Why is it that Internet opinions are so binary? Black or white, right or wrong, my way or the highway – it’s kind of like politics in the real world.
- 45 is the only caliber! Because you only need to shoot once!
- 9mm is fantastic – if you want to shoot balloons.
- Competitive shooting skills will get you killed on the street!
As with anything in life, there is rarely all right or all wrong. I tend to think in terms of better, better still, and even more better. Or on the flip side, I like to consider worse, way worse, and worse than Piers Morgan’s ratings.
Listening to Internet arguments about the merits of competitive shooting, one might think that if you practice competition skills, you’ll instantly burst into flames and self-immolate should you find yourself in a self-defense situation.
A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of Shooting USA with my college-age son and his roommates. We were having a great time – me feeling young, hip and cool, and them looking at their watches every few minutes.
Anyway, this particular Shooting USA episode included coverage of the IDPA Indoor Championships. If you don’t know, IDPA stands for International Defensive Pistol Association. In their words,
“IDPA is the use of practical equipment including full charge service ammunition to solve simulated “real world” self-defense scenarios using practical handguns and holsters that are suitable for self-defense use. The main goal is to test the skill and ability of an individual.”
In other words, it’s a competition structured to partially mimic potential real-life defensive encounters. In the interest of making competitions fun and stimulating, the “real-life” part tends to get a little stretched now and then.
For example, at the IDPA Indoor National Championships, one stage in particular appeared immensely fun, but just a tad outside the bounds of reality. It was an example of duck hunting gone horribly wrong. The shooter is placed in a duck blind, when suddenly a band of terrorists (or maybe hunting thugs intent on duck-jacking) makes their way across the front of your blind in a tactical rowboat. You have a short window of opportunity to deal with them as the entrance and exit of the “battle boat” are obscured with weeds or some form of aquatic plant life. Oh, there’s a hostage in the boat-jacking scenario that you can’t shoot. No word if that’s supposed to represent Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.
Your mission, and you WILL accept it as you’re competing in the IDPA Indoor National Championships, is to take out the Duck Commandos as quickly as you can, without shooting Uncle Si, and before the boatload of doom escapes into the weeds.
Lest you think this sounds easy, the Duck Commandos planned in advance and had sniper over watch. When you start perforating the rowboat, the accomplices pop up all over the place from their hides, and you have to take them out too. You have to reload at least once in the process of filling the room with smoke and that delicious powder smell. Yum! I love the smell of what bad and uninformed novelists call cordite in the morning!
Idpa provides practical shooting skill practice and competition. Constant challenges and just putting more lead down range where accuracy and skill is part of the evaluation process undoubtly makes for a better gun owner than shooting in a sterile indoor range or just packing. Having fun is ok, so some stages should be fun. Idpa is a combination of working and measurable skill testing organized to be fun as well. Like all sports, it is part skill test and part a game. Being a game makes it fun and does not take way the benefit of training.