Target shooting for sport: Which guns to use

Shooting is a widely varied sport that can pose both a challenge and an adventure to anyone.  There are many varieties of guns, each with a unique style of shooting and some types have many styles. Although it is a somewhat expensive hobby, it is relatively easy to get into and can be great fun if done safely.

For first timers, I would suggest you try to go with a friend who knows about guns and shooting so they can help you with proper technique and sighting. For those more experienced, try out a new kind of gun or a different distance. There is always something new to try. Below are some types of shooting and specifics to help you get started with each type.

Rifles (iron sights): These guns are your basic rifles without scopes. They come in various forms including the well-known metal barrel with wooden stock, along with plastic stocks and even include assault rifles.

The more common calibers or bullet diameters for rifles include .22, .223, .270 and .308. These guns feature a longer barrel with a sight near the muzzle and another near the breach (front and back) along with a stock that rests against the shoulder of the shooter. To get started with this type of gun, you need to “sight it in” which is where you adjust the sights at different distances until the gun is precise at the desired distance. Depending on what you are looking for, you could go for a .22 for easy target practice or bump up to something bigger, such as an assault rifle. My favorite is the AR-15, which is a .223.

Rifles (scoped): These similar to rifles with iron sights, except they feature a scope over the breach that allows for higher precision at greater distances. Typically when buying this sort of gun you buy a basic rifle and mount a scope on it.

Similarly, this type of rifle requires sighting-in to be precise. Generally this sort of rifle is used for hunting or long distance target practice. Since you can put a scope on basically any rifle — excluding assault rifles — you have options here. My personal choice is a .270 with a 3 – 9x scope; the .270 is easy to handle and uses a cheap round in addition to being good for both target practice and hunting.

Shotguns:  The primary difference between shotguns and rifles is unlike rifles which shoot a single bullet, shotguns shoot a spread of small pellets. Although shotguns come in various sizes (gauges), the most common is the 12-gauge. Shotguns can be used for either skeet shooting or ground targets. Skeet shooting is shooting clay disks out of the air to simulate hunting flying birds. Ground targets are generally practice for birds such as turkeys. Shotguns are simple to shoot and generally don’t require sighting-in. If you are looking for a basic shotgun I personally prefer a Remington 870 to start with.

Handguns: The most controversial form of firearms, handguns are also great guns for sport shooting. To buy a handgun it is required that you are at least 21 years of age, however, anyone can shoot one. Handguns are compact and are shot almost only at targets at relatively close ranges.

For the most part, handguns can be separated into two categories, revolvers and pistols.  Revolvers are guns with more than one chamber (where the bullets start) that is generally not contiguous to the barrel. Pistols on the other hand, have bullets fed into the chamber either manually or by magazine (clip) and the shells are ejected after the bullet is fired. Some common handgun sizes are .22, .38, 9mm, .44 and .45 in both pistols and revolvers. For beginners I would recommend a .22 or .38 because they straightforward in handling and do not have much kick. However, for those experienced, the higher calibers are quite exciting to fire.

Although guns are enjoyable, it is important to keep in mind that they can be extremely dangerous if used incorrectly. Remember to always shoot in a safe area such as a designated shooting range and make sure the gun is always pointed in a safe direction, unloaded and on safe unless it is being shot. Make sure when shooting you wear the proper safety equipment including shooting glasses and earplugs. For more information on what gun to purchase and how to safely handle a firearm, consult a professional at a gun store.  Now find a safe location and practice firing at targets.