Why everyone should shoot competitions

I firmly believe that everyone who carries a pistol for defensive purposes should make a regular habit of getting out to their local club and shooting IDPA/IPSC/Steel Challenge/Bowling Pins/whatever for a multitude of reasons.  Obviously, stress inoculation is one, but honestly the number 1 reason why I feel this is a “good thing” is because it increases familiarity and proficiency with the firearms you’re shooting. Any IDPA stage, for example, will require the shooter to load their gun, put it on safe, holster, draw, engage targets, and then unload the gun. All this is done under the watchful eye of a Range Officer, whose specific job it is to make sure you don’t do something unsafe or stupid. Tam has a post that demonstrates why I think competitive shooting should be mandatory.

Shooting competitively builds up a level of knowledge and proficiency with your carry guns that can’t be found by jus blasting away at the range (it can be taught in gun school, as well – so if you’d rather go to Thunder Ranch or Blackwater, that’s cool too).  You’ve all seen someone like this, a person who handles their firearm as though it’s an extension of their arm.  They chamber check their guns without even thinking about it, and when the RO calls the range cold, they drop their magazines, clear the chamber and lock the slide back all without a moment’s hesitation. In a perfect world, everyone would have these kinds of gun handling skills; because everyone would shoot competition and go to Gunsite to get training.

Ultimately, what I’m saying is that when I’m on the range, don’t point your gun at me. Watch those muzzles, people.

19 thoughts on “Why everyone should shoot competitions”

  1. I agree that everyone SHOULD shoot in competition, but “mandatory?”

    What about my 70 year old mom who doesn’t get around too well any more? Should she be disarmed because she doesn’t feel capable of shooting in competition?

    What about the single mom who works two jobs just to put food on the table and pay the bills? She should be allowed to keep the .38 revolver she inherited from her dad, just because she doesn’t have the time or money to invest in training or competition?

    How is that any different in principle than hoplophobes demanding that no one be able to buy guns? You are, no less than they are, suggesting that your will be imposed upon others by force of law.

    I understand your sentiment about uneducated people and I share it (which is why I have an open offer on my blog to take newbies to the range and teach them…I’ve had two takers in the past three weeks…) but both your post and Tam’s that you linked to smack of snobbery.

    As someone pointed out in comments to Tam’s post: ignorance isn’t a sin.

    Every gun owner started out ignorant and had to be taught basic safety and gun handling. Some of us learn it from our parents, some learn it from friends or acquaintances. Some learn from professionals. No one way to learn is the “right” way and to insist that the right of gun ownership comes attached to a commitment of hundreds if not thousands of dollars in training and/or competitive shooting is nothing less than tyranny.

    If you see someone doing something improperly…especially if you perceive it to be dangerous…a friendly, tactful word to them might go a long way in helping to eliminate the ignorance you so despise.

    All gun rights activists that I know advocate getting new shooters to the range, but then when we see them there, we berate them for not being as knowledgeable or safe as we are? Or insist that our personally approved method of learning be made mandatory for everyone? How counterproductive is that?

  2. Keee-rist, I knew that someone would interpret a rant as me saying that people should be disarmed.

    Look, I don’t think people should be disarmed if they don’t have time to shoot competitions or get training; however I do think that people who aren’t willing to invest even some time in getting training with a defensive weapon should probably look at other measures. If you’re going to own a firearm for defensive purposes, you owe it to yourself and your family to be able to handle your firearm safely and effectively. Bubba’ing around the range with your finger on the trigger is neither of these.

  3. Advocating responsibility != advocating disarmament.

    I took a defensive driving class in high school and think everyone else should as well, but I don’t think it should be mandatory to drive. Having everyone on the road drive defensively will make my driving easier, (not to mention drop my insurance rates), hence, I am advocating it as A Good Thing.

    Ditto with responsible gun safety. Should it be mandatory to learn the Three Rules before buying a gun? No. Will it help make the shooting sports safer if everyone did? Yes. Therefore, should responsible firearms owners encourage the use of the Three Rules (or in this case, competition as safety training) every chance they get? IMO, yes.

    Safe, legal, restriction-free gun ownership is what we’re aiming for here, (no pun intended), and anything that aids that cause is (IMO) worth pursuing.

  4. Look, I don’t think people should be disarmed if they don’t have time to shoot competitions or get training; however I do think that people who aren’t willing to invest even some time in getting training with a defensive weapon should probably look at other measures. If you’re going to own a firearm for defensive purposes, you owe it to yourself and your family to be able to handle your firearm safely and effectively.

    I agree with that completely, that’s why I said that I agree that everyone SHOULD shoot in competition.

    What I took issue with was:

    “…I think competitive shooting should be mandatory.”

    man⋅da⋅to⋅ry
       /ˈmændəˌtɔri, -ˌtoʊri
    adjective, noun, plural -ries.
    –adjective
    1. authoritatively ordered; obligatory; compulsory: It is mandatory that all students take two years of math.
    2. pertaining to, of the nature of, or containing a command.
    3. Law. permitting no option; not to be disregarded or modified: a mandatory clause.

    mandatory. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved March 23, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mandatory

    Words have meaning.

  5. …but both your post and Tam’s that you linked to smack of snobbery.

    If me dodging a gun muzzle pointed at me makes me a snob, then I wear the title proudly.

    I’m not saying that the gummint should take his guns away, but I am saying that he’s free to feel as butthurt as he wants when I leave the range when he shows up.

