Friday, March 05, 2010

If it's just a game, why keep score?

Pistol competition is important. Unless they go to gun school, the local action pistol match is the only chance a lot of people will have to shoot from the holster, or on the move, or at moving targets, or under any kind of competitive or time pressure. Back in, oh, '94 or so, I was peripherally associated with a bunch of folks who had set up their own casual pistol matches. Intended as an alternative to the USPSA scene, which even at that time was increasingly dominated by expensive hardware, these matches were casual affairs oriented towards the kind of pistols most folks actually carried.

Stages were set up so that they could be cleared with a five-shot revolver, if you didn't mind reloading, and the only hard and fast gun rules were "No optics, no porting, no comps." Other than that, you only had to worry about everybody looking askance at your heater and accusing you of being a gamer. There weren't any "classes", nor any prizes, and while score was kept in a desultory fashion, everybody knew who the best handful of shooters were, and most folks were out to have fun rather than to "win".

Coincidentally, about that time, there was another group of shooters that wanted a more practical, CCW-oriented alternative to USPSA. Only they ruined it all with "classes" and "prizes" and vague, shadowy rulings. "No silly gamer stuff" only works as a rule when you have fifteen or twenty people who all know each other in real life and are pretty much on the same page regarding what does and doesn't qualify as "silly gamer stuff". That's a lot harder to do with a national organization, especially once there are prizes involved. Prizes lead to rulebooks, rulebooks lead to rules lawyers, and you wind up discouraging people from getting out there and getting involved.

31 comments:

Papa Whiskey said...

All good points but I do believe it's against IDPA rules to award prizes based on match ranking. I think, when there are prizes, they're awarded like a raffle. Am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

I agree. I do shoot IDPA a couple time a month because I get to move and shoot while drawing from a holster. I could care less about "winning" because I'm only competing with myself. Did I shoot that stage as well as I could have?
What do I need to work on to be a better shot? To be smoother or more efficent?

I think the range lawyers come out more USPSA than IDPA to argue the minutia but that maybe my limited experiance with USPSA.

A Polite Society match is a hoot and I have enjoyed them the most when I have had a chance to shoot them.

The local IDPA clubs are great at encourging new shooters so I do have to give them a lot of credit for that.

Gerry

Caleb said...

Anon, IDPA awards trophies/plaques for match wins and victories. Cash prizes, guns, and that sort of thing are awarded via raffle.

There is plenty of competition for that plaque though - people like to win regardless!

Tam said...

...and therein lies the problem.

Before IDPA existed, there was a perfectly serviceable action pistol sport for people who like to win.

jeff said...

I've been shooting with the local guys at ACTS for this reason. Most of the rules that exist are for safety and scoring reasons, so you see folks all tacticooled out with thigh holsters and molle gear, and guys wearing an IWB holster and a grab bag on a sling. Basically run what ya brung, as long as it isn't unsafe and see what works.

Cemetery's Gun Blob said...

I shoot for my own personal enjoyment, besides, the person who leaves with a new car, showed up in one.

Just my $.02

Caleb said...

Tam, what's the fun in playing if you're not playing to win?

:D

Michael Bane said...

Gosh golly, Tam...one of the few times I disagree wholeheartedly with you!

I have seen proven again and again that competition drive competence. Competition pressure may be false pressure, but it is pressure nonetheless. Even artificial stress apparently "inoculates" the participant against greater Real World stress. Interestingly enough, in simulations there is a demonstrable difference in gun-handling competence between shooters who practice/compete informally and shooters engaged in organized competition.

Regular competitors also seem more resistant to "task-loading," a primary cause of "brain shutdown." I suspect that's because successful competitors have to learn to apply the pareto principle to themselves and focus on the necessary actions.

Besides, competition is fun...none of us do this because it sucks...

Michael B
IDPA00009

Earl said...

Lost my original comment so-

Winning when playing is okay until you turn into Tanya Harding, someone forgot the 'playing'. Winning in combat isn't playing, practice for combat is a very good idea.

Having a good time perfecting good solid shooting skills doesn't take a rule book, safety might, foolish competition always does.

George said...

I dunno. It's been my experience that the only thing winners (at the very pinnacle of their sport/game/trial) can claim is that they're good at that competition as staged.

Lawyers are really good at passing bar exams; that's all! No one would claim that downhill skiers would be superior at skiing out of a plane crash in the high Arctic.

The more complicated and intricate a competition becomes, the more it is 'gamed'. That's only to be expected. Competition can provide you with an opportunity to learn how to deal with pressure ... but only competition type pressure.

You all know I only shoot revolvers but then I started out only with the intention of learning to defend myself and family. Real life is enough of a game for me. Surviving there doesn't require tricked out anything.

