Why should you go to shooting matches? Because if you carry a gun for self defense, shooting matches will make you more proficient at defending your life. In this video, our shooter goes through simulated self defense scenarios with his carry gun, allowing him to actually practice with his gun under stress. Shooting matches are a great source of marksmanship practice that also induces stress on the shooter.
There are quite a few types of shooting matches, but today we’ll focus on the “practical” shooting sports, specifically the International Defensive Pistol Association, or IDPA. IDPA is built around shooters to enter competitive situations with their every day carry gear, and compete in stages that are designed to test the shooter’s marksmanship skills in a simulated self defense environment. Shooting matches are not gunfights, but what they do allow you to do is improve your gun handling skills while under stress.
Here’s why this is important. According to Harvard Health, the body treats all stressful situations the same, whether it’s a fear of public speaking or a car crash that’s about to happen. The severity of the body’s response to the stress correlates to the individual’s familiarity with that situation and their level of training at dealing with stress in that incident. For example, I still get stressed before I have to teach a class, but because I have done it so often, I no longer get sweaty palms or a dry throat. My ability to manage that stress has increased. It also means that my brain is able to focus on other things that just the stress response, which brings us back to shooting matches.
When you attend a shooting match, you’re competing for score in front of your peers. This induces stress in people, because there is performance anxiety, fear of failing in front of people you may know, unfamiliarity with the course of fire, etc. While it is not the same level of stress as a self defense situation, think of as a vaccine. It helps you learn to manage your stress response while you have a gun in your hands, which is very difficult to do in a sterile training environment. Because you become familiar with stress during shooting matches, your brain can then focus on other things, like actively solving the marksmanship problem you’ve been presented.
Shooting matches is a ton of fun, but for people who are serious about person defense, it takes on a whole new level of importance. Along with force on force, it’s the only way to induce a realistic stress response in a controlled environment, while training with a firearm.