Killed in the Streets again…

“This is likely to be my last post. This morning I was told in no uncertain terms that using the sights is slow and I should point shoot ‘cause the fight will be less than three yards and I won’t have time to use the sights and shooting competition will likely get me killed on the streets and fine motor control…”

…such was the post from a friend of mine the other day on Facebook.

(Jump to the end for the TL;DR version, but first make sure to watch the video in the middle.)

Leaving aside the research on actual engagement distances for citizen self-defense situations, the research on sight usage (and the resulting effect on the various police departments that have updated their training methodology on sighted fire and have statistics on hit ratios that far exceed the national norms), our beyond-grade-school-level understanding of what the terms “gross motor skill” and “fine motor skill” actually entail, plus the many easily-found examples of using the sights at great speed….

….leaving ALL that aside because even a CURSORY search by anyone with Internet access could find those and therefore wouldn’t tell my friend anything that stupid…

….I thought I’d address through a simple example the “shooting competition will likely get me killed on the streets” section of that particular pile of nonsense.

On Saturday, August 22nd in Grand Island at the Heartland Shooting Park, the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA) had their annual meeting, which among other things included informational presentations by various trainers and content-area experts in the morning plus a number of training sessions and shooting opportunities in the afternoon.

One of those opportunities was an almost-Steel Challenge stage, which I ran for anyone who wanted to give it a try. The stage was roughly Roundabout (for those who know SC stages) and centerfire pistol shooters could either run the stage from a holster or if they didn’t have a sufficient holster, from a table. Given time constraints (plus ammunition constraints on the part of the shooters) we only ran three strings of fire. We threw out the slowest run and added the other two together for score.

I of course shot it with my USPSA Production equipment setup—dropped/offset holster, BOSS hanger, CR Speed belt, Production-legal Glock 34. Other shooters (most of which had never shot a competition stage before) shot whatever handgun they had brought, from whatever holster they had.

After everyone got done, it occurred to me that here we had an opportunity to check how much competition shooting practice would get me killed on the streets. I would think that no matter what stupid ideas someone has about self-defense, we can all at least agree that with respect to CCW and self-defense, the primary handgun skillset is the ability to draw and get accurate shots on target quickly.

…and that’s what a Steel Challenge stage is all about—a good draw, and hitting those steel targets as fast as possible.. So, I grabbed a couple of people, and had them time and record me shooting the exact same stage, but this time with my actual carry gun from concealment. (At the end of the day, I had changed into different clothing to drive home, and was wearing my normal, everyday concealment rig, which meant I was using the gear I would be carrying “on the street” when my competition shooting would get me killed.)

Here’s the video:

…let’s make that really clear. Here were the times for the three runs using my USPSA rig—competition holster, belt, and gun.

1st Run: 3.70 2nd Run: 2.88 3rd Run: 3.40

My three runs with my carry holster/gun:

1st Run: 3.77  2nd Run: 4.32 3rd Run: 3.36

You can see that my first and third runs were effectively the same between my competition rig and my carry rig. The difference was in the second run, in which (with my carry rig) I forgot how to aim and had to take three makeup shots because I’m an idiot. With my competition rig I actually shot the second run correctly.

Out of the 37 entries in the centerfire pistol division of this stage, I won first with my competition gun. I got an unofficial third with my carry gun shooting from concealment, losing 2nd place by only 0.05 seconds to an A-class USPSA shooter using his competition gear. Another way of putting that: the nearest a non-competition shooter got to my CCW score was almost enough time for me to do an additional full string of fire. (The top three official shooters were competition shooters.) 28 of the 36 stage scores more than doubled my CCW score.

2015-PRT-SCscoresI participate in USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, and Multigun shooting competitions. The vast majority of my practice time is with my competition gun from my competition rig. And yet, with my carry gun from concealment, I was faster and more accurate than a random sampling of 34 other shooters who care about firearms ownership, who shot whatever gun they wanted, without concealment. (Some of whom, I’ve heard, say that competition shooting will get you killed on the street.)

I’m curious: What part of competition was going to get me killed there? The part where my shooting practice caused me to be faster and more accurate than almost everyone else except for the other people who shoot competitions and thus work on being better shooters?


