(NOTE: In this condensed version of the Pink Book, Iíve eliminated the rules that apply to the contest director for running NAR competition and the event rules. What is left is the info you need to know about NAR competition in general in order to avoid confusion and dissatisfaction at a NAR sanctioned contest. For best results, you should read and understand the entire United States Model Rocket Sporting Code.)
Model Rocketry is an activity that emphasizes safety, education, and sportsmanship. Competition modeling develops patience and skill, and encourages creativity and innovation. The National Association of Rocketry provides support for competition modeling as an excellent means of encouraging these aspects of model rocketry, and thereby ensures the continued advancement of the hobby.
The United States Model Rocket Sporting Code (the "Pink Book") provides a standard set of rules by which NAR members may compete with one another on the basis of skill, ability, and expertise. The Sporting Code is administered by the NAR Contest and Records Committee (the "Contest Board") through its Regional and National Chairmen.
This edition of the Sporting Code replaces all previous versions and is effective as of July 1, 2007.
From time to time, the Contest Board may add or revise rules by publishing the changes in Sport Rocketry magazine and/or Model Rocketeer newsletter, along with the date on which they are to be effective. These rule changes should be clipped and saved in your copy of the Sporting Code, on pages marked "Published Amendments to the Sporting Code." There are a number of occurrences that can result in changes to the rules; including action by the Contest Board, suggestions from the membership carrying the signatures of three NAR members, and decisions reached through the protest and appeals process described in Rule 12. Additionally, the Rules Revisions Subcommittee and the Provisional Events Subcommittee work continually to improve the Sporting Code. Members who would like to contribute to the work performed by either of these subcommittees are welcome to contact the National Contest Board.
Since the rules of the Sporting Code cannot cover all possible eventualities of competition, disputes over the rules are inevitable. Whenever the rules prove insufficient, competitors can often reach a satisfactory resolution of a problem by exercising common sense, fair play, and sportsmanship. When necessary, interpretation of the rules may be made on the field by the Contest Jury. Serious disagreements can be resolved through the protest and appeals mechanism.
All NAR members are invited to join in sanctioned competition activity. Members who do not belong to a NAR section can obtain the name of a club in their area (or information on starting a new section) by writing to the NAR Section Activities Committee, in care of NAR Headquarters.
Model rocket means an aeromodel that ascends into the air without the use of aerodynamic lifting forces against gravity; that is propelled by means of a model rocket motor; that includes a device for returning it safely to the ground in a condition to fly again; and that contains no parts, particularly metal parts, that are likely to create a hazard. Model rocket motors and recovery system protectors or wadding, if present, do not constitute portions of a model rocket.
Model rocket motor means a reaction motor produced by a commercial manufacturer using pre-loaded combustible solid propellant as fuel or a rocket motor designed to be reloaded with commercially manufactured combustible solid propellant charges.
This United States Model Rocket
Sporting Code shall govern the design, construction, and operation of all model
rockets and model rocket motors used in conjunction with:
(a) All competition sanctioned by the National Association of Rocketry (NAR); and
(b) All attempts to establish or surpass United States Model Rocket Performance Records.
The Model Rocketry Safety Code of the NAR shall be the general safety criteria to be followed in the interpretation and administration of this United States Model Rocket Sporting Code. The Safety Code shall not be overridden by Sporting Code rules. Any changes to the Safety Code apply immediately to the Sporting Code.
A model rocket must comply with all specifications in this section and the Model Rocketry Safety Code before, during, and after flight.
The gross launching mass of a model rocket, including model rocket motor or motors, shall in no event exceed 1,500 grams. See also Rule 9.11.
No more than a total of 125 grams of solid propellant materials shall be contained in its model rocket motor(s) at the moment of launch.
There shall be no more than three consecutively fired stages. The staged configuration of the model is considered to be that of the model at the instant of first motion on the launcher.
A model rocket shall be so constructed as to be capable of more than a single flight; and shall be provided with a means for retarding its descent to the ground so that its structure may not be substantially damaged, and so that no hazard is created to persons and property. If a model descends in more than one unattached part, each part must conform to the above specification.
