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.