TL;DR version: I shot a steel challenge stage with my carry gun from concealment almost as fast as with my competition gun from a competition holster, beating almost everyone else. 95% of my practice is with my competition rig. What part of competition shooting is going to get me killed on the street?

17 thoughts on “Killed in the Streets again…

  1. The part that WILL (may) get you killed on the street (if you do nothing to heal that training scar you so beautifully demonstrated here) is that before the last plate has even stopped ringing, you have already removed your (still half-full) magazine from the gun; no pause, no scan…

    There should never be any hurry to unload or holster your pistol… (This has nothing really to do with competition, per se. Any training can lead to unintended consequences… If you practice unloading immediately after firing what you think is your last shot, you will do it when you are under stress; and you may one day find (in competition, or on the street) that you really wish you still had bullets in your gun when you notice that one-last “target” you hadn’t seen…


    • I’m curious—if you know you are done with something, do you normally wait anyway? Not think you are done with something, but know it?

      Why would you think that in a self-defense situation, I would magically think that any shot would be my “last shot”? It amuses me that you think “training scar” here when you don’t actually have any evidence of any unloading issues…

      In the video, I unloaded because I was done. I had the hit, and knew I had the hit. I was finished. Wasn’t going to pull the trigger again no matter what. Why would I bother waiting to do anything else? Should I stand there posing for no reason?

      If this were a training situation for self-defense, or any case in which I don’t know if I’m done or not, I don’t unload until I’m sure. Anyone who has seen me shoot USPSA knows this. Anyone who has seen me in a training class knows this—didn’t have any issues at Bill Roger’s school, nor in Craig Douglas’s class, among others–and it is kinda funny, actually, that you make this assumption. Seriously, do you normally stand and pose for awhile when you are done with something?

      As for the “no pause, no scan” bit—seriously? I’m shooting a steel challenge stage on a bay with people around me. Is there something I need to wait for or scan for when I’m done? (Please don’t tell me that if I don’t scan every time, I’ll forget under stress. That isn’t how it works.)

      I appreciate the Concern Troll help you are trying to give here, but seriously dude, you should probably actually understand what you are talking about first. Sure, dropping the mag the minute you think you are done at all times is bad. Jumping to conclusions about things that you don’t actually know, however, is also bad.

      Dropping a mag when you are done on a steel challenge stage and the stage is finished because the hit is obvious? Yeah, not exactly a big deal.


      • I believe you are missing the point of his reply. The common belief of ” in an overwhelming stressful situation, you revert to your highest level of training”. That being you drop the mag 90% of the time when the last known target is down, empty or not due to safety rules attached to your competitions. This has a high chance of happening according to that concept.

        Outside of the extreme you are thinking and reacting with your head, not just training.

        Your last statement makes me lean towards that thought as well. Its not a big deal as you have ingrained the safety side of gun handling into your sub conscious actions. Make that mistake once in the wrong situation…

        If you still dont think this could be an issue. How many times have you been lost in thought while driving, have you ever taken a turn to go a usual place even though you are not going there?

        I agree with competition being a positive and not a negative, but I also recognize the dangers of some habits.


      • Let me see if I get this straight:
        Based on watching me shoot three strings of a steel challenge stage, in which final shots are known, your conclusion (and his) is that I “drop the mag 90% of the time when the last known target is down” and thus “this has a high chance of happening” in stressful situations.


        Wow. That’s a pretty small sample size to make that assumption, isn’t it? (Hint: You can see that the targets don’t go “down,” by the way. So no, I’m not reacting as soon as the targets “go down.” I’m reacting because I know I’m done shooting. Not going to take another shot no matter what.) Have you ever seen a USPSA or IDPA stage? Multigun? Watched me practice? Perhaps looked at my previous reply in which I specifically say that oddly enough, this isn’t an issue when under pressure in front of national-level instructors? That this obviously not only isn’t the way I finish a stage in most competitions, but isn’t the way I practice? I could add that literally hundreds of people have seen me shoot in the past 5 years, and they could all tell you if I “drop the mag…when the last target is down.” (Hint: the answer would be: “No.”)

