USPSA has had a certified ammunition program in some form for quite some time. See rule 5.8 in the 2021 USPSA Competition Rules. Currently, there are 9 approved vendors who can supply certified ammunition in almost every caliber common to a USPSA match, from PCC-specific ammunition to fodder for Open guns. But, what happens if you choose to use certified ammunition?
First, if you purchase ammunition from a USPSA certified vendor, know that the vendor has submitted an application listing their testing and QC methods, and how the ammunition is made available to competitors. They have declared that to the best of their testing abilities the ammunition will make the designed power factor. Vendors must produce a certain amount of ammunition annually as well. You no longer have to have them ship it to you at the match, although many will. You can purchase it online and have it delivered to your home, or off the shelf in a retail store if they sell it through retail outlets. You can even buy it at a match, but may not be able to use it there–more on that later.
Once you arrive at the match, you should check in at registration or stats and confirm your information. At that time, you will declare that you are using certified ammunition, and will complete the Certified Ammunition Form, provide a delivery sample of 8 rounds, and then be on your way to the range. If there is a certified ammunition vendor at the match, you can purchase ammunition from them prior to the day you shoot and go through the same process–you should purchase it before you check in. Once the match begins, you are still obliged to provide an 8-round chronograph sample (whether collected on the stage or at chronograph) which will be used in your initial chronograph testing, as described in Appendix C2, 2021 USPSA Competition Rules. Should the chronograph sample not make your declared power factor after exhausting all of the ammunition provided, either by shooting it or weighing it, the chronograph officer will then inquire if you are using certified ammunition (if you haven’t already notified him of this), and will locate your delivery sample and declaration form from the samples accumulated at registration. He will then proceed to repeat the chronograph procedure on the delivery sample, using your firearm. Whether the ammunition makes declared power factor or not, if the delivery sample and the chronograph sample are within 10 power factor of each other, you will make your declared power factor. The reason for this is simple–the certified ammunition is not something you loaded, and the manufacturer cannot test their ammunition through every firearm out there. On occasion, powder lots change, primer lots change, the machines used to load the ammunition may come out of adjustment slightly–there can be myriad reasons why the ammo may be a little “off”. As long as the two samples are relatively close (and they are usually within 1-2 power factors apart), then we know you haven’t substituted certified ammunition for something else, and you are good to go.
After the testing procedure is complete, the chronograph officer must fill out your declaration form, even if no delivery sample rounds were fired, return the ammunition to you, and retain the form for the RM, who should forward it to NROI. NROI, in turn, provides data to the manufacturer, especially if some loadings appear to be close to or below the designed power factor. We are working with the Practiscore programmers to incorporate both the notice of using certified ammunition, and the reporting into their scoring system for chronograph. This is an ongoing project.
So, in summary:
- Purchase Certified Ammunition
- Declare Certified Ammunition/Provide Delivery Sample
- Provide chronograph sample of same ammunition when requested
- Attend chronograph station for ammunition testing
- Make declared power factor even if ammunition doesn’t make it (rules for certified ammunition)
- Chrono officer documents results of ammunition testing, returns unused portion