Drills in a controlled indoor range setting can lead to comfort in your accuracy and even in speed, but add in movement, time, glare of the sun and pressure of others watching/competing and you can become a newbie all over again.
Having just started trying my hand at competition, both with the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), I am chagrinned at how often I come in low on the board.
But as much as I am there to improve my skills and learn new ways of shooting, I am having a TON of fun.
There is a lot of difference between everyday concealment and what is needed to compete. The above picture is a rig used for USPSA and requires tension adjustment to hold mags and handgun in place for speed and accuracy and there is a different setup for IDPA, which requires concealment and speed with accuracy.
The key to it I am finding is that you have to get your mental game face on. Focus on your fundamentals of sight alignment, good grip, trigger control and follow through and shake off that there is a timer, an audience and whatever misses you have had already.
A full day of 8 stages is grueling though for someone like myself that has physical limitations, even taking some extra medication to help with inflammation ahead of time, I find my forearms throbbing, my feet/ankles hurting and knee swelling by the midday mark. This only adds to the complications above what I would face at my regular indoor range.
But the commraderie and social acceptance, the genuine mentorship I am gaining from my fellow squad members at each match is unparalleled and very encouraging. They are very focused on their own times and accuracy, but when they are not firing, they are all about ensuring each person is having fun, improving and gaining great training advice. They are more than willing to lend a hand, a piece of equipment or sage insight and come from all manner of profession and background.
I would encourage any and all shooters at any stage of experience to give their local IDPA or USPSA matches a "shot".