I believe that competition is an essential element of your training program.
Competition is about testing your will and skill against other competitors. It teaches you to manage your emotions, your thinking, and your weapon. It tests your ability to perform under duress. There is no better way to learn to deal with pressure than by competing and learning to manage pressure and make it work for you.
Competition need not be formal. It can be as simple as two people competing on a drill with the gear they carry. However, when you become the big fish in the small pond, it is time to look for bigger waters.
This is where the arena of more formal competition comes in. On any given day, in any region of the U.S. or the world, there are skilled shooters who are more than happy to test themselves against the “best in the world.” If you don’t know what kind of skill is out there, how do you know how good you really are?
What you can do in a training class is not what you can do in a competition. Jeff Cooper designed the sport of IPSC precisely because he realized how competition improved gunfighting skills. He penned the motto, Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas (accuracy, power, speed) as the operating principles because he recognized that there needed to be a blend of accuracy and speed (with sufficient power) to deliver an incapacitating hit.
Yet, time and time again, many firearms instructors will rail against competitive shooting and expound on how they are superior to competitive shooters when it comes to shooting fast and accurately under pressure. It just isn’t true. They refuse to be tested, refuse to believe they are not what they think they are, and continue to believe that somehow they will win a gunfight because they are “more tactical”.
Do you think that a skilled MMA fighter doesn’t have an advantage over the average person in a street fight? Do you honestly believe that a NASCAR driver can’t outdrive you in a street car? Do you think they are robots who cannot function out of their arena?
Please explain to me how at 3–5 yards, in the open, you are going to be better than a competitive shooter who can move and shoot faster and more accurately than you can, has the will to win, and has performed under the stress of countless hours of competition. Do you honestly believe they are going to “cave” when the moment of truth arrives? Do you think that they cannot react to subject cues and are going to wait for a start buzzer to get into action?
I can give you numerous examples of competitive shooters who have put their skills to the test in real world challenges. Further, I would trust a USPSA or action pistol competitor behind me in any situation because I know their finger won’t be on the trigger with the muzzle pointing in my direction.
Anyone who has competed or watched competitive shooters in USPSA, IPSC, 3 Gun Nation, or other action shooting sports knows just how fast and accurate these shooters can be, both stationary and on the move. Many attend tactical training courses. A lot of them are cops or military with plenty of real world experience.
Competitive shooting, blended with tactical training and tactical thinking, leads to a superior performer who knows just how good he/she is on any given day with the equipment they are carrying. There is no doubt in my mind that a hardcore competitive shooter is one of the toughest people to beat in the world when it comes to a straight-up gunfight.
I can personally attest to the fact that competitive training and competition, along with other training, aided me greatly by providing me with the mental, physical, and emotional control skills to confront deadly force situations in a calm manner and not overreact.
If you want to know how good you are, you need to compete to find out. If you want to be the best you can be, you need to compete to get there.
-Ken Nelson, Co-Founder