Competition shooting is a sport based around the use of firearms. In a shooting competition, shooters will use the designated firearm, whether it be a handgun, rifle, or shotgun, to shoot at a target. The target may be stationary or moving, but it will have ten circles getting smaller as they move closer to the center. The shooter wants to hit the center of the target to earn more points. Shooters may be required to shoot in three positions: prone, standing, or kneeling; some competitions may even require shooters to do all three! Competition shooting requires precision, steadiness, and a lot of practice!
Of course, one of the first steps when deciding to compete in a competitive shooting match is choosing the proper ammunition. Practice ammunition is often much more affordable than competition ammo. Competition ammunition consists of numerous types of bullets that perform a variety of different functions.
First, it is important to choose ammunition that matches your specific competition, such as handgun competitions or long range ones that use rifles. Ammo types can vary in material as well, such as brass or aluminum bullets, and may perform differently based on material. Also, ammo types with lower grain measurements (weight) will travel faster in the air.
All of these factors and more are things to keep in mind as you prepare your equipment for competitions. Ammo can vary heavily in price, but generally, most competition ammos sit around $10 to $60 for bulk orders.
For many shooting competitions, a belt can come in handy as a means to carry a variety of equipment, as well as make that equipment easily accessible to the athlete. While choosing a belt has very real and significant consequences for those looking to abide by the U.S's concealed carry laws, competitive shooting belts are made with accessibility foremost in mind.
Competition belts typically have slots for handgun holsters, and ammunition holsters for magazines. This allows a shooter to swiftly reload their gun during competition. Belts will often run upwards of $50, yet holsters and other accessories will cost additional money.
As its prefix may suggest, a bipod consists of two legs which help to stabilize a large rifle during use. Bipods are usually around five inches or so in length, but oftentimes they can be extended by a few more inches. Most bipods are constructed out of aluminum, and the more expensive ones may be constructed from stronger aluminums and other metals. This material may also contribute to the bipod's weight, and most weigh around one pound.
Bipod's are a great choice when competing in long range competitions. Many cost around $30 to $40.
Ammunition, rounds, and bullets are all terms that essentially describe the same thing: the main component by which guns hit targets. Put simply, a bullet fires out of a gun during competition and flies rather swiftly through the air to its destination.
Bullets are most often categorized by size, weight, and shape. A bullet's size, or millimeter measurement, and weight (measured in grains) most notably affect bullet speed and gun recoil, among other things. For example, heavier bullets may be less susceptible to changes caused by wind and other environmental factors. Additionally, if targets are made out of denser material such as steel, a heavier bullet may be desired to achieve better results.
Bullets can cost many different amounts, averaging out to around $40 for a box of rounds.
A chronograph, useful in competitive shooting to map the flightpath of your bullet, measures the speed at which your bullet leaves the barrel of your gun. This measurement calculates the velocity of your bullet, a useful measurement to gain from another source, as most bullets have this measurement printed on them already. A bullet must pass through a chronograph in order to obtain these measurements.
There are a few types of chronographs, but all function similarly to one another. These types include optical, magnetic, and doppler radar. A chronograph typically costs around $100 depending on the type.
One form of competitive shooting, skeet shooting, uses clay disks as the primary form of target. These disks are vaulted into the air, and competitors must trace their flight path and land an accurate shot to break them. To fly clay targets into the air, target throwers are used. These throwers are stationed around the range area, and on command, will begin firing targets.
Considered a wonderful tool for practice and range owners alike, clay target throwers cost anywhere from $20 to around $1000, and range heavily based on type. Many throwers lob single clays and must be reset, while others may fire many simultaneously at a very efficient rate. These distinctions, of course, impact the pricing of throwers.
Often referred to as pigeons, competition shooting clays are the primary target for anyone at a skeet shooting range. Standard shooting clays measure at around 108mm in diameter, and most are a bright fluorescent orange color. However, many targets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, adding another element to the sport.
Small targets leave throwers faster than their heavier counterparts, and are considered more difficult to shoot. Multi-colored targets can oftentimes throw off a shooter expected to see orange targets, offering an additional challenge. In bulk, clay targets cost about $10 to $20.
Disappearing targets don't necessarily disappear once shot, but rather they reset. These targets are a fun alternative to other target variants, and are a wise choice for someone practicing plinking or general target shooting. Once shot, mechanisms will bring the target down, indicating that a shot has been successful (thus, they disappear). Targets can then be reset, or they may reset automatically once all have been hit.
