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How did you get started in competitive shooting?

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by Quintin Likely, Mar 13, 2005.

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  1. Quintin Likely

    Quintin Likely Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Relay 3, Target 17
    Whatever your game is, IDPA, IPSC, 3 gun, smallbore, highpower, trap or skeet, cowboy action, how'd you get started? What kinda gear did you use starting out? Where do you stand now as opposed to when you first started out? We all started out as newbies at one time or another, I figured other people relating their first timer experiences might ease some worries that other newbies may have. Any tricks or tips for whatever your game is to help someone start out? The more people we have putting rounds downrange, regardless of the game, the better, right?

    I do an impersonation of a highpower shooter from time to time. My first match is somewhere in this forum, but I'll go first anyways. From reading posts by people like Steve Smith, Jon Coppenbarger, the Bling Rat, and a few others, I decided I had to give highpower a shot. I drove down to a 300 yard reduced match, which isn't but about ten minutes away from my house to watch, but like any other shooting sport, you don't go to watch, you gotta get in there. About a year later, I got the oats up to go and shoot. I bought a Rock River National Match A2 upper from a gunshow and a few 20 round mags, a cheapy Uncle Mike's 1907 style sling from WalMart (which absolutely sucked, BTW) and a few hundred rounds of Black Hills reman ammo from a friend of mine. I used a beach towel as a mat, I had no spotting scope or shooting jacket.

    I was lucky enough to have Bert Medina helping me get started my first time out. An awesome shooter and super patient all around good guy too. He helped me get my sighters on paper at 200...first one was a ten. It would have been great if it was on my target though. What was that about crossfiring...? I think my score was something like a 290-1X, with a whole bunch of misses. I'll be the first to say, seeing that itty bitty 600 yard reduced target at 300 yards with a post sight is an intimidating thing, especially if you're like I was, used to shooting off a bench with sandbags and a scope. After getting over the first match, everything else seems simple now. The second match I shot, I picked up over 100 points, I wanna say I had like 405-1X next time around.

    So now I'm trying to drag everyone I can along with me to go shoot. I'm hooked...I wanna go distinguished, I wanna go to Perry someday, I want a Garand so I can shoot Garand matches, I want that high master card (someday...), I wanna dabble with the match rifle someday, then there's F-Class and Palma too...

    So, what's your story?
  2. atek3

    atek3 Member

    Mar 5, 2003
    SW CT
    Mine is pretty easy, I owned no firearms, to get my first gun, an M1 Garand through the CMP you had to shoot a Highpower match... Now I shoot Highpower, IPSC, and 3gun.

  3. Jon Coppenbarger

    Jon Coppenbarger Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Quintin likely
    As you have noticed Georgia is a very active highpower area.
    Bert even if I have never met him has a great reputation as a shooter and good person. It goes to show you when a person goes out he will get all the help he seeks if he wants it.
    I started back in the early 80's when I owned a gun shop in CA. We were buying alot of military type surplus rifles and when someone told me about the DCM program back then I decided to go out and shoot to qualify like alot of others have. You know I never did send that in for the garand?
    Bought a fed ord M1A and tuned it up and started competing and then had my next couple of M1A's built for me. I liked the sport but was into other sports also. Never gave it the my best but shot alot. Got the basics down and made master but the low end of it.
    Gave it up in like 1989 and then shot for like a year in 1991 again and quit that same year.
    Needed a hobby so I decided to try it again and went to a AMU clinic with Steve Smith also at the clinic. First time we met also but having talked on a few boards before.
    I think my first match was in the first month of 2002 and made master at the end of 2002. I needed to have a distraction from my wife as it was not working out and shooting gave me that. 2003 I decided to get more serious and after the divorce spent alot of time going to matches.
    Went to the National matches in 2003 for the first time at Camp Perry and struggled but did ok in the team matches and managed to make our #1 team that year but I took it all as a learning experience.
    2004 also went to Perry and felt more relaxed and did alot better at least on the team events and gained alot more confidence.
    As far as leg points felt like I was close to gettign some in 2002 but always just came up short but those two years taught me alot of things I needed to know. Got all my points within a week with a 10 point win in new mexico and the following week a 8 point leg here in CO. The 8 point leg here made the top 100 scores for a leg match in the country last year.

