Monday, November 10, 2008

Ninja combat powers, activate!

So, I was reading the latest newsstand special from Guns & Ammo on personal defense (it's okay, I washed my hands afterwards) and, in amongst the "Semiauto vs. Revolver: Part MCMLXVII!" and "Wonderbullet of the Month!" articles was a piece by Chuck Taylor on how competition shooting will get you killed. Heck, even thinking about attending an IPSC event could get you grazed, and shooting an NRA Bullseye match is guaranteed to cause a mugging.

While mercifully free of 20-year-old pics of a square-jawed, sideburned Chuck staring steely-eyed into the middle distance, the article was long on telling you that Chuck was a former world-class IPSC shooter, IPSC sucks, and... well, that was pretty much the long and the short of it, although big photos and good-but-generic tips such as "seek training (preferably with me)," "watch your front sight," and "choose your holster with care" did manage to pad out the article to ten pages.

"Competition," asserts a certain subset of the handgun world with chest-thumping intensity, "is not combat!"
Well, thank you for tipping me off to that fact, Enrico Fermi. Here I thought all along that I was training myself for that grim and inevitable mugging by five bowling pins in a sunny, grassy alley some pleasant weekend morn. Glowering at me from their table in plastic-coated malice, they'll stand in a straight line and... well, do whatever it is that criminally-minded bowling pins do, I guess.

Look, I understand what Chuck is trying to say here: IPSC (and even IDPA) are not combat. They are not training. What they are, however, is shooting practice of a kind that you will not get at your local indoor range. Most people will never be able to shoot under time pressure, or from the leather, or on the move, without engaging in some sort of competition. Also, the fundamentals of actually hitting the target don't change whether it's an attacker or an A-zone. You may not be learning any tactics, but you'll sure learn a lot about shooting fast and accurately under pressure.

What most cheeses me off about these articles, however, and where I think trainers like Chuck Taylor are in error by writing them, is that they encourage a certain mindset in the armchair pistol enthusiast, the tactical wannabe who reads internet forums and gun magazines, sprays fifty rounds at a target once a month, and never gets into competition or attends any good formal training. You know the type: You'll be standing around the gun store or shooting club with friends when Marty Mallninja walks up...

Joe Blow: "Hey, Marty! We were just going to go shoot some steel; falling plates for a dollar a rack. Wanna come?"

Marty Mallninja: "No way! That stupid competition stuff just blunts your skills! Sensei Klikklikbhang says so."

Joe Blow: "Uh, we're not going to be blunting any skills, just shooting some falling plates for fun and side bets."


It's doubly funny when Joe is not only a solid club-level IPSC shooter, former NCO in the 75th Regiment, and multiple Thunder Ranch and Gunsite attendee, and you know for a fact that Marty can't hit a barn from the inside with the door closed 'cause you've seen him blazing away on the range without much danger to his B-27.
But competition would "blunt his skills". Right.
Now if you try to tell him otherwise, he's got Chuck Taylor to back him up right there in black and white. Thanks Chuck. The guy who's gonna jump Marty Mallninja tonight thanks you, too.

19 comments:

cjrmultigun said...

If you don't mind my asking, Tam, what particular issue of G&A was this? I feel obliged to actually read the article before mocking it any further.

-CJR

Tam said...

It's the Guns & Ammo Book of Personal Defense, available on your local newsstand 'til 12/23/08 for the princely sum of $7.99.

Jay G said...

This is pretty interesting timing, Tam. I was lamenting just a few short hours ago how I needed to get some training in next year.

Now it looks like I don't have to. Thanks!

(kidding)...

Oldsmoblogger said...

...competition shooting will get you killed. Heck, even thinking about attending an IPSC event could get you grazed, and shooting an NRA Bullseye match is guaranteed to cause a mugging.

So, then, cowboy action shooting gets you...what, maybe rheumatiz' and prickly heat.

North-South Skirmish Association is significantly statistically associated with growing a beard down to your sternum and wearing wool in July.

Robert said...

I've decided deerhunting is the only REAL training!

Ahab said...

But tam, all you have to do is practice your combatfocusedcqbshooting and then you can shoot some guy 17 times in the eye without using your sights! The internets told me so!

og said...

Given a chance to be protected by someone who reads a lot, and someone who shoots a lot, I'll take shoots a lot.

angus lincoln said...

I first started shooting as a kid with my Dad because it was fun. I loved everything about it. Still do. When I became mostly growed up, other aspects of gun ownership came into play such as personal defense. I do my best to train for a moment when I might need to use my gun for self preservation, but I wouldn't be going to the range once a week if it wasn't just plain fun for me. I would welcome the opprotunity to shoot competitively, but my career in food service makes that next to impossible. I vow to someday get my priorities straight.
Perhaps our new president will make a few mortgage payments for me and free me up on the weekends!

Anonymous said...

Thanx! Gotta go by the magazine rack when I make my next commando raid on Kroger's...

Word verification: ablamecz. What they will be calling "The Messiah" in one year when the economy finishes crashing...

Matt G said...

Word up, lady.

I have long preached the goodness of competition to my fellow gun-carriers and cops. Cops are the worst about not going to shoot matches, ESPECIALLY if they're not cop-only matches. I'm amazed by this. (What? Non-sworn range officers can't manage to keep a safe range? At what point in your 2 weeks firearms training component did you get bestowed the jedi status back in academy? Because I missed that day.)

Competition induces a bit of stress on the shooter. Well-designed stages in a competition create a divided attention that requires the shooter to shoot well while considering shooting order and whether or not to shoot the target. This is good practice for your brain. Yes, it's just cardboard, and yes, it's typically just a single plane that you shoot at, generally withing 45 degrees in one direction. But it's better than learning to play Duck-Duck-Goose for the first time int he real world, while trying to find that unfamiliar front sight, after having struggled to get a good grip on your gat.

While I'm very much against "cold" ranges at matches (take too much time, actually increases likelihood of NGs due to considerably more frequent handling), they do have one good thing going for them, which is not insignificant: they increase famililarity of administrative manipulations of one's sidearm. If you're dropping magazines and rounds on the ground while loading and unloading and holstering and unholstering, you're not smooth enough with your pistol. Order of arms is a mandatory skill, which keeps you from having to think about your gun-handling later, and allows you to make the more important decisions, like *who* needs ventilation.

*How* should already have been dealt with before the question ever comes up.

Farmer Frank said...

Tam: Well said.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

staghounds said...

Sometimes competition is combat...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17B54nHCs7I

Wolfwood said...

Why Tam, you know what those no-good, layabout bowling pins do. They strike!

Oldsmoblogger said...

Why Tam, you know what those no-good, layabout bowling pins do. They strike!

Now, be fair...occasionally, they spare.

And once in a while, they just split.

The Captain said...

Pin matches are where I get to take my revenge for all the times they have leaned away from my bowling ball, or spun in place and refused to go down.

Ahab said...

The worst is when you hit the pin poorly, and it flops over into another pin, leaving with you with two shitty shots to make instead of just one.

I haven't been out to pins in a while and I really need to get on that.

roland said...

Tam,
I had a strange experience that convinced me that "IPSC will get you killed, posthaste." My instructor set up an array, told me to speed rock the target at contact range, then back away and left and engage the rest. On the buzzer, I executed a nifty speed rock double tap to the nearest miscreant, started backing away, and dropped the mag. WTF? Let's try this again. Same same...think for a minute, hmm, every time I've left a shooting position in the last four years I've punched the mag release as soon as I was done shooting. Yup, stuff will get you killed. I'm not saying the shooting under stress, trigger time, all that stuff wasn't beneficial, but some of it sure ain't practical. I shoot steel from time to time, but I kinda gave IPSC up for dead in 1997.

cjrmultigun said...

Roland,

To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in the IPSC/USPSA rulebook that requires, or even encourages, reloading while moving out of a shooting position.

The problem seems to be that you let yourself get into a bad habit, rather than in any peculiarity of the game.

Another reason why non-diagnostic/immediate-action training is a horribly bad idea outside certain particular applications. Fights are very dynamic, and programming a fighter to respond automatically to external stimuli is a recipe for disaster.

Billy Sparks said...

Amen, sister.