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Competitive Shooting and Law Enforcement - Part II

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

In the previous post we talked about the benefits of becoming comfortable operating under the mental stress that competition shooting provides, but that’s just one of many benefits to be gained by broadening one’s training and mindset surrounding training methodologies. The next benefit we’ll discuss are the gains to be made through competitive shooting to the skillset of actually shooting the gun quickly and effectively, something every LEO should be interested in and strive for improvement.

The sheer skill level of even mediocre competitors compared to those in the LE community as a whole is astounding not to mention the capabilities of the top end of the competitive skill spectrum. Just go out to a local USPSA match and compete against the local talent and this disparity in skill is quickly realized. The 45 year old accountant (no disrespect intended) makes a shooting fool out of the 25 year old LEO who carries a gun in defense of his/her life for a living.

It’s no secret that the competition world has a monopoly on raw shooting skill. This is the reason elite LE and Mil units bring in top competitors for training. If that is true, then why is there a such a stigma to go compete or train as a competitor does rather than a “tactical shooter”. The answer is simple - ego, and if we, as shooters, can put our ego to the side and realize we’re not the best behind the gun, we just may learn something.

So why are competitors, even mid level individuals, so far ahead of those who carry a gun for a living. That answer is a little more complicated but not surprising. They know how to train, seek new information and work hard to perfect every piece of their shooting. If you noticed I said “piece” there, the thought process and training methodology of breaking skills down to their finest point, finding inefficiencies and refining them individually, and only then applying them back to bigger picture. This is how you get a draw and reload time down under a second, how you learn to control the gun through recoil effectively at speed, how to move around with a gun quickly and efficiently etc. The skills are endless and the training for each one requires time, patience, new information and dedication to the craft, none of which are common in the LE training model.

For example, take a common LE qualification failure drill: 2 to the chest 1 to the head at 7 yards. LEO’s are given a time limit for this, usually hovering around 5-7 seconds depending on the department and this is a real challenge for the vast majority. If we break down the times that this should be occurring, even being generous, LEO’s are still far behind the power curve.

2 chest 1 head time breakdown:

Draw to first chest shot @ 7yds - 1.50

Split time from first shot to second chest shot - .25

Transition to the head and the headshot - .75

Total Time - 2.5 seconds

It’s easy to see the disparity when you look at the metrics, the question is how does the average LEO fix this? Pretty simple, start competing! Learn how to actually train skills and what efficiency looks like. Ask questions from those better than you, there will be plenty of opportunities for this and as a whole, competitive shooters will help out whenever asked. Watch how others are training and ask how and why. If their reasoning makes sense to you, then adopt their methods. Understand that shooting is shooting regardless of the application. If you are a good shooter then you’re a good shooter or vice versa, whether you’re competing or in a deadly force situation. The gun doesn’t care about the context of the shooting. And lastly and most importantly, put your ego aside. No one, and I mean no one, cares about how well or bad you do at a local match. Everyone there is focused on their own performance with little concern over yours. Compete with your previous self using actual data and metrics and focus your training around that information.

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