Americans love target shooting. More than 20 million Americans participate in the sport each year. Competitive shooting starts with youth programs and extends all the way to high-stakes professional competitions.
Some people get intimidated when they look at the skill and professionalism of experienced shooters. It can feel like the gulf between two shooters’ skills will prove impossible to overcome. Don’t let that kind of thing fool you.
Whether you have years of experience hunting or target shooting or just finished purchasing your first gun, you can become a competitive shooter. Even if the best time to get started would have been 20 years ago, the second best time is now.
If you just finished firearms training and have the itch to show off, keep reading. We’ll show you how to get your start in competitive shooting and find the right path for you.
Know What You Want Out of Competitive Shooting
Becoming part of the shooting competition circuit takes time, money, and effort. While anyone can get their start in the field with only a modest investment, it can expand to take up a lot of your time and money. You’ll have a much better time with the hobby if you figure out what you want out of it.
Do you want to treat competitions as a natural extension of your usual range time? Maybe you have some free time you didn’t have before and want to get serious. You might even just want to show off for your family.
It doesn’t matter what reason you start with. You can always change how much of a commitment competition shooting requires from you. You do need to have some idea of where you want to start, though.
Don’t Get Seduced by Money
Some target shooting competitions offer cash prizes, but a lot of them give no prize but the satisfaction of a job well done. If you see competitions as a fast path to cash, you’re going to fizzle out before you develop the skills necessary to win competitions.
Remember that every other shooter out there has a reason to compete that’s every bit as compelling and sincere as yours. When you consider that your competitive shooting journey started now while some of them have been shooting for years, you can’t expect to come out and start winning prizes right away.
Above all else, when you start your journey, try to have fun and view it as a chance to learn how to perform under pressure. If you have the spark for it, the money will come.
If you stay serious about it, you’ll often end up putting the money back into your guns when you start taking home prizes. Personalization and customization cost money. So does practice ammunition.
Know What You Like to Shoot
What kind of weapon feels comfortable in your hands? Have you been shooting pistols for twenty years, or did you just go on your first hunting trip? Some shooters like any kind of gun, but some prefer to specialize.
The most motivated shooters have a passion for the sort of shooting they do. If you don’t like your gun, you won’t have much motivation to improve.
Competitive shooting has something for any shooter. Whether you’re comfortable with a pistol, a shotgun, or a rifle, you have options available.
Remember that many leagues and competitions have rules about what guns and ammunition shooters can use during competitions. This can include restrictions on caliber, power factor, and ammunition weight. Make sure you purchase a gun that will get you into most shooting competitions you want to participate in.
Look Into Gun Club Competitions
If you find yourself with the competitive itch but don’t know if it’ll last, consider looking into competitions at your local gun clubs. These can help you get your feet wet in the world of competition without long travel or the need to get used to a new shooting environment.
If you’re already a member of your local gun club, ask about benefits for competition entrants. You may be able to get enough ammunition to compete at a discount or other perks.
Local to us? Try checking out Texas Gun Club competitions. We host all kinds of events on a regular basis, so keep an eye out for things that interest you.
Even if you decide competitions won’t work for you, we also host raffles, fundraisers, and seminars. Other gun clubs and ranges may have similar events, so keep an eye out for interesting local opportunities.
Learn About Leagues
Many organizations operate leagues. Some of the largest include the National Rifle Association, the United States Practical Shooters Association, and the International Defensive Pistol Association. Don’t limit your search to those three, but use them as a guideline for where to begin and how to set your expectations.
Leagues often schedule their competitions months ahead of time, so you’ll be able to plan around your shooting competitions in the long term. League rules can also provide greater clarity on what you’ll need to work on as a shooter. If your wrist starts hurting after 20 shots and each event requires 50, for instance, it might help if you worked on your stamina.
Pick Your Gear
Improving your gear can help a lot with competitive shooting. The more relaxed atmosphere of range shooting can make a lot of small problems with ear protection, holsters, and other gear less noticeable. Once you start shooting in competitions, any problems will start nagging at you.
This doesn’t mean you have to start out with an expensive gun with all the customizations you can imagine. A factory standard pistol will often serve you best just starting out. Weapons like the M1911 have earned their place for a reason.
Once you’ve got all your initial purchases squared away, remember to consider backups and repair kits, too. Extra ammunition can also help. It’s better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it, and equipment failure can happen at any time.
Find a Buddy
Most people think of both competitions and shooting as solitary hobbies. You couldn’t get further away from the truth if you tried, though. Having friends in the shooting competition world can pay off.
When you’re practicing, a friend can help you try out weapons you might not have any familiarity with. While you can get a membership at your local range to try lots of guns at a discount, a friend can lend you weapons for free. You might end up liking your buddy’s M1911 a lot more than your rifle, and from there you can try a pistol shooting competition without a huge commitment.
Friends can also help you improve your form a lot faster. Having a knowledgeable shooter watching you when you shoot will put a fresh set of eyes on the gaps in your skills.
Don’t underestimate the power of a rival, either. If you and your friend can both leave the rivalry at the range, having someone to chase can improve motivation for both of you. Going head-to-head with each other during practice can also help you stay in a competitive mindset and avoid getting nervous under pressure.
Find a Lot of Buddies
Having one friend to train and compete with can go a long way, but building a larger community can help you even more. If you connect with other shooters both online and in person, you can develop a lot faster than you would on your own.
Other people may have advice that applies to your local area or the league you participate in. This can make it much easier to sort through the information as you get started.
Once you choose a gun, you can also talk to other gun owners who prefer that gun online. You can find multiple niche forums for competitive shooters who prefer Glocks or Berettas for the purpose. These communities often attract people with an intimate familiarity with their preferred firearm.
Shoot For the Top
Competitive shooting offers opportunities to get more familiar with firearms, build friendships, improve accuracy, and even take home prizes. For shooters with the right temperament, it can be a rewarding lifelong activity. Having a goal to aim for can also improve the quality of your practice.
If you’re looking for a gun club and range in Texas to help you get your start as a competitive shooter, give us a look. We offer a wide range of gun rentals, fun events on a regular basis, and a commitment to a fun and safe experience.