If shooting is one of your biggest hobbies and you’re interested in taking it up a notch, it might be time to try competitive target shooting. In competitive shooting, you compete against other participants in various events. Whether it’s target shooting, speed shooting or anything in between, all of the competitions feature a firearm.
Entering competitive leagues is a great way to refine your skills and meet like-minded people. But if you’ve never tried it, finding out where to start might seem tough. Here’s an overview of how to get into target shooting.
Types of Shooting Competitions
Learning about the different kinds of shooting competitions is a great way to get started with competitive shooting. Depending on your experience and interests, you might be more interested in some events than others. Typically, competitions are divided by firearm type — shotgun, pistol or rifle.
Beyond those categories, there are various shooting competitions, including:
- Bullseye shooting competitions: Bullseye shooting is mainly for pistols and rifles. In this style, your goal is to earn as many points as possible by firing as close as possible to a central target. These competitions test precision. This is a highly popular event, but it takes time and effort to master.
- Clay target shooting competitions: This competition style is usually only meant for shotguns. In these events, you shoot at moving clay targets and try to hit as many as possible. Machines called “traps” eject the targets, and shooters try to strike them to earn points.
- Long-range shooting competitions: Long-range shooting target competitions are typically for rifles. Shooters aim at thousands of yards away. There are many subcategories of long-range competitions. One popular example is benchrest shooting, where shooters rest their guns on benches and aim at paper or steel targets. These competitions are highly specific because the wind could alter the target’s movements or the bullet’s trajectory. Sometimes, the winner is decided by mere millimeters.
Choose the Right Gear
Once you find a shooting competition that appeals to you, it’s time to look at gear. Being successful in a shooting event often depends on how familiar you are with your firearm. Be sure to choose one that suits your chosen competition. For instance, if you want to compete in a clay shooting event, you should buy a shotgun.
When you find the right firearm, take time to practice and get familiar with it. Learn the basic maintenance, like loading and unloading or resolving malfunctions. If you can’t do those actions easily, you should consider taking a gun safety course before you start competing.
You might also want to purchase other competition tools before entering your first one. These materials aren’t required, but they’re helpful for safety and performance reasons. Think about buying extra gear like:
- Small, portable toolkit for your gun
- Waterproof gun case
- Cleaning kit
- Safety gear like ear protection, knee and elbow pads and gloves
Lastly, take time to pick out the proper clothes for your competitions. Breathable and versatile fabrics can help you perform better in events. Look for non-restrictive garments that allow for easy movement. Here are a few tips:
- Clothing: Try to find comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing that doesn’t restrict your actions and keeps you cool.
- Jackets: Your jacket shouldn’t hinder your arms from taking the proper aim. Look for lightweight designs and moveable cuffs so you can move with ease while shooting.
- Belts: You need a shooting belt that’s strong enough for your holster and other gear. Not all competitions require you to use a belt, but many competition-goers prefer them so they can carry things more easily.
After getting your gear, it’s time to start practicing for your desired competition. The best way to practice is often by simulating the competition as realistically as you can. For instance, if you want to compete in long-range shooting, try setting up a target at the same distance it would be during the competition.
Here are other ideas for practicing:
- Visiting a gun range: Many trainees prefer to practice in a shooting range. These facilities offer a variety of targets in a safe area with professional guidance.
- Practicing shooting targets: If you prefer shooting in your own space, you might want to invest in some competition shooting targets. Targets like AR500 targets offer a fun and helpful way to practice at home. AR500 targets are reusable, even after withstanding heavy gun damage. This makes these targets a cost-effective and simple way to train. You can also use a target stand to prop up your target more securely.
- Getting a mentor: If you find that your independent training techniques aren’t giving you the results you’d like, consider asking a professional for lessons or extra help. They can help you refine your strategy and give tips on how to succeed in an upcoming competition.
The more you practice, the better off you’ll be when it comes time for your competition.
Find a League
Lastly, you can start looking for a shooting league. There are many leagues around the United States, so it narrowing it down to the best one for you can seem tricky.
These are the three major shooting leagues in the U.S.:
- United States Practical Shooters Association (USPSA): The USPSA offers many competitions for shooters of all skill levels. From specialized events to a typical bullseye competition, you’re sure to find one that fits your interests and skill level. You can use their find a club feature to discover which club is nearest to you.
- International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA): The IDPA hosts competitions that focus on defensive tactics. The clubs train you in practical techniques and allow you to compete with others. You can also use their map to find the club closest to you.
- National Rifle Association (NRA): The NRA hosts many competitive shooting programs around the country. They have competitions for every kind of shooter, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.
Additionally, there are numerous collegiate leagues available around the country. If you’re a college student, you might be able to find a shooting program at your university. Alternatively, local gun clubs offer regional competitions, so check in your town or city for options. With all of the leagues available, you’re sure to find one that suits your preferences.
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If you’re training for a shooting competition, check out our AR500 shooting targets today. Our targets are great for shooters of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned competition winners. We use high-quality steel and powder coating to ensure a durable target. They come in a variety of styles, including:
With over 30 years of experience in the shooting target industry, Falcata Company guarantees high-quality materials and products. Browse our shooting targets today or feel free to contact us with any questions.