My Response to Competitive Shooters

Late in 2010, I began began to shoot competitively on a regular basis. I am typically shooting two matches per month and sometimes three. A frequent theme that I hear professed or see posted online by competitive shooters is snide references to their perceived lack of accuracy on the part of peace officers when involved in deadly force situations. These statements both amuse and miff me at the same time. This piece is my response to those who have such a mindset as I would like to put some perspective into play.

Truth be told, the percentage of peace officers that are “gun people” is rather low. By “gun people”, I mean those people who actively participate in voluntary training and become true students of the art of shooting. Unfortunately, on a profession-wide basis, the standards for qualification are too low, and too many peace officers are satisfied with turning in a passing score on the range only to not come back to the range until the next mandatory qualification day. Simply put, too many peace officers view qualifying and training (note I make a distinction as they aren’t the same thing) as a necessary evil. Where the competitive shooters make a mistake of logic is that they tend to look at peace officers as a single entity while discounting that the percentage of competitive shooters compared to the proverbial average gun owner is actually quite low as well.

The typical pistol match involves either a set course of fire that is known to the shooters, or the shooters are briefed and get a walkthrough of the stages prior to their run. Competitors know when they go to a match that they will be involved in a shooting activity. Competitors get to pick their firearm and ammunition and all of their equipment within the rules of their respective sport, and said ammunition usually consists of low recoiling loads, and the firearms are often modified. Shooting “non-threat” targets results in a time or points penalty, and the targets don’t shoot back. Contrast all of that with the fact that peace officers are usually get a standard issue firearm with modifications prohibited by the ever present liability fears. The ammunition issued to the peace officer is defense loads designed to stop threats and not simply punch holes in paper, and while we all accept the fact that any call may be the call that erupts into a gunfight, I have yet to read an after action report from a shooting in which a range officer asked the peace officer if they understood the course of fire, if they were ready, and then activated a buzzer to signal that the shooting could commence. Oh yeah, the bad guys do shoot back, and shooting those innocent bystanders and hostages brings a whole host of consequences.

I propose the following: I’ll post a sign up sheet for all of my competitive shooting friends, and sometime between now and in the next 20 years I’ll set up a surprise scenario and spring it on you with no advanced notice or walkthrough. We’ll figure up your score and establish a true baseline for comparing the combat accuracy of peace officers and competitive shooters. It’s only fair, right?


  1. Chief Weems – I would say that you are right on target as usual. 🙂

  2. Where are you shooting at? I have been looking for an area around the Athens area to start shooting. Other than my annual qualification I’m not shooting enough.

    1. Alan,

      The Cherokee Gun Club in Gainesville and the Skip J Range in Anderson, SC, are the ranges with the most activity in the area. There is some other stuff in the metro-Atlanta area as well.

  3. Unless the agency is willing to provide more firearms training then it wont happen.
    And I dont mean “open range time”. If your agency has a tactical unit then send officers in pairs to shadow these officers at their range days.

    Standing in one place and shooting at a non moving paper target is nothing like the real world.
    There is a reason that most SWAT units shoot their entire qualification course while moving. Not one single stationary shot is fired.

  4. There is no excuse for being untrained with a weapon that is carried as the primary life preserving tool.

    The majority of Police are poorly prepared to enter a fight with a handgun. Most CCW people are in the same boat.

    Most Action Shooting Sports people are do not carry a gun day in day out to defend life.

    Those who do carry a gun to defend life, be it LEO or CCW have no excuse for not being highly trained at their use. The training is there, the money is there and the time is there IF it’s a priority for you.

    I’d take your bet any day of the week because I don’t make excuses for a lack of training, I continue to train and get better every year as should anyone that packs a gun, especially those that are paid to do so.

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