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Old July 24, 2012, 06:45 AM   #51
WC145
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Back to the original question of LEOs and competition, I'm curious to know how many folks in this thread are LEOs and how many are competitors, and, of course, how many are both, to get a better impression of their perspective.

I am a LEO and I try to shoot at least one IDPA or action pistol match a month. I alternate shooting with my duty gun and gear and with my off duty rig. Practice through competition has helped me to be a better shooter and it shows during training and qualifying. My speed, accuracy, and gun handling (draws, reloads, clearing jams, dealing with failures, etc), have all improved. I am consistently faster, more accurate, safer on the range, and have fewer issues with my guns and gear than most, if not all, the other LEOs I qualify and train with. Many of those guys are good shots and know their equipment but few practice much, if at all, and none compete. IMO, that quality trigger time really makes a difference. Competition has also brought to light equipment issues that I didn't know existed that I was then able to fix, better to find any shortcomings (yours and your gear's) on the range than the street.
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Old July 24, 2012, 10:22 AM   #52
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I am a retired LEO, I shot some sort of competition for most of my career. I have been shooting IDPA for 9 years now.

I used my duty gun/ammo in every match before I retired. We always run 2 matches, so the 2nd match I would mix it up a bit. I think competition improves your skills both gun handling and shooting. In does two other things for me, shooting in all different positions at various targets at various ranges, some moving, some small, some reactive targets that do or do not react and trying out new gear or carry options give me a sense of confidence.

Face it, the gun is never to first option. I think too many people have the misconception that if you are a competitive shooter you are more likely to use lethal force.
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Old July 26, 2012, 12:02 AM   #53
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This topic comes up on this and other forums all the time.

In this case, the original poster wanted to stimulate a good discussion.

In some other cases, it seems that the OP's purpose may have been to find a way to justify not shooting competitively.

Hey, if you don't want to shoot in matches, then don't. Just be intellectually honest and say that you aren't interested or that you think it may not help you develop the skills you believe that you need. Which are both valid opinions depending upon your circumstances.

I think competition can clearly improve your gun handling and shooting skills.

I shoot both IPSC and IDPA fairly regularly and shoot PPC about once a year. IMHO, IPSC and IDPA are best considered skill building exercises that have some training value and can be very entertaining. Any competitive event, of necessity, will not be able to duplicate the dynamics of a real gunfight.

But, depending upon the course of fire, there CAN be training value in the process, if you are shooting the IDPA classifier or an IPSC classifier that measures basic marksmanship and gun-handling skills. Some IPSC assault courses totally lack any connection to reality and are best avoided IMHO, but classifiers and most IDPA courses of fire are at least semi-realistic in the marksmanship skills that are required in that course of fire.

In such competitions I've most often always used whatever my duty gun was at the time. (Currently it's a Sig 226R-DAK in .40 cal.)

I'm more interested in getting trigger time than in shooting the matches as a competitive activity. Of course, I'm not particularly fast, so if I WAS attempting to become the next USPSA champion, I'd be way out of luck . . .

In general I prefer the course design philosophy of IDPA. However, I've been shooting IPSC on a sporadic basis at the local level since 1978, and I've become more involved recently since some of the local clubs have been regenerated.

I particularly like the USPSA Classifiers and the IDPA Classifier match as methods to test basic skills. Also, several of the local IPSC clubs have LOTS more steel and movers and bobbers and so forth than what we have available at the police range, so the courses of fire they use on match days are much more innovative that what we can do during in-service training at the PD.

There was a similar thread on one of the other forums a few years ago, and one poster had an interesting thought that kind of mirrors my philosophy -- he takes IDPA more seriously and competes in IPSC as a sort of structured practice session.

You'll get out of it what you put into it. Be safe and have fun with it. At the very least, shooting in matches can show you which skills to need to practice more . . .

