The Rabbi: IDPA/IPSC Don’t Prepare you for a Real Fight

The Rabbi writes: The typical match that I have attend have four to six stages. At each stage the participant shoots for 15 to 30 seconds with perhaps a brisk walk for three to 100 feet. They spend four to six hours hanging around with an occasional walk downrange to tape targets and pick up brass—not enough movement to raise one’s heartbeat. Unless your experience is radically different, I don’t see much aerobic benefit there. But this is the least important point of the entire discussion [begun at the bottom of this post]. Everyone, regardless of their situation needs to have a “never give up mindset” . . .

Those in wheelchairs or morbidly obese are at a severe disadvantage and are more than not likely to loose because of it. Criminals actually target people less likely to be able to defend themselves because a criminal would rather take $10 from someone that won’t/can’t fight then take $50 from someone they might have to fight. How fit do you need to be for the average mugging or robbery attempt?

First, you have to understand that there is no such thing as an AVERAGE mugging or robbery attempt. Even if there were, the definition of average includes a combination of extremes on both directions. What if YOUR mugging is not average?

Secondly, there is no such thing as a gunfight, only a fight were a gun may or may not be involved. The attack may happen so close to you that you don’t have time to get to your gun; you have to deal with the threat with your hands. The attack may happen so fast you don’t have time to get to your gun and you have to deal with the threat with your hands. The attack may start without a weapon and you have to deal with the threat with your hands. There are lots more examples . . .

We do numerous force-on-force exercises that prove that in many, if not in most circumstances a gun in useless or may only be engaged after the victim fights off the attack with open hands to gain distance and time. Fighting skill with your hands and the fitness to prevail are essential to survival.

Developing the mental process to distinguish between shoot and no shoot targets IS essential. As I previously stated “practicing” this process on different colored cardboard—out in the open, standing still, in bright sunshine, not attacking you—does not resemble real life in any way. It does not constitute any real-life training value.

Real attackers do not necessarily broadcast themselves nor their intent. You need to learn to find hidden threats that don’t want to be found, especially in the dark, read their body language, translate their pre-assault clues (of which there are over 100) determine their threat level, determine the appropriate response and engage after they have engaged, not at the start of a buzzer.

I have never seen any of these concerns addressed at an IDPA/IPSC match. No shoot targets are used at academy to build shooting skills not fighting skills, and the two should never be mistaken for each other. In my experience, shooting skills are a relatively small part of the fight. The major parts of winning a fight are mindset, awareness, threat determination and response determination and those are thinking skills which competition not only negate, but actually discourage.

While the mental aspect is most important, the physical ability to react to the attack is extremely important—once the actual hands-on fight begins. As for my background, I have been training for nearly 30 years. I am writer for several gun magazines, a police officer and I serve as a firearms instructor for two police agencies. A shooter does not need “events” to train properly.

IDPA/IPSC techniques can be adapted to be more realistic so as to not conflict with real tactics. A few examples . . .

If you are facing three attackers, don’t stand still. Move rearwards and sideways to gain distance and make their shooting more difficult. Shoot each target once and repeat as needed until the threat stops. Do not get into the habit of shooting every target only twice. Use cover properly. Do not sacrifice accuracy for speed. A shots every time. Pie all cover.

Those are just a few ideas that will make competitions “better” (but still not good). There are many more, most of which will put you at the bottom of the score sheet. You can also practice these skills on the range. Add in challenging, not shooting after drawing your weapon, hand skills, fist fighting skills etc. Other good training techniques: video simulations and force-on-force drills, which are far closer to real fights than competitions.

Once you start down the path to genuine fighting skills, you will see the folly of thinking that IDPA/IPSC prepare you for a real fight.

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    Nothing will truly prepare a civilian for a real fight. Most street attacks come from their six, and there is no defense except keeping your head on a swivel and your hand on the grips. MMA fighters, karate instructors, military guys, decathletes have all been mugged because they didn't see it coming. Little old ladies have defended themselves because they observed and drew. If you see the threat and remember front sight, press, you are in business. If the front sight eludes, learn point shooting. Your neighbors are unlikely to volunteer as human targets, so we use bullseyes and plates.

    LEOs need a different skill set because they go into harm's way, not out of it. It's like the difference between civilians and firefighters. Civilians run out of a burning building. Firefighters run in. Different perspectives, different skills. A civilian wants to disengage safely. LEOs want to take down the BG, which is the opposite of disengagement. LEOs need fitness, hand-to-hand skills and the ability to avoid shooting each other in the ass. We don't. Except the ass part.

  2. avatar Patrick Carrube says:

    Good point Ralph.. of course, of the 8 LEO's that I know (and 3 correction officers), I can out run (except 1 of them), out jump (except the same one), out fight, and out shoot them all. Perhaps more LEO's should run IDPA/IPSC and more civilians take FOF training.

  3. avatar Rabbi says:

    While the circumstances of fights may differ between LE and private citizens, the actual fight is not that different. While we may try to extricate ourselves from the circumstances, as defensive shooters the fight is brought to us and we have to deal with what we are facing, not what we want to face. Hand fighting skills, weapon disarming, weapon retention, tactics and techniques are just as important for the private citizen as they are for police.

