<strong>Objective:</strong> Hit a 3-inch dot at 50 yards while holding the gun with one hand. With iron-sights, that target will be about a quarter of the width of your front sight; similarly, a 2 MOA red-dot will barely cover that little black circle of a target. Precision and marksmanship is the goal. Just to keep things interesting, you’ll also be shooting timed during rapid-fire strings, releasing five rounds in 20- and 10-second windows at 25 yards. The best in the world literally put one round on top of the other. Points of contact include the NRA’s Competitive Shooting Division.</br> <strong>Essential gear:</strong> Eventually, you will need a .22 LR, any centerfire and a .45 ACP pistol. Most competitors in these events use an accurized 1911 or a Beretta 92FS/M9 platform.</br> <strong>Range training:</strong> On a white piece of paper, draw a little black dot 1 inch in diameter. Send it back to the 15-yard line. Load five rounds and see if you can dunk all of them in there. If you can get 10 rounds all in the black dot, move the target back another 5 yards.
<strong>Objective:</strong> IDPA is all about “real-world” self-defense. Using pistols you might actually carry for CCW and strong-side holsters suitable for everyday wear, you’ll face a number of defensive shooting scenarios. These scenarios may include a carjacking where you must draw your gun from a glove box, and a home invasion where you’ll have to find your gun in the nightstand and stand up to the bad guys. In fact, most of the setups are taken from actual encounters documented in the news.</br> <strong>Essential gear:</strong> You’re basically limited to service-type pistols. The great thing is most out-of-the-box guns will work for IDPA competitions. </br> <strong>Range training:</strong> With a cleared and empty gun (even a simulation gun will do), in an empty house, walk around drawing your gun and picking random spots to target. Get used to moving around corners, through doorways and aiming while taking cover behind a sofa.
<Strong>Objective:</strong> Want to know how fast you really are? You’re going to be standing in front of five steel plates. At the buzzer, shoot them all as fast as you can, reserving the last shot for the designated “stop plate,” which concludes your salvo sprint. Steel plates are arranged at varying distances and in various sizes; each is erratically placed so that each stage allows for different strategic approaches on what to shoot first and what to shoot next. Its addictive and extremely satisfying, all accompanied by the instant feedback of the harmonic “ding” when you slam lead on steel.</br> <strong>Essential gear:</strong> A pistol. Five rounds.</br> <strong>Range training:</strong> See if your local range has a row of steel plates. Load five rounds for five plates. Start left to right. Did you knock them all down? All right, this time do it in less than 30 seconds. Keep in mind, the best in the world can clean house in less than three seconds.
<strong>Objective:</strong> You’ll be shooting on the move through various stages. Sometimes you’ll be flat on your belly, to then run, open up a hatch and shoot one-handed at steel silhouettes. You’ll be judged on speed and accuracy.</br> <strong>Essential gear:</strong> Chances are whatever pistol you currently own, it will qualify for one of the divisions. Eventually many fall happily into the deep dark abyss of the “Open Division,” where just about anything goes.</br> <strong>Range training:</strong> Send a plain-white 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper downrange about 15 to 20 yards. Then put two rounds in the center of the paper. Are they both in there? Try it with a friend while timing yourself. Accuracy and speed are key!
<strong>Objective:</strong> Take all of the shooting platforms we’ve covered so far and add in rifles and shotguns, and you’ve got yourself a 3-Gun match. There are poppers, classic stationary targets and steel plates, all set up in a stage you have to run and shoot through using your three guns. With the inclusion of rifles and shotguns, and simulating self-defense scenarios, you’ll be challenged to engage targets that are right in front of you all the way to 500 yards away, including flying clays and whatever else the organizers deem targets. There really is something for everyone!</br> <strong>Essential gear:</strong> Most people showing up to USPSA-sanctioned matches will be using an AR-type rifle, a semi-auto or pump shotgun and a semi-auto pistol.
You just bought your first 1911. Or your seventh. You go to the range when you can and feel pretty good about your shooting skills. Now what? One of the joys of shooting is finding ways we can plink and compete while making us better all-around shooters. Let’s take a closer look at a few fun and popular shooting sports that are easy to get into, regardless of your skill level. I have found that these competitive organizations are filled with some of the nicest and most welcoming folks you’ll run into at any range.
For More Information
International Defensive Pistol Association
NRA Competitive Shooting
Steel Challenge Shooting Association
United States Practical Shooting Association
A renowned martial arts expert hosted a women's self-defense class in Bryant, Arkansas.
by Andrew Berry / Dec 15, 2014