Competition: Advantages beyond the paper target range
Competition is a great tool to help build skills typical paper target ranges do not allow. Drawing from the holster, shooting while moving, shooting from cover/concealment and, transitioning across multiple targets and ranges are all skills competition allows which most ranges that are not designated as “tactical ranges” do not allow.
Competition also allows the shooter to practice those skills under simulated stress. All of your shots are timed, missed shots count against your score. Adrenaline starts to pump and the
shooter’s heart rate increases. All of this is good, because it allows the shooter to get an idea of how they may perform under stress. While this simulated stress is very mild compared to the stress of a life or death defensive situation, it is still useful help the shooter understand their performance. Mistakes will be made; plans will be forgotten and errant shots might not hit the target. Competition is designed to test the skills of those participating. It also is designed for individuals to learn where they need to improve.
IDPA and USPSA are great places to start. Local matches are usually advertised on their websites. Furthermore, the people who run and compete in these matches are often extremely friendly, helpful and encouraging, most especially to the new shooters who are just starting out.