Most disappearing target variants function the same way. Whether practicing long range or handgun fire, these targets are a nice choice for any shooter. A small set of disappearing targets will run you around $50 to $100.
The act of shooting a gun often produces an extremely loud sound. In fact, most gunfire exceeds 130 decibels, and it is recommended that humans are not exposed to over 85 decibels for long periods of time.
While guns may be equipped with silencers to decrease their noise output, chances are a competition rifle will not include this attachment. Therefore, earplugs are essential to protect a shooter from hearing loss and ear damage. There are many different types of earplugs, and most allow only a certain amount of light sound to pass through. Traditional earplugs cost around $5, and higher quality variants cost more.
When competing in handgun competitions, a holster becomes a useful and necessary piece of any shooter's arsenal. Holsters are typically made of nylon, leather, or polymer, and most holsters function the same.
The main goal of any holster is to provide a seamless transition between holding and releasing the gun. This element of shooting is called the draw, and the speed at which it occurs is important for a shooter looking to do well in a competition. In many cases, the right holster can make or break a match.
Holsters can vary in price, but most cost around $20 to $50.
Many times, shooting competitions are held outside on a range, or in a field of sorts. Often, a shooter may need to lay on the ground or hold a position for a long while, making shooting hats a wise investment to shield oneself from prolonged sun exposure.
Shooting hats, like the ones manufactured by David Tubb, feature an array of adjustable flaps on the sides, back, and bill. Shooting hats are also built with visibility in mind, as shooter's need to know where they are at all times. Hats typically run around $20.
While gun holsters are many handgun shooter's primary holsters, different types of holsters do exist and are utilized by shooters quite often. Magazine holsters are invaluable when needing to carry multiple magazines. Having such holsters, which are very similar to gun holsters in concept, can increase the efficiency of a shooter by a great degree. Mag holsters are often attached to the belt, and can be worn inside or outside of the waistband.
Different holsters cost different prices, but generally, holsters cost around $40. Mag holsters cost around $30, although prices can vary.
While long range shooting may not be a piece of shooting equipment in the traditional sense, the concept of long range shooting is important to understand in the broader context of the sport. Long range shooting consists of many things, and requires certain types of equipment to perform.
Basic considerations for long range shooting are as follows:
During a competitive session, shooter's may find it necessary to go prone or seat themselves for a considerable amount of time. Thus, mats should be used to increase comfort while competing.
Worthwhile shooting mats have a few qualities that make them an effective piece in a shooter's arsenal. Shooting mats are often padded to help ease the effect of rough terrain, and many include pockets to carry essential pieces of equipment, like ammunition. For long range competitive shooting, mats are vital for increasing comfort. They often cost close to $40, but can range toward $100 depending on the manufacturer and amenities.
A monopod can be created by simply setting down your rifle's clipped-in magazine onto a stable surface while you shoot. For those shooters looking for a little more ensured stability, however, purchasing a monopod is a suitable option.
Monopods function similarly to bi and tripods, offering a way to stabilize your weapon via an extending leg. Monopods are a tad more versatile, though, as they can often extend much greater distances than their counterparts. This allows the monopod an additional degree of versatility, as rifles can be mounted on them while a shooter stands. Monopods can be purchased for roughly $25.
Moving targets function just as you would expect. They move about the range, giving shooter's a chance to practice leading their shots. One of the most basic arguments for their use centers around the fact that real targets, such as animals when hunting, are not always stationary. These targets rest on a conveyer that allows them to travel side to side. While they are not used often in competitive matches, they are a nice addition to the practice routine of any shooter.
Rarely will these targets pop up for personal use, and it is more likely you will see them at ranges. Moving targets can cost upwards of $1000.
For those looking for additional protection from the hearing damage shooting can cause, noise cancelling headphones are an ideal choice. These types of headphones are specially designed to cancel out harsh sounds. Most average noise cancelling headphones have a noise reduction rating ranging from 20 to 30 , meaning that they are able to reduce the amount of incoming sounds by a particular factor of decibels.
Noise-cancelling headphones, or shooting earmuffs as they are often referred to as, will cost you around $30 to $40 for a solid, effective pair.