Construction of the airframe shall be of wood, paper, rubber, plastic, or other similar materials consistent with the Safety Code.
Design and construction shall include suitable means for providing stabilizing and restoring forces necessary to maintain a substantially true and predictable flight path. If required by safety officers or judges, the builder of the model must present data demonstrating that their model meets this requirement.
A model rocket possessing a self-contained powered ignition system (e.g., for remote ignition of upper stages) must be provided with a safety switch or other device capable of preventing actuation of the system and resultant ignition until immediately prior to the launch.
A model rocket equipped with a dethermalizer or other auxiliary device designed to operate via ignition or combustion must be designed so that ignition of the device presents no imminent hazard to the person igniting the device. In addition, the rocket must be designed so that the device is extinguished as soon as possible after performing its function (e.g., by the inclusion of a snuffer tube).
Model Rocket motors shall meet the requirements of the NAR Standards and Testing Committee and NFPA 1122.
Only reload kits that are presented in factory, new, unopened packages may be used. As part of the check-in procedure, the contestant must present the reloadable motor and reload kit for inspection to determine proper type and tampering. The type of reload kit, the motor case designation, and the letters RMS must be recorded on the flight card. The reload kit and motor case will then be returned to the contestant for normal prepping and check-in. In the case of multiple reloads in a single kit, the contestant will remove the required components from the kit for prepping and the remaining items in the kit will be impounded at check-in for further use and returned at the end of the competition.
A single solid propellant model rocket motor shall contain no more than 62.5 grams of propellant, and shall produce no more than 160.0 Newton-seconds of total impulse.
All motors used in a model rocket in NAR sanctioned competition, or for the purpose of establishing a United States Model Rocket Performance Record, shall be of a type currently holding NAR Contest Approval. No model rocket motor shall be flown at any NAR Sanctioned activity unless that motor holds current NAR Certification.
A model rocket motor shall not be altered in any manner that changes its dimensions and/or its performance characteristics. No material shall be affixed to the motor in a permanent fashion (e.g., via glues or epoxies).
An NAR-certified model rocket motor is assigned a type classification based on its mean sea total impulse at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius as determined in static tests conducted by the NAR Standards and Testing Committee. NAR-certified model rocket motor classifications are as follows:
Total Impulse (Newton-seconds)
0.00 - 0.3125
0.3126 - 0.625
0.626 - 1.25
1.26 - 2.50
2.56 - 5.00
5.01 - 10.00
10.01 - 20.00
20.01 - 40.00
40.01 - 80.00
80.01 - 160.00
(Note: All motor classes listed above continue to be recognized for certification purposes independent of current commercial availability considerations.)
The total impulse values measured and published by the NAR Standards and Testing Committee shall be the values used in all NAR sanctioned competition and for United States Model Rocket Performance Record attempts.
When multiple motors are used in a single model rocket (e.g., clustering and staging), the total impulses of the individual motors shall be summed to compute the total impulse of the configuration and to determine the impulse class of an event for which the model qualifies. Only those motors actually intended to ignite and produce useful thrust are to be included in this total.
All Contest Approved motors shall be permitted in any NAR sanctioned competition for which the total impulse of the motor is appropriate for the event and in compliance with state and local laws.
5.4 Launching Device
A launching device or mechanism must be used that shall restrict the horizontal motion of the model until sufficient flight velocity is attained for reasonably safe, predictable flight. A launch rod composed of approximately one meter of 1/8" diameter rod is suggested for light models and models using less than 20 Newton-seconds of impulse. For heavier or higher-powered models, a launch rod composed of approximately one meter of 3/16" or 1/4" diameter rod is recommended. A launching angle of less than thirty degrees from the vertical must be used.
A launcher must not impart to the model any velocity or change of momentum except that caused by the model rocket motor(s) contained in the model.
