Train as You Carry… Leave the competition and tactical gear behind
Many of our students shoot or want to shoot competitively or casually in some sort of pistol discipline. It can be a great way to get rounds down range under stress (timer). Regarding shotgun, many shoot trap or related clay sports either competitively or casually also. We do point out to these students that there is a very large difference between the shooting sports and defensive shooting, particularly when drawing from a concealed location.
Mindset is the first consideration. Yes, running against a clock with an RSO breathing over your shoulder is stressful. What is more stressful is being out in the open with no cover while a bad guy is shooting at you or a knife wielding psycho is 7 seven yards and closing. In competition, the participant gets to see the stage and walk through it with their finger gun. One typically doesn’t have that luxury in the real world. In trap, the shooter is loaded, gun mounted, and safety off before yelling pull. In the real world, the shooter just woke up, the room is dark, safety is on, and a round may or may not be in the chamber. Think one of those scenarios is more stressful?
We are not insinuating that the shooting sports should not be enjoyed or that they are not challenging. What we are saying is that if you are serious about defensive shooting, the sports need to be taken in context. A literal “switch” needs to be thrown prior to sport shooting. The shooter should remind himself that this is for fun and it has no correlation between the day’s activities and how the shooter trains for life or death scenarios. Remember that you will lose some of your ability to visualize “reality”. You’ll be sucked into the round or match and it will be all that matters to you for a while. You’ll be told when it’s your turn, how many shots to fire at each target, and in what order. In the real world, you will need to judge for yourself who gets what where and how may times. Two shots often won’t do it. There is no bonus for headshots in the real world. You may, however, get to live another day.
In our level one classes, I encourage students to wear OWB holsters and have plenty of mags and ammo on them. It is much safer when learning the draw. Many of our shotgun and rifle students will wear chest rigs and be loaded up with a luxurious amount of full mags. The reality is that if your guns are needed in a life or death scenario, the likelihood of you having this gear is slim. Your pistol may be a subcompact, IWB. Hopefully, you’ve listened to us and have a least one spare mag on you. However, in close contact distance, you may not have time for a reload or be able to execute one unless you’ve trained for it!
We encourage our intermediate and advanced students to come class with their real life carry gun and wear street clothes. Drawing from concealment and wearing jeans is much more realistic than sporting a drop leg, tight fitting shirt, and “shoot-me-first” pants. Take classes and train personally for reality. Know that it is not a game. For example, unless you carry extended mags on you daily, leave them at home. Remember that reloading behind good cover is tactically sound versus reloading on the run to the next station. Remember that smooth is fast and it doesn’t matter what your time is when in a gun fight. What matters is that you are still standing as the good guy.
So if you shoot in matches or at the trap line, enjoy. Have fun. But if you are serious about self-protection, delicate a much larger percentage of your practice time to it. Perfect practice makes perfect. Under the stress of a crisis scenario, you do not want to resort to your most practiced techniques if they are not advantageous to saving your life or the life of someone you love.