The primary piece of equipment when competing in handgun competitions, pistols are one of many options that a shooter can compete with. Pistol models seem endless in terms of options, as every manufacturer wants to offer a product that shooters will take to.
Your typical competition pistol, also referred to as a handgun, consists of a few things: a grip, barrel, trigger, and rail. Competitive pistols stand out because of their customizable nature, expensive materials, and tactical designs. Popular competitive pistols include the Glock 34, CZ Shadow 2, and Walther Q5.
Pistols vary significantly in price, and can cost anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending on the manufacturer.
During a long day of shooting, a competitive shooter will be glad they kept a range bag in their arsenal. Given their versatility, it is no wonder that range bags have soared in popularity over the course of the past two decades. These bags are specially designed to efficiently tout all of a shooter's equipment, and they hold everything from ammunition, scopes, and much more.
An average range bag measures up to about a foot in length, and a few inches in width and height. Their compact nature allows for them to be carried easily, and without hassle. Most range bags are made from polyester, nylon, or similar material, and they cost around $30-100 or so.
Like pistols, rifles are one of the primary vessels for competing in the sport of competitive shooting. The amount of different rifles and rifling competitions are plentiful, and choosing the right rifle gives shooters a chance to accurately display their skill.
For competitive play, the primary rifle match types include smallbore, high power, silhouette, and practical matches. Each match type emphasizes a different style of rifle. For example, high power matches favor the use of both a bolt action rifle and a semi automatic, as there are both slow and fast modes of play. Similarly, smallbore has been around since the early 1900's, and utilizes .22 caliber rifles, one of the first competition rifles used.
Seldom will you find similarly priced rifles, as they range heavily in price based on type. They may cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
When shooting long range, using a scope mounted onto your rifle is imperative. A scope is a tool used to magnify a target over a great distance, allowing shooters to peek through the lens and accurately aim a shot.
Scopes consist of a variety of components, such as the scope itself, distance markers, a reticle, lens caps, an eye piece, and knobs that adjust the clarity of the magnified image as well as, but not always, the zoom factor of the scope. A good scope strikes a balance between magnification, image clarity, comfort, and ease of use.
Scopes can cost hundreds of dollars, with cheaper scopes costing around $100.
Odds are, competitive shooting competitions will occur at a shooting range. These ranges could be indoor or outdoor, and provide the main field of play for competition shooting. Range types are influenced by the type of shooting competition played there. For example, shotgun competition ranges, typically those that consist of trap and skeet shooting, are very different from cowboy action and bullseye competitions, ones that deal more with handguns and rifles. No matter the event, ranges are essential for competitive shooting matches to take place, as well as for shooters to practice their skills.
Similar to rifles and pistols, shotguns are another choice that shooters have when deciding what types of shooting competitions to compete in. Unlike the singular bullets ejected from pistols and rifles, shotguns utilize shell capsules as their primary form of ammunition. These capsules, or shells, break apart when shot, causing multiple pellets to eject from the gun.
This style of shooting is popular among trap, skeet, and sporting clay matches, as the spread of shotgun shells allow small targets to be taken down with less attention to accuracy. Shotguns come in many varieties, many of which cost upwards of $400.
Shotguns need to be reloaded often, which creates a need to carry a great deal of shotgun ammo when competing in shotgun competitions. The majority of popular shotshell caddy options carry around 6 shotgun shells, and are able to be clipped to a shooter's belt, giving them quick and seamless access to their essential ammo.
Shotshell caddies provide a quality of life improvement to shooter's of shotgun competitions. They can be purchased for around $20, with higher end options peaking around $50.
In competitions involving scoped rifles, sights are seldom used, as a scope or other sight is often preferred. However, when competing in pistol competitions, pistols will have iron sights that help a shooter aim with better accuracy.
Iron sights are equipped to the rail of a pistol. To properly utilize a sight, it is recommended that a shooter practices learning to aim down range with their dominant eye, and maintain a clear focus on the frontal section of the sight where the dot or divot is. Sights cost anywhere from $15 to $70.
When shooting with a rifle, a sling helps to maintain accuracy. Slings essentially act as straps the shooters wear across their body, and the tautness of a sling helps to maintain stability while aiming and firing.
While preparing for a shot, stance becomes an important element. Slings provide a way for shooters to allow tension in their stance to stabilize their motion, and keep their shots on target. Slings are a versatile choice for any arsenal, and apply their uses to a variety of rifles and scenarios. A typical sling costs around $10.
