Will Shooting Firearms Competitions Get You Killed?

Published July 1, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, CCW, Competition, Equipment, IDPA, Mindset, Self Defense, USPSA

Short answer: No. Doing dumb gun stuff in the midst of a gunfight gets you killed.
You can avoid doing dumb gun stuff under pressure by shooting practical pistol matches because they help vaccinate you against such things, one match at time. However, if you treat a real gunfight like it was a shooting match, you’ll be in a world of hurt.

Long answer: 

Massad Ayoob is probably THE most respected firearms instructor and personal defense consultant alive today. He literally wrote the book on personal defense with a firearm and his MAG40 pistol class is considered to be one of the best classes for dealing with what happens before, during and after the defensive use of a firearm. What does he say about shooting practical pistol matches? 

“A shooting competition isn’t a gun fight, but a gun fight is most definitely a shooting competition.” 

And he prefers IDPA as well.

Another firearms expert, Todd Green, formerly of Beretta, H+K, Sig-Sauer and now of pistol-training.com, explains his reasons why he recommends shooting competitions

“Possibly the biggest benefit of competition is that it is often the most stressful shooting many people will ever be exposed to. While obviously not the same as being in an actual gunfight, shooting in a competitive event in front of peers and strangers will do a great job of showing you just how easy it is to make mental mistakes under stress. Learning to stay focused on the task at hand and building experience fixing mistakes under pressure both have legitimate real world payoffs.
At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to competition shooting for the ‘defense-minded’shooter. But, the pros are pretty universal and the cons are really only cons if you let them be. (Emphasis in the original) 

motivator13216bd5a188f0f305a9ccd7a343f7353bfd141bHere’s some more expert opinion from top firearms trainer Mike Seeklander: Marine veteran, former law-enforcement officer and host of The Best Defense on Outdoor Channel. 

“I’ve always been a proponent of competitive shooting, as long as the individual competing understands what they are going to get out of shooting matches. They’re going to love it. They are going to get some energy from it. They are going to want to do it more. It will make the average person, especially the average police officer who doesn’t get to train much, WANT to train because every human wants to be better at something. BUT the rules of the game are different than the rules of defense with a gun.” (emphasis in the original)

So, will firearms competitions get you killed?

Yes, if you expect that a gunfight will play out by the rules of your game of choice. 

But if you want to shoot accurately and quickly during one of the worst days of your life, you may find that regularly shooting practical pistol competitions like IPDA or USPSA will provide you the skills and mindset you need to survive a gunfight and come out on top. 

This is the reason why this website exists

Published May 17, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, CCW, Clothing, Competition, Equipment, IDPA, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense, Training, USPSA

Owning a gun doesn't make you safe.

Owning a gun is just the first step on a journey. Guns are not self-protection talismans that ward off evil-doers all by themselves: You have to have it handy when you need it and you need to be ready, willing and able to defend your life and your loved one’s lives, if, God forbid, the need to do so arises. I applaud Sherri Shepard for doing what thousands of other people have also done: In order to keep her family safe, she has chosen to purchase a defensive firearm and become her own first responder.

The alarm and it’s warning terrified Shepherd, her husband Lamar Sally and their son Jeffery, despite the police arrived seven minutes later to reassure the family it was simply a false alarm.

Nonetheless, the devout Christian who has taken a more conservative stance on a number of recent hot-button political issues to make The View’s roundtable, declared they were buying a gun.

‘I’m trying to calm Jeffrey down and all I had was this wicker basket,’ Sherri said. ‘I have nothing, a bat, nothing. We’re going to get a gun.’

And that’s what this website is about.

If you’re a first time gun-owner, we’ll help you get your gun out from its box underneath the bed (or wherever) and onto the range. At TeamGunBlogger, we’re not tactical ninja SWAT types and we’re not ex-special forces with years of experience in the sandbox. We’re people like you who have chosen to purchase a gun (If I’m honest, more than one…) for self-protection and enjoy the shooting sports. We’ve gone down the road you’re about to go down, and we’re here to help guide you where needed. 

