Using competitive shooting as a training aid or training component is an old saw. People have been doing it for decades, so there’s no use in talking about it as a concept. We also won’t waste time on the “sport vs. street” trope; anything that improves marksmanship improves your ability to defend yourself with a gun.
Instead, let’s talk about what kind to get into for the total beginner.
While it would be great to get the same rig as, say, a Robbie Leatham, Doug Koenig, Jerry Miculek, Mike Seeklander or whomever else you could name, the reality is:
A. You probably can’t afford the same competition rig that professional shooters are provided with by their sponsors and
B. it would be a waste for the novice.
So, what are some competitive events that you can get into for not too much money, and that are more geared for basic skills? Good question, and here are a few.
Glock Shooting Sports Foundation
The Glock Shooting Sports Foundation, or GSSF, is a competitive shooting sport that was launched by exactly who you think it was. You shoot for score with – shocker! – Glock pistols. Events take place nationwide, including indoor and outdoor events.
Typically, you’ll shoot five stages, with ten rounds per stage. One box of ammo.
It’s relatively cheap. Membership in the GSSF is $35 per year, and match fees are usually quite reasonable. You need a Glock to compete, but the good news is that A LOT of GSSF matches are staged at gun store/ranges, so you can usually rent one instead of buying one.
Glock matches are entirely shot from low-ready and are really more about basic marksmanship than defensive shooting, but anything that improves your marksmanship is still good for you.
Bowling pin shoots are basic as all get-out, in comparison to other competitive shooting events. Clear five pins off a table – by shooting them! – for time. The clock stops when all the pins are on the ground.
There isn’t a national league, but there are a bunch of regional ones or even just single locations that stage bowling pin shoots. There isn’t a championship involved, though winning the Second Chance Pin Shoot comes close.
Good marksmanship is required and under time-stress. It’s cheap, clean fun, and it works on skills you need to win a gunfight, namely being able to place accurate shots quickly.
The International Defensive Pistol Association was started because IPSC had become too “gamified,” too obsessed with expensive guns and gear, and too unrealistic. Granted, IDPA matches are run by some folks with mighty fancy gear, but basic competition in the stock divisions – where you compete with production guns – doesn’t require a huge investment in gear.
The typical match usually requires only one box of ammunition, with only a few stages. It’s also practical, in that most stages start for concealment. Like other practical shooting sports, scoring is done by combining time and accuracy, AKA “time over” in that missing the target zone adds “time” to your score. Fastest wins.
You can blow a lot of cash on a competition gun and rig, and some people do, or you can part with not a whole lot and get started. Membership is cheap – $40 per year – match fees are cheap – depends, but usually less than $20 – and, as mentioned, you don’t need a huge amount of gear or ammo to shoot a match.
IDPA is also one of the best shooting sports for drilling concealed carry skills, so it’s definitely worth looking into.
There other competitive shooting events out there that don’t have high barriers for entry. USPSA, NRA Action, and other series can be reasonably entered into in terms of investing in gear and the cost of competing as well.