The “black gun” movement is alive and well in America, but many shooters are looking for a new challenge. One company stands ready to assist.

by Rob Reaser

As we all know, the last decade or so has seen an absolute explosion in the popularity of AR-15 rifles. Fueled by the platform’s modularity and an innovative aftermarket industry delivering accessories (some intelligent, some downright foolish) to adapt these rifles to most any mission, the AR-15 has caulked nearly every crack in the tactical firearm realm. From personal defense, varmint and big-game hunting, to fast-paced 3-gun competition, the Modern Sporting Rifle carries the day in America.

There is, however, a flip side to the full-on accessorized AR movement—especially for the thousands of relatively new shooters who stepped right into the arena and learned to shoot with the latest optics—everything from simple red dots to high-powered scopes. Most of these shooters skipped the marksmanship fundamentals and moved directly to pinging steel at distance.

This is, by no means, a knock on the newest generation of shooters. Even those who have been in the sport for several decades have bypassed the basics, installing scopes and heading right for the shooting bench without ever developing fundamental marksmanship skills or learning to shoot effectively with open sights.

And let’s be honest—punching bullseyes from a bench rest can become mechanical and, eventually, less than exciting, once you’ve got your rig dialed in.

I discovered this a couple years ago after a friend and I built an AKM from a Romanian parts kit. We installed an optic rail during the build because I thought, well, I’ve got to have an optic on this rifle.

It didn’t turn out as I had planned. Both the red dot and scope I tried on the AKM were positioned too high over the dust cover, making what should have been a cheek weld into a “chin weld.” Reluctantly, I ditched the optics and decided to work with the factory open sights.

Wow. Suddenly, shooting was downright fun again. After establishing a battle zero, I started placing clay pigeons on the 100-yard bank at my local range, shooting with a simple handhold from the bench. The thrill of busting 4-inch clays at 100 yards from an open sight AKM was downright exciting. It wasn’t long before the folks at the benches next to me stopped their shooting to watch.

Soon after that, I decided to rig one of my ARs for open sights. As with the AKM, shooting the AR was fun once more. This led me to start working on my shooting form, learning to establish natural point of aim, and working through prone, kneeling, and sitting positions while busting steel at 100-200 yards.

In short, range time became more than tightening groups on a bench. I was relearning the marksmanship arts and having a blast.

After having my eyes opened, I soon learned I was not the only one to rediscover the fun of shooting and to relaunch marksmanship skills by returning to the basics. In fact, folks have been doing this for years through everything from local shooting club competitions to national matches such as those put on by the Civilian Marksmanship Program at Camp Perry, Ohio, each year.

I also learned that one firearm manufacturer has been catering to this style of competitive shooting almost since the company’s inception—Rock River Arms of Colona, Illinois.

Rock River Arms is one of the most well-known names in the AR segment and the company boasts a reputation for building reliable modern sporting rifles with a factory accuracy guarantee. Although specialty ARs for personal defense and hunting are the cornerstones for the company’s commercial firearm effort (RRA also has a robust customer base in the local and Federal law enforcement segments), the DNA of all RRA products stems from its competition background.

What started with brothers Chuck and Mark Larson producing highly accurate, match-grade 1911 competition pistols that delivered podium wins at the biggest matches in the U.S. has turned into an enterprise that produces the foremost competition-grade ARs in the country. In fact, most RRA rifle owners don’t even realize that the company that manufactured their personal defense AR also produces the most accurate and reliable ARs in competitive circles. Those who have cast their eyes beyond the self-defense and hunting AR scene and are moved to try their hand at competitive shooting or developing marksmanship skills have discovered that Rock River Arms has many options for local rifle club competition to national CMP events.

Here are a few…

NM A4

  • Caliber: .223 Wylde chamber for 5.56mm and .223 caliber
  • Lower Receiver: forged RRA LAR-15
  • Upper Receiver: forged A4 w/detachable NM carry handle
  • Rear Sight: match 1/2×1/2 min, .040 hooded aperture
  • Front Sight: A2 front sight base w/match .050 post
  • Barrel: 20-inch air-gauged heavy match stainless steel, cryogenically treated, 1:8 twist
  • Bolt Carrier Group: RRA chrome
  • Muzzle: A2 flash hider, 1/2–28 thread
  • Trigger: RRA two-stage match chrome trigger group
  • Handguard: free-float, high-temp thermo mold w/NM barrel sleeve
  • Buttstock: A2
  • Pistol Grip: A2
  • Weight: 9.7 lbs.
  • Length: 39.5 in.
  • Accuracy: 3/4 MOA @ 100 yds

NM A4 20-Inch CMP Rifle (2016)

  • Caliber: .223 Wylde chamber for 5.56mm and .223 caliber
  • Lower Receiver: forged RRA LAR-15
  • Upper Receiver: forged A4
  • Gas System: rifle-length gas system
  • Gas Block: gas block sight base
  • Barrel: 20-inch heavy match stainless steel, cryogenically treated, 1:8 twist
  • Bolt Carrier Group: RRA chrome
  • Muzzle: A2 flash hider, 1/2–28 thread
  • Trigger: RRA two-stage match chrome trigger group
  • Handguard: RRA NM CMP TRO 12.5-inch rifle-length free-float rail handguard w/three 11.625-inch rifle-length NM TRO modular rails and NM sling swivel
  • Buttstock: RRA Operator CAR stock
  • Pistol Grip: A2
  • Weight: 8.7 lbs.
  • Length: 37 in.
  • Accuracy: 3/4 MOA @ 100 yds

NM A2 Rifle

  • Caliber: .223 Wylde chamber for 5.56mm and .223 caliber
  • Lower Receiver: forged RRA LAR-15
  • Upper Receiver: forged A2
  • Rear Sight: match 1/2x/12 min, .040 hooded aperture
  • Front Sight: match .050 post
  • Barrel: 20-inch air-gauged heavy match stainless steel, cryogenically treated, 1:8 twist
  • Bolt Carrier Group: RRA chrome
  • Muzzle: A2 flash hider, 1/2–28 thread
  • Trigger: RRA two-stage match chrome trigger group
  • Handguard: free-float, high-temp thermo mold with NM barrel sleeve
  • Buttstock: A2
  • Pistol Grip: A2
  • Weight: 9.7 lbs.
  • Length: 39.5 in.
  • Accuracy: 3/4 MOA @ 100 yds

NM A4 20-Inch CMP Trainer

  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Lower Receiver: forged aluminum RRA LAR-15M, multi-caliber marked
  • Upper Receiver: forged aluminum A4
  • Barrel: 20-inch stainless steel HBAR, 1:16 twist
  • Muzzle: A2 flash hider, 1/2–28 thread
  • Trigger: RRA two-stage match chrome trigger group
  • Handguard: RRA NM CMP TRO free-float rail, rifle-length w/three 11.625-inch TRO modular rails and NM sling swivel
  • Buttstock: RRA operator CAR stock, 6-posiiton
  • Pistol Grip: A2
  • Weight: 8.8 lbs.
  • Length: 41.5 in. (extended)

If you are interested in learning more about CMP highpower rifle shooting and competition, visit the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Rob Reaser
Load More In Firearms

Check Also

Field Test: Brenton USA’s Purpose-Built Hunting AR

While most manufactures rely on off-the-shelf MILSPEC-style components to build hunting-ca…