How To Break Into Competition Shooting


Have you ever thought about getting involved in competition shooting? It’s a great way to sharpen your skills and meet other passionate shooters. It might seem a bit intimidating at first but once you get acclimated the experience can be rewarding.

So where do you get started?

Find a League

One of the first things you’ll need to do is find a league you want to compete in. There are a few different options but a few that stand out are the USPSA, IDPA, and NRA.

  • The United States Practical Shooters Association (USPSA)
    One of the most popular competition leagues is the USPSA, and it serves as a great starting point for shooters of any experience level. USPSA includes a variety of competitions, so there are options for people who want to shoot with out-of-the-box factory pistols or highly customized race guns.

    You can use this map to find a club in your area. There are over 400 clubs so you should be able to find at least one! The USPSA splits the nation into eight separate conferences and has a junior program.

  • International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA)
    The IDPA focuses on using competitions to help shooters gain experience in self-defense techniques. Competitors set aside the customized, competitive hardware for standard handguns. Competitors are meant to build up skills with standard equipment instead of relying on special add-ons.
  • National Rifle Association (NRA)
    The NRA also hosts their own competitive shooting league that organizes a wide variety of rifle and pistol competitions for youth and adults of all experience levels.

    If you're in college you're in luck too, the NRA offers collegiate shooting competitions, with nearly 300 college shooting programs. For those interested in starting a scholastic shooting program, the NRA offers this guide to help you get started.

In addition to these, you might also find competitions hosted by your local gun club.

Gear Up

You won’t have much luck in shooting competitions without a firearm. The type of competition and rule sets will help determine what type of firearms and calibers you’ll need. If you’re using an out-of-the-box gun in a mainstream caliber you will be clear for most competitions. As far as extra equipment, a handgun holster and mag carrier will likely be required.

Don't be surprised if you see a lot of 1911s as competitor's pistol of choice. Our Pro Series 1911s are well suited for competing but if you're just starting out any full-sized 1911 would do the trick. If you have the budget and once you're acquainted with the ins-and-outs of your competition of choice, you might consider having your 1911 optimized for competition (think porting, flared magwell etc...)

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you're geared up, get out to the range and practice. The key in competition is to start slow and place your shots well. Missing your target will hurt your score more than moving a little slower. As you practice and compete you'll gradually build up your speed over time.  


For more guidance check out our Shooting Techniques Page.


Beginner or advanced, you can always improve your shooting technique.