Another nice little article on .22 Caliber Handgun Competition by our friend in the states Joshua Hicks, Certified Firearms Instructor.
Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Which is a fine way of saying that in any competition, be it chess or marksmanship that the true competition is between a person’s current self and their past self. That is what separates Olympic shooters from the common shooter, I guarantee if you were to ask any of them why they train so hard, and compete so fiercely they would answer that it is all to better themselves, and to win of course.
Shooting competitions are an excellent way to pit one person’s skills against another’s, but more importantly are incentive for improvement. Too many shooters in my opinion are willing to settle for their current skill level, granted some people have reached their shooting potential, but most settle for “hitting the target”. Gun clubs are an excellent way for a group of shooters to come together and help one another improve, as well as compete against other clubs. Many people see sport shooting as a hobby, and in many ways it is, but it also more than that. Sport shooting is a way to strengthen camaraderie within a community, not unlike a local rugby or football team thankfully with less running around.
There are a few disciplines within the realm of .22 handgun sport shooting. My second favorite is the bull’s-eye competition, which is when shooter will shoot a paper graded target at a particular distance. The rules for the bulls-eye competition vary based on which organization is hosting the competition. Typically shooters will be standing and have the choice of one or two handed grip and will have a time limit or be timed. Once the shooter completes his or her round of shooting known as a “String” his or her target will be graded. In most cases the shooter will be required to shoot multiple strings, such as three strings of ten rounds each. This is the most common .22 competition in the United States.
Next we have the steel drop competition which involves steel targets placed in different positions, some could be side by side, others could be at various distances, and others could be at various locations such as 9 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Again the rules of this competition are set by the hosting organization. The thing I like the most about this competition is that while the targets are sometimes difficult to hit, you only have to hit each target once, versus trying to get ten rounds in the 8 ring. Also the reassuring sound of the round hitting the steel lets you know you’ve hit it.
Lastly my favorite competition is the cowboy competition. For this competition typically the setup is the same as the bulls-eye, however instead of a semiautomatic .22 the shooter is required to use a .22 caliber single-action only cowboy revolver. Furthermore the shooter has to shoot one-handed. In my opinion this competition requires more skill and patience as you have to hammer the gun each time you shoot. The steel drop setup may also be used which adds to the difficulty as one handed target acquisition is a bit different than two handed.
Be it a shooting match or a chess game, keep in mind that you are competing more so against yourself than your opponent. Even if you don’t win the match look at your targets and ask yourself what you can do to improve. If the answer is nothing, and you’ve merely met a greater adversary than rest easy knowing you did your best. The number one rule though is to have fun, don’t get so caught up in the competition that you don’t enjoy yourself, otherwise what’s the point?
I hope you found this article informative and helpful. While I seldom get the opportunity to go to shooting matches, the fact remains that I have the right to. I look forward to the day when I can go on holiday to the UK and spend a weekend shooting .22 handguns at a local gun club. I say that not to be pretentious, but I honestly believe that a noble cause, backed by earnest perseverance cannot go ignored forever. So keep up the good work.