Steel Challenge, then Bug/IDPA, then 3 Gun
I liked the idea of SASS because it does not have the same reality of spending money to buy speed at each division.
Don't get me wrong, it takes a lot of money to get into this sport, but there is not a 10:1 ratio between entry level and "advanced" divisions.
Once one gets past the cost of everything needed to get started, further costs are incremental rather than exponential.
Of the sports I participate in, SASS has the most level playing field. No semi-autos, no extended magazines, no red dots, no race guns. Well, besides that all guns in SASS benefit from slicking. This is said in comparison to the other sports; While SASS guns do not have to be slicked to participate, SASS does not have the same sense of stock versus modified guns and there are no "stock" and "race" divisions.
With all my wordiness, that brings me to the core of why I am getting into SASS. The equipment cost starts at the nose-bleed level, but after that it is primarily a game of skill.
Something about that difference seems to draw a different group of people, still competitive but not as wound up in themselves. The time at a match spent not shooting is more fun because of the people I have met.
The other games cost far less to get in to.
Steel Challenge requires a pistol. It can be .22lr. Need 5 magazines. If centerfire, add the cost of a holster. 9mm is cheap. Getting in was well under $1,000 total but I only had to buy 2 magazines and some plinking ammo. Maybe $100 to start including entry fee since I had everything else. But easy to spend $5,000 on a single race gun. My personal decision for this sport is to shoot what I carry. No race gear at all.
IDPA? Good to go after starting steel challenge. Bug? If the barrel is 4" or less, also good to go. The Sig SP2022 is good for all three listed sports. Same philosophy for me in these two sports, I shoot my carry.
3 Gun. Add an AR (<600) and a pump shotgun (<200) on top of the above, plus some mags and other gear. Now a 4th sport is open to play, but here also costs can climb and climb. But getting in is not that expensive. I'm shooting this with my carry and home guns so I did not have to spend much, but will climb the cost ladder here over time.
This for me is a from-scratch sport. In theory, blue jeans are fine but I ended up buying boot-cut jeans so had no savings on the outfit at all.
Had none of the guns. Or other gear. Or ammo. And I can't afford this sport without reloading.
I could have looked for "starter guns" but know I would end up changing those out so churning them would take time and I would not be happy with them.
I figured I (anyone) could get in to this sport for $2,500 but my estimate was $5,000 inclusive of everything. And I know I'm going over that since I decided to also try running a '97 pump (and bought two). It would also be possible to spend $10,000 but I'm just not that good of a shooter for a huge budget to buy me faster times.
SASS is my most expensive shooting game.
Absolutely. Delayed over three years.
The folks at the local clubs are very willing to lend gear, and I have borrowed to try things out. But personally I can not take advantage for shoot after shoot after shoot and run down their ammo stock. I limited my borrowing to the amount needed to verify I did want to participate, and trying the guns I thought I might want and could afford.
Edit: I also consider the borrowing I did a debt I owe the sport, which I will pay forward at some point.