Yesterday I shot in the local IPSC Production division competition. It was fun, got to practice a bit and (allow me to brag a bit) I did end up in first place which is always nice.
I was planning on writing this post before I knew the results though, mostly because I feel that this kind of competition, done right, greatly improves your defensive shooting skills.
A few points I’d like to make:
1)Train as you fight
Practice with the kind of gun you’re likely to carry, which means you’ll most likely compete in Production (meaning common guns with little in the way of mods or custom jobs)
The only customisation my Glock 17 has is Mepro tritium night sight. I did install a ZEV V4 race connector a few weeks ago for 25m precision shooting competition but I got rid of it. It did improve the trigger pull but it also caused a noticeable click before resetting the trigger that was driving me nuts. For IPSC I didn’t see any noticeable improvement anyway and its not allowed as a modification for Production division anyway. For precision shooting at 25 meters the Glock 17 simply isnt the gun for that kind of thing either so there’s not much of a point.
You have to be honest regarding what you are trying to achieve here. If you want to train for defense or if you just want to win competitions, which is your priority. You CAN win with your stock Glock. I did. Other shooters had nicer Sig Sauer x Fives, Tanfoglios. Do these give you an edge for the competition? Maybe, I don’t know. The shooter is the one that matters the most though, and if you are doing it for the training like I ‘m doing, you simply won’t care. Whatever your carry gun is, if permitted in the production division, that’s what you should use. Same goes for holsters, their location, mag carries, even clothes, everything should be as close to what you wear and use on normal basis as possible.
2) Different stages, skills, learning to think
The mindset aspect of how to resolve a stage is also interesting. What sequence is more effective, faster or easier. For example, if you shoot a popper that will bring up another target, then you want to shoot that, shoot another card and only then go back to the new target that popped up so as to save time. Little things like these are mental exercise for your shooting brain. The you get to practice more typical stuff of course like drawing, reloads, shooting with either hand single handed in some cases, going prone, dropping to one knee, shooting around corners. Its fun but you also practice memory muscle that adapts to potential real world scenarios.
Something else IPSC reveals is how good or bad your fitness level is. Sure, some stages have more running, kneeling or other physical requirements than others, but fit people do move faster and cut time, end up with faster and more accurate reflexes as well in general.
4) Working with stress
It may not seem like much but having a small crowd behind you and someone timing you does add a significant amount of stress, especially for new shooters. This stress serves as practice. If a timer stresses you then you don’t want to know what someone shooting at you will do for your nerves. The more you practice, the better you learn to control your stress. Sport and actual fighting aren’t the same thing, but this is just like a boxer going against someone that trained self-defense moves but was never in an actual fight (even one in a ring) Believe me, the guy that stepped into a ring for a few years always beats the one that never set foot in one.
The more you practice and compete, the better you get at shooting accurately and fast.
5) Meeting like-minded people
And of course there’s meeting people with your same interests. There’s usually a number of LEO and military, but then you just have guys (and women of course) from all walks of life with shooting as a common denominator. Shooters are pretty peculiar people in some cases. I at least have a bit of a problem making friends with people I have little in common so I tend to gravitate towards people that like firearms. This social circle can mean not only friends to shoot and hang out with, but also people you can count on when you need them.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”