We’re sometimes told by people with no proven, demonstrated, higher-level skill and zero competition experience that competitive shooting is bad. Often, the crux of their misinformed opinion is that many competitive venues allow competitors to view the course of fire beforehand. The claim is this isn’t realistic apparently because knowledge of the encounter and preplanning isn’t realistic.

Let’s contrast that to what actually happens. An article comparing tactics used by SEAL Team Six and police SWAT teams found them to be very similar. A focus on fundamental skills and pre-planning for the encounter are considered vital. Here is SWAT operator and author Sgt. Glenn French’s take on this:

What strikes me about the operation to take out bin Laden is that SEAL Team Six focused on fundamental CQB operations. The intelligence gathered from various sources was used to formulate an assault plan, the plan was rehearsed, and the plan was executed as designed.

Reportedly, twenty three soldiers started the operation and twenty three boarded the Blackhawks to return home. The terrorist didn’t fare so well. Obviously they didn’t have a plan, nor did they rehearse and execute their tactics as well as the American warriors. If they did, the outcome might have been different.

Knowledge of the area, formulating a plan based around this intelligence, and practice for the specific encounter is considered vital. This is the exact same approach used in many competitive venues. A match description and/or rule book is your ROE. Yes, there are rules in a gunfight as the common acronym ROE (Rules Of Engagement) explicitly spells out. Course of fire or stage descriptions and walkthroughs serve as intelligence gathering. The encounter is planned, then executed.

Despite Walter Mitty fantasies, most tactical cognoscenti aren’t planning team raids into hostile structures. Well, not any team raids that are going to actually occur. Consider home defense, a common reason many American gun owners possess firearms. You should be very familiar with the layout of the structure you reside in. A modicum of planning readily reveals where hostiles will be. Unless you’re assaulted by minions of Cthulhu spawning in your bedchamber, these will come through obvious portals like doors or windows. Some sort of audible alarm to trigger you awake needs to be arranged.

So, we have a course of fire with a stage layout known in advance, knowledge of where the targets will be, a plan of action before beginning, and an audible start signal to begin. Wait… that sounds an awful lot like many competitive events!

Here’s an idea. Volunteer to help design and set up some practical shooting matches, such as SensibleShooter, USPSA, IDPA, etc. at your local range. Start with this:

Stage: “Defend This House”
Start Position: “Lying on the bed with head on the marked X, handgun is loaded and secured in GunVault SpeedVault.”
Stage Procedure: “At signal, retrieve pistol, move to position A and engage…”

Of course, the layout just happens to mirror your residence. Consider that people attend tactical classes and never address issues like this that are specific their actual needs. Despite costing hundreds of dollars per person per day, these line dances routinely fail to address specific concerns unique to the paying student. Even if the class and instructor is good, you’re still left sorting that out on your own. Like, say, by setting it up as a course of fire to try with live fire.

Have a plan. Many real world situations are best handled by having a sensible plan in place and knowing how to execute it. It is useful to be good at establishing a plan and measuring your ability to execute.

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