Practice, Practice, Practice.

Here in South Florida we have the chance of shooting IDPA at least three times a month with Florida Keys Shooting Club in Key Largo (cutest little range you’ll ever seen and they hate me when I say that) and with Tropical Sport Shooting Association which is the club I belong. I am tasked with the score keeping duties for the club and that gives me an unique perspective on how the shooters are doing.

We have shooters of all levels. From the ones that just picked up a gun for the first time to some really amazing practitioners that will leave you scratching your head in amazement.  Even though the local ranges run the physical gamut from crappy to downright useless for action shooting, Roger the mentally twisted Course Of Fire Designer manages to come up with challenging set ups that will include shooting from every conceivable position and none of them comfortable. About the only time we shoot behind a Bianchi Barricade is while we shoot the Classifier, other than that we get to shoot from non-standard cover that include leaning walls, sidewalks, vehicles, etc. plus lots of shooting on the move.

What I have been noticing while scoring is the low amount of points down our shootings are getting. For those not in the sport, IDPA is scored not only on the basis of speed but also accuracy. Making cute little holes in the wrong areas penalizes you by adding seconds to your total time. Also shooting the wrong target or a designated No-Shoot will increase the penalties.  I am pleased to see that our shooters of all levels are doing a great job keeping the rounds on the appropriate areas of the target while moving, kneeling, walking and laying prone.

I wanted to make a point because I had Tivoe’d a new series with a famous Hollywood action actor that is also a deputy sheriff in the South. One of the episodes has him training a fellow deputy for his upcoming firearm qualification. The deputy qualifies on a static range by the skin of his teeth and the target looked like it was used to catch shotgun pellets shot by somebody with a caffeine overdose 40 yards away.  Unfortunately most police officers do not shoot their firearm but in two events: the day of their quals or the unfortunate day they are forced to use it in the line of fire.  The former is not practice enough and the latter is too late to do something about it.

If you are in Law Enforcement, you know that your sidearm is a life-saving device. You have the personal responsibility to be trained and “practiced” to a level that will give you a fighting chance in case you need to use it and also in the safest most accurate way so bystander lives are not threatened by your actions. It is imperative that you do good practice with it and as much as possible. About 10 years ago when I got somewhat serious about firearms and started with IDPA, there was an institutional mindset among LEOs that they did not need to practice or to engage in silly competitive games because, By God! they are trained Cops with Guns and will out-shoot any darn civilian out there. More than one LEO who dared to come shoot a match, left the range humbled and furious when they could not even begin to compare themselves with the lowest scoring of the darn civilians. Many never returned and the lesson was lost on them and us. Fortunately the mindset changed and we see more LEOs coming to shoot and improving greatly on their craft. Many have brought others to practice and as eye opening moment to make them see that quals every six months or every year are not the solution.  They also learned that those civilians with guns are not “the enemy” and “Right Wing Fanatics” or “Domestic Terrorists” that White Shirts or politicians kept mentioning but just regular folks that competed with guns and are Law Abiding and respectful of the Constitution not that different than themselves.

So, if you are a LEO take a chance and join any shooting discipline you think you may like. There is actually no downside to it. Trigger time is always well spent even if it is just shooting the bull with like-minded people.