I’ve spent literally thousands of hours on the range and occasionally I’ll catch a glimpse of someone checking out the activity that I have going on. While trying not to scare them away, I approach cautiously, slowly, making a light whistling sound and rubbing my fingertips together in the hopes of enticing them to approach. Sometimes they scatter, bolting into the restroom, but other times they actually come forward, asking; “What’cha got going on here?” When actually what they are asking is; “How do I get started shooting precision matches?“
Just do it
“I do fair amount of plinking and I’m pretty good at it.”
I say nothing, never laugh. My expression does not change.
“I used to shoot (insert random generic shooting game) for awhile but then (I or my wife) had a kid and… y’know… stopped.“
That’s when you grab them, push them up to the line and make them try. Once you’ve got that hook in their mouth, you reel them in by telling them that there’s a match coming up soon and that they should definitely come by and check it out. There is no better way to learn what a shooting competition is all about other than seeing for yourself. Unless, of course, you actually come by and shoot the match.
It tastes better than it looks
Now I’ve watched matches before. If you’re watching some form of action pistol or multi-gun or some form of “run and gun” type match, then it’s exciting, full of adrenaline and a spectacle to behold. If you watch a precision match–pistol or rifle–after awhile you may start to consider how hard could it actually be to perform a root-canal on yourself. Now don’t get me wrong–as a competitor it’s purely fantastic and great family fun for all–but precision shooting is not, for the most part, a spectator sport. Why do you think it’s so important to encourage parents to shoot along side the kids when you hold junior program leagues or matches? It’s because you want them to bring the kids more than once.
Ask lots of questions
So you showed up at the match. You wave to your new “friend” who insisted that you come by and check things out. Do you just stand there like a pole? No, you get involved! Tell people that you’re new (believe me, they already know) and that you’re trying to learn just enough to shoot your first match. You just watch how much advice and explanation will come your way. It will be overwhelming to say the least. Soak it in. Ask follow-up questions. Take any and all advice. Write notes if you have to and, most importantly, ask what you need to bring with you in order to get started.
Unfortunately I do know all too well the expense and time-suck that come along with competitive shooting sports. You’ll never be able to afford everything you think you’ll need in order to master the game. It’s our human nature to be competitive and to think that If I only had equipment X then I can achieve score Y. But if you can get past all that, you can actually outfit yourself pretty well on a budget. Your first couple of matches, well before you want to start making investments in firearms and ammo, ask if there are some loaners you can borrow for the match to try things out. Most of the time, extra guns, ammo required and not-so-required equipment will come at you from all sides. That’s just how most shooters are. Seriously.
Most important rule is to have fun
If you’re not having fun while shooting the match then don’t do it again. Hey, you tried. Gave it your best shot. Put it to the test. You did you and found it not so you. It’s okay. There are other seats for your ass. But… if you did have fun. If you could see yourself “doing this”. Now that’s the time to tread cautiously and not go hog-wild. Dropping a mortgage payment on equipment and guns might seem like the right thing to do, but take the advice like I did from one of my mentors–don’t invest til you’re obsessed. Obsession takes a little more time than shooting a match or two. Precision shooting is hard. There, I said it. It’s hard to do well and some people just don’t have fun when it comes to hard. Others feed off of it like a spider monkey reaching the rainforest canopy for that last banana, but not everyone. Have fun and make sure you’re still having fun after a few matches and practices.
The absolute best advice I hope you consider, even if ignoring everything else in this article, is that you find a local match that interests you here on Precision Shooting Matches and contact the match director listed in the match details. You did know that, didn’t you? Click on a match on the calendar and scroll through the match details til you reach the part that shows the venue (the range holding the match) and the contact person, who will be the Match Director. The MD info will be listed as well and you should feel free to reach out to the MD by phone or email and introduce yourself. Tell them you found their match on PSM (so they know their hard work is paying off) and explain that you’d like to try out their match. Believe me, they’ll be thrilled to help get you set up and start shooting precision matches.
Go have a match.