Many clubs are now on the web and some post the course descriptions for upcoming stages on their web site. If clubs near you do this, you'll find this to be very useful. I don't look at the courses of fire in advance to figure out a "game plan" on how to shoot the course, but rather to get an idea of what skills I might need to practice before the match. (practice strong hand only and weak hand only shooting to start with, and engaging multiple targets from behind high & low cover)

Also, some clubs are more practically oriented, and some have more members who shoot purely as a competitive activity (usually the IPSC shooters, BUT NOT ALWAYS) and by looking at posted courses of fire you can determine which orientation the club has and if the matches they run have any value for what you're trying to accomplish. (Sometimes I'll look at the posted courses for one of the local clubs and if three out of five stages are "run & gun" assault courses [which don't fit in with my philosophy very well] I'll just go do something else that day . . . )

Competitive shooting certainly has the potential to help you increase your marksmanship and gun handling skills, depending upon what kind of matches you're shooting. It can also certainly train you into bad habits, just as focusing too much on speed, jerking the trigger, and forgetting to look at the sights . . . you have to be mindful in everything you do if you want to maximize the skill building potential of that particular activity.

(I shot the IDPA classifier last week with my new Glock 35 and didn't finish as well as I usually do -- I had lots of hits high left on Stage II for some reason. Stage II has stages where you shoot while advancing, shoot while retreating, and shoot strong hand only. I'm right handed, and hooked a lot of shots left for some reason. So now I know some particular skills that I need to practice on. That's one of the reasons I shoot matches -- to find out what I DON'T do well)
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Old July 26, 2012, 08:15 AM   #54
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I have already made one or two comments here but I'm not going back and re-read the whole thread, so I may have missed something.

It seems to me there are other ways to see competitive pistol shooting. It may make a difference in whether or not you are a law officer. Civilians operate under slightly different rules and usually under different conditions. For instance, a civilian would not be approaching a car to check driver's licenses. Likewise, it is unlikely a civilian would be carrying his firearm the same way as a policeman. Chances are, neither would carry them the same way in competition.

Using the service issue pistol in competition has been mentioned more than once. There are good reasons for that, I suppose, but it introduces a dilemma of sorts, more so for a civilian, who does not have a service issue pistol. A civilian is free to have any sort of pistol and judging from what I read here, many are small pocket pistols. I somehow doubt anyone would attempt more than once to compete in some events with their PPK or their Model 36, if in fact either of those pistols are still being carried by anyone. So they carry something better suited for the competition.

It isn't then so much a question of whether or not competiting creates some bad habits or not so much as whether or not the value of the experience gained in gunhandling with a "normal" pistol will carry over to the real-world everyday carry pistol. Undoubtedly some things will, but other things might not even be applicable. Let's say you compete with a .45 automatic but you tend to carry a .357 revolver because you spend a lot of time in the woods. Would competition help? Hard to say. Would it hurt? Probably not.
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Old July 26, 2012, 10:06 AM   #55
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But in your examples, BT, a person who carried a .357 revolver and who wanted to hone skills for SD purposes would compete with the .357, not the .45 auto.

One of the uses to which I've put IDPA is in identifying which of my guns actually work best for me with regard to speed and accuracy when moving and/or under time stress.

I do this to determine which guns work best for me, for carry.

I also do this to determine which sight systems I am fastest with.

Note: my fast isn't blazing fast; I don't like trading accuracy for time, so I'm typically midpack speed, but front-pack accuracy.
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Old July 26, 2012, 12:02 PM   #56
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That's correct; he should. But there are some howevers.

I have only watched competitions. But it's obvious that some competitions will greatly favor certain model guns over others. That's true in car racing, too. In some cases, you are even required to use certain calibers or at least loads with a certain power factor. Without doing any research whatsoever, are there "stock" categories for handgun competitions that require that competitors use mostly unmodified handguns instead of "race guns" that typically dominate the matches? That would be one place to go in.

I doubt there are competitions for pocket pistols but it seems like there should be. Whether or not there would be enough interest for the trouble is another story. Managing competition and courses and so on is not a simple job.