Launching or ignition of a model rocket must be conducted by remote electrical means from a distance as required by the safety code, and must be fully under the control of the person launching the model. All persons in the vicinity of any launching must be advised that a launching is imminent before a model rocket may be ignited or launched. A minimum five-second audible countdown must be given before ignition or launching of a model rocket. Contestants will always be allowed to use their own launchers, and to launch at the time of their choice, within limits placed by the RSO.
8.1 Entering Competition
All contestants entering model rockets and competing in NAR sanctioned competition shall be members of the NAR in good standing. They are required to sign an official entry blank. The countersignature of a parent or guardian is required on the entry blank for minors, except for persons serving in the Armed Forces of the United States or students enrolled at the time in a college, university, or other institution of higher learning. Upon entering a competition, contestants must present for verification their NAR Sporting License to the Contest Director or his/her deputy, at the Contest Directorís request.
8.2 Age Division
The Competition Divisions are as given in the following schedule:
7 - 13 years old
14 - 18 years old
19 years old and older
Registered NAR Teams
All divisions are to be flown separately at any sanctioned meet, unless they must be combined in accordance with Rule 9.6. The division in which an NAR member will compete during a Contest Year is determined by the memberís age/status as of July 1, the start of the Contest Year. If the member turns 7 years of age during the contest year, he/she may compete after his/her 7th birthday.
8.3 New Members
Newly joined NAR members who have not yet received their Sporting License and wish to compete in sanctioned competition shall be recorded as pending. The Contest Director may require a pending member to show proof of his/her application for membership.
A contestant properly entered in sanctioned competition may have his/her models flown by proxy by another NAR member, except in the following events:
Radio Controlled Glider
Research and Development
National Championship Awards
United States Performance Records
Models which are to be radio controlled may not be proxy-flown. The builder of the model to be proxy-flown must furnish in writing evidence satisfactory to the Contest Director of his inability to be present. This statement shall be forwarded to the NAR Contest Board with the meet results. Contestants having official duties at the contest may have their models proxy-flown for them with the approval of the Contest Director. An entry shall not be proxy-flown by a member whose Competition Age Division is older than that of the contestant.
In the event that the Contest Director disallows a proxy entry, this decision may be protested to the Contest Jury under the provisions of Rule 12. If the Contest Jury rules against the contestant, the decision may be appealed to the NAR Contest Board. In this instance, the contestant shall be allowed to fly, pending the decision of the NAR Contest Board; but his/her flight records shall be kept separate and shall not be considered official until the NAR Contest Board rules in favor of the contestant, if it so rules.
Two or more NAR members may enter competition as a team. Teams must be registered with the NAR Contest Board each year. Team renewals are due July 1 of each Contest Year. Membership of a team cannot be changed during the Contest Year. Such a change must be registered as a different team. Teams shall compete for competition points in a separate Team Division. One or more members of the team shall prepare entries for flight, except if they are to be proxy-flown under the provisions of Rule 8.4. Entry blanks shall carry the number of the team, with all individual team membersí names and license numbers listed. All points earned and records established are credited to the team. Points earned in team competition are not entered in the individualís record of contest points, and may be used only for the team. No NAR member may enter a meet as both an individual and as a team member, and no NAR member may enter a meet as a member of more than one team; however, neither of these restrictions shall apply at Record Trials.
Where a group of NAR members enter competition as a chartered NAR section, all members of the group shall be bona fide members in good standing of that section, as indicated by the section number on their NAR membership card. Entry blanks shall carry the name of the section to which the memberís points are to be credited. An NAR member or team may not enter competition as a member of more than one section during the course of a single Contest Year unless such a change is applied for and approved by the NAR Contest Board; however, any NAR member or team may enter a competition as an Independent competitor regardless of actual section affiliation.
No contestant may fly model rockets while under the influence of intoxicants. Anyone so caught will not be permitted to fly and may be expelled from the meet under the provisions of Rule 11.4.
9.1 Total Impulse Limit
No entry in sanctioned competition shall be powered by a motor or combination of motors with total impulse greater than 160.00 Newton-seconds.
