Getting Started in Shooting Sports
Want to become a better shooter? Want to learn something new? It’s time to branch out and find a new way to appreciate your hobby! Here are some tips for getting started in shooting sports.
“I don’t know how,” or “I’m not good enough yet” isn’t really a valid excuse for hesitation when it comes to getting involved in the shooting community. Be brave and understand everyone was in your position at one point in their lives.
Generally, the shooting community is a very accepting group of people. They are eager to introduce new shooters and help them get started, regardless of age or skill level. New shooters mean new competition in what would surely become a stagnant club without them.
Gun Safety and how to handle a firearm is really the only true requirement to get started.
Let’s assume you’ve already crawled through Facebook, googled shooting ranges in your area, and have talked to your local gun shop or friends. You’ve found a discipline or competition style that interests you and you’re almost ready to take the leap. There are so many unanswered questions; what equipment do I need? Can I still participate if I don’t have everything? What should I expect? What are the rules? The answer is simple. Get a hold of the match director! The match director is the person in charge of making sure the match operates smoothly and safely. From creating the event to making rule interpretations during an event the match director oversees everything. This person will be able to answer any questions, point you in the correct direction if you need further assistance to get started and quite possibly, they might know who would be willing to share equipment with you.
As a shooter, I’m always willing to loan equipment to the folks I’m shooting with and give advice when asked.
Where to Participate
“That’s awesome, I wish I had somewhere to do that!” It’s not unusual to drive 2 hours or even half a day to find these ranges. There is a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears involved in those epic Youtube videos you’ve been watching. Go ahead and plan on spending a full day at a match, especially if you have to travel a few hours away. Not everyone is blessed enough to have a shooting club in their backyard, so don’t get discouraged (or upset) if the closest one to you is a couple hours away.
Types of Matches
There is a plethora of match types for every shooting sport, whether its pistol shooting, 3-gun, bench rest, or the fast-growing precision rifle matches plastering social media. Shooting ranges typically host what their facilities can accommodate, or based on what the members of the range/region are interested in participating in.
Some events are more popular than others, depending on your region. For instance: PRS may not be big in your area, due to limited distances at local ranges. However, your local club might host NRL 22. It may not be exactly be what you dreamt of doing, but there is a lot of crossover skills. Find a shooting style that interests you and make an exception if necessary. Definitely don’t be afraid to branch out, you never know what you actually might end up liking.
Most clubs will hold a monthly match. These are typically entry level and geared toward a wide range of shooters skill levels. Entry fees are minimal, typically covering the ranges operating costs and not much more. These matches are volunteer ran by the competitors running them. Stage set up and stage tear down is the responsibility of the shooters at the match, so do your part and help! Eagerly resetting a stage between shooters and helping dismantle a stage after the match will solidify your position as “the cool new guy” at the club match, and is a great way to meet people.
As you progress, you’ll find yourself wanting to shoot bigger and more complex matches. At this point, you’ll be looking into shooting a series (multiple matches over the course of the year), regional or even national matches.