Training: The value of competition shooting to your type of shooting

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http://www.guns.com/review/training-the-value-of-competition-shooting-to-your-type-of-shooting/

This is a great write up by Andy C at Guns.com about the value of organized shooting as found at competitive events. If you’ve never been to a match or have gun-owning friends that haven’t, do yourself a favor and read this.

Some choice quotes:

I guess you might develop a “training scar” from habits like moving around an IPSC course without taking cover, but then, I might also forget to wear pants to the grocery store because I never wear them inside if I can avoid it.


While competitive shooting may get you killed on “the street”, some training looks likely to kill you on the range. (Photo: Everydaynodaysoff)

There’s a spectrum of investment with shooting, like any sport. My wife shoots IDPA with a hoodie, a holster she made and a police surplus S&W Model 10. She shoots next to a guy who spent thousands on his Sig X-Six, a custom Kydex holster, a 5.11 vest, and a camera on his head. There are certainly shooting games that let you use what you have, and if you like it, you can slowly invest in specialized gear.

Speaking of investing, I often find that the people who lament the expense of competitive shooting own dozens of different guns. Instead of buying another rifle that gets shot twice a year, why not invest that money in competitive shooting fees, ammunition and equipment?

The main reason is it provides a reason to go and shoot. There’s a date on the calendar that says “use your gun.” This is a pretty strong motivator to get said gun out of the nightstand. It also provides meaningful feedback with scores and rankings. Whether you try to beat personal records or develop a competitive edge, once values are assigned to the quality of your shooting, it’s a natural to try and improve those scores. That has a good chance of leading to more frequent range time and may even lead to that most secretive of arts, dry fire practice… For a lot of people, it’s more important that it’s “organized” than “competitive.”

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The Lie Against Competition Shooting

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“Not long ago, I supervised a standoff situation where our officers were placed in positions to engage a dangerous suspect. Several officers were armed with M4s. Bystanders were thickly mixed-in! Range to suspect was between 10 and 30m. Happily, our situation was resolved without our officers having to shoot.

As a precaution, I asked all officers to report, with their red-dot-equipped M4s, to the range the following week. I set-up a situation with parer targets that exactly duplicated the situation with which were confronted a week earlier.

Given generous time, stable, braced firing positions, and stationary targets, not one of our officers was able to deliver required shots, even after several attempts! When asked about sight settings and zeros, most officers were not prepared to answer definitively. Some didn’t even understand the question! An examination of the M4s present revealed that, in most cases, the red dot and the back-up iron sights did not agree. Some were not even close!”

http://www.ammoland.com/modern-sporting-rifle-zeros-or-lack-of/

This episode echoes many similar episodes I’ve experienced in the military as well. It isn’t unusual to find personnel in an instructor capacity (drill sergeants, etc.) just as confused.

You know a demographic in the gun world that intimately understands this and doesn’t have this problem? High Power competitors. Smallbore competitors. Pretty much any competitor in any rifle shooting discipline requiring a degree of precision will have a handle on this. It’s the reason such events were created in the first place.

I use this episode specifically because it comes by way of John Farnam, a “name” instructor of the Modern Technique camp that has poo-pooed competitive shooting in the past.

We’re sometimes warned about the “dangers” of competition, even though there is not a single documented incident where competition shooting experience ever caused a problem.

Competitive shooters possess a commodity concerning firearms skill that is rare among public-sector personnel: GAS. It’s a guarantee that a competitive shooter, someone making an effort to obtain improved scores and achieving that result, really does Give A Shit about their skill because they’re motivated to spend free time and money doing it. Hell, they do it for fun!

I worked ranges for over 30,000 deploying military personnel from 2003-2009. My peers were involved in range activity for nearly every service personnel deploying through the Department of Defense during that time. There was not a single problem or concern caused by someone arriving having prior competition experience. Not one.

Personnel having competitive experience are routinely better performers and more knowledgeable than their peers lacking such experience. They had the same tactical/military/police training as everyone else in the unit but performed better by having a heightened capability developed via competitive experience. The same is true concerning physical fitness and those pursuing other sports. Amazingly enough, competitive runners have better run times during unit fitness tests and competitive lifters are notably stronger.

This improved capability happens when one genuinely does Give A Shit and does something beyond required, minimum qualifications and standards. In contrast, every person requiring remedial training was someone lacking competition shooting experience.

Published regulation backs this up. There are many references in military and police policy describing competition shooting as beneficial. There is not a single published regulation, order, doctrine, or policy in any military or police organization suggesting competition shooting is bad or harmful with personnel recommended or ordered to avoid it. None. Not one. Plenty of examples advocating its use as beneficial, but not one saying otherwise.

SACRA Competitor Overview

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Civilians, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) enlisted and commissioned, Department of Correctional Services, and the South African Police Service compete at provincial and national competitions around the country.

New Zealand Service Rifle

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http://www.sportsground.co.nz/nzservicerifle

An overview of competitive shooting with members of the New Zealand Service Rifle Association.

Johan Horn, SAPS Armourer

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Johan Horn, a police officer and armourer with the South African Police Service discusses setting up R4, R5, and Galil rifles for Service Conditions competition.

SANDF Marksmanship Programs

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SGM Strydom of the South African National Defence Force discusses marksmanship training and competition in South Africa.

Combat and Competition

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An overview of the similarities and differences of training for combat compared to competition as experienced by a combat veteran, sniper, drill sergeant, and competitive shooter with the U.S. Army Reserve Marksmanship Program.

An overview of the similarities and differences of training for combat compared to competition. Are there any actual bad habits or training scars caused by fixed, square range competition courses?

Here’s my take. I suspect “training scar” claims occur more from novice skill levels rather than learning a “bad” habit. When academy/basic training remains the totality of formal learning a person has, they’re more likely to repeat such things because it’s the only response available in a rather limited base of experience, especially when there is little to no history of performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results are measured and truly matter to them.

As the two military combat veterans in these videos explain, we shot a series of surprise courses at CAFSAC in the shoot houses at Connaught, Ottawa. Despite shooting these multiple courses after the fixed, square range courses (the sort that allegedly cause “training scars”) not a single competitor displayed any such mistake. None of the range officers reported anyone inadvertently remaining flat footed when they should have been moving, failing to use cover, unloading before finding and engaging targets, etc. It’s almost as if being more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand. Amazing!

Others have experienced the exact same thing:

Yep, despite not doing a “scan and assess” after shooting a stage, when it came time to replicate things in as real of environment as possible, I kept my guard up and kept treating it as “real”, even though it wasn’t.

It’s almost as if my mind and body know when I’m gaming, and when I’m not.

http://www.exurbanleague.com/misfires/2015/09/30/so-just-what-is-a-training-scar

 

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