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Keeping Score

Tam on competition:

Prizes lead to rulebooks, rulebooks lead to rules lawyers, and you wind up discouraging people from getting out there and getting involved.

One of the local ranges does IDPA. I think I’m gonna show up one day.

10 Responses to “Keeping Score”

  1. Caleb Says:

    You really should. DMy complaint with IDPA right now is that they’re making major matches unfriendly to new shooters with all this shadow rules nonsense. A local club level match won’t have this problem.

  2. WPZ Says:

    As someone who puts on USPSA, steel, and IDPA matches, I can say that while I usually suggest new competitors try steel first, in many places IDPA is probably the best “intro” discipline available.
    The IDPA rules are well-intentioned but often dense and open to multiple interpretations. There are some overlapping rules, too, making situations possible where both sides can be right.
    Still, when we get newbies on the range we just tell them to ignore the finer point stuff, ignore the procedurals (“What, you’re expecting a trophy?”) and get the feel for timed competition. Removing the procedural stress can bring the whole event down to a manageable level.
    But I say this to almost any shooter, even professionals: if you want to improve your gunhandling and gunhandling skills and discipline, you should shoot one of these kinds of matches.
    Even veterans who’ve never tried cardboard sports learn that the scrutiny and discipline of the USPSA-based rulebook is an enormous benefit.
    I’m not one for imposing rules on every human behavior, but if I had to pick out a specification for a carry permit, I’d probably insist on the applicant completing one full action-pistol match. The range officers will impose a memorable (in a good way) mindset about muzzle, finger, and holster structure you won’t get in a classroom.
    The shooting stuff is good, too.

  3. Caleb Says:

    Sometimes, in between rules lawyering and crying about other rules lawyers, we actually remember to have fun!

  4. Rivrdog Says:

    According to my local contact on this type of thing, Jerry the Geek, the local IPSC scene is pretty much taken over by the Rulz Lawyers.

    Meh. Yes, the action pistol stuff lets you shoot from your holster, from behind cover, etc, but when you have to worry about foot faults, about the arc described by your draw, and all that rot, who needs it?

    WPZ, I challenge you to tell me why or how arc of draw and foot faults are going to extend my life in a firefight. In said combat situations, you fight to survive, and surviving means not getting hit, and putting effective fire on your enemy, nothing more than that. Anything else you practice to stay within the Rulz of your action-pistol sport will likely take away from your combat effectiveness, not enhance it.

    I’m giving some instruction this weekend, out on private land it will take me a two-hour drive to get to. You bet that I will teach move and shoot, scan and engage, target hit but not down, speed reloading while moving, all that vital tactical stuff.

    I might even treat myself to a combat scenario with my M-14….

  5. WPZ Says:

    Well, since you asked…
    You should note that I never mentioned improving combat efficiency, not for newbies and not for masters and pros.
    What I pointed to was gunhandling.
    I officiate a lot at all kinds of matches, and put on a lot of them, too, and I’d have to say I’ve never been accused of being a “rulz lawyer” or anything of the sort, so I’d ask a bit of slack, there.
    Here’s what I know from running many hundreds of shooters through this varied match situations: shooters who haven’t been through serious, organized competition that works with a structure descended from the IPSC rulebook are much, much more likely to be deficient as gun handlers. Not always, just much more likely. That’s not an Internet thing; that’s from actually being on the range with literally hundreds and hundreds of shooters in thousands of runs.
    Gun handling starts with the four rules but really comes down to three things: muzzle discipline, finger discipline, and establishing a safe condition and location for ALL of the parts of the shooting situation.
    We have police competitions, too, and I’ve run hundreds of police officers in match stages and can tell you, ISPC-type range officers frequently dread having LEOs on the firing line, even veterans, even specially-trained ones. Without dissing law-enforcement training, since one of my very best friends is both LEO and a high-level, thousand-buck-a-day LEO weapons trainer, the gunhandling we see is disorganized and inconsistent.
    “Inconsistent” is the key. Good mechanical practices come from a foundation of consistency, which leads to reliability.
    Fitting into the IPSC-plan rulebook builds a consistency of gunhandling skills better than anything else I’ve seen in 40 years of lead-slinging.
    I’ll put it the other way around: I used to think I was a damn fine gunner until the first time I attended an IPSC-derived match, a poky little IDPA match in a cornfield. I was humiliated to see that my skills as a tool operator were simply inadequate bordering on awful. And I’ve seen just as bad out of veteran, highly-trained SWAT guys.
    There’s more to guns that simply getting bullets into targets. Dealing with guns and even simply, being armed, is a whole lot wider world.
    Among people who carry in public, these skills are not window-dressing or a social grace- they’re vital.
    A half-dozen USPSA or IDPA matches at a good club will do more to establish and solidify those skills than anything else I’ve seen. A large part of that is simply repetition, running through stage after stage following exactly the same, well-defined regimen.
    There’s always a lot of discussion about these games and their value as training devices in a tactical sense. They do indeed have a lot of value, but not necessarily as tactics. The motor skills of moving, shooting fast, and reloading are reinforced well by competing, but the biggest value of all is pressure.
    Shooting in a match includes pressure and stress, be it self-contained, social, or whatever.
    I submit there’s no better way for the vast majority of shooters to get pressure while shooting fast and performing other tasks simultaneously. Few of us can afford professional training and the refresher training needed to keep current on skill level.
    Ten or fifteen bucks a week and a box of ammunition is a cheap and good substitute for Farnam-like schooling, and may well be the best 95% of shooters could ever hope for.
    With the inclusion of the rigid gunhandling skills cited above, the games have great value.
    Shooters who take it further for tactical and fighting value and get specific training do better; for millions, an IDPA match is still a vast improvement in discipline and organized thinking over heading out in the back 40.
    Adapting to circumstances, even if they are goofy-seeming procedural rules, is part of thinking while shooting, too. Maybe IDPA’s reload-with-retention is something you’d never do in real life, but being able to still think, remember, and consider multiple elements while shooting is of enormous benefit.
    You can still do an IDPA match and shoot the procedure as you see fit, ignoring the procedural penalties. You’re welcome to do it, and just ignore the scoring.
    All of the other value is still there. And it’s still under the pressure of the timer, which many of us have trouble with enough as it is; as a stepping-stone to handling the vastly-greater pressure of a fight, it’s the best most of us can ever get.
    Now, one final point about rule structures. We all chafe at rules and restrictions. So do I. When it comes to shooting match procedures, if you don’t like the procedure- foot fault, slide lock reload, whatever- it’s just a game. You should try to get over it and move on. It won’t really harm a shooter to go along with something like that for a couple of hours.
    When it comes to safety issues, well, we have no idea who’s coming down the driveway and so, out of necessity, usually have to go with lowest common denominator. A 180 rule or no sweeping rule might not fit into real-life fighting, but for a game on a Sunday morning, this is but a minor inconvenience and ought not to be a big mental blockade.
    Meanwhile, I stand by my suggestion that for people who go armed in public, developing responsible gunhandling habits is a must, and attending local matches and accepting the regimen therein will do the great majority of shooters a world of good.
    I’ve run a lot of people through- I’ve received plenty of thank-yous for my gunhandling coaching, and never had a kickback about it.
    Folks know, it’s important.
    Hope this helps.

    My apologies to Mr. Uncle for the bandwidth burn.

  6. Rivrdog Says:

    I maintain that the current way the rulz work makes action pistol “sorta” good training. Yes, if you’ve never done a lick of tactical training, going through such indoctrination WILL help you out, up to a point.

    When I train a newbie to handle their CC firearm, I train to the tactical situation from the first range lesson. From day one, you do tactical reloads. From day one, you scan your front 180 every time you stop shooting. The third lesson teaches shooting ON the move (while moving to cover or moving to slice the pie and get a better shot at the target.

    Rules? Yeah, I’ve got rules. ALL the rules when the range is cold, but when it goes hot, we’re down to the Big Four, no more. When I have a student learning tactical handgun, no one else is on the line. All other shooters become spectators, and yes, I involve every one of them in critique afterward.

    There is no gunner anywhere who can’t learn a lesson of some kind at every range session. You can never know it all. As long as you realize this, you can benefit from ANY kind of training, but a GOOD tactical trainer is thinking and teaching both tactics and WINNING, all the time. Gunfighting is very Darwinian: only winners get to expand the gene pool.

  7. ATL Says:

    Do it! Show up, have fun! Make sure you bring enough ammo (150 rounds), and at least three mags. I would advise perusing the rule book, but don’t sweat it too much. You will get the hang of it when you shoot. The shooting sports are about fun- If you see someone pissing and moaning at a match, then they suck. 😉

  8. Linoge Says:

    ORSA? Let me know, and I might show up to boot… Assuming I find another magazine holder, since I had to borrow one last time around. But, then, that is just generally indicative of the less-than-realistic rules involved – I guess that is why they call it a “game”.

  9. Jerry Says:

    I don’t know the rules in any type of match, per say. I don’t compete. I do wish Tam the best, and I hope she kicks some MAJOR A. She is OUR girl. Give’em hell, Tam.

    Little Jerry

  10. Tam Says:


    I notice you talk about “training newbs”.

    Out of curiosity, which gun school gave you the best value for the money in preparing to instruct others?

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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