Thoughts on Competitive Shooting

I am a huge proponent of shooting competition, either IDPA or USPSA.  They are both games, so I don’t get too hung up on which one is better as the primary benefit of shooting competition is getting to perform while under some induced pressure.  Personally, I shoot IDPA as I find I can be more competitive with real carry gear in that discipline compared to USPSA, and I also find that the greater penalty for inaccuracy is beneficial for someone who is primarily focused on the defensive application of the pistol.  Being able to make an A Zone hit and a C Zone hit, and come out ahead compared to slowing down just enough to get two alphas, works for USPSA shooting, not so much for “da streetz.”.  Again though, not an issue, I think shooters can certainly be great at both the game and realistic shooting if they want to be, and both USPSA and IDPA will provide the benefit of shooting under some artificial stress.  So, while IDPA remains my preference, do either or both.

With that said, I concluded years ago that my love of competition is only in as much as it benefits the serious defensive shooter, which it greatly does, but I am simply not into the game for the game’s sake.  I have won club level matches in the past, but I am hardly an avid competitive shooter, and I have not shot a match now in several years.  I plan to put my toe back in that world soon.  However, even though I continue to contemplate using gamer gear to shoot the game a bit more competitively, I find that it never happens.  The last time I shot IDPA several years ago I did so with a Glock 26 in an IWB strong side holster from under an untucked T-Shirt; hardly competitive in nature, though I took 3rd overall in the match and won the CCP division.  Generally, though, I competed with a Glock 19 in the past.  I don’t own a Glock 34, THE IDPA gun, and I have only ever competed with a G19 or G26.

So, here is the irony: I own OWB holsters that are geared for IDPA.  I even own an IDPA “shoot me first” vest!  Hell, I have even practiced, occasionally, from these holsters with the vest on (there might even be video of me doing so on Instagram, I should probably delete that).  Yet, I have never shot a match with an OWB holster of IDPA vest because when I actually tool up and dedicate the time to the infrequent match that I shoot I want maximum benefit; if I use gear that has no relevance to my real life, I lose that benefit.  Shooting a match is a great way to shoot while under induced stress, and it is a great way to test your gear under circumstances that are more dynamic than square range training.  If you use a different gun, different holster, and a gimmicky “concealment” garment that you never use in real life, all real-world benefit of the match is gone.  Thus, even though I have that crap, I have not used it, and I likely never will.

Rather, when I finally get signed up for a match again, I will be rolling in with my G19 or G26 in an AIWB holster, under a t-Shirt, just like I carry it.  The only difference between my real-life carry gear and my match gear will be the addition of a second magazine pouch, as you need two reloads for a match, and in real life I carry only one reload.  If you pursue completion for the sake of being as competitive as possible for the game, rock on, there are many shooters who do competition and realistic defensive shooting well.  Personally, though, I am just not driven to do so, and when I shoot a match I want the experience to be beneficial to my defensive training, and I lose that benefit if I shoot a match with game gear.  Therefore, if you ever meet me at an IDPA match, look for the guy with normal cloths on amidst the sea of “shoot me first” vests.  Now that IDPA allows AIWB carry, I will be competing with my exact carry setup.  I won’t be winning any major events, but I will be in the top handful at any club level match, and I will do it with real carry gear.  That is good enough for me.

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