    My goals? shoot well for my state at the nationals in the team matches.
    Personal goals most likely the same as most folks, Finish out my 12 points to leg out and Make the presidents 100.
    Other things like high master or titles who knows if it happens it will of been my time thats all and not really in my thoughts other than you should always have a goal.
    Matches sher do not really kick off until the middle of next month and then it gets busy. So far this year I feel I am getting more practice than ever so I may be able to improve this year but we will see.
    Thats it Jon
  4. theCZ

    theCZ Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    I started a shooting club at my university last year. Because of that, I went from recreational shooting, mostly fooling around to reloading all my own ammo and competing in trap, skeet, and IPSC. I've been thinking about trying hi-power, but we'll see what happens.
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2002
    Southeastern US
    I don't know what got me shooting IPSC and IDPA matches, but I was shooting those and felt like I was doing pretty well. However, I always felt like I had to drive forever to get to a match and there was little shooting actually done. It also occurred to me that the better you got the less you shot. About the same time I was dorking around with an M1A and got to talking to Highpower guys on the internet, fooled around with that a little and then went for the AR and focused on HP. After Jon and I started hanging out, he would encourage me to go to matches more and eventually it became a ritual. Ultimately, both our wives decided that we sucked, and Jon and I became roomates and shot constantly for the years after that. Talk about fun! We also became great friends...as long as he didn't drink all the beer. LOL
  6. Gary G23

    Gary G23 Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Corvette City
    I started pistol shooting after I was robbed at gunpoint in East St. Louis in 1987. Having the skills to stay alive seemed like a necessity after that.
  7. k47k

    k47k Member

    Mar 10, 2005
    I had never shot more than a BB gun until i was 22. One day my uncle showed up with my grandfathers SxS and we went trap shooting. I used a rented berretta 12ga auto. I think i got 3 birds.

    Soon after i got into shooting trap every week. never got very good, average about 17 or 18.

    There was an indoor pistol range where i shot trap, after trap some of the guys would go down and shoot pistols. They let me try, of course i wanted one. I bought a Sig p229 and began shooting IDPA soon after. Shot a weekly IDPA league for a while, less often now. While shooting IDPA i saw a flier for a Small Arms Firing School.

    I attended the SAFS, which taught the fundamentals of Service Rifle competition. I thought it was cool but didnt have the nerve to try a real XTC match. I also didnt have the money to buy all the equipment. So ove the next year or so i began purchasing equipment, rifle, magazines etc. I attended the SAFS again the next year and did ok. Decided i wanted to attend real matches. Went to a reduced 200yd match where the guys were helpful and showed me the ropes. I sho t a 698 or something like that. I got hooked, went out and put the rest of the equipment i needed on the credit card. That was a year ago this April. I havent missed a match since. Made Expert.

    In an attempt to get more offhand practice i took up Sporterifle (50ft offhand only) this winter, shot 21 weeks, averaged a 280/300. Expert scores.

    All this time i have been into big game hunting, which eventually got me to buy a Bow so i could extend the season. I now shoot 3D archery matches when they dont conflict with highpower.

    I was This > < close to buying a Palma rifle and getting into Long Range this year, but looking at the schedule for the long range matches, they all conflict with the Service Rifle XTC matches. So ill have to pass on that for now.
  8. W Turner

    W Turner Member

    Jun 13, 2003
    Hillsboro, AL
    I was raised in a family where the two guns my grandfather owned resided in his closet (Remington 1100 and 7400 in .308) year round with the exception of the yearly range trip. Started getting into handguns in the fall of '98 and played 'round robin with my guns until started shooting in IDPA in teh fall of '99. I still buy/sell/trade regularly, but within tighter parameters. I love shooting IDPA, but I am happily married with a newborn son and would like to stay that way so I only go to one or two matches a month. (Where I live I can shoot IDPA every week if I want). As soon as my son is old enough, I will introduce him and get him started in Rapidfire Rimfire and Rimfire Sporter.

    My future plans inclue more rimfire competition and eventually getting into HighPower and 3-gun in addition to actually joining IDPA and shooting in the big matches.

  9. Bluecard

    Bluecard Member

    Jan 18, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Basically, I was asked by a Gunsmith if I ever tried shooting IDPA. He and his wife had just started the local IDPA club and were looking for interested shooters. I really enjoyed the other shooters and after the first match I wasn't so tense. IDPA is rather inexpensive to get into and back in 97 it wasn't very "gamey". I think over the past few years its got a little more competitive and less defensive but that's all dependent on the group you shoot with. I recently shot my first Steel Challenge and I really enjoyed that. I though I would do rather well after having shot IDPA for so long but man was I suprised. My little single stack seemed to be lacking the capacity and I really needed to pick up the speed to compete with some of those guys. What I liked though, was that everyone was very cool and not judgemental or clickish so to speak. It seems that being a cop makes some automatically believe you are some seasoned Grand Master shooter but that is so far from the truth and the people at these matches really know that it doesn't matter what you do for a living, proficiency is a skill that comes with practice! In regard to gear, I prefer a Safariland 560 paddle and Safariland 079 open top double mag pouch. I have used my cheap Fobus with my Glock with a great degree of success. I have found that although Kydex is hell on the finish, it seems to be the fastest holster material on the draw. For concealment I wear a Royal Robbin (now 5.11) vest in tan.
  10. Fed168

    Fed168 Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Bull City NC
    Something fun to do growing up. I started out with smallbore sillouhette, shooting strings and pulling targets in the same match. Pretty easy job on a sunday. I used to shoot an Anschutz 54, with an 18x40 boosted Leupold offset for the right eye, and a spirit level set for the left eye. I think I mainly shot Winchester sillouhette loads- shot alot of ammo but did not pay that much attention to it at the time.

    Getting into police work, my first agency had a pistol team. Being a pretty decent pistol shot (I thought). Went through my first season with 4566 and 230 grain ball. That was a mistake. Switching agencies, I earned a spot on their team and changed equipment.

    92F and Winchester white box, then my reloads. The 92F is retired in favor of an Elite, and still the same ammo.

    For the other matches, when we shot the 1500, a Bill Davis .38 and Safariland leather. Lots of wadcutters.

    I think I've found my gun for the distinguished match: An SW 1911, with handloads. Shoots quite well. This season I may have my hands on a 945 to play with (Keller you better show up!)
    So the matches have expanded out to shotgun and rifle, nothing fancy but the sidematches ended up being as competitive as the Governor's 20 match.

    I shot in the police olympics when they could make their mind up if they would have shooting events and I could make it. Same thing- pistol, rifle and shotgun. The last time our team went we came home with 20 odd trophys.

    Tried IDPA and 3 gun, not enough time in the day so I don't shoot that anymore.
  11. CleverNickname

    CleverNickname Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    I started shooting IDPA because I got bored of standing in one place and making nice pretty groups in a target. I found out that I have three IDPA clubs within 15 miles of me, so I started going to one almost 3 years ago. I'm classified SSP/SS, but everyone at my club is telling me to quit sandbagging and try to move up to Expert.

    As for gear, the only thing I bought was an extra mag holder. I shoot from an IWB holster and whatever cover garment I wore to the range.
  12. hipwr223

    hipwr223 Member

    Nov 17, 2003
    I started to shoot NRA Highpower in 1994. All the hot shots in my area were match rifle shooters, so that is what I used. This is back when the .308 was still KING! Shot the match rifle and made master that year. In 1999 I found out about how cool service rifle shooting is. I bought an M1A but i soon found out why everyone was shooting the AR. So After a terrible year at Perry in 2000 plagued with rifle problems that kept me tinkering with the gun instead of focusing on the front sight, I decided to get an AR built. The very month after i returned from Perry in 2000 I had a freshly built CLE AR service rifle. First match was the Bridgeville De state championships and EIC match. Shot a 780 in the states and won the LEG match with a 486. The following year I made Highmaster, won the Nathan Hale trophy at Perry, picked up a President's 100, earned a few more leg points and legged out one year to the day from my first points at Deleware by shooting the following year(2001) at the Deleware EIC and taking the Silver. I still really enjoy the service rifle and will continue to shoot it until I feel my eyes no longer can handle the front post. I have a T2K in 6BR in reserve to shoot as a Match Rifle if need be.
  13. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    Albany, NY
    The club where I used to live in NJ had a junior smallbore program, so I spent most of my Wednesday evenings at the range above the city garage shooting 3 position .22 rifles.

    I eventually went to U of Mich on an NROTC scholarship and shot on the NROTC smallbore pistol team on Tues and Thurs and on the University smallbore rifle team on Monday, Wed and Friday. I got to shoot 5 nights a week and never paid a cent for ammo.

    After I got out of the Navy, we moved down to California (5 years ago) and I was surprised to find out there was a range only 5 miles up the road. I already had an M1A, so I started showing up to the matches there and have been shooting Highpower ever since.

  14. ACP230

    ACP230 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Upper Michigan
    My hunter safety class in 1966 was held a the rifle range at the local university. I noticed a poster for the school's Pistol Club. A few weeks later I showed up at a meeting. I was 14, so dad had to drive me down. I joined the club and started shooting Bullseye matches. I did that for the next three or four years, then drifted out of it after going off to another U.

    The next thing I shot competitively was highpower rifle at a club 90 miles away. It was the mid-1980s then. At the matches, I met people who went to the old Second Chance Bowling Pin Shoot. Ten years of pin shooting followed.

    Now, older, slower with a lot of gray in my beard, I mostly shoot .22 rimfire benchrest matches. I hope to get back into shooting rifle matches this summer.

    My older son used to shoot pins with me. My younger one shoots benchrest matches with me now. The kid has more natural talent than I ever did. I hope he'll get to shoot a lot of different types of competition.
  15. GEM

    GEM Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    I had taken a bunch of self-defense tactical courses. However, practicing at the square range was not enough. There used to be a couple of indoor ranges where you could practice at self-defense distances but they went belly up. The only other option was the outdoor ranges, where everyone shot at 25 yards and you had to wait for a cease fire to change targets.

    It was fun and my buddies still do that. However, I wanted some drawing, rapid fire and movement trigger time. I had gone to an IPSC match and then decided to try IDPA as I didn't want to do the race gun thing.

    Thus, I now try to do an IDPA match when I can. I might branch out to other types when time and cash permit.
  16. dghboy315

    dghboy315 Member

    Feb 1, 2003
    rockville, md
    i always wanted to try shooting, but i never knew anyone who did. so when i turned 23, i just decided to go to a range and try it out. i loved it, esp. the beretta 92. so i found the berettaforum.net and started reading. heard about IDPA and that were was match that was not too far. so i bought a pistol and tried to get into a match. i remember it was a real pain the in rear b/c the NRA range does not let someone sign up for a match unless the take their competition class and they rarely held classes. so, it took me month before i was allowed to actually try a match. but finally i got to shot and i was hooked. then i found ipsc and i have never looked back. now i also shoot 3gun and trap.
  17. viper16

    viper16 Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Started in Jr. High after I completed our schools firearms safety course, we would shoot on the weekends for the NRA patches with pelet rifles, did pretty well, averaged low to mid 40s, almost had my Expert patch when we stopped shooting, just needed offhand I think to finish that off. Did some shooting in 4H, but only had one year of that, our team missed the cut to continue on in the competition.

    Just last year I purchased my first Pistol and decided I wanted to have some fun while improving my skill with it, so looked at IDPA, watched my first match that winter and everyone was very friendly so shot my first match that spring.

    Had a blast the first time out, though I didn't do very well. Was pretty nervous for the first few stages, but calmed down quite abit once I started to care less how well I did compared to everyone else. Unfortunately there is only 1 match a month I can reasonably make it to, that being about 1.5 hours away, the others I could make are closer to 4 hours and I'm just not ready to make that time commitment yet.
  18. Krag

    Krag Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Confederate States of America
    Started after I moved out of anti-gun NY state to gun friendly NC. I bought a S&W M15 and a Colt Combat Commander and began shooting local "combat" and bowling pin matches with them. Got involved in pins real heavy (went to the Second Chance Shoot 13 years in a row!) and then USPSA. Tried IDPA a couple of times but almost died of boredom! :neener:

    Nowadays I usually shoot 3 or 4 USPSA matches each month. I use Glocks, Berettas or Paras depending on which division I'm competing in and what my mood is that day. :confused:

    I shoot one steel match a month and use a custom S&W 686-Plus revolver. I recently began doing some action shotgun - big bores and lots of noise. My idea of fun!!! :D :D :D
  19. LA kid

    LA kid Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    LA County, CAlifornia
    Buy what U can afford...have fun...don't worry about the other guys STUFF!


