by Nick Klementzos
(GSL) – I compete recreationally and you probably should too, especially if you have a carry license.
Why? Even if we’re never going to be national champions? We should compete because it tests our skills and gear under a bit of stress. Also because it gives us increased confidence in handling our guns a whole lot more safely than Alec Baldwin.
We should compete because we are responsible individuals who carry guns in public. Why do we carry guns? We carry out of love. We love our families and we want to protect them from evil – from bad people with evil in their hearts.
As a side benefit, we also have the option of also helping to ensure the safety of other innocents if we can do so with relative safety. In short, we are the sheepdogs among the sheep.
With the right to carry a gun for defensive purposes comes the obligation to do so responsibly and safely among the flock.
Competing also helps us build confidence with our abilities and equipment.
Can you think of a better way to safely stress both you and your gear? Yes, friendly competition knocks the dust bunnies off of both your front sight and your skill sets.
First though, you’ll enjoy competing more if you have some fundamentals down ahead of time. First and foremost among those is safety. Practice muzzle control and trigger finger discipline at all times. You’ll be safer and so will those around you if you follow gun safety rules religiously.
Do a self-test of your marksmanship skills. Can you keep all of your shots on an 81/2×11 sheet of paper at 10 yards? If not, seek out some training in the fundamentals of marksmanship at an NRA Basic Pistol class or something similar. These are affordable and you’ll likely meet some good people in addition to improving your skills.
Why is marksmanship important? Because you don’t want to miss your intended target in a deadly force incident and maybe accidentally hit an innocent downrange!
While working on your marksmanship, you can also work on your holster skills. Can you safely draw and present your handgun without putting your finger on the trigger or covering your soft body parts with the muzzle? (Ditto on re-holstering!) Can you do so with minimal wasted movement like “bowling” or “fly fishing” as you present the gun to the target?
You do not need ninja skills, be in peak physical condition or even have flexibility to “compete.” You don’t have to run or even walk fast. In fact, at most matches, they would probably rather you took things slow and deliberate in terms of movement.
Once you’re ready, seek out some shooting events. Local matches are everywhere. Most clubs and some ranges will have some type of match on a weekly or monthly basis and fees to participate are usually pretty reasonable.
Still at a loss? See GunNews advertisers, the calendar section on page 22 of GunNews or even better, visit the “Practice Score” website online to find competitions near you: practiscore.com. Don’t have a computer? Have your kids, grandkids or the neighbor’s kids do it for you. Once you register you can find even more events near your location.
If you wish, contact the match director and ask questions. Consider attending to watch without shooting if you are not quite ready to participate.
Don’t get me wrong, no shooting match will ever be as real as a deadly force encounter. However, the benefits of participating in friendly competition are endless.
You will feel stress. Your skill and gear will be tested in a relatively safe and controlled manner. And you’ll leave a better shooter.
Matches can be as simple as shooting at a steel plate rack or paper targets. Or it might be drawing from a holster and shooting multiple targets from different positions.
You won’t “win” the match in your first outing, but you will have a good time with some good people who share your interest in firearms and shooting.
Not only that, but if you’re really lucky, you might even meet Santa Nick.