Here is how the National Match course of fire works:
1) 200 yards -- Standing -- 12 rounds in 12 minutes, the first two rounds being sighters.
Standing, or "offhand" position is the first of two "slow fire" stages in the National Match course. "Slow fire" generally means one round per minute. The first two rounds are sighters, and the following ten rounds will count for your score.
2) 200 yards -- Sitting or kneeling from standing, rapid fire -- Two sighters (slow fire) followed by ten rounds for record in 60 seconds.
This is the first of two rapid fire stages, although the first two rounds are sighters, which are always slow fire. At the end of your two minute sighter period you will have time to make your final preparations for your record shots.
Note: There are two groups who sanction high power shooting in the US--the NRA and the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). For the most part, their rules are similar, if not actually identical, but the NRA has changed the way it conducts rapid fire stages. Namely, for NRA matches you DO NOT have to stand up, as described below. This holds true for most of our high power matches, which are conducted under NRA rules, but the Garand matches are conducted under CMP rules.
You start out standing on your feet; the targets are in the pits, out of view. You will load your rifle on command, and then, when everyone is ready, the targets will appear out of the pits. That is your signal to get into position (sitting or kneeling at your option) and begin firing. You will have 60 seconds from the time the targets appear to get all ten of your shots off. You must reload once during the string. If you have a rifle or ammunition malfunction you may be granted an "alibi" where you may refire the string. This is important for safety reasons, because if the round in your chamber doesn't go off, you need to let it sit there for 15 seconds or so just to be safe.
3) 300 yards -- Prone from standing, rapid fire -- Two sighters followed by 10 rounds for record in 70 seconds.
This stage is run the same as for the 200 yard rapid stage, except that the shooting position is prone, and you have 70 seconds rather than 60.
4) 300 yards -- Prone slow fire -- Two sighters followed by 20 rounds for record in 22 minutes.
As with your offhand stage, you don't take a break after your sighters; just keep on shooting. On a full-distance range this stage would be fired at 600 yards, but we have to shoot it on reduced targets at 300.
The JC Garand B course of fire is just like the National Match course, except that it's fired in reverse order and there are no sighters except for five fired just before your opening prone slow fire stage.