The real world benefits of competing aren’t found participating at the match, they are found preparing for the match. Participating in competitive events merely serves as a yard stick as to how effective these preparations were, with the bonus of meeting and visiting with nice people in a fun environment.

This translates perfectly and exactly to whatever else you might set as a goal. The rulebook and match program are the OPORD and the match is the mission. The results spell out how well your preparations went. Plus, despite myths to the contrary, the fundamental skills trained are the same. Your gun can’t tell the difference between Pepper Poppers or terrorists. More ranting on that here:

Soldiers, cops and most gun owners rarely train. Usually, they receive instruction, an introduction to concepts. Perhaps they practice these concepts occasionally, such as during annual qualification. They may expend ammo and range time but skills rarely increase measurably.

No public sector or CCW skill assessment requires demonstration of improvement once minimums are met. A minimal skill level that passes raw recruits at the academy or in basic will continue to pass twenty year vets.

Competition is one of the few venues where actual training – that is, purposely programmed skill development – is measured and encouraged. It is also one of the few venues where you can test the entire range of your marksmanship and gun handling skills at high levels under the stress of a timer, audience, and empirical measure.

Competition is also one of the very few environments where participants actually TRAIN, that is, have a measured means of determining skill and purposely drive skill up based on that measurement. Most people that bother with “training” receive someone’s, or some organization’s, idea of instruction and stop there. “Experienced” trainers have attended multiple instruction courses that never demand skill increases. It’s like a person that attends a barbell certification course annually but never touches a barbell between these sessions. Even after twenty years this “experience” won’t leave him any stronger for it.

I challenge you to find an open enrollment tactical class where paying students are FAILED. That is, they don’t receive any acknowledgement of attending unless they hit some minimum, pre-determined skill performance requirement. Most give everyone a certificate of attendance, provided your credit card clears and you don’t hurt anyone.

See if you can find an open enrollment tactical class or military/law enforcement qualification beyond intro/basic that enforces a required skill progression. One that sends students home the morning of day one, possibly without refund, if they fail to meet tested minimums.

Tactical Timmy (military, law enforcement and civilian) takes instruction, but he rarely trains. Not until he is held to any progressive skill standard.