9.2 Ejected Motors
No entry in sanctioned competition shall eject its motor or motors in flight in such a manner that the spent motor casing or casings fall freely apart from the model. Ejected motor casings must descend with an attached and fully deployed streamer or parachute. The streamer area must be no less than 10 square centimeters for each gram of jettisoned mass; the parachute area must be no less than 5 square centimeters per gram of jettisoned mass. See Rule 9.10.
9.3 Flight Characteristics
During the powered phase of flight, spinning of the entry is permitted only around the roll axis. Entries which spin or loop around the pitch axis or yaw axis under power shall be disqualified.
9.4 NAR Number
Each entry shall carry, legibly displayed upon its exterior surface as the model rocket appears in flight readiness, the contestantís name or NAR license number. In the case of a team entry, the entry shall carry the team name or number.
9.5 Safety Check
Each entry shall pass a safety inspection given by the Safety Check Officer before each flight to ascertain that it meets the standards of this Sporting Code, and that it will be reasonably safe in its operation, in accordance with Rule 5.3. This inspection shall include any launching device and auxiliary equipment provided by the contestant to assist the launch.
The pre-flight safety inspection shall include a visual check of the markings on the motor(s) for proper impulse and delay. At the request of the contestant, the motor inspection may be postponed until after the flight. However, if it is postponed, the part of the model containing the motor must be returned and the motor class determined by visual inspection. Rule 10.4 shall not apply and if the motor type can not be determined, then the flight is not official.
9.6 Minimum Entries
At least two official entries in an event must be passed by the Safety Check Officer and must attempt to make official flights before points can be awarded in the event. This applies also where an event is flown in competition divisions; i.e., two entries for each division. If an event must be flown in combined competition divisions because of insufficient entries, only adjacently entered divisions may have their flight records combined. For this purpose, a Team shall compete in the division of its oldest member.
9.7 Substitution of Models
Substitution of models between official flights of an event is allowed, unless disallowed by the rules for a specific event. When the rules for a specific event disallow substitution between official flights, only recovery devices and minor lost or damaged parts necessary to make the model flight worthy may be changed for subsequent flights. In these circumstances, a replacement for a minor lost or damaged part shall be identical to the part that it replaces.
9.8 Simultaneous Events
Two or more competition events may not be flown simultaneously by the same model rocket on the same flight.
The RSO or his/her deputy shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that each contestant has completely constructed the model rocket(s) he/she uses in competition. Model rockets not requiring construction shall be excluded from competition. Materials and design may be obtained from any source, including kits.
The Contest Director or any of his/her appointed officials has the authority to require that any model having made an official flight be returned and impounded for a reasonable length of time for inspection if there is serious question regarding the adherence of the model to the Sporting Code. This must be stated during or immediately after the flight in question. When the model or part cannot be returned to the officials within a reasonable time, the officials may disqualify that flight.
9.11 Gross Launching Mass
All entries in model rocket competition shall not exceed a maximum GLM of 1,500 grams. Booster stage, single stage, and upper stage motors may be used in locations other than their primary intended stage.
9.12 Radio Control
Frequency control regulations must be obeyed if implemented on the flying site. Any contestant failing to do so will be considered in violation of safety rules under Rule 11.4 and may be disqualified from the event or meet. Radio Control safety is part of the Range Safety Officerís responsibility. Radio Control of a model is not considered human intervention with regard to catching or cushioning of any model required to land naturally. Unless otherwise specified by the rules of that event, any model may be radio controlled. The contest director can prohibit the use of Radio Control in any event or for the entire meet, by so stating on the sanction form for the meet, and in all appropriate meet literature. Models that are to be radio controlled must be controlled or guided by the builder or a builder of the model.
Time and weather permitting, each contestant shall be given an opportunity to make no more than two official flights in each competition event unless otherwise specified in the rules for a specific event. This limitation shall not apply at Record Trials. Unless otherwise specified in the rules for a specific event, a contestant in a duration event shall receive as his/her official score, the sum of the durations achieved by the contestant on all official flights.
