Using competition as a training tool


As a CCW holder, I take my responsibility to be prepared very seriously. I’ve spent countless hours and fired thousands of rounds on the range both here in Modesto, Ca and on my private range on our ranch in Bootjack. I am a confident, very good shooter

It wasn’t until I shot my first USPSA match that I realized how woefully unprepared I really was. The adrenaline and nerves turned me into a jellied mess. I completely missed the target with my first two shots out of the holster. My pistol seemed to go off all on it’s own like it was disconnected from my brain. The smooth reloads on the static, no pressure range became very difficult to perform on the move. Basic fundamentals like front sight focus, trigger control and simply breathing evaporated. It was an incredibly eye opening experience. In a real life scenario, the nerves, the adrenaline the fine motor skill degradation would be magnified by a 1000 compared to a practical shooting stage.

Since then, as part of my training, I make sure that I shoot in my local combat pistol league as often as I can and run USPSA matches a couple times a year. I no longer feel the nerves, the draw is smooth and deliberate, my reloading is efficient, problem free and my first round is always in the A zone. If you haven’t tried it, the matches are a blast and full of helpful friendly people. Very addicting, too. As a training tool, they are the closest thing you’ll get to the one thing none of us want to experience, an actual armed confrontation. No matter your skill level, you will walk away a better, more capable armed citizen than when you arrived.

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@Wilfrid, glad to hear the training is paying off! Do you think you’re body will revert to that training in a self-defense incident or will it be so different that the nerves will kick in a different way and still cause issues?

(BTW - Definitely not trying to undercut your training at all! I love the fact that you’ve found a way to master the nerves. I seriously want your insight from what you’ve learned in your competition shooting.)


I don’t think you can ever be truly “ready” for a real world scenario. With that said, I think I’m a bit “more ready” than I was when I was training only in a static setting. Practical shooting builds that muscle memory to fall back on when the stress hits. Range practice is better than no practice, practical course of fire is a physical and mental value added to range practice. As you well know, shooting is a parishable skill. The more you train the better you are.


I’ve thought about getting into those types of competitions for that reason. Locally it’s IDPA. I take advanced pistol classes from time to time, but those are available only so often and can get pricey, which may not be feasible for everyone. I think that once someone gets comfortable with their carry gun and its safe handling, USPSA or IDPA are a great way to advance their proficiency.


They are a blast. You get to shoot in the same flights as the pro/sponsored shooters. You get great tips and learn alot by observing. Entry fees are cheap. You shoot 200-250 rounds. Well worth it.


The club that the IDPA operates out of near me allows non members to shoot in their practices for a fee. I may check it out some day. I just don’t want to wear a stupid vest, haha!

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You’ll get more help and advice than youll know what to do with. Just tell everyone it’s your first. Especially the RSOs. They’ll walk you through it. Pretty cool.

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I would enjoy participating in a competition. It’s just that I thing it would be pricey and take me away from my kids. I’m home dad and am the main go to for my children.

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@Wilfrid, totally agree. As a new shooter when I started IDPA, my learning curve was highly accelerated by being around some very knowledgeable people who were willing to mentor. Now I get to pass that along to others. As for real world scenarios, we shoot some crazy layouts. From cars, vans, fake ATM, even a movie theater mock up. While Inpray I never need it, I do feel more confident having shot quite a few matches. :us: