Since this blog of mine is directed more toward newer shooters and people who are curious about competitive shooting, I'd like to to make clear:
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE GOOD TO START SHOOTING USPSA MATCHES, JUST SAFE.
The only reason I got into USPSA was by accident. I was checking out some YouTube videos about becoming a better handgun shooter, and the first videos I saw were a series called Hot Shots presented by Cheaper Than Dirt. They gave a really cool look into the daily lives of professional shooters like Max Michel, Jerry Miculek, and Clint Upchurch.
Once I saw these videos, I became curious about matches near where I lived.
I decided to go to American Bros. In Arms, a local gun shop in Sioux City, to ask around. I met three really cool guys, Chase, Tim and Nic, and they took a lot of time out of their day to answer my questions about speed shooting. I first got started in some local "outlaw matches" (or matches not sanctioned by any organizations). I was incredibly slow, but I was making accurate shots and making sure I was doing everything in a safe manner.
I was immediately hooked! Chase, Nic and I started training together and going to USPSA matches in Omaha, NE and Sioux Falls, SD.
Before the start of any match, USPSA affiliated or not, a range officer (RO) gives a safety briefing and explains expectations for all competitors.
They show all of us where all of the safe areas are to inspect your gun and dry fire if necessary. They go through all of the range commands (load and make ready, are you ready, standby, "beep") and enough of the basic rules to get you through the match safely.
They pay special attention to the "180" rule, meaning no shooting past 90 degrees on either side of you, and to leave the gun holstered unless you're in a safe area or have been given the ok by an RO. Otherwise, either of these actions will result in disqualification for the remainder of the match.
If you have common sense and remember the 5 rules of gun safety, you'll be good to go:
1) Treat every gun as if it were loaded
2) Always remember to keep your gun pointed in a safe direction
3) Never point your gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
4) Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
5) Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
No pressure! I actually got disqualified from my first USPSA match in Sioux Falls because I "broke the 180." I thought it was a lame call since it was so close, but I was a good sport and still learned a ton of cool things after I put my stuff away.
After that match, my friends initiated me into their group by buying me a meal at the local Dairy Queen, and that has been a tradition for our shooting group ever since.
USPSA is a ton of fun, but being safe is everyone's responsibility, whether you're a new shooter or a professional.
Getting comfortable with all of the controls on your handgun is more important than anything else before getting into competition shooting.
I've heard many people say they want to go and watch a match first before they start competing. I promise you-- you're more than welcome to watch, but once you see how fun it is, you'll wish you brought your stuff to compete. I am good friends with the guys I first met at my first match, and I keep in touch with them to this very day.
As fellow shooters, we want to encourage you to grow in your shooting abilities and are willing to help in any way we can.
What are you waiting for? Your new shooting family is waiting for you.