Frequently Asked Questions
How many rounds should I bring to a pistol match?
Generally for the USPSA Action Pistol matches, a good rule of thumb is at least 200 rounds “just in case”, and bump that up to 250 rounds for Steel Challenge matches. More is better. It will never hurt to have more ammo than you need, but the opposite means you’ll be begging ammo off of your buddies at the match!
What do I need for equipment?
As far as equipment, there are three types of matches we run, USPSA Action Pistol, Steel Challenge and Multi-Gun. The equipment requirements are different for each of those, with a lot of overlap. If you have a center-fire pistol, you can use that for ANY of the matches, and it’s the most common gun you’ll find at a match. Steel Challenge also allows Rimfire rifles and pistols (.22’s). For Multigun (3-gun) you need 3 guns, a Center-fire pistol or revolver, a shotgun (12 or 20 gauge) and a semi-auto rifle (.223 AR-15 would be most common - or PCC). Recently there have been additions for Pistol-Caliber Carbines also, so if you have a 9mm rifle for example you can shoot that at any of the matches as well. For USPSA and Multigun, you’ll need a holster for your centerfire pistol, and extra magazines, plus magazine pouches to hold them on your belt. A common “competition” set up for USPSA is a special velcro 2-piece belt, with a holster and magazine pouches mounted to it. These are nice because they’re configurable and adjustable for different competitive divisions, etc. But for your first match, even just the "minimal" equipment will get the job done, if you need help deciding on anything equipment related just Contact Us.
Do I need to join the USPSA to shoot the matches?
No, USPSA membership is NOT required for the “Level 1” monthly club matches, as well as the Steel Challenge and Multigun matches. Only the Level 2 (GP Sectional Championship) match at ENGC requires a USPSA membership. Membership information can be found on the USPSA.ORG web site.
Do I need to join ENGC to shoot the matches?
No, a range membership at ENGC is NOT required to shoot any of the matches. However, if you'd like to go to the range outside of the normal range times to practice, you need to be a member of ENGC to do so (or go as the guest of a current member). Range membership information can be found on the ENGC.US web site.
What are the acronyms: USPSA, ENPS, ENGC
USPSA is the United States Practical Shooting Association. This is the national organization which sanctions matches, establishes the rulebook that we follow, and runs national-level championship events.
ENPS is Eastern Nebraska Practical Shooters. This is “us”, i.e. our local USPSA-sanctioned club which holds matches at ENGC.
ENGC is Eastern Nebraska Gun Club. This is the range facility where ENPS hosts matches. The club is a private membership facility, however you do NOT need to be an ENGC range member to shoot the ENPS matches, the matches are open to the general public. Many people in the ENPS club are also ENCG members, since range membership is required in order to go to the range between matches for practice if you’d like to do that.
http://www.enps.us (Our local volunteer club)
http://www.engc.us (The range facility we shoot at)
http://www.uspsa.org (The national shooting organization we affiliate with)
What division should I sign up for?
It depends heavily on what gun and ammo you will be shooting, as each division has equipment requirements. Divisions are the sub-categories of shooters who are competing against each other at the matches. The purpose of the Divisions is to have shooters with comparable equipment competing against each other. At the matches people are grouped into shooting Squads (the group that travels from stage-to-stage together for the whole match), but shooters do not need to be shooting in the same Division to be squadded together. Division is really just used for scoring purposes. The main divisions you’ll see at USPSA matches are:
Single-Stack (Major or Minor Power Factor)
Production (Minor Power Factor only)
Limited-10 (Major or Minor Power Factor)
Limited (Major or Minor Power Factor)
Open (Major or Minor Power Factor)
PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine - Minor Power Factor only)
Carry Optics (Major or Minor Power Factor)
At the local club matches, by far the most popular divisions are Production and Limited. PCC has gained popularity, and is probably #3 right now. Production requires a USPSA-specified Production-approved handgun to compete, the list can be found on the USPSA.org web site. There are also several other divisional differences and equipment requirements/limitations. All of those rules can be found on the USPSA.org web site. If you’re not sure which division you want to shoot, feel free to ask for assistance and we can help you pick.
