This is a great question, so I will follow this thread. I caught the shooting bug last year and get to the range at least once a week. Another question is, "How do I know if I'm good enough for a competition?" I hear about guys shooting 3" groups all of the time but is that really necessary to be competitive? Is speed necessary? How should I practice at a range to prepare for competitive shooting? Most guys I meet up with at my range aren't shooting 3" groups even at 10 yards. When I look at their targets in the trash bins, my groups look tighter than theirs and I know I'm shooting from an equal or further distance. How do you know you're ready for that step? Are their novice categories for shooters?
I've dabbled in most kinds of handgun competition, from Bullseye to PPC to Silhouette to "informal" IPSC to IDPA to Bowling Pin matches. Most of the matches I've attended had Unclassified or Beginner divisions for new shooters, and virtually all had one or two folks who are willing to explain the game and answer questions from a new shooter.
If you can find a local match that sounds interesting, get the location and time, but when you get there leave your gun stuff in the vehicle, and stand around and talk/ask a few questions. Mention that you've never shot a match of this type before, and if the group is friendly, SOMEONE will give you a rundown on the rules, requirements, and what the costs are (entry fees, etc.). Some ranges let new folks shoot matches at a reduced rate, or even for free (to get you "hooked").
Now, I have to warn you that not all folks at matches are friendly, open, and accommodating. Some folks take their competitive shooting VERY seriously, and don't want to be bothered lest it break their concentration. Others may act standoffish or suspicious of newcomers, but usually if you dress neatly and wear your hat straight on your head instead of sideways, ask questions in a non-intrusive manner, listen carefully to any tips/pointers offered, and watch the action quietly from a safe area off to one side, you'll end up with a good idea of what's going on, and a chance to shoot, if you want it. Don't be afraid to ask questions; it's better than messing up a stage by shooting targets in the wrong order, or shooting your neighbor's target. Be ultra-safe in your gun handling at all times, and ask about special rules on indoor ranges (no holster use, firing straight downrange only, etc.) if you usually shoot outside.
Ditto what DJ Niner told you. As a new competition shooter I saw immediately how some seem to be in their own "click", groups, shooting friends, etc. You'll spot the top shooter group fast. Top dollar rigs, race guns, sponsor shirts, etc. Very focused and quiet. Then you'll see the guys who just enjoy the matches and have fun. Those are the guys who I've found to be helpful. In fact, the first match I attended to watch only, one of those guys let me use his new gun and ammo. Of course when I returned, I bought him a new box of ammo as a thank you. The biggest suggestion I could give you (and myself) is watch the shooters. Watch how they walk through the stages, where they reload, etc. Of course I won't tell you when the buzzer sounds, even the best laid plan goes out the window. But I won't tell you that. Enjoy.
Well I used to shoot a lot of matches, pistol rifle and skeet but not anymore. I got hooked on smallbore rifle and pistol silhouette. It is the most frustraating game outhere I think. Instant satifaction or discuss but I love it.
I used to shoot smallbore three-position with a Winchester 52D International, and while I was living in Germany I competed in .22 Sportpistol, Free Pistol, air pistol, air rifle, and 50m prone. Now, because I'm back in the states and living in an area where there is none of those competitions, I am only actively competing in Field Target and air pistol silhouette.
I did just get a lever-action .22 for smallbore "cowboy silhouette" (not sure if that's the right name), and a bolt-action .22lr for regular smallbore rifle silhouette. I haven't tried either as of yet, but hopefully will attend my first matches within the next few months. I will also hopefully attend an IDPA match held about an hour away, and hope to use my CZ85 there.
I have only shot IDPA, and 3-gun/2-gun. I used to shoot targets from a standing position only. Or, I would plink beer bottles at the local dirt pit.
Competition is ALL I do now, minus a few training exercises on the range. It is soooooo fun! All the members at our club are very accomidating to new members, and no one gets to "focused" on the local level matches. In fact we view them as practice most of the time. Every now and then even Jerry Miculek comes out and shoots with us.
Go and try, cause if you go to watch you'll be pisssed that you didn't bring a gun.
I'm brand new to bullseye shooting. Joined the local sportsman's club just as their winter pistol league was finishing up. So now I'm practicing for the summer league that starts in June. Been shooting for about a month and on Saturday I shot a 269 (1 point from expert) in practice. That was with a really poor 84 rapid fire. Still having trouble controlling the trigger on rapid fire. To start with I'm just shooting the .22 portion; shooting a Ruger Mark III competition target.
Check each of the areas in the right sidebar for details, especially #7 for course/time limits. The target numbers/codes refer to specific NRA-approved targets used for each string of fire. They can be ordered from various online retailers if no one in your local area carries them.