Like many shooters, my passion began for competing in high school, but unlike many, I had the opportunity to join the rifle team and was introduced into small bore and high power competition rather early.
Years later, after some competitive shooting in the Marine Corps, I found my true competitive love while watching a shooting video of the top United States Practical Shooting Association shooters.
Practical shooting began decades before in the form of leatherslap competitions, where the shooters focused on fast drawing defensive firearms from their holsters. The original informal competitions became governed by the USPSA and the International Practical Shooting Confederation. The sports became known as “practical shooting,” and the shooting and gear evolved at a very fast rate.
Practical shooting has been in my blood for over 20 years now, and I have competed in both USPSA and IDPA, as well as other variations of steel or practical type competitions. This experience has led me to figure out some stuff along the way, things that would make life for a new shooter much easier.
Lets keep the list short for this article, so you can focus and absorb each one, and in future articles I will expand on all the other things you will need to know to shoot competitively. While my focus (and background) is in practical shooting, this list addresses things that can be applied across the board.
<h2>Don’t Make Assumptions</h2>I am surprised each time I hear someone in conversation or from a distance talk about competitive shooting. Oftentimes they are misinformed by other “target” shooters on what competition is really all about, what gear to use or specific rules. I have students who are avid competitors show up to classes with a lack of knowledge about the rules of their sport. So, one of my first recommendations is to read the rulebook of the sport they are shooting. If you are a new shooter, don’t make assumptions until you attend a match and watch and speak to the shooters. After that, you will have a much broader understanding of the sport and what your next steps should be.
Mike Seeklander is the owner of Shooting-Performance LLC, as well as the president of the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Okla. Mike has extensive formal training and experience as a full-time professional instructor, and has authored numerous pieces of curriculum. In 2010, Mike published the incredibly popular book Your Competition Handgun Training Program, as well as a logbook and two DVDs (“Competition Handgun Training Skills and Drills,” volumes 1 and 2), to complete the Shooting-Performance training system. Mike teaches a wide variety of programs through USSA and his company Shooting-Performance, including defensive firearm and competition classes.