How should I train/prepare for my first match?
Draw & Presentation Practice:
Practice using your holster BEFORE coming to the range! Especially if you have purchased a new holster to use for matches, you should be very familiar with it through practice. You'll want to practice not only your draw, but reholstering safely as well. Be sure you can draw your holster and begin shooting from various starting positions, smoothly and safely! And if you're practicing for a USPSA match, don't neglect practicing your reloads as well! Be sure you have your gear set up so you can comfortably reach your extra magazines on your belt. Simulate firing a shot, drop the magazine from your gun on the floor while reaching for the next magazine, then "look" that magazine into your magwell right in front of your chest. YES we drop our magazines on the run right on the ground and pick them up after we've shot the stage, so DON'T practice retaining your spent magazine as you might in a tactical training scenario!
Safety, Safety, Safety!
At your first match, SAFETY is the #1 priority and its advisable to not worry about speed at all, focus on doing everything smoothly and safely. Speed will come with time and experience. The main safety issues to work on during your draw and reholstering are: 1) Keep your finger outside the trigger guard, and 2) Don't sweep any part of your body with the muzzle at any time, including your support hand & arm.
Live Shooting Practice:
You should have enough live range training to feel comfortable shooting your gun, handling it's recoil, firing multiple followup shots, transitioning from target-to-target, and reloading. You'll also want to be comfortable clearing jams or other malfunctions on your particular gun.
Make sure to review and re-review the match safety procedures!
Make special note of the “Safety Tables” being the only place on the range where you can take your pistol out of it’s case and insert it into your holster. Once it’s in the holster, it must stay there, unloaded, until you are on a stage and are the current shooter called to the line and told to “Make Ready” by the RO. Otherwise, the unloaded gun must stay in the holster at all times. If you need to take it out to tinker with it or something you must return to one of the 3 Safety Tables to do so. You can handle ammunition (load mags) anywhere on the range EXCEPT the safety tables. You’re welcome to load up your mags at home first so you can start your first stage without having to worry about it. Loaded mags can be placed in your belt-mounted magazine carriers and transported around the range with no problem. If you have loaded magazines on your belt while you’re at a Safety Table, that’s fine, just make sure you don’t touch or handled the loaded magazines in that area.
Goals for your first match:
- – Don’t get Disqualified (DQ’d)
- – Have fun!
- – Learn what your weakest points are as a competition shooter so you can prioritize future training goals
- – Plan to finish last and be happy with that
As for Goal #1, the most common DQ offenses at a USPSA match for a new shooter are primarily one of three things:
#1) Breaking the 180-degree rule. This is an imaginary plane from your body perpendicular to the back of the shooting area (berm), at no time ever can the muzzle of your gun be pointed in any direction behind that 180 degree plane. The most common times this happens is when moving, especially laterally in the direction of your support arm, and/or when reloading. Always be aware of where your muzzle is pointed, and as a new shooter is a great idea to proceed slowly and cautiously through the stages in your first match so you don’t “rush” into making a mistake.
#2) Placing your finger inside the trigger guard (or even worse, on the trigger) before your sights are lined up at a target you intend to shoot. Be especially vigilant about finger placement during reloading and holstering. Practice keeping your trigger finger indexed against the slide all the time when you’re not actively aimed at, and ready to shoot at, a target. This is another great application for dry-fire practice at home. Practice drawing and holstering without having your finger inside the trigger guard. Also practice simulated shooting and then moving to a different position to shoot again, and keeping your trigger finger indexed against the frame/slide while moving.
#3) Sweeping your body with the muzzle of your gun. Always be aware of where the muzzle is pointed, and ensure that it never crosses any part of your body, including your hands/arms and feet/legs. There is an exception to this rule when holstering or drawing from the holster where the muzzle will naturally sweep the lower body but any other time if the muzzle crosses any part of your body that is a DQ offense. This includes your support arm and hand, keep that arm away from the muzzle!
