Almost anyone with a hankering to throw lead can find an association, team or competition to have fun and make friends.

Let’s start with the fraternity of long-range shooters, who combine the pleasure of gunning with the latest technological innovations. This sport requires some upfront costs that can be somewhat intimidating. To be competitive, you need an AR platform. Serious competitors purchase high-end sniper scopes, chronographs and routinely use ballistic coefficient calculators and weather-data programs. Again, it’s a big investment, but hearing the “bong” reverberating on metal at 1,000 yards away is electrifying.

Cowboy action shooting clubs yank you right out of the modern world. Everybody wears authentic Old-West style clothing. No actual names here. Everyone goes by a western nickname or alias. Shoots take place in mock western towns with western props. Competitors participate in different shoot-outs, using wagon wheels, saloon doors and even outhouses as cover. Bring along your double-barreled 12-gauge, single-action six-shooter and lever-action Winchester, along with plenty of ammo for a raring good time.

If you have a hankering for the primitive experience, aspire to be that mountain man. Attend a rendezvous. Acquire or make your own buckskins, tomahawk fighting-knife pistol-flintlock and possibles bag. Aim to spend a few weekends a year in a tepee. There’s plenty of fun to be had throwing hawks, shooting stumps, trading mountain goods and best of all sitting round the fire telling stories. It’s easy to fit in with a group of fun loving, gun-toting buckskin-clad men and women, who look and act like they stepped out of the early 1800s. The American Mountain Men is a group of authentic frontier enthusiasts, who get together regularly for this particular brand of revelry.

Concealed-carry shooters get a kick out of combat-pistol drills that test drawing and reloading speed, as well as malfunction drills and weak-hand shooting, acquisition and engagement of multiple targets. “Gun and run” courses offer participants an opportunity to race against time through a variety of drills. There are a couple of associations that offer this type of shooting fun. One is the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). For the shooter who wants to focus time on practicing real-life defensive threat scenarios, the International Defensive Pistol Association is a great alternative.

A plenitude of organizations offer abundant opportunities to make friends, get you off the recliner and send some lead zinging downrange. It’s fun to shoot. It’s even more fun to shoot with friends. Competitive shooting, even when you’re just competing against yourself, adds a new dimension of fun to the sport. Hunters, enforcement officers and concealed-carry permit holders all benefit from time spent at the range. Perhaps what’s most important is staying connected to the pastime we cherish.