As opposed to attaching a sling to a singular, stiff area on the back of a rifle, a gunman may instead opt to attach a sling to a swivel that has been attached to their rifle. Sling swivels are often made of steel, and give slings an extra layer of versatility, as slings that have been hooked to a swivel are able to move much more freely.
Sling swivels are not cumbersome attachments, and typically measure about an inch or so in length. Singular swivels cost around $5 to $8.
In addition to slings and legged pods, shooters have a variety of stabilizing options at their disposal. Popular stabilizing methods for rifles include the use of stocks and grips. Stocks are adjustable attachments fitted onto the butt of a rifle. They are designed to fit comfortably on a shooter's shoulder. Similarly, grips are small attachments fitted under the barrel of a rifle, much like a bipod or tripod. The shooter places their hand on the grip during firing, allowing them to manage recoil and better stabilize the rifle.
These methods are just a few ways in which shooter's can gain more control over their weapon. Stocks and grips range in price, typicalling falling in the $5 to $80 range. Stocks are often more expensive.
Shooting competitions often take place outdoors, and glare from the sun can cause visibility problems for marksmen. In a sport where visibility is key, a reliable pair of sunglasses is a necessity.
A good pair of shooting glasses not only serve to protect someone from glare, but also help to protect a shooter's eyes in general. Most shooting sunglasses are made of durable, hydrophobic materials, and feature polarized lenses to help reduce glare. A pair of Oakley glasses, a popular choice among shooting competitors, costs around $70. Prices may vary based on designer and quality.
An essential element of the sport, targets serve to truly test the skills of a particular shooter. Whether made of clay, paper, or steel, accurately and precisely landing shots on a target is the name of the game.
A typical competition target consists of rings that surround a center bullseye. Typically, the closer and more consistently a shooter lands shots near the bullseye, the better they are performing in the competition. Targets come in different shapes, as well as different materials. Many are shaped like people, while others are plain circles. Additionally, many are made from cardboard, paper, steel, and clay.
Targets vary in price, but typical practice targets cost $5, and are often bought in bulk.
When exposed to the elements, a shooter's rifle may gather dirt and grime. Shooters may also sweat in the heat or after an intense match. It is a good idea to keep a towel around in the event you may need to address one of these issues. Most shooting towels, much like any other sporting towel, are made from cotton, and include a ring which allows the towel to be fitted onto a belt or range bag.
A typical shooting towel will run you about $5 to $10, and is a handy piece of equipment to have at your disposal.
Much like its bipod and monopod cousins, the tripod serves as a versatile choice for gun stabilization and positioning. As its name suggests, tripods have three extending legs that give a shooter a variety of adjustable heights at which to rest the tripod. Much like camera tripods, rifle tripods allow the gun to attach to a base plate that gently slides the gun's barrel snugly into place. A high quality rifle tripod is made of carbon fiber, and is sturdy enough to withstand any multiple of shots a marksman may perform.
Good tripods do not run cheap. They may cost around $1000, with cheaper options sitting near the $80 to $200 range.
The most commonly used pieces of equipment would be the firearms (handgun, rifle, or shotgun), ammunition, scopes, sights, targets, and shooting ranges. Every shooter needs a gun to use and ammunition to fire. These, along with sights, scopes, tripods and other stands allow you to train and compete, sometimes at a shooting range and at other times on a course.
Shooting equipment is very unique from the equipment of other sports, since shooting requires very dangerous and lethal weapons. Shooting equipment should only be utilized by those trained to use it and should be stored in safe locations when not in use.
The firearm and ammunition are the most important pieces of shooting equipment to have and use. Without a firearm, there is no way to shoot, and without ammunition there is nothing to shoot! A target is also very necessary, because you will need something safe to shoot at. Many shooting ranges will provide you with a target, ammunition, and a limited choice in firearms. It would also be a worthy investment to purchase noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs, because they will protect your ears from the loud sounds guns produce.
Shooting equipment can be both expensive and difficult to purchase. In most places, you will need a permit to purchase a firearm, since they can be used as weapons. A handgun could cost you over $600, so it may be best to rent guns at a range as you begin to learn how to shoot. Targets may cost you $20 to $100 and headphones or earplugs can range greatly, though higher priced items are usually higher quality.