BigT’s guide to starting sport shooting
This time of year, I speak to lots of people who want to start shooting some sort of sport. But I hear a lot of the same excuses as to why they can’t. So here is BigT’s guide to starting sport shooting.
Go do it. Go find a club, watch a match and see how things work. Chat to the guys there, you will find the vast majority of competitors are friendly and welcoming and will go out of their way to help you get started.
It’s not a bad idea to look at the rules, but you may not understand them very well. Don’t worry, once you start shooting, they will start making sense.
If you can, go shoot as a visitor, it’s the best way to see if that particular sport is for you. Make sure you tell the RO/SO/rest of your squad that you’re new and that you don’t know how it works. Don’t pretend you know more than your do. People will be more understanding of that, than you pretending you know better than you do.
Most importantly stop making excuses.
You don’t need top of the range equipment for the game. If you have a 9mm or bigger pistol that’s enough. Make sure you have enough mags to shoot whatever size stage is the biggest you will deal with in that sport. Three 10 round or more mags will be enough for IDPA. Four will get you started in IPSC. You need a safe holster that covers your trigger and enough mag pouches to carry your mags. That’s and normal PPE like eye and ear protection is all you need to get started. You don’t need a Shadow Edge Extreme 2. Far too often guys tell me they will start shooting X as soon as they get the right gear. That’s the wrong way around. Start with what you have, and you will rapidly discover what you actually need. People in the sport will give you far better advise about what you need than people who don’t shoot it, but think they know better.
If you don’t have something or another you will be surprised how helpful people will be if you’re nice about it. Non-competitors will be surprised at the length’s shooters will go to, to help other shooters. From a newbie’s first ever match to guys both in contention for a National title making sure their biggest competitor doesn’t lose because his gear failed.
The other excuse I hear all the time, is that “I will start shooting matches as soon as I am good enough” Stop with that silliness. You aren’t going to get better talking about shooting, you are going to get better by shooting. A few home truths that will make life easier, even if they hurt your feelings for a bit. If all you’ve done is plink a bit at your local public range, no matter how good you are or think you are, you probably won’t be winning matches when you start. And it won’t be because of your gear. This is good because it gives you an opportunity to learn what to work on.
Related to this but normally unsaid is the fear of looking bad. Men especially normally think they shoot better than they do (just liking driving and braai’ing). So, they don’t want to go look bad in front of strangers. In that case I have fantastic news for you. NO ONE CARES HOW GOOD YOU ARE! Really, they don’t. Unless you’re one of a handful of top end shooters, no one is paying much attention to how well the new guys shoots. They will support you if it goes well, they will commiserate if it didn’t, but I promise you they don’t care if you’re terrible.
All they care about if that you are safe. Really when you’re shooting, they don’t care if you’re fast or slow, they don’t care if you look awesome, they do care that you pointed a gun at them. No one will sit afterward and say, “I don’t want to shoot with that’s dude because he was slow”, they will say “I don’t want to shoot with that dude because he’s dangerous. So be safe and you will have all the support you need.
The only thing that bothers people close to the guy who is dangerous, is the guy who does nothing. Stages need to be reset, and targets patched. Watch what you squad does and ask if you aren’t sure.
You will find that a lot of shooters will make all sorts of effort to help you with stages plans and advice. Some will be useful some less so. But don’t be the guy who tells the National Champion why he’s shooting wrong because TrueTREX Zero on You tube said so, and you will be fine.
In short, stop finding excuses why you can’t start shooting yet, and find ways to start right now.
Post here or post on the relevant sports Facebook group and ask for details on when and where you can get started, and you will find guys to help you, make great friends, shoot better and be happier. Remember that even the dude who looks like a cyborg was once the new guy at the club who didn’t know how everything works, and don’t worry he probably remembers that too.
Original post can be found here.