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Competition Will Get You Killed On The Streets?

Tore Haugli provided insight in the P&S Facebook group P&S – Firearms Competitions in regards to an article that was critical of competition shooting. Here are his thoughts: 

I have recently seen a trend where instructors from the “tactical world” are being very critical of competition shooting. Reasons behind this criticism varies from no focus on tactics, such as use of cover or concealment, walk throughs don’t happen in a gunfight, to competition creating training scars that will “get you killed in the streets”, as the saying goes.

A couple of articles touching on this topic were posted online recently, in a Facebook group I belong to. The author uses a lot of references to warfighting, and goes to great lengths to describe the differences of combat and competition, and why competition does not prepare you for the harsh realities of a combat gunfight.
I asked the following questions based on this single excerpt from the first article:

“A gunfight is a completely different world. The only factors that you can control are that of ammo you currently have and yourself. Everything else in this environment is now as random as rolling a pair of dice in crap shoot.”

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-Is mission planning not a thing anymore?
-Are mission rehearsals not a thing anymore?
-Is having ISR units recce targets and conducting recce handovers to the assault force not a thing anymore?

I summed up by saying that people who cannot differentiate between competition tactics and small unit tactics are probably not good at either.

I received no replies to my post, from the author of the articles.

The author claims experience as a recce dude – if so, then he should know these things. We take many steps during mission planning to try to control or shape the fight to our advantage. It actually begins with training, working from the individual soldier, and continuing on with team, squad, section and platoon formations. We train on battle drills, immediate action drills to make sure that we are prepared to act using the principles behind these drills as they best fit the situation we find ourselves in. Even if we are caught by surprise when engaged by an enemy force, such as during an ambush.

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A few observations from my corner of the world, having been a soldier and being a competition shooter:

1. Competition is a measure of one’s gun handling and marksmanship skills under stress. Use of proper tactical principles, such as cover and concealment, is not being judged, so claiming that competition therefore is not realistic is pointless. It is not part of it at all.

2. Why is it relevant that competition shooters cannot perform at their best level while wearing a basic load, to include PPE? Can most “tactical dudes” perform as well as competition guys using competition gear? Most likely they would get smoked.

3. Shooting is a small, but still important, factor in a military or LE context. There is a variety of other skillsets that are important, that do not transfer well to a competition setting. An infil to an OP site is pretty boring, but is a crucial part of overall mission success. Shooting, however, is pretty simple to objectively quantify – you complete a stage in the time it takes, with the points you managed to shoot. Simple. Judging tactics is hard, as you are only basing it on principles, not hard truths. There is no right answer to a tactical situation.

4. Force on force is a valid training tool, when used for the right evaluations. It is a means to add stress during two way training. It should be implemented AFTER guys are comfortable with team drills using both simulated/blank fire drills and live fire. Introducing FoF too early will disrupt proper learning of drills.

I could go on and on, but I think I have touched on the key points in this debate.

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Bottom line, don’t get too wrapped up in being tactical or what not. Understand that different principles apply when shooting a match, than when you are doing break contact drills in rural terrain.

Creating a divide seems pointless, and only serves to keep people away from an activity that could help them become better shooters. I know that my shooting has improved, with no detriment to my “tactical abilities”.

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