What You Need to Know About Competitive Shooting

An in-depth guide on competitive shooting and what you nee to know before atarting out. What You Need to Know About Competitive Shooting thegearhunt.com

Winter is settling in and everyone’s thoughts are turning to what they can do to keep active and still have fun over the long winter months ahead. In the summer, it’s super easy to find things to keep you busy and to keep you from piling up in front of the TV and vegging out. In the winter, hmmm, not so much. For those of us, that like to stay active, even in the dead of winter, competitive shooting might just be the thing to get into. Who would have thought that competitive shooting would be something that would keep you busy, right? Target-Practice

As a matter of fact, competitive shooting has become extremely popular in many walks of life over the last couple of decades. Not only is it a great way to stay active during the winter months, but it’s also the perfect way for gun enthusiasts of every level to practice their shooting, hone their shooting skills, and to learn new techniques as well. It’s also interesting to note that there are three forms of competitive shooting that are extremely popular, these are the International Defensive Pistol Association, also known as IDPA, the United States Practical Shooting Association, also known as the USPSA, and last but not least, the Steel Challenge.  Of course, you can’t just walk into a competitive shooting match, and say, “Hey, I want to do this.” There are things you have to do and things you need to know first. Starting something new can be super intimidating, so we are here to help you get started in competitive shooting and give you a little bit of what you need to know to have fun along the way.

What many people don’t realize is that competitive shooting can not only be fun, but you can get fame and funds out of it as well. Many gun enthusiasts don’t get into competitive shooting just because they are afraid it will cost them to much, or they feel they need to practice more first, or their aim just isn’t good enough. Don’t let any of that stop you. There are shooting competitions that fit any budget, whether it’s shoestring or unlimited and remember practice makes perfect and your aim improves with practice.

So, you’re ready to join the world of competitive shooting? Let’s dig into that world and determine what you need to get started, shall we?

The Pros and Cons of Competitive Shooting

There are many concerns about The first thing we need to delve into is the pros and cons of competitive shooting, so we get any of your concerns about competitive shooting out of the way. Read on below for the pros and cons to be listed.

  • It helps you practice
  • It improves your aim
  • Many people confuse competitive shooting with self-defense training
  • Some people frown on guns and anything to do with competitive shooting

Now, that we have a few of the most common pros and cons out of the way, let’s move into the meat of our article with a few things that you need to know about competitive shooting before you get started, as a new shooter.

Things You Need to Know About Competitive Shooting

Many new shooters come into competitions thinking they know exactly what it’s about and what is going to happen. In this blog, we are going to throw out of that out the window and tell you what you need to know before you start competitive shooting. Ready! Set! Go!

Never Make Assumptions Before Your First Match

You would be surprised at how many shooters come to watch their first match and have misconceptions about everything from what happens to what gear they need to participate in their chosen sport. Remember, there is more than one kind of competitive shooting, and just because you have competed in one of them, doesn’t mean you know the rules for them all. The best advice is to read the rulebook for the sport you are choosing to compete in and then watch and learn at the match you are watching.

You Don’t Have to be a Great Shooter (Or Even a Good One)

Although it is highly possible, that as a new shooter you will have to undergo a group session or even new shooter classes, before being allowed to compete, you don’t have to be a great or even a good shooter to compete. There is no predetermined skill level that has to be met before you can join a competitive shooting sport. In most cases, you will be put with a group that has the same skill level that you do and you can rise through the levels as your shooting improves. So, don’t think you can’t sign up for competitive shooting, just because you don’t have great aim. We were all beginners at one time after all!


Start Training as Soon as Possible

While you don’t have to be an awesome shot, it is important to get training sooner than later, just like with anything you do, you have to learn to be perfect!

Watch a Match Before You Buy Your Gear

One of the biggest mistakes that beginning competitive shooters make is going out and buying all of the gear they think they need before watching their first match. This is a huge mistake and should be avoided. Most often, the gear and guns you buy are not even remotely what you need to get join that particular sport. Instead, make sure that you watch a match and talk to people who are already shooting. They should be able to tell you exactly what you need. If not, you will be wasting your money and just have to go out and repurchase everything needed.

