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Getting Started Competing

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    Getting Started Competing

    Getting Started Competing

    We're thrilled that you are interested enough in practical shooting to explore how best to get started. You are about to take the first step on an exciting journey to a new world of safe, fair, family fun with some of the greatest people you will ever know.

    Click on the "Join USPSA" button for a list of membership options and benefits. The United States Practical Shooting Associations (USPSA) is the premier competitive shooting organization in the world. USPSA membership is your pass to compete in any USPSA or IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) match anywhere in the world.

    USPSA membership does not include range or local club membership. In most cases you will be allowed to compete in local matches even if you don't belong to the local organizations. You will discover, though, that there are many advantages to belonging to a club in your area, if for no other reason than the camaraderie that exists among like-minded enthusiasts!

    Practical Shooting IS competition. Competition necessarily requires that there be more than one person taking part, so the first step is to locate someone near you with whom to compete. Fortunately, USPSA has nearly 400 affiliated clubs located in or near most communities in the United States so it shouldn't be difficult. Click on the "Match Schedule & Results" button on the left to find a club near you, then contact the local people and make arrangements to visit the club during a match or practice session.

    The local club leaders will be excited to see you and eager to answer your questions, but here are a few pointers to make that first visit a pleasant experience for all concerned.

    * Do take and wear eye and ear protection. Your normal corrective lens or sunglasses will serve for your first visit. Inexpensive foam earplugs available at most sporting goods or hardware stores will suffice for hearing protection. Most clubs will have such items available for visitors, but having your own will simplify the process and ensure that you will be able to watch the match.

    * Don't assume you know more than you do. Use your first visit to concentrate on watching, listening, and learning.

    * Don't assume that you will be allowed to shoot the first time you go to the club. Many USPSA affiliated clubs require that new competitors complete a "safety check" before shooting an actual match. Some clubs will be willing to administer the check on the day you visit while others will require a stand-alone session at another time.
    Firearms & Holsters
    It may be that the firearm you already own will be just what you need to get started in practical shooting, but you may learn of other competitive opportunities that will give you that excuse you've been looking for to buy a new toy! USPSA has five competitive divisions, delineated by equipment rules. Unless you are blessed with more money than you need, we recommend that you don't rush out and spend until you've had the opportunity to learn enough about the sport to make an informed decision.

    Holsters must retain the firearm during any required movement, must cover the trigger of a holstered gun, must point to the ground when the firearm is holstered, and must be carried at belt level; shoulder holsters, fanny packs, et al, are not permissible at USPSA events. Further, Production Division has additional holster restrictions. Go to our Rulebook, page 91, for more information about the equipment requirements of each division.
    Other Equipment
    Other necessary equipment includes spare magazines or speed loaders and belt mounted carriers. In most cases at least one magazine will be included with the firearm when you bought it, but having at least five magazines is desirable to be sure to get you through the various stages in a match. Magazines should be available from the gun manufacturer or from a variety of after market sources.

    We recommend three to four belt mounted magazine/speed loader carriers, depending on the divisions in which you choose to compete.
    Most USPSA members reload their own ammunition, although some use factory loads. Reloading is common for reasons of both economy and performance. The desirability of reloading depends on the divisions in which you choose to compete and the caliber you select. The division choice frequently influences the caliber choice. The issues involved in caliber choice include magazine capacity, recoil, and the division rules.

    For example, most Open Division competitors use .38 Super or one of its variants. Most firearms built to compete in Open Division require specific bullet weights and velocities to reach full potential so most Open competitors choose to reload.

    Limited Division is dominated by the .40S&W cartridge fired in highly tuned firearms similar those found in Open Division, although they are less complex. Most Limited competitors also opt to reload.

    Many who compete in Limited 10 (L10) Division use the same guns they use in Limited Division, but the division rules allow no more than 10 rounds in the magazine. However, a growing number of people compete in L10 with single stack 1911-pattern firearms in 40S&W or .45ACP. While most L10 competitors reload, it is more feasible to use factory ammunition here than in either Open or Limited.

    Production Division provides a competitive venue for the box-stock firearms people typically purchase for self-defense. Most Production competitors use 9MM or 40S&W calibers. Because the power requirements in Production are less than those in the other divisions, factory ammunition is common.

    The most commonly used calibers in Revolver Division are .45ACP and .357 Magnum. The recoil dished up by factory ammunition can be significant in a revolver, and most competitors find that there are combinations of bullet and powder that can be hand loaded to provide the necessary accuracy and velocities without the recoil (and cost!) of most factory ammunition.
    Visit our USPSA Vendor List to find those serving the ammunition, equipment, component, and training needs of our members.
    It is important to have realistic expectations as you approach competitive shooting. Many people, but most especially those without a lot of shooting experience, make unreasonable assumptions about this game.

    If you had just begun to golf it is unlikely that you would assume you know how to golf before the first lesson. You've probably seen Tiger Woods on television and heard the commentators wax eloquent about his skills. You may have seen him muff a shot and go into the rough. Even if you've never swung a club yourself you understand that golf is hard.

    Unfortunately, many people are exposed to shooting only on television or in the movies and they believe a lot of myths that are presented therein. Our heroes are shown hitting difficult targets at extreme ranges without seeming to aim. Looks easy. Anyone can do that. Even people with some shooting experience may fall into the trap of believing that tin can plinking or hunting has prepared them for competitive shooting.

    Practical shooting is an exciting, fun, safe sport. Like any sport, though, it takes time and effort to become proficient. Like any sport there will be times when your progress is rapid and it's easy to remain focused on your goal. At other times it will seem that you're not getting anywhere and it will be easy to become discouraged. Consistent practice will take you where you want to go.

    Welcome aboard!

    Some targets are close enough to see hits some are not. Most people that shoot matches eventually develop the ability to "call their shots", where you have a pretty good idea of where the bullet hit once the shot is broken, even if you can't physically see the hit. The guys that go fast have developed this skill, and it's one of the reasons they are fast. Looking for hits on a target is very slow.


      Originally posted by cu455
      This might come off as a stupid question. How do the shooters know when they hit their target? Are the targets close enough that it is safe to assume you hit the target when you shoot? When I see videos the guys are moving so quick it doesn't seem like they are really paying much notice if they hit their target or not. I am talking three gun style events and paper targets. Steel targets it is pretty easy to tell if you hit it or not.
      That's why it's important to have your rifle/pistol sighted in properly. It also helps when the whoever does the pasting let's you know where you're hitting so you can adjust your aim or scope.
      On some matches have one of your buddies act as a spotter.
      One match one of my Ruskis shot the "hostage" target in the head twice (good grouping too) when I yelled for him to adjust aim he shot the bad guy twice also, just in case. He took the penalty for no shoot, but not for misses.


        Originally posted by Mad Russian View Post

        That's why it's important to have your rifle/pistol sighted in properly. It also helps when the whoever does the pasting let's you know where you're hitting so you can adjust your aim or scope.
        On some matches have one of your buddies act as a spotter.
        One match one of my Ruskis shot the "hostage" target in the head twice (good grouping too) when I yelled for him to adjust aim he shot the bad guy twice also, just in case. He took the penalty for no shoot, but not for misses.
        Coaching is not allowed unless approved by the RO:

        Section 8.6

        At LIPSA, we will use it to help new shooters, but after your first 2 or 3 matches you should know the routine and shoot the stage on your own.


        • Mad Russian
          Mad Russian commented
          Editing a comment
          Bah humbug!