My First Pistol Match: CMP Excellence In Competition .22LR and Service Pistol

Daniel Y
by Daniel Y

I have been getting into competition shooting over the last couple of years, but only rifle matches. That changed recently with a local pistol match. I shot a Civilian Marksmanship Program Excellence in Competition (EIC) match with both a service pistol and .22 rimfire. It was an illuminating experience and will not be my last pistol match.

More Competition Shooting @ TFB:

The Rules

Maybe it is because I’m a lawyer, but I always like to read the rules. Both the .22 Rimfire and Service Pistol rules are contained in the CMP Pistol Competition Rulebook. New versions are published annually. These matches are designed as accessible marksmanship challenges that do not require hyper-specialized guns. Service pistols are, by definition, meant for duty and defensive use. For many years there was a published list of approved models that CMP deemed appropriate. That changed in 2023 and now any pistol that meets the published criteria is eligible for competition. Some of the major rules are:

  • Maximum barrel length 5.5 inches
  • Maximum weight 45 ounces
  • Minimum trigger pull 4 pounds
  • Iron sights only
  • No orthotic/molded target grips
  • Caliber between 9mm and .45 ACP

Quite a few guns on the market today could fit within this list, and that is the idea. I would not be surprised if red dot sights are allowed eventually, given how common they are on military and law enforcement pistols now.

The EIC rules for eligible .22 LR pistols are much more permissive, probably because match features are so common in that class of handguns. The eligibility rules include:

  • Both pistols and revolvers are permitted
  • .22LR only
  • Minimum trigger pull 2.0 pounds
  • Maximum sight radius 10 inches
  • Asymmetrical or orthotic target grips are allowed
  • Iron sights only

This list encompasses most rimfire pistols, so almost anyone with a .22 LR pistol can come shoot a match. Much like the service pistol, the general idea is getting people out to competitions without needing specialized gear. Obviously, a target-oriented design will have major advantages over a plinker. But that plinker can be a gateway drug for someone who wants to try their hand.

The Course of Fire

This match was actually two matches in one, with both service pistol and .22 rimfire matches happening back to back. Both the rimfire and service pistol EIC matches use the same course of fire. Each course of fire goes like this:

(image from CMP)

The 50-yard slow fire is ten minutes for ten shots. Then the targets move up to the 25-yard line for the timed and rapid portions. Timed fire is 5 shots in 20 seconds (two iterations for a total of ten rounds), and 5 shots in 10 seconds (two iterations for a total of ten rounds). Shooters who have a malfunction during timed or rapid get one opportunity to fire make-up shots, but the highest-scoring shots from that stage are discarded until only ten shots for score remain.

And, just to make sure this is difficult enough, all stages are fired strong hand only. Most handgun shooters seldom shoot at 25 yards, let alone 50. 50 yards, strong hand only, is not easy! The target paper is admittedly large, but the real action is in the aiming black. Shots out in the huge 5-ring are much better than a miss but are not going to win matches.

Service Pistol Match

For the service pistol match, I brought my Glock 34. It fits within the rules and I have a lot of experience shooting it. Most of my other handguns tend towards concealed carry which would be a further handicap. I tried a few brands of ammo I had on hand to see what worked best and threw a few boxes of it along with a couple magazines in my bag.

One thing to keep in mind is the instability that can come from the non-firing hand. If that hand is free to move it can sway and cause everything else to move. Bullseye shooters put the non-firing hand in their pocket or tuck it in their belt to prevent that movement. This is a very different discipline than the thumb placement or grip tension arguments coming from the action shooting world!

I struggled on the 50-yard line, in part because I had no idea where the point of impact was at 50 when my only practice was at 25. Those first few rounds out of the black claimed a few points while figuring it out, but most were lost to shooter error. Glock triggers work great for defensive work but are less than ideal for bullseye. My final score was 177-2X out of 300. Not great.

.22LR Pistol Match

I accidentally won a GunBroker auction for a Ruger Mark II with the heavy target barrel last year. It was only $200, which is a steal. While that was an accidental acquisition I was thinking of trying EIC matches when I placed the bid.

The course of fire is the same as the service pistol match but with one minor tweak. The timed and rapid stages start with the pistol pointed down at a 45-degree angle, rather than at the target. That adds a little element of difficulty when shooting against the clock.

I had a malfunction in the timed portion and cleared it rather than taking the re-shoot option. While there is a risk of not finishing the string in the allotted time, 20 seconds is a decent amount of time to work with. Malfunctions are part of life with .22 LR pistols but good ammo makes them less likely. Despite this, my final score was 230-2x, which was good enough to get a little bronze medal in the mail.


Shooting this match was an excellent decision. It is a true test of fundamental marksmanship skills and is a challenging course of fire for only 30 rounds. I’ll be trying my hand at more of these matches this summer, and I spend the winter setting up my SIG Sauer P210A to be competition-legal for the service pistol category. I’m excited to see how it (and I) perform.

Daniel Y
Daniel Y

AKA @fromtheguncounter on Instagram. Gun nerd, reloader, attorney, and mediocre hunter. Daniel can still be found on occasion behind the counter at a local gun store. When he is not shooting, he enjoys hiking, camping, and rappelling around Utah.

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2 of 3 comments
  • HMSLion HMSLion on Mar 20, 2024

    The precision disciplines are to shooting what ballet is to dance - they lay a rock-solid foundation of skill.

  • Hacedeca Hacedeca on Mar 21, 2024

    Congratulations to your medal!

    I find competitive shooting somehow nerve-wrecking, but to train for it is like meditation.

    So keep on competing!