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Posted: 8/29/2004 7:10:35 PM EDT

Why every one should compete. Even if it's just by yourself against a clock

I shot my first 3 gun match today. I regularly compete in High Power competition with an AR. Tactical Long Range with scoped rifles. Milsurp silhouette matches with, well, old milsurp rifles. And an informal IDPA based handgun match at a small local club. I'm no expert on firearms training. Never been to Front Site, etc. I do consider myself an above average shooter a rifle, and I'm probably average with a handgun when compared to people that hang out at places like Arfcom. I do not shoot trap, skeet or whatever it's called so my shotgun skills are limited. In fact most of my shotgun "use" is limited to going out to the quarry and blasting cans just to see the all the holes it makes and go "wow, cool".

Shooting a 3 gun match where we used the shotgun A LOT was kind of an eye opener to shotgun use. I can see now where many people would prefer to have a carbine rifle of some kind for home defense rather than a shotgun. Many people think all you need to do is point a shotgun at your target and you'll hit it. NOT SO! We had a guy shooting there today - I think his name was Adam Carleton or Carlson, or something like that, who shoots 3 gun all over the country - who said if you want to really screw up a shotgun shooter, put the target real close to him. Boy, was that true. At 25 yards or so, hitting a IDPA target with 00 buck wasn't to hard. But at 15 FEET it was surprising how many people missed with all but ONE pellet. Even with #7-1/2 bird shot people would need 2 shots to hit the target. Granted some of those targets were clays, and some were 6 inch steel plates. But how much does it take to knock over a small plate or shatter a clay? Hmm? A lot more than it takes to disable intruder(s) / attacker(s) I would think. What if you have to reload the shotgun? I had on a BDU shirt with sleeves cut off for my "cover vest" and had the big side pockets full of spare shells. But reloading while crouching behind cover was SLOW. Not to mention I had just ripped off 5 shots and when I turned the rifle sideways to reload and held the receiver with my left hand the friggin thing was HOT. What about if you have to shoot while moving? A shotgun pattern at in house distances is really small. Where does your 9 .38 caliber pellet advantage go if most of them aren't on target. Life is not like the movies. Shotguns take PRACTICE to be good at close range.

Shooting a pistol. I do ok. I'm accurate, but my speed in aquiring targets leaves a lot of room for improvement. I can double tap ONE target several times no problem. But doing that to 4 or 5 in a row is another matter. Again, what if you have to reload? I can reload plenty fast thank you. Even when ducking behind cover. But those few ( or not so few ) precious seconds when you stick your head back out and try to re-aquire targets takes up more time than you think. And don't kid yourself. If you do have to reload in the real world you are not ( or at least better not ) leave your body or head hanging out where the BG could take a shot at it. What if it's dark. I know, everyone has a flashlight of some kind. But what if the power is out and your house is black inside? What if you the bulb in your flashlight takes that moment ( Murphy's Law ) to burn out or have the switch crap out. BUT...you saw the BG(s) for just an instant, you know he was RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU AND HE WAS ARMED. You know you need to shoot. Could you hit him / them? Not with out practice you can't. We had a stage today to simulate that. Had a towel put over our head that shut out the light. First guy was slightly to the left side but within arms reach, second guy was straight ahead about 10 feet away, third guy was slightly to the right about five feet away. But standing almost in front of you was a NO SHOOT target. Maybe your kid who came out of the room even though they were told not to or something like that. You know you need to stop the threat before they kill you or family. Well, the real close target wasn't too bad. Most everyone got all their rounds on target, though most people shot low, stomach level or lower. The center target was harder. Most people were lucky to get 2 hits anywhere, usually low, even though we all knew the target was directly in front of us. The target to the right of the NO SHOOT was the bitch. Most poeple didn't get ANY hits ( I got one in the hip ). Nobody shot the NO SHOOT amazingly enough. Most all the misses on the right target were past it and way low.

Shooting ther pistol long distance, i.e. 25-35 yards. If you had no other firearm you have to use the pistol. Obviously this is not inside most people's homes ( except maybe that one guys bathroom ). We had a table in front of us but not real cover. I shot from my normal stance. Put 3 shots on each target and figured either I hit it or didn't. I had 3 hits on each of the 2 target. Only one shot not center mass. Most people, because of the distance, rested their arms on the table for support. Maybe ok for slow fire at the range, but it didn't work. A lot of them emptied their mags and were lucky to get 2 hits center mass. Adam - and this guy was REALLY GOOD - was explaining to everyone afterwards how shooting rapidly while resting on the table that way screws up your normal shoot / recoil / reaquire performance. Because that's not one normally practices and shoots with a handgun in a defensive enviroment.

