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Teen Advice: How to Deal with Shooting Match Issues

Over time I have experienced many issues at a shooting competition that many shooters experience every day. I would like to describe how to successfully deal with the problems you will encounter. You can face shooting match issues such as defective shells, broken guns and speakers not working. When something goes unplanned, you have a set amount of time to step off the firing line, before you are called back to the firing line. 

Common Shooting Match Issues

Shooting Match Issues
(Denise Odom photo)

Defective shell

The first issue I have encountered many times is a defective shell. It can be uncommon for a factory load to be faulty, but not impossible. You hear more about reloads being more defective than factory loads. In most competitions, you only get 3 “failure to fire” before they count it as a loss. Defective shells can fire, but also jam your gun barrels, or they won’t fire at all. When a shell fires but jams your gun barrel, you have 3- to 5-minutes to fix it. You can fix a jammed barrel with a cleaning rod. When running the cleaning rod, you are clearing the barrel of only the wad, its best to clean the inside of the barrel so you are removing the shot from the barrel as well. Shells that don’t fire are counted as defective shells. You should switch them out with extras that you need to keep in your vest/ pouch. There is no way of fixing a shell that won’t fire, except to try to shoot it when you are not at a competition. 


Another shooting match issue you can encounter is a broken firing pin or a broken gun. I have seen many guns break on the firing line and the owner not have an extra gun. When a firing pin breaks, you can’t fix it right away. You either have to switch barrels or grab an extra gun if you don’t have double barrels. If you have a double barrel shotgun you can switch barrel or if you have a single barrel shotgun but have a interchangeable double barrel you can switch barrels so you are using the other firing pin. In the event that  a gun breaks its best to have an additional gun. That way, you can get back to the firing line. Always keep a cleaning kit and an extra gun with you when you go to shooting competitions. If you know what the problem is and you know how to fix it fast, then I suggest fixing it. If you don’t know or can’t fix the problem quickly, then makes sure to have an extra gun that you are comfortable with. 

guns and gear Shooting Match Issues

Say what? Speakers that don’t speak

Shooters have many shooting match issues with speakers not picking up their voices. Speakers get old and weathered, so a lot of times they don’t pick up the “p” in pull. Many shooters will move the speaker closer and try to pronounce the “p” loudly. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve had times where I’ve had to say a different word for the speaker to hear me. Many shooters say “ba” or “bull,” so the speaker will pick up their voices, and surprisingly – it works great. There are times when you must get a new speaker or the scorekeeper must throw a bird manually; this only happens if they can’t get you a new speaker right away. 

competition day firing line
(Dustin Odom photo)

These shooting match issues are problems that most people should learn to deal with at tournaments, so it’s good to be prepared for the unexpected. One thing I’ve learned is that whatever shooting association/club is running the match, it’s always good to know the main rules of the competition. Especially pay attention to the main points, such safety, failure to fire, lost birds and gun malfunction. It’s good to know the rules and how much time you have to get back to the firing line … so you can win.

Check out my post on how to prepare for shooting competitions

  • About Shelby Odom

    Shelby Odom is an active teen who loves adventure indoors and outdoors. Her favorite things to do are shooting, scuba diving and rock climbing.