I also like the bit referring to competition as "Testing". The only way you're really going to get to use skills under pressure and in a measurable environment is competition. In the May '09 issue of SWAT magazine, there was a writeup of a three-day Carbine/Pistol Course from TigerSwan by Victor Wong. In the closing paragraphs of the piece, they had some interesting comments from TigerSwan's head honcho, a former senior NCO in a very high-speed, low-drag unit. According to the writer
"Having shot almost every type of competetive [sic] sport from skeet to bull's-eye to Service Rifle and IPSC, Searcy believes it is impossible to improve without shooting in competition, as you will inevitably plateau if shooting only on a square range by yourself. The stress of being against the clock, against other shooters and having an audience watch you forces you to develop the mental management necessary to execute the correct subconscious weapons handling skills under pressure."When your gun pukes, do you just stand there staring at it like a duck in thunder, or do you reduce the malf without pausing and drive on? (If your gun doesn't puke, you're not shooting enough. Go shoot more.) A ticking clock and heckling onlookers may not be the same thing as a two-way pistol range, but it's a whole lot more stress and pressure than a quiet day at the gravel pit or the public range.