May 10, 2015
Competition Shooting, For Me?
As I discuss shotguns & shooting, most of my focus is aimed at recreational/fun shooting and shooters. There are other tiers of shotgun shooting that may be of interest, or may be of benefit to consider. Outside informal fun shooting, there are many levels of organized leagues and then there is registered competition shooting. Don’t get me wrong, shooting just for the fun of it, with family and friends, is a great way to go and I love it. It’s low pressure, make some noise and break stuff good times. For many people, that’s all it needs to be and all it will ever be. But, there are those that crave more, want to see how they rate, or are just plain competitive.
Everyone gets into competitive shooting for different reasons. I never had any intent to get into competitive shooting beyond my local club’s leagues. It was all the competition I needed and fun with my friends.
I originally started shooting clays for the sole purpose of becoming a better wingshot for waterfowl. That carried over into shooting leagues so that I could try more challenging targets. Eventually, it became more about testing my own limits and skills than it was about wingshooting, which, still benefited tremendously from my competition shooting.
That’s what led me to shooting in registered competitions; I wanted to challenge myself with even more difficult targets and pressure situations. Sure, I compete to beat the other shooters, but I’m really more interested in competing with myself, pushing my personal limits and performing under pressure.
The advice I would give anyone who is interested: “Don’t be afraid to try it and go into it with the right attitude.” Most shooters, like in anything competitive, don’t step in and win their first registered shoot. There’s a learning curve in many ways, but that is fun in and of itself. Start with joining a league at your local club. Get familiar with the rules and etiquette involved. Feel comfortable on a course or shooting layout.
If you are moving along and want to try more, keep in mind that all three of the major shotgun shooting sports; trap, skeet and sporting clays, have various levels of classifications that will try and keep you shooting against people of similar abilities. You’re not going to get thrown up against the top guns or All Americans and get shredded, BUT, at the end of the day you’ll get to compete in class AND still see how your scores measure up against all comers on that day.
In some cases, you’ll get to shoot with those top shooters and see how they do things and, in turn, it will make you better. Sometimes it’s humbling and drives you to improve and sometimes it’s exhilarating when you do well, causing you to REALLY want to push to get better.
We all look for different things. League and competitive shooting are just some other avenues to try. Both are shooting fun!
Rich Nemitz is a WSCA Hall of Fame and NSCA All American shooter and former gun club general manager.