Of Skills Drills and Negligent Discharges

20130105-204706.jpgDon’t worry, the negligent discharge wasn’t mine…but it brought home a lesson I had underscored at the range today.

As those who follow my page on Facebook know, I shot the IDPA Classifier today for the first time. (Side note: If you aren’t following me on Facebook, I invite you to join the discussion there; I share lots of stuff that isn’t large enough to warrant its own blog post.) For those who don’t do IDPA, the Classifier is a standardized 90-round course of fire that tests many of the common skills needed to compete in IDPA: drawing and re-holstering, shooting on the move, shooting from behind cover, and reloading your firearm quickly. Whether IDPA skills translate to real-world lethal force defensive encounters is a subject of perennial debate, but in my view of things, anything that makes you more accurate and confident in your gun handling skills is a good thing.

In any event, I had a great time, and came home from the range with a bunch of lessons, both good and bad, bouncing around in my head.

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IDPA: Gaming vs. Training

As I mentioned yesterday, I noticed some definite differences at my first IDPA match between those people who were shooting it as a sport/competition vs. those who were shooting primarily for defensive firearms practice/training. I’ve been thinking about this topic anyway since Bob Mayne‘s excellent Handgun World podcast recently in which he and Ben Branam discussed this issue in the context of the Aurora shooting.

In my view, IDPA can be just a fun game you get to play out on the range, or it can be a supplement (though not a replacement; more on that in a moment) to your defensive firearms training regimen. If you’re going to treat IDPA as training, though, you’re going to make some different decisions than if you’re playing as a game. Here are some of the things I think make IDPA better training:
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Thoughts on My First IDPA Match

Well, I did it – I shot my first IDPA match today! Thanks to Match Director Joe L. and all the Safety Officers who made it possible (and put up with more than a few newbie mistakes from me). A special shout-out and sincere thanks to Julie Golob, whose encouragement got me through that moment of panic when I looked at the stage diagrams and thought to myself “what the &#!* have I gotten myself into?!?”

For the curious and intrepid, here’s some video – we shot six stages, but I only was able to get video for four of them:

Let me say, first of all, that IDPA is an absolute blast! You get to exercise skills – drawing from a holster, shooting while moving, shooting from cover – that rarely get exercised at a regular range. You also get the adrenaline rush that comes from shooting under pressure (in this case, time pressure), which is a good thing to know how to deal with. In a self-defense situation, you can bet the adrenaline will be pumping, so knowing how to shoot through that is an important survival skill. (In fact, after my first stage today, I was so buzzed/shaky from the adrenaline surge that I dropped four cartridges while trying to reload.)

A few thoughts about the experience and lessons learned:
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Book Review: SHOOT, by Julie Golob

Whether you enjoy shooting rifles, pistols, or shotguns, or even other weapons like black-powder muskets, chances are there’s a competitive shooting event for you. And, chances are that you can find it within the pages of SHOOT, the new book by professional shooter and Team Smith & Wesson captain Julie Golob.

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