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The Cost Of Competing

Recently Walt at Walt in PA and Ron at When the Balloon Goes Up! posted discussions of the cost of pistol competition.

Here is a chart from Ron, showing the five year cost of competing in IDPA, 6 matches a year.

Courtesy of When The Balloon Goes Up

To me, this chart bursts a few bubbles.  The average shooter (that is, me) frets and worries about choosing the right gun, basing a lot of the decision on the cost of the gun, especially as a newcomer. Yet, as one can obviously see, the relative cost of the gun versus all the other costs – ammo, accessories, entry fees, practice sessions – argues that we should pick our guns based on the best gun for us as shooters, regardless of the price.

That is, of course, a very difficult thing to do. After all, we lay out the money for the gun in one lump, and most of the other money gets spent on an ongoing basis, certainly in sums less than what we laid out for the gun. For me, buying ammo a case of 1000 at a time, I spend $250 or so at a time, and it feels like a lot, even though it’s about half of what I spent on the gun.

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Having read this from Ron, I decided to calculate what I spend on my competition over 5 years.

Here it is, for the hardware.

Glock 17 $400
Parts 150
Magazines 60
Belt 50
Holster 60
Mag pouches 40
Hearing pro 30
Eye pro 0
Knee pads 10
Range bag 0
Total hardware $800.00

Some explanation – I bought my Gen2 G17 in 1992. For competition I added a set of Warren/Sevigny sights, a (-) connector, and an extended magazine release. My eye protection was given to me, and I made my range bag out of a bag I got at a trade show.

As for the cost of competing, let’s look at a 5 year cost of shooting GSSF:

GSSF $125
GSSF Match Fees 375
GSSF Ammo 540
Total GSSF $1,040

For 5 years of USPSA:I join on an annual basis, but you could get a 5 year membership for $95. The match fees assume I shoot 3 matches a year. I also assume to shoot 3 boxes of ammo at a match.

USPSA $200
USPSA Match fees 1,200
USPSA Ammo 2,880
Total USPSA $4,280

Again it would be cheaper to join as a five-year member. I assumed an average of one club match a month, although I have access to 3 matches easily. This does not assume any major matches, or overnight travel. I also assumed 4 boxes of ammo per match.

Then, of course, is the cost of practice.  Assuming I shoot 4 boxes of ammo per month in practice, at $12 per box, I would spend $2,880 over 5 years. Add to that the cost of range time. (For me, I shoot at a Georgia Wildlife Management Area range, which costs me $20 per year.)

So, in total, over 5 years, I would spend:

Hardware $800
GSSF 1,040
USPSA 4,280
Practice 2,980
Total $9,100.00

That is a chunk of change, no matter how you do look at it, an average of $1820 per year, or about $150 per month.

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But another way to look at it is fixed cost and variable costs.

Fixed $875
Variable 8,235

At the beginning, one would lay out $800 for hardware, plus $35 for GSSF and $40 for USPSA. Then, you could look at it as the balance of $8,235, spread out monthly over 5 years, or $137 per month, or $32 per week.

Now, it doesn’t seem like so much, which is why I suppose I still do it.

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