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A man shooting a handgun at a shooting competition.

Newbie’s Guide to Competition Shooting

Welcome to the exciting world of competition shooting! Competition shooting is not only about precision and skill but also about discipline, focus, and the thrill of challenging oneself. Get ready to explore the various disciplines, improve your shooting techniques, and connect with a community of enthusiasts who share your passion.

Understanding Competitive Shooting

There are several types of competitive shooting sports, each with unique rules, equipment, and strategies. 

Here are the three main types:

Practical competitive shooting

  • Focus: Practical shooting competitions emphasize a balance between accuracy, power, and speed. The goal is not just hitting the target but doing so efficiently and swiftly to simulate real-world scenarios where these skills might be necessary.
  • Firearms used: A variety of handguns, rifles, and shotguns can be used, depending on the specific rules of the competition. Competitors often use firearms modified for better performance.
  • Organizations: The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) are prominent organizations that sanction practical shooting competitions.

Precision competitive shooting

  • Focus: Precision (or precision rifle) shooting puts a premium on the shooter’s ability to hit targets at various distances with high accuracy. These competitions often involve shooting at long-range targets, requiring skill in wind estimation, ballistic calculation, and stable shooting positions.
  • Firearms used: Precision bolt-action rifles are commonly used, equipped with high-powered scopes. The guns and ammunition in precision shooting are often highly customized to enhance long-range accuracy.
  • Organizations: The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and National Rifle League (NRL) host precision rifle competitions.

Action competitive shooting

  • Focus: Action shooting competitions test shooting and movement skills under time pressure, often requiring competitors to navigate a course where they engage various targets in specific orders. Speed, accuracy, and the ability to make quick decisions are crucial.
  • Firearms used: Similar to practical shooting, handguns, rifles, and shotguns are used, with specific competitions favoring certain firearms. Modifications for reliability, speed, and accuracy are common.
  • Organizations: The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) focuses on defensive shooting scenarios, while 3-Gun competitions involve using a rifle, pistol, and shotgun in stages that require competitors to switch between firearms.

Basic rules and formats of competitive shooting

A man shooting a rifle at a shooting competition.

While the rules can vary depending on the specific type of shooting sport, there are fundamental principles that all competitors follow:

  • Safety: This includes handling firearms safely, wearing appropriate protective gear, and following the range officer’s instructions.
  • Accuracy: In most events, points are awarded based on how accurately the competitors hit their targets. 
  • Speed: Many competitive shooting sports also factor in the time taken to complete a course or stage. 
  • Equipment: Each sport has specific equipment regulations that competitors must adhere to. This includes the type of firearm used, ammunition, and accessories like battle belts.

Whichever type of competitive shooting you enter, ensure you understand the rules, point system, and any other regulations for that specific competition.

Essential Gear for Competitive Shooting

A Blue Alpha battle belt, mag pouch, and other shooting gear on a table.

Competitive shooting requires specific gear to participate safely and effectively. Here are the essentials:

  1. Firearm: The type of firearm needed depends on the shooting sport. For instance, USPSA typically involves handguns, while 3-Gun requires a rifle, shotgun, and pistol.
  2. Ammunition: High-quality ammunition is crucial for accurate shooting. You’ll need enough for practice sessions and the actual competition.
  3. Eye and ear protection: Invest in good quality safety glasses and hearing protection to shield yourself from potential risks.
  4. Clothing: Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing that allows for freedom of movement. Some competitions may have specific requirements, so checking in advance is important.
  5. Holsters and magazines: A sturdy holster for your firearm and extra magazines are vital for quick reloading during competitions.
  6. Battle belt: A battle belt is an essential accessory that holds all your gear, including magazine pouches, holsters, and even a first aid kit.

Accessories Spotlight: Why a good battle belt matters

A black Blue Alpha battle belt filled with shooting competition fear sitting on a fence post.

In competitive shooting, a good battle belt is not just an accessory – it’s a game-changer. 

It keeps all your gear within arm’s reach, allowing quick reloads and easy access to equipment. A well-designed battle belt distributes weight evenly to reduce strain and enhance mobility while keeping your hands free.

At Blue Alpha, we’ve designed our battle belts to be everything a competitive shooter needs.

Durability: Made from high-quality materials, our belts can withstand harsh conditions and heavy use.

Comfort: Blue Alpha battle belts are rigid but comfortable and are adjustable for a secure fit.

Versatility: With MOLLE webbing on our Battle Belt Lite and MOLLE Battle Belt, our belts can hold various gear, from magazines to medical kits. Prefer a belt with no MOLLE webbing? We’ve got you covered with our Standard Battle Belt.

Design: The low-profile design ensures the belt doesn’t interfere with your movement or shooting stance.

Customizing your battle belt for competitive shooting

Customizing your battle belt involves arranging your gear to maximize efficiency and speed. Here are some tips:

  • Prioritize accessibility: Place items you’ll need to reach quickly (like spare magazines) in easily accessible spots.
  • Balance weight: Distribute weight evenly across the belt to avoid discomfort or imbalance.
  • Practice: Run drills with your gear as you’d wear it in competition. This helps identify any changes needed for comfort or efficiency.

New to battle belts and battle belt setups? We’ve got you covered! Check out our guides to get you started:

Your gear plays a significant role in your performance in competitive shooting. With the right equipment, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a formidable competitor.

Getting Ready for Your Shooting Competition

A man standing with a rifle at a shooting competition.

As you gear up for your shooting competition, preparation is key. It’s about selecting the right equipment and conditioning your body and mind for the challenges ahead. 

Regular practice

This is the foundation for honing your skills. Visiting different shooting ranges allows you to adapt to various conditions and scenarios, essential for building muscle memory and improving shooting accuracy and speed. You can also use dry fire, a fantastic way to practice at home and save money on ammo.

Improving accuracy and speed

Techniques such as mastering your stance and grip, practicing controlled breathing for stability, focusing on the front sight for better aim, and engaging in dry fire exercises are crucial. 

These practices help refine your shooting technique to enhance accuracy and speed without the distraction of live fire.

Mental preparation

Developing a resilient and focused mindset is as critical as physical preparation. 

Techniques like visualization help you mentally rehearse and prepare for competitions while calming exercises and positive affirmations can alleviate nerves and boost confidence. 

Building discipline through a structured routine, focusing on the task, and learning from setbacks foster a resilient mindset that can significantly influence your performance in competitive shooting.

Embrace a training regimen that includes regular practice, focused drills to improve accuracy and speed, and mental exercises to build resilience and confidence. This holistic approach will ensure you’re fully prepared to tackle the competition skillfully and precisely.

The Essentials of Competitive Shooting Success

A man preparing for his first shooting competition.

The path to competitive shooting excellence encompasses a comprehensive blend of the right equipment, rigorous training, and a strong mental framework. 

Remember, success in this arena is not just about hitting targets but about the resilience, focus, and dedication you bring to every aspect of your preparation. Get ready, set, go!

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