Competitive Shooting, Women and Firearms

Giving Carbine Matches a Shot (Pun Intended)

Womens Carbine Match

I just recently moved to Tennessee, not only was it a great move for my career but also awesome to be in a friendlier gun state. While checking out a new range in the area I noticed there was a carbine match going on. I’ve always enjoyed shooting rifles and thought to myself that this looked like a USPSA pistol match on steroids! I’ve had the parts for an AR build sitting in a box for a couple of months and need to find the money and time to finish it, especially now that I can shoot this kind of matches.

So, as I patiently wait to build my AR and join these matches; I noticed one of my fellow 2A ladies on the ‘gram,  Alys, had just shot her first carbine match. I had to hear about her experience and share it with you ladies!

Alys, tell it girl….

“I’ve been shooting pistol competitions for three summer’s now- mostly USPSA and Steel Challenges. It took a lot of courage and practice for me to be comfortable with shooting competitively and being comfortable with handling a gun on my own. I am now very comfortable with the way I handle and use a firearm. I feel I have the right movements down, the reloading while moving, sight alignment and the stance, although there is always still room for improvement. Competition shooting has become part of me- it’s who I am. I love and live for it! I am always watching videos of other shooters and watching the way they shoot, always getting ideas on how to improve my skills. I am still always asking questions and getting help from more advanced shooters I have become friends with and look up to. They are always helpful to me.

My husband bought a .223 Remington/5.56 NATO Smith & Wesson AR last year and I had only shot it, maybe twice. I am cross eye dominant. Meaning, I am right handed but my left eye is my dominant eye. This is not a problem for me when I shoot pistols but it poses to be a problem when I shoot rifles. If I try to shoot a rifle with my right hand I can’t see my sights. Therefore, I shoot rifles with my left hand. This has made it so I do not shoot rifles very often, if at all.

My local club, South East Idaho Practical Shooters, has monthly carbine matches one evening a month during the summer. I thought, “why not?” I signed myself up for it and then quickly, got scared, what was I doing? Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing but I was going to give it a shot. Literally.

Generally, I am not a risk taker and this was outside of my comfort zone. I turned to Facebook asking my shooting friends for some tips. The president of my club said something along the lines of this, ‘two things: 1- Be safe 2-Have fun!’  Well, OK. I guess I can do this. I know how to use a firearm safely and I sure know how to have fun! Others told me what I would need-an AR, a case, 3 magazines, ammo and that’s it. “Easy”, I thought.

The week of the match came and my husband and I went out to the range to practice a bit. He shot a couple rounds just to give me a refresher on operating an AR platform. I spent the next hour shooting by myself. I didn’t do that bad- my shots were pretty much in the center of the target.

The day of the match came and I was PETRIFIED! I was showing up to a match I had never shot before, not knowing who was going to be there, scared to go alone because my husband was working that evening. I was relieved to see a few familiar faces when I arrived. The people on my squad were so helpful and so encouraging to me. I kept saying how scared I was but then I’d be reassured with, “you can do this,” from my other squad mates. I ended up having so much fun! I had a blast- pun intended.

Alys shooting a carbine match

I am a USPSA and NRA Range Officer and ended up having to RO since there was only one other RO on my squad; that was a good experience to be able to learn the scoring as well. I quickly learned that I had poor stage planning when I started in the left box and had to run to the right box with the rifle in my left hand. Do you know how hard it is to run right while you are shooting left while trying you’re to keep the muzzle down range? I did it, but it was hard.

By the end of the night, my shoulder was sore. I am 5’2” so I am small in stature and the AR kicked my butt.  Perhaps I was holding it wrong but I had a bruise the next day and was pretty sore. Nothing I can’t fix with more practice.

All in all, my first carbine match experience was amazing and so much fun. Will I do it again? Absolutely! I felt powerful, strong, and confident- like I could do anything. I felt like a total bad ass with my whole five foot, two-inch self-shooting a carbine match. Competition shooting has given me more confidence than I have ever had in my life. I compete to be taken seriously. I compete so others think I am more than just a head of big hair. I compete because it makes me believe that I AM a bad ass who CAN DO ANYTHING I put my mind to.  Am I a pro? Definitely not. Do I still place towards the bottom? All the time. But, I am still learning and growing and trying the best I can and it gives me the rush I need in my life, it’s almost addicting the rush it gives me. I showed up to my first USPSA match crying and here I am now, it’s all I want to do.


My tip to new shooters who are wary about doing a competition: just do it! You have to just jump in there and do it. Don’t waste your time with saying “I’ll do it one day” because you never will.  Don’t be scared to ask questions and take your time learning the sport. There will always be someone there to help you. People in the firearms industry are some of the nicest, most helpful people I have met. Have confidence, be safe and have fun.”


It is pretty obvious that the world of women’s competitive shooting is drawing more attention every day. Once women have mastered basic shooting skills at the range, it’s not uncommon to desire more of a challenge. As more women are becoming involved with the shooting sports, more women will shoot competitively as well. I hope hearing Alys’s experience will encourage you or other women to get out there shoot matches and challenge themselves to try something new.

You can also follow Alys along on her range adventures on Instagram at @Armedalys !

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