Continuing on from my earlier post, one of the pitfalls of competitive practical shooting is that it’s, well a competition, and not the real world. To quote from the article I linked previously,
“Many of these issues can be brought together under the single heading of stage strategy. To be good at the games, you need to understand their scoring systems and their rules. Sometimes things that make perfectly good sense ‘” like dropping an empty magazine on the ground ‘” could be illegal. Some things that make no sense whatsoever ‘” like exposing yourself to half a dozen targets at once instead of using available cover ‘” might be key to getting the best score. Most stages at most matches actually give you a chance to walk through and possibly even pantomime your plan in advance. Taking those opportunities and using them properly is important for the game, but obviously antithetical to preparing to respond to a sudden attack.”
If you’re going to need to defend your life with a firearm, the chances are pretty good you won’t have a chance to map out where you’re going to reload your gun and where’s the best spot to shoot three targets without moving. Chances are it’ll be dark, chaotic and over quickly.
How do you train for that? How do you train to expect the unexpected and then react quickly enough to save your life?
“Blind” stages in competition are one way. Those are portions of a match where you aren’t allowed to walk through a stage, where you can’t figure out ahead of time where you’ll move and what you’ll be shooting when you get there. It’s just “Make ready, are you ready, standby, BEEEP!” and away you go.
This is a gamer’s worst nightmare, because all the little tweaks that you can do like figuring out angles of attack and optimal reloads don’t matter. What matters in a stage like this are the observation and orientation parts of the OODA loop, something that is off-loaded into “stage strategy” in a match but will be right up front in our face in the real world.
Owning a defensive firearm is good. Very good. Something to be encouraged and something to be taking seriously.
Practicing with your firearm is better, because owning a gun doesn’t mean you know how to shoot it well, much like owning a car with a manual transmission means you inherently know how to drive an stick-shift car.
Todd Green of PistolTraining.com is absolutely one of the best firearms trainers out there, and he comes down squarely in favor of augmenting training with competition because, well, we’ll let him say why.
“Another great thing about competition shooting is that it forces you to shoot someone else’s problem. Instead of just setting up drills you want to shoot, you have to deal with courses of fire you’ve never seen or perhaps even considered before. Not only does this push you to round out your skill set but it can show you where you’ve developed bad habits. My favorite example comes from IDPA: plenty of people practice shoving a magazine into their pocket as part of a ‘œtactical’ or ‘œretention’ reload but then discover in the middle of a match it’s not so easy if you’re kneeling or prone or otherwise in some position that makes accessing that pocket difficult. Getting the mag in can be difficult’¦ getting it back out if you need it can be impossible!”
Read the whole article over here, and then consider how regular training and competition can help you be a better shooter.