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Shooting requirements before shooting a match?


lugnut
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I'm not trying to be inflammatory here... just looking for honest feedback.

In my opinion, a USPSA match (or IDPA match) is not the type of event where a new shooter or gun owner should just walk on and try. The primary concern is safety issues. I've RO'd and SO'd many matches with brand new shooters where the folks just don't understand the basics of drawing from a holster, keeping the muzzle in a safe direction and keeping their finger out of the trigger guard when not shooting or not knowing how to properly manage the firearm (loading, clearing, etc).... then there is the issue of not understanding the rules or getting confused during the COF. Some new shooters are just hard to predict in that often times they are unsure of what to do or where to go next.

I don't know any clubs that turn away new shooters for any reason but is that reasonable? I always "suggest" that new shooters attend a practice or two to get familiar with the game and learn some of the basics before attending a match.

I also think that we lose some new shooters because they DO get overwhelmed. I personally can think of a few shooters that were DQ'd in a match and never came back. I don't know if they were embarrassed, felt too unsafe or just didn't like the experience.... all of which may have been prevented.

I've discussed this with some friends but don't have any good answers. What do you guys think?

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Some areas have "new shooter" matches, range days, etc. Most matches I attend just have briefings before the match and maybe "buddies". But there does not seem to be a standard in the US, unlike overseas. This could be because in the US you buy a gun and then go to a match for a place to shoot more, where in many countries you go to a match and get certified in order to buy a gun.

I know some of our Canadian friends can chime in, they have the Black Badge program which is a new shooter orientation.

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My club just did our yearly 2day class for new shooters interested in USPSA. An entire day going through all the rules of gun safety and USPSA, then drawing and firing single shots, then double shots, then triple shots at the 7 yard line. They come back the second day and we run an entire mock match with results and full stats. Everyone goes through the stages at their fastest comfortable pace. When they show up to their first real USPSA match they look like weathered veterans.

If a new shooter in our area is interested and has missed the class, we practice every Wednesday night, I or any one of the other 10-15 regulars will walk the shooter through a couple of stages as slow as possible. For me, I literally tell them "You just watched me do this in 20 seconds, I don't want to see you go any faster than 60 seconds. Then we will run it again and you can try for speed"

We very rarely have issues using these methods.

Edited by partyboy424
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I am not sure what all the right answers are, but I do agree with you that a match , even a local club match is not the place for a first timer. All the ones I have introduced to the sport in the past, I spent some range time with them to get a feel for range commands and safety expectations. Of course I would also offer pointers on drawing, mag changes, etc.

For the last two years, our club has offered a USPSA class, with a couple of hours of classroom instruction and then some range time with seasoned shooters. This has been fairly successful.

However, in regards to the one that just shows and obviously does not understand the safety aspect and/or how their equipment works is difficult. We had a similar situation last week at our 3 gun match. I was not the one that did it, so I do not know the details, but basically the RO had a nice, but frank discussion with the individual informing him this was not the best time to learn HOW to shoot and operate his equipment. He was offered a refund on his match fee and was inviited back to the range for instruction at a later date.

We also had some newbies get DQ'd .Some took it fine and even came back this weekend for our USPSA pistol match. But, some never come back.

Don't get me wrong I love to share my sport, but I just think there is a time and a place for everything.

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Well the club I shoot at on a regular basis. After sign up 1 or 2 of. Our senior ROs will canvas all ths shooters to find out all the first timers and juniors who are going to participate, then they will take them in a group and impart to them as much practical information as can be absorbed in a reasonable time. Subjects safety safety safety muzzles always down range don't try to hurry. Don't be shy about asking questions. 180 lines. I know I have missed some things but are senior ROs don't miss much. After this they will be put on squads wher 1 squad won't get all the new guys so they can be helped further. Just what they do oh by the way this club is in N W OHIO the name NORTH WEST OHIO COMBAT PISTOL CLUB that is also there web address. Thank you for your indulgence

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I don't have a problem with them walking on and being given a safety/rules talk. I am always a little nervous around new shooters but they seem to do very, very well as a whole and are plenty safe as they are usually just walking around and taking their time. I don't see it as a problem at all.

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We have had a number of new shooters over the last year. Many will watch a practice match or two with us explaining whats going on and why some people are shooting the equipment they are. They then come back with the proper gear and start shooting the matches themselves. We try to pair them with a mentor to explain how the stage planning is taking into account various safety issues like 180's and mag changes so that they do not get caught up in the stage and lose sight of where the 180 is at.