    I started trap & skeet shooting with my DAd at an early age, my first shotgun fired was a browning sweet 16 ga. which which knocked me down and bruised me up pretty bad.

    My first intro into competition was a turkey shoot...3 shots need to hit and the birds soared 45 degrees straight out...you needed some pretty fast HOT loads to hit them...with about 5-7 feet of leading..if you hit em all...the TURKEY was yours!

    A few years back I got into CAS...I always loved cowboy flicks and the outfits WOW!! So just getting involved with CAS was so exciting. But like any sport getting started always takes money. And usually you start to notice what the old timers have as far as their equipment and attire. It got to me at first, realizing I could not afford 2 colts (1500-2K ea.) with $400.00 ivory grips for 1 gun... for 2 thats $800. I made my outfits and bought clones and Rugers and the Umberti 1866 sporting rifle. And I had all the guns get an action job...lighten the hammer pull...trigger job and short stroked the 1866
    polished the sxs shotgun tubes and action. They weren't expensive but they were competeive and reliable

    Just like now I notice the guys with the $3200 STI Race Guns or Benelli Race Shot guns and AR's in IPSC/UPSA but thats OPEN class and that is a class by choice, it is just like CAS. Get what you can afford. If I wanted to jump into OPEN with a RACE gun I could have, but I decided to use the money I had saved and purchase the following for various other types of shooting and home defense and sport

    a glock 35 (barsto barrel/fitted) wolf springs
    a glock 23C ( extra barrel not ported to use in IDPA)
    Remington 870 18" express.........polychoke
    Ruger pc4 carbine 40s&W.......millet red dot2 scope..40mm
    Savage 26" 308 win........6x24 tactical scope...large bipod

    This is what I can afford and is what I am going to use and have FUN with! I look forward to my first Classifier

    I spent less money and managed to buy 5 guns instead of 1 race gun. I think I made a good choice, considering the guys I saw shooting in open were A W E S O M E!!!

    Well anyways I got started in shooting, fishing with my DAD

    LArry aka LA kid (IPSC/IPDA) Island Vaquero/Cajon Cowboys
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2005
  20. Abby

    Abby Member

    Mar 16, 2005
    Fort Worth, TX
    (I barely even qualify but here's my story)

    I always hunted and enjoyed shooting in the military. Then I became involved in a military "gas gun" league at my gun club in Minnesota. I had to borrow a rifle from a firend, but I shot in every match.

    I got into it to get some trigger time and hone my fundamentals. It worked, too. Someday I'd like to shoot the service-rifle style matches. For anyone, though, low-stress competition can be a great way to work on your skills.
  21. CZ52GUY

    CZ52GUY Member

    Jul 22, 2003
    New England

    After shooting bowling alley style at a public range for two years, I thirsted for something more. I found an IDPA affiliate club, joined, and I've been shooting there ever since.

    Warning, it's addictive :). I've built barricades, RO'd, and designed stages (including a BUG Classifier design collaboration which has been a big hit with our crew).

    The more you put into it the more you get out of it.

    Stay safe,

  22. sturmruger

    sturmruger Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    NW, WI
    About two years ago I started getting really interested in shooting competitively. I was getting really sick of just shooting at motionless targets from 7, 10 and 25 yards. I really wanted to test myself and see how I was doing against other shooters. Last year my club had an action pistol orientation class. I went to that class and had so much fun I went home just as giddy as could be. My poor wife thought I had stopped off at the bar on the way home I was so happy.

    In 2004 I shot in about 20 IPSC matches. I shoot production in the production division. We usually have between 7 and 12 production shooters at the matches that I frequent. I somehow managed to get second and first a few times.
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