First Match Blues: What I Wished I Knew
No matter who you are, going to your first match is a little nerve racking. For most of us it's because we don't want to look like a dummy or an amateur. In reality you have no reason to be nervous but the more prepared you are the less you have to worry about and the more fun you will have. With that being said just go out there and shoot to the best of your abilities, have fun, and be safe! Here are a few things I wish I would have known:
Tip #1 : Don't Just Show Up
Before attending a match, check it out in person. This means looking at how it's setup (stage design, number of stages, etc), meet the match director, and talk to some of the shooters. Make a quick analysis of who you see as the best shooters and approach them when they have a free moment. Don't be afraid to ask them their suggestions for you as a new shooter. This will help you greatly and give you more confidence when you actually show up to shoot.
Tip #2: Come Prepared.
There's little worse than showing up to a match with 50 rounds to little or not enough magazines. It's like showing up to football game with no pads, yes you can still play but you aren't really prepared and you're probably going to have a crappy time. I've done this myself, sadly more than once and I realize now it's easily avoided if you find out the following beforehand:.
- Round count for the match
- Average round count for each stage. *Why do you want to know this? Because it will tell you how many magazines you will generally need for each stage. Based on this you can determine if you have enough magazines as well as mag pouches for your gun.
- Figure out what division you'll be shooting and what are the criteria for that division. This is usually outlined by the individual organization (i.e. USPSA or IDPA) or the specific match.
Tip #3 Bring the Right Gear.
This is a small continuation of both coming prepared and checking out the match beforehand. This one is for those of you that feel you have all the gear and are all set on ammo. Before you set out, ask yourself is this equipment going to just get me through the match OR will I actually be able to use it the way it's supposed to be used to the best of my abilities. I've seen many times, people bringing equipment that is what's needed but its either so sub par or barely functioning that it was almost as good as not having it at all. To avoid this, again, I encourage you to ask tons of questions so you don't just throw money away. Research the best equipment then determine how to fit that into your budget because sometimes saving for better equipment will be a better option in the long run.
Tip #4 Dress Appropriately
Wear clothing that won't get caught in your holster and that you can move around in. You may have times where you need to kneel or squat and your clothing should allow for that. Also slipping while carrying a gun is a scary experience for everyone not just the shooter so wear shoes with good traction.