Competition versus reality

Last week Michael Bane put up a post on competition versus real world shooting. This is pretty much “old territory”. It’s sort of like the classic debate between Glock owners and 1911 advocates. Or what is the best cartridge or bullet? I’m pulling some of my previously published data on this rather than contributing much in the way of new material.

In my collection of quotes I have one from Greg Hamilton which is essentially +1 on what Bane says:

As for the “I don’t shoot that kind of game because I don’t want to learn bad tactics” crowd, I think that is an over used excuse by people that can’t win. Shooting IPSC or IDPA won’t make you a bad tactician. Being a bad tactician will make you one! Most of the people that complain about tactics wouldn’t know a tactic if it hit them in the ass.

Tactics are making the most out of the situation with the resources at hand. Every time you “game” a stage you are engaging in tactical thinking. They just might not be the right tactics for a gunfight.

Greg Hamilton
Insights Training Email List

The following is only partially on target for the topic at hand but it is still worthy of bringing up:

From: Joseph K. Huffman
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 1998 11:21 PM
To: ipsc mailing list
Subject: RE: New target…

[…stuff deleted…]

‘Classic Target’ makes me think of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ books. To me IPSC is about shooting ‘bad guys’. It is about using a gun to defend self, family, and country. If someone were to ask me if IPSC was training people to shoot other people I would reply with an enthusiastic “YES!”. There are some people that need to be shot. And if the time comes that they need to be shot and I’m the one that must do the shooting my speed, accuracy, and power will be some of the critical items in deciding who walks away from the encounter and who leaves on a stretcher. For some government, or some naive group of people with political clout, to claim a moral high ground and demand that I stop practicing shooting at people is ludicrous. Self defense is a right all species on this planet have claimed for all time. For someone to deny me the opportunity to practice it is as alien to me as anything I can imagine. It causes an internal reaction of outrage in me that I find difficult to express accurately. If the world IPSC organization wants to add another target to achieve political advantage in some country or to gain entrance to the Olympics, fine. If necessary, as a first step, shoot with single shot air guns. Do what you have to in those areas where shooting real guns at (somewhat) realistic targets is not viable. But don’t take away the fundamental principles of this ‘game’ from everyone — shooting ‘bad guys’, fast, accurately, and with ‘stopping power’.


The point I like to make is, “How many class B and above IPSC shooters have lost a real world gun fight?” As far as I know the answer is zero. IMHO any time you get someone to the range and they put in some “trigger time” shooting fast and accurately they are improving their “real world” gun skills. Show me the data that suggests otherwise and then we can talk more but until then we just have opinions.


4 thoughts on “Competition versus reality

  1. I learned about how traditional target shooting skills don’t translate into the real world when I started shooting IDPA matches.

    A great example is how poorly police officers shoot in real life situations. They’ve all supposedly passed some target range qualifier AND had some tactical training, but when it’s time to shoot someone they have hit ratios WAY below 50%.

    On the other hand, I know IDPA masters that can put a bullet anywhere they want on a target, in the process of gaming the stage, so it looks like they didn’t dump a round intentionally, all in a fraction of a second. I’d bet any of those guys would have no problem in a real world tactical situation either.

  2. My only deferral from what Joe wrote would be not so much about bad tactics and more about picking up bad habits. An example would be something I saw at a shotgun competition in the not too distant past: The “really fast guys” were putting lead on target with speed and accuracy and just kicking ass in general, but their reloading technique involved turning the shotguns upside down with the top of the barrel in their gloved shooting hand, with the butt stock resting the crook of their strong arm’s elbow and bringing in a handful of shells with their weak hand over for a “speed load”.

    While that technique works well in competition, trying that in the real world with things you can trip over and bad guys who aren’t staked to the ground may get you killed. Single shell weak hand loading may take a bit more time, but your shooting hand (and your trigger finger) will remain where it needs to be to actually make the gun go bang and not lose a handful of shells in the dirt.

    But pretty much other than that, when it was those guy’s turn at the line, it was a sight to behold and a moment to learn from.

  3. “More lead on target in the less time” is pretty hard to beat, real or fake world. The only way to get “real world” training I guess is to have actual gunfights, but I’m not going out to look for one any time soon, thank you.

    It’s an excuse, just as you said. I won’t use it. Instead I’ll say “I don’t have the time, what with the kids and the job an all” or some other lame ass excuse. Besides, my baseball cards aren’t all in alphebetical order…

  4. I don’t know about having to use actual gunfights, just being a great pessimist has worked well for me.

    That, and looking at items in a “cover versus concealment” metal debate takes the boredom of having to go to the mall with the wife.

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