5 Tips for Getting Started in Competitive Shooting

Competitive firearm shooting is among the fastest-growing sports events. It is a popular pastime and a fun one too. If you are a novice and at a loss about where and how to begin, just read this article. This guide will offer you some expert advice, techniques, and tips to give you an edge over your competitors.

The Art of Competitive Shooting

Shooting is a group of competitive or recreational sporting activities, including proficiency tests of precision, speed, and shooting accuracy. It is commonly referred to as a 3-gun competition because participants use three different firearms, including an MSR rifle, pistol, and a shotgun. Targets may include cardboard silhouettes, clay pigeons, or steel targets of unique sizes and shapes. If you are just getting started, keep the following tips in mind.

Be Realistic

Do not have the pressure to be a top shooter while you are only just learning the basics. Being realistic helps you relax and enjoy the shooting while getting into quality trigger time. Adopt a culture of practicing 3-gun shooting. It makes one perfect by polishing your skills in shooting and gun handling, target acquisition, reloading, and trigger control. It may take some time, but most importantly, do not despair.

Video-Game Approach

It helps to look at the 3-gun shooting competition as a real-life video game. Imagine scurrying from one point to the other, shooting targets at different postures. Use the three different firearms, handgun, shotgun, and rifle, while trying to be fast and accurate. Try it over and over again till you start getting used to it. Better than shooting virtual targets, right?

Firearm Basics

The most popularly used are the 12-gauge semi-auto shotguns, semi-auto 9mm pistols, and 223 caliber AR-style rifles. Models, designs, and manufacturers are varied as much as the 3-gun shooters vary. Buy some decent or specialized equipment, especially if you are a novice. A beginner can compete with a firearm that is a semi-auto or revolver. Having quality waist belts is also advised to prevent holster movement during the draw. In shotgun events, participants are required to target moving clay pigeons with their shotguns. For rifles, competitors shoot at a target that is placed either 10, 25, or 50 meters away. Points are awarded according to a competitor’s proximity to the center of the target. The handgun event then follows a similar format as the rifle one, except that it is with pistols.


Various division definitions vary depending on match types, but the basics are constant. These include.

  • Limited – This is an entry division where only light equipment is required. It is one of the most enjoyable divisions to participate in. One can use an unmagnified optic on your rifle but no bipods. No optic or porting is allowed. A maximum of 8+1 rounds but detachable magazines. You are not allowed to use speed loaders for shotguns. Handguns must not feature optics or porting and should have a length of 141.25mm, maximum.
  • Tactical – This is one of the most famous divisions with the stiffest competition. The main difference from the latter is that the optic on the rifle can be magnified.
  • Heavy Metal – The rifle has to be either 7.62*51 or more significant with sights only. Shotguns must have a 12-gauge pump with an iron sight but no porting. A handgun has to be .45ACP or more prominent but with no optics or porting.
  • Open – Here, almost anything goes. Handgun magazines have to be 171.25mm long or less. The open division allows speed loaders.
  • Outlaw Open – Provided it is safe, anything goes into this division.

Getting Started

Starting is pretty straightforward. Find a shooting range in your home area that features 3-gun matches. Spend more time watching and learning. Take it easy, and have all the fun you need.

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