We’re big fans of competition as a means of testing yourself and your gear in something that’s more stressful than just punching holes in paper on a shooting range.
If you’ve bought a handgun for self-protection, I recommend shooting it in some form of competition. Massad Ayoob, one of the world’s foremost experts on firearms law, says it best,
“A shooting competition isn’t a gun fight, but a gun fight is most definitely a shooting competition.”
And a gun fight is one shooting competition you DEFINITELY want to win.
You don’t need a lot of special gear beyond what’s needed for everyday concealed carry because an IDPA match is designed to shot with commonly used equipment. I enjoy shooting International Defensive Pistol (IDPA) competitions with my everyday concealed carry gear to see how it works under stressful conditions. I don’t win matches when I do that, but I learn what works and doesn’t work in the real world.
To shoot IDPA an IDPA match, you’ll need:
- A good, serviceable holster. Avoid nylon or cheap leather holsters, as they tend to collapse when the gun’s not in them, making them harder to re-holster your gun after you’re done shooting. I recommend a Kydex outside the waistband holster for a first competition holster (or first holster of any kind) because they’re inexpensive, rugged and won’t collapse in on itself after you’ve drawn your gun.
- Magazine pouches to hold your spare ammo. Typically, you’ll need 3 magazines to shoot an IDPA match: One in the gun loaded to either it’s full capacity or the IDPA limit for your Division, whichever is less and two more for reloads during a course of fire. I use double mag pouches from Blade-Tech and they work just fine.
- A cover garment. As IDPA is a *defensive* pistol match, it’s designed to mimic concealed carry, and that means keeping your gun and gear concealed as you shoot a match. I prefer to cover my gear like I cover my CCW gun and shoot a match with an untucked t-shirt, but most competitors end up using a dedicated cover garment because it allows for a fast draw and is comfortable to wear during a match.
- Eye protection and ear protection. This is a no-brainer. If you own a gun, you need something to protect your hearing and something to protect your eyes from ricochets.
- A desire to have fun and learn something. I love shooting IDPA, and everyone I’ve taken to a match has loved it as well.
If you have all that gear, I strongly suggest shooting an IDPA match. You’ll learn more about yourself, your gear and how both of you react to stressful condition than hours on a square range will teach you.
Tune in to Shooting Gallery on Outdoor Channel tonight to see special coverage of the Babes with Bullets 3-Gun Challenge, a record-breaking event that took place during the AR-15.com Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro-AM in August of 2013.
Keep an eye out for TeamGunBlogger’s Jaci J during tonight’s coverage of the 3-Gun match, and if you look closely during the opening and closing segments, you’ll see Robert M. and Kevin C. in the audience.
Air times on Outdoor Channel: 1-22-14 at 5:00PM ET | 1-22-14 at 8:00PM ET | 1-23-14 at 1:30AM ET
Good question. Buyer’s remorse is a real and dangerous thing, and guns aren’t cheap. Buying the wrong gun means that something that could be used to provide hours of fun, enjoyment and practical self-defense ends up unused, unloaded and under your bed, never seeing the light of day or a proper gun range. Because there are so many types of guns and so many things you can do with them, we’re going to talk about defensive firearms like a small service pistol or shotgun.
So how do know if you’ve bought the right gun?
- Does the gun do what you wanted?
If you’ve bought a .22 rifle for self-defense, you’ve maybe made a poor choice. Chances are, however, if you’ve followed the advice of a competent gun store clerk (or read this blog…), you’ve got the gun you need.
- Do you enjoy shooting the gun?
This question causes quite a lot of controversy because there’s more than one person who will say “Who cares if it’s easy to shoot? You should get a gun you trust to save your life, even if it feels like a porcupine in your hand and recoils like a freight train!”
The thing is, they’re not wrong, but they’re not right. If you’re not comfortable shooting your new gun on a regular basis, you’re not going to be comfortable practicing with it or training with it, and that means you’re not going to be comfortable using it to defend yourself on the worst day of your life.
- Can you buy the accessories you want for it?
As someone who has a natural affinity for CZ firearms, (not the biggest brand of guns out there), I deal with this every time I want to add something to my gun. I love my CZ’s, but I accept the fact that there will be more available accessories for a Glock or M&P pistol.
- Is your gun reliable?
This is the big one. An unreliable firearm is not a defensive tool, it’s at best an occasional plaything. All gun manufacturers will tell you their guns are reliable, but how do you know for sure the gun you bought will work when you need it the most?
Fortunately, Todd Green of PistolTraining.com has set up a forum when gun owners answer a simple question: Can your gun shoot 2000 rounds in a row without a hiccup? Go check it out and if your gun is listed, you can be confident you have a reliable gun.
No matter what, the key to being comfortable with your new gun is safely using it and learning to rely on it to defend your life or the lives of our loved ones if, God forbid, you might need it.
Stop for a moment: Do you know where your house keys are? Where your cell phone is or your wallet? Are they in the same place they normally are? Probably.
We carry our daily “must have” items in the same place all the time because we don’t want to spend a lot of time looking for them if we need them.
The same thing is true for your defensive firearm. If (God forbid) you’ll need it, you’ll need it rightthisverysecond and not want to pause for a moment to reflect where it might be. This is why once you’ve decided on where to carry your pistol, you’ll want to carry in that position as often as possible and not move it to another location or yourself or somewhere else.
For example, through trial and (some) error, I’ve found that I prefer to carry my CCW gun in an Inside The Waistband (IWB) holster, specifically in a hybrid Kydex/leather holster of some kind, positioned at about 3:30 on the same side as my strong hand. I usually carry either a Smith and Wesson Shield or a CZ P07 in that position, but if I can’t carry on my waist because of what I’m wearing or where I’m going, I carry a pocket .380, a Kel-Tec P3AT in a pocket holster in my pants on my strong hand side. My extra magazine (and you DO carry spare ammo, don’t you?) is either in a mag pouch on my waist or in a nifty little pocket pouch that keeps my ammo separate from the flotsam and jetsam in my pockets.
Take a moment to think about where your carry gun is right now. If you’re not sure, or if it’s not close by, it’s not going to be much help when you’ll need it most.