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Shooting Sports

Competitive shooting of firearms and rifles tests your accuracy and speed against others. This is an extremely fun and deep hobby which you can easily and somewhat cheaply learn. Hunting is also a shooting sport which has its own hobby page dedicated to it. Also we have a hobby page dedicated to collecting antique and new firearms.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Shooting Sports resources. We have a Shooting Sports forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Shooting Sports how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Shooting Sports books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Introduction


The shooting sports include those competitive sports involving tests of proficiency (accuracy and speed) using various types of guns such as firearms. Hunting is also a shooting sport, and indeed shooting live pigeons was an Olympic event (albeit only once, in 1900). The shooting sports are categorized by the type of firearm or target used.




Whether you are young or an adult who has decided to learn the art of marksmanship, how to hunt, or want to participate in competition, you will need to learn and perfect basics of shooting such as form or stance, trigger control, sight alignment, gun care, etc.




When you have completed the mastery of the basics, you will want to devote your time to the aspect which is appealing to you. Your ultimate purpose will decide which kind of handgun or rifle is best for you.




A Few Definitions


When you are starting a new hobby, sometimes the verbiage can be confusing. What is the difference between a shotgun and a rifle anyway? Here is a short glossary to help you out.




Ammunition - The material which is fired from your firearm, i.e. bullets or shot.




Bullet - A bullet is a small projectile made of metal which is fired from either a handgun or a rifle. Bullets come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Choice is dependent upon what the shooter wants to accomplish.




Caliber - The caliber is the approximate diameter of the barrel either measured in inches or millimeters. So, if the rifle is a .22 caliber, it will have an inside diameter of .22 inches. The same holds true for the




Ammunition - the outside diameter of a .22 caliber bullet will be .22 inches. Caliber is basically a way of saying inches or millimeters.




Handgun - A handgun is exactly what it says it is. It is a gun that can be held in one hand. Common handguns are revolvers and pistols. For some, revolvers and pistols are the same type of firearm while others distinguish between them by the way the ammunition is discharged. A pistol has its barrel and chamber as one piece and a revolver has a revolving chamber that holds the ammunition.


 


NRA - Acronym for the National Rifle Association, a well-known advocate for firearms, in all aspects. Publisher of The American Rifleman.




Rifle - A firearm designed to hit a specific point. Rifles use bullets for ammunition. Rifles are designed for long range use.




Sight - The sight is a device which is used to aim by guiding the shooter’s eye to align it with the weapon. There are many different types of sights - telescopic, reflex, laser and iron are among them.




Shot - Shot is a tiny ball made of lead or steel. Many balls of shot are loaded in a plastic cartridge for discharge from a shotgun.




Shotgun - A firearm designed to shoot a wide target with “shot”, the type of ammo it uses. Shotguns are for short range only. Shot is a long cylindrical container of hundreds of little balls made of steel or lead which is spread when the firearm is fired.




Stance - The position your body is in while you are shooting. Three of the most basic handgun stances are Chapman, Isosceles and Weaver. The Weaver and Chapman stance are named after the men who made them popular and Isosceles is just what it says - the shooter’s body and arms form an isosceles triangle.




Safety


There is a section for tips and tricks further on in this article, but before we begin to talk about beginning with this sport, we would like to emphasize the importance of safety. The NRA has published a list of safety tips that are important for all shooters to familiarize themselves with and learn.




1. The gun should always be pointed away from people.




2. Until ready to use, the shooter should always keep his or her finger off the trigger.




3. You should keep your firearm unloaded when not in use.




4. When handling a firearm, make sure the safety is on.




5. You should only use the ammunition designed for your firearm. If it is a .38 caliber, only use .38 caliber cartridges.




6. You should never, under any circumstance, shoot while using alcohol or any type of drug, over-the-counter or otherwise.




7. Always store your guns so that unauthorized people cannot access them.




Getting Started


A generally preferred handgun for beginners is the .22 caliber handgun. They are accurate enough for the beginner, whether they plan on engaging in “plinking” which is informal target practice (think cans on a fence) or want to start participating in competition. As a matter of interest, if you are looking to just do some casual target practice, never shoot at glass objects. This causes problems for everyone. Most .22 caliber handguns will shoot within an inch at 25 yards so they are good for target shooting at 50 feet which is a good starting point, and a generally accepted range.


 


The kind of ammunition you use will affect your handgun’s accuracy, so begin by buying several different brands of ammunition and practice with all of them. You will find one that suits the way you shoot within your price range.




Perhaps the most popular reason to start with a .22 cal. is that it is inexpensive to shoot. The ammunition for the handgun is approximately one-tenth the price of ammunition for a larger .38 caliber. It does not matter if you are planning on shooting a larger handgun later on, all of the techniques of hold, trigger pull, stance, safe handling, positions, and aiming are the same no matter what the gun caliber.




