Self Defense vs. Competition Training…Not Always Equal

Written by Richard Dockery

Regardless of whether you are training for IDPA, Bulleseye Pistol, other competitions, or Self defense, there is overlap in some of the skills.  All will work on your ability to fire a bullet and have it land in close proximity to where you want it, if not exactly where you wanted it.  Shooting practice is always a good thing.  What is important to understand, however, is that competitive shooting and defensive shooting have very different goals, and therefore different approaches to training and skills execution.  These differences stem from what you are realistically expected to accomplish, and how.

In competition the goal is to create a set number of holes in a set number of targets, and often in a specific order.  Target shooting and competition is very sequential, even when we look at those sports such as IDPA that were originally intended to mimic defensive shooting scenarios.  Shoot target 1 once, target 2 three times, knock a steel plate over, then shoot target 4 three times, while moving from point to point in a set order.  Its fun, it works on our firearms manipulation skills, and it gets our heart rate up.  All good things.  What it doesn’t do is train us to deal with an armed confrontation, and the thought processes and reaction.

Nothing is predictive or sequential when it comes to human interaction, especially in a confrontation.  If we move the 4 target scenario above to 4 attackers at a gas station at 10:00pm, the sequential approach we ingrained into our system may not save us as we attempt to address each attacker from left to right in order, putting our pre-determined 2 or 3 shots in each ones direction. Number 3 may be our biggest risk, the first attacker addressed may need to be revisited after we thought they were done, and Number 4 might rush us when we are focusing on number 1, number 2 may run and no longer be part of the mix…or whatever…we don’t know.  What we do know is we won’t have the luxury of an orderly approach and need to have trained using agile techniques, cognitive processing, and constant variation of approach.  Even popular drills such as El Presidente, which involves 3 targets, moving right to left with 2 shots on each then left to right…doesn’t take into account the variability of 3 attackers and the best way to minimize the chance of getting hurt, while dominating the confrontation.  In some cases these drills, matches, and associated training sessions build a false sense of confidence in ones level of preparation to survive a dangerous situation.

In summary, competition is good, and fun…but it is still a game with rules and structure.  Don’t forget to be putting due diligence in training to survive if the worse case scenario presents itself.

Femme Fatale ARMS & Training is a woman-owned business that provides education and support to an over victimized and underserved segment of our population.  We have programs to build confidence and skill without the intimidating aspects that tend to exist elsewhere in this industry.  Our goal is customer satisfaction and loyalty.  We’d appreciate an opportunity to show you how we are different, yet still, help you to accomplish your education and safety goals.

Femme Fatale Arms & Training is located at 4270 Minton Rd #107 in

West Melbourne, Florida 32904 ????We are open Mon-Sat 11 AM to 6 PM

Call us with questions at (321) 327-3790 or visit for more info today.



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