Another thing is that, oddly enough, highly modified handguns sometimes become unreliable. I've seen stoppages in competitions, though you might say that's a good thing; it helps you to learn to clear a stoppage under stress. It might also make you think automatics are unreliable, the same pistols that have been around for a hundred years now. It's funny how these things work out sometimes.

I'm going out on a limb here and ask if there is more creative competition in black powder/cowboy shooting games. I don't think cowboy shooting has degenerated--I mean evolved--into using lots of highly modified guns, although I know sometimes more than one gun is required. But it sounds like they do a lot to keep it interesting. Maybe not realistic but it's still a competition.
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Old July 26, 2012, 04:41 PM   #57
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In most of the competitions there are different categories for different guns. A revolver shooter will generally be competing against other revolver shooters. USPSA/IPSC is where you will see the race type guns with compensators, extended mags and in Open, dot sights,etc. But they also have categories (production) for Glocks and other listed guns. Production category will have more limits on what modifications you can do to the gun and what other gear you can use. IDPA doesn't have the dot sight race guns, being more self defense oriented. But, all of the categories allow you to have trigger work and other modifications done. Some categories limit allow only limited modifications while others allow a lot more.

Even the cowboy guns have modifications. The 73 Winchester copies are routinely modified to have a much shorter lever throw then stock. A lot of cowboy shooters have trigger jobs, action and reliability work done on their cowboy guns.

Although you are competing directly against other shooters in your category, you can usually see how you placed against everyone else too. A good revolver shooter can beat a lot of shooters that are shooting semi autos.

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Old July 26, 2012, 09:50 PM   #58
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Quote:
One of the uses to which I've put IDPA is in identifying which of my guns actually work best for me with regard to speed and accuracy when moving and/or under time stress.

I do this to determine which guns work best for me, for carry.

I also do this to determine which sight systems I am fastest with.

Note: my fast isn't blazing fast; I don't like trading accuracy for time, so I'm typically midpack speed, but front-pack accuracy.
DITTO

Quote:
I have only watched competitions.
I suggest you participate. Don't take this the wrong way, however, I do not see how you can honestly debate the issue with no experience with the issue.

Quote:
Another thing is that, oddly enough, highly modified handguns sometimes become unreliable.
There are many things that cause malfunctions in semi auto's, bad grip, bad ammo, bad magazine, resting the slide on a barricade, I have actually seen one shooter that made a part for his gun from cardboard after he lost the original, and figured that is what caused his problems.

Cowboy guns are extensively modified. You should see the gamesmen in cowboy shooting yowser...... Which is why I quit that "sport".

Quote:
A good revolver shooter can beat a lot of shooters that are shooting semi autos.
I am a good revolver shooter, shooting the same course of fire my score/time is twice as good with my Glock 40, with the 9mm barrel it is even faster.
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Old July 26, 2012, 10:56 PM   #59
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The whole point is to become a better shooter. That unrealistic course of fire is neutral- everyone had to negotiate it. If your only interest is becoming a better shooter with your S&W Model 64 carry gun, then don't worry what the guys with the space guns are up to- you can't keep up with them. Just focus on shooting as well as you possibly can.

Don't be intimidated by the gear you see. Those experienced shooters in A and master class will become your best resource as you get further into the game. They remember their first match, and how hard their heart was beating. You want to get squadded with those guys.

Don't get locked into the "Martial artist, stock gun, carry gear, never practice and I still can't win" mode. I saw this a lot. These guys never showed up on our practice nights, or shot the revolver neutral steel league, , or traveled to other leagues to compete, but were pretty vocal about never winning. I found it pretty interesting that our martial artists split off from our league, and then just stopped showing up for their own practical matches. The key here is to improve- not compete with the Master Class race-gunners.

Get out there. Join a league. If you're uncomfortable, don't suit up your first time, and have the RO's squad you and follow a squad through it's stages without the worry of shooting your first time. Learn to score and follow the RO's instructions. Then come back next time and compete, and focus on accuracy, not speed. Speed will take care of itself.

