Getting into Competition Shooting

For those of you who do competitive shooting, how would you suggest someone new to competitive shooting gets started?

Which type of shooting do you do? What equipment do you need?

Should this be its own section?


Make this it’s own section. I’m interested in this and in my studies have found
Steel Challenge
Active Pistol
3 Gun Competitions
This could turn into a huge section.

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I’m just getting started with doing competitions, and I’m doing all of it with concealed carry holsters, and my AR that is being designed to be what I would’ve wanted overseas. I know it’s definitely another hole you can go down that you can spend a lot of money in. I’m excited to see what others reccomend.

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My husband was a national-level competitor for a lot of years before he detached the retina in his dominant eye (he’s still accurate, just not competition-speed anymore). He started in Cowboy shooting, then moved to IDPA and finally to IPSC.

If you like the western ethos, Cowboy action shooting is fun and social, plus you get to dress up as much as you want to.
IDPA is more “keeping it real” … could this scenario really happen? Then let’s use it.
IPSC is more “Ya know, I bet we could set up a scenario where…” any random and challenging thing could happen. Big gray aliens on tricycles would be entirely acceptable in the scenario.

I think the biggest thing is to decide what sounds like fun to you, what interests you, then go find a club that does that. Sign up for the club, show up for the league shoots, make friends, make time to practice outside of league events.

And if you decide you enjoy competition, buy the biggest Dillon reloading press you can afford and learn to use it. Depending on what you’re shooting, ammo can be expensive. When my hubby was training hard, he’d sometimes shoot 1800 or more rounds a week… at that pace the top-end press will pay for itself pretty darn fast.


Just give it a try. I resisted, but finally went…and BOy am I glad I did. 100% addicted to the adrenaline rush and love that I get that rush when training with my edc weapon. I compete just as I carry. Same holster, Crossbreed of course, same mag holsters, same everything. So, I’m preparing, while I compete, while having a blast!

I’m not competitive, not that good of a shot. But I can put several rounds in the torso, so I have confidence.

If you’re thinking about it, go check it out. Watch a few stages, then go for it. I guarantee you will be welcomed and supported. If you’re not, come shoot with me and you will. :us::us:


I would recommend that you watch a match. I shoot USPSA, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s easier to get started than most people think, there are many divisions, and you’ve probably got what you would need to start out with already. A holster, a gun, and a few magazines. Shoot production, and tell the RSO (Range Safety Officer) that it’s your first match, and they can coach you though the stages. People in this sport are great folks, and they remember they all started somewhere!

It’s basically your score divided by your time. (there’s a bit more to than that, but if you remember score/time, that’s most of it)


Looks to be a lot of older threads being resurrected today. I like it!

The easiest way is probably to find a local gun club that holds events / matches. In addition to the disciplines noted above, I can think of Trap, Skeet, 5 Stand, Rimfire Benchrest, Rimfire Silhouette, Rimfire Open Sight, Smallbore Prone, Centerfire Benchrest, Military Service Rifle ; the list is endless.
The least expensive to get into and maintain are probably Rimfire and Trap.
My fave is Rimfire Benchrest. Excluding the upfront cost of rifle, rest, etc., I can shoot a Saturday morning match (100 rounds) for less than 30 in ammo and entry fees. Often win my entry fee back with maybe a few extra .

I will say this - no matter which a person decides to begin with, that skill will transfer over to other disciplines. Some more than others but, you will see a benefit.

Ok this will be a longish post and kind of a follow up detailed post to what I wrote in Using competition as a training tool
, but I’ll try to make it actual advice on making competition into worthwhile practice for the real world. My take on comps is I will never be a competitor for sport, I’m only interested in using it as a practice tool for real world.

So if you share that goal, shoot IDPA and use your standard carry gear. What I mean is PLEASE do not go out and get a photographer vest if your not a photographer. Don’t get comp speed holsters/belt and Kydex mag holders if you normally carry in an old leather holster and keep your spare mag in the back pocket of your jeans.