Shooting the rifle. I like this part because I'm good at it. Anyone who says High Power is meaning less is an idiot. Plain and simple. I shoot an AR in the Service Rifle class. Good old iron sights. I can regularly put 18 of 20 shots in the rapid fire stages into the 10 ring and on good days put them all there with almost half in the X-ring. Why? Because shooting High Power taught me to focus on sight alignment and sight picture. Focus on that front sight. Right now, every shot. Standing, prone, sitting, leaning around cover, what ever. If you cannot shoot rapidly while focuing on the front sight, you WILL NOT hit your target. I saw it a lot today. Even when the target was only 15 yards away. Again, what if you have to reload? Sorry all you guys who love your AKs ( and they are good firearms ) but nothing beats an AR for fast mag changes. I can almost have a new mag in the rifle and the bolt closed by the time the empty hits the ground. A Mini anything, or M1A, sucks for fast mag changes. Especially if it's not something you really practice a lot. I saw more time lost by some of the guys using a Mini 14 today than I would have thought possible.

So what does this all mean? Ok, competition may not be the correct term. PRACTICE is. But if you do not practice like you would have to fight you are screwed. That's why I say to compete even if it's yourself against the clock. For people who say IDPA, High Power, IPSC, etc create bad habits, well, that's because people let themselves develope bad habits. It's not the "competition" that does it. The buzzer doesn't make one develope the habit of waiting for a buzzer to start shooting. It's a mind set. The buzzer only signals the onset of hostilities. Your situational awareness is alerted by the buzzer that something is happening. You could use a gong, a startes pistol, a drum, a recording of your kid or wife screaming for help. Get the idea? Go out and practice shooting with your shotgun using a a timer and something that signals the "onset of hostilities" and start shooting at multiple targets as fast as you can. That means you can't stand in one place because even if you were behind cover you wouldn't have a clear shot at each and every target. You'd need to shift position to aquire them. Shoot while moving sideways to or back from the targets. Practice reloading. Practice ducking behind cover while you reload and then reaquiring targets and hitting them.

Do I think competition is like the real world? Of course not. But all the various gun handling skills you might need are in fact used in different types of competition and gives one the chance to practice them with a ( small ) amount of adrenaline going. And if you think adrenaline won't effect your shooting / gun handling skill, just ask a cop or military person who has been under fire and had to return it and ask them how many of their shots hit the target when it was all over.

These are just my opinions based on my experience and I'd like to hear what other people have to say based on their experience.
Link Posted: 8/29/2004 7:25:28 PM EDT
Excellent post. One day of actual training or competition trumps a year's worth of internet commandoing
Link Posted: 8/29/2004 7:37:49 PM EDT
I like to try different competitions because they always show me where I need to improve. Took me forever to be able to hit a target with weak hand.....now it is one of my regular routines.

Good Post.

Link Posted: 8/29/2004 7:45:31 PM EDT
Good post.

I've been using shotguns to hunt deer for about 20 years now. I have carried one in a patrol car for 11 years. I'm to the point where the only time I chose to grab a shotgun is vicious dog calls and killing mountain lions. In most circumstances a carbine is just more usefull to me.
Link Posted: 8/29/2004 8:18:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/29/2004 8:19:23 PM EDT by Pthfndr]
Wow, only three replies. But they all agree with me.
Link Posted: 8/29/2004 8:44:44 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/29/2004 8:51:43 PM EDT
Excellent stuff.
Link Posted: 8/29/2004 9:22:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By MMcCall:
Excellent post. One day of actual training or competition trumps a year's worth of internet commandoing

Link Posted: 8/29/2004 10:42:07 PM EDT
"Practice Perfection Ensures Game Day Performance" Don Shula former coach of the Miami Dolphins!
Link Posted: 8/30/2004 1:26:15 PM EDT
Shameless BTT for the weekday people.

Thanks for the compliments guys.
Link Posted: 8/30/2004 3:22:50 PM EDT
I shot high power for a bit, and it helped me immensely. I've recently started shooting 3 gun matches as well. You're right, the competition is not the prob, it's people's bad habits during comp. I think it's great to be able to go out and play on a weekend, and practice at the same time, and see my own mistakes. It's invaluble, IMO, to REALLY see what you're doing wrong and work to correct it.

Great post.
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 2:28:38 PM EDT
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