WATCH: How To Get Started In Competitive Shooting

posted on May 4, 2020

In his latest video for Shooting Sports USA, 12-time NRA National Pistol Champion Brian Zins shares his tips for beginners on how to get started in any competitive shooting discipline. Watch the video above.

The first tip is easy and one we hope you perform daily—visiting this website and reading articles like this one. Shooting Sports USA has a plethora of information for new shooters, and it can be easy to find exactly what you are looking for by using the handy search function located at the top right of every page (touching or clicking the magnifying glass icon will transform it into a search box). And, you can sign up to receive the free SSUSA Insider newsletter, which is a curated list of some of our favorite articles published to the website each week.

Another thing to keep in mind is that everyone has to start out in the shooting sports somewhere. It may come as a surprise to many, but Brian Zins had never fired a gun in his life prior to joining the Marine Corps over three decades ago. When I first met him, this fact resonated with me because if you have ever been to one of his classes or even just seen him shoot, it's easy to assume that Zins was just born with a pistol in his hand and has been on target ever since. The man is proof that you don't have to be a longtime competitive shooter to become a champion.

"I had no plans of getting into competitive shooting. I just kind of fell into it," says Zins.

As for your first steps, just go to a match. This applies to any competitive shooting discipline. One place to start looking for a match near you is the SSUSA Coming Events section. You will meet great people and have a ton of fun. Chances are good that someone there will be happy to lend you some gear, because many competitors bring extra guns, ammunition, etc., to matches. Don't be intimidated, instead share the fact that you are new and there to get involved. It's amazing to see experienced competitive shooters come together to help out new shooters. The majority of competitive shooters are eager to add to their ranks and are happy to support newcomers. You may gain some new pals—lifetime friendships are often made on the firing line in competitive shooting.

"Competitive shooters are some of the greatest people in the world. We want people to come in and play with us, but we're not pushy about it."

Zins shares an anecdote about a 3-Gun match he attended years ago, which is a sport he was somewhat unfamiliar with at the time.

"[Once], I showed up at a 3-Gun match out west, and I was just there to cover the match and talk to the competitors. The next thing I know, they are strapping holsters on me and [throwing a shotgun and a rifle in my hand for me] to shoot a 3-Gun stage ... That's what competitive shooters are."

Finally, don't be intimidated by famous shooters you may see at a match. They are good people that want more people involved in their sport. You may not want to approach them before they are about to shoot (some like to stay in the zone and prefer not to be bothered), but be sure to talk to championship shooters when you can, as they can provide you with a wealth of information that isn't easy to find online.

To learn more about non-NRA shooting disciplines, visit the website for the National Governing Body (NGB) of the sport in question, e.g., USPSA, USA ShootingIDPA, ICORE, PRS, NRL, etc.

Below are links to the previous installments in our latest series of videos featuring Brian Zins.

See more: A Gun Lingo Glossary For New Rifle Shooters


SHOT2023 Staccatocs 1
SHOT2023 Staccatocs 1

SHOT Show 2023: Staccato CS 9 mm

Watch this video of Staccato’s new CS 9 mm pistol from last week at SHOT Show 2023’s Industry Day at the Range in Boulder City, Nev.

Collegiate Rifle: Akron Establishes New Records At Weekend Doubleheader vs. Ole Miss, WVU, Ohio State

Last weekend the Akron rifle team posted the second highest score in program history, along with a new team air rifle record. Akron faced Ole Miss, West Virginia and Ohio State at home Jan. 21-22, 2023.

New: Magpul Enhanced Selector Kit For AR-Pattern Firearms

Magpul’s new ESK-AR is an ambidextrous selector kit for AR-pattern lower receivers with user-configurable selectors and ergonomic sensibility.

Classic SSUSA: Alaska-Fairbanks Wins 2001 NCAA Rifle Championship

In 2001, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks rifle team captured its third consecutive win at the NCAA Rifle Championship. Read our historic coverage of the match.

SHOT Show 2023: Rossi Announces 3 New Revolvers

Rossi is roaring back into the U.S. revolver market with three new guns: the RP63, RM66 and RM64 models. The former two are available now, while the RM64 is coming later in 2023.

New: Bushnell Match Pro ED 15x 56 mm Binocular

The new Bushnell Match Pro ED 15x 56 mm binos sport the MRAD-based Shot-Call reticle, which may be of interest to long-range competitive shooters.


Get the best of Shooting Sports USA delivered to your inbox.