How to Get Started in Competitive Shooting
Many individuals young and old talk about becoming involved with competitive and precision shooting, but never push themselves to actually go and do it. Some are intimidated by the concept of “competition,” others fall into a slump of going to the range, wishing they were competing, but lack the motivation, and others simply don’t know where to start. The best way to get involved is to just go. Make mistakes, sign up for practices and events, and keep at it! And don’t be intimidated by the prospect of shooting competitively–competition shooters are not all professionals, but of all skill levels! Here are 5 steps to get you into a competition and having fun:
1- Join a Club
Joining a local club with competitions you’re interested in is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of competitive and precision shooting. Several clubs offer free membership, though some come with monthly rates. Try finding a club that has its own range where you can go to practice sessions to learn from other members. By joining a club, you can make new friends and possibly find a seasoned shooter to mentor you and teach you about the rules and useful gear for the events you want to participate in.
2- Choose a Discipline
The largest competitive shooting organizations are the NRA, IDPA, and USPSA, though there are other organizations like the popular Steel Challenge, as well as local ones. These organizations host competitions and tournaments in several disciplines, some of which include 3-Gun, Precision Pistol, and various skeet and bullseye shooting competitions. You need to decide if you’re interested in hunting challenges, or more tactical events, and if you prefer rifle, shotgun, pistol, or varied events. It’s best to pick a basic discipline with minimal barriers to entry such as bullseye to start in order to save money on extra gear, then move into more involved events if you choose.
3- Watch a Match
Once you’ve chosen a club and starting event to specialize in, it’s time to check out some practice sessions and matches in order to get a feel for the club, the rules, and process of competition shooting. From here, you can ask other members to find out what kinds of firearms and gear they prefer for the competition, and what suggestions they might have for a novice in your event. Knowing the guidelines and gear will help you to be as prepared as possible for when you finally join a match.
4- Purchase General Equipment
The very first equipment you need to have besides a firearm is eye and ear protection. These are musts! Any grade safety glasses will do, and cheap ear plugs work just fine, but you absolutely cannot go without them. Next you need to purchase decent ammo and test several for accuracy, picking the ammo you’re most comfortable shooting with. If your competition allows it and it’s necessary, purchase a scope or other accessories for the grip and stock for stability and comfort. To maintain your accuracy over the course of a competition, you can also invest in a barrel cooler like the Original Barrel Cooler from Area1Sports. A hot barrel in a competition can seriously diminish your chances of firing a tight group after only 3 shots. With a product like the Original Barrel Cooler, you can cut your wait time by up to 60% and continue making quality shots, knowing that any inaccuracy is due to another factor.
5- Join the competition!
The last thing you need to do is enter the competition of your choice and have fun! Follow the rules, give it your best shot, learn from your mistakes, and come back for more and continue growing in skill and proficiency in your chosen firearm and event.