It is suggested that the Contest Director carefully consider constraints imposed by the time and weather when deciding on the number of flights that is to be allowed each contestant in an event, since in many events a contestant who cannot make both flights will be at a severe disadvantage. In such cases, it is preferable to limit contestants to one flight in one or more events than to impose a hardship on contestants who could not make both flights due to lack of time or inclement weather. If such a limitation is necessary, it should be announced prior to any official flight by any contestant in the event being so limited. In circumstances where it is necessary to enact such a limitation after official flights have been made in an event, i.e., a sudden weather change, all contestants, regardless of how many official flights they have already made shall be bound by the new limits. In these circumstances, the Contest Director shall select for consideration only those flights of a contestant that would be qualified under the new limitation, and shall then choose the best of the selected flights as the official flight of that contestant in that event.
For example, if the Parachute Duration event must unexpectedly be limited to one flight per contestant, and a contestant has already made two flights, the Contest Director must first select only the flights that were returned, (since in single-flight Parachute Duration, the flight must be returned); if both flights were returned, the Contest Director shall select the better of the two flights as the official flight of the contestant.
At the discretion of the Contest Director, any NAR member or Team may be allowed to attempt to set or surpass a United States Model Rocket Performance Record in any class of any event allowed in Rule 17.2, whether or not the event is listed on the sanction application for the meet. (See Rule 6.3.6.)
A flight is official if any part of the model leaves the launcher; except in the case of a catastrophic failure according to the provisions of Rule 11.5, in which case the flight is not considered to be official. All models that do not leave the launcher subsequent to motor ignition shall not be considered as having made an official flight unless they are disqualified by the RSO for safety reasons. If the power pod or motor of a Boost Glider model disengages and proceeds into the air under power without the glider portion, the attempt shall be considered a disqualified official flight. A model that does not ignite enough motors to be in the proper total impulse class as per Rule 4.6 shall not be considered as having made an official flight unless its flight is disqualified for other reasons.
When the return of a model is required, and the contestant cannot return his/her model, but can point out (to a qualified official) the model, visible in an inaccessible place such as a tree, power line, lake, or rooftop where recovery would pose a personal hazard to the contestant, the Contest Jury has the option of scoring the model as having been returned. The Range Safety Officer, the Contest Director, members of the Contest Jury, or Timers or Trackers assigned to follow the contestantís model are qualified officials for the purposes of this rule. The Contest Director shall state prior to the start of competition what distance limits such officials may travel to act as observers under this rule. This rule may be superseded by the rules of a specific event.
It is the responsibility of the contestant to ensure that the officials have noted on the entry card that the model has been returned, where it is so required.
The Contest Jury and/or the Range Safety Officer or his/her deputies may disqualify any entry that in their opinion did not comply with the competition rules or which in their opinion was not reasonably safe in operation.
An entry may by reason of flight characteristics be disqualified for that flight, but it is not necessarily disqualified for the entire event.
For the purposes of events in which a total score is computed from the sum of the performances of two or more flights, a disqualification shall result in a score of zero for that flight. This rule may be superseded by the rules of a specific event. A disqualified flight may not be considered as a return in any event where at least one return is required. If a contestant flying in an event requiring at least one returned flight has one disqualified flight and another not returned, the contestant shall receive only flight points for the event.
The Contest Director may disqualify any contestant from an event or from the entire meet on the grounds of failure to practice or observe reasonable safety measures, published or otherwise; for poor sportsmanship; for failure to abide by the orders of the Range Safety Officer or his/her deputies; whose ability to safely fly model rockets is, in the opinion of the Contest Director or Range Safety Officer, impaired by alcohol, drugs, or condition; or for misconduct in general.
A model rocket experiencing a catastrophic failure shall not be given a disqualification. The flight may or may not be considered as an official flight, only if in the opinion of the Range Safety Officer the model performed a safe and stable flight, and at least nominally complied with the competition rules (e.g., a glider glided). The contestant shall in this situation have the option of having such a flight ruled as either official or unofficial. If the model did not meet these requirements, then it shall be ruled an unofficial flight.
