Competing on a budget

Last week Walt In PA asked the following question on Facebook

Lets say that you have a friend on a tight budget. Despite their tight budget, they want to get into competitive / practical shooting.

They currently do not have a gun suited for this purpose and need to make a purchase. What do you think is the best bang for the buck setup for this shooter?

To throw a wrench into the mix, this shooter is left handed.Do you suggest they try to find a current competitive shooter selling their setup? Should this new shooter buy new and “buy once, cry once”? Is the used route the best choice for them?

Where do accessories fall into this decision? Should the price and availability of parts and accessories be figured into the choice of gun? Lets assume that

the shooter will need no less than 5 magazines to go along with their new pistol.

Then he narrowed the focus to the gun by posting…

What if we focus hard on the price of the gun itself. Are there any guns outside of the big three (Glock, Smith & Wesson, and Springfield) that would be good to look at in a “bang for the buck” sense?

For the record, in IDPA at least the “big three” are Glocks, Smith & Wesson’s and 1911.

For fun, I put together a fairly conservative breakdown of the costs associated with owning/using a competition gun and the 1st thing that is clear is the cost of a quality firearm is only about 11% of the equation.

Cost of Ammunition – The most expensive part of shooting is the cost of the ammunition. Assuming that you shoot just 200rds per month and can find 9mm ammo for $11.99 a box, you will spend more on ammo ($575) than the cost of the gun each year.

Range Fees – Around here, $17 per range session is a typical rate. In just 30 trips (5 years of 6 trips per year), you will spend more on range rentals than the cost of the gun. This doesn’t account for the cost of membership of outdoor ranges to actually practice movement, target transitions and gun manipulations.

The Firearm – It is possible to save a few hundred dollars by purchasing a cheaper pistol, but you will have a tougher time finding holsters, magazines, mag pouches, replacement parts… Plus when you decide sell the gun, you will recoup much of the additional cost.

Competition Costs – If you are shooting regularly you should be a member (IDPA/USPSA) and you will be charged match fees. For IDPA the dues are $40 and most local matches run ~$15. Shoot 6 a year and you’ll spend $130 without ever traveling to a major match; where you could easily spend $150 on match fees plus rent a hotel room, travel expenses, and dining out.

Range Gear – If you buy a new gun to compete with there are a few items that you will need like a holster, mag pouches and additional magazines (If you intens to carry the gun you need 4 magazines… 3 to compete with any one for your carry ammo).

An important item that is often overlooked, is if you have a common gun, you might be able to get through you 1st couple matches with borrowed gear, but if you have something less common, they won’t be available.

Other – None of these costs even starts to address targets, pasters, staplers…

So to answer the question… Don’t cut costs on the pistol. Either shoot what you have or buy a quality gun.

If you truly want to compete less expensively… Consider reloading or take a look at Steel Challenge/Ruger Rimfire Challenge! But beware, you will likely not save money, just shoot more.

How would you have answered Walt’s question? Post a comment below, Tweet me @BalloonGoesUp or message me on Facebook and let me know!


    • says

      The point is not the total cost, but rather why you shouldn’t skimp on the gun. (I was Director of Logistics for KTM North America, I’m familiar with the cost of Motorcross)

  1. says

    I am very new to shooting, but I have a few comments to share:
    - Don’t forget to invest in a good belt. Mine was ~ $60.
    - You will need a concealment garment. You’ll see most everyone wearing tactical vests but they are not required. I started with a denim shirt.
    - My first gun was fairly inexpensive: $350 for a used Springfield XD9, 4 mags, a leather holster and a two mag pouch. Bought the lot from a friend. I later invested in a better holster. Still an excellent deal.
    - My second gun is going to set me back at least $2K after adding all the accessories new and adding specialized take down tools. So just because you start with less expensive gear doesn’t mean you’ll want to stick with it. It’s an addiction!

Speak Your Mind