Competitive shooting on low budget?

Lefty375

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Background: I was considering getting back into shooting and not letting my skills disappear. However, I don't have unlimited amounts of ammo anymore as I'm just a college student.

Is it possible to start practicing again for cheap and eventually start competing? I have done some research and 3-gun seems like the most fun, but also the most expensive. I wouldn't mind doing Pistol only until I get a real job.

I will be starting from scratch regarding gear. If anyone can help with recommendations for weapons/equipment (maybe that offer discounts), or even some type of organization that provides reduced cost for veterans/students.

Thanks all.
 

Devildoc

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You are a Ranger so you know all the important stuff: trigger control, manipulation, stances, dry firing (esp import with pistol). To shoot for real on the cheap, get a .22; as you are well aware, the fundamentals are irrespective of the caliber. Get into reloading at some point.

9mm...cheapest for competition, plentiful, cheap to reload. Kill two birds with one stone and get a Glock or S&W M&P and buy a .22 upper receiver. If you go to 3-gun, don't skimp on the AR. Many 3-gunners like the 18" barrel, but with your experience/skill set, you would do well with a good ol' 16" recce with a 1-4/1-6 scope. RDS like Aimpoint or EO Tech is great for center mass, but the scope is really imperative for precision. A Rem 870 or Mossberg 500 is just fine for shotty. Just make sure you get ghost rings or sights.

As for reduced costs for vets, I can't help (since I don't know any). You can start calling around the local shooting clubs, watching the matches, seeing what they have. I am sure your state or locale has an online shooting forum, you can pick up your guns and gear cheaper used that way.
 

Totentanz

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FWIW, when I shot* USPSA and IDPA, the only difference between my normal carry setup and my competition setup was the number of mags. I'm not sure what you're running, but most OWB holsters are good to go for competition. A couple $20 Blackhawk double mag holders and a couple spare mags was all it took.

Doesn't do anything for the other parts of 3-gun but you don't HAVE to rock race equipment for pistol matches.

ETA - re: ammo. I've frequently found that more often than not, it's significantly cheaper to buy in bulk. It hurts to swipe a credit card to the tune of a couple hundred dollars on an expendable aspect, but it hurts less than adding up gun shop receipts for the same amount with less to show for it when you buy box-by-box.
 

Totentanz

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I just re-read your post and realized you'd asked about weapon as well (my post above assumed you had something already, not starting completely from scratch). For pistol, I'd go Glock. If you qualify for a Blue Label discount in any way, that'll bring the price from about $500-550 (normal price) to $440 or so. Glocks are difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to stop, and aftermarket equipment is plentiful and less expensive than a lot of alternatives (e.g. Glock PMags can be had for $15 and factory mags can be had for about $20, while for a Sig you're looking at around $45 per). I don't know of a single holster manufacturer who doesn't offer a holster for Glocks (maybe there's one out there, but...)

There are alternatives, but on a budget they're hard to beat for price and availability.
 

policemedic

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I think @Devildoc covered it pretty well.

The handgun should be something you can compete and use as a practical defensive weapon. The Glock fits the bill and even the MOS version--I'd recommend it based on what you intend to do with it--won't break the bank.

ARs are plentiful and you can build your own if you like.

You can absolutely do well with a pump shotgun like an 870 to start with, though as time goes on you may want to trick it out with an extended magazine, side saddle and such.

Absolutely get into reloading. @Ranger Psych knows full well the benefits of shooting a lot whilst reloading, if I recall. In the interim, buy bulk ammo online. Look for retailers with free shipping.
 

Ranger Psych

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230k rounds through the .45 Expert. Nearly 100k in one year (2003/4) for stress relief and training.

You don't need race gun bullshit to be competitive anyway. Get angood pistol you like and are down to carry for ccw. Get a rifle you dig. Get a shotgun you dig. Then just train. Reloading will make your money for shooting last longer....not save you money. We spent the same we did on ammo pre-reloader, with the reloader...but shot 3x as much.
 
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Ranger Psych

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The other advantage of doing this stuff with "service" weapons ie what you carry on the regular, keep in the house for hunting, home defense, etc....is you will get pro tier at handling them like an extension of yourself.

Even now, with the minimal shooting I get to do due to hometime restrictions from my work, I still can meet triple nickle standard plus FAM standards for accuracy and time... although I am not a club member of either entity. One of many reasons I still rock my USP's.
 

Hillclimb

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You can piecemeal a good rifle together between dvor.com deals, righttobear.com, and sandersarmoryusa.com. Probably for around 600$.

If you already have a rifle, then amazon the Vortex strike eagle 1-6x, drop in trigger, and competition muzzle brake (email JPrifles.com about a mil discount) and you'll be set up for comp shooting.

Glock 34s with warren g fiber optic sights are nice for USPSA and the like. I just run a g code inner/outter belt for 70$, with 4 x HSGI taco pistol mag pouches, and 1 x m4 mag pouch. its simple and doesn't look as gay as some shit you'll see out there.

When I first started i had a cheap 20$ paddle holster for my G19, and some double mag holder from Amazon called fobus i think. I still had fun at USPSA matches and wasnt too far behind those nerds with $7000 STI 1911s.
 

Gunz

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I have a cheap Uncle Mike's pancake holster (I think it was about $12) that I've had for years...and it's a great holster because literally anything between a tiny Ruger LCR and a full size 1911 fits in it safely and snugly and can be easily drawn. Sometimes cheap stuff turns out to be good stuff.

