View Full Version : make sure your basic skills are good before beginning to shoot in competition

July 10, 2012, 12:18 AM
Make sure that your basic safety & marksmanship & gun handling skills are reasonably well developed before you attempt to shoot IPSC/USPSA or IDPA type matches.

Safety is a major concern. Some people get way too nervous at their first few matches and forget about keeping their finger off the trigger unless on target and ready to fire, and keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times. Another issue is courses that involve movement, or opening doors or windows. Be careful not to sweep yourself with the muzzle when opening doors.

Make sure your basic skills are strong before you try to shoot in a match OR forget about trying to be fast, and just focus on being safe, accurate and smooth.

One of the shooters in my pistol club is a young guy (just turned 21) who is athletic and coordinated and naturally "fast" HOWEVER he hasn't been shooting very long, and doesn't practice basics enough. When he come to a match, he's faster than h*** but he can't hit anything. For certain he jerks and bashes on the trigger, and I suspect that he sometimes forgets to look at the front sight. After watching him shoot the last match, I noticed that he also squeezes his whole hand while firing ("milking") rather that moving the trigger finger independently as a unit. I don't think he does that all the time, but only when he's trying to go really fast.

What he needs to do is a basic shooting course like MAG 20 (what used to be called "stressfire") or Gunsite 150. But he doesn't see it that way, and would instead rather try to find a competition oriented class to go to . . . which I think may not correct his problems.

July 10, 2012, 10:08 AM
If the competition class doesn't do it, then he'll probably think it's the gun.
And he's needs a new one, just like the guys who win have.

July 10, 2012, 01:16 PM
Handgun is a hard platform to learn how to shoot. For me accuracy and basic fundamentals come first. While i'm working on my speed i care about accuracy more.

I want a dedicated comp handgun because i'm not modifying my M&P 40 for comp as it's my nightstand gun. Though i can understand some could think it's the gun not the shooter..

July 13, 2012, 02:46 AM
Make sure your basic skills are strong before you try to shoot in a match OR forget about trying to be fast, and just focus on being safe.
Newb question: which basic skills should a person be sure to practice prior to a shoot?

July 13, 2012, 11:00 AM
which basic skills should a person be sure to practice prior to a shoot?

Safety and pistol shooting fundamentals. Its best to have a coach, baring that, get a copy of the Army Marksmanship Units "Service Pistol Guild"

You may never shoot bullseye competition, but fundamentals are fundamentals and there is no better guide to give you the fundamentals.

The book is $6.95 from the CMP Bookstore, written by the best shooters in the world.


July 13, 2012, 12:26 PM
Any course that focuses on basic marksmanship skills cannot begin to get you where you need safety wise. The matches are a "free range" concept at times and you need to keep the gun pointed downrange, finger clear of the trigger, no matter which way you are going. That's one reason the RO follows you at all times. Getting practice moving with the unloaded pistol and changing mags on the move will help but it takes time to be fast and safe at it. There's just way too much to think about. Practice with a dry gun with a friend playing RO and move slowly until it becomes a natural act. Tell the RO that you are a new shooter too he can help you and may be a bit more forgiving.

Jesse Tischauser
July 16, 2012, 12:49 AM
What is the purpose of this thread? Too discourage new competitive shooters?

July 16, 2012, 06:32 AM
Nope, we have introductory competitions to attend so you don't try to go fast to impress anyone and get into trouble on a complicated course of fire where you are moving up and down range and concentrating on finding all 20 targets that may be hidden from most points on the course. Nothing is worse for a new shooter than being DQ'd in your first match because you ran out of ammo on your belt and when you reached into your pocket to get your extra magazine used your strong hand with the pistol in it to hold your pants so you could get your hand out easier. Then there's always the need to quickly adjust your hearing protection with both hands with the hot gun in hand. The list goes on and on. Go slowly at first and don't show up not being somewhat familiar with the equipment.

Jesse Tischauser
July 16, 2012, 10:12 AM
Sorry the tone of your post sounds exactly like your saying, "hey new guy, don't show up and make me have to work and watch you as an RO".

I for one hope everyone comes out to shoot a match with us. I'd be happy to give them a run down on safety protocall prior to the match.

July 16, 2012, 10:33 AM
I think the big thing is don't worry about time or overall score on your first matches. Just worry about properly completing the course and mechanics. Time and score will take care of themselves. I'd rather properly complete a course with a decent score on hits than come out with some blistering fast time.