Don’t Go Into Your First Match Expecting to Win

It’s important to note that just because you outshoot your friends at your local range, doesn’t mean that you are going to win your first match. As a matter of fact, you probably won’t win your first match and may even place much further down on the list that you are comfortable with. Many shooters who do this, give up and don’t come back, don’t let that be you! Instead, take the experience as a challenge and practice, come back to matches, and get better, so your name will be at the top of the leaderboard in time.

You Will Always be Nervous Before a Match

Another thing that it’s important to note is that even the top shooters in the world get nervous before a match. The nerves are always going to be there, but if you think of them as a rush, instead of a bad thing, you should be fine. As with not winning their first match, many shooters never return if they are scared before every match. Again, don’t let that be you! Get out there and own your nerves, so you can shoot and have fun doing what you love.

If You Need Help, Ask for it!

Most people in shooting communities are very nice and try to be extremely helpful. Remember, you aren’t going to go into a match or even competitive shooting itself, knowing everything you need to know. If you have questions, ask! Someone will be willing to help you and you can’t learn if you don’t know.

Now, that we know a few things we didn’t know about the world of competitive shooting, let’s look at some tips to get you started, why don’t we.

Tips for Getting Started in Competitive Shooting

Most of us grew up shooting with our dads, and many times, our moms as well, whether it was in the woods or on the range. But, not all of us have been in the world of competitive shooting, so let’s look at some tips to get you started.

Just Go For It!

The biggest and most important thing you can do is just jump right in and start your journey into competitive shooting. Don’t be intimidated by the members of shooting communities, because they are usually very low-key and easy to get along with. While you do need some gun training, and, of course, to be a shooting enthusiast, the rest is just simply signing up and getting it done.


Choose Your Sport

Once you have finally decided to take the plunge, you need to choose your sport. If you are a beginner, you might not realize that there are different types of events that are in every shooting competition. If you have a particular skill set that you are good at, then that might be the event you want to choose as your sport, or you might want to branch out a bit and learn another. The choice is yours!

Dress for Success

These competitions can last for quite a while, so it’s important that you come prepared. Comfortable shoes, clothing, and other gear are just as important, as the gear, you’ll use when you start to compete. Most events insist that you use eye and ear protection, so make sure you bring that along. Other things to consider are sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, gloves, snacks, and water. It is a personal preference, as to what you bring.

Safety Tips for Competitive Shooting

No matter how fun or how prepared or even how trained, you are in the competitive shooting world, a firearm is still a firearm and therefore dangerous. So, here are a few safety tips to help you stay safe and to keep those around you safe as well.

Know what is Beyond Your Target

Of course, you already know that you need to know where your target is before you suit, but you also need to be aware of what is beyond your target as well. No matter where you are, you need to know that if you miss the target or the bullet goes through the target, no one is behind it that can get hurt. Always, always know what is beyond your target, before you fire.

Know Your Gun

No matter how long you have been shooting, when you get a new gun, you need to know it up and down before you fire it. Read the owner’s manual and make sure it fires correctly and that you know the in’s and outs of that particular gun before you head to a competition.

Eye and Ear Protection Required

Gun discharges can emit things that could harm your eyes and a gunshot is super loud. That is why if you notice, many older shooters at the range, talk really loudly. That is because they didn’t wear ear protection. Gunshots can be damaging to your eardrums and you don’t realize it until later in life. Always, always wear eye and ear protection, whether you are at a competition, at the range, or in the woods behind your home.

There are also three big rules that you can find in any range, at any shooting competition, and in any gun store. They are listed below.

  • Always point the gun in a safe direction
  • Do not touch the trigger until it is time to fire
  • Keep your gun unloaded until it is time to use it

These are hard and fast rules for any shooting and especially in competitive shooting, remember them and you will be fine.

Never Use a Gun While Intoxicated

While you would never be allowed into a competition if you were intoxicated, this still bears mentioning, just because it is so important. Never, ever use a gun while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. No questions asked! No exceptions! Just don’t!

It is the responsibility of every gun owner to follow the safety rules when using a gun, no matter what your skill level is with shooting or your age.

These are a few of the things that you need to know about the world of competitive shooting. Get out there and get started, but remember to be safe! Happy shooting everyone!


  1. Shooting Performance: 9 Things New Shooters Need to Know About Competition
  2. Triangle Tactical: How to get Started in Competitive Shooting
  3. NRA Family: 8 Gun Safety Rules You Might Not Have Heard Of