I like to talk to many of them and explain that shooting USPSA is like driving a car. When you first get your license you watch everything you are doing because you are worried about doing it right so you are looking 3 to 4 seconds in front of you. After driving for a while some of the things start to come natural and now you can start smoothing things out. Now you are planning and watching 10-20 seconds in front of you. Take your time and be safe. After a few matches it will start to become more natural and then you can work on speeding up.

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Agreed completely with lugnut.

I think we (USPSA) has gotten very lucky on this issue for a long time.

Yeah, not sure how to fix it without coming up with the rigid requirements that no one will likely agree to. I do like the mentoring idea that poppa bear mentioned.

My concern it two fold: First and foremost- safety. Secondly- I think new shooters that are overwhelmed and/or made a lot of mistakes might not come back.

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I am not sure what all the right answers are, but I do agree with you that a match , even a local club match is not the place for a first timer. All the ones I have introduced to the sport in the past, I spent some range time with them to get a feel for range commands and safety expectations. Of course I would also offer pointers on drawing, mag changes, etc.

For the last two years, our club has offered a USPSA class, with a couple of hours of classroom instruction and then some range time with seasoned shooters. This has been fairly successful.

However, in regards to the one that just shows and obviously does not understand the safety aspect and/or how their equipment works is difficult. We had a similar situation last week at our 3 gun match. I was not the one that did it, so I do not know the details, but basically the RO had a nice, but frank discussion with the individual informing him this was not the best time to learn HOW to shoot and operate his equipment. He was offered a refund on his match fee and was inviited back to the range for instruction at a later date.

We also had some newbies get DQ'd .Some took it fine and even came back this weekend for our USPSA pistol match. But, some never come back.

Don't get me wrong I love to share my sport, but I just think there is a time and a place for everything.

As a new shooter that shot the pistol match he refers to above, I think the class should be a requirement! I took the competition class in February he talks about, which was a huge help. We actually ran a few stages after a few hours of classroom instruction, which was priceless. It got us used to instructions from the RO and the safety rules. I also read a lot about USPSA and the rules, as well as had a seasoned shooter take me under his wing and mentor me with drills and valuable advice and instruction. He has drilled me for a month once a week (thank you Jesus--it is appreciated!). He was also at the match on my squad and helped me along the way. Even with all of that preparation, it was a little daunting to step up to that starter box! I could not imagine someone going to a match with no preparation and agree that could be dangerous. I think a class should be required for safety reasons. I came in dead last at the match behind some great shooters, but I met my goal--have fun, be safe, don't get DQ'd!!

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I think we need more rules, and we need the government to protect us more. Perhaps a government-issued USPSA license, with an annual fee. Anything we can do to erect barriers to new shooters is going to benefit us on the scoresheet. :devil:

Seriously..... I don't know how everyone else does it. Our club encourages people to come to the steel challenge matches (monthly-ish in winter, every monday night april-september) to get started. We also host a USPSA practice match (almost all steel) that is a little lower-pressure and shorter stages working on specific skills or concepts. New shooters are always given a special briefing and paired up with experienced RO's that can give them a little extra attention. Everyone else encourages them and helps them to remember to ignore the whole speed thing, and just focus on being safe and making the hits. It seems to me that they all do fine.

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In our section a new shooter needs a safety card. A RO will supervise their ability to draw, reload, and follow the range commands before issuing the card. For the first 3 matches the scorecard has a "new shooter" comment on it to alert the RO. I took a two day class that a couple local M/GM/RO's offered in lieu of the safety check and 3 match deal. Either way new shooters receive extra attention here.

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We get brand new shooters every Thursday night at our club.

They scare the crap out of me but I try to help them out as much as I can. Sometimes they dq, sometimes they get through the stages just fine.

Either way, they get watched like a hawk.

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We have a mandatory new shooter class for anybody new to action shooting. But even with that we do not encourage complete novices to guns to take the course. We generally expect some familiarity with static target shooting, understanding the manual of arms for the pistol being used, and a sound understanding of and respect for gun safety. Even if it has just been in dryfire, we hope that the student has tried drawing from the hoster brought to the class.

We don't ask or hope for much more - we all were beginners once with little more than enthusiasm and a nylon holster on a dress belt.

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Agree, with the points taken.

The club and it's members should take time to help "new to the sport" shooters. New shooter (never fired, operated) there's NRA basic handgun/FIRST steps Courses available and suggest them to fellow NRA instructors.

Our club, we have safety briefing and we are "tour guides" for the shooter for the day. This program has worked well for us for the last 3 years and have many repeat shooters every month and they invite their friends. Another bonus is creation of friendships with new people.

