After a very tough but enjoyable USPSA match a few weeks ago, Catfish and I were reviewing what we learned and what we needed to improve in our shooting. You see, all of us on this Blog are competitors. We enjoy and look forward to shooting. USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun, pistols, rifles, shotguns it does not matter.
But what we all strive for; is to improve. To be a competitor you have to have the ability to look at yourself in the harsh light of reality and make an honest assessment of what you do well and what you need to improve. Now, I know I will NEVER be a World Champion - for that matter, I’m OK with not being a National Champion. But, I want to be better tomorrow than I am today.
BUT WAIT! That stuff will get you killed on the street!
How many times have you heard that? Or at least read that? It seems on the Internet this is a recurring statement of the shooting experts. It is often repeated and passed on with blazing speed. I’m sure you have read the same posts, “I could take him out with my Whizbang 2” snubbie from 400 yards with one shot to the left eye.”
That’s right, we have our one truth in the shooting world and that is, competition shooting is bad for you. Shooting competition, according to those that spout such knowledge, is bad for you if you are ever involved in an armed confrontation. You will read this many, many times on the Internet. From all sorts of experts that have insider knowledge on what is required to survive. Again, what?
So let me see if I have this correct. If I want to survive a gunfight, the best thing to do is not practice? The answer from many of the self proclaimed shooting experts is that competition shooting will get you killed on the street. That’s right - killed.
Now one of the things that I have learned is that I don’t know everything. But I really need someone to explain this to me. The ability to shoot fast, and shoot accurately is NOT what we’re looking for in a self defense situation? And let me go further by saying, this is the act of shooting. Tactics matter not; this is when it has become impossible to avoid a self defense gunfight.
Not buying it. How will you ever know what your abilities are if you never put them to the test? How will you be able to make that self evaluation of your skills to determine what needs improved if you don’t use those skills? Will you simply hide within your own ego and convince yourself that you truly are the baddest of the bad until it’s that ultimate pass or fail test of real life?
And if you are an Instructor, it’s either put up or shut up. If you can’t walk into a shooting match and whip everyone there, your system doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter which shooting sport, IDPA, USPSA, even Cowboy Action Shooting. Show me. Prove to me that I should take a class from you. That’s what it should come down to. Are you good enough to win? Or even, are you good enough to show up? The current thinking in the shooting sports is that tactical instructors do not attend because their skills are honed to such a razors edge that they would ruin years of hard work by attending a single match. And people buy this Snake Oil?
Show me that your system is the best and I should start using it by putting it to the test of competition. Does your system increase recoil control, increase accuracy, increase speed or what? How is it an improvement over what I am using right now?
We shoot with some of the big dogs in the sport. And we have taken classes from those big dogs. And there is one truth that cannot be avoided. The people that lead the shooting sports can flat out shoot better, faster and more accurately than anyone else. And that is what it’s all about. The ability to put rounds on your target as fast as possible. We can’t make it any clearer than that. If you had the misfortune to be involved in a gunfight, wouldn’t it be better to be faster than the other guy? Wouldn’t it be better to be more accurate than the other guy? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to move better than the other guy? Wouldn’t it be better to know your equipment works better than the other guys?
Equipment problems are a serious issue you really should address now rather than later. Ever draw your gun from your carry holster? Do you know how many people I’ve watch draw the gun and the holster comes out with it, and then didn’t know what to do? Believe me it is more common than you think. Or the gun falls out of the holster when you bend over to pick something up off the ground, like your keys. You’re at the gun show, buy a new Blaster 454 Magnum and figure “why spend 100 dollars on a holster; there’s one for 5 bucks. That will do you.” Until you actually have to use it.
Does the gun work? We see people all the time that buy a new gun, shoot 6 rounds out of it and NEVER fire it again. Then when they do venture out on the range they discover that the gun is rusted solid and won’t function. And this is what they’ve been carrying for years.
How about that Blaster 454 Magnum? Just because it’s all the rage of the gun magazines doesn’t mean it’s the gun for you. Have you shot it? How many rounds? Have you shot it moving, kneeling, strong hand only, or weak hand only? What about reloads? You know things don’t always go as planned in a gunfight; you may need to reload the gun. Have you ever reloaded? Does it even come with a spare magazine or speed loader? Do you know how to use it? How will you carry it? Do you have a mag pouch or speed loader holder? What if you were sitting down and didn’t realize that you accidentally pressed the magazine release and there is no magazine in the gun? What then? Tell the bad guy I can’t be in a gunfight today, I have no bullets. Maybe you would shoot more if you had a gun you could handle? Something with a little less recoil, maybe lighter weight, or smaller size to fit your hand better. Or maybe something as easy as lower operating cost. If ammo is too expensive you won’t shoot as much. Perhaps something in 9mm or .38 special. In a full size gun, recoil is very controllable, and you need to shoot a lot if you want to stay proficient.
Because someone saw a video clip of one shooter, shooting one stage, at one match, where they did something that you wouldn’t have done during a bank robbery with 12 Terrorists and attack dogs, all competition shooting is bad. It doesn’t work that way. Tell me your scenario, how many bad guys, where are you, what does it look like. We all would be happy to go to the range and set it up as best we can, and then let’s see how you do. Show me how you would have taken out the Terrorists and attack dogs. And then I’ll go and we’ll see who does what better. Or Catfish will shoot it, or maybe even The Girl. Remember, we only score hits, misses are just noise.
We see new shooters all the time get to the line and they are shaking like a leaf. They are so nervous they don’t know what to do and freeze, or do really stupid things like forget where they are and start pointing loaded guns at the crowd. And the only stress they are dealing with is a timer! How will they react when someone is trying to hurt them or someone they care about? Worried about people watching you shoot; how about someone trying to shoot you? We know from people that have been there, what adrenaline is like and how it affects your skills. Stress will hit your fine motor skills, making simple tasks seem extraordinary. Increasing your subconscious gun handling skills will make handling that stress less problematic. You won’t have to remember to disengage the safety, or tell yourself to find the front sight. It will be natural, automatic, without thought.
Now if you go to the range every month with a bunch of ammo and your favorite guns, that’s great. You’re out there practicing, which is always good. What I’m suggesting is that you give a match a try just once. See how you compare to the other shooters that are there. See if there are any weaknesses in your skills or your training. USPSA and IDPA are great ways to test yourself and your equipment, and also to see if you are on the right course with your training. You may also enjoy being around other people that enjoy shooting. It’s also a great place to let your ego rest. It’s OK to not be number 1. And if you mess something up, someone will be right there to tell you nice try and talk about how to improve. It’s all about learning and improving. And having fun!
Just don’t hide behind the thought that stuff will get you killed on the street. Get out there and give it a try.