    All you need is some proper force on force drills to realize what little chance you have of reaching your firearm when an attack begins and how important hand skills are to survival.

    "Perhaps more LEO's should run IDPA/IPSC and more civilians take FOF training."– great suggestion!!

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    "the actual fight is not that different."

    Really? When was the last time a bunch of civilians fired 58 shots at a BG with a comb? Of course the fight is different. The places are different, too. For example, I don't spend a lot of my time breaking down crack houses. More likely, you'll find me at the local fern bar sipping a fine imported ale and nibbling brie.

    I keep my head on a swivel and my hand on the grips. So, yeah, I will be able to snatch my rocket from my pocket and bust a cap on a BG, if that's what it takes. And if said BG sees my Roscoe and takes off like a scalded cat in the opposite direction, I will wave goodbye and godspeed, but I won't chase him. No, sir. I would be afraid that he might run out of breath before I did.

  5. avatar Rabbi says:

    Tell me Ralph,

    If you are approached by someone asking for directions who then pulls out a knife, will you snatch your Rosco rocket from your pocket and bust a cap?

    If you are being charged by someone with a knife from 20 feet will you snatch your Rosco rocket from your pocket and bust a cap?

    If someone takes a swing at you with his fists will you snatch your Rosco rocket from your pocket and bust a cap?

    If someone runs up to you while trying to strike you with a chair will you snatch your Rosco rocket from your pocket and bust a cap?

    If someone kicks in your front door while you are looking through the peep hole to see who it is will you snatch your Rosco rocket from your pocket and bust a cap?

    If you have just a hammer everything becomes a nail which is a great recipe for getting your self killed or imprisoned.

    No matter, since I have never heard of an attack at a fern bar on people sipping fine imported ale and nibbling on brie I think you will be perfectly save leaving your pocket Rosco rocket at home.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Question one: Yes. Important rule: don't bring a knife to a gunfight.
    Question two: I will draw, present and yell. What happens after that is up to him.
    Question three: I will first plant knee or foot firmly in groin. Not my groin. That would be anatomically impossible.
    Question four: A chair has been considered a deadly weapon. I will draw and, if necessary, shoot.
    Question five: No, because I don't have a peephole. I do, however, have a burglar alarm and a shotgun.
    Being an old retired attorney has both limitations and perks. One limitation is that I don't foresee an MMA career in my immediate future. The perk is that I know what constitutes reasonable force, which allows me to avoid imprisonment. And you would be surprised at what goes on in some fern bars.

  7. avatar Rabbi says:

    Ralph,

    These among many others are the same types of fights that face LE and private citizens alike.

    The point of #1 is if that happens you won't have time to draw your pocket Rosco rocket and will only survive if you use hand skills.

    The point of #2 is if that happens you won't have time to draw your pocket Rosco rocket and will only survive if you use hand skills.

    The point of #3 is if that happens you won't have time to draw your pocket Rosco rocket and will only survive if you use hand skills.

    The point of #4 is if that happens you won't have time to draw your pocket Rosco rocket and will only survive if you use hand skills.

    The point of #5 is if that happens you won't have time to draw your pocket Rosco rocket and will only survive if you use hand skills.

    While you may know what constitutes reasonable force, real training will teach you what is realistic, what your limitations are and why hand skills are vital.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    Rabbi, twenty years ago, I had the skills and the brawn and I'd win. I did more than once. Ten years ago, I was still confident. All the while,I became fairly expert in the use of improvised weapons. Now, I have the skills but age has slowed me just to the point where unarmed resistance is more likely to kiill me than save me. So I'm strapped all the time , even in my own home.

    A very good friend of mine, a karate instructor, was mugged in New York. He lost situational awareness and was attacked from behind. He's lucky to be alive. I do not lose situational awareness ever. I know the streets (believe me, Rabbi, I wasn't always a lawyer and I know the streets). I will have time to draw. Yes, I will. I've become very good at it and very accurate to boot. And I will survive because I will choose to defend myself without hesitation.

    You're a good guy, Rabbi. I believe in training, too. But you have to understand, most of us are not policemen and we aren't necessarily young and vigorous. That's the thing about old guys. We don't fight, but when we need to, we will shoot. And we will not miss.

  9. avatar Eric says:

    Ralph needs some force on force training. I love the knife to a gunfight mind set. It always seems they have some lame excuse why I cut them to ribbons with the rubber knife. After I knock the wind out of their sails a few times they usually catch on and listen to reality.

    Rabbi I agree with most of your statements but I’d like to offer this: gun games build bad habits just as easy as good habits. Sadly it will put you at the bottom as stated if you use good gun fight skills at a gun game. However they are excellent at building trigger time and working with your reloads using your carry gear that is of course if you use your carry gear.

    Go to gun is rarely the ideal choice in a fight due to distance you’ll be starting at and as the good guy you’ll be starting late in the fight. Follow Rabbi’s suggestion of learn to fight hand to hand. I train me and mine to fight to distance to deploy the gun if the situation isn’t resolved.

  10. avatar Rabbi says:

    Eric, you are right that gun games are an excellent way to build shooting skills. This article was taken from a response to an earlier article in which I stated exactly that.

    Likewise, I agree that force on force training is needed to truly understand the role and limitations of any weapon systems and that hands skills are vital

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