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Michael Bane on Competition

I think Michael’s correct here that competition a useful training tool.  Though, it looks like he’s speaking mostly of IPSC and IDPA, which I’ve had no experience with.  Silhouette shooting is not really an adrenaline pumping game.  Mostly taking slow, deliberately and carefully aimed shots.  Nonetheless, I’ve had more than a few cases where I can knock animals down like there’s no tomorrow in practice, only to perform poorly once I get on the line.  Knowing “this one is for the marbles” tweaks you up a bit, and you can’t hold as steady.

I do wish I could do IPSC competition, but the rules at my club make it impossible, and I don’t know any of the other clubs in the area that do it.  I don’t really have time to drive out to rural Pennsylvania on a regular basis to compete.  There is a local indoor range that does non-sanctioned IDPA matches, and it happens to be my favorite indoor range.  Maybe I’ll have to give that a whirl at some point.

I think there’s a lot of clubs that are stuck in old ways.  Practical shooting looks like it’s fun, exciting, and there’s a lot of folks who seem to really enjoy doing it.  When I have watched the IDPA matches at the indoor range, I see a lot of young people getting into it.  That tends to make me think this is a growing sport, whereas the traditional types of sports done at my club are mostly older guys.  At 34, I’m pretty young compared to a lot of them.  But I think to traditionalists, IDPA and IPSC shooting seem unsafe, and most of the clubs I’ve looked into have rules that prevent that kind of match from ever taking place.  I tend to think clubs will need to adapt in this regard or face dwindling participation in organized events.  I know one disappointment of my club is that, although we have 1100 members, hardly anyone participates in organized matches, except for trap events.  Most people are just thinking of it as a place to plink every now and then.  I suppose that’s fine, but I think different types of shooting sports might get more people involved, and help build a sense of community that I think is important in a shooting club.  That requires gun owners to think different, and adopt new ideas, which I think we’re extraordinarily bad at.  I think it’s more than just the industry that’s resistant to change.  It’s a strong cultural inclination within the entire shooting community.

9 Responses to “Michael Bane on Competition”

  1. Ahab says:

    The majority of the shooters at our recent steel match at my range were in their late 20s and early 30s, with more than a few falling younger than that.

    God, this sport is like crack, it really is.

  2. ATL says:

    I agree,

    Shooting sports (particularly IDPA and IPSC) are an effective, practical way of getting people practical shooting skills. I do not believe that either of these sports are going to make completely prepared to deal with a real situation, but sitting in a lane all day, plinking away at a target is going to do even less. Practical, tactical shooting is a great way of differentiating your shooting. It makes you more able to deal with those situations.

    I know at my range where I am a member, the guy who owns it is resistant to practical shooting sports. His own daughter has shot in a couple of the matches and has had a good time, but he remains hesitant. I think the shooting community is going through a transition with more younger shooters coming into it. I hope it is pushed more to the practical edge. I think that can only be a good thing.

  3. Sebastian says:

    I agree, but I think there’s a place for the more traditional shooting sports, and I think it would be a shame to see them die out. Silhouette is a lot of fun, even if it’s not action packed. I do think younger folks should look at the traditional sports, as they hone different skills, which I think would transfer to practical shooting.

    I would note that Mr. C kicked my ass in the Silhouette match, just because he’s an overall better shooter.

  4. ATL says:

    I do too, but I think that they should work more hand in hand. I shot a steel plate match this weekend. Hardly a tactical type of match, but still it was enjoyable. I think skeet, rifle, or Silhouette type matches are good.

    Any shooting is good shooting, but we must see our sport (and our right for that matter) as progressive. The idea of it as being purely traditional has worked against us in the past (hence the idiotic editorials for the second amendment to be repealed because it “out of date”). Shooting, self-defense activities are progressive activities because they are based upon the timeless edicts which our forefathers saw necessary for us to survive and thrive. I mean with the Heller decision and the up tick of concealed carry permits, we are on the progressive end. We are the future; it’s about time we start acting like it.

  5. mdmnm says:

    One thing is that different competition games tend to wax and then wane in favor- shooters like to try new games. There are exceptions, the big daddies of competitive shooting like trap, skeet, outdoor pistol, and kd highpower. Three-position smallbore and indoor pistol might fall within those categories, too, but I suspect that being Olympic sports is mostly what keeps their interest up. I started shooting smallbore rifle silhouette in the late ’70s and it was the hot new sport. In the ’80s, pistol silhouette overtook it in popularity. Now, I think all silhouette is less popular than it once was. I couldn’t find any numbers on-line about this, but my local club has gone from dozens to nearly a hundred competitors for monthly matches to a couple of dozen at most matches, at best. Similarly, bowling pin matches had a surge of popularity back in the ’70s. Sporting clays is going strong, but I wonder how many quail walks are still kept up and used by clubs that put them in? I think it gets hard for clubs to add new disciplines, unless a bunch of members get excited about a discipline and do a bunch of work to get together money and offer the work to put up a course.

    In any event, you’re correct that few shooters also compete and that competition is a good thing.

  6. Sebastian says:

    That’s a good observation, and not one I could have made since I wasn’t a shooter in the 80s. I agree that Silhouette sports as a whole are in decline. All the competitors I shoot with seem to indicate “We just don’t have the turnout we used to.”

    The reason we could never do IPSC at my club is because they would never allow live fire from anything other than the firing line, so setting up a challenging course would be tough. You are not allowed to shoot from a holster. You can only have five rounds in a gun (the club is mostly a trap and silhouette club, and it doesn’t bother those guys). We don’t do bowling pin shoots anymore because of the ricochet. I think the consensus from the club leadership would be that IPSC is unsafe, even if we had enough people who wanted to organize matches.

  7. Thanks for the kind words, but I suspect the silhouette e-Postal match involved a lot of luck, at least for me.

    I think any shooting sport makes you a better overall shooter. Some, where either head-to-head or against the clock is important the adrenalin factor is a major factor. Even so, it all boils down to trigger control, and silhouette shooting is a real eye-opener to someone who otherwise considers themselves a pretty good shot.

    A lot of shooting disciplines start out with great growth, then gradually fade out to a few die-hards. A lot of that is because the individual sport turns into an equipment race and a lot of the shooters get spent out of the competition. Look at what a top end open class race gun costs today!

    An interesting and fun shooting sport just starting to spread across the country is Cowboy Fast Draw. The guns are limited to replica old time revolvers like the Colt Peacemakers, and other than minor polishing and tuning, they must be stock. No race guns with custom built high buck parts allowed. Real leather holsters, too. Since you are shooting 45 caliber wax bullets powered only by a shotgun primer they are much safer. They are still guns, still dangerous when mis-used, and all firearms safety rules still apply. It’s great fun, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to gear up for it, either.

    ……………. Mr. C.

  8. Ahab says:

    Oh my god, I love clang-‘n-bang.

  9. Tracy says:

    Give the non-sanctioned IDPA indoor match a whirl! We practice weekly at an indoor range to sharpen our skills for the major matches. Well, the guys sharpen their skills… I’m in training :) It’s not a sanctioned match, or even remotely official, but it is fun. Btw, Ahab is so right – steel rocks!

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