Don P
July 16, 2012, 11:58 AM
What is the purpose of this thread? Too discourage new competitive shooters?

Thats what I come away with.

Sorry the tone of your post sounds exactly like your saying, "hey new guy, don't show up and make me have to work and watch you as an RO".

I for one hope everyone comes out to shoot a match with us. I'd be happy to give them a run down on safety protocall prior to the match.

All our RSO's welcome all of those first time shooters. We walk them through the match with safety being job 1. Job 2 is to see that they enjoy themselves regardless of score/time and WANT TO COME BACK AGAIN.
As RSO's at any club we MUST BE the ambassadors to the shooting sport as well as the competitions making newcomers feel welcome and wanting to return for the next match.

July 17, 2012, 08:46 PM
Make sure that your basic safety & marksmanship & gun handling skills are reasonably well developed before you attempt to shoot IPSC/USPSA or IDPA type matches.
The first line of the post can set the tone. This first line will discourage new folks. I acknowledge that an action match is not the place to pull a handgun out of the box and shoot your first handgun ever, but too often I hear new folks wanting to get "good enough" before showing up. Come on out, and be open to learn.

...which may be the OP's point. Going fast before the skills are there does not work.

I will suggest that training should target the end goal. Competition-oriented for the games, combat/tactical class for that goal.

I want a dedicated comp handgun because i'm not modifying my M&P 40 for comp as it's my nightstand gun. Though i can understand some could think it's the gun not the shooter.
I competed with a Glock 17 for a while. Drop the standard capacity 17 rd mag in the nightstand, and game with the 22 rd extended mag. Problem solved. :)

July 17, 2012, 10:31 PM
It's not mags that bother me. I don't want to alter the gun due to it's intended purpose. If i had planned on getting it for competition i would likely put the apex kit in it, get competitions sights, and a couple of other personal modifications. Just something that i don't want to do with the gun. Would love to have a high cap 2011 or a nice 1911 to run single stack and limited 10 with. I'm not changing any time soon as i'm trying to get my progressive press on the way so i can stop buying factory ammo and loading on a single stage. At the same time also putting a little back for a 1911 of my specifications. JMO though.

July 25, 2012, 04:59 AM
Somehow some people chose to find negativity in my original post that wasn't there.

My point was and is that you need to have a reasonable level of skill before you should attempt IDPA or IPSC competition. I am NOT suggesting that you have to be some kind of an expert, but you do need to know how to be safe, how to watch the front sight, how to manipulate the trigger without jerking it too terribly bad, how to clear malfunctions and reload while keeping your finger off the trigger and the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, ect.

New shooters should focus on safety, and on being accurate and performing the weapon manipulations correctly. Speed will come with practice.

Clubs should be open to assisting new shooters, because that's how we grow the sport. But you do need a base level of skill before you attempt to shoot in competition.

Jesse Tischauser
July 25, 2012, 08:55 AM
I still disagree. I have taken several non gun owning friends and family members to actual action shooting matches and they did great. I guess it all depends in who is giving them the safety and firearms orientation.

I personally choose not to discourage anyone from coming out and Shootibg a match with us.

I have found The Shooters with a little knowledge of firearms and a general idea of what they think is safe from either hunting or plinking at the farm to be the Shooters that don't understand the 180 rule the most. I see a lot of muzzle up and muzzle down as being confused for being safe. These Shooters have a tendency to break the 180 slightly because the gun is pointed up or down and not directly at something or someone. I make a point to reiterate that the 180 is up and down as well. Walking up range with your gun pointed up or down is ok when hunting but a big no no in a match.

I also see a lot of the old swinging of the Arms down and then back behind the shooter in frustration after they finish or finish trying to complete the course of fire.

I actually had to DQ my father-in-law at his first match because he finished Shooting then pointed the gun down and started to walk back up range before I could give the unload and show clear command.

July 25, 2012, 09:30 AM
A friend talked me into shooting at an IDPA match a few weeks ago.

It was a lot of fun. But I knew I had no chance of wowing the crowd with my mad skilz so I just focused not having any procedurals.

First timers ... what a tremendous learning curve. There is so much going on and so much to pay attention to. I had never shot at a target while moving before. That was odd ...

