Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Practical Shooting - A Sport for all Ages

Shooting in sanctioned United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) target competition matches is one of the highlights of my summers here in the Midwest. Combing the elements of speed, accuracy, and firepower, participants negotiate obstacle-laden shooting courses (called stages) containing a variety of moving and stationary targets to earn a score based on the speed and accuracy of their shooting ability. For those numbed to boredom from shooting paper silhouettes on a linear bay at an indoor range, USPSA is like getting off the city bus and piloting your own fighter jet.

Yet even good shooters I know tend to be intimidated by the idea of showing up for a match. And indeed, the guys who shoot competitions do tend to get to know each other over the years and get a bit "clubby" which could seem imposing to an "outsider". Yet I've never known match shooters to welcome a newbie with anything but open arms, patience, and usually a ton of advice born from their own unique recipe of shooting style and preferences.

As for skills, take a look at my 17 year-old nephew shooting at his first match this weekend on a visit from Texas. After spending about an hour with me the day before coaching him on range commands, safety, and reloads, he strapped on my Glock 17, stepped to the firing line and shot an entire 6-stage match like a seasoned pro.

The Kid definitely has natural skill and good hand-eye coordination (who said those countless hours spent blasting Nazi zombies on the PS3 were a waste of time?). And he even beat out several more experienced shooters on this stage. But it doesn't take a ballistics savant or Delta Force training to go out, shoot well, and have fun. All you need is a reliable weapon in 9mm or higher, a holster, a few mag pouches, an eye on safety, and a good attitude.

So check out a club in your area (they operate nationwide and even internationally under their sister organization IPSC). Get a couple of guys together and try out a match. If you're like me (an now my nephew), it won't take much to get hooked.

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