Stick around, and let’s enjoy the journey together. 

Getting Started In Practical Pistol Competition

Published May 11, 2013 by
Filed under Competition, Equipment, USPSA

CZ75 set uo for USPA

AKA Intro to USPSA 090

Duck Dynasty is the #1 show on basic cable. Top Shot is returning to History Channel. Guns are selling in record numbers. The clampdown on gun ownership proposed after the Sandy Hook massacre has failed, and despite Joe Biden’s tough talk, gun control just isn’t a priority for the American public right now.

In short, it’s safe to go back to the range again. If you’re one of many, many new gun people who have bought their first gun these past few years, now is a great time to think about different ways to enjoy going to the range. Along with thousands of other people, I’ve found that practical pistol is a great way to have fun with a pistol and learn how to use it safely under the stress of competition. 

I didn’t get into the shooting sports because I grew up around guns, (though I did quite a lot of shooting in my youth), I shoot because a) it’s FUN and b) I want to protect my family’s life from a lethal threat. I am fortunate to have a home range that is ground zero for USPSA in my area, so I thought I’d write a quick guide for everyone out there who want to get into USPSA but doesn’t know where to start.

Two quick points:

  1. I’m not “high speed, low drag” (the opposite, in fact’¦) and I’m not a Tier One Tactical Operator, I’m just a guy who thought practical shooting might be a fun way to get in some firearms training under stress, so this advice is coming from someone whose first time at a match wasn’t that long ago. 
  2. There are two major organizations for practical pistol in the United States: the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA). What’s the difference between the two? Lots, and yet, very little. What it boils down is that USPSA tends to have more specialized equipment, and IDPA tends to focus on “real world” application of things. If you need an analogy, think of USPSA as Formula One, and IDPA as NASCAR.
    Which is better? That’s for you to decide. 

This is the basics for USPSA Production class, which is for “stock” semi-automatic pistols. Now before you start thinking that it’s the Little League of practical shooting, some of the best shooters in the world compete in this class, but don’t worry, you don’t have to live up to their standards. USPSA (and IDPA too) is set up so marksmen of comparable skill compete against each other, not against the top guns. 

What You’ll Need

A serviceable and safe semiautomatic pistol in 9mm.
Almost anything out of the box in that caliber is good to go as is, as long as the magazine can hold ten rounds. Sucks to be you, New York. And yes, you can compete with a .40 S+W or a .45 auto, but Production division was set up with 9mm in mind.
A safe holster that attaches to a belt.
Nylon may (MAY work), Kydex or leather is better. No drop-leg, shoulder, cross-draw or small of back holsters. And a good stiff gun belt to hold everything secure on your waist.
Magazines and mag pouches. 
Four is pretty much the minimum. In USPSA, you can shoot up to 32 rounds (without misses) on one “stage”. To make things even for states with mag capacity bans (sucks to be you, California) and to account for the varying capacities of a bunch of different guns, the USPSA mandates that Production guns can only start with 10 rounds in a magazine, even if the mag holds a dozen or more rounds. 10 rounds a mag, 32 shots… You do the math. 
Ear and eye protection. 
Safety glasses and good earplugs are a start. I like electronic earmuffs, myself.

What does this add up to, cost-wise? 

$500-700 for a new pistol. Glock, S+W, CZ, Springfield, H+K, whatever. If you own own of those already, you’re in. If you don’t have one already, get something you like, know how to use and are comfortable with. If you’re one of the thousands of people who recently bought a pistol for home defence, go ahead and use that. I did.

$50-100 for the holster and magazine carriers. Bladetech, Safariland and Blackhawk! are all good brands to look out for. Hard plastic nylon or Kydex is preferred, but soft nylon works as well. 

$50 for a gun belt. I started out thinking a gun belt was just a “vanity” accessory and that any ol’ belt will do. It won’t. Think of the gun belt as the foundation that will hold the weight of your pistol and magazines as you run around on a stage. The better the foundation, the more secure your stuff will be.

