I’m a firm believer in competition as a training method, anyone who’s read my blog for any amount of time would know that. One of the biggest advantages to shooting competitively as a training method is the fact that you’re shooting under pressure (da-da-da, da-da-da-duh). While the pressure from a buzzer is certainly not as stressful as fighting for your life with a handgun, it does create stress, and learning to manage that stress is a key facet of being sucessful in a gunfight or an IDPA match.
Stress does weird things to the brain, especially when guns are involved. I can speak from personal experience that even under the limited stress of shooting an IDPA match that your brain will do some strange things while you’re looking at the front sight of the pistol. I’ve had entire stages where I hear the buzzer, and I don’t even remember seeing the sights, I just remember a lot of shooting and then “unload and show clear”.
But that stress has taught me a lot, and it’s definitely made me a much better shooter – learning how I react under the stress of a match has allowed me to focus on areas where I clearly need improvement, such as my presentation, which falls apart when I’m on the clock. Oh sure, I can make picture perfect draws every time when I’m practicing, but if you add a teeny little plastic box with a buzzer to the equation, I’m hosed and I completely forget how to grip the pistol. Of course, the easy solution for that is more practice, practice practice.
Ultimately, I recommend that every try competition. Bullseye, IDPA, whatever – learn to shoot under pressure; because competition is a much safer place to learn about your stress response than in an actual gunfight.