What You Need to Get Started in Competitive Shooting

 There’s no doubt that even the best skills can be better. It’s why companies like 45 Blast offer products to improve shooting accuracy with accessories including the Canik TP9 Elite Combat. Made for handguns, it features an enhanced trigger blade, and improved sights, and is easy to modify for your firearm of choice.

If you’re interested in competitive shooting, accessories, and gear like this abound. So what are considered essentials, and what are considered superfluous?

What You Need to Get Started in Competitive Shooting

Gear to Invest In for Competitive Shooting

While it will vary significantly depending on the type of shooting you want to practice, here is some of the basic gear you should invest in.

  • Firearm of choice - handgun, rifle, or shotgun
  • Ammunition - both practice and competition ammo
  • Shooting belt - to holster your firearm and ammo
  • Targets for practice - may vary depending on the type of shooting you’re doing
  • Monopod, bipod, or tripod - firearm stabilizers
  • Shooting chronograph - measures bullet flightpath
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones
  • Scope
  • Gunsmithing and tool kit
  • Cleaning kit
  • Lubricating oil
  • Range bag - to haul your gear

In addition to your ear and eye safety gear, you should also acquire a chamber flag, elbow/knee pads, and shooting gloves. Some of these items may be required at matches, so they’re good to have on hand in this case. 

While not necessary “gear,” your range bag should definitely include sunscreen and bug spray; don’t let a sunburn or pets distract you from the competition. You can also include empty bags for rounding up spent ammo if you plan to reload your own after the match.

If you're going to compete in multi-gun matches, you’ll need to invest in more than one type of firearm. Many shooters, however, recommend having a backup firearm for even single-gun competitions in case you hit a snag with your primary gun. Seasoned competitors also know it’s important to bring more ammo than you expect you’ll need, and recommend bringing double what you expect to use.

Apparel for Competitive Shooting

A general rule of thumb is to invest in good tactical apparel for your matches. You want clothing that breathes to keep you cool and isn’t prone to snagging on anything in the course. You also want moisture-wicking fabrics and designs to help you stay fresh as you compete.

Just like any outdoor sport, competitive shooting matches require the right apparel so you can perform at your best. Look for clothing with reinforced seams, and clothing that moves easily with your body so your range of motion isn’t compromised. 

Label Everything

No matter what you bring to a match, label it all! Metallic permanent markers can stand out on gunmetal gray equipment, ensuring you don't lose your gear to someone else at the comp who mistakes it for their own. 

Types of Competitive Shooting

There are many different types of competitive shooting, and they cater to different types of firearms as well. Some of the most popular are listed below, as well as what you’ll need to get started in each division.

Bullseye Shooting

This type of competition is typically for pistol and rifle shooting. Participants attempt to accumulate the most points by hitting a target that’s divided into concentric circles with different values. For bullseye matches, shooters should practice at varying ranges from the target, starting with 10 meters and working their way up to 300 meters. Distance will depend on the type of firearm used in the specific match.

Field Shooting

Field shooting is also known as terrain shooting. Like bullseye matches, it’s a discipline for both pistol and rifle shooting. Match participants are situated outside at temporary ranges and may face unknown range distances when competing.

Rapid Fire Shooting

In a rapid-fire event, participants may be required to fire shots successively in timed intervals. Typically, the shots must be fired in four, six, and eight-second periods. Other rapid-fire shooting competitions may require participants to hit a 60-shot quota in just over an hour.

Clay Target Shooting

Also known as skeet and trap shooting, these shotgun events send 10mm targets flying through the air for participants to hit. In skeet shooting matches, there are numerous stations from which shooters must fire, and the clay targets come from both the left and the right of the shooter (simultaneously).

In trap shooting matches, the process is much the same, with the exception that there are usually fewer shooting stations. Also, instead of the clay targets being fired from the left and right of the participant, they’re thrown in the same direction the shooter's faces and have varying trajectories.

Running Target Shooting

This type of match simulates hunting in that a moving target is used. The silhouette targets could be placed at distances ranging from 50 to 100 yards. Running target matches are designed for rifles.

Practical Shooting

In a practical shooting match, competitors are challenged to combine both speed and accuracy. Shooters will need to be able to move a handgun from a holster and demonstrate agility and marksmanship. Stages feature a variety of obstacles, and shooters often have the freedom to design a strategy for hitting targets to maximize their score.

Long Range

Long-range shooting is for distances ranging between 300 and 1,200 yards. It requires a rifle and may simulate sniper conditions for participants. 

Prepping for a Match

Regardless of the discipline being practiced, competitive shooting requires both physical and mental preparation. After all, competitive shooting is an Olympic sport dating back to the 1896 Athens games. Participants need to master stillness in their bodies, as even the slightest sway could affect shooting accuracy. 

To prep for a match, be sure you’re also covering the following:

  • Get to know your gear and how it performs in different conditions
  • Familiarize yourself with the match venue
  • Learn to read the wind (or other weather conditions)
  • Practice, practice, practice

In addition to physically preparing, you should mentally prepare. Understand your current skill level and what it will take to get the results you want. Set realistic goals for the match and stay positive when before and during the match. You can’t control what happens in any competition, but you can control how you respond and move forward.

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