The aroma of gunpowder and the flash of muzzles are common sights at any tactical shooting competition. In theory, they're just like going to any range. You aim at a target, pull the trigger, and fire your gun to hit a target.
Everything, from the smells to the sights, is the same at a competition. The only difference is that now your shots count, and you're competing against several other shooters. And when the pressure's on like that, you need every advantage you can get.
Competitions aren't the same as relaxing trips to the range, after all. You're not just shooting for fun during a competition — you're shooting for points (prizes and bragging rights!). Competitive shooters have awesome and supportive communities behind them, but those communities also know that sometimes you need to feel the heat of competition to improve.
Also, to be a master shooter, you need the right gun. Weapons can vary in weight, size, recoil, ammo size, precision, accuracy, and almost anything else. No two weapons are exactly the same, and to do well in a competition you need the right one for you.
And to learn how to find the right gun for your next competition, keep reading below!
Before Entering a Tactical Shooting Competition, Practice
There is only one real way to tell if a gun is right for you: you must practice with it. You simply can't pick up a random gun at a competition and expect it to work the same as any other. Some guns are set up to below the sights others to shoot above; you may need to compensate for recoil more than you're used to, or it can just feel uncomfortable to hold.
While practice is perfect for acquainting yourself with a gun, it also gives you an opportunity to refine your skill with many different types. You can't expect your skills to transfer from a semiautomatic to revolver without practicing both. Be sure to choose from the most popular models too, such as 3 GUN, USPSA, IDPA, or IPSC specific firearm.
Get a Pistol That Feels Natural in Your Hands
If you're just getting started in competitive shooting, it's important to set a baseline for what a gun should feel like in your hands. You need to get a feel for what you prefer in a gun so that you can learn ways to compensate when another feels different.
Your first pistol will stick with you throughout your competitive shooting career. It will be the one that you always return to at the match or on the practice range.
So, make sure to pick carefully and try out anything you can get your hands on!
Practicing With Rifles Means Getting Used to Ammo Types
Not all competitions use pistols; others use rifles and that means getting used to an entirely different shooting style. Shooting pistols is about perfecting your stance, adapting to recoil, and taking control of your weapon. Rifles are different.
Since rifles are designed to feed recoil directly into your body through the stock, there isn't as much to compensate for. The stance is also different from pistol shooting since the rifle should feel like a part of your body extending from your shoulder. And while pistols have different ammo types, rifle shooters have to pay even more attention given the longer distances at rifle competitions.
Read the Rules of the Competition
If you're picking up a gun for a specific competition, be sure to read the competition's rules around what guns can be used. Any shooter should understand that nothing is ever assumed in the world of firearms. Just like you should never assume a gun is unloaded, you shouldn't assume that you can choose anything you want for a competition.
Sometimes, there are requirements that a gun must meet before it can be used. There are usually accessories that you can't use, to make sure all shooters compete on an even playing field. Be sure to know what you're signing up for when you enter a competition and read the rules beforehand!
Never Assume Anything When it Comes to Firearms
Firearms are deadly weapons — they aren't toys. There is one rule that will be at every competition: gun safety comes first.
If you don't check that a gun is unloaded before starting the competition, you can get kicked out. The same goes for holding a gun in any way that may be seen as unsafe, or for drawing it in an unsafe way. Make sure you know how to use your gun safely before entering a competition so that you endanger yourself or others.
Handling One Gun Isn't Like Handling Others
For the most part, shooters know that a pistol will always shoot similarly to another pistol. The principles behind properly shooting one transfer between makes and models.
Over time, as you develop your sense for marksmanship, you will learn how to compensate for each individual gun's idiosyncracies.
Practicing Is Itself a Competition
Practicing for a tactical shooting competition is competition itself. During practice, you need to create a sense of pressure for yourself and demand the best out of your inner marksman. You need to create the intensity of being on a competitive field, even if you're not.
The more you practice, the better you'll get at practicing and that's the most important part of any competition. All that matters is the work that led up to that first shot you take after the buzzer. If you put in enough work, it will pay off.
And for it to pay off, you need to find the right gun. For that, we're here. You can find your next preferred firearm on our website, and to learn more about how to shoot competitively, just keep reading our blog here!