Getting Started in the Shooting Sports
In this excerpt from her book Shoot: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition, multi-time Women’s National Champion Julie Golob covers some of the basics to getting started in the shooting sports:
Taking the Plunge
With so many shooting sports, it can be hard to decide where to get started. The sports covered in this book represent only some of the competitions out there—there are certainly plenty more, with new events showing up on match calendars frequently. Maybe one of the sports featured in this book left an impression on you, but if you still aren’t sure, here are some things to consider, as well as some additional information you should know before competing in your first shooting event.
You may not have a whole lot of disposable income to invest substantial dollars in a shooting sport. There are definitely programs out there that can help you learn about shooting and give you an idea if it’s something you will enjoy. As I mentioned in Chapter 3, Women & Shooting, the NSSF’s First Shots program is an excellent way to give shooting a try without spending a significant amount of money. Participants have the opportunity to learn from qualified instructors about local and state laws and have the chance to learn the fundamentals of shooting.
Several shooting sports accommodate new shooters by providing divisions that require less financial investment. A new competitor certainly has the option of purchasing high-end equipment should they wish to jump right in. I find that shooting sports can be related to going for a ride in a car. You can certainly get from point A to B in a reliable, comfortable vehicle, or you can do so in the latest and greatest four-wheel-drive SUV with leather interior and all the bells and whistles. No matter what you are driving, though, the view along the way is the same.
Shotgun sports are very popular because new shooters can show up to a shotgun event with a gun purchased at a sporting goods store or local dealer and a couple of boxes of shells. Certainly there are high-end, specialized shotguns that are designed for specific purposes, but as an initial investment, these are not necessary.
Most action shooting sports have iron-sight divisions in which guns that can be purchased at local gun shops can be competitive. Production or stock divisions allow for guns that aren’t highly modified to compete heads up against one another. Some events, like the Steel Challenge, even have a rimfire division. No holster is required— all you need is a .22 caliber handgun, magazines, ammunition, and a suitable bag to put it all in.
For precision sports, it gets a bit tricky because these sports have specific firearm requirements and allowable modifications. Precision silhouette shooting uses hit/miss scoring that is easy to understand, and there are no holsters or highly specialized gear required. The gun is the most significant investment. For other precision-based events, additional gear like shooting jackets, gloves, spotting scopes, etc., though helpful for top performance, are not required to compete. If you enjoy the challenge in precision sports, there are options to further specialize and even upgrade equipment to help shooters become more competitive.
The Value of Going to an Event
You may have seen shows on television or have watched or read about competitions on the Internet. Most shooting sports have associated websites, and there are certainly a number of videos on the Web, but the best way to get an idea of what to expect is to attend a competition as a spectator first. Find an event in your area, make sure you pack eye and ear protection, and go check it out.
When you arrive, its best to let the event administrators know that you are there. Most ranges have clubhouses or areas designated for competitors to register and pay for an event. Introduce yourself as someone interested in giving the sport a try. You may need to sign a release waiver in order to watch the event. Be sure to ask if there is anything you should know, especially with regard to safety, before heading out to watch the action.
Shoot: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition was written for those who are interested in learning more about shooting and competition, whether they are a firearms enthusiast or someone who has never held a gun before. The book contains a wonderful introduction to the basics of the shooting sports and a plethora of information about where and how to start.
For those who are interested in the shooting sports but unsure how to take the next step, Shoot is one of the best guides on the market. It is filled with high-quality photography, step-by-step instructional and descriptions of shooting sports lingo. Shoot: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition can be purchased from Amazon.com.
Julie Golob is the Captain of Team Smith & Wesson, with 15 years of women’s championship titles under her shooting belt. She is also a huntress, a mother, and an inspiration to many women within the world of shooting. She has a wide variety of skills, and is able to shoot well in every division from Open to Production to Revolver. Find out more about Julie at juliegolob.com.
Originally published in the July 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.