Modern vector design showcasing a collage of competitive shooting elements - targets, timers, medals, and a shooter in action

Competitive Shooting

Interested in competitive shooting? Whether you’re a raw recruit just dipping your toes into the gun world, or a seasoned shooter with the scent of gunpowder as your cologne, there’s an unmatched thrill when you pit your skills against the unforgiving clock on the range. If the rush of adrenaline-packed competition quickens your pulse, welcome aboard. This guide is your road map. Buckle up, lock and load.

What is competitive shooting?

Competitive shooting is a sport where you try to hit targets as accurately and quickly as you can. Competitions can be small local events or big international championships.

Anyone can participate in shooting sports, from teenagers to folks in their 70s. It’s a game about being accurate, precise, and disciplined. Small moments can make a big difference. There are different types of competitive shooting, like traditional Bullseye, dynamic IPSC, far-hitting PRS, and fast-paced 3-Gun.

Types of Competitive Shooting

Competitive shooting has many forms.

  • Bullseye Shooting: This is the classic way of competitive shooting. It’s all about hitting the target right in the middle. It’s not about speed, but accuracy. Usually, people use handguns from 25 and 50 yards away.
  • International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC): In IPSC matches, you use your shooting skills like you would in real life. You move around courses and try to hit targets as fast and accurate as possible. You can use many kinds of guns, like handguns, shotguns, and rifles.
  • Precision Rifle Series (PRS): This form tests your skill to hit far away targets. Things like wind and tough shooting positions make it harder. PRS matches are usually done with powerful rifles.
  • 3-Gun: In 3-Gun, you move through stages using a pistol, rifle, and shotgun. It’s one of the most exciting forms of competitive shooting. It tests how fast you are, how accurate you are, and how well you can switch between firearms.
  • Sporting Clays: In this type, you shoot at clay pigeons that are thrown in different directions at different speeds. It’s a great way to get better with your shotgun.
  • Skeet and Trap Shooting: These are popular shotgun sports. You shoot at clay targets that are thrown into the air. In Skeet, targets are thrown from two houses and cross in front of the shooter. Trap shooting has targets thrown away from the shooter.
  • Steel Challenge: In this event, you try to hit a bunch of steel targets as fast as you can. It’s all about speed and can be done with different firearms like pistols and rifles.
  • Olympic Shooting: This is one of the oldest categories of Olympic sports and includes several events. Athletes use rifles, pistols, and shotguns to hit static or moving targets at various distances. It requires tremendous precision and control. Some of the disciplines in Olympic shooting include 10m Air Rifle, 10m Air Pistol, 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, and Trap/Skeet shooting. For each event, shooters must follow stringent international rules set by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF).

Why Shoot Competitively?

Beyond the thrill of competition, there’s a myriad of reasons why you might take up competitive shooting. For starters, it’s a fantastic way to improve your gun handling and safety skills. The disciplined environment of competition breeds respect for firearms and helps hone your marksmanship under pressure. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded individuals, creating lifelong friendships and unforgettable experiences.

Getting Started

Starting in competitive shooting might seem daunting, but like every journey, it begins with a single step. Join a local club or visit a local gun range to get you advice as you get started. Choosing the right equipment, figuring out how to train, and learning about the sport in general can all be solved with the help of the right community. Many ranges offer introductory courses designed to teach newcomers the basics of safe gun handling and competitive shooting rules. They can also advise you on the specific equipment requirements for your sport, but regardless of the specific discipline you choose, you’ll need a reliable firearm, quality ammunition, and appropriate safety gear.

Gear Up for the Sport

The right gear can make all the difference. From guns to ear protection, your gear is the backbone of your competitive shooting journey. We’ll be adding more about competitive gear soon so that you can explore different firearm models, read in-depth reviews, and get professional advice on making the right choice.


Master the art of competitive shooting with these cost-effective drills you need to know:

  1. Dry Fire Practice: Dry fire is the act of practicing firearm manipulation and techniques without using live ammunition. This drill involves tasks like pulling the trigger, reloading, and drawing from a holster. It’s an excellent practice tool for beginners and seasoned shooters alike. The significant advantage here is that dry fire can be performed at home and it costs you absolutely nothing, making it an invaluable part of any shooter’s training routine.
  2. El Presidente Drill: Developed by Jeff Cooper, a pioneer in modern firearms training, this drill requires the shooter to draw, fire, reload, and fire again on multiple targets. The drill tests speed and accuracy while under pressure. While the expenditure on ammunition is there, the speed and skills gained make it a valuable investment.
  3. Dot Torture Drill: This drill uses a target sheet with several small circles or dots. The shooter is tasked with various exercises such as drawing, firing, reloading, and transitioning between targets, all while trying to hit the small dots. It tests a wide array of skills and requires only 50 rounds, making it a comprehensive, yet cost-effective drill.
  4. Bill Drill: The Bill Drill involves firing six consecutive shots at a single target from 7 yards away as quickly and accurately as possible. This drill helps shooters improve speed, recoil management, and accuracy. It demands ammo but remember, you’re investing in your rapid-fire skills here.
  5. Mozambique Drill: The Mozambique Drill, also known as the Failure Drill, involves two shots to a target’s body and one to its head. This drill improves shot placement and transitioning between different target zones. Though it involves three rounds per run, it’s a balanced expenditure considering its importance in high-stakes shooting.
  6. Box Drill: The Box Drill is a four-cornered movement drill involving multiple targets and shooting from behind cover. It improves footwork, target transitioning, and shooting from various positions. While it demands range time and ammunition, it’s an investment in diverse skills and efficient shots.
  7. One Shot Drill: This drill involves drawing your firearm and firing a single, accurate shot at a target. It emphasizes speed of draw, sight alignment, and trigger control. It’s efficient and cost-effective as the focus is on precision over volume.
  8. Ball and Dummy Drill: This drill uses a mix of dummy and live rounds to help shooters overcome anticipation and flinching. The reusable dummy rounds and the benefits of improved trigger discipline can lead to less wasted ammunition in the long run.
  9. Calling Your Shots Drill: Here, shooters fire at targets and predict where their shots land before checking. This drill improves observational skills and encourages efficient use of rounds, enhancing both accuracy and cost-effectiveness.
  10. Reload Drill: This drill focuses on improving the speed and smoothness of your reloads. Even though it involves the cost of rounds, honing your reload technique is crucial to prevent costly mistakes like misfires and jams in competition scenarios.

Remember, the best investment you can make is in diligent, mindful practice. While competitive shooting can seem costly, choosing drills wisely can help improve skills while also considering your budget. Practice regularly, stay sharp, and make every round count!


Competitive shooting is as much about safety as it is about speed and precision. Every competitor, regardless of skill level, must follow safety protocols to the letter. From proper firearm handling to wearing eye and ear protection, safety should never be compromised. Our guides and blog posts on firearm safety will provide the foundation you need to compete with confidence and care.

The Competitive Shooting Community

Remember, competitive shooting isn’t just about the competition – it’s about the community, too. Local clubs, gun ranges, gun stores, gunsmith shops, and online forums are great places to learn, make friends, and find support. For kids and young adults, 4H programs around the country have great programs for getting involved at a very low cost. My son recently joined the local 4h shooting program and we were amazed with the quality of the instruction he’s getting from the coaches.

Competitive Shooting Events

  1. Olympic Games: The Olympic shooting events are undoubtedly the pinnacle of the sport, featuring the most skilled marksmen from around the world. Held every four years, the competition includes several shooting disciplines, including Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun events.
  2. ISSF World Shooting Championships: This is one of the most significant events in Olympic shooting, held every four years. The event includes all the Olympic shooting events and is considered a qualifier for the Olympic Games
  3. International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) World Shoot: Held every three years, the IPSC World Shoot invites the top competitive shooters from each member country to compete in a multi-day event.
  4. IDPA Winter Nationals: The International Defensive Pistol Association hosts this annual winter event, which focuses on practical, real-world shooting scenarios.
  5. Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) World Championship: This event focuses on steel-target shooting and includes categories for rifles, pistols, and shotguns.
  6. World Speed Shooting Championship: This is an annual competition that focuses on speed shooting, where competitors aim to hit a series of steel targets in the shortest amount of time.
  7. USPSA National Championships: The United States Practical Shooting Association hosts several national championships each year, with events spanning multiple shooting disciplines.
  8. Bianchi Cup (NRA Action Pistol Championship): This annual event takes place in Columbia, Missouri and is considered one of the most prestigious events in action pistol shooting.
  9. National Rimfire Challenge: This event focuses on .22 caliber rimfire rifles and pistols, and encourages both novice and advanced shooters to participate.
  10. National Skeet Shooting Championships: This event is a highlight for many skeet shooters, and takes place at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas.
  11. National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) National Championship: This event is one of the largest in sporting clays shooting, attracting competitors from all over the world.
  12. CMP National Matches: The Civilian Marksmanship Program hosts these matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, which include various events for rifles and pistols.

