Many avid gun enthusiasts will eventually gravitate toward building their first AR-15 rifle. Upon discovering how simple the teardown process is and after perusing all the enhancements and modifications available for both upper receivers and lower receiver firing systems, it quickly becomes the next step.
The art of improving your rifle by changing out factory-issued parts with things such as match barrels and triggers gets addictive. Those trips to the range happen more frequently. Time spent firing your rifle leads to improved accuracy and possibly the addition of another match-grade component.
You’ve gotten so good that none of your buddies are willing to hit the range with you anymore because your accurate placement of shots on the target embarrasses the heck out of them.
Choosing the Right Competition
What’s next for you? Competitive or match shooting, of course. Still, there are a few things you will need to do before you jump into competitive shooting.
First, you need to stop attending your local gunaholic anonymous meetings. The adventure you’re about to go on is one of the most addictive immersions into the world of firearms you’ll ever experience.
The next decision you’ll need to make is what type of competition is right for you. If firing semi-automatic rifles like the one you just built and hitting the target with better accuracy than anyone else is your cup of tea, then you may want to consider joining a club such as the USPSA. A great thing about USPSA is they have all kinds of competitions from rifles to just handguns.
The United States Practical Shooting Association has clubs all over the nation, and it’s a safe bet a club exists close to your location. Each club will hold a competition match several times throughout the year, and as a club member, you’re encouraged to sign up.
Of course, in competitive shooting, there are a few rules you’ll have to abide by, so make sure these rules in the competition you’ve got your eye on coincide with your expected outcome.
Let’s assume you’ve joined a USPSA club and have studied the rules of a specific competition you’re interested in until your eyes go blurry. The next step will be assembling the right kind of gear to take on the first of many competitive matches you will attend.
Having the Right Gear
That AR-15 you just tricked out with match-grade components is coming along for the ride, but what else? You will want to include easily portable cleaning equipment that’s all contained in a single compartment. Extra competition quality firing pins and match-grade triggers should become an essential part of your competitive shooting gear.
Remember, once you get hooked on competitive shooting, your firearm will get a real workout. If you’re not participating in a competition, you will be hitting the range to practice. The last thing you need is a dirty rifle, a blunt firing pin, and an improperly functioning trigger. Another thing to include in your gear is a host of extra magazines and an efficient sanctioned speed loader.
Follow the Rules
Some of the competitions you may participate in require a certain number of rounds you can fire at a single time. For example, a USPSA club event for rifles and shotguns requires no more than thirty-two rounds to complete. Typically, this type of match shooting requires four eight-round strings or a maximum of sixteen shots if a reload is mandated.
Still, some other matches allow you to load eight rounds into four different magazines. The extra magazines will help you shave off a few precious seconds during a speed round such as this.
Don’t Let It Rattle You
While you may think your shooting competency is the next best thing to sliced bread, you may discover that you’ve got a lot to learn when it comes to competition shooting. Don’t let it rattle you.
Many matches are suited to various shooting styles and levels of expertise. Think of it this way. How many times did you practice on the bunny slopes before you put on your big boy pants and hit one of the more advanced blue slopes?
It’s the same thing with competitive matches. Nobody starts out hitting the targets faster than anyone else and with more accuracy their first time up. It takes a ton of practice and even more patience to get to the point you start taking home the prize money or blue ribbons.
Taking the Plunge
If you finally do decide to take the plunge, be wary. Firing your rifle in a competitive match will get under your skin and then into your blood. One competitive round is all it will take to get bitten by the bug. So, make sure you’re appropriately geared up and keep that rifle in top shape. Once you achieve that competitive edge, you’ll find yourself wanting to do everything you can to keep it.