I just completed my first IPSC competition today. I took the black badge course last year and it is required to complete one match to be fully certified. Unlike the elaborate match setup in the movies “double tap” or “triple tap”, a real IPSC match is more down to earth. We don’t have old school bus or custom built course with lots of props. All we have are empty barrels and mesh screens pretending to be real combat setting. We also have to help running the match by patching and setting up the target between each shooters. In today’s match, I worked in the morning and shot in the afternoon.
My instructor gave me some good advices, for the first match, try to finish last. It is better to finish the course last than being disqualified. The most common mistake is finger in the trigger while moving or changing magazine or the muzzle of the gun points more than 90 degrees when running to the side or running backward. Once your are disqualified, you are done for the day. Following all the procedures and do not violate any safety rules has the absolute priority.
The second advice is take your time and focus on accuracy first, don’t rush the course. On the stage that an average player takes 30 seconds to finish, while the best players take less than 20 seconds, it took me over 2 minutes to finish. I have fairly good accuracy and had completed a couple stages with most my hits in the A zone. However, at the last stage, I was very tried and start losing focus. I totally missed two targets and screwed up big time. That is partly due to I have to wake up at 5:30am in the morning to arrive at the shooting range on time at 7:30am, and partly due to the stress of shooting over 150 rounds in previous stages really worn me out.
People are friendly at the matches and I learn a lot just by watching how other people shoot. I also meet some interesting person in the match, an old lady play the match to company her husband, a mom using a baby stroller to carry her ammunition, a teenage boy shooting in the match with his dad and his time beats everyone in the group. The majority of the people are middle age men or old men, just like me. To my surprise, I see a lots of Chinese faces, probably a third of players speaks either Cantonese or Mandarin. Looks like shooting is a popular sports among the immigrants.
Playing IPSC is a very unique experience, totally unlike target practice. I felt the excitement and adrenaline rush, but at the same time I have to stay calm and stay cool. A match day is pretty slow, you are sitting there watching other people shoot most of the time. I stayed in the shooting range from 7:30am to 5pm, even longer than a normal work day, but the total game time is probably less than 15 minutes. However, this 15 minutes make the other 9 hours worth waiting for. It would be more fun if there are friends shooting the match together. I should starting promoting IPSC to my friends and lure them to join the game.
There are many competition events in shooting sports. The Olympics Games has .22 rifle and .22 handgun, trap and skeet shotguns. The marksman in Olympics shoots from static position on paper target or flying clays, which is very different from real-life combat scenario. In contrary, the IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) is an very dynamic shooting sport that provides good training on marksmanship and shooting skills. The competitors has to compete on courses or stages featuring different combat scenario including draw the firearm, fire from different positions, moving, reload and avoid shooting no-shoot target. The competitors are ranked based on their speed and accuracy.
I just completed the IPSC black badge training course. But I am not yet black badge certified. I have to shoot a qualifier match to obtain my class classification and provincial ranking first. My instructor Murray Gardner is 8 times national companion and he is really good. The 3 days training course emphasis on safety and we also have a fun time. The IPSC rules are very strict, any unsafe handling of the firearm is a disqualification and you are out of the competition right away. We were given exercises that breaks down all the actions in combat shooting into movements and drills to train us how to shoot safely and effectively.
I learnt a lot from my IPSC instructor. I have been shooting for 3 years and I was holding the gun the wrong way all along! Once I correct my grip, I can see improvement on my accuracy. IPSC is all about speed and accuracy, and out of the two, accuracy is more important. No matter how fast you can pull the trigger, it is useless if you can’t hit the target. You are just wasting ammunition. My accuracy is OK but my time is pretty slow. I scored 44 out of 60 points with 50% of shots hitting the A zone in the target. It took me 2.5 seconds to draw the gun and fire the first shoot, 4.8 seconds to reload and over 15 seconds to fire 6 rounds on 3 targets, reload, and fire another 6 rounds. The world companion can finish the same sequence in less 4 seconds and the instructor can get it less than 5 seconds. Slow is not a problem for IPSC beginners, your will speed up the more you practice those movements. The key is to practice so much that you don’t have to think about how to draw or how to reload, your hands should know where to move from subconcious level. I can practice those movements at home with unloaded firearm to build up my muscle memory, it only takes 15 minutes a day.
I will probably start off at class D in the bottom and my goal is slowly move my way up to class A. Above class A is Master and Grand Master and that is probably out of my reach. There is a long road ahead of me in IPSC. Skiing is my sport in Winters and IPSC is my sport in Summers.
I am never a fan of any sport super stars. I don’t understand why anyone crazy about some strangers playing sport somewhere far away. What is the fun of watching other people play sports on TV? Isn’t it much more fun to play the game yourself? Why would people waste time, energy and money to follow sport stars? Finally I may have a glimpse into the mind of sport fans because I think I have became a fan of Laetitia Daguenel. Laetitia Daguenel is born in France, 18 years old and she is the IPSC world champion. Here is a video of her on youtube.