$50-100 in spare magazines. Get at least four, because you’re going to be dropping these suckers into the ground over and over again, and stuff breaks.

$10-50 for a range bag to carry everything. Something big enough to carry all of the above yet easy to lug around with you from stage to stage. I saw a guy at a match last month with a DeWalt tool bag as his range bag, and you know what? It worked GREAT!

$50 and up for ammo. Here we get to the really expensive part of USPSA. A typical match for my club is 4 stages, each with about 25-35 rounds fired. Add in misses and the need to keep your spare magus full and you’ll soon see that bringing 200 or more rounds to a match is a good idea. The good news is we’re starting to see 9mm creep back into stock again, the bad news is, it’s at higher prices than it was a year ago. But don’t let the cost of ammo stop you: Practical pistol is worth the ammo costs, that’s for certain. And it’s STILL cheaper (and more fun) than a round of golf.

Pre-match preparation. Go to a match ahead ahead of time without your gun and see how things are run before you shoot your first match. Find someone there who can show you the ropes the next time when you show up. Know how to use your gun and use it safely. You don’t need to be Annie Oakley, but you should know how to load it, how to unload it, how to deal with loading or feeding issues and most importantly, the basics of gun safety. And be safe and have fun.

Is it worth it? 

Oh yeah.

A practical shooting competition will quickly show you how well you perform under semi-stressful conditions with a firearm. Under the artificial stress of the timer, simple things like reloading an empty pistol become the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and hard things like hitting a 25 yard head shot become nigh-impossible. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the more you become confident in your firearms-handling abilities. Todd Green, who knows more about combat pistol training than just about anyone else out there, said it best

Possibly the biggest benefit of competition is that it is often the most stressful shooting many people will ever be exposed to. While obviously not the same as being in an actual gunfight, shooting in a competitive event in front of peers and strangers will do a great job of showing you just how easy it is to make mental mistakes under stress. Learning to stay focused on the task at hand and building experience fixing mistakes under pressure both have legitimate real world payoffs. 

At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to competition shooting for the ‘œdefense-minded’ shooter. But, the pros are pretty universal’¦ and the cons are really only cons if you let them be. Because whether you stay true to your original purpose or give in to the dark side and become an absolute gamer, you’re still getting more time on the range and more experience shooting complex problems under stress. As long as you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that winning at a game makes you an honorary gunfighter, competition is a fun and effective way to become a better shooter. 

This is the reason I do this, (well, that, and it’s FUN) and it’s the same reason why humans have used games to train for combat since the days of ancient Greece. We train to be good when it doesn’t matter so we can be good when the highest stakes we have are on the line. 

The Top Ten Things NOT To Say After A Defensive Gun Use

Published March 18, 2013 by
Filed under Carry, CCW, Competition, Self Defense, USPSA


From the home office in Paulden, Arizona, the Top Ten things not to say to the cops when they show up.

10: TWO ALPHA!!! 

9:  Am I gonna be on “COPS” ? 

8: Y’know, officer, if you’d been doing YOUR job…

7:  Know a good taxidermist? 

6:  You say “excessive use of force” like it’s a bad thing. 

5:  Gosh, officer, the gun just went off by itself. 14 times. 

4:  What a tight group! I’ve NEVER shot that well sober!

3:  Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges

2:  That… was…. AWESOME!!!

And the #1 thing NOT to say after a defensive gun use… 

“Help me bury him in the backyard with the rest.” 

Buy the shirt online here.

Randi Rogers On Getting Your Head In the Competitive Shooting Game

Published October 15, 2012 by
Filed under Competition, Mindset, USPSA

Top female action pistol and cowboy action shooter, Randi Rogers is in Las Vegas this week for the 2012 USPSA National Championship, but before she left, she posted some great advice on her website about how to mentally prepare for a shooting competition.

