The Basics of 3-Gun Competition

Travis Gibson shooting gun

Q & A With Travis Gibson, Cabela's Pro Staffer, Competing in USPSA

By Richard Mann

The United States Practical Shooting Association is the national governing body of practical shooting in the United States under the International Practical Shooting Confederation. Wikipedia

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QUESTION: What do most shooters not know about USPSA?

ANSWER: Most don't know that you don't have to have a lot of experience to shoot a pistol match. The people at a USPSA sanctioned pistol match are very accommodating and excited to see new shooters. When new shooters show up they'll usually be given a short safety briefing about how the match is run, how the stages work, and the appropriate places to handle your firearm and ammunition.

Throughout the match, they'll usually have an entire squad of people, usually 10 or so shooters, offering suggestions on how to shoot stages, asking questions about why you are there, and generally trying to make you feel welcome. Just because you've never shot a pistol match or you don't think you're good enough to do so, isn't a reason to delay. Everyone had a first match at some point and everyone I've spoken with told me they wished they hadn't waited so long.

QUESTION: How can you participate in a USPSA match?

ANSWER: Participating in a USPSA match is easy. Go to and click on the FIND CLUBS tab. From there, you'll get an interactive map listing clubs by area, or you can type in your zip code. You'll also get a list of business in that area as well as USPSA affiliated clubs and contact information.

Many clubs have websites that list USPSA match dates and give more information about how and where to register. Some matches have a lot of shooters sign up, so registering early is probably a good idea if it's an option. My recommendation is to contact the club representative. They'll be able to give you the information you need.

QUESTION: What are the advantages of shooting in USPSA as opposed to local non-sanctioned pistol matches?

ANSWER: Most importantly, safety. All USPSA matches have at least one CRO (Certified Range Officer), and most will have a CRO on every stage. This means an individual who has received at least 16 hours of instruction from USPSA, and has passed the USPSA CRO exam, will be running the show. His or her goal is to make sure you and everyone around you have a great time shooting in a very safe environment.

Another great reason for shooting USPSA-sanctioned events is that your classifier score goes into the national database so you’ll be able to track your progress against shooters across the entire nation. I like shooting USPSA matches because out of all the sports I've been involved with, I have yet to find a more welcoming bunch of people than you'll find in the action shooting sports. They're friendly, outgoing, quick to offer assistance, and most of all, great Americans who support our Second Amendment rights.