Classification and Divisions

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Attendance fall off at organized shooting events is the biggest problem facing advancing gun owner skill and improving the perception of gun ownership by the general public. Ignorant gun owners scoff about not caring what their non-gun owning neighbors think while ignoring the fact that pro-gun initiatives would be much easier if those neighbors had a reason to hold a positive opinion on it.

As it stands today, only 2% of the card-carrying NRA membership has never attended a NRA Sanctioned or Approved event. Back in the early 1960s, this was over 30%. Worse, the raw number has declined from a high of about 130,000 participants to around 95,000 today.

Part of that attendance fall off is shooters deciding to take up a different discipline. Camp Perry attendance peaked in the early 1960s and that was when rifle shooters could only choose between High Power or Smallbore and Pistol was Bullseye (or perhaps PPC if you were a cop.) I know some shooters in traditional disciplines don’t like the new options but I’d rather have gun owners participating in something that appeals to them than not at all.

Equipment isn’t the biggest factor concerning score but it is a factor. I’d address this by expanding the Classification system and equipment Divisions. Five or six skill groups for all shooters isn’t broad enough. High school sports have more than this and that doesn’t take Little League/Pop Warner/Pee Wee leagues, Junior Varsity, and other local leagues into account. College, semi-pro, and pro are entirely different groups with their own strata.

A competitive shooter “disadvantaged” by equipment but consistently capable of shooting a given score is at no real disadvantage when assessed in a peer group of people consistently shooting similar scores regardless of the reason why.

Add to this recognition of different equipment. As an example, USPSA has about six recognized divisions (it might be more by the time I finish this email) and it makes for a diverse group of options where almost any handgun can find a competitive role.

To keep some sanity and avoiding a “trophies for everyone!” issue, I’d only recognize a given division or classification if there is at least a minimum number of participants (say, about 6 or more for local matches) so there is a sort of mini match inside the match that is competitive for each group.

FWIW, but experience indicates the NRA doesn’t seem terribly interested in furthering their shooting sports by increasing participation. Their own membership base is a 98% no-show

Competition and Real World Results

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I’ve been asking for examples of how competitive shooting experience went wrong. Coming from a competitive background, my bias tends toward competitive shooting being a good thing. That’s why I’m reaching out to folks that can provide counter examples.

Here’s one such report. Thanks to Phil Wong, the “Tactical Cliff Clavin”:

Competition Real World Results 1

Competition Real World Results 2

Competition Real World Results 3

Original discussion:

Why is it called Conventional?

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Most competitive smallbore rifle shooters in the United States live in a schizophrenic world, split between National Rifle Association (NRA) and International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) styles of competition. There may be a few who only shoot one type or the other, but most end up competing in both. It is a shooting world divided by a difference in targets, equipment, and courses-of-fire: A dichotomy unique to this country.

A short history lesson is needed to understand why shooting in the United States developed as it has and not in lockstep with Europe. Although it is certain that contests of hitting an object at a distance with a rock, spear, or sling date back to prehistoric times (the story of David and Goliath, for example), competitive target shooting, as we know it, has its roots in medieval Europe.

Why is it called Conventional?
by Hap Rocketto
https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2017/2/21/why-is-it-called-conventional/

Competition Shooting History: The Longbow
https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooting-history-the-longbow/

Combat Readiness

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Members of the U.S. Army Reserve Competitive Marksmanship Program discuss their combat experiences and how competition shooting helps with military training and readiness.


SSG Bonjour

MAJ Garcia

SSG Porter

SSG Rosene

MAJ Rosnick

MAJ Sleem

SSG Fuentes

SGM Gerner

SGT Hall

SSG Hartley

Drill Sergeant Willis

CPT Freeman


SSG Volmer


Why police should participate in competitive shooting sports

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Wisdom from Dave Porter

Different competitive shooting disciplines teach different skills, but all use Cooper’s “Speed-Accuracy-Power” to some extent. Even slow fire NRA high power rifle requires 20 shots in 20 minutes at 600 yards. Does anyone think a Police Marksman would be called upon to make faster shots at that distance?

IPSC and 3-Gun, as the author notes in the article below, are very fast indeed, at ranges from very close to intermediate.

I think it extremely noteworthy that, following 9-11, when the Army realized that the average Soldier’s gunfighting skills were generally woefully inadequate, they tapped their competitive shooting teams to design and teach courses like Squad Designated Marksman and Close Quarters Marksmanship. (taught respectively by the Army Rifle Team and the Army Pistol Team)

In my own 26 years of service, the best instruction I experienced BY FAR was taught by competitive shooters. When it became my job to provide weapons instruction for troops going into harm’s way, I modeled my instruction after theirs, and I started competing myself.

If you want top level instruction in ANY field of human endeavor, you find the enthusiast. Teaching an enthusiast/expert how to instruct is far more effective than assigning a trained instructor a task which doesn’t really interest him.


Why police should participate in competitive shooting sports
by Ron Avery
https://www.policeone.com/training/articles/189973006-Why-police-should-participate-in-competitive-shooting-sports/

Learning By Competing

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Bill Starr was one of the great strength athletes and coaches, having competed and won at Weightlifting up through Olympic levels, Powerlifting, and then taking what he learned and coaching others to do the same. Knowledgeable practitioners in the strength and conditioning field recognize him as one of the innovators. His efforts are a primary reason why sport teams recognize the benefit of Strength and Conditioning coaches.

Starr was an ideal trainer and coach, having first formally competed and achieved success to validate his knowledge before teaching others. He learned what he knew by competing.

And as I learned from fellow competitors in the ensuing years, that’s what they did as well. It was an intuitive process out of necessity. There were no coaches to tell us this, and no one was actively writing about it in the magazines. That’s how we learned just about everything about lifting heavy weights: trial and error, then sitting back and considering just what had been done, both pro and con.

This seldom happens currently. When a strength athlete hits a wall in his routine, he doesn’t study the problem and come up with a viable solution. Rather, he seeks advice from the bounty of experts out there, via books, videos, clinics and DVDs. That’s certainly much faster and easier, but at the same time it’s less effective. Having to beat your head against a wall until you solve the riddle about your program is much more beneficial than having someone else come up with the answer.

Be like Starr. If you want to learn your discipline better and faster, compete!

More:
http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Starr_HeavyLight_Starr.pdf

http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/the-light-heavy-and-medium-system/

Competition Will Get You Killed On The Streets?

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https://primaryandsecondary.com/competition-will-get-you-killed-on-the-streets/

Choice cuts from a great article at Primary and Secondary

-Is mission planning not a thing anymore?
-Are mission rehearsals not a thing anymore?
-Is having ISR units recce targets and conducting recce handovers to the assault force not a thing anymore?

People who cannot differentiate between competition tactics and small unit tactics are probably not good at either.

Why is it relevant that competition shooters cannot perform at their best level while wearing a basic load, to include PPE? Can most “tactical dudes” perform as well as competition guys using competition gear? Most likely they would get smoked.

Bottom line, don’t get too wrapped up in being tactical or what not. Understand that different principles apply when shooting a match than when you are doing break contact drills in rural terrain.

Creating a divide seems pointless, and only serves to keep people away from an activity that could help them become better shooters. I know that my shooting has improved, with no detriment to my “tactical abilities”.

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