I encourage you to head over to read the whole post, but here’s a quick overview of her suggestions and techniques:

  • Make peace with your current skills
  • Set a goal and a plan
  • Stay positive!
  • Stick to the plan

Whether you’re shooting a local club match or a “big” competition, these techniques are sure to help you improve your shooting performance.

Why compete in practical pistol?

Published August 13, 2012 by
Filed under Carry, Competition, IDPA, Practice, Training, USPSA

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.

This is Your Brain on Competitive Shooting

Published January 16, 2012 by
Filed under Competition, Mindset, USPSA

It’s been about a year and a half since I dove head first into the world of competitive shooting, and while I’m making some progress with my speed and accuracy, there’s something holding me back, and I can’t seem to shake it. I’m no stranger to the stress, anxiety and pressure present when participating in sports (especially since my nature is to be ridiculously competitive), but there is an element of practical pistol shooting that I have never experienced before, and it’s making me look like more like Jerry Lewis than Jerry Miculek when I’m shooting a match.

3 gun Rio Salado 2011
Some call it the Red Mist. My better half has referred to it as bezerker. It is an indiscriminatory and unrelenting force that is laser-focused on sabotaging your performance. Ridiculously clever and devious, it will allow you to build up your confidence just until you step up to the line and into the shooting box. And then the timer goes *beep*, the red mist appears, and all careful planning and strategy disappears as if it never even existed.

If you’ve been watching Top Shot on the History Channel, you may have noticed that the Red Mist makes a cameo appearance in almost every episode. During episode two of season 3, it appeared during the elimination challenge and prematurely knocked my favorite contestant and WOMA home girl, Sara Ahrens, out of the competition.

During Sara’s commentary at the end of the show, she recognized the role the red mist played in her loss when she said, “I’ve had practice in friend and foe targets, it’s just a matter of I’ve never done that next to another person. I’m kind of being overcome by the intensity of the situation.”

Yep, that’s the unmistakable mark of the red mist. It doesn’t just effect your performance on the range, it also leaves a trail of amnesia and dumbfoundedness in its wake, making it that much more difficult to overcome.

So, is it possible to defeat the Red Mist, and if so, what’s the secret? Watching shooting greats like the Leatham’s and the Miculek’s make it pretty darn obvious that it can be overcome, but how does a mere mortal like me fend off this unwelcome creature that has the power to take over my brain at will?

I recently had the opportunity to ask World Championship competitive shooter, and all-around awesome woman, Eva Micklethwaite how she deals with the pressure and anxiety that builds up when she’s competing in a big match. Eva was kind enough to explain to me what she did to conquer the Red Mist when she found herself a bit “freaked out” by one of the stages at the recent USPSA Area 3 match:

It’s the preparation I do BEFORE I even step on the range that helps me with that. At this particular stage, though, I told myself to take your time and get through it. Don’t rush it, stay focused, and be patient with myself and the trigger. Basically a mental talk off the ledge. Once the buzzer goes off, instinct kicks in as well.

Experience helps a lot, you’ll get there. Mental strength is also a BIG part of this game. And if all else fails….breathe!

Looks like I’ve got some dues to pay to the Red Mist. If you’re looking for me, check the local ranges. I’ll be the one trying to reload my left thumb into the magazine well.

Reprinted with permission of greatsataninc.com


Womens 5.11 Tactical Taclite Pro Pants Review

Published January 16, 2012 by
Filed under Clothing, Equipment, USPSA

I’ve previously established that I’m not tacticool, but I don’t mind admitting that there are some gadgets and widgets in the tactical gear world that I would be happy to own. I now have another item to add to this list: 5.11 Tactical’s Taclite Pro pants for women.

tac lite pro womens tactical pants image

I’ve looked at purchasing tactical pants in the past, but the options for women have always been extremely limited. While there are a few companies that make women’s outdoor clothing, the vast majority of tactical and outdoor sports pants are made only for men. Another issue that has prevented me from finding a pair of pants that are suitable for competition shooting is that I’m a bit vertically challenged, and pretty much all the tactical-ish pants for ladies I’ve looked at are ridiculously high-waisted. I don’t enjoy wearing pants that go up to my armpits in my daily life, and that would be a serious no-go when I’m shooting.

