Shooting Sports That You Can Get Involved In If You Love Shooting Competitively

A common myth is that guns are just for hunting or self-defence. However since guns have been invented, shooting sports have been around to show off skills and even learn some new ones. Today there are many competitive shooting sports that you can get involved in. Some can even get you to the Olympics! Here is a list of the shooting events that are at the Olympics in case you are curious.

Besides providing you with enjoyment, competitive shooting has some benefits, which include:

  • It teaches folks proper firearm handling under supervised conditions.
  • It provides opportunities to promote firearm safety and education to a wider community.
  • It allows you to meet new like-minded people, and to learn from each other.

All of this, and a chance to take part in a fun activity that doesn't involve hours in front of a computer screen! Competitive shooting is an activity that allows participants to improve general coordination in addition to firearm skills, make new friends, and have opportunities to travel as well.

But what exactly does competitive shooting entail in terms of necessary ability and equipment? And how much of a commitment in terms of time and money does it involve? Read on to learn more about a sport that's been around as long as firearms have, and what you'll need to take part in it yourself.


Competitive shooting sports have a very long and storied history. While the prizes may not be as exciting as they were in the earliest days (no more gold, sorry) today's competitive events are also much better organized, and safer.

Because of changes to events over the years, competitive shooting events are more inclusive, meaning that older, younger, and disabled firearm enthusiasts among others can take part in these events.

The practice and skill sets developed here can also allow participants to potentially achieve competitive shooting's ultimate prize; a place on the United States Olympic shooting team, which has brought home many medals over the years.

Types of Shooting Sports

Competitive shooting is categorized by the type of gun being used, and then broken down into various events. Guns used at these events include:


You know those old "English country manor movies" where a character holding a firearm yells "Pull" and fires at targets thrown into the air? Then you've seen an example of competitive shotgun firing. Clay targets (simulating game birds) are always used, and types of this kind of competition include:

Skeet shooting - Targets are thrown into range from either side of the shooter.

Trap shooting - Targets are launched at different trajectories.

Sport shooting - Targets are launched from different angles and heights and at varying speeds.

Skills that can be shown off or acquired with competitive shotgun shooting include moving target and profile shooting.

Handguns (Pistols)

This type of firearm competition can be further broken down into "cowboy shooting" (which involves using authentic 19th and early 20th century pieces), and contemporary shooting. Types of this kind of competition include:

Bullseye shooting (also known as conventional pistol shooting) - Involves firing at the traditional bullseye target.

Metallic silhouette shooting - A shooter fires on a target in the shape of a person or animal.

Metered shooting - Shooters aim for targets positioned at different distances.

Bowling pin - Shooters attempt to fire upon and knock down as many bowling pins as possible within a time limit.

And given the increased popularity of concealed carry, there are now various drawing competitions in which contestants attempt to draw and shoot from both concealed carry and open wear holsters.

The objectives with various types of pistol competition here are accuracy in fixed target hitting, and speed.


As with pistols, there are "cowboy shooting" events, and contemporary ones. Different competitive events here include:

Bench rest - Shooters crouch behind a bench, setting and aiming their rifles on top of it. The rifle is supported in front and behind to hold it as steady as possible. When given the "commence" signal, shooters begin firing rounds of ammunition in sustained bursts until told to stop. Shooters are attempting to hit a small target (hole) with as many clusters of ammunition as possible. Groupings of five or more bullets near the target generally produces a winner.

Silhouette shooting - Follows the same format as for pistols as shooters, are attempting to shoot metal man or animal targets.

Position shooting - Shooters change position at different times during the match, with time and ammunition amounts changing depending on the position. For example, a shooter firing from 600 yards would be given more time and have to strike the target with less ammunition, than one firing from 200 yards. Skill looked for here is the ability to fire accurately from a distance.

Air Rifles

All shooting here must be done from a standing position, and distances can be no greater than 10 meters or 33 feet.

Cowboy "Action" Shooting (CAS)

The most recent of the shooting sports, CAS originated in southern California in the 1980s, and is also known as western action shooting, single action shooting, or cowboy three-gun.

Participants must also dress in reproductions of period clothing, and use pistols and rifles that are either authentic, reproductions, or very similar to firearms used in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, such as various Winchester rifle models, or the famous Colt revolver. Contestants fire on targets, and skills measured include speed and accuracy.

Requirements For Competition

Most competitive shooting matches are amateur affairs, and don't require any previous affiliation or training. Pre-registration may be required, and a small fee may be charged to cover expenses, pay for prizes, etc. But that doesn't mean that there aren't rules to follow for those who want to participate:


Even the Wild West CAS crowd adheres to strict safety standards. Don't expect to bring a loaded gun or one not securely in a holster or case, for example. Wait for clear instructions as to when you can load your piece, and where. Many competitions have strictly designated areas for this, known as "safety areas".

Gun Knowledge

Again, you don't have to be Dead Eye Dick or Annie Oakley to participate in many of these events, but a working knowledge of how your piece operates is often an entry requirement.

You may be asked to demonstrate loading and unloading your gun, and quizzed on how to correct malfunctions. And asking "Safety catch? Where's that?" is sure to get you a place in the audience, but not in the competition itself.

What Should You Bring?

Well, a piece and ammunition will be needed of course, or you won't be doing much shooting. Remember that the piece needs to be holstered or cased at all times until told otherwise. And you'll need to provide all cleaning and maintenance supplies.

Don't forget to bring safety glasses and ear protection with you as you won't be allowed to participate without it. A fair amount of leeway is permitted in regards to the type of hearing protection used, but remember that these events are noisy, so don't skimp.

And most of all, remember to bring patience, sportsmanship, and a sense of fun, three very useful items as you enter the wonderful world of competitive shooting.

What Is Your Favorite Shooting Sport?

If you are interested in competing at shooting sports, we hope you have found this article useful. Which shooting sport do you like best, and why? If you have some thoughts on shooting competitively, please share them with us in the comments section below, We would love to hear from you!