I have seen countless videos on social media and other venues of guys and gals shooting with extreme speed and accuracy in competition. Moving from one target to another after one shot with incredible fluidity, engaging with one shot to drop a steel target. This is no doubt impressive, and I encourage you to find your balance of speed and accuracy, push yourself and grow!
Before we get going, let me make one thing clear: I am not bashing competition, I compete when my schedule allows it. There are many benefits to structured competition, but that is another article.
I am going to come right out and say it: Competition speed shooting builds a false sense of reality when you shoot once and the target falls, that is just not reality. One of my first times shooting an IDPA match I found myself allowing speed to trump accuracy! While I support the saying: A fast four is better than a slow 5, there needs to be a balance. What I saw myself doing was getting a fast 2 or 3 and moving so fast that my time makes up for my poor shooting, this is not permissible!
The thing that bothers me most about watching these folks shoot 10 rounds in 3 seconds, engaging 10 targets is this: It creates within you that you shoot the target once, and the threat is neutralized, this is just not true, especially when we are talking handguns (unless you hit the “light switch”). According to a study performed over 12 years at King-Drew Medical center in Los Angles, they found that only 24.5% of handgun gunshot wounds to the heart were fatal (learn more here)!
What I am getting at here is don’t allow competition, or watching others compete, influence your tactics. While there are situations in which you may need to engage numerous targets in rapid succession, don’t get in this habit of shooting once and disengaging. You can still engage numerous targets in a short time by planting a few well placed rounds in one target and moving on. It takes you more time to transition from one target to another than it does to squeeze your trigger finger a few more times.
Side note: Consider training for head shots. With the ever-increasing availability of body armor, “center mass” shots may not get you where you are going. Training for head shots within 7 yards will not be a waste of time and resources, I promise. If you want to train for the one shot and move on kind of engagement, you must train for head shots.
What I’m not saying: Single shots are ineffective. A single, well placed shot does something, what exactly, varies based on the situation. I was talking with an officer friend of mine, and he was telling me about an encounter a friend of his had out west. He shot a suspect 3 times (it was justified for the record), the suspect then began to fight, and hard. The officer was in the fight of and for his life for over 30 seconds, which might as well have been 30 hours. An autopsy of the suspect revealed that the officer’s first shot blew the suspect heart to pieces. He was dead but he did not know it for 30 seconds. Thirty seconds are a long time do serious damage…
Speed and accuracy are critical for effective handgun self-defense, but, they are not everything. We must use sound tactics; which means addressing the threat until it is no longer a threat. Shooting once and disengaging may leave the threat intact, I mean, what if you miss?! This is why follow through is so important. If you decide to use your handgun use it to its maximum potential, don’t hit it and quit it…
What can we learn?
- Speed kills; Question is, will it be you or the threat? You decide that through your tactics.
- Don’t shoot once and move on!
- If you compete do not allow your time to influence your shooting.
- Hold fast to your commitment to accuracy and shot placement, speed will come naturally.
- The majority of handgun wounds are not fatal, that goes for you and the threat both.
- Follow through to ensure that the threat stops being a threat.
- Everything you do is training, act like it.