Competitive shooting is something that people commonly overlook because it is intimidating for them. However, a lot of people already have the equipment to get started and the ability to place in the top three of an event. They just need to enter and do their best!

The shooting community is supportive, and we believe that people should give competition shooting a try. It can be a fun way to turn your hobby into something more. 

Read on to find out how to get into competitive shooting!

How to Get Into Competitive Shooting

Competitive shooting is one of the most supportive sports you can get into. Everyone that is in competitive shooting is there to have a good time and do the best they can. Shooting can have a lot of variances, so you have to have a great attitude to keep things fun and moving forward.

Choosing Your Event

To start getting into competitive shooting, you’ll want to choose your event first, and then all of the equipment that goes with that event. Regardless of what you choose, there will be a lot of ways to test if you enjoy the event before signing up for one.


You have three primary types of shotgun events to choose from. The events are skeet shooting, trap shooting, and sporting clay shooting.

Each of these events presents a different challenge with clay targets. Skeet shooting will fire clay targets from different directions. Skeet shooting will test your peripheral vision and your ability to react quickly as you only have a few seconds to shoot both targets.

Trapshooting is the second event that people enjoy in shotgun sports. In this type of shooting, clay pigeons are thrown in the same direction. This makes it so that the shooter has to quickly evaluate the different trajectories the targets are taking.

Then the shooter will need to shoot the one they feel will be the easiest to shoot later within a few seconds. With the targets heading in the same direction, it is a bit easier than sporting clay shooting, but it is not far off.

Sporting clay shooting is considered one of the most difficult of the three options. Clay pigeons are shot from different heights, speeds, and angles. This makes predicting the direction of the clay pigeons extremely difficult.

Sporting clay shooting is supposed to fully simulate when someone is out in the wild hunting. It is the most random, and as such, requires the fastest evaluation of the trajectory of the clay pigeons.

Regardless of which choice you make, shotgun shooting competitions are some of the easier ones to get involved in as a beginner!


With pistols, there are also three primary types of events that anyone can participate in. The first one is cowboy action shooting. This event is as fun as it sounds!

With cowboy action shooting, you have to use a gun from the era of cowboys in America (the 1800’s). This is extremely fun for people who are interested in antique weaponry and an older era before all of our modern modifications.

The second event is your standard bullseye shooting. This is more of a long-distance event for pistol shooting that tests your accuracy more than speed. Events will range 10 to 50 yards when shooting, and this is a good way to get your foot in the door with a lower pressure event.

The last type of event that is commonly promoted is speed shooting. This is an event where you’re presented with 5-10 targets at varying ranges between 5 and 50 yards. This is for people who like to get up to the line and leave it in a few seconds.

Regardless of which type of pistol shooting you’d like to do, a lot of people would say that pistol shooting competitions are the easiest to get into. Borrow a gun from a friend, get your adrenaline going, and give any of these events a try!


Rifle events typically have a lot to do with accuracy and less to do with speed than the shotgun and pistol events. Silhouette shooting is an extremely fun event where you are scored based on where you shoot a silhouette of a person. This event can place the target between 50 and 1000 yards depending on the rifle type.

The next event type is the same as the pistol event: bullseye shooting. Again, you are scored on accuracy and they will place targets at various ranges based on the rifle power of the division you’re in.

The last most common event is benchrest shooting. This event requires the highest amount of accuracy out of any of the events mentioned. You place your rifle on a table and attempt to make yourself and your weapon as stable as possible.

Benchrest shooting typically has a high amount of modifications to the gun in order to keep it stable. You’ll shoot paper targets at a very long range which will require you to measure wind speed, wind direction, elevation, and many other factors to be successful.

Regardless of which event you choose, though, there is a lot of support online and from your local gun range to help you get up and going. You’ll need some equipment to start off in all of these events, but the shooting community is extremely supportive!

Choosing Your Weapon Based on Your Event

The first thing you’ll want to determine after choosing an event is the weapon you’ll be using. Once you choose your event, you should go out to a gun range and try out a few different weapons that are recommended for your event.

Weapons can be expensive, so make sure you test out your weapons before purchasing. The gun you’re using is highly important to your success, and you need to make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with for a long time.

If you can’t find a weapon, you can try to build your own weapon or modify an existing one. For example, a very common rifle adjustment is to add an AR 15 complete upper receiver. You can attach a number of other equipment to your rifle to improve your performance.

You can narrow down your choices by looking up the regulations for the event you want to participate in. There can be size rules for the weapon, magazine rules, and other more detailed rules that will tell you what types of weapons you need to be looking for.

Once you’ve chosen your weapon, you will want to check out the equipment that can be used to improve your chances.

Equipment You Need

Each different class of weapon has different pieces of equipment you might need. With a shotgun, there are only a few moving pieces, but with a pistol, there tend to be more considerations that need to be made.

Shotgun Equipment

Shotgun equipment is the shortest list of equipment. There aren’t a lot of different types of events for shotguns, so the equipment stays consistent and easy to find. The equipment you’ll need for shotgun competitions is:

  • Your shotgun of choice
  • Protective eyewear
  • Hearing protection
  • Gloves
  • Shell pouch

There isn’t any rapid drawing or reloading for any shotgun event, so protecting yourself is really the only equipment you’ll need!

Pistol Equipment

Pistols require the most equipment because of the variance in the event types. You will need to check the regulations of your specific event, but there are a few pieces of equipment that are always consistent with pistols. The equipment you’ll want for pistol events is:

  • Your pistol(s) of choice
  • Protective eyewear
  • Hearing protection
  • Gloves
  • Ammo pouch
  • Holster
  • Additional magazines (Event dependent)
  • Scope or modified sites (Event dependent)

Rifle Equipment

Rifles require either very little equipment or a lot of equipment depending on the event you choose to move forward with. Here is some of the equipment you’ll need for rifle shooting:

  • Your Rifle(s) of choice
  • Protective eyewear
  • Hearing protection
  • Gloves
  • Scope or modified sites (Event dependent)
  • Front bench rest (Event dependent)
  • Tripod (Event dependent)
  • Rifle stock (Event dependent)

As you can see, there is a bit of equipment if you want to perform at the highest level for any competition. However, you can start with just the basics. This would be a gun, protective equipment, and some ammo.

Find Some Locals and Get Shooting

We are lucky that the barrier to entry in shooting competitions is so low. There are always tons of events every year for people to join, and for the simpler events, there is very little you need to purchase to get started.

Regardless of the competition, you can find a local range and practice to your heart’s content. There are huge amounts of support in the shooting community, and if you ask anyone, they’d be willing to help.

If you need any more help on how to get into competitive shooting, let us know! We are always happy to help out and get anyone involved in any sport.


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