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TCC Competition Primer:  USMRSC Rule 53, Sport Scale (SPSC)


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This primer presents, in one place, all the information you need to succeed in NAR model rocket competition in this event.

TCC has provided a link to the official rules whenever we discuss a rule.


All Entries

Your entry must:

* Comply with the NAR Model Rocket Safety Code: USMRSC 2.2

* Be a model rocket as described by the United States Model Rocket Sporting Code. USMRSC 3.1-3.9

* Use NAR Contest Approved motors: USMRSC 4.1, 4.4

* NOT eject its motor casing(s) without a recovery system. USMRSC 9.2

* Have your NAR number or your name on the outside, large and clear enough that the contest officials can easily read it. Teams must use the Team number or name. USMRSC 9.4

* Have been constructed by yourself or by one or more members of your Team. You may not enter Ready-To-Fly rockets (no construction required) in NAR sanctioned competition. USMRSC 9.9


Know the rules

Your having a grasp of the bigger picture can increase your enjoyment of NAR competition. You can read the Pink Book Lite to see only the rules for competitors, not for Contest Directors or other contest officials. Read the full USMRSC (Pink Book) to see all the rules.

* Pink Book Lite:

* Full USMRSC:


General Competition Tips:

TCC NAR Competition 101

TCC NAR Competition Strategy and Tactics

Contest Etiquette by Kevin Paul Wickart, NAR 59720, cr 1998, the author

Beginning Competition -- The RSVP Principle by Kevin Paul Wickart, NAR 59720, cr 1998, the author

Guide to NAR Contest Rocketry Information for Beginners by Jeff Vincent, NAR 27910, Northeast Regional Contest Chair


Which are the Main USMRSC Rules for This Event?

* The main rules are 9, 16, and 53.


Does TCC Have Supporting Documents?

TCC SPSC Judging Form and instructions with Sport Scale documentation by Peter Alway, and John Pursley.


What is the Goal?

* You want to produce a flying replica of a real rocket vehicle that exhibits maximum craftsmanship in construction, finish, and flight performance. USMRSC 53.1

* Sport Scale Competition differs from Scale Competition in that the dimensions of the model are not directly measured. USMRSC 53.1


Does it Qualify for SPSC?

* The model you choose to replicate must meet three main criteria:

1. Closely resembles an existing or historical guided missile, rocket vehicle, or space vehicle. USMRSC 53.1

2. Meet the size limits for the SPSC class being held. USMRSC 53.2

3. Sport Scale models of amateur rockets or missiles are specifically excluded from this competition, except when the prototype is of obvious historical significance.  USMRSC 53.3


Are There Any Special Considerations?

* Entries that qualify for Plastic Model Conversion Competition under Rule 55 are specifically excluded from this event. USMRSC 53.5

* You can use parts from commercial plastic kits on Sport Scale models.  However, you must point this out to the judges in you supporting documentation. USMRSC 53.5

* For maximum points, no one can catch the model. You may choose to catch the model or have someone else catch it as it descends (human intervention). If anybody catches the model as it descends instead of letting it hit the ground, the judges will award maximum damage points as a penalty. USMRSC 16.7

* If the ‘human intervention’ (see above) is accidental (in the opinion of the Range Safety Officer), you can choose to accept maximum damage points or do the flight over (unofficial flight). USMRSC 16.7

* You must supply data to substantiate your model’s adherence to scale in shape, color, and paint pattern. USMRSC 53.6

* If the prototype is staged, you can fly it single staged. That is, your model will have all the stages, but only the first stage will have a motor. USMRSC 53.7

* If you enter an upper stage by itself, you must provide documentation that the upper stage did, in fact, fly by itself. For instance the WAC Corporal is a popular single stage kit. However, the actual prototype never flew without the Tiny Tim booster and is thus not suitable for Sport Scale. USMRSC 53.7

* Rule 9.1 applies. You can use any selection and/or combination of motors that meets the requirements of rule 9.1.

9.1 Total Impulse Limit

No entry in sanctioned competition, in any event where no maximum total impulse level is stated, shall be powered by a single motor containing more than 62.5 grams of propellant, or combination of motors exceeding 125 grams of propellant in total. The maximum Total Impulse Level, in accordance with the Model Rocket Safety Code, shall not exceed 320 Newton-Seconds. The use of high-power motors in NAR Competition is expressly forbidden.


Do I Have to Return My Entry?

* You must return your entry to the judges so they can award damage points. USMRSC 16.8, 53.13.2

* The Contest Director can require that you return your entry. USMRSC 9.10


How Many Flights Can I Make?

* You can make two flights, but the judges will use only the best flight for scoring. USMRSC 10.1


How is the Competition Scored?

There are two sections for scoring:  USMRSC 53.14

* In static scoring, the judges award points for craftsmanship and appearance, taking into consideration the difficulty of converting the model to fly. USMRSC 53.12

* In flight scoring, the judges award points for conducting a ‘mission’, for achieving a safe and stable flight, and deduct points for damage (damage points) the model receives on landing. If you cannot return your model to the judges after its flight, the judge will award maximum damage points which will be subtracted from your final score. USMRSC 53.13


What Will Disqualify My Entry?

* Your entry will be disqualified if it fails to make a safe and stable flight. USMRSC 53.11


How About Some Suggestions for New Competitors?


* Build a commercial kit that was based on an existing or historical guided missile, rocket vehicle, or space vehicle.

            Aerospace Specialist Products has Saturn Press (Peter Always) kits:

            Apogee Components has some very nice Saturn kits and others:


* Use plans from Sport Rocketry (, NARTS (, or other acknowledged sources.


What Else & What Next?

Good info on building and packing competition parachutes:


TCC NAR Competition Bibliography


Yahoo group for discussing model rocket competition:


Yahoo group for discussing Scale Competition:


Use computer simulations to determine altitude and sink rate for various rocket/motor/parachute combinations.

* Free altitude simulations: 


wRASP 32 -

* Free sink rate simulation:


US Spacemodeling (International Competition Tips):


US Spacemodeling Home Page (International Competition):


George Gassaway’s Competition Tips – Take No Prisoners!


rmr Frequently Asked Questions – Part 9: Competition and Records:



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