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SmokinOkie

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Doing some research on saving $$$ on ammo myself, I stumbled upon a website called bitethebullet.co
They have a deal with a few particular 9mm rounds they make that the first 1000 rounds you buy is $209.00 but if you send the spent casings back to be reloaded you only pay $139.00 for your next 1000. The alloy of the casings they use are magnetic so you can get a rolling magnet from Lowe's or Home Depot and its much easier to pick them up and also if you don't find all 1000 they will credit you for however many you do actually turn it. I have yet to ship casings back so I am not sure how much you actually save due to cost of shipping.
They also have frangible rounds and rounds of other calibers (5.56, 300 blackout, 45. 40, rimfire) for a really good price.
 

Blizzard

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How small a budget are we talking here?

Different areas of the country have different options but since 3-gun was specifically mentioned, here are some of my thoughts in no particular order:

If you can have fun just going out and throwing rounds down range, without feeling you have to "win", then you can 3-gun with whatever you've got. As mentioned above, with your training, you'd likely do fairly well in a 3-gun tactical division. It's the most popular division due to barrier to entry; you see all kinds of set-ups here. There is also a division of tactical (Tac - Limited/Tac - Iron) were an optic is not used.

Pistol: I'm not a striker fire guy (for no real logical reason) but if I was on a budget, I would be and it'd be tough to ignore Glock. Everyone uses them. Very good used 9mm (minimum 3-gun caliber) are almost a dime a dozen. A G34 can be found for around $600+. Aside from Glock, S&W M&P9 or a CZ 75 are also decent at around $600 new. However, consider looking for a nice used pistol and save yourself another $100 or so. If you want to run a shorter barrel (ex. 3.5") so your pistol does double duty as a carry gun, go ahead; I've shot with my Sig 229 and HK P2000 and they worked just fine. Plus, you're using what you carry as opposed to a more dedicated race gun.

Shotgun: Guys use pump shotguns. Obviously, semi-auto is generally better but you don't need to go apeshit out of the gate here. You could do an Remington 970 but the Benelli Nova is also a fairly affordable option. If you can only get one choke, get a Light Modified. You can get a 20g but get a 12g, if for no other reason than resale. Expect ~$500.

Rifle: AR is most popular. Needs to be at least .223. 16 - 18" barrels are most popular. I wouldn't go longer or shorter. Obviously there is a ton that can be done with the AR platform; it's like Legos for big boys. If you know someone that has the tools, you can build your own from receiver on up. Otherwise, find something that gives you a base to grow from. That said, if you want something out of the box, Bushmaster offers a preconfigured version called the QRC and it comes with a red dot and 30 round mag for about $700.

Other stuff:
  • You don't need/want rifle/shotgun slings for most 3-gun competitions, so don't worry about those
  • You'll need at least 3 pistol magazines
  • You'll need a pouch or carrier for shotgun shells
  • You'll need 2 rifle magazines
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Recommend a holster with good retention while you're moving around; BladeTech's are popular in my neck off the woods
So, looking at the totals above and assuming a start from absolute zero, minimum to get up and running will be right around $2000; not including ammo.
 
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Devildoc

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OP, if you are interested in Glock, they have the first responders/mil discount. I am sure some of the others do, too, but a penny here and there will add up in this sport. Also think used. A used Glock is $400-$500.

Per @Blizzard I second Blade Tech.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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My honest opinion, show up to local matches, watch, help support the match, set up, clean, etc. Let people see your face and come to know you, they will respect your desire to learn and willingness to help. If you have a personality halfway worth a shit, people will start giving you gear, or selling it to you and significantly cheaper. I've literally have pulled brand new $250 BUIS off my carbine in the middle of a match and handed them to a teenager. He wanted them and they were pissin me off, that stuff happens all the time. Especially when dudes get pissed off. I saw a brand new Ruger SR9 get sold with holster, extra mag and pouchesfor $200 at IDPA classifier because an former expert shot marksman. People get pissed and start doing stupid shit, and that's when you want to be the liked guy, who is looking for kit that has a couple hundred buck in your wallet.

Hell most guys run 2-3 back ups, and will let you use their extra shit to learn. One of my former employee's would shoot IDPA, with my spare guns and kit.

My overall point is the shooter community is full of really good people who want nothing more than to help dudes such as yourself get involved in the sport. Be humble, be helpful and willing to learn, and I can almost bet you will get kitted out on the cheap and make some life long friends in the process.


ETA: You will also get talk with people who are in the know of the sport and it will help you decide on kit and the guns you want (i.e. talk with the Masters/Grand, not the novice).
My $.02
 
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Blizzard

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My honest opinion, show up to local matches, watch, help support the match, set up, clean, etc. Let people see your face and come to know you, they will respect your desire to learn and willingness to help...

...My overall point is the shooter community is full of really good people who want nothing more than to help dudes such as yourself get involved in the sport. Be humble, be helpful and willing to learn, and I can almost bet you will get kitted out on the cheap and make some life long friends in the process.
@Diamondback 2/2 's post is full of gold but the comments above cannot be emphasized enough.

As an example, the first few times I showed up to courses/matches, I had dudes simply take pity on me when they saw me pull out my Browning BPS pump. I didn't say anything about it nor did I ask. They basically came up to me and said "here, use this instead" and handed over some high brow hardware; ie. high-end match configured Benelli's and FN's.

Point is, everyone wants to have a good time and, so long as you're not an asshat, you'll probably find a lot of people willing to go out of their way to help you out.
 
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