A year of shooting USPSA will make you a much, much better shooter.
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Old July 26, 2012, 11:16 PM   #60
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I agree. The games we play will make you a better shooter for sure ( actually if no one is shooting back it's all games). You'll also know when your gun's about to go empty without even thinking about it and will find yourself doing mag changes without a thought or looking down to see where they are. It'll build familiarity with your prefered equipment. USPSA is freestyle usually and you can move and use cover if you wish as you move. You will develop safe gun handling skills at any speed too.
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Old July 27, 2012, 12:56 AM   #61
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BlueTrain, with regard to IDPA, there are different divisions, including two for revolvers. One of those is for revolvers that take moon clips, and the other for those that require speedloaders or loading by hand, to simplify things. Revolver shooters compete directly against other revolver shooters, and there's a "handicap" of sorts figured in for each division when assessing overall winners.

I have friends who regularly shoot revolvers, or who alternate 50/50 between their preferred carry revolver and their preferred carry auto.

Some IDPA clubs will have occasional BUG matches, so if somebody wanted to shoot a pocket pistol, there are opportunities for that, too.

I've only shot in IDPA and GSSF, partly due to availability, and partly because I have no interest in "race guns." I like (relatively) stock handguns and holster rigs, though I will change out sights and tune triggers.
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Old July 27, 2012, 05:39 AM   #62
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Sorry, folks. I gave up shooting fifteen years ago. It was way too expensive. I can't even afford range membership. Also, I got up one day and it wasn't fun anymore. I don't have any friends that shoot, either. And at my age, it's just plain silly to think of competing. But not having competed should keep me from making comments. This is not a debating forum, is it? Anyway, neither of my two handguns is a .45, which I believe is minimun required basic equipment, judging from what I read here, though not in this thread.

Say, is there an age handicap?
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Old July 27, 2012, 08:39 AM   #63
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There are guys at our club who can't run anymore and can barely pick up their empties and they still come to compete. The 9mm is the smallest caliber used and I use mine when arthritis is bad. If you lived here in Mesa, Az I'd come get you and let you use my equipment. It's still fun to go and shoot (badly at times) and hang out.
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Old July 27, 2012, 09:16 AM   #64
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No way, even the armed threat targets I've seen at matches don't have real guns, so have never even fired a shot. Much less one at someone playing the game.

Real life, I think not owning and or knowing how to shoot a gun would be more likely to be of harm.
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Old July 27, 2012, 09:48 AM   #65
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BT, I apologize if I struck a bad cord with you.

I only shoot IDPA now. We have one guy that is ALL crippled up,(had a concrete beam crush him) only has the use of one hand and cannot stand without a crutch and he competes. He does not do some of the stages from the required positions-he can't. One of our revolver guys is 75 years old. Our local club is a very friendly group of guys, there are no prizes, only bragging rights. There is a division for seniors, they are usually the best shots. pistols and revolvers must be 9mm/38 or larger.

IDPA is great because you cannot even use a race gun. At my club, there is a smattering of Glocks, 1911's, revolvers, XD's, Beretta's, Taurus's and since you are presenting from concealment, you should be using everyday gear.

Depends on the club, we are not an "IDPA sanctioned" club so you can pretty much run what ya brung. I use the competitive arena to wring out new guns, sometimes knowing I am gonna suck. Match before last I ran my 640 Pro, I actually beat a guy shooting a 4" k frame.

Nothing says you have to win, I do it for fun.
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Old July 27, 2012, 04:59 PM   #66
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Quote:
Will competition get you killed? Police take
Anything can get you killed. You can do everything right and still get killed.

Sure some things in competition are generally not good ideas in combat or self defense but...

There are billions of situations and who knows what skills will be needed.

Overall though the skills you learn at gun handling in competition will, in general, do you well on the street.

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Old July 27, 2012, 06:23 PM   #67
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back up gun matches

Blue Train did bring up an interesting point, in that most courses of fire in IPSC or IDPA are NOT real practical for a shooter running a Walther PPK or S&W 36 (or similar small gun) (And for the record, I have a PPK and 3 different Chief Specials [all with a 3 inch barrel] and carry them frequently)

I have shot back up gun side matches a few times in both IPSC & IDPA. I wish I had the oppertunity to do so more often.