I did OK ... I didn't get DQed and I hit a target or two. Only real coaching I got was to pull the gun from the holster more vertically and not cant it over before the muzzle clears the holster. I was getting really close to sweeping my leg.

And I have a bad habit of dropping the muzzle, pointing it at the ground in front of me.

Lots of learning occurred.

While it might not be my cup of tea to get neck deep in competition, it is certainly an opportuity to draw attention to weaknesses and bad habits.

July 27, 2012, 10:58 AM
I get so tired of all the excuses made for new shooters at action pistol matches. TIRED of it.
I do not give two hoots if you are new to this, there is no excuse for failing to check your ego at the start position and focusing on safety and responsibility. Stop worrying about what others may think about your performance. YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO DO IT RIGHT AND SAFELY even if that means you walk every inch of the course and take 10 minutes and people hate you for it. So what? Stop letting your fragile ego motivate you to do dangerous and irresponsible things.

I apply this same standard to myself. Yes, I have DQed before. All I said was thank you, shook the man's hand, put my gun away and kept taping and brassing with my squad for the rest of the 4 hours we were there. These games are dangerous and nobody has any right to have even a nanosecond of lapse of safety and keep shooting.

July 27, 2012, 11:46 AM
Yep, check your ego at the make ready postition and don't argue with the "Range God". Better yet go to an introduction course for beginners first if they have one at your club. Many of the older shooters show up to help and just to shoot too.


July 27, 2012, 12:09 PM
Don't know about the range god thing. Otherwise, I agree.

July 27, 2012, 04:16 PM
It's true. Disrespect the RO and it won't go well. One guy I know is still on a 2 year suspension from two major clubs for arguing disrespectfully with one while at a match. I just take whatever they say in stride. I had one make a bad call a few weeks ago and give me a 10 point penalty. Reviewing the video showed my foot inside the box and not out. Oh well, didn't have much chance of winning the Silverado that week anyways.:D

July 28, 2012, 09:30 PM
I see nothing wrong with the OP's opening statement.If a new shooter is an active duty /former military or a LEO or has taken advanced training beyond getting a CCW then they are most likely good to go.If the shooter has never shot anything but paper targets from a stationary stance then they need to stand by and watch the first match to see what is required.Next month they should be squaded with an experienced and patient RO and WALK not run the stages.If a club offers a new shooter clinic all the better.

July 28, 2012, 10:59 PM
you should give him some pointers ask him if hed like to go out to the range and shoot togethor sometime , that would be the best thing for the guy. Prob good for you to have a "refresher course"

Im new to the world of fireams...bought my first handgun 8 months ago and now own a 3 others lol go to the range atleast ounce a week, just took my CPW, did a combat shoot 2 weeks ago and it was a so much fun. Cant wait till this coming weds for the next one.

But made me understand that I need proper training, or just a helping hand for someone that has the knowledge.So I understand where your coming from but

I autox and road race sports cars and everyone goes out of there way to help people just starting out...keeps racing strong and just good karma. Plus I had alot of folks help me over the years so its my way to give back.

Dont get me wrong Ive already meet some great people at the range but at the combat shot must folks were kinda cold towards me. Lucky for me I had one guy kinda giving me the low down on scoring etc. Its kinda like car racing where you have to go slow at first to be fast.

But thats just my 2 cents. BTW I;m mike glad to be on this site already I can tell Im going to learn alot by reading alot of threads.So thanks to everyone thats shared their knowledge.

Jim Watson
July 29, 2012, 09:56 AM
I have seen it both ways, you have to strike a happy medium.
I have seen people enter an IDPA match who are barely qualified to operate the mechanics of their guns.
On the other hand, I have heard and read people to say "I need to get ready, maybe I can get to a match next year."

It would be nice if everybody could get training so that they would be safe and effective from the start, but that is not likely. Said training is either expensive enough to discourage many or it is offered by the same volunteer labor that puts on the matches. Those volunteers only have so much time and energy to support the sport and training is not as frequent as it would have to be to catch all the beginners.

It is up to the shooter to study and practice the requirements of his chosen event so he can be safe and not interfere with proceedings. But don't while your life away "getting ready." Get out there and test yourself and see what you need to learn and practice. If you pay attention and stay active, helping out around the range, you will get plenty of help and advice.

