Competition as Defensive Firearms Training

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Rob Pincus and Ken Murray, author of Training at the Speed of Life and an industry expert on scenario and reality-based training, discuss whether competition shooting can be considered beneficial training for defensive firearms scenarios. Though competition shooting is useful for developing skills, Murray believes the competition aspect changes shooting into a game. Shooters devolve into the rules of the game and move away from the realities of defensive encounters.

Discussion
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9 Responses to “Competition as Defensive Firearms Training”
  1. Patrick

    Well I agree on some level, and though I’ve done some instructing, nothing at these guys’ level… but seriously what would you expect?  “No, competition won’t help, you need to come take my classes.”  As fluid as a dynamic self defense situation is going to be can you ever REALLY train for it?  On the average shooter’s budget?  What competition does is teach shooting under stress.  Stress as great as a life and death fight… not even close, but far closer than standing on a range with perfect footing and a circle target going “bang….. bang….. bang…. ad infinitem”.  Do you need to take time off from competitions to shoot on open ranges practicing combat techniques and un-learning competition stuff?… you bet, but competitions are fairly easy to find, and they are as close to combat shooting as the average shooter is going to get.

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  2. George

    This was by far one of the best and most honest presentations that I have heard. As a defensive shooting instructor myself, I have been preaching this message for years, It is one thing to “be good at the games.” it is very much another matter when reality sets in.  Great job.

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    • opmike

      You still need to be able to shoot, right? All the tactics, training, and rolling around on the ground doesn’t mean shit if you can’t actually make hits on target in a rapid and accurate manner. 

      Too many die hard advocates of “defensive shooting” are simply poor shooters that thumb their nose up at the competition guys that regularly out-shoot them.

      Look at people like Frank Proctor. I don’t think anyone would argue that he doesn’t have the credentials in either the competition side (Grand Master) or defensive shooting side (Special Forces). He’s an advocate of both and participates in both. He doesn’t just sit around drawing up flawed comparisons as he’s able to recognize each has merit and has the sense to combine the two where applicable. 

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  3. Bstabob

    Competition is really no substitute for counter-ambush training. Competition can be fun and get the heart rate up, but it does not take the place of defensive decision making training under stress.

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  4. TacticalNegro

    I would rather take a class from an instructor like Frank Proctor (Army Special Forces and USPSA GM), who knows how to mix elements of both to make someone a better shooter overall. 

    The guys who blabber that “competition gets you killed” bullshit are the same guys who show up at a USPSA match and get their ego’s hurt, shooting like a D class USPSA shooter. 

    Competition may not teach you to take cover and other related things, but for the acts of shooting quickly, efficiently, accurately, transitions, etc, it can’t be beat. Have any USPSA GM run a drill that a typical instructor runs. They will burn that shit down.  

    They are also not apprehensive about demoing the exact drills they teach………….ummm…

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  5. Zach Walker

    It seems like the defensive side is always accusing competition shooters of using the matches and training as a replacement for tactics. Most that I know do not take that view but I am sure there are some that do.

    Without getting into a big argument I will say that my opinion is that a regular competitive shooter is miles ahead of the person that just took a ccw class and self trains out on the range. Of course there are things we do in competition that are not wise in a gunfight. The question is whether or not they would do better than the ccw guy and my answer is yes.

    Gun handling in itself is skill. Presentation, trigger control, sight picture, and several other things are all skills that can be honed with competition shooting. If I didnt work a regular job I could take 4 day and week long classes in my spare time but alas I cannot.

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    • Jeremiah Glosenger

      I agree with you, but would have to qualify it as to exactly what kind of training the “self-trainer” is doing on the range. If they are practicing all the right drills, understand them, and perform them correctly under at least time pressure, I think they will do better than someone who only does competition and just trains for the rules of the game. Whoever works hardest at the best training drills will win if all other things are equal (vision, reflex time, etc.).

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  6. Bsynco

    In my opinion, competition is a a supplement to training, not a substitute. No, competition is not the same as “force on force”, but most of us can’t afford to do a “force on force” training every month. Competition has one benefit besides gun manipulation skills: having 9-10 people watching you shoot is, shall we say, “uncomfortable”. Having that pressure gives you experience is using your gun under simulated stress…without costing an arm and a leg.

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  7. Jeremiah Glosenger

    Before all the competition shooters get all upset, you should watch Rob Pincus demonstrate his Combat Focus shooting principles and the way he explains why he trains the way he trains. As a doctor and a person who has been in a number of critical incidents, I can attest that he knows what he is talking about when it comes to physiologic responses during an encounter and his techniques make perfect sense without being overly dogmatic like many firearms trainers. Competition shooting is fun and a good thing; however, if you are focused too much on winning the game and you are practicing techniques that are designed just to win the game rather than be most effective in realistic scenarios, then during a critical dynamic incident you will have a disadvantage compared to if you had been perfecting drills that are designed for more realistic encounters (i.e. “emergency reloads” for real life versus “tactical reloads” for competition). I struggle with that concept personally, because I like to be competitive and have every edge to win; however, I just don’t want to ingrain my defensive skills around a set of rules rather than more realistic scenarios. You can play the games using more realistic techniques if you focus and keep your determination on practical self-defense and not the lowest time, but it will hurt your time (and maybe bruise your ego); nonetheless, it is great practice. Ultimately I have to decide if I want to maximize my training towards winning a game or towards being maximally effective at protecting life. I love the game, but ultimately I carry and train to protect life as necessary. To each his own.

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Tags: Ken Murray, Rob Pincus, training