    And if he’s looking for a sympathetic ear on the jury during the civil liability trial when he enters a plea of “But It Wadn’t Loaded!“, then he ain’t gonna get it from me…

  6. What she said.

    I don’t want to get my head blown off accidentally any more than I want to get it blown off in a legit gunfight – dead is dead, and if I’m a “snob” for wanting to live in a world where people handle their guns safely, then I’ll put that in my damn sidebar.

  7. It’s not the part about avoiding being the recipient of a negligent discharge that “smacks of snobbery”, it’s the derisive tone towards obviously new or less educated shooters.

    In my humble opinion, we should be helping them (assuming that they are open to and accepting of the help), not being condescending toward them…or making our sport of choice “mandatory” to ensure that everyone lives up to our standards.

  8. so i shoot my 3rd IPSC match and i DQd in the first stage by dropping my pistol during a mandatory reload. better there than in a personal defense situation.

  9. Exactly my point Sean – sometimes accidents do happen, and better there at a match under the eyes of an RO.

    Curt, the people we’re referencing are usually not “new” in the sense that you’re thinking. It’s exactly what Tam was talking about – to these people a gun is no different than a 9-iron, it’s a recreational item to them. The problem is negligently handling your 9-iron can’t kill someone. That’s the dichotomy that we often face as gun owners, because we know that a gun isn’t a magic talisman, but at the same time we also know (or should know) and respect that it is a quite lethal instrument.

  10. Granted some people simply don’t take the responsibility seriously enough…but that still doesn’t invalidate my points:

    Perceived shortcomings in others do not justify mandating that they accept our judgment about what they should do to alleviate those shortcomings. Doesn’t mean we can’t suggest those things very strongly; but there is a big difference between “should” and “mandatory”.

    And when people are not taking their responsibilities seriously enough: are they unserious about it because they are stupid and deserving of scorn, or because they are ignorant and deserving of assistance? I submit that it’s pretty hard to tell just by looking.

    Even if they know better and are acting unsafely through negligence or stupidity, is the problem more effectively alleviated by leaving the range, coming home in a huff and blogging dismissively about them? Or by addressing the issues in a civil manner?

    Again, just my opinion so it’s only worth what you paid for it…but it seems to me that being friendly, tactful and helpful have a much better chance at improving the safety and proficiency of the shooting community than heaping scorn on those who don’t live up to our standards.

    Of course, you always run the risk of people refusing to accept constructive criticism with grace.

  11. Sailorcurt,

    In my humble opinion, we should be helping them (assuming that they are open to and accepting of the help), not being condescending toward them…

    I totally agree.

    Part of the problem is when the shooter in question is a silver-haired gent who has been going to the range every other month for forty years and I’m just some chick young enough to be his daughter. When I say something about his trigger finger or muzzle discipline, the air temp at the range falls to the frozen oxygen range. After that happens, my only blood-pressure safety valve is making fun of his ass on teh intarw3bz.

  12. (…and FWIW, you’ll notice that my post started out by poking fun at those of us in SIGTac trousers, 5.11 boots, and Blackwater baseball caps, too. Really, how many trips to Gunsite does it take to make sure that one will be safe parking their minivan in their suburban garage?)

  13. Agree that competitive shooting is an advantage… Mandating it is not… As for somebody sweeping you with a muzzle, preventative action and careful correction works wonders. Just because you are at a range, you cannot assume everyone else is as proficient as you are. I’m always at least condition orange and very aware of whom is where around me.

  14. Yeah, so maybe “mandatory” was a poor choice of words. I’d belabor the point further, but Tam’s said all the stuff I was going to say.

  15. It sounds like we’re pretty much in agreement at root…perhaps it was just the way I was taking it. If so, I apologize for misconstruing your meaning.

  16. Curt, the people we’re referencing are usually not “new” in the sense that you’re thinking. It’s exactly what Tam was talking about – to these people a gun is no different than a 9-iron, it’s a recreational item to them. The problem is negligently handling your 9-iron can’t kill someone

    Gerald Ford would beg to differ if he was still alive.

  17. And then there are those of us who do not see a firearm as a games tool. We go to the range as often as we can afford to (sometimes a little more often) because we want to maintain our proficiency with whatever weapon we are firing that particular trip. My home range does not offer games. They have targets at 7, 15, and 25 yards on the pistol range, and 25, 50, and 100 yards on the rifle range. They have enough range officers to maintain control of the shooters, and occasionally change targets. That’s it. No club, no bowling pins, no bells or whistles, no pop-ups, no fast draw, no games, just circles on paper.
    I practice with my various long guns or handguns for comfort and accuracy so I can be as sure as I can that I will hit what (or who) I aim at. I enjoy reading this blog for the comments about weapons I will never buy (I have 3 pistols, 4 rifles, and 2 shotguns collected over the last 60 plus years, don’t need any more) and I like reading about your competition shooting. It’s just not for me.

  18. Fair enough – I suppose if I were re-writing the post, I would have advocating safety training instead of competition shooting/gun school.

  19. Now that’s one I can agree with 100%. I got my safety classes from my brothers, who got their training from Uncle. Well, not so much the oldest, he was killed in Korea while I was still too young. The other two took me in hand, though, and made sure I had proper respect for them and for the weapons they taught me to use. An older brother can slap you upside the head if you get careless; a range officer can’t do that.

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