I spent another evening last week shooting IPSC practice. It was definitely fun, I returned home with a considerable pile of spent brass. But I must admit, even as a life-long shooter, I find combat pistol shooting a somewhat guilty pleasure.

It is easier for me to see controlled target shooting (slow-fire pistol, archery, or otherwise) as a pure discipline. It's only partially about things going *bang* (which is admittedly fun all by itself.) It is more about developing skill and control of your body and mind. There is nothing difficult about firing a gun, but doing so consistently and with a high degree of accuracy is deceptively difficult.

In many ways, combat pistol shooting is no different. In fact, it may require an even greater degree of discipline. While practice shooting is unable to capture the stress of a truly hostile situation, shooting endlessly variable scenarios against the clock places high demands on a shooter's abilities. Speed & nerves makes you stupid. Hitting a human torso sized target at 5yds hardly seems like a challenge… Try doing it at high speed, with poor lighting, with a large caliber pistol, while engaging multiple targets. Combat shooting is not like what you see in the movies… well, maybe it's a bit like being a bad guy in the movies that can't seem to hit a damn thing. In the last few weeks I have developed considerable respect for those that can do this well.

However, I am a bit unnerved by some of the undertones of combat shooting. While practice is just fun and games, I can't help thinking about it in terms of real life and death situations. Also, I can hardly imagine anything more psychologically resonant than a loaded pistol in your hand. For me the combination can be like a window to the soul… If I imagine being mugged, or someone breaking into my house… what do I do? what do they look like? (black or white?) If I had a gun in my hand would I feel more in control? Would I shoot to kill? How would I feel afterwards? I can't say I comfortable with all my answers.