Finding Your First Pistol Match
So you've been practicing with your pistol at the local indoor range and are starting to get bored with the monotonous single lane straight shooting but what else is there? Well my friend, sounds like you are ready to try practical shooting. First you'll need a few things, read our article here to find out what you'll need to begin. Once you've gotten your gear situated the next thing you'll need to know is where and what kind of matches are available in your area.
Before going any further, let's clarify better what I mean by 'practical shooting'. Wikipedia explains it in a good detail here, but this paragraph explains it very concisely:
Practical shooting, also known as dynamic shooting or action shooting, is a set of shooting sports where the competitors are trying to unite the three principles of precision, power and speed, by using a firearm of a certain minimum power (caliber) to score as many points as possible during the shortest amount of time (or sometimes within a set maximum time). While scoring systems vary between organizations, each measures the time of which the course is completed, with penalties for inaccurate shooting. The courses are called "stages", and are shot individually by the shooters. Usually the shooter must move and shoot from several positions, fire under or over obstacles and in other unfamiliar positions. There are no standard exercises or set arrangement of the targets, and the courses are often designed so that the shooter must be inventive, and therefore the solutions of exercises sometimes varies between shooters.
A great place to start is at your local indoor range... Yes, I know this is exactly where you were trying to venture away from but they might actually run a small practical match that you don't know about. A lot of indoor ranges these days hold a weekly or monthly indoor practical match. These matches are typically very small because of the inherent limited space of an indoor range but this makes it a pretty good place to start out. If your range does not hold any matches like this, call around to other indoor ranges in your area.
Depending on where you live and your comfortability with jumping right in, you may start by just attending an official local match. These matches will always be at an outdoor range and are put on by one of a few major organizations. You can see if you have a match in your area by visiting each of the organizations websites. While your there, read about the organization and get a feel for what to expect from your first match.
The three main practical shooting organizations are:
1. United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA)
2. International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC)
3. International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA)