The Competitive Edge

by Monica Taliani

It is the middle of January and I have a calendar filling up before my very eyes with local matches, state sectionals, and area championships faster than I can keep track omonicaf them. I can’t believe that although winter officially just began December 21 that the off season is almost over for me. Many shooters here are right in the middle of a several month off season thanks to Ohio’s winter, which happens to be less than ideal for shooting. This has got me thinking about what it is that I should have accomplished in the off season. The seasoned competitors take this time to regroup, refocus, and reorganize. For newer shooters, it is a great time to learn about the rules, procedures, and gear required for the particular shooting sport(s) that you are interested in. The following are some of the things that I have found to be a good time investment for the months when it is too cold to hit the range.

Gear: New products are released, gear breaks, parts wear out, and ammo needs to be loaded. The off season is the perfect time to organize, inspect, fix or switch the equipment that you will compete with the next season. Try out that new load or holster that you have been curious about. Having a few months until you begin competing will give you a chance to acclimate to the new feel of your load or equipment. It also gives you plenty of time to change your mind if you decide you don’t like your new set up.

Training Program: Live fire is a great way to practice skills when you can be at the range. Shooting is like any other hobby, a regimented training program focused on the specific elements required by your sport will yield higher results than just heading the range without a goal. Dry fire can also prove to be helpful when you have a skill that needs to be reinforced on a regular basis. By moving skills into your subconscious you are free to think about the other elements of competition. There are many books and online resources that help guide you in finding a training program that will best suit your needs and help you achieve your goals.

Diet/Exercise: No matter what shooting sport you are involved in improving your overall health and fitness is going to improve your performance. The off season gives you time to explore and tweak different options for working out and eating right in a way that will best target your shooting needs.

Match Schedule: Now is the time to get a plan in place for what matches you are going to go to. Decide if you want to compete on just the local competitions or if you want to go to matches at the state, area, or national level. A lot of the larger competitions sell out before the season even begins. There are also things to think about such as squadding, travel, accommodations, and requesting time off work.

Personally, I am going to start out with a calendar and then plot out what I am sure will be a lengthy to do list. Until next time, be safe and shoot straight!


Monica Taliani has been a competitive shooter for about three years. In that time she has won several women’s awards. Currently she is shooting on the Phoenix Trinity Firearms Team. Any time Monica is not on the range she can be found outside, usually biking or hiking, and loves spending time with her two boxers.