Regards.

Lewis said...

Michael Bane:

Didn't the Stake-Out Squad under Cirillo like to recruit competitive shooters for just the reason you mentioned?

And in general . . .

People will always try and game competitions. Not everyone, but a not insignificant number. Then the question becomes: are you playing their game, or are you playing your game?

If your game is, as I understand IDPA's stated purpose to be, the practice of realistic defensive handgunnery, you can play your game ("the realistic practice of defensive handgunnery") and let them play their game ("win win win!").

The father-in-law of a friend still occasionally shoots IDPA matches with a 4" 25-2 I sold him, shooting 230 grain SWCs. He generally wins revolver class, because he's generally the only guy shooting a revolver.

He doesn't shoot in revolver class to win, he shoots in revolver class because he likes sixguns.

He doesn't shoot a moon-clipped, short case round to win, he shoots a moon-clipped, short case round because he thinks (LIKE ALL DECENT AMERICANS!) that the .45 ACP is the cat's molasses.

If someone was to show up with a lawyerly sixgun, it wouldn't bother him a bit, because while he likes to win, he's mostly only competing against himself.

(Note for clarification: when he shoots with his Combat Commander, he's still mostly only competing against himself.)

Boat Guy said...

I've dabbled in both and agree that competition can bring some stress into play, which is good. I was annoyed when USPSA said my 5" 625 (which I was carrying with some regularity) which IS the "cat's molasses" was now somehow "wrong".I privately looked down upon the folks with the race guns/rigs at IDPA ("Why would I reload while running? Why would I dump a partially full operational magazine - while running?")but got some good out of the matches (though I certainly didn't "place"). Still, the best "force on force" training was with simunitions which are expensive and still require some artificiality (unless of course one always wears a paintball helmet on the street). The sim training taught me that even though you might win (I usually did) it still sucks to be in a gunfight. The one that particularly taught me was one where I put four rounds into the bad guy and got hit in the thumb of my gun hand. Yes, I'd still be alive today but I'd be short a thumb - better than the alternative but well into the "sucks" column.

Jason said...

I pretty much compete against myself in various USPSA divisions. I don't think there's anyone else quite as slow-shooting or as unwilling to tune their 1911 beyond a brighter sight and a left-hand safety...

Anonymous said...

"If it's a game why keep score?"

Don't you keep score in all games?

If it's practice I would agree.

Gerry

mariner said...

"I privately looked down upon the folks with the race guns/rigs at IDPA ('Why would I reload while running? Why would I dump a partially full operational magazine - while running?')"

For lurkers, none of this happens in IDPA matches -- those are things allowed in USPSA (IPSC) matches.

In fact, IDPA was created as a reaction to those very things.

But Tam's point that rules inevitably beget gaming and lawyering is a good one.

Tam said...

Michael Bane,

"Gosh golly, Tam...one of the few times I disagree wholeheartedly with you!

I have seen proven again and again that competition drive competence.
"

But I agree that competition is important! That was the opening two sentences of this post!

However, when somebody has to show up at the "International Defensive Pistol Association" and remove their G23C in its Uncle Mike's paddle holster that they CCW every day because it doesn't fit the special gemer rules rules, then something's wrong.

Despite trying hard to be a rebellious kid, IDPA has married someone just like mother, so to speak.

Divemedic said...

One of the things that took the joy out of shooting in competition for me was the group of people I refer to as the "rules committee."

You know the type- the guys who sit there with the rulebook in their hands and constantly point out to everyone what this rule means or what that rule means.

They are usually accompanied by the guys who think it is their duty to give you unsolicited advice about your shooting style, choice of firearm, and any other gun related topic they can come up with.

atlharp said...

"Before IDPA existed, there was a perfectly serviceable action pistol sport for people who like to win."



Yes, but that sport became more about the equipment race and pure time than accuracy in general. IDPA is the chess to USPSA's Checkers. Both games have merit.

"However, when somebody has to show up at the "International Defensive Pistol Association" and remove their G23C in its Uncle Mike's paddle holster that they CCW every day because it doesn't fit the special gemer rules rules, then something's wrong."



No, there isn't. That's the rules of the game. A line must be drawn somewhere when it comes to modded guns, and I will say that IDPA does a good job with it. Is it perfect? No, but it is necessary to level out the playing field. I like shooting both sports, but to piss and moan because someone can't shoot their ported Glock is stupid. The rules are in place for a reason: To give a level playing field for the sport. The sport doesn't exist for an individual but for the whole. There is nothing wrong with restricting certain weapons. You may agree or disagree with that, but in reality it doesn't matter. The sport exists, and has rules for a reason.

