Competitive Shooting. It sounds so intimidating, don't you agree? It sounds like a bunch of Ace Marksmen getting together and hitting every single bullseye. But guess what we have found? It is not like that. Now mind you, there are many Marksmen that are at Shooting Competitions, just like any event, any competition, there are masters...and there are those that are average...and many times, there are also those, at Shooting Events, that are not able to get in much practice at all but enjoy shooting, the others shooters and the event as a whole.
When Deron and I found Shooting Clubs that offered Shooting Competition we had no idea what to expect and the flier we found did not have a "contact" on it so we could contact them and find out. So the first time we decided to just go and watch....oh how we wished we had been ready to shoot. It was such fun for everyone there, the shooters and the spectators.
When we went to the Spearfish SD Club they literally offered us the shoes off their feet so we could shot. Not kidding, we had our carry guns, but that is all we took. We did not plan to shoot, so we did not even take our guns and or our shooting bags. We wore our flip flops to the event. We were not planning on shooting (MAN! I wish we had taken our other guns). These good folks were going to lend us guns. Offered eyes and ears several times (I finally found our cheap plugs I had put in the truck and we just wore our sunglasses). We found these folks to be very kind and inclusive. We joined the Club that day and plan on shooting with them for many events to come.
At the first IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) event we attended the event supervisors made sure every had what they needed (and a couple of folks had brought extra of some stuff) I have since loaded up a small bag in our truck (after Spearfish) that has extra eye and ear protection, not the ones we normally wear, just inexpensive extras, as well as my hook to the bra recoil pads, so we always are ready if shooting is an option. But on this day, our fist Shooting Competition with IDPA, we took our guns and shooting bags and extra items.
ANYWAY, MY POINT IS, TAKE WHAT YOU HAVE, YOU NEVER KNOW.
Other items you will want to take to a Shooting Event:
Your Gun(s) (what ever the rules call for and the one you shoot best)
A Shooting Bag to put all your Shooting Items in to carry and store them in
Extra Magazines for the guns you are taking to the event
150 - 200 rounds of ammo (marked with a permanent marker on the bottom if you reload, marked for sorting after the event ~ mark uniquely)
Your Holster for that Gun (check rules for the type needed per event)
Your Eye Protection
Your Ear Protection
Shooting Gloves if you use them
Lawn Chairs (you might throw in an extra for someone that has forgotten theirs)
Shade Tents (open sided) if you have them
Small Table, like Camp Site Table
Jacket ~ Coat and gloves and such for a cool day (it might get late in the day if many competitors are shooting)
A sandwich and something to drink (not all shooting areas serve food)
Thermos with your favorite Warm Beverage in the cooler weather
Extra Water in the warmer weather (you will be out all day, stay hydrated)
Sunscreen and or a Hat with a Brim
REMEMBER MOST, IF NOT ALL, SHOOTING EVENTS ARE HELD OUTDOORS IN AN OPEN AREA, BE PREPARED FOR THE DAY
Wear Closed Toes Shoes and be able to cover your gun with your shirt of jacket if the rules call for concealed.
Deron and I have competed for many years at a lot of different types events and it never ceases to amaze us the amount of people that show up at events that do not understand the rules, than when they lose, they are angry. If there are rules for the Organization you shoot with, know them. Copy them off the Internet and read them, reread them. Carry them with you to the competition. When you have your Shooters Meeting, be there, be sure you understand the rules, don't be afraid to ask questions about the rules if you are unclear, and pay attention to the way you are moving and shooting to make sure you stay within the rules the Club has set up.
Take advise and criticism well. I have been cautioned about my gun muzzle and my trigger finger on the shooting line. You might not even realize you are doing things incorrectly. (I sure did not) When someone calls you on it, they are not trying to be mean, or act superior, and they are not out to win the match over you, they are not "tattle tales". They want a safe area to shoot in and want you and everyone else there to be safe. You can also be not only disqualified for muzzle and trigger fingers in the wrong area, but be asked to leave the site. Just be careful and if warned, take it well. It is easy when nervous and excited to have your fingers in the wrong area, and not notice you have your muzzle out of the safe areas. We can all make mistakes. We can all continue to learn.
Please keep Safety above everything else. Listen to what the Event Persons are telling you. Load you gun only in the areas where it is allowed. Put your gun safety on. Even if you have been shooting for over 50 years and never miss a bullseye, don't get careless. If the Event Persons tell you not to have your gun loaded except while shooting on the range. Listen to them. Safety First, Safety Foremost!
Wear your ear and eye protection. Take the best set you own. There is a lot of shooting of all caliber of guns, some very loud, all day long. It is hard on your ears. Long sleeved shirts can keep your arms from being burnt, if shooting on a team, by the shells coming out of their pistols. Long sleeves will also keep you from being sunburned.
When you go to these events you are going to meet new people that enjoy the same sport you do. There will be conversations about guns, ammo, reloading, shooting areas, the competition, other competitions, and all that fun stuff we love to talk about. Don't see the folks at these events as your competitors, or as your enemies, looking for faults in all they do. See them as potential friends, shooting companions, competitive and other, and you never know, there are many women shooters these days and you might just meet your spouse at these events.
Most Shooting Competitions are put on by a Club. Join and support the Clubs in your area, otherwise, next week, next month, next year, there will not be a Club or Competitions, because the Club can not afford to put the events on. Also, jump in and help put stuff away when the club is finished shooting. Don't, of course, pick up another persons guns or shooting items unless asked, but help with the targets and picking up all the shells after the event. Stay and visit with and get to know the folks. Have fun. Winning and Loosing all aside, meet the people, get to know the people. Again, have fun!
RELAX AND HAVE A GOOD TIME
Above all else, well, not above Safety, but above all other things like, who shoots the best, who won, who has the KOOOOOLEST gun, who knows more about guns than Smith & Wesson, who brought the best cake, as well as above all the nerves you are feeling (especially if it is your first or second Competitive Shooting Event) Relax and Have A Good Time with the others Shooters and on the Range. Enjoy the moment, meet friends, find out when the next event is scheduled.
If you have been outdoors shooting all day, you are going to be hungry...even if you brought your lunch. Unless you are in a hurry or need to be somewhere after the Shoot is over, ask the group or anyone in the group of shooters, to join you, dutch treat, at a Restaurant not too far from where you are shooting. Even a Fast Food Place. It is about the friendships more than the food. Get to know the folks. Have fun. Go out of a bite after and enjoy.