Dress normally and don’t “game” the stages or use shortcuts to get better times for “sport” even when other competitors urge you to do so for better times. When I did my first IDPA comp I went to a shoot with one of my best friends who is also one of my mentors. He is a seasoned high speed, real SF guy with decades of putting down bad guys all over the globe. In his role he deploys with Delta, Seals, Recon and other SF teams. He has also been trained in just about every civilian program worth anything to evaluate them for potential use for his folks and heads the selection process for his group.

He did the comp in a t-shirt, Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts and Keen sandals because that’s what he wears when he is “off”. Heard some of the other competitors whispering comments and I was highly amused since this was the only guy in the place that has actually ever got shot at, so he navigated the stages as if the targets shot back because in his world they do. Time wise he was dead center of the pack, but never missed a shot.

Run stages the way you would a real life encounter using concealment, cover, barriers, barricades, etc to your full advantage. Slice the pie before you enter a room even if the “door” is just a frame and you can see the whole “room” before you go in.

Distance is your friend. Use lateral movements when drawing from open and reloads as you would in real life and pay no attention to the timer. Every shot should be a hit to the vitals of the target. You can’t miss fast enough…

Do not get caught up on RO instructions to only take X shots to COM. Visualize an attacker and if takes 4 shots to stop him in your mind take 4 shots. Do your assessment when you are done shooting, and not as range theatric, but really asses your surroundings before holstering your gun and ask your brain the 4 questions:

1-Anyone one else needs to get shot?
2-Any other persons of interest?
3-Anyone needs medical attention, especially me?
4-Am I in a safe position or do I need to move for an advantage?

Any gun competition you go to bring an IFAK with you and keep it handy. Have a friend video your stages so you can criticize yourself later and learn from them.

Watch the other competitors like a hawk, specially if the look too “new” with shinny equipment and guns and/or nervous. ROs and Safety Officers only have two eyes and I’ve seen TONS of unsafe behavior they have missed during competition. You DON’T know the level of experience of the other shooters. Had a guy right next to me have a ND with a new-to-him Glock that he had no experience with and had “jammed”. He stepped off the line and launched a 9mm round right into the ground right by the ROs feet and just a few feet from me. I knew he was going to be a problem as I watched him gear up so I made sure I was never in front of him.

Never shoot for time but always practice with a timer. Time is a benchmark not a goal of training. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Train for smooth and efficient and speed will be the happy byproduct.

Ask for help and freeze in place if you have a problem! Anyone will be happy to help.

I think that’s it for now…


Very good read!

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Always believed that God won’t give to you, what he can’t get through you. Heard that form my pastor a long time ago. So I’m just passing along info that some fine folks gave me which has helped me greatly.

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Thank you for taking the time to share this.

My 10 year old son and just went and watched an IDPA match for the first time. We took my neighbor as well. We all loved it.

I was already thinking along the lines of what you posted but seeing it from someone else validates it is a great way to train for real world.

A small added bonus is my wife doesn’t like going to a static range and shooting. She did say this sounds very interesting and wants to go watch one. With any luck it will be soon and the 1st one I enter.

Thanks again for sharing. I have learned so much from you on here.

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It’s my biggest pleasure to be able to help other folks in their quest to become proficient in armed SD. This is a labor of love for me and I’d dare say to most USCCA trainers, employees and members of the Association!


If you own a Glock, a simple one to start with that’s inexpensive is the GSSF ( Glock Shooting Sports Foundation) you can only compete with a Glock. They have indoor and outdoor tournaments all over the USA. A benefit of becoming a member, every year the GSSF sends you a coupon to by one new Glock at a Blue Label price. Also the weekend of Tournament they have a Glock Gunsmith at the Tournament and will repair your Glock and replace parts (if they have the part on site) for Free…… it’s pretty Cool.

Just show up at a match. The regulars will welcome you and help you. Gotta start somewhere. Be safe and have fun. Your only real competition is yourself.