This has been a fun thread to read. Here's my experience. IPSC, IDPA, all of it can be a lot of fun, competition & training. You have to decide what you want to get out of it. I've shot IPSC off and on since '81. I could never afford a race gun or race holsters. I mostly used a Browning HP, M1911 or Glock 19. I did shoot one match with a Walther PP in .32acp. Most of the time, I approached it as training, not competition. I shot the best I could, but winning wasn't my goal. Shooting my best was the goal. My score with the Walther didn't count, but I got valuable experience in how well I could shoot with it under some kind of stress. For a while, I even shot all head shots. I was slower than the race guns, but I did pretty good and by the end of the match, my head shots weren't a lot slower than going center of mass. One more story. I lost the front sight on my Glock about 1/2 way through one end-of-season super-duper match. I kept shooting and made it about 1/2 way through the man-on-man round robin before I was eliminated. The point was, I found out that in an emergency, I could point shoot pretty good.
IPSC is a game that has gotten a long way from the "practical" sport it started out to be. A $5k race/space gun light years away from a fixed sight, un-comped whatever. But I've seen Leatham and others shoot a single stack .45 match and they would kick my butt for sure!! Their tactics may not be all an expert would want, but they could double tap your 4 guys in the parking garage in about 2 sec at most, from the holster. Bottom line, it is as unrealistic as your competitive sense will allow. If all you want is to win the game, you'll use a game gun, game gear and game tactics. But...you can use your real gun, real gear and real tactics and still enjoy it.
Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal
weapons. The possession of a good rifle, as well as the skill to use it well, truly makes a man the
monarch of all he surveys.
-- Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle