Words of wisdom from Tom Gresham, http://www.guntalk.com

How to be a better shot? Compete!

Every shooter wants to be better. More accurate. Break more targets. Reduce the time on a stage of action shooting.  So, how do you do it?

Sure, practice is important. Lots of trigger time will make a big difference.Getting instruction will fast-track your improvement. But getting into competition is a surefire way of getting better.

Competition is the engine driving improvement in everything: business, sports, dating, engineering, and certainly shooting. Shooting by yourself at the range can take you only so far. Working with an instructor always makes you better. Getting into competitive shooting, though, gives you purpose, and with purpose you have motivation to do everything better.

If you are a shotgunner, try trap, skeet or sporting clays. Rifle shooters have metallic silhouette, traditional high power and rimfire events, international style shooting, long range competitions, and more. Handgunners can go all the way from bullseye to international (Olympic style), to practical police to Steel Challenge to the action pistol events such as USPSA and IDPA.

For a bucket of fun, there’s three-gun competition, where you shoot handgun, rifle (usually AR-15 platform), and shotguns. This is defensive-style run and gun shooting, so don’t expect wingshooting to play much a part.

Why competition? Even if you are just into a local shooting league for fun, competing drives the focus.  You pay more attention when shooting in competition. You develop the ability to maintain your focus over a long string of shooting.  That might be a run in IDPA – taking a few seconds – or a 250-bird shootoff in trap. When you compete, you also begin to practice with purpose. You’ll find others you can shoot with, and through that, you learn techniques which make you better.

You also shoot at events with people who are much better than you are. Don’t underestimate the value of watching top shooters in action. They move, shoot and think differently, and if you pay attention, you’ll learn. Besides, there are no secrets. Other competitors usually are quick to share ideas and tips.

Every shooting discipline has an organization that controls competition. Google is your friend, here.  Put in “action shooting competition” or “sporting clays” and you’ll find the organizers. Add your city or state to the search and you’ll find events and locations near you.

You know what the hardest part is? Showing up the first time.  Here’s the key to making it easy: Call the shooting range, talk to the manager, and say, “Hi, I’m new at this. How do I get started?”

That’s it. Magic. If it’s pistol, rifle, shotgun, or all three, you just opened the door to being a better shooter. You also began the process of making friends with a lot of people who share your passions and your values.

Oh, one other thing.  Many shooting sports have classifications, so you won’t be shooting against the world champions (even though you may be at the same events). There are classifications for your shooting ability and even your age.   As you improve, you’ll move up to a higher classification.  Sounds complicated, but the governing bodies of the sports handle it all for you.

Find a range, find a sport, make the call, and get into competitive shooting.