If you're one of the increasing number of Americans choosing to exercise your right to concealed-carry, you know a number of issues seem to work against "comfort" with your "comforting" sidearm. Several ingenious new holster designs have helped, but the belt is always a hassle. Regular belts just don't cut it. Rigidity and strength just aren't there. And the alternatives are the shooting world's equivalent of sensible shoes. Wider, heaver and designed to carry heavy loads, they don't fit every size belt loop. And if something isn't comfortable, you'll find reasons not to carry it. More than one person reading right now knows exactly what I'm talking about.This "Shooting Wire" primary article spends exactly enough time talking about an issue which has bugged me for years: Belts!
I know that the "Equipment Race" has been a big issue for years (decades) in IPSC/USPSA competition, but there has been very little attention paid to the question: what is a legal belt?
According to the 2010 USPSA Rule Book (which here closely mirrors the IPSC rule book .. which seems reasonable), Rule 5.2.3:
This is, perhaps, the most frequently violated rule (and most often ignored by match officials) in the entire IPSC/USPSA community.5.2.3 Unless otherwise specified in the written stage briefing, the belt carry-ing the holster and all allied equipment must be worn at waist level.The belt or the inner belt or both must be either securely fixed at thewaist, or secured with a minimum of three belt loops.126.96.36.199 Female competitors may be permitted (if so authorized inAppendix D) to wear a belt, holster and allied equipment at hiplevel, however, the top of the belt must not be positioned belowthe furthest lateral point of the top of the femur (tuberositymajor)
As a Range Officer and as a competitor, I've seen far too many competitors during the summer months wearing gym shorts with absolutely NO belt loops or other support for equipment belts .. except for the greater girth of the hips (or more often, belly) than the waist or the trouser belts.
As a trainer, I've seen far too many 'students of the gun' who are ignorant of the need to support the holster and other gun gear; they wear belts which are appropriate to suits more often than to hold two to five pounds of pistol and accoutrements in such a manner that they can reliably draw either a pistol or a reload magazine without fumbling.
When I tell them that a 1" belt is inappropriate AND inadequate, I usually get an "uh huh" nod, and then they ignore me.
Most of these people never show up at their Certification Match. Those few who do? The field is split; either they are unsatisfied with the experience and never come back, or they (a very few) go get a big ugly load-bearing belt and get serious about what they are doing.
For me, it makes no great matter. But I wonder sometimes whether their decision to discontinue competition is due to their chagrin, or their reluctance to admit that their judgement is faulty.
In the long run, it doesn't much matter. If they are unwilling to listen to Good Advice, they are much better off by quitting the sport.
They don't have to admit that they are in error, and those of us who would otherwise squad with them are spared the embarrassment of watching them struggle to draw a big pistol from an inadequately supported holster.
Ultimately, the sport is better served by the voluntary resignation of those who will not listen to the voice of experience.