Action Shooting?

Robb asks if he should get into competitive shooting.  The short answer is “yes”, but there’s a caveat to go with that, namely “which kind of competitive shooting”?  Based on his post, he’s limited his options to “practical” shooting like IDPA or USPSA, and ruled out bullseye, silhouette and other competitive shooting sports.

I am always 100% in favor of people shooting more – practical shooting as I’ve said in the past is really the future of the sport, it has a low bar for entry in terms of gear, is actually fun to watch other people do, and has the added benefit of building skills that can be useful in a self defense situation.

I started shooting competitively when I went to the Academy, where I initially competed in NRA Collegiate Pistol, and then eventually shot in some PPC (lolbattletech – ed) club level stuff during that time.  After the Academy, I shot cowboy for a while, and then when I moved to Virginia with Mrs. Ahab, I just…stopped.  I don’t know what happened, but I stopped shooting competitions.  I would still go to the range and practice, but my desire to shoot matches of any type had died off completely.

That continued for a few years, actually.  When we moved back to Indiana I kept practicing and going to the range, but still no matched until my buddy Greg convinced me to go shoot a bowling pin match at Marion County Fish & Game.  Despite being pretty roundly trounced, I was hooked back in like whoa, and have since “gotten the bug again”.  I shoot at MCF&G twice a month, once for pins and once for steel, and bought a gun (Glock 24) just for shooting those matches.

Now I’m looking at single action revolvers and double barreled shotguns, because I’m starting to get the itch to shoot cowboy stuff again.  My wife has never seen me do this, as I pretty much stopped around the time we met due to budget constraints, and sold off my cowboy guns (a decision I thoroughly regret).

The point of taking you through the history of my competitive shooting was to attempt to illustrate how thoroughly addictive it is.  If you do it smart and don’t get burned out like I did, you’ll have a fantastic time and you’ll get a lot better at shooting as well.  Don’t worry about whether you’re shooting IPSC, IDPA, Steel Challenge, Cowboy Action, GSSF or whatever; the point is to have fun and become a better shooter.  You can let the internets argue over whichever is “best” form of practical shooting, all I know is that I wouldn’t want the world champion of any of those disciplines putting rounds downrange at me.

That does bring me to one final point, though – the part about this being fun.  Don’t do what I did, and get burned out by taking the competition so seriously that it’s not fun anymore.  The nanosecond that it becomes a chore, or a burden, or you wake up on a Saturday morning and think “shit, I have to go shoot today”  – stop.  Just like blogging, the minute that shooting action sports, or skeet or bullseye or whatever ceases to be fun, it’s time to take a big step back and evaluate why you’re playing a game that isn’t any fun.

But don’t let that discourage you, because most people will never reach that burnout point.  So yes, go shoot action sports, have fun shooting your action sports and learn a lot of solid fundamentals!


  1. Great advice…. if it is no longer fun, stop! I am glad you mentioned GSSF. John and I want to check it out. Does anyone participate in GSSF? I would love to hear your two cents.

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