How to Get Started in Model Rocketry

Choose the Right Skill Level

You’ll find a Skill Level number assigned to every kit on This number tells you how much previous model rocketry experience is recommended in order to build and fly the kit successfully.
Beginners should choose Skill Level 1 rockets. Skill Level 2 kits are for experienced modelers. Advanced rocket fliers will find Skill Level 3 kits an exciting test of their abilities, while Skill Level 4 kits are recommended only for expert rocketeer's.
Once you’ve mastered a particular skill level, you’re ready to move on to the next one.
Starter Set
Begin With a Starter Set

If you’ve never launched a model rocket before, choose a starter set. These usually include your rocket, parachute, reusable launch pad and electronic launch controller, rocket engines with igniters, and recovery wadding. The only additional purchases you’re likely to need for your first rocket flights are glue and batteries.
Engines and wadding can be used only once, but your rocket can be flown repeatedly. Each rocket kit includes a list of recommended engines to guide you when buying additional engines.

Rocket Launch
Find an Appropriate Launching Site
When launched, a model rocket accelerates to speeds of several hundred miles per hour. It can fly from several hundred feet to more than 1,000 feet high. Therefore, you need a clear, unobstructed site to launch your models.
Ask the staff at your local hobby shop or park department if your area has an official model rocket flying field. If not, look for a location that’s free from trees, power lines, dry brush and grass, traffic and buildings. How large should your flying site be? That varies, depending on the size of engine you use. Refer to the National Association of Rocketry’s launch site dimensions chart for recommended launch site dimensions. A football field may work, but always obtain permission before using any area as a flying site.
When is the best time to launch your rocket? Early morning or early evening are usually best, because there’s little wind. Do not launch your model rocket if the wind speed exceeds 10 mph.