When he has the option, the contestant shall inform the applicable Contest Official of his/her decision to accept or reject the flight as an official flight as soon as possible; but in any case, prior to any subsequent flight by the contestant in that event. The contestant shall be permitted to substitute another model; in the case of craftsmanship events, or other events as specified, an identical model must be substituted, although it does not have to exhibit the of craftsmanship and detail of the original.
Performance data on an entry that has been disqualified during or after its flight shall be recorded, even though the flight may not at that time be considered official, in case of later reversal of the disqualification ruling.
A broken shock cord shall not cause a disqualification of the entryís flight unless a part of the entry falls to the ground and lands in a manner that the Range Safety Officer considers hazardous. This rule may be superseded by the rules for a specific event.
Disqualifications for static conditions are not permitted. In this case the modeler shall be instructed to correct the condition prior to the official flight. If the contest officials do not discover a condition until during or after the flight has been made, such as flying with the wrong motor type, the flight will not be considered official. Ex post facto disqualifications are prohibited.
Models whose flights are safe, but do not recover in the manner they were designed to (refer to Rule 15.3), are not necessarily disqualified. If the recovery problem was of a safe nature which did not tend to give the model a performance advantage contrary to the event and the model still performs the basic requirement of the event, the flight is qualified. For example, parachute duration models whose chute does not deploy, a glider with a streamer hung onto it (while still gliding stably), or a helicopter model which flips multiple times (while primarily autorotating about the vertical axis) are penalizing their flight performances.
Unless specifically allowed by the rules of that event, no timed entry may separate into two or more unattached parts, or eject its motor.
The recovery system of any duration model need not deploy fully and correctly, as long as the model descends in a safe manner and the recovery system action remains within the requirements of the particular event.
Unless otherwise specified by the rules of the event, the contestant must return his entry to the officials after at least one of his/her qualified flights, except as specified by Rule 10.4. Contestants failing to satisfy this requirement cannot place in an event, but shall receive flight points, except in an event where the score is the sum of several factors, in which case the flight shall be scored as having a duration of zero.
Any duration event listing a multi-round maximum may be flown as a multi-round event. This must be indicated on the contest sanction. The weighting factor for the event shall be increased by 4 (four) in this case.
Each contestant is initially allowed three official flights in a multi-round event. The Contest Director may designate that each flight must be flown in the time interval (round) designated by the Contest Director. Any model not flown in its designated round shall receive a zero score.
A contestant may enter no more than two models in a multi-round event for the purpose of making all official flights, including any necessary additional flights, except as stated in Rule 11.5.
The name or NAR number required to be on the model by Rule 9.4 shall be judged for craftsmanship along with the model.
Models shall be judged for points in flight condition, with the exception that motor(s) and recovery system need not be present. Any clear plastic fins, launching lugs and fittings, and other exterior flight items must be attached to the model during judging. Pop lugs are considered part of the launcher, not of the model. Nothing may be added to the model, or taken off the exterior of the model, between judging and flight, except the motor(s) and recovery system(s). If unusual launching or recovery devices are to be used it should be so noted in the data presented.
Any damage to an entry while it is in the custody of the judges or meet officials shall not be held against the contestant, and the contestant shall have the opportunity to repair the model without penalty.
For any model being judged for damage, no human intervention (e.g., catching the model or cushioning its landing) shall be allowed between launch and touchdown. However, with the exception of the egg lofting events, contestants may choose to catch their models. In this case, models that are caught shall be judged as if they had sustained maximum damage on landing, but shall not be disqualified. Any egg lofter that is caught or cushioned shall be disqualified. If the intervention was accidental and/or inadvertent, in the opinion of the Range Safety Officer, the flight may be judged as having sustained maximum damage points or an unofficial flight, at the option of the contestant for all events except egg lofting which shall be an unofficial flight. The contestant shall inform the applicable Contest Official of his/her decision to accept or reject the flight as an official flight as soon as possible; but in any case, prior to any subsequent flight by the contestant in the event.
Any model being judged for damage that cannot be returned to the Judges shall be judged as if it had sustained maximum damage on landing, but shall not be disqualified, except as per Rule 9.10. Rule 10.4 shall not apply.