July 29, 2012, 04:11 PM
One thing we do in the grassroots car racing circles is have "meet ups" or socials cookout, talk, learn from each other, plan for up coming events..do install days where people with more experience helps others install parts that are out of their comfort range.

In autoX we have instructors that vol for the race day..depending on how many newbies are there the instruc has 1 or 2 students. He rides with them,gives input on what they did wrong, gives input to correct them. ANd they dont have to be the best of the best in world of racing. Just someonethat knows the rules,safe, top 10 kinda driver.

I could see that to be very helpfull in shooting sports. Bt it is alot to ask of someone, but others (like myself) love helping others out Its pretty great when you can see your student getting faster and faster, and they know where they made mistakes..

I will add that there is a ton of great info on here if you search for it. More then enough to get a nice solid grasp of the basics as far as being safe and a better shooter.

I can deff see where someones nerves at the first few events would make them forget certain key steps in safety. I guess another cross over from racing ....".you have to slow down to go fast"

July 29, 2012, 11:57 PM
New shooter's seminars are a great idea. I've helped out with a bunch of them, although it's been quite a few years ago now

New shooters really have to concentrate on where their muzzle is pointed and how to move / reload / clear malfunctions with their fingers OFF the trigger.

They also need a little bit of tutoring so they don't break the 180, re-engage targets they have passed, or sweep their support hand while trying to manipulate a door or window.

Time permitting, I think there is nothing wrong with coaching a new shooter a little bit as they do a walk-through prior to shooting.

July 30, 2012, 09:20 AM
I deff dont want to come off as vets of the sport must help all the new guys out. I know some take there time very serious to mentaly prepare for the match that day.

Also nothing more dis-hearting then trying to help someone and they are not taking what you say serious, giving you 110% of their atten, etc. I can only speak formyself in saying when someone goes out of their way to help me Im in racing,shooting, playing guitar, etc I give it all my all weather its trying everything they tell me, most importantly the steps that I "think" i have mastered. Seems like thats where I need the most improvement ...the steps that I "know" lol

Also most people can learn alot by just watching, really watching what the top guys do weather its how they shoot, carry themself at the match from the time you walk though the gates till the time you leave, equipment, how the maintain all their gear, the list goes on and on.

Anyway Im really pleased by the response Ive gotten in this thread, Ive got 4 emails from members all over the country on shooting tips, matches going on, classes. So a BIG ol THANKs to you is in order ! Stay safe and on target out there. TO all the newbs like myself look, listen, ask questions, and number 1... be respectful to everyone no matter their age, gear, whatever..you can always learn something from everyone...good or bad

July 30, 2012, 11:16 AM
Somehow some people chose to find negativity in my original post that wasn't there.

No, Jeff, the negativity is there. As new shooters have problems, so do new writers. One of the first things I learned in creative writing is that a writer cannot defend his work. It either is, or it isn't, and that is up to the reader to discern. Let's work with that first sentence.

Make sure that your basic safety & marksmanship & gun handling skills are reasonably well developed before you attempt to shoot IPSC/USPSA or IDPA type matches.

That's your opening line without introducing any particular faults or solutions. It's over-broad and makes the reader question exactly what basic safety you're talking about. Then you talk immediately about gun handling and marksmanship skills in the same sentence, and about how well developed those skills should be BEFORE the new shooter attempts.... Yeah, that's not only negative, it's confusing to a newby who might want to shoot. Where should he develop those skills? Do you offer classes for new shooters?

How would I have written that first sentence? Good question. After studying it, I'm not sure that it can be fixed. It might be best to discard it all together, and start over. Something like this:

New shooters present special challenges in club matches, mainly because they are not familiar with the protocols. We appreciate their enthusiasm and their effort, but sometimes it's difficult to coach basic safety while at the same time maintaining the flow of the match. We're trying to deal with this issue in our own club and stress basic safety and fundamentals while being a welcoming environment for new shooters.

Now, let's go down to your last sentence.

What he needs to do is a basic shooting course like MAG 20 (what used to be called "stressfire") or Gunsite 150. But he doesn't see it that way, and would instead rather try to find a competition oriented class to go to . . . which I think may not correct his problems.

So, your recommendation to this new shooter is that he spend a couple of thousand dollars, travel to Paulden, AZ, and take a course so that he could come shoot in your competition? I don't believe that I'd want to shoot in your club either. After a recommendation like that, I'd just flat-out leave.

Yeah, I'd say that's pretty negative. But keep writing. Or, better yet, maybe you should go to the University of Iowa and take a basic course in creative writing. Just sayin'.

November 11, 2012, 07:57 AM
I shot in an indoor USPSA match at my local club yesterday.

One of the shooters had an accidental discharge. He's new to action type shooting, and got a little ahead of himself and was trying to move and release a magazine at the same time while his finger was in the trigger-guard, and he put a round into one of the prop walls used as part of the stage design.

This resulted in an instant match DQ. He was quite mortified. However, to his great credit, he had a good attitude about the whole event, took it as a learning experience, and stayed for the rest of the match and helped paste targets.

(I guess a few of the guys worked with him a little bit after the match was over)

New shooters often try to go too fast before they're ready. Sometimes this results in an accidental discharge. In this case, there were no negative results because he had good muzzle discipline and kept pointed in down range, even though he did manage to shoot a wall . . .

(He was using 115 grn hollowpoint ammo in a Springfield XD. After some searching, his bullet was found lying on the floor. The hollow point cavity was plugged with particle board and the bullet did not expand or deform in any way)

November 12, 2012, 09:22 AM
Even somewhat experienced shooters can have issues under match pressure. (When the buzzer goes off you are half as smart as you were before.)

Inviting a total newbie to a match to shoot I think is a setup for less than optimum results. The newbie will try to win it due to adrenaline and the regulars will try to help but be ineffective in that environment because the match must roll on and they can't practice what the newbie needs help with.

I think new shooter orientations and several practice sessions simulating some of the things found in matches for newbies go a long way to setting the newbies on the right track.

November 12, 2012, 11:02 PM
We haven't done a new shooter orientation at my club for YEARS and we're past due I think -- that would be a good project for us to do on the indoor range in the winter months.

The IDPA club up in Ripon, Wisconsin (north east of us -- I shoot a few matches a year up there -- great group of people) runs training classes for new shooters a couple of times a year and they've have great success.

November 12, 2012, 11:51 PM
new shooter orientation

You should do one a year. To keep current. The big thing with IDPA, to me, is I use the same gun, Glock 19 Gen4. For IDPA, CCW, and G Lic. Security carry.

The pistol basically shoots it's self! Tricked out a bit, as a carry gun, TruGlow fiber optic sights, extended glock slide release, 4lb trigger, clean as a breaking glass rod? How? Don't know, it came out that way.

How do you get good? Watch, shoot, have a good time, safe direction, keep smooth, fast comes.

Nice to know that the pistol you can hit a 12" plate at twenty yds, sits on your hip for protecting your life.

November 13, 2012, 08:42 AM
My first match wasn't that long ago, uspsa, and i didn't go into it with any thoughts of winning, i mean i went to several to watch prior to going to complete, so maybe that is where my view on it was different. I have seen how good a shot some of those guys are, and how fast others were, while not the best shots.

While i was just watching someone who was one of the better shooters i came to find out, accidentally had a discharge during his draw, luckily he had already cleared the hostler and was at least aimed in the direction of the target. He said later it was a stupid mistake he knew better, but it happened all the same. Point being, no matter your skill level your just one moment of stupidity away from being "that guy" his friends razed him a bit for what happened, but everyone also said, at least it wasn't worse.

My first match went great, i ended up around the 3/4 area in the ranking for the day in my division, so i was very pleased that i had not come in dead last. but i was expecting to, so instead of trying to out do everyone i just said, well its a given people who do whatever it is your trying for the first time, will be better at it then you are, you are never going to win your first time out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it.

All of the shooters at my club, and i mean every single one, once they saw me show up to watch for a 2nd time, approached me either that day or on one of the next few to ask me questions regarding what i was wanting to do, and buy, and offered suggestions on everything from ammo, to firearms, to holsters, belts even shirts and pants, and after the match was over, 2 of them on different days even let me walk the course with them, using there gear and actually shoot the targets, and when i offered to cover the cost of the ammo they declined. they offered pointers along the way, and welcomed me into the group, expressing how excited they were to have another person wanting to join in.

now i will grant you, i am not like the person that the OP spoke of, but then again, at least from the way that sounded, he isn't like the people at my range either. or maybe he just had a particularly bad day, and that flavored his view of events.