Most people I encounter whether in classes or competition tend to have a mindset towards either defensive/tactical shooting or a Performance/competition type shooting. It’s unfortunate that some have such closed minded views in the shooting community. There is a vast amount of knowledge that comes from all sides. I understand the separation because one is a game and the other is the defense of life. So, why can’t we train both ways? Why is there a separation, aren’t they both shooting?
Part 1: Which is better?
Personally I put the two in the blender (that is in my head) and turn that bad boy on. I grew up shooting with my grandfather just target shooting which technically doesn’t even fall into either of these categories. Then, I joined the military and learned the defensive/offensive or tactical side of shooting and quickly noticed it wasn’t enough. So, I searched for a place where I could learn more and make me a better shooter.
Oddly enough it was in the competition shooting world. So, I began with International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) competitions because they appealed to my “Self-defense” practice. Which is how I justified it. With no prior knowledge of competitive shooting, I quickly noticed that the defensive style of shooting I was taught was too slow and antiquated. Then I came across Frank Proctor from Way of the Gun. He opened up my eyes to the benefits of performance shooting and how it could make me a better defensive shooter. That’s when I started to look at it as a sort of gym session.
For example, when you go to the gym you work different muscle groups for your overall fitness and well-being. The same mindset can be put into competition. Each stage has a different set up. Some force you to go slower working on fundamentals such as one handed shooting and a myriad of different smaller skills to complete a stage which is similar to doing a set in a good circuit workout. Then on to your next stage or set.
I then started shooting United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and really honed my speed and efficiency to the point where I was teaching to my fellow Rangers my blended ways and using those skills in a more realistic environment. In the past year, I have been going to Aaron Cowan from Sage Dynamics to train on the defensive side of shooting and mindset.
I quickly saw that he and I shared many of the same thoughts on incapacitating threats and was very happy to learn more from a very knowledgeable person. I have found that blending my Combat, Competitive, and Defensive shooting experience has served me well in many ways including raised my level of training and knowledge over the years.