USPSA has a certified ammunition program, where competitors can purchase ammunition from a USPSA certified manufacturer, whether from a secondary retail outlet (storefront or internet), or directly from the manufacturer. This ammo may be purchased and brought to the match or shipped directly to the match.
Once at the match, competitors must declare they are using certified ammunition at check in and provide an 8 round delivery sample along with a form listing the manufacturer, the name of the ammunition, and the lot number. The form also requires a signature stating that the competitor agrees not to swap ammunition without first notifying the Range Master.
What Happens Then?
This form goes into a bag with the delivery sample and is delivered to the chronograph officer as soon as feasible. Once on a stage, competitors must surrender another 8 rounds as their regular chronograph sample. This ammunition is then tested at chronograph. If it doesn’t make declared power factor, then the delivery sample is tested. If the two samples are within 10 power factor of one another, then the competitor retains the declared power factor. If they’re not, then the chronograph sample results are used for the match—if you go sub-minor and there is more than a 10 PF difference, then you stay sub-minor and shoot for no score. FYI, to date there have been no reports of a greater than 10 PF discrepancy. NOTE: Handloaded ammunition, regardless of your reloading machine, is NOT certified ammunition.
There are a couple of things to note about this process. First, if a competitor’s chronograph sample doesn’t make declared power factor, that’s recorded in Practiscore and is available in the results. However, the results from the delivery sample test are not recorded in Practiscore. (We are currently working on a solution for that.) Any time that certified ammo is tested, the chrono officer must record the results on the declaration form and retain that for the duration of the match. Once the match has concluded, the forms must be submitted to NROI.
How Do Manufacturers Get Certified?
What isn’t widely understood is the process for a manufacturer to obtain USPSA certified ammunition status, and what we do with the data collected at chronograph. First, the process. Each certified ammunition manufacturer must complete an online application, providing the information and samples required by USPSA’s Certified Ammunition Policy. Some of the information requested includes the quality control and testing procedures used by the manufacturer and the results of their power factor testing. They also must provide a 50 round sample of each SKU covered in their application to either myself or my delegate for independent testing. I generally test the ammunition myself, but I also try to test it at a match I attend that’s running a chronograph stage.
If I get reports of consistent issues with a manufacturer’s ammunition, then I get in touch with the manufacturer and try to determine what may be causing the problem. On at least two occasions, these issues have been resolved, either by the manufacturer correcting the loading, or by having the ammunition de-listed or listed only for specific use. One of the requirements for gaining certification is a minimum loading of 250,000 rounds for each SKU, so it might take a while to get a new lot into circulation.
The bottom line: gaining certified ammunition status is a rigorous process, and we are constantly striving to improve it. Match organizers can help with that by recording results and submitting the declaration forms with the data to me. They can be scanned and emailed (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mailed via snail mail to: DNROI, 3669 Christina Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70820.
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