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How to Get Involved in Competitive Shooting

Everyone has to get a start somewhere. Here’s how to get into competitive shooting.

It’s a long-held belief that competitive shooting is a sport limited to professional shooters. Novice gun enthusiasts will sit on the sidelines, reading forums for news about different events, never to join in because they suspect a higher level of marksmanship is required. Rest assured, that’s not the case. Here are a few tips on how to get involved in competitive shooting.

Why Shoot Competitively?

Competitive shooting can be an excellent outlet to test your abilities on the range. As long as you’re capable of holding a firearm and using it safely, you’re able to join in competitive shooting matches. Shooters can be any age, gender and skill level.

Many competitions require your own firearms, but some allow you to borrow from other competitors or rent from a shop. For a novice just getting started, finding a club is the first step.

Join a Club

Man shooting on an outdoor shooting range, selective focus

Clubs are essential in preparing for competitions. They’re a great place to gain knowledge from fellow members. Clubs don’t just offer the opportunity to practice shooting, they can be the fastest path to bettering your marksmanship.

There are few key things you want to look at when joining a local club, starting with the monthly dues. Many organizations are free and pay for their range upkeep through the volunteering of members and competition fees.

You’ll also want to know if they own or grant access to a range. Without somewhere to shoot, you’ll never better your skills for competition. They don’t need to own one necessarily, but a good club will have made arrangements with land or range owners to get their members trigger time.

Lastly, what type of shooting do they specialize in. Is it a club dedicated to shotguns because the members enjoy bird hunting? Is it a more tactical group, made up mostly of veterans and law enforcement officers? As long as the club can meet your goals, go for it.

Major Events

Competitive shooting is broken down into a series of events that individuals can specialize in. No one is limited to a single event, but many shooters will take preference to a specific type.

3-Gun is a fast-paced sport that involves, you guessed it, three guns. Competitors will use a shotgun, handgun and an AR-15 to complete a series of timed stages that include obstacles, various firing positions and differing ranges.

Mature man aiming with gun at combat training

10M Air Rifle has the widest range of skill levels. From children learning to target shoot with BB guns to Olympians competing with the most specialized rifles on the market.

Competitors will use pneumatic, pump-action rifles, or their CO2 brethren, to fire a series of pellets at a single target. Standing is the only authorized position and points are tracked by location on the target. Only a certain amount of time is allotted per series, requiring competitors to be accurate but fast.

Precision Pistol matches initially started as a police shooting program but quickly evolved into a popular competition. Individuals fire handguns at fixed distances under a time limit. Because of a sustained fire stage, handguns must be capable of holding at least five rounds.

There are dozens of other competitions, limited only by the imagination of the group hosting. These can include Cowboy Action Shooting, the Steel Challenge, Fast Draw and Bowling Pin. Professionals and Olympians prepare for these competitions by mastering the four fundamentals of marksmanship: body position, breathing, sight picture and trigger squeeze.

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How to Get Involved in Competitive Shooting