5.11 Tactical decided to tackle the ill-fitting women’s tactical pants issues, and they have recently updated their line of pants for women with a more friendly fit. I got the chance to see their new styling during Media Day at SHOT Show earlier this year, and they caught my eye right away. One of the ladies in the 5.11 Tactical booth was sporting a pair, and they not only looked sharp, the waist looked to be at just about the perfect height (just under the natural waistline).

Thanks to 5.11 Tactical, I now have a pair of Women’s Taclite Pro Pants of my very own. I selected my most often worn pants size, and I was very pleased to find that they fit great through the hip, seat and legs – not loose enough to be called “relaxed”, but still plenty of room to move around in. The top of the pants fall just below my natural waist; I could not have asked for better placement. I was surprised to find that the waistband was on the loose side (hey, maybe I lost some weight. More cake!), but the little areas of elastic on each side of the waist seems to help keep the waist from drooping. I’m almost always going to wear them with one of my competition shooting belts, so this is a non-issue for me. I’m considering that a plus, as the slight looseness will allow me to throw a pair of long underwear on underneath without them being too tight.

The only fit issue I had to deal with was the overall length – a good two inches too long for me. I knew this before I received them because they are only available in regular and long. I managed to hem them myself with no problem (and I didn’t even cheat with hem tape this time), but I really wish 5.11 would add a “petite” length to their line of tactical pants. After all, I’m perfectly average, according to the Government.

The Taclite Pro’s are made with poly-cotton ripstop, which is why I chose them over 5.11’s standard, cotton canvas tactical pants. I figured I would get more use out of a lighter weight pant, and since they are treated with Teflon for a stain resistant finish, I have a chance of keeping them snazzy looking for a decent amount of time. I have a habit of wiping my dirty, grimy magazines off on whatever I’m wearing, so having some stain resistance is a nice bonus.

To put these pants through their paces, I decided to wear them at the two big matches I shot in November: The IDPA South Mountain Showdown and the USPSA Area 2 Championship Match. The IDPA match was an all-day, 8 stage match, and temperatures were unseasonably low with dark rain clouds looming almost all day. I was concerned the fabric would be too light for the weather (anything under 75 degrees=cold), but my legs never felt cold, and they were so comfortable that unlike everything else I was wearing, I didn’t want to rip them off after wearing them for over 11 hours.

For the Area 2 match, I wore them on Saturday, our second full day of shooting. The weather was, again, unseasonably cool with the threat of rain. Once again, the pants felt great all day. I’m really glad I chose these pants for Saturday because it turned out to be the day with some of the most physically challenging stages. The reinforced knees came in very handy while going prone and the deep front pockets allowed me pick up after myself quickly after pulling a couple of yard sales with my magazines. In addition to feeling really comfortable in these pants all day, I also received an inquiry and complement on them from one of my fellow female squad mates, who is of similar stature and has the same problems finding pants to wear while shooting.

To see the pants in action, here’s a video of me shooting stage 7 of the Area 2 match. Yes, the popper on the far right was supposed to go down. (Note to self: the *ding* of the steel does not always mean it went down) Might I suggest focusing on my mag changes instead?

I really like these pants. So much so, I’ve already purchased another pair in black. I decided to purchase a size smaller then the original pair, and that might have not been the best idea. The waist fits better, but the seat, hip and upper leg area are a little too tight (So much for more cake). If you are a skinny-mini, you should be able to get away with purchasing a size smaller than normal, but if you’ve got some shape going on, I’d recommend sticking with your regular pants size.

The tactical pants reviewed above were supplied to me by the fine folks at 5.11 Tactical in exchange for my unbiased review. The 2nd (and soon to be 3rd and 4th) pair I own was purchased with my own monies. Reprinted with permission from GreatSatanInc.com

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