How NOT To Be A Rookie At Your First Shooting Match

Exciting times are ahead! Your first shooting match is approaching! You have put in the work, you have put in the time, you have prepared for this moment for so long and now it is your time to shine! But first things first.. here are a few tips and recommendations from a fellow “newbie” on what to NOT forget to bring with you and maybe some things to expect. There are articles, podcasts, videos and more on all the basics of what to expect and what to bring for your first shooting match.. but that’s not what is found in this article. This article is coming from a fellow shooter who just started her own journey of competitive shooting and wants to pass along a few things she didn’t find in her research prior to competing that she thinks you should know. Side note…..”she” is me.. I am “her”.. so without further ado “shooter ready.. stand-by.. let’s dive in!”

Whether your match is a handgun, two-gun, three-gun, etc.. a few items to make sure are tucked somewhere in one of your bags are a few minor supplies that if for some reason you didn’t have on you when you needed them, could put you in a bind! First items on the list are extra batteries. Pack a few extra of these for anything that takes batteries like headphones or red dots. I was training with a fellow woman on a range recently and her red dot battery died.. her reaction was disappointing, when she relayed she didn’t know how to shoot without her red dot.. sigh… Anyways, bring extra batteries just in case this happens to you! Second item to be sure to bring.. a screwdriver! Some of the items in need of a new battery may need this pretty useful tool to replace the battery. Or if you are like me when I was preparing to start the match, I wanted to loosen up my kydex holster to allow a little bit of an easier draw versus the tighter draw. Without my screwdriver, this wouldn’t have been possible. You also may need to rotate or adjust one of your RTI hangers or whatever type of holder system you have set-up on your belt. A few other items to be sure are on your list to bring are extra socks, plenty of water and sunscreen. It’s Summer time right now y’all, and being here in the South where you can crack an egg on the pavement and fry it in a matter of minutes, it’s HOT! But in the event of other seasons or rain, make sure to have what you need to dress for success, such as extra socks for the extra feet sweat or in case they get wet (rain or mud scenarios). Extra water to stay hydrated at all times. Shooting is a sport and typically an outdoor one. Conserve energy as much as possible and stay hydrated so you stay alert and focused. And lastly, sunscreen, so you don’t have a nice crispy red farmer’s tan for weeks proceeding. Unless you enjoy that look and in that case.. rock on!

So now that you may have packed a few extra things, let’s talk about how to pack: light and condensed as much as possible. Hopefully you have already set-up your gear, loaded your empty mags and ready to go for match day, so most of the extra stuff you can leave in your vehicle. For the items needed on the range, try to condense these as much as possible to one, or two bags at the most. One simple trick I learned from a friend on the range, is an easy way to condense some of the bulk from your ammo. Utilize ammo bags! For now, I found a few cute zipper pouch bags at my local Barnes and Noble store for $13 each, and thought they are perfect for my new ammo pouches. My 9mm pouch holds 300 rounds easily and my 556 pouch holds 200 rounds or more. Of course you can always invest in actual “ammo” labeled pouches from someone like G-Code or Savior, etc.. but for now, these will do for me. I love how much space they save in my bag versus the bulky boxes. They are also easy to have around when loading up mags in between stages during the match. Not to mention I love the fun look of the bags and there is no question the ammo is my ammo and not confusable with someone else’s.

Next tidbit I want to share is if you have the opportunity and feel comfortable asking, I recommend asking someone if they could video you while you shoot at stages. I recommend this because it can be one thing to be in the moment while your mind is focused on what you need to do and how to do it while you are at your stage, but another thing to actually be able to watch yourself later to analyze your performance. It can be very beneficial to review things later on and reflect what you did well with, and things that may need improvement and how it could be done differently next time. Plus you can measure your improvements from your first/early-on matches as you continue to progress.

The last tidbits I want to relay to you are some of the most important in my opinion. Communicate with everyone! Everyone there is at a different level of shooting and within their own personal shooting journey, so be kind and make acquaintances! Everyone is there to have fun, learn, and shoot, just like you. Note, that just like with any competitive sport, there will be the individuals that prefer to keep to themselves and won’t be as friendly, and that is okay! This may be you even and again, that’s okay! Remember to be respectful of each shooter’s time, energy and space especially if they just finished a stage. They may still be processing their performance and may not want to chit-chat right after. This all being said I have found that 97% of my fellow competitors at my first match were extremely helpful, friendly, kind and there to have fun while learning too. Just by talking with a few, I learned a great deal and established relationships that may help in the future. And for my final thoughts I want to relay.. be excited! You will be glad you took the plunge to step out of your comfort zone and take your skills to the next level! Stepping out of your comfy zone is where change and improvements happen! You got this!

After reading this post, I am sure you may have a question or two, so please don’t hesitate to contact me, I am happy to help! For now.. thanks for reading, clean your guns, pack your bags, “make ready” and unlock your compass!

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