The world of competition shooting, especially action shooting sports such as the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) or the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), has contributed a tremendous amount to firearms development and training since their formation. For the average armed citizen, competition shooting provides an even greater advantage—training the mind.
No honest USPSA or IDPA shooter would tell you that shooting action games will teach you tactics. Rather, their benefit to the CCW holder is in three specific areas that make up mindset and can have a tremendous outcome on success in a self-defense incident. These are planning, stress management, and problem solving. Applying the lessons learned in competition from these three areas will make for a better shooter, as well as a more prepared armed citizen.
The first area of importance to the competition mindset is planning. Before each stage starts in an USPSA match, shooters have five minutes to walk through the stage and make a plan on how to shoot it most efficiently. In IDPA there is no five-minute walkthrough, but the opportunity to plan when to reload and how to execute the stage is present. Obviously, one can’t “plan” a self-defense encounter. Unlike IDPA or USPSA, it’s impossible to previously know where the targets and no-shoots are, and real self-defense scenarios aren’t composed of steel pepper poppers and brown cardboard targets. But that doesn’t mean that the lesson of planning a stage doesn’t apply.