Thursday, July 07, 2016

"Competition Will Get You Killed" (Oh, not THIS again!)

Is it that time of the year again?  Already?

Okay, NJT brought it up, so let's look at this misunderstanding again:
New Jovian Thunderbolt: Never understood that:
Never understood that The sentiment that "If you do handgun competitions, that is too much game and will get you killed in real life so don't ever do that!" What? I never understood that worry. Yeah, the whole when to reload and how, &c.and what have you might cement habits not ideal in every 'tactical' situation. I can see that part of the argument. But so what?
I never understood that mind-set either.   The best I can do is go back to an article (under the title I've used) which was published in a gun magazine a decade or two ago.   And people who have little or no understanding of what you can learn from competition 'heard that' from someone, and believed it.

I don't think they're talking about rifle and shotgun competition, not any kind of bulls-eye shooting, but 'action pistol' shooting such as IDPA and USPSA (IPSC).
(If you read the linked NJT article above, there's a link to an article from Lucky Gunner which provides a better detailed description.)

Here's the thing:  Competition isn't possible without training and experience.  Even without training, when you shoot an Action Pistol Match you need to know the rules and you need to be able do demonstrate Good Gun-Handling Techniques.

The rules are important for the match; the techniques are vital for self-defense.


People who criticize "competition" as being either unrealistic or impractical seem to miss the point.

 Competition provides many opportunities for both training and experience which most shooters are unlikely to garner in any other venue.  Sure, you can spend hundreds of dollars taking 'professional' courses (most of which teach you to react to a combat situation) but does that really provide them the opportunity to PRACTICE their gun-handling techniques under the pressure of time and necessity?

And since when is it necessary to grow a beard and wear green pants to learn to handle your pistol well enough that you can shoot accurately and consistently under pressure?

Lots of people teach courses in competition (I'm one of them) and the virtues of that training is that they teach you practical techniques and practices.   When you go to an IPSC or IDPA match, you get to EXPERIENCE the effect of either knowing the techniques, or not knowing the techniques.  If you don't know how to handle your pistol safely and effectively, the feedback is immediate:
That cute little blonde girl is going to kick your ass in the finals, and your friends will laugh at you.
(And you're going to practice more, and better!)

The pressure of competing under pressure, and comparing your performance against other shooters, is perhaps the best feedback to your training regimen you can find; and it's difficult to imagine a venue which might provide a comparable benefit.

People shoot competitively for many reasons:
  • learn gun-handling techniques
  • learn the rules, practices and procedures of  'action pistol'.competition
  • get some range time with good targets and actual, interesting stages
  • meet new friends with similar interests, and share experiences
What they discover is that they learn things they never expected.   Training is available, if not in private classes then at least during matches from more 'experienced' competitors.   We correct their grip, and the proper placement of their finger on the trigger. We teach them how to draw from a holster, how to reload from the belt, and how to safely move from one shooting position to another.   When someone violates a safety rule during the Live Fire Exercises, the rest of the class learns from their mistakes.

We learn the three kinds of Immediate Action Drills in response to the three basic kinds of firearms malfunctions:

  • Stovepipe

  • Tap/Rack/Bang (failure to feed: didn't seat your magazine properly during load/reload)

  • The Jam From Hell (another feeding failure)

  • IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER what kind of 'action pistol shooting' you do, there are always going to be some range safety rules, and some competition rules, which don't seem to apply to a self-defense situation.   IDPA teaches you to use cover and concealment and ammunition retention because these are specific DEFENSIVE PISTOL TECHNIQUES which you need to at least be aware of.  You may lose your head (zone out) in an emergency, but at least you have learned the drills and this is going to be an asset on 'the worst day of your life'.

    In USPSA we do fire a lot more rounds per match and that may provide you with more opportunities to practice your reload, refine your grip and trigger-finger placement, and every round you fire for score is probably going to provide more effective training than taking yourself to the range for an hour a month and only practicing the things that you're already 'good at'.  

    PRACTICE is an issue with most folks.  We don't know what to do in practice, so we do the things we already do well, because (a) we don't know any better and (b) it's fun.

    When you engage in competition, you learn quickly and quite well what you do NOT do well!

    Can you reload quickly without taking your eyes off the target?  Can you keep track of the rounds you have expended, and know when you need to reload, without thinking about it?   Can you engage a wide variety of targets at varying ranges?  Can you move laterally, forward, or retreat to a new shooting position ... all without losing situational awareness (and maybe performing a reload on the move)?  

    Can you engage targets from a prone, kneeling or standing position, or shoot around a corner from cover or concealment?   Can you hit targets which are moving?   Can you hit targets while YOU are moving? Can you consistently hit small steel targets at 7 yards?  Can you double-tap three targets at 10 yards, perform a reload, and hit them again in under 10 seconds?   Can you accurately engage targets with either hand?

    ALL of these techniques are commonly practiced in Action Shooting Competition.

    Anyone who thinks that Competition just means standing in only place and plunking round after round into a bullseye target sitting placidly 50 feet downrange does not understand the full concept of Competition Shooting.

    You may get killed, but it won't be because you've been honing your skills by competing in pistol matches.


    Rivrdog said...

    Yeah, tactical and competition can overlap, as in a Venn Diagram. Let's see: you need a gun for both. You need ammo for both.

    Ha! You thought you were going to rope me in on this AGAIN?

    Anonymous said...

    It is time to address the issues of gender identity and gender fluidity in organized pistol, rifle and/or shotgun competition.

    Mark said...

    Yea, I'm so stupid I will stand out in the open when the target is shooting back.

    Archer said...

    "Competition will get you killed in REAL life"

    I heard that when I was studying martial arts, too. Competitions have too many rules; there are no rules on "the street".

    But you know what? It's all bullsh!t, usually spouted by those too lazy or incompetent to succeed at either competition OR real life.

    Sure, "the street" has no rules, and if you approach a street encounter with the same mindset as you approach a competition, you'll find yourself in trouble. Similarly, if you approach a competition with the same mindset as a street encounter, you'll be in trouble.

    But if you instead focus on the skills, and the development of those skills in a safe(r) environment, you'll have more "tools" in your box if you find yourself in a no-rules scenario. If you want those skills, you have to learn and practice them somewhere.

    Or are all those nay-sayers who insist that "competition will get you killed" advocating putting yourself in dangerous situations, just to learn how to get yourself out of them?

    As another example: By that logic, an aspiring circus trapeze artist should NOT rehearse with a safety net while wearing comfortable clothes, because that's not how it will be during a performance. Better to just risk your neck in practice. Because REALISM!