Some folks compete because they want to win a title or trophy, or because they want to be able to meet certain standards. Others compete just to have more time on the range, in environments that are difficult to put together in solo practice. And still others compete for the social aspect of spending time with like minded people. If you’ve thought about competing or maybe never considered it before but are interested now, allow me to enable you a bit more.
The very idea of competing sounds kind of scary to many people, and that’s okay. You’re not alone. I’ve been racing against timers for more than six years and I still get nervous when I step up to my start position. However, the rewards of seeing measurable improvement in your shooting make the embarrassing and even scary parts well worth it. All of us who already compete remember what our first matches were like and we aren’t here to laugh at you. Instead, we want to see you learn and succeed no matter what your goals are. As long as you always observe gun safety rules, we’ll wait until we know you a little better before we razz you.
There are people who will be happy to remind you that “real life” isn’t what you’ll find on the range, and that’s true. That doesn’t take away from the value of competing, though, because there are few other ways where most of us can practice and benchmark the skills that are the norm in competition. That’s how I got started: matches were the only place I could draw my pistol from a holster and actually fire it, so I showed up for lack of anywhere else to practice this important concealed carry skill.
The stress is simulated but any competitive shooter will tell you that it is indeed very real and that getting used to match stress has helped them handle other high pressure situations, including ones with guns. While shooting competitively might not be “training,” it can be part of a framework for skill improvement no matter what your goals may be. Certainly my confidence in my ability to draw and use a gun in self-defense has gone up a lot since I’ve started competing, especially since I have regular, objective evidence that I can draw, fire, and hit my targets on demand, with speed and accuracy.
Over the next few articles, I’m going to introduce many of the shooting sports that are available to you. Whether it’s running with guns or hitting small targets at very long distances, there are games for wherever your interests might be and whatever skills you want to build. Almost every kind of gun you might own, from a single-action revolver to a fancy over-under shotgun to a bolt-action rifle to a modern “plastic fantastic” pistol–all can be used in a competition at a skill level you already have or can get to with just a little bit of work. Come back in the next few days, when I’ll start with all the fun you can have running with guns.
Let us know in the comment section what type of competition shooting you do, and why.