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5 Common Mistakes New Competitive Shooters Make

Dagny's Desk

Here’s how to avoid the Tactical Blunder!

You’ve watched the videos, read the blogs and even went to and checked out some local matches. This is it! You’ve decided to take the plunge into a different kind of shooting!

Welcome to the great arena of Competitive Shooting. Everyone has to start out some where, and this is the place. Don’t worry. Being the new guy has its perks too. Everyone is a little more lenient on the new guy for the first match or so. You are learning after all, and helping to show you the mistakes you are making will help both you and everyone else have an enjoyable day.

Having said that, mistakes do happen. Everyone makes them. New guys, old guys, professional guys and the super tactical guy down the street. Mistakes are common. It’s what you do with the lesson from the mistake that sets you apart.

The key to a mistake? Learn from it and move forward.

Here are five common mistakes that most people new to competition shooting make. I, myself have even done these at one time or another so no one is perfect.

Mom said to play by the rules

No matter which sport you choose to play in, knowing the rules to play by helps. Take some time to go to the governing body of the sport (for example, for IDPA you can look at and read through the rulebook a few times. It will be confusing, hard to read and dry, but it will give you an idea of how the game is played. Some local club matches may make slight modifications, but most all groups will follow them. Bring questions you have to your match and ask them. There will be plenty of people who will be willing to answer them.

Image Via: Flickr user db1911
Image Via: Flickr user db1911

Have the right/any equipment

Make sure to bring all the equipment you will need to participate. Holsters, mags, guns, ammo, safety gear, etc. Nothing can cut your day short by not having any of the gear you need for the particular game.

While most shooters are nice enough to help you and let you borrow what you need, you should of course have all your own gear.

More from Wide Open Spaces:

Which Practical Shooting Sport is Right for You?

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Competition 101: The 3-Gun Shotgun [VIDEO]

Not following the safety rules

It’s surprising how often this happens. We all love to show off our guns, that’s part of being a gun owner. However, there are safe areas set up for that.

Pulling your gun out and whipping it around while behind the line and behind 20 other people can make them a little nervous. Okay, a LOT nervous. Know what the safety rules for the range you are shooting at that day.


Overloaded/Underloaded mags

This is one of the easiest mistakes to make and we have all made it at one time or another. Each practical shooting sport has a rule that determines the maximum number of rounds a competitor may have with them and might also determine the configuration of said ammo. Stages themselves may even have farther limits on amounts. Make sure to pay attention to these so you don’t over load or under load your mags. This might even end up in a disqualification if your not careful for cheating.

Not setting a basic plan

We all need a plan. And we all need to mess up that plan. But failing to plan, plans to fail. Now that all those cliche’s are over with, one mistake a new shooters makes is not setting a basic plan and sticking with it. In steel for example, they will fixate on the target and run a mag dry before just taking the penalty for a miss. Setting a plan helps to decide what is acceptable to move on with. It also helps to shave time off and save ammo. Setting a plan early and sticking to it will save you heartache down the line.

As you can see, most of the common mistakes people make are simple to fix. For your next match, keep these in the back of your mind and try not to make them and you will look like you have been doing this for a long time.

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5 Common Mistakes New Competitive Shooters Make