Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to Competitive Pistol Shooting by Steve Sieberts
Gun owners in general, and gunsmiths in particular, should embrace any form of formally-organized shooting activity, including those they don’t personally partake. All organized shooting events help showcase all the positive attributes of gun ownership. They are the embodiment of skillful, safe, and responsible shooters and the antithesis of every negative gun owner stereotype. Informal shooting (“plinking”) is all well and fine. My definition of a good gun owner is anyone capable of keeping and bearing arms without causing vandalism or undue injury. But this rarely leads to skill beyond casual, novice familiarity and cannot counter negative stereotypes. A hundred safe but casual plinkers can’t improve the damaged impression of gun owners given by one shot-up public road sign.
Taken as a percentage of total number of gun owners, competitive shooting has declined over the years. In the 1960s, when the National Rifle Association had just over 400,000 total members and three primary competitive disciplines, almost a third of the general membership held current classifications. Today, that ratio is about two percent. Even with a ten-fold increase in card-carrying membership and seven primary disciplines with multiple classifications available in each, raw number of classified competitors has waned.
Learning about the options is good first step. Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to Competitive Pistol Shooting by Steve Sieberts is such a guide. Sieberts is a former member of the Army Marksmanship Unit and has competed in various disciplines up through the national level for decades. Every author describing a given shooting sport seems to use “fastest growing” as a descriptor. In truth, popularity of specific disciplines ebbs and flows. Conventional disciplines in various forms ruled the roost for decades. Even with the growth of other events, Camp Perry still sees more competitors at annual the National Rifle Association and Civilian Marksmanship Program National Matches than any other single event in the United States and there are still more classified bullseye shooters than others. Silhouette enjoyed dedicated regular columns in a number of periodicals through the 1970s and early ’80s and still attracts a dedicated, if smaller, following today. Practical events started with the Leatherslap contests organized at Big Bear by Jeff Cooper and friends have spawned a number of new disciplines attracting shooters around the country.
Occasionally you’ll hear a few competitors bemoan some “other” event they don’t partake. I suppose it’s natural to wish for everyone else to also enjoy what we like and not understand interest in that which we don’t, but participation in anything is a potential win. A well-organized and promoted contest makes every gun owners look a little better. For gunsmiths, this is even more beneficial. Competitive shooters shoot. A lot. That means they’ll need repairs more often and will want modifications to chase better scores. More participation in more and divergent events means more and different types of guns needing work. Gunsmiths with national reputations earned them by becoming the go-to shop for champions. Being aware of and catering to these shooters is great way to build business.
Read more in the May 2017 issue.