Practical shooting can become a very fulfilling and rewarding pastime, however, getting started can be a daunting task. With this series, we hope to help you feel more comfortable and prepared when getting ready to go out to your first match.
Part 1: Introduction and General Prerequisites
What is practical shooting?
Practical shooting is a type of action shooting that combines speed and accuracy on predetermined courses called stages. Targets are set along the stage and competitors are timed as they engage them while finishing any other stage requirements. Most stages that have large areas of movement will have designated shooting areas and boundaries for competitors to move within while shooting targets.
What is USPSA?
USPSA stands for United States Practical Shooting Association. It is the governing body that sets the rules and sanctions USPSA shooting competitions throughout the United States. Becoming a member of the USPSA will allow you to compete in USPSA matches and have your scores recorded for classification in each division.
While there are many types of practical shooting competitions available in the United States, USPSA will generally be the most accessible while also being easy to learn as a beginner. Other types of practical shooting competitions are still worthwhile in attending, but if you first build a strong background in USPSA, you'll have a much easier time transitioning between the different disciplines.
There will be more specific requirements to practical shooting and USPSA competition that we will address later, however there are some baseline prerequisites you will need in order to have a fun and safe time while shooting your first competition.
First, you must have a firm grasp of the Four Basic Rules of Firearm Safety and make a conscious effort to always adhere to them. The rules are as follows:
Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to fire.
Identify your target and what is behind it.
Second, you must be comfortable manipulating the firearm you intend to use for competition. You do not necessarily have to be an exceptional marksman, however, you will need to be comfortable shooting and handling your firearm. You must also have a good working knowledge of how the firearm operates as well as its safety mechanisms.
Finally, you must have a willingness to learn and ask questions. Most problems could have been prevented by asking even the most basic questions. You will find some of the most friendly and helpful people while participating in the shooting sports.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 in this series where we will go over finding a local club and preparing for your first match.