FROM THE CONTROL BOOTH
By Steve Tracy I Editorial director
Competition Can Help You Survive
In his 1996 book Guns, Bullets and Gunfights, Jim Cirillo noted that competitive shooters were more likely to survive a police-involved shooting. It would seem obvious that good shooters would be more accurate, but there is much more involved when it comes to winning a gunfight than just shot placement. Cirillo, a retired NYPD officer involved in numerous gunfights during his career, was also a competitive shooter.
A winning mindset, total control of firearms without conscious thought, use of proper tactics, and muscle memory combine to give you the ability to come out alive when gunfire erupts. Each of these attributes can be honed through firearms competition.
Police pistol leagues and local range competitions are a great place to start. Precision bullseye shooting stresses the elements of stance, sight alignment and trigger control. These three basics carry over to help improve combat shooting. Bullseye shooting will make you a better combat shooter, but it does not necessarily work the other way around. Many new bullseye shooters are humbled when their first targets are scored. Persistence, as with most things in life, is the key.
The repetition of drawing from a holster and firing center mass under the pressure of time constraints nurtures muscle memory. Reacting to a facing target and drawing, firing, reloading magazines, aiming precise head shots, and re-holstering your weapon will hone skills necessary when reacting to an attacker who pulls a gun for real. Combat (with full-size duty pistols) and off-duty (drawing from concealment and compact pistols) style competition supplements department training and qualifications.
The sport of 3-Gun has grown exponentially during the past few years. Competing with a handgun, rifle, and shotgun offers police officers even more realistic exposure to transitioning between weapons platforms. Most outdoor 3-Gun competitions provide for movement, use of cover, and various target distances.
If you’re like most officers these days, competition shooting can be a lot more frequent than your department’s training. I remember my first police pistol league competition when I shot three 50-round matches. I realized I had fired more rounds in that one evening than I had during an entire year’s worth of department training.
The nature of competitions is that someone else is running the match for you. It’s much better than just going to the range by yourself and firing at static targets. When a range officer is calling the line and controlling the targets and recording your times and scores, it gives you the ability to concentrate on just your performance. Cirillo said he didn’t necessarily go out to win every competition he entered. Instead, he used competition as a means to practice his shooting and learn from it.
If you seek out the local firearms competitions in your area, there may be more available than you think. The recent explosion of mainstream firearms owners has lead to the creation of new ranges as well. These ranges are offering competitions of all kinds.
Perhaps you could be the one to create a police pistol (or 3-Gun) league of your own that would benefit officers from surrounding police departments.PM