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NRA First Steps vs BSA Rifle and Shotgun Merit Badges

How does the NRA First Steps for Rifle Shooting differ from BSA Rife Merit Badge?
If a Scout has the BSA Rifle Merit Badge, will it count for NRA First Steps in requirement 1A1 Sea Scout Marksmanship?

As an SM who also is qualified for teaching Rifle, Shotgun, and Range Safety Officer (RSO) I would answer “most likely.” When I was taught the NRA courses by a scouter with scouters we were highly encouraged to use teach the course as the curriculum for the MBs. Further the courses are a three hour introduction to teach safety and basic handling.

Honestly, assuming the scout actually earned the MB, I see now point in sitting a scout through a three hour course covering the very thing the MB should have covered.

Now for the disclaimer. First - I am only willing to serve as an RSO for a range where we have a safety briefing every time. My troop has shot morning and afternoon. And we had a safety briefing twice that day. Also, I (or someone I know) reviews every shooter to ensure they have the basics of the firearm at hand.

At ranges I am a part of, we always work to improve marksmanship skills even when not trying to earn a badge. We have shot rifles at things other than paper targets and it is more fun when hitting said target is more than chance. I believe in fun (with safety always in mind).

Currently to meet BSA stated qualifications to be a MB counselor one must be an NRA Instructor in the discipline (for rifle and shotgun). I fell in love with shooting at summer camp. Last night was a high when one of my parents asked advice about getting his son a rifle for his birthday. I feel that I have passed the joy on.


Thank you for responding. I have not gotten a response from anyone at Sea Scouts on this.

In the end someone will have to sign off on the requirements. Knowing very little about how that works in that program the best advice I can give is for the scout to find someone who is qualified about his/her situation.

Given the requirement and other BSA stuff on shooting sports it probably needs to be a registered leader with the NRA credentials for that area. I obviously can’t speak for all, but most people I know who shoot love to share the hobby. And most of us focus on positive experiences that can lead to success.

At any rate, any MB Counselor for either Rifle Shooting, or Shotgun Shooting can give the class and likely is glad to work with your Scout.

From: Chuck Holden <
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:22 AM
To: Tyler Holcom <)>
Subject: Re: FW: gun question

Great question! It depends on the person who is signing the Sea Scout off on the requirement. The information is basically the same for both and if the Sea Scout has had earned the merit badge fairly recently, usually that will do it. The important thing is the attitude of the person signing off.

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Don’tknow about Sea Scouts but with most of the NRA classes (including first steps) you get a certificate at the end. The curriculum looks similar and you have to be an NRA certified instructor to teach Rifle Shooting so I would expect that the same instructor could teach both with little (if any) new material covered and issue the certificate. Does that cover the Sea Scout requirement?

Yes. If a scout has already earned the shooting merit badges then the First Steps requirements would be a repeat of the same information (needed for the Basic Marksmanship). The Sea Scout would be ready for the Intermediate Marksmanship.

When I took the course to become an instructor it was with other scouters and our instructor was a scouter. We were encouraged to use the NRA curriculum. Having said that, the certificate for First Steps is only packaged with the book at a cost of $12.50. If any of my scouts need one, I would purchase it for them.

Since I looked though I will have to double check and consider starting to issue the “Basic Course” completion certificates which again should cover First Steps.

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