Concealed Carry Corner: How Competition Improves Carrying Concealed

Matt E
by Matt E

Welcome back to another edition of Concealed Carry Corner. Last week, we discussed the importance of training with your carry gun every day. If you happened to miss that article be sure to click the link here to check it out. This week, I wanted to talk about another great way to improve your skills and have another option to sharpen your shooting abilities and have fun. Competitions not only allow you to practice with your exact carry setup but also allow you to have fun and add stress in a safe environment. Let’s take a closer look at how competition improves carrying concealed.

Concealed Carry Corner @ TFB:

How Competition Can Help Carrying Concealed?

Some of you may be puzzled by the idea of competing as a way of improving your skills but throwing yourself in a competitive situation where you have to perform under a little pressure helps you see your flaws and overall gives you a better understanding of what needs to be improved. Whether it’s drawing from concealed, reloading skills, or just the fundamentals of shooting, these competitions will allow you to see not only your strengths but also areas you need to improve.

Adding the competitive aspect to your training will put a new level of stress onto the body creating a similar need to perform under stress like you would be in a self-defense situation. Competitions aren’t anywhere near the same level of stress but it’s still more stress and need to perform than just training on a static range. Depending on what style of competition you do, you can work on a number of skills that may otherwise be tricky to replicate under regular range trips.

IPSC Competitions

When it comes to IPSC competitions, this is typically the fastest section of shooting. Most of the shooters will have belts and guns specifically designed to perform well in particular stages. Training with IPSC stages will help you not only with seeing how effectively you put rounds on target but also how fast you can transition between targets and move from area to area. These competitions will help concealed carriers work on putting rounds on target as well as ammo management along with quickly finding and transitioning to new targets.

Most IPSC stages are all about target acquisition, getting the shots on target, and moving to either the next target or the next part of the stage. This shoot-and-move approach can create a sense of urgency which helps in training and allows the shooter to feel a sense of urgency you don’t get in shooting a situation just on your own at a flat range. There have been plenty of times when I will rush through a stage in an effort to get a good time and either miss a target by not seeing it or shoot a poor group because I want to rush to the end of the stage. This allows you to rush and make mistakes in a safe environment rather than in real life when your life depends on it.

IDPA Training

If I had to pick a competitive style that works best for carrying concealed, it would have to be IDPA matches. These matches are specifically designed to help people train and practice with their main carry gun setups. IDPA was the first type of competition I’ve ever trained with and just after 5-6 competitions, I started to see drastic differences in how I looked at situations and how tight my groups were. The beauty of IDPA is the fact they put real-world situations into play and base shooting stages off potential situations that could happen in real life. Keep in mind, that these may seem exaggerated with 6-8 targets in a given situation but it allows the shooter to practice their skills in a controlled stressful environment.

In most of the competitions I’ve shot for IDPA, the round count was typically around 250 rounds, and worked 5-6 stages practicing everything from one-handed shooting, shooting from the seating position, or even doing one-handed reloads. It allows you to push your comfort zone and train unique skills without being in a dangerous situation first. Occasionally, my area IDPA will have a BUG (Back Up Gun) night where they ask you to bring not only your main carry gun but a small backup gun to train with as well. It’s an interesting experience.

Mix Competitions in With Training

While competitions won’t replace training, it’s certainly a good benchmark to see where your skills are at a given time. I’ve met plenty of people who only train while others think competitions are the best way to train for self-defense situations. I would argue there’s a cycle to improve your skills over time. Personally, I start with static range training. It’s always good to start with building the fundamentals of shooting like trigger control, sight picture, and recoil management.

Once you’re getting the basic skills down, it’s time to check out a competition just to get a baseline of things you’re good at and things you need to improve. It’s great to take a notebook and write down your observations or things you struggle with. Once you get a baseline of things to practice, then it’s time to hit the range up again and work on skills through training on your own and the cycle repeats. Slowly but surely, your skills will build and become stronger with enough practice and testing yourself through competitions.

Overall Thoughts

It can be overwhelming thinking about going out and competing on your own, but everyone in the community has been supportive and helpful in my past experiences. Training at a static range is great at building your skills but competitions not only allow you to build your skills but introduce this idea of simulated stress which allows you to see how you’ll react under stress and what your performance will be based on these elevated stress levels.

What do you guys think about competitions when it comes to helping with carrying concealed? Is it a positive way to reinforce your skills or is it best to stick to flat-range training? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you have questions about carrying concealed or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there and we will see you next week for another edition of Concealed Carry Corner.

TFB’s Concealed Carry Corner is brought to you by GLOCK

Matt E
Matt E

I'm an avid shooter and love educating whether it's at my job or in the shooting community. I'm an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions.I'm active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator.

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2 of 7 comments
  • Epsilon Phui Epsilon Phui on Apr 05, 2024

    Unfortunately, IDPA did away with penalties for exposing yourself from cover because it was too subjective. The competition aspect drove the change because it was up to a judge to make the call and each judge has a different opinion. I am never going to be fast enough to compete at that level, but I enjoy IDPA anyway. I use it to improve my skills by competing against myself, maintain cover, "slice the pie" etc. It is fun, the people that shoot at my range are great, and it adds a lot of elements, including stress, to training that I would not likely do on my own. Frankly, adding anything that increases round counts with my carry gun is a good thing.

  • Abel_Archer83 Abel_Archer83 on Apr 05, 2024

    I've spent time shooting idpa and it was good fun. The only issue I see is no one outside of a bug match actually shot anything but duty size guns. Trigger time is trigger time but I'm not sure how well it transitions to your carry gun if you aren't actually competing with it.