a sighted in scoped .22 rimfire rifle with some ammo and a rifle case. Shooting bags can be made by filling a sock with rice and tying it off. NRL22 is a sport that you can build on as you participate. Look at the sport as a way to improve your shooting skills, as competitions tend to push shooters to improve their skills. You will be grouped up in squads and be able to see and talk about what others are using. It is a sport that can be taken as casually as it can be taken seriously, depending on the level you want to participate in. You can only improve by practicing and participating.

If you are new, let the match director and fellow squad members know; they will help you. Shooting NRL22 is a great learning experience because there are different levels of shooters at the matches, from beginners wanting to learn to regular competitors happy to teach.

What Are Some Rifles Recommended for NRL22?

Any .22 rimfire rifle is allowed in NRL22, but bolt-action rifles are preferred. We recommend an accurate rifle (which will be very ammo dependent) that can shoot 1.5" or smaller groups at 50 yards. Triggers with light trigger pulls are a huge advantage. A rifle that uses detachable magazines and at least two 10+ round mags (the 10-round stage is most common, the 12-round stage is somewhat common, and the 12+ stage is uncommon.)

Semi-autos like the Ruger 10/22 can be used but can be a hassle. If you are moving shooting locations on a prop, the safety must be engaged, and the shooter must yell out safe to reposition, versus a bolt gun where the action must simply be opened. It's doable, but there are typically few people who run semi-autos. As you progress, you may want a bolt rifle capable of better accuracy, like the CZ457, Tikka T1x, Vudoo Gun Works V-22, and Bergara B-14R rimfire are some examples.

shooting from a tank trap at NRL22

What Scope Should I Use for NRL22?

A rifle scope with a magnification range of 3-16X or 5-25X is typical. FFP is highly recommended with adjustable turrets and/or a ballistic reticle that allows holdovers. 40mm or 50mm objective lens and durable construction are recommended. Obviously, better glass is always better, but with ranges within 300 yards, you can get away with lower-tier options.

What Ammo Should I use for NRL22?

NRL22 matches require standard velocity or subsonic .22LR match-grade ammunition. You may find better quality ammo, such as SK yellow or red, will be helpful to achieve better accuracy. Experiment with various ammo to find the tightest, most consistent groups.

What Are the Best Scope Mounts for NRL22?

Warne makes some of the best scope mounts on the market. They are made in the USA. Some shooters overlook the importance of quality rings for a rimfire rifle, yet for most shooters, due to the cost of ammo, they shoot their .22 rimfire far more than their other rifles putting thousands of rounds through it every year. Warne mounts are precision machined and designed to securely hold your scope in place shot after shot, keeping your group small. We have rimfire rings, Weaver/Picatinny Rings , and bases. Use our parts finder to find the proper bases for your rimfire rifle.

Some popular products that NRL22 shooters use are the Warne Mountain Tech Rings or the Skyline mount with accessories that attach directly onto the mount like the Warne universal bubble level, which can be helpful to keep the reticle leveled—a Data Card Holder to easily view DOPE (Data On Previous Engagements) for a specific stage while on the rifle. 

Warne Skyline Products for NRL22

Also, our CZ457 15MOA Picatinny mount is a big hit with CZ457 shooters.   CZ457 15MOA Picatinny mount

What Other Gear Should I have for NRL22?

Good Eye and ear protection: Safety should always come first, so make sure you have proper Eye and ear protection.

A rear bag/game changer bag from Wiebad or Armageddon Gear is a must-have. A spotting scope/tripod helps call hits. Your rifle must be in a rifle case when you are not shooting, so it is recommended to get one that allows you to stow your rifle and remove it quickly. Extra mags are helpful. A bipod like the Warne Skyline Bipod which not only supports the rifle it offers cant and pivot capabilities that lock in place and a shooting bag will be handy because of shooting off props such as barrels, buckets, ladders, tires, and less stable items.

Some other helpful tools like a ballistic calculator to develop the dopes and click values. A Warne range tool is always handy to have along as well.

  Shooting off a ladder at NRL22 match

How to Prepare for NRL22.

Safety First, read the rules and practice them and follow them without exception. Typically, half of the shooting positions will be prone. The other half will be off some sort of prop like a ladder, chair, etc. Learn how to hit when in these positions.

Practice shooting difference-size targets at different distances using holdovers and or dialing. Find the most accurate ammo for your rifle you can find.

Spinner Target at NRL22

Now That You Have All Your NRL22 Gear, What's Next?

Once you have the necessary equipment, it's time to find a local NRL22 match in your area. You can use the NRL22 website's match locator tool or got to Practiscore to find matches near you.  Register for the match, pay the fee, and show up on the day of the match with your gear ready to go.

One of the great things about NRL22 is the community of shooters. NRL22 is a friendly and inclusive sport; shooters of all levels are welcome. Whether you're a seasoned competitor or a beginner, you'll find plenty of support and encouragement from other shooters.

In addition to the fun and camaraderie, NRL22 is also an excellent way to improve your shooting skills. The precision and discipline required for NRL22 can help you become a better shooter, regardless of your ultimate goals.

What Is a Stage in an NRL22 Match like?

Here is an example of an NRL22 stage. Someone in your squad will ask the shooter, "Do you understand the course of fire?" When the shooter says yes, they will say "shooter ready". Then they will say something like "fire!" and start the timer. There will be another person from your squad spotting your hits. Depending on the stage, you may have to move into different positions, like shooting from prone to shooting off a barrel at targets at various distances. You may be limited to how many rounds you can shoot and how long to hit the targets.

  Some examples of NRL22 targets