Going down to the range to go through a few rounds can be a great way to spend a free afternoon. But, if that’s all you do, it can eventually lose the thrill. No, seriously! Range time is hugely valuable because it helps you keep your skills well-honed, but it’s a common enough experience for firearms owners to find themselves wanting a bit more. If you’re looking for an added challenge, it may be time to try a shooting competition.
At the most basic, entering a shooting competition gives you a way to see how your skills compare. And if it’s your first competition, not to worry. You know how friendly the shooting community is when you head to the range? Shooting competitions are generally just a big, competitive extension of that. Shooting competitions are a great way to hone your skills, challenge yourself, have fun, and grow your gun-enthusiast family. You can expect to experience:
If you thrive on specific metrics, competing can give you clear benchmarks to work toward. Maybe it’s improving your precision, or maybe it’s something less obvious like improving your draw speed. Whatever the case, you’ll have some pretty clear metrics showing how your skills stack up at the end of the competition. And if you come out on top? Awesome! Find another competition to push yourself further. There is no requirement for how many competitions you have to participate in during a year, so if you want, you can stick to the same annual competition as a way to gauge your progress. Of course, you can also dive deep into the competitive spirit and pursue national or international championships as a way to push yourself to grow your skills further and further.
For AR-15 owners specifically, push yourself by finding a High Power Rifle Competition and competing in the Service Rifle class. Your AR will have to meet some rather exacting specifications. The challenging part is the restrictions placed on accessories; you’ll likely have to ditch your forend grip, and you may need to remove most optics in favor of a fixed iron sight.
Yeah, it sounds kind of cheesy when we put it that way, but let’s face it, as much as shooting competitions are all about your individual skills, they’re a lot of fun. And, odds are good that you’ll learn something new, whether it’s your first competition or your fiftieth. That new information may be something as small as seeing someone using a forend grip style you’ve never seen before, or it may be something bigger. Shooting competitions are often as collaborative as they are competitive, so someone with a lot more experience with a certain firearm may offer some advice on how to improve your grip or adjust your stance. But, because it’s one big gun-enthusiast community, those lessons come with a side of fun and plenty of friendly debates.
When you spend time at the range, or even just out spending a few hours messing around with some no-pressure plinking, it’s easy to fall into a routine. And yes, routine certainly has its advantages, especially when it comes to creating muscle memory and increased familiarity with a firearm. However, getting stuck in the same routine means it can harder to progress. Competition shooting is pretty drastically different from range time, so it can be a great way to push yourself out of that comfortable range routine.
Many rifle competitions in particular are good for this because they push you to shoot from different positions and to make modifications to your usual AR setup based on shooting class. As we mentioned above, the Service Rifle class has a lot of restrictions placed on them. Jump to the other end of the spectrum with the F-Open rifle class to use your AR with basically any modifications or accessories you choose. Of course, just because you can use a bipod and a high-powered scope doesn’t mean the competition will be any easier.
If you’ve decided to join the competition world, make sure you’re prepared. Shop RailScales online for lightweight but durable forend grip and rail grip options as well as fixed iron sights and more. Get prepared and get competing with RailScales!