Link to our info page.

http://www.prg-ipsc.com/?page_id=61

I agree with mwx40x40, be very respectful, guide, suggest and offer options. We all start from the same beginning. We follow the motto, that they are paying customers and you want them to come back.

Good luck all to each of your clubs.

DVC

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When I started shooting USPSA competitively 20 years ago (I had already been

shooting for 40 years before that) it was mandated that we take a 3-4 hour

"range session" that started very slowly - drawing at 3 yards, etc

The first time you start rushing to draw a fully loaded handgun out of your

holster, and run around a course with a loaded gun, SHOULD be a little

intimidating.

The course gradually lets you feel more comfortable with the process.

GREAT IDEA. Surprised it isn't a standard today. :cheers:

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SInce my club throws level III type stages at our local match, our monthly club match is NOT the place for new people to come out and shoot. If they don't have a USPSA # and at least C class rating, I am not inclined to let them shoot. It is not fair to the RO's who will have give them "special" attention and to anyone else if they do something dumb and hurt someone (even themselves). Then there is the whole paperwork and claim issues and police reports ect, ect.........Who really wants to deal with that? We had to come up with a solution that would solve our long term goals.

We run a Thursday night practice session weekly that is free to everyone. We encourage folks to come out, learn the game, learn to participate safely and get to know our group. This has worked out very well for us. We get them addicted to the sport by showing the emphasis on safety (c'mon, we run with guns...it has to ingrained into them from the start) and letting them do things they could never do at an indoor type of range. Since it is a group effort, they don't feel they are getting picked on by any one person and they want to conform to the group standards. They see that there is a prize for their work on Thursday nights and that is participation in the monthly match. Typically it is 3-4 weeks of practice and then we pair them up with some of our more experianced folks who help them during the match. The objective is just to get them safely through the match. I have lost count on how many we done this with but you can see the improvement in thier skills and the best part is that they see it too. By then, they are hooked and have started a lay away program at the local gun store and are asking about Dillon presses...........

Raise the bar by making folks have to achieve something in order to participate. WIthout working at it, they won't appreciate the ability to participate. Just like anything else in life.......don't dumb things down in order to cater to the lowest skill level as that isn't good for anyone long term.

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Years ago, our private gun club ran pistol matches; Action Pistol was for all but emphasis on basic skills. USPSA matches for those shooters who were more competitively inclined.

The Action Pistol matches were a stepping stone for the USPSA matches, so to speak.

The people who ran the matches made new shooters feel welcomed and they helped them progressed.

I started out just wanted to learn some fundamentals. I enjoyed it so much I decided to invest my retirement in SV pistols :surprise:

On a more serious note, our club was unique in my experience. I had a job that allowed me to shoot at a variety of places in the West. Some clubs were adequate for new shooters or strangers, while others were not so ( I am being kind).

Regardless of skill or experience level, some clubs do a great job of bringing new shooters along. It all comes down to the people.

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If you want the sport to grow, as a club you or someone who has the exprience and the time, needs to put back to the sport. Help new shooters, either as a free class in the evening or at the match. I always suggest that the new shooter watch the first match and then hook up with an exprienced shooter so they have a great time at the match and want to come back.

If they want to shoot the match, great. They need a little help all day. A good people person who has exprience works the best.

Thanks,

Mike

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I somewhat agree. Safety should be the biggest concern. I've seen a lot of people flash a muzzle while drawing facing up range. There's even a local match around me(not uspsa or idpa, more of just a tactical match) and I see it all the time because there's a group of new people every month. Myself and a handful of other people have even started wearing a vest there and stay a safe distance away. But I feel like its not just the new shooters fault. There is one range near me that will let you draw from a holster. And you can only go there if you are/were military or accompanied by military. So people around me have no real chance of good practice. It's a double edge sword in my area bc people have to start somewhere and that place is at matches

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I welcome new shooters to shoot at the USPSA matches I direct. I put them through a safety briefing before the match that includes range commands.

The new shooter shoots even though it may take a little extra time. I stress to the new shooter to go at their own pace and just make the shots happen.

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If they don't have a USPSA # and at least C class rating, I am not inclined to let them shoot.

If your local matches are so hard that you won't let a new shooter on to start out, maybe you should think about adjusting to create a more neutral shooting experience. You want them to go somewhere else to get experience and just push the problem off to another club?

It is not fair to the RO's who will have give them "special" attention and to anyone else if they do something dumb and hurt someone (even themselves).

If the ROs are not there to help foster the sport and new people and take the extra time to help new shooters, what are they doing to help grow the sport?

We all started out as U's and didn't know our asses from the muzzle. Just because we get a little better doesn't mean we forget where we came from.

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