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Basic Match Etiquette For IDPA, USPSA, And Other Gun Competitions

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Match Etiquette – How to Win Friends and Influence ROs

Showing up to your first match can be a little scary, especially if none of your friends are along for the ride. Fortunately, competitive shooters are happy to welcome new people to their circle, especially those who show up with good basic match etiquette.

Everyone appreciates politeness but it’s not always obvious what kind of behavior is considered polite. In an environment where people are shooting guns and keeping score, here are some of the things that will help you get along with your new friends.

Almost all matches, especially at the local level, are run and staffed by volunteers. Everything from getting competitors wrangled for registration and scoring to setting up and tearing down stages to officiating the match might be done by people working without significant or even any compensation. For that reason, pitching in and helping wherever you can is a great idea.

Even if you don’t know exactly what is going on, no special knowledge or skills are needed for a lot of match-related work. A willing pair of hands is all you will need to hold targets up to be stapled in place, or carry stage equipment back and forth to where it is stored. If you start shooting more, you’ll find that helping out is not only a way to make friends, but also a great way to learn more about the game by getting a backstage view of the match or being taken under the wing of a more experienced competitor.

Children of the Corn: A four-day time lapse video of one stage at a major USPSA match

If you can’t help before or after a match, there’s also plenty of work to be done during the match. One of the most important ways is to help paste and reset targets. After each competitor has finished shooting, paper targets need to be replaced or, more commonly, patched with matching stickers or masking tape so that the next competitor can be correctly scored. Steel targets may need to be painted so that hits can be seen, or stood back up if they were intended to fall over when shot (and sometimes even if they weren’t supposed to fall!). Just be careful that all targets are scored before you paste and reset, even if you have to ask to make sure.

IDPA match

Pasting a target is as easy as putting stickers over holes

As a shooter, you will also want to make sure you are ready when it’s your turn to go. You’ll know it’s almost your turn when someone tells you that you are “on deck” (next) or “in the hole” (second from next). When you hear that, you should make sure you have all of your gear set, including magazines loaded or ammunition ready, and stand somewhere close to where you’ll start shooting. Don’t get in the way of the current competitor, but don’t make anyone come looking for you either.

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Gun competition

As soon as prior shooter was done, this shooter was in the chair and ready to go

“On deck” and “in the hole” time is when many competitors concentrate on thinking about how they will shoot when it is their turn. They aren’t expected to paste or reset during that time, though it’s appreciated when there aren’t a lot of people around to help. It’s also generally when even the friendliest competitor may not want to chat. Good manners means not disturbing someone when their turn is coming up.

Sitting back and doing nothing is a sure way to get a cold shoulder, but if you’re willing to do as much as you can, be ready to shoot when it’s your turn, and stay out of the way when appropriate, you’ll find a welcoming crowd. Competitive shooters make up one of the most tightly-knit communities in the gun world, and we’re looking forward to having you become part of us.

USPSA match etiquette

Having selfie fun and challenges at 2015 USPSA Production Nationals

Do you shoot any local competitions? If so, how do you help out during each match? Let us know in the comments below. And, make sure you take a moment to like Gun Carrier’s Facebook Page, so you never miss an article.

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