Guide to Video Accompanying Gold Medal Gunslingers
This collection of eight short clips (a total length of 8:23) is taken from mail-order videotapes about combat shooting. All of the material was produced and published by combat shooters themselves. None of the scenes are anything unusual at a combat shooting competition.
The transcript is printed in standard type with introductory comments in italics.
This first track includes a candid explanation of how "combat" shooting was renamed "practical" shooting to disguise the nature of the event. After that, a world champion shooter reveals that what he likes about combat shooting is the "good guy" fantasy that goes along with it.
NARRATOR: Americans love firearms. They own more guns per capita than any other nation in the world [sic] and there is a historical justification for this phenomenon. America won its freedom by force of arms. By force of arms its citizen army has defended that freedom for over 200 years. Our history is replete with heroes who, pistol in hand, settled our nation, defended our constitution, and enforced the law.
With this historical background it's not hard to understand the American romance with the handgun. What the sword was to Europe, the handgun is to America, and in Europe sword fighting evolved into the formalized sport of fencing. In America, gun fighting has evolved into the formal sport of combat, or IPSC shooting.
The men that made the handgun a legend are now gone, but in their image just such a man has arisen to walk in their footsteps. Winner of the 1985 Bianchi Cup. Winner of the 1985 World Speed Shooting Championship: Rob Leatham.
Only once in a lifetime is a shooter with such extraordinary skill, speed, and accuracy born onto the face of the earth.
ROB LEATHAM: Wait a minute, that's a bunch of bull! The part about me. Anyone� even you�can do the same thing.
NARRATOR: The action shooting sport has grown rapidly over the past 10 or 12 years. This growth was led by California and Arizona, where men like Jeff Cooper, Jack Weaver, Ray Chapman...[and others]...envisioned pistol competition that featured action scenarios. Targets�instead of round bull's-eyes�would be armed adversaries, often more than one. Time required to hit the target was as important as accuracy. They called this new type of competition "practical" or "combat" pistol shooting. The term "combat" has since been dropped for the more innocuous titles of "action," or "IPSC" shooting. IPSC stands for International Practical Shooting Confederation. Today IPSC matches are held all over the world.
ROB LEATHAM: One of the things I like about this style of shooting is the fantasy that goes along with it. The scenarios let you become the good guy for a moment, the hero who saves the day with the power and skill in his hand.
Unlike traditional fixed-position target shooting, combat shooting requires the gun owner to run�and sometimes to jump, climb, