Sunday, February 19, 2012

Competitive Shooting is merely a sport.


            Shooting sports such as the IDPA(International Defensive, IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation)and USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) are popular and often considered by many to be good training and a good measure of your self-defense capability with a pistol. I respecfully disagree.
        While these events can be fun and that's fine if you like to participate, but they are not reflective of the reality of what happens or all that valuable in preparing you to defend yourself in a real gunfight or self-defense shooting and can even develop some very bad habits.
      The most glaring and obvious thing lacking in competitive sport shooting is the lack of an opponent.There is no one shooting back at you! In a recent issue of GUNS magazine the following was stated................

Why do Defensive Handgun Owners Compete? For the same reason Professional Fighters spar.”

        OK fine, but the problem is pro-fighters spar with an opponent not the air or against a heavy bag or target. They must have an opponent to build reflexes, tactics, strategies and learn to be able to be reactive and respond to unplanned. Sport shooting is simply pre-arranged course of shooting paper targets,there is no one to react to and "pro-fighters" are sportsman not self-defense exponents as I pointed out in my previous post. If you do a lot of these sport shooting competitions you will get good at doing sport-shooting competitions, not real-world defense.Their goal is to run the course and hit the paper target as fast they can since the are timed. Real fights are not timed and since you have to worry about someone shooting back at you, stabbing you, hitting you with a tire iron, grabbing you, punching you, taking you down, stomping you etc, you can see that simply running a pre-arranged course does little to address this and prepare you for them.Getting in the habit of using cover as an after-thought and using methods that allow you to run the course as fast as possible can instill bad habits through repetition.
            Your going to be concentrating on hitting the paper targets, getting to the next stage as quick as possible all coordinated withe organizations rules. Proper use of cover & concealment is not taught nor advantageous in these sports nor is a full awareness of ones environment all which are every pertinent for real world gunplay. Is there some possible cross-over skills? I say yes, but the bad outweighs the good.
         If you wanting to prepare for real-world scenarios,shooting paper is fine, but do so using visualization and set up your course so that is mimics real-life as best as possible and mix it up doing various types of simulated situations and changing how you run the course, directions, timing imagining different scenarios since things in real-life don't happen according to prearranged choreographed movements.
    Chuck Taylor has written extensively about the differences between Sport and Real Shooting,so check out his articles.Gabe Suarez is another Instructor that has a lot of info outline the stark contrast between the two.
              The best single training method is FoF(Force on Force)training using airsoft guns, simunitions or even paintball guns(not ideal though) where you safely run scenarios and actually have someone that you are not in control of shooting back at you.You can also do close-quarter contact training using training knives,guns and incorporate actual free-style dynamic movements that force you to actually respond & react.You work some specific situational based scenarios to unpredictable full scale defense scenarios.There is a lot of good protective gear such as Tony Blauers High Gear, Red-Man Suits and the like on the market that will allow you to engage in pretty much full out FoF.
           None of the best Reality-Based Instructors such as Gabe Suarez, Kelly McCann, Mike Janich, Chuck Taylor, Rob Pincus,Tony Blauer just to name a few compete in gun games & that should speak volumes..    

 Consider the following comments by Chuck Taylor........

 Competition vs. Combat

           Many shooters today have been led to believe that the top IDPA/IPSC competition shooters are appropriate role models for self-defense training. The truth is there is a vast difference between using a handgun for competition and combat, so vast that many of the techniques commonly used in competition are in fact suicidal in a real gunfight and others are an open invitation to legal or civil liability problems. If your interest is competition, find an instructor who is a successful competitor and possesses good teaching skills. There are very many highly skilled shooters that fall into this category and the worst that can happen if you pick one with a second rate training program is that your score at the next match will be a bit lower than expected. Choosing an instructor for self-defense training that bases the techniques they teach on “competition results” can have much more serious consequences.

        Now don’t misunderstand, we are not saying that anyone who shoots in competition is automatically disqualified to teach self-defense. What you need to know is where the techniques they will teach you come from – playing games or fighting? Nor are we saying only winners of a gunfight should teach, you don’t have to break your own leg to know how to set one. (Besides, many who have won gunfights have done so more by luck than skill and because they won, have failed to recognize the inadequacies of the techniques they used.) Instructors must be evaluated on an individual basis, including those trading primarily on having a police or military background. The truth is the military spends very little time training with pistols compared with other small arms, neither organization is known for their use of cutting edge techniques and much of what both organizations do is inappropriate or illegal for the average citizen. Time spent in one of these occupations does not in itself either make anyone an expert or disqualify them from being knowledgeable in the field. To repeat, it is the totality of the instructor's training and experience, along with his ability to select material that appropriately fills your actually needs, that must be considered.

       Much of what has appeared in the last four decades is relatively worthless for self-defense because it's the result of competition target shooting in one form or another.From good old-fashioned bulls-eye competition to PPC shooting to ISPC and it's related endeavors,competition has contributed little to self-defense.Not surprisingly,a number of instructors from the realm of competition have also surfaced,presenting the concepts and techniques used to win pistol matches as being state-of-the-art. However,inasmuch as their methods were developed solely for competition in mind, some tend to reflect a lack of cognizance,a lack of knowledge and lack of perspective on the critical fact that competition bears absolutely no resemblance to combat. Competitive shooting allows the participant to pre-examine the course of fire,determine how to best deal with it and even practice it in advance until he feels he has reached an acceptable efficiency level.In other words,he has the luxury of pre-solving his problems. In combat,the opposite is true,which is why for well over 100 years,competition shooting techniques have always failed save lives when applied to life-and-death situations.You can't pre-solve self-defense problems.Self-defense is a serious business,a business in which ego-drive,the primary motivator of all forms of competition,cam quite literally get you killed.

      Pleased understand that I have nothing against competition.In fact,I was once a world-class IPSC shooter,but sport shooting did not teach me how to stay alive in the multiple gunfights I've been in during my lifetime. Though I'd shot small-bore competition as a boy and Service Pistol Bulls-eye competition for awhile in the U.S.Army .I subsequently discovered in the jungles of southeast Asia that such endeavors had no such semblance whatsoever to reality.

        Were they fun? Yes,absolutely. Did they demand skill, perseverance, dedication, time and energy? Yes, of course,and I admire all of those things,regardless of the activity to which they're applied. Still, the artificiality of it all-the known chronology of events,the failing to properly balance accuracy and speed,the irrelevant targets,foot-racing and a total lack of tactical awareness and understanding-invalidates competition as an effective combat training tool. A police officer I once knew always asked any instructor whose class he attended if he carried a gun for a living.If the answer was no, he'd then ask why the Instructor though he was qualified to teach him anything. Invariably,the Instructors reply was that he'd been a championship competitive shooter and his techniques were thus superior.The officer would then ask him,"In what way? You can't pre-solve self-defense problems.". Invariably silence followed.

        A handgun fight is close to the ultimate in uncontrolled environments,but the the competitor has no way of knowing that.His activities all take place in the most controlled environment as possible-a shooting range.How can he possibly understand the dynamics of deadly force? The answer is simple-he can't,and that's why competitive techniques and instructional programs prove to be less than optimum when the bullets fly for real.

          Again,in spite of what some competition shooters think, I am not anti-competition.On the other hand, having been both a successful competitor and a survivor of multiple gunfights,I believe I am uniquely qualified to judge the difference, which is nothing less than extreme. And as much, I can't in good faith recommend to anyone that pursues training with anyone whose background,concepts and techniques are based upon competition alone.
Competition is fine, but let's not call it combat.To do otherwise is plain wrong-dangerously wrong, in fact.

Chuck Taylor

SOURCES:    Tactical Handgun Training by Chuck Taylor- Guns & Ammo Book of Personal Defense

                      Defense Associates