Tam, have you shot an IDPA match? If you have. Did you have fun? If you haven't, then why not? I ask this not to confrontational, but to see if you have experienced it firsthand. Thanks- Andrew

jeff said...

If it's all about the sport, then maybe the name should be The International SPORT Pistol Association? That way no one gets confused

Tam said...

The other thing I hate about the whole IDPA/IPSC thing are the loyal partisans of either game who, if you critique their chosen venue, assume that you're a cheerleader for "the other side".

FWIW, I am currently an active participant in neither; if I did start playing one right now, it would obviously be IDPA, since my CCW gun was practically built with CDP class in mind.

RevolverRob said...

I have to agree with Tam. The thing that has turned me off of IDPA, is the local matches. These guys are TOO serious about WINNING, I'm shooting to hone skills and be better with my pistol, to understand scenarios, to get better sight pictures, to practice my draw.

They play the pissing match game and I personally don't play the, "my stream is bigger" game, I don't care. I went to an IDPA match, showed up with my 4" Ruger GP100 (not full lug), some speed loaders and my holster. I was DQ'ed from the match, because I didn't run a speed loader pouch setup, but instead used them like I would carry them (in my pockets!). I didn't care so much about the score, but the arseholes who were involved kept telling me I was "wrong". That was really enough, how could it be wrong if I USE and TRAIN that method of carry and do it successfully?

And that's the thing with GAMES, they encourage technique or require techniques that don't reflect reality and I think it's no good.

atlharp said...

@Revolver Bob-

I think alot of people have a tendency to be too serious about these things. At the end of the day IDPA is just a game. Seriously, if you are showing up at a match wearing a Jersey with sponsor patches all over it, you asking for some snarkiness. I for the life of me could not see anyone getting DQ'ed at any club of mine for having their reloads in their pockets. It sounds like you were at a club full of assholes. Hit another club up. IDPA is fun, and there is nothing in the rule book that provides grounds for DQing you.

atlharp said...

The other thing I hate about the whole IDPA/IPSC thing are the loyal partisans of either game who, if you critique their chosen venue, assume that you're a cheerleader for "the other side".

FWIW, I am currently an active participant in neither; if I did start playing one right now, it would obviously be IDPA, since my CCW gun was practically built with CDP class in mind.



Tam,

I agree with you on that. I have shot both sports and find them both fun. I have also shot both and run across the denizens who seriously have no sense of humor. Regardless, I find that both sports are what you make of them. I am not a cheerleader for one or the other. I think they each answer a want in the shooting community. The nice thing is lately I have been shooting with a lot of newer shooters.

Tam, I would encourage you to give IDPA a try.(since you have pointed that you would prefer it). Just do what I do: Show up, have fun shooting, and laugh at the dudes who dress up like Lance Armstrong to shoot a pistol. Who knows, you might actually have a good time!
;-)

Andrew

Sendarius said...

I have a couple of points to make, neither of which seems to have been raised:

Who started and runs IDPA?

Who started and runs IPSC/USPSA?

From what I can tell, IDPA only made an appearance when Bill Wilson wanted/needed a new market for his firms' products, and the rule book would seem to reflect that.

IPSC (with which USPSA is affiliated) was started by a group of like-minded individuals.

This difference in origin is even reflected in the URLs: www.idpa.COM vs www.ipsc.ORG

From my perspective, I don't give a toss, but I think it is worth bearing in mind when assessing the merits/shortcomings of each:

IPSC went the way it has because that is what the members wanted (or were too busy shooting to be bothered with), while IDPA is what it is because that is what is good for the businesses of each of the Board of Directors.

Interestingly, I can find no mention of the management structure of IDPA on their web-site.

RC said...

Maybe someone needs to set up an "NSDPA" - National Stock Defensive Pistol Association.

Define "stock" as "no gamer mods" and put the kibosh on prizes for winning and you're good to go.

Just don't let it succumb to the NASCAR silliness where every platform is almost exactly the same except for badging and you spend all day going around in circles.

Beaumont said...

Divemedic gave me an idea. To increase interest & participation in either sport, let's try this rule: when a range troll comes up to you with unsolicited advice, you get to shoot him. Only to wound, mind you.

wv: binkyro. The goo that welds the pacifier to any flat surface once Junior spits it out.

Mud Man said...

I did the IDPA thing for almost a year. It was fun and everyone benefited from the experience of shooting stock guns in the manner that we carried them for CCW self defense. 

The problems starred when the race/comp gun, mall ninja rules crowd joined in. It went from an informal group that really had basic rules;  Shoot what you carry and a carry gun had to be "practical", and in "stock" configuration. 