I’m ready to get started, what should I do next?
We have several opportunities for new shooters, and there are multiple ways to get started. We have periodic practice days for new shooters at the range, If it works out to attend one of those before shooting your first match, that’s great, but if not you shouldn’t let that stop you from participating. We have a new shooter briefing before every match specifically for those who are shooting their first match, which is at 8:45 a.m. As a new shooter, you will let your squad Range Officer know that you’re new, and they will rotate you down in the shooting order so you can watch the others in the squad shoot first before it’s your turn.
If you’d like to observe a match before you participate yourself, that’s a great way to get a feel for it and you’re welcome to do so, all matches are open to the public, just make sure you bring eye and ear protection. For spectators, if you can be there by 8:45 that would be ideal as you could attend the New Shooter’s Meeting to hear the orientation details, and then watch the start of the match. The matches run from 9:00 a.m. until approximately 1:00-2:00 p.m., and you’re welcome to come any time as a spectator. There is no formal setup at the matches, you are free to wander around as a spectator and watch any of the different squads who are shooting, and feel free to ask any questions, everyone is more than happy to help out potential new competitors. You can see the match schedule here:
USPSA Action Pistol – This is our core pistol match type, centerfire pistols and pistol caliber carbines. Requires movement and reloading during the course of fire. Targets are both paper and steel.
Steel Challenge – This is a separate shooting discipline, lots of fun, and simpler than the action pistol. Centerfire OR rimfire pistols and rimfire or pistol-caliber rifles are allowed. Little or no movement during course of fire, and reloading is not “on the clock”. All targets are steel, no paper.
USPSA Multigun – This is the “3-Gun” type of match, where you will shoot pistol, rifle and shotgun (2 or 3 of them on any given stage), requires more specialized equipment, and you will shoot and swap weapons on the move during a course of fire.
Gear Starting tips: You want to have at least 4 magazines for your pistol, preferably 5 for Production, and if you’re shooting a centerfire pistol you need a belt-mounted holster and magazine carriers. Depending on what you’re shooting, you can choose the appropriate class to start out in. (We are be happy to help with equipment/division questions, just Contact Us). Steel Challenge allows more types of guns, including rimfire (.22LR) pistols and rifles, whereas USPSA matches are only for centerfire (9mm+) pistols and pistol-caliber carbines (rifles). We also hold USPSA Multigun matches which require a more complex set of equipment, and utilize 3 guns (centerfire pistol, rifle (or PCC), and shotgun).
You can pre-register and pre-pay RIGHT HERE on the web site (we really appreciate that, but it’s not required, except for Level 2 and higher Major matches). Then when you show up for your first match, leave your gun, ammo and equipment in your vehicle, come to the registration shack to get signed in BEFORE 8:30, and then attend the New Shooter’s meeting at 8:45. During the meeting we will point out where the “Safety Tables” are located, which is the ONLY spot on the range where you can take your gun out of its case (unloaded) and handle it (unloaded) to get it into your holster (if you’re shooting a centerfire pistol). You can handle ammunition anywhere on the range EXCEPT at the Safety Tables, and it’s ok to pre-load your magazines at home before you arrive, just don’t arrive with a loaded gun.
Come EARLY and help set up the stages for the match! We start setting up at 7:30 a.m. and we need all the help we can get. It's a GREAT way to meet some of the other shooters before the match, and a GREAT way to see how the stages are set up and start thinking about how to shoot them. EVERYONE is welcome and encouraged to come early to help - if it's your first time at the range and you see people buzzing around carrying equipment and working on stages and not sure how you can help, just grab the first person you see and say "How can I help?", and we'll point you in the right direction!
I went to the Practiscore web site to sign up for a match, and I'm confused on what I should enter into the fields?
Check out the Practiscore Registration Tips page for full details!