Mentors play a huge role in most roads to success. This year, the shooting sports involved on the Olympic “road to Rio” are popping up everywhere. I recently mentioned getting a start in shooting shotguns…but where do you go next? Competitions could be the next thing on your list. When one looks to pursue competitive shotgun shooting, it’s easy to look toward the women of Team USA.
I visited with five-time Olympic medalist, Kim Rhode, and asked her how she started her career in competition. She indicated that her father had taken her to the range as a young girl; her career built from there. Then, when Janessa Beaman came to hunt with me last year, I asked her about her start. She also credited her dad with taking her to the range as a youngster.
These ladies have fathers who nurtured a talent they saw in their daughters. Over the years they evolved from shooting for fun with their families into shooting in big competitions.
Not everyone has a dad to influence them in the field of shooting sports. If you’re in that situation, ask a friend. Or ask a colleague, or stop by the firearms store or shooting range. The store will probably have some information regarding shooting competitions.
Your list of resources may vary, depending on how far you’d like to go in your competitive career—but let’s begin at the top. Olympic competitions include trap, double trap (for men) and skeet events, but you may also be interested in shooting sporting clays or 5-stand with your shotgun.
The International Shooting Sport Federation is the international governing body that oversees the competitions that are used to qualify for the Olympic games. The ISSF supervises Olympic shooting competitions and the matches that lead up to it, including the World Championships, World Cups, Continental Championships and Continental Games. If you contact the ISSF, you can download the rulebook and qualifications to reach the Olympic podium.
Setting the sights a little lower for some of us average Joes and Janes, you can shoot competitions on a more local level by traveling around your state, or visiting those nearby.
If you love the movement and continual action of sporting clays, you need to join the National Sporting Clays Association. On its website, you can search for events by region, state or club. Start by competing in some of the smaller local events and grow your skills from there.
The American Trap Association governs trap shoots across the United States. Your method for finding these competitions is similar to that of the NSCA. Locate shoots via its website and attend those that work with your schedule. When you have a question, stop and ask the group is most often, friendly and helpful. They enjoy competition, so they’re happy to add another shooter to their ranks.
Like the NSCA and the ATA, the National Skeet Shooting Association has a website where you can research competition schedules.
It’s worth noting that all of these associations include resources for you to find accredited shotgun instructors. These instructors are a great source for all sorts of information.They’ll help you hone your skills, of course, but they will also give you pointers about competitions, shooting ethics and rules.
Even the Olympics isn’t your goal, competition is significant. It will help you improve your skills immensely. When you add the pressure of competition, your safety skills, discipline, accuracy and focus will grow. Plus, you’ll be sure to meet new people, make new friends and get outside to enjoy the fresh air…and smell that gunpowder!
If you missed Mia’s post about getting started in shotgun, you can read it here.