Top Competitive Shooters

  • Julie Golob: A professional competitive shooter, author, and veteran. She is one of the most accomplished shooters in the world with dozens of titles in seven different action-shooting disciplines.
  • Jerry Miculek: Known for his speed shooting and is renowned as one of the fastest revolver shooters in the world, holding multiple world records.
  • Max Michel: An international speed shooting champion, with numerous World Speed Shooting Championships to his name. He’s also the captain of the SIG Sauer shooting team.
  • Kim Rhode: A six-time Olympic medal winner in double trap and skeet shooting, making her one of the most successful shotgun shooters in the world.
  • Rob Leatham: A professional shooter known for his success in International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) competitions.
  • Doug Koenig: Often recognized as one of the best all-around shooters in the world, with more than 70 national and world shooting titles to his name.
  • Jin Jong-oh: A South Korean sports shooter who has won four gold medals in the 50m pistol and 10m air pistol events at the Olympics. He is known for his precision and consistency.
  • Nicco Campriani: An Italian shooter who has won gold in both the 10m Air Rifle and 50m Rifle 3 Positions at the Olympics. He has also served as a mentor for refugee athletes aiming to compete at the Olympic level.

Frequently Asked Questions about Competitive Shooting

  1. Who can participate in competitive shooting? Are there age or skill requirements? Anyone who can legally handle a firearm can participate in competitive shooting. This includes teenagers and seniors alike. Skill levels vary across different events, making it a sport for beginners to experienced shooters.
  2. How can I get started in competitive shooting? You can start by joining a local shooting club or enrolling in a beginner’s shooting course. These usually offer an introduction to firearms, safety protocols, and basic shooting skills.
  3. What type of firearm is best for a beginner in competitive shooting? This largely depends on the discipline you’re interested in. For many beginners, a 9mm handgun or a .22 caliber rifle is often recommended due to their manageability and affordability.
  4. What equipment do I need to start competitive shooting? Apart from a suitable firearm, you’ll need ear and eye protection, suitable ammunition, a safe method to carry your firearm (like a holster or gun case), and depending on the discipline, targets or clays.
  5. What are the various disciplines or types of competitive shooting? There are many types of competitive shooting, including Bullseye, Skeet, Trap, 3-Gun, IPSC, and PRS. Each discipline has different rules, target types, and may require different firearms.
  6. How much does it cost to get started in competitive shooting? Costs can vary depending on the type of shooting, cost of the firearm, ammunition, safety equipment, club membership fees, and competition entry fees. It’s best to budget for these before you start.
  7. Is competitive shooting safe? What safety measures are in place? Competitive shooting is generally very safe. Strict safety rules are enforced, and participants are expected to adhere to them at all times. These rules include things like always treating the gun as loaded, never pointing the gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot, and keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
  8. Where can I find local competitive shooting events or clubs? Most shooting clubs host regular competitive events. Check out their websites or social media pages for schedules. National shooting sports organizations often list local clubs and events on their websites as well.
  9. What’s the difference between competitive shooting and recreational shooting? Competitive shooting involves formal rules and scoring, with shooters competing against others. Recreational shooting can be simply shooting targets for fun, practicing shooting skills, or hunting.
  10. How does scoring work in competitive shooting? Scoring can differ greatly between disciplines. It may be based on factors like the number of targets hit, accuracy of shots, and time taken. Check the rules for your specific discipline to understand its scoring system.
  11. What are the benefits of competitive shooting? Benefits include improved shooting skills, discipline, focus, and patience. It’s also a great way to make new friends and be part of a community.
  12. How can I find a coach or a mentor in competitive shooting? Local shooting clubs or ranges often have experienced shooters who offer coaching services. Online forums and social media groups for competitive shooting can also be a good resource for finding

Other Resources

Local Clubs:

Online Forums:

Equipment Retailers:

  • Brownells
  • MidwayUSA
  • Cabela’s

Training Courses:

Educational and Regulatory Bodies:

On the Road to Mastery

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Mastery takes time, practice, and patience. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hit the bullseye on your first try – every miss is a lesson learned, every shot an opportunity to improve.

This hub page will serve as your go-to resource for all things competitive shooting. Whether you’re looking for gear advice, training tips, community connections, or just general information, you’ll find it here. So bookmark this page, keep your eyes on the target, and get ready to immerse yourself in the exhilarating world of shooting sports. Welcome to the journey.