Shooting Equipment for New Competitors

Here is a list of items you will need in order to shoot a match. This list is geared for competitors that are new to practical shooting. Our emphasis on equipment is to get you started by using what you may already have at home and by spending as little additional money as possible. If you have a friend in the sport, you may want to see if he or she has equipment you can borrow until you are ready to make your own purchases. Just remember to test all equipment at your local range before coming out to a match. Once you are here, feel free to ask other competitors about what they bring to a match. We all love to talk about our guns and equipment!

Eye Protection
Safety always comes first. Eye protection should be made of impact resistant lenses. Sporting goods stores and outdoor outfitters usually have plastic impact resistant glasses starting at $8.

Ear Protection
There are many types of ear protection available through sporting goods stores and safety equipment manufacturers. Electronic hearing protection can be purchased for around $25. However, you may want to just use some of the cheap foam earplugs until you have been to the range and have a chance to check out what other competitive shooters are using.

We would recommend using a handgun you already have in the safe at home. A lot of us used our conceal carry or home defense guns when we first started in USPSA. If possible, try to use a handgun with a large magazine capacity (15-18 rounds). Many of the longer stages will require 26-32 shots per stage. However, we recommend that you wait to spend money on a new gun until you see what the sport has to offer you. Custom competition guns can range in price from $1,500 to $4,000 or more.

Handgun Bag
You need to have something to put your handgun in when arriving and leaving the range (plus, you will want a bag to carry around all your equipment). Again, you don’t need to run out and buy the best range bag available on the market. To start, a small gym bag that you have at home may work just fine. Please make sure the bag will be able to hold the weight of all your equipment without tearing.

The typical “duty” style holster that fully covers the trigger guard will work just fine to get started. The holster must be on your belt (shoulder holsters, leg rigs, ankle holsters, etc. are not permitted). Blade-tech, Blackhawk and Uncle Mike’s are some name brand holster manufacturers that make affordable equipment that will work just fine (from $25 and up).

4 to 6 Magazines
As already mentioned, many of the longer stages will require 26 to 32 shots. Plus, some stages are more difficult for new shooter and may require several additional shots. You need to make sure you have enough magazines. A good plan is to have enough magazines to shoot at least 48 rounds (that is 150% of the round count of the longest stage). That means somebody shooting a Glock 34 with a magazine capacity of 17 needs 3 magazines, but a shooter with an old 1911 with 8 round capacity will need 6 magazines. It is also smart to have one or two extra magazines in your bag in case you have one that malfunctions or is damaged.

4 to 6 Magazine Pouches
Same theory for figuring out how many magazines you need applies to magazine pouches. As with holsters, these need to attach to your belt.

If you haven’t already guessed it, a sturdy belt is necessary. Please note that the belt will be carrying some significant weight (gun, holster, loaded magazine and pouches). Make sure the belt you select can handle the weight. The 1 1/2” leather belt you have at home for wearing with jeans will work just great.

200-250 Rounds of Ammunition
Most matches are designed with round counts of 100-120 rounds. As a new shooter, you will want to plan on having additional ammunition for taking some extra shots (even the most experienced shooter has to shoot additional shots). Plus, sometime there is equipment failure on a stage and you may be asked to reshoot that stage.

There are plenty of other accessories that you will probably want to purchase as you continue in the practical shooting sports (speed loaders, tools, timers, competition belts and pouches, additional guns, etc.). This list will help you to make it through your first few matches without spending a lot of money.

If you have any questions about the equipment you will be using, please contact us at Be sure to include your name, email address and phone number. We will have a club member contact you to answer your questions.

Please take a look at some of the other articles we have compiled for new shooters: Getting Started in USPSA, Understanding the USPSA Divisions, and Your First USPSA Match. NEO Shooters also offers a New Shooter Mentorship Program.