Trying a new activity can be intimidating — especially when it involves a firearm. Thankfully, we’re here to help. If you’re interested in competitive shooting but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn what you’ll need to get into competitive shooting, how to train for competitions and answers to some commonly asked questions.
What You Need to Get Into Competitive Shooting
Before learning how to become a competitive shooter and refining your skills at the range, it’s essential to invest in the proper equipment:
1. Pistol and Ammunition
One of the most important things to consider is choosing a pistol. There are several factors that play into choosing the right firearm, such as:
- The size of the gun
- The competition you plan to compete in
- The divisions in the competition
- Holster availability
Keep in mind you don’t need to purchase an expensive race gun for a shooting competition. A factory pistol made by a quality gun manufacturer should do the trick, serving you well for many competitions to come.
While you should have at least one gun handy when you attend a shooting competition, some people like to bring backup firearms just in case. If you can’t bring backups, it’s at least helpful to bring a repair kit with spare parts.
Of course, a pistol is useless without ammunition, so it’s important to bring plenty to every competition. A good rule is to determine the bare minimum needed for the competition, then double that number. Bringing extra ammunition to any shooting competition is a crucial tip to keep in mind — it’s always better to have too much than not enough.
Later, we’ll go over some recommended guns and ammunition for shooting competitions.
While choosing the right handgun requires careful thought and consideration, be sure not to overlook another important step — selecting a holster. The holster should protect your gun well and allow you to draw it quickly and easily. You should also select the appropriate type for your gun and style of carry.
3. Eye and Ear Protection
Proper eye and ear protection are important for shooting competitions. Be sure to invest in a quality pair of shooting safety glasses and ear coverings. There are multiple types of ear protection for shooting, such as:
- Standard earmuffs
- Electronic earmuffs
4. Proper Apparel
When training for and participating in a shooting competition, it’s necessary to dress properly.
Wear a shirt that’s designed to stretch with you and allows easy movability. Try looking for a tactical shirt in a snag-resistant, moisture-wicking fabric. If you want a field or shooting jacket, select something that doesn’t restrict arm movement or prevent you from firing an accurate shot, like a ripstop jacket.
Additionally, be sure to select pants that don’t feel too tight when you stand in a firing position. Experts recommend wearing long cargo or tactical pants that cover your skin thoroughly.
5. Other Essentials
In addition to your basic shooting essentials like a pistol, ammunition and protective gear, here are some additional items you may want to bring to a shooting competition:
- Gun lubricating oil
- A backpack or range bag to carry your equipment
- A toolkit or gunsmithing kit
- A hat
A good tip is to check the shooting competition’s rules on their website. These will outline every piece of gear you’ll need to bring.
What Guns Do You Need for Shooting Competitions?
When determining which guns you’ll need for competition shooting, keep in mind that your pistol choice may differ depending on the competition, its divisions and activities. Therefore, you’ll likely want to find versatile pistols that are legal for multiple games.
Typically, one of the “Wonder Nine” pistols should get you started in most competitions. Some popular do-it-all pistols are Glock 17, Springfield XD-M and Wesson M&P9.
In terms of ammunition, most competitions require a 9mm or larger caliber in an automatic and a .38 special or larger caliber in a revolver. Most shooters prefer 9mm as it’s less expensive than .40 and .45. Additionally, it has a softer recoil and will be legal in nearly any game. .40S&W and .45ACP are other popular competition calibers.
How to Train Yourself for Shooting Competitions
Check out are some helpful ways to train for competitive shooting:
- Enroll in a class: No matter your level of expertise, enrolling in a firearm class is an excellent way to practice your skills in a variety of areas.
- Join a league: Joining a competitive shooting league is a great way to engage in friendly competition with other shooters. You can learn and build practical skills, meet new people from a variety of shooting backgrounds and have fun.
- Use a shooting simulator: Challenge yourself and test your shooting skills with a shooting and training simulator. This computer-based system generates a wide variety of shooting scenarios to help you develop your skills in a safe and competitive environment.
Common Questions About Shooting Competitions
Do you have any questions about competitive shooting? Here are the answers to a couple of frequently asked questions:
Can You Win Money in Competitive Shooting?
Ultimately, it depends on the competition you sign up for. While some compensate winners with cash, others may hand out trophies or other prizes. When you go to register, check the organization’s guidelines to see if you can win money by placing in the competition.
What Is F-Class Competition Shooting?
The name “F-Class” comes from its Canadian founder, George Farquharson. He wanted to find a way to continue competitive shooting when his eyesight deteriorated. He equipped his rifle with a telescopic sight and used a sandbag to support the weight of his rifle. This marked the beginning of F-Class shooting.
Since then, the technique has grown into a common shooting discipline. It appeals to shooters of all ages, including those with minimal knowledge of target shooting. F-Class shooting is common in National Rifle Association (NRA) events — it’s a great way to put your prone position shooting skills to the test and have fun competing with other participants.
Sharpen Your Firearm Skills at Keystone Shooting Center
Like anything else, practice is key when preparing for competitive shooting. Whether you’re a first-time shooter or no stranger to the range, come practice your skills at Keystone Shooting Center.
A world-class shooting range just outside of Pittsburgh, our facility houses one of the region’s most advanced training and shooting simulator systems. We pride ourselves on our climate-controlled shooting bays, a full-service firearm superstore and full walk-in access to provide you with an unforgettable shooting experience.