It’s not every day I can head out and get into a gunfight to vet my self-defense shooting skills (nor would I want to). About the closest opportunity I have is competing in shooting matches. Think about it the following way.
In a gunfight, the enemy is a person – someone you believe is going to cause bodily harm to you or a loved one or a friend. During competition, time is the enemy. The match director sets a time to complete each stage.
The bad guy plans when, where and how the gunfight happens. At a competition, the match director sets the criteria through various stagings. I then need to think about how to move through the obstacles and shoot at the right targets.
Sure, at a match I don’t have someone shooting back at me and it’s not a life and death situation; however, by thinking about a match with this mindset, I make it more than just a shooting competition. It becomes real life training.
During competition, all the fundamentals of shooting: sight picture, trigger press and grip, come into play. To a hit target, I need to know how to line up the sights and make the correct sight picture – quickly. With small and distant targets, I better know how press the trigger without disturbing my sights. Fast, multiple shots on the same target require a proper grip.
Most stages at a match involve numerous shots, engaging various targets and working around or using barricades. Sometimes the match director includes “no shoot” targets. Think about these as innocent people or hostages in a gunfight. You don’t want to shoot them. Also, magazine changes come into play when a stage involves multiple rounds. I need to know how to do the exchange smoothly and usually on the move. And with all those rounds, malfunctions can happen. In order to move on, I better clear them.
When the match director includes barricades, I shoot and move around them or use them for support. In the real world, I might have a car to shoot under, piece of furniture to hide behind or a door to move around. Heck, if I have to make a precision shot in a mall with my pistol, I might use a railing for support or a table in the food court.
When the you-fill-in-the-blank-here hits the fan in a gunfight and the situation goes dynamic, I better know how to move and shoot. During a stage, I may have to shoot a target multiple times while on the move, or even multiple targets while moving. Depending on the type of match – especially if it takes place on natural terrain – I move over rocks, hills and around trees. I can’t go into a contrived stance. My feet may end up together, one on a rock or even in a wide stance to engage a target through a port in a barricade. Hmmmm … similar to moving through a building with furniture, toys on the ground and doorways. Makes you rethink wearing cheap flip-flops, doesn’t it?
After a match I review the following points:
On the other hand, if I do things correctly, here’s what I can take away from the experience:
After a match, I run through these pictures in my mind – reloads, uses of support and malfunctions. In fact, sometimes I ask my husband or a friend to record me so I can watch my actions and assess.
So, if you carry for self-defense, the next time you head to a match, take these points into consideration. Make competition a way to vet your shooting skills.
Find more article on competition shooting here.
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