To compete, or not to compete

The new issue of American Rifleman came in and the feature was the guns from the battle of Antietam. After reading the article and drooling over the rifles and muskets, I realized that the chapter in my life where I competed with holy black is over. I will not be going back to the N-SSA, but I will cherish the memories and lessons I’ve learned over the years. I just logged into my old email account that I created when I was Adjutant and Paymaster on my team and was surprised by the number of emails wondering where I was and how I was doing. I replied back to a few with a short explanation, wishing them the best.

I feel the need to compete again.

The problem is that I’m not quite sure what I want to compete in/with.

You have Cowboy Action Shooting where you get to create your own identity from the Wild West (but not based on any historical figure) and shoot period correct firearms. Not unlike the N-SSA except your identity was your team and your team was a true unit from the Civil War…sure, as a Skirmisher, you still shot individual paper targets, but the fun part was the team events where you stood on the line (in a skirmish line) with every other team and shot at clay pigeons, pots, tiles at 25, 50 and 100 yard intervals in 3-5 minute timed events.

To me, the only major difference I  can see between the two (besides the guns & costumes) is in HOW the competition is done. With CAS, it looks like you run between stations that are set up in the style of the old Wild West with different scenarios. Fun, no?

It seems that more and more shooters that I know are getting into IDPA, and to be honest, it kind of looks a tad boring. I said a TAD! Don’t get all upset. I just wonder how I would like going from shooting 5 days worth of events with 4 different firearms to just shooting a pistol for a day. However, it does look to be something that I would like to do at least once, especially because their competitions simulate real-life scenarios and will prepare you in case you need to defend yourself with your firearm (although, if you are going to the range like the good shooter you are you already know how to defend yourself).  Still fun.

Then you have USPSA, a division of IPSC, a station by station competition on a much larger scale. This is the sport where you recognize the competitors names, such as Julie Golob, Maggie Reese and Travis Gibson. I am not quite ready to compete at this level, even though this looks to be something I may be interested in doing in the future.

Every time I purchase a new firearm, I take it apart as soon as I get home. Then I put it back together and throw as many rounds down the range as time permits me. I practice my own drills, give myself speed and accuracy tests and if I have a shooting buddy we give each other encouragement by talking smack. Every little bit helps.

What it all comes down to is the biggest shooting competition out there is the one I have with myself. It doesn’t matter if I join another organization. It will always be between me and my sight picture.



Comments ( 2 )

  1. ReplyFill Yer Hands

    Chris: Don't be intimidated by USPSA. For most shooters it's not as high powered as you think. Like any sport the highest levels are intense, but USPSA and IDPA allow for shooters of any experience level and any skill to compete, as they are classified by your skill level. Take a look at the videos on my blog, or at, and you can see. Alternately, attend a local match. But I warn you - most clubs let newcomers shoot for free, so take your gun and 4 mags and a holster and mag puches and 300 rounds of ammo, because you will want to compete. SASS is probably the closest to what you are used to, both in terms of technique and feel. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider one of the others. Also, there are others like Zoot Shooters (think SASS in the Roaring 20's) and Zombie Shooters (think USPSA with headshots) , and a lot of unsanctioned action shooting venues. Look around. But I warn you, they're all addictive!

  2. ReplyPeter

    I shoot SASS with only semi-period correct shoootijn' irons. I shoot black powder cartridge, Italian clones of the Colt SAA, a Chicom hammer double shotgun and a made in Brazil clone of the '92 Winchester, in .45 Colt. The '92 and one of the SAAs are stainless steel and, although I have yet to have rust on the other irons, I wish they were all stainless. At my age I'll never win a big match, it's not like I can trust myself to run between firing points with a loaded firearm like I used to but, even so, its good practice. The average stage in a match is thirty-four (or sometimes a few more) rounds total out of two revolvers, one lever action or pump rifle or carbine and one shotgun. The folks that win the matches are usually shooting lightly loaded .38's or even .32s. Meanwhile there are those of us shooting the guns "beginng with .4" at the original late 19th Century ballistics. Those folks are called Warthogs. Then the folks shooting the One True Powder are called Soot Lords. The smallest group are those of us shooting the guns "beginning with .4 at the original BP loads, we are the Soot Hogs. It's just about the most fun a guy can have with his pants up going up to the line after the "pop-tink, pop-tink" loads with full charge BP .44s or .45s and it's "BOOM-CLANG! BOOM-CLANG!". Put on some kind of boots, grab what shootin' irons that will be even close, lead alloy bullets and shot only, must be under 1000 fps from the handguns although they only check that at the big matches and give it a try. Call the nearest club, the first couple-three shoots folks will be more than happy to loan you anything you don't have so you can shoot the whole match.

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