Well. In marched the mall ninja, reserve PD super cop who managed to become the event coordinator. He was the one who pinched it off in the punch bowl for me. The SD scenarios started to get way out there for the normal CCW person. The day I walked out, the reason was this SD set up. Per mall ninja:  You are coming home from the store. As you pull into your driveway, you observe 6 individuals entering and leaving your house carrying/stealing your stuff. Our course of fire today will teach you how to engage this situation. Any Questions?  I raised my hand. Stood ans said:  "The answer to that situation is simple. Throw the damn truck in reverse and shag ass down the road while calling the popo. Only an idiot wants to take on 1 armed man, much less 6, unless he has no other options.". I, and about half the class quit. 2'months later our area had no IDPA group. 

I agree with Tam. Once you start getting away from the founding intent, it's down hill. 

Caleb said...

Calling USPSA an equipment race is living in the 90s. Before I continue, I shoot all the shooting sports from USPSA to IDPA, Steel Challenge, etc. I'm not cheerleading anyone. But I hear this "equipment race" nonsense a lot.

The most popular division in USPSA right now is Production Division. As in "production guns". The most popular gun in production division is the Glock 34. A 5 inch 9mm isn't exactly a gamer gun. The second most popular division is limited, which is where people point fingers and say "equipment race". You know what gun won the Ladies' limited title two years in a row? A glock 24. Even Limited-10, which allows all the same "gamer" gear as Limited but limits shooters to 10 round magazines has been won the last two years by guys running Glock 35s that were stock except for the sights and trigger.

Aside from revolver division, Open gets the fewest participants, and yet when people say "it's an equipment race" they always seem to have open in mind. USPSA/IPSC is a test of shooting skills, just like every other shooting sport. If you don't want to play the equipment race, don't! Shoot your Glock in Production and be happy. Shoot you 1911 and be happy. Most importantly, SHOOT.

atlharp said...

@caleb- I agree with you on that and I think that we have IDPA to thank for the surge in interest in Production. I am not denigrating any of the shooting sports at all. I think they all answer a specific need in the community. I enjoy shooting all of them as well. I have stopped shooting USPSA due to the high round count, but if I had the $$$ I would go back to shooting it. I am fortunate in that where I live there is a match going on every weekend. Congrats on running Tam through the Classifier! I am sure she will enjoy stage 3 the most. ;-)

ToddG said...

IDPA has changed into exactly what the vocal, active match-runnnig minority wanted it to become... Just like USPSA.

Even back when the draft version of the IDPA rulebook landed in some of our laps for review and comment, it was clear the game wouldn't be all things to all people. I still remember talking to Ken Hackathorn about it. He properly predicted that IDPA would do to the so-called tactical reload what IPSC did to the speed reload... create a legion of shooters who believed it was the One True Way. And sure enough, he was right. There was a period of time in IDPA when you couldn't load and make ready without an SO telling you that your technique was inadequately tactical.

Back then, no one ever thought IDPA would have more than a couple thousand members. Rules would be easy to control because it was just a bunch of like-minded guys, ya know? Hell, the first national IDPA championship was won by Rob Haught using the incredibly uncompetitive S&W Shorty Forty.

But as IDPA grew in popularity and recognition, so did its champions. Who cares if you get a free gun for winning a match? Getting paid five figures a year to be the sponsored spokesmodel for a manufacturer is incredibly lucrative. And it's the winners, not the guys who sound most tactical or show up with their carry gear, who win the championships and win the sponsorships.

IDPA is a game. Ten years ago, some folks considered those fighting words but now everyone understands. Score, winners, rules, prizes... game. And the ones who treat it like a game are the ones who participate the most (and at the highest levels), and in turn they're the ones who have the most influence on rules.

I've been to about half a dozen IDPA Nationals. Every time, I shot my everyday carry gun out of my everyday carry holster using my everyday carry ammo. At my first Nationals in '00 that wasn't uncommon. By my last trip in '07 it was as unusual as it would have been at USPSA Nationals.

And now I carry AIWB, so IDPA is dead to me. 8)

Geodkyt said...

You just need to make sure that "no gamer mods" doesn't turn into "I don't like it, so it's 'gamer'."

Today's gamer mod is tomorrow's production carry piece.

Competition that is a reasonable analogy to a Real World employment can rapidly drive equipment and tactial evolution. . . provided the competition rules don't actively stifle it. Seperate the modified stuff into it's own category if you like. Handicap some items by forcing them into a category where the other guns have some inherent advantage.

Just don't ban stuff people actually use on the street because it doesn't fit your concept of what is or is not "gamer".

RC said...
Maybe someone needs to set up an "NSDPA" - National Stock Defensive Pistol Association.

Define "stock" as "no gamer mods" and put the kibosh on prizes for winning and you're good to go.

Just don't let it succumb to the NASCAR silliness where every platform is almost exactly the same except for badging and you spend all day going around in circles.