Speaking at the NSSF Industry Summit in Austin today, Smith & Wesson pro shooter Julie Golob reckons competition shooting isn’t inclusive enough. There are too many rules, the equipment costs are too high, the travel distances are too far, OFWGs aren’t welcoming, many safety officers are insensitive Neanderthals, some pro shooters are *ssholes and ranges lack WiFi.I'd like to say that I don't know what OFWGs are, but I assume it means Old Farts With Guns.
(And if that's not what it means ... it's still an interesting tag name.)
I'm welcoming, honest, to new shooters!
Generally speaking, a lot of the "practical" shooting sports are becoming a lot more complicated than they use to be. In 1983, we had STOCK division, and that was because folks were moving past 1911 .45acps with 7 round magazines and looking at 9mm, or 11 round (really!) mags for their 1911.
And a few brave fools were experimenting with what later became Major 9mm. It was expensive for THEM because KaBOOM! (Lots of guys grew beards to hide the scars, no joke.)
Still, this IPSC thing (and associated competitive shooting) is doubtless very expensive, especially if you get hooked on it for 30 years or so.
And it's worth every minute, every cent because .. well, see below.
EXTREME CASE IN POINT:
I once spend over $1,000 to attend a single match, with SWMBO.
We worked the match, so our food and lodging was comped by the match director.
But the match was in New York ... we lived in Oregon. Airline costs, 3,000 rounds of ammunition loaded and pre-shipped. It was a major charity match (AWARE: Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment) and we had a lot of fun. It was a 12-stage match, and SWMBO DQ'd on the 5th stage when her race gun fell out of her holster when she bumped the butt-stock on a park-bench upon which she was seated for the "Starting Position".
Stuff Happens. And the round-trip airline tickets were not inexpensive.
On a "daily" basis at at home club matches, where the match fees are under $20 each to shoot six to eight stages, I generally bring 120 - 200 rounds per competitor (more if you have to do a "reshoot").
Practice ... you probably need to practice one hour between matches for each hour of planned competition, just to hone your shooting skill. So if a club match can be completed using no more than 150 rounds, you can plan on shooting ... oh, say $60 worth of ammunition at a match which means nothing ... except it's fun. And the same cost for practice, between matches.
if you shoot only one match a month, it's easy to drop over $100 in match fees and ammunition costs, even when you load your own ammunition, because practice.
If you don't keep up your shooting skills by frequent practice, you may as well stay at home because you will probably embarrass yourself at the match.
Introduction to USPSA:When I teach new shooters how to compete in USPSA classes, the first thing I tell them is that competition shooting is addictive.
The second thing I tell them is that it's very expensive.
During the class, most shooters shoot as often, and expend as much ammunition, as they can expect to shoot and pay at a club match. I don't bother to tell them how much it costs to shoot at a Major Match which usually costs over $100 match fees, plus travel, food, lodging and ammunition costs.
This has absolutely no effect on the ardor of the students, because they love to shoot and are actively seeking a reason to shoot more ammunition, more often. USPSA provides an excellent excuse to shoot a lot, and compare your performance with others at the match. These are probably the two main reasons why people choose to compete in this arcane sport.
They just want to shoot.
After a couple of matches, they either decide that this is not a sport which they are willing to pay for, or they are hooked.
Unfortunately, without practice ... many new shooters are discouraged (or intimidated) by their competitors who have spent more time, effort (and money) trying to hone their shooting skills. The rule of thumb is that for every hour you spend practicing, you will advance one place ahead in your class at a match.
Okay, I made that up.
But what I did NOT invent is that shooting well is a skill which deteriorates rapidly without constant and frequent practice: the better you get, the more you need to practice to maintain your skills set. What's worse, the things you do well? Those aren't the things you need to practice so much.
The things you don't do well (accuracy at long distances; speed at close targets; reloads under 2 seconds; moving quickly between shooting positions and being 'set up' to engage targets when you get there) are skills which are laborious and un-glamorous. Except for when you demonstrate your skills during a match, and when you get into "The Zen of Practical Pistol Shooting" (See: Brian Enos) you discover that the best way to shoot a stage is to take yourself out of the equation ... don't think, just DO! (See: Yoda)
Shooting competition is expensive in terms of money, time, energy, concentration ... when do you have time to do your daily job?
If you are not encouraged by your occasional stage when everything just seems to come together, and you just let go and watch yourself AMAZE yourself by how well everything comes together in the Zen World ... you'll probably decide it's not worth the effort, let alone the expense.
Still ... follow the game for a while, and every now and then you will find yourself tired and just wanting the match to be OVER so you can go home and have a beer ... and while you're thinking about that cold beer instead of "how to shoot this stage", you may discover that you've just exceeded your expectations.
Because you're not trying too hard.
At that moment, you have just been hooked on The Game.
Buy more ammunition. Load your own. Buy components. Whatever it takes to continue shooting competitively, you'll do that.
Competition Shooting ... especially the Action versions .. is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.