Not all courses of fire used as stages in competitive matches are that useful to those of us with a defensive orientation to shooting. That was the point of my previous post -- see what the local clubs around you run for stages, and shoot when their course design matches what skills you are trying to develop
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Old July 27, 2012, 07:25 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff22
...most courses of fire in IPSC or IDPA are NOT real practical for a shooter running a Walther PPK or S&W 36 (or similar small gun)...
Why would that make a difference? If that's the kind of gun you're carrying, that's the kind of gun you'll be relying on if you ever need it, and you can't know in advance what your problem will be if one ever comes up in real life for you. So you might as well try your PPK or J-Frame out with whatever comes up in a match and see how well you can manage with it.

You might not be competitive with that sort of gun, but you'll at least see how well you can make it work for you.
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Old July 28, 2012, 12:11 AM   #69
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+1 Frank Ettin.

If you want to run a PPK or a BUG on a regular day, go for it. Don't worry about scoring, per se, just see how well it works for you.

Put another way, I used to fly Navy P-3's. We'd often loiter (shut down) an engine while flying long, low, overwater profiles. Running fewer engines, at higher power levels, actually saved fuel - since somewhere around half the fuel burn for each engine was required simply to turn the engine compressor, not to produce torque or thrust.

The decision on when/whether to do that was based on performance numbers in our operating handbook (NATOPS), officially, but in reality most of us would pull power back on that engine to simulate a feathered prop, then pull back the other engine on the same side (worst case dual failure, since a lot of rudder would be necessary to counter the severe torque imbalance, and a lot of rudder equals a lot of drag) to see what that airplane would really do in those conditions.

Books and stats are well and good, but if I were going to operate 200ft above the water, I wanted to know exactly how that system would work in that weather on that day, if I were to lose the worst case engine while I had #1 shut down.

So, run what you plan to use, and see what you can really do with it.
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Old July 28, 2012, 12:21 AM   #70
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+1 Frank Ettin.

Thats what I do as well. I run my 640 Pro in a regular match just to practice with it.
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Old July 28, 2012, 08:07 AM   #71
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Let me just say two things here.

First, shooting just costs more than I'm willing to spend. Period. As I said, the range membership alone is prohibitive. Clark Brothers in Warrenton has a free range that you can use if you buy their ammunition, which seems fair enough, and I have shot there, but it's nearly 50 miles from where I sit. It's a lot closer to where I work, however, and I've actually been out there at lunchtime to pick up a special order.

But returning to the subject of handguns and courses. I can see there would be a lot of value in actually competing with your actual carry gun, if they would let you. It might make you rethink your choice of a carry gun, though, at least for a while. You could decide that you really should be carrying a (physically) bigger gun and you switch for a couple of months until the weather started getting hot and it started to seem a little harder. So you switch back to the original gun (you otherwise don't switch carry guns, do you?) that you had spent so much time thinking about already.

It might also put you off on competitions, too, unless you imagine that a course which requires three magazines worth of ammo to finish is realistic. That's probably a bigger issue and to attempt a course with a five-shot revolver (or a single action, perhaps) is a nonstarter. That isn't to say there isn't a club somewhere that has a more realistic (fewer shots) course set up.

If nothing else, competition forces you to take a harder look at everything without the element of real danger but with real pressure.
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Old July 28, 2012, 09:33 AM   #72
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Unfortunately, for the above post, people do compete with BUG guns. I've shot my 642 or 632. A friend just did an IDPA match with a Sig 238.

There are no rules against it. Yes, the reloads are a pain but if you want to practice with such, you can in most club venues around here.

I shoot my carry, stock Glock as others do most of the time.

As far as need multiple mags - yep, that's not realistic in most cases. But, you get need repetitions on trigger, sights, multiple fast shots, reloads and malfunction drills.