If you prefer to begin with a rifle, there are a few more things to consider than with a handgun.




As with the handgun, a .22 rimfire made for the Long Rifle cartridge is your best rifle to begin. It’s economical in that the .22 LR is a very popular cartridge in the United States, so their availability is assured and because of the volume in which they are sold, they are cheap. Other advantages are they have a low recoil and great accuracy.




You may want to consider what is known as a youth rifle if you are young or very small. They are light in weight and have shorter stocks, so they are more comfortable to shoot. They are good for plinking or casual target shooting. If you are interested in using your rifle for hunting, these are also good at a short range. The most well known youth rifle is the Chipmunk bolt action single shot. It weighs around two to three pounds.




For those who want to begin with targeting for competition, the .22 target rifles are very accurate. For NRA competitions, the ten ring for prone, or lying down, shooting is only two inches in diameter and the ring used to break ties is a mere one inch. Obviously, you will need to keep your shots within such a small target in order to win matches, so you will need an extremely accurate rifle. Your rifle will need to have sub-minute of angle intrinsic accuracy. In layman’s terms, a minute of angle is equal to an offing of one inch at 100 yards distance.




Before you decide to buy any sort of target rifle, make sure to go to some local target matches and speak with the contestants. They will be your best source of information and are always willing to give plenty of advice.




For those who just want to have some fun, plinking is going to be your best source. It is the most common and most popular of the types of shooting, because it is the most fun. Plinking is great practice if you want to work on your technique, stance, and so forth, but can sometimes lead to sloppy habits because it is so informal. The key with plinking is to forget your misses and only count your hits. One thing to always remember is that you should always try to improve. You need to be sure to pay attention to your trigger control, stance and sight alignment with every shot you take. Even when plinking, it is a lot more fun to hit a target than to miss one.




For those who want to get into hunting, with a .22 you are going to want to focus on small game animals like squirrels and rabbits. Your rifle should be precise enough to hit a head shot on small game at 75 yards. This is almost within the target rifle accuracy range, but a target rifle is not a good hunting rifle; it is not very well suited to be carried out in the field.




When you are out in the field hunting, most of your shots are going to be taken from the standing or the sitting position, so you should practice these two positions a lot if you want to become an accomplished hunter. You should always shoot sitting if you possibly can - it is an extremely versatile position and a lot more accurate than standing.




Well-Known Brands Of Handguns And Rifles


There are many different kinds and brands - it can be confusing to choose when you are a beginner. Here is a very brief list of some of the most trusted brands.




Handguns




Ruger – Springfield –Remington-Smith & Wesson- Colt- Rifles- Remington- Anschutz- Kimber- Marlin- Savage




Cost Involved


Handguns can cost anywhere from $100 - $5,000, the prices listed below are a basic generalization.




• Used basic target .22s with adjustable sights - $225 to $600




• Used Semi-autos - $350 to $500




• Used carry type (short barrel) Revolvers - $250 and up




• The best deal in used revolvers is the guns that the police departments started selling when they switched from revolvers to semi-autos. They can be found in .38 and .357 caliber for prices sometimes as low as $100.




Classes are available for those wishing to be taught safety, proper stance and handling techniques. Popular classes typically offered are pistol safety, pistol self-defense, pistol competition, rifle safety, rifle self-defense, and rifle competition. The cost will depend on what class you are taking i.e. for certification or just personal knowledge, whether you go with a group and other factors.




Tips And Tricks


o The larger caliber of your handgun means it has a heavier bullet. The heavier the bullet means it will travel farther. It also means your gun will have less recoil.




o A correct grip while standing in the correct position will make it easier for you to handle your handgun during the recoil.




o A long sight on your gun means you will be able to shoot farther.




o A good barrel six of five and six inches assures good accuracy.




o Remember that in most cases, you get what you pay for. A good quality gun will often shoot more accurately than the person handling it.




o Ammunition affects accuracy.




o Master these fundamentals to be a good marksman - sight picture and trigger control.




o Television is not real life. Do not expect your gun handling experience to be like what you see in the movies or on television.




Here are some tips for shooting a good score. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!




1. Hold your firearm as still as you can. One way to accomplish this is to build up the strength in your arm until you can hold your firearm in the correct stance for a full minute.




2. Focus only on your front sight while maintaining perfect sight alignment.




3. Press the trigger without moving your other fingers. This one is tricky as your fingers are made to move in conjunction with each other. The key is to relax your forefinger while keeping a nice firm grip on the handle of your firearm. This will take practice, so don’t give up if you can’t do it after the first few tries.




Conclusion


We hope this article has been helpful to you, the beginner. While the shooting sports can be confusing at first because of the broad range of the sport, it is not impossible to navigate. Pinpoint what it is you wish to do, then familiarize yourself with the firearms, ammunition, and of course, safety requirements for your decision..