        Outside of the extreme you are thinking and reacting with your head, not just training.” —I’m not sure what you mean here.

        Its not a big deal as you have ingrained the safety side of gun handling into your sub conscious actions. Make that mistake once in the wrong situation… ” ….you do know this doesn’t make sense, right? Dropping the magazine isn’t for safety purposes in the first two strings, it is because I am reloading with a new magazine…oddly enough, I don’t reload unless I either 1) need to reload because I’m out, or 2) have time to reload because I think I’m going to need more rounds than I’ve got for when I go do the next thing I need to do.

        I agree with competition being a positive and not a negative, but I also recognize the dangers of some habits.

        Indeed, habits can be an issue. But your (and his) argument here would probably make a lot more sense if you actually had any evidence that it was a habit. Which….you don’t. So, yeah, not really convincing. And in your driving analogy you are giving a non-stress situation (and example of inattention) as an example of what happens in a stress situation (an example of sensory and mental overload), and it is a VERY different type of issue (to be specific, it is completely opposite).

        Sure, there are bad habits you can build in practice (for competition or any other reason) but that isn’t competition’s fault, nor is it practice’s fault. That would the fault of the person choosing to practice in that fashion.

        The fact that several people now are coming to a conclusion based on a limited view of something they apparently don’t understand is odd, though. (I note that the actual quote is that under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.)


    • Actually, I just enjoy poking holes in what people think is their “logic.”

      I find it amusing that you are committing the same error as the others, though on a different topic. Effectively, you are taking a single sample, generalizing from it, and applying that generalization to me. (Not to mention there is more than a bit of projecting on your part. After all, you don’t really have much basis or support available for your assessment of an emotional reaction on my part.)

      To put it another way: You are taking your opinion of what you think my emotional reaction was to someone’s comments based on a sample of only two comments, generalizing that to my personality overall, and then applying that generalization to how I teach others.

      That’s quite a leap there, don’t you think?

      I remain unconvinced by your assessment, particularly because 1) I happen to know what my own emotional reaction was and you quite obviously don’t, but more importantly, 2) no one who has ever been in one of my classes has ever said anything of the sort.

      So whether or not *I* think I’m touchy, none of my students have thought so—and I ask for evaluations in every class. Since you’ve never met me and have no idea of my actual emotional reactions, well….

      You are of course able to think what you will. However, like many opinions, the fact that you think it doesn’t make it right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Its called utilizing a confidence interval, and through a relatively easy series of mathematical equations I can actually state with 95% confidence you are full of crap in your response.

        On a side note, I agree that being a cop or army man or nra member does not a shooter make.


      • Really? Full of crap? Huh. Well, you go with that opinion.

        (I note that I actually know what a confidence interval actually is, and also how they are calculated. As such, considering that you have no way of doing such, I see that your current opinion is JUST as valid as your previous one. Score one for consistency!)


  2. Its called confidence interval, with the use of easily utilized mathematics I can say you are by disregarding all others approaches regardless their experiences 90% more likely to fail.

    Simple math, however, this doesnt change the simple fact that a good instructor knows when to argue a point and when to not argue.


    • Wow. Strawman much?

      “…by disregarding all others [sic] approaches regardless of their experiences” — do tell, when has this occurred? I’m pretty sure that you’ve seen me point out logical errors from three people. Actual logical errors, not merely opinion-based comments.

      “Simple math, however, this doesnt change the simple fact that a good instructor knows when to argue a point and when to not argue. ”

      Indeed. In particular, a smart person knows when to not bother responding to people who can’t use logic, and make up random things to support their opinions when logic and reality fails them.

      Confidence interval indeed.


  3. The Myth of Competition Training Scars runs strong, as evidenced by some of the comments to this post.

    Novices claim competition is bad because of match gear. Upon witnessing top tier results with actual carry gear, they instead focus on how your preparation for the next string is gonna getcha killed. Had you performed a currently-popular tactically-appropriate post shooting scan after each string, they’d complain about how the stage didn’t have you moving, or the targets didn’t move, or there was no target identification, or you only fired one shot on each, or… Novices gonna novice.

    Here is an example how this myth propagates:


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