Reps are important for skills. I really don't see any downside of competiton in a context of also having more realistic training.
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Old July 28, 2012, 10:49 AM   #73
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The gun is the least of it.
A fellow showed up at one of our local USPSA matches with his trusty five shot snubby revolver, a cheapie holster, and a few speed loaders.
The guy at sign in jokingly asked if he actually wanted a score card.
It turned out the joke was on him.
The fellow with the snubby finished fifth, out of over 50 competitors that day.
And the fellow with the snubby was one of the oldest of the bunch, to boot.
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Old July 29, 2012, 04:13 PM   #74
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Quote:
Will competition get you killed?
How can someone can expect to arrive at a definitive answer to this sort of question for everyone else? Maybe for themselves. Maybe.

What does any particular person need to do in the way of training/practice in order to focus attention on some of the critical factors involved in deadly force encounters, especially where the use of a firearm as a dedicated defensive weapon is anticipated (and available)?

Foundation skillset (marksmanship, safe handling, etc)

Knowledge

Tactics

Continued/recurrent proper training & practice to ingrain the training to the point of unconscious competence, under physical & mental stress

Mindset

Experience

Equipment (familiarity, handling, manipulation, maintenance, etc)

I've known cops who enjoyed participation in various competition venues ... and those who didn't. I've known non-cops who did the same (on both counts).

I've seen folks from either end of both groups who experienced difficulties successfully completing qual courses-of-fire ranging from simple & straightforward (no stress and no requirement to identify the threat/non-threat targets), to rather demanding. Pretty much depends on the person, and their "marksmanship" was only one aspect of the equation, it seemed.

Personally, while I'm not at all interested in participating in "outside" competitive shooting venues, I'd not think to dissuade someone else from doing so.

I would, however, if asked, suggest that anyone interested in participating in various competitive venues remember to try and identify the differences between following "contest rules & tactics", and using the appropriate & optimal tactics in the "real world".

Marksmanship is a perishable skill.

Anything that reinforces good marksmanship can't be bad.

Good marksmanship is not the same thing as good tactics and mindset, though.

I've seen the occasional skilled Camp Perry, IPSC & IDPA shooter choke when faced with a close range drill where decision making and multiple threat targets were involved. Train for one set of conditions and then encounter another, and things might go fuzzy in a bad way.

Train for what you reasonably expect to have to accomplish ... and try to make sure your expectations are really reasonable.

Good trigger time is better than no trigger time.

Bad tactics can render good shooting skills a moot point.

As Deaf reminded us (and has been said elsewhere often enough), sometimes you can do everything right and still come out on the wrong end of things.

Maybe different folks have a different set of expectations and perception of actualized benefits from competitive shooting events. Dunno.

There's a reason the language used to describe deadly force encounters has often included things like dynamic, chaotic & rapidly changing ... right?

You happy with your training, practice and ability to employ good tactics, in a situational context, while trying to safely & optimally use your shooting skills?

I ask myself that question all the time.
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Old July 30, 2012, 08:01 AM   #75
BlueTrain
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Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
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While the gun may not be the most important thing, the course might be. So a good question is, is the course or competition realistic? For some it might be, for others, not so much. I've read some complaints that trivial rules detracted from the course but of course, that was just one person's idea.

Some old-time writers (not when they were old) believed strongly in competition. Only the competition they were speaking of was regular bullseye shooting. There was never any suggestion that they ever thought of any kind of practical pistol shooting competition. I guess that was more into the future. But they still felt it was important to get the basics down pat before you attempted anything else.

Naturally, others disagreed.

One very simple reason is that to some, target shooting and any form of practical pistol competitions were really a luxuary that they just didn't have time for. You may recall that at one time, soldiers were sent off to combat with what most of you probably would consider totally inadequate training and probably some think that's still the case. For the rest of us, going out every week and shooting up your gas money to hone your shooting skills is really a luxuary from a cost standpoint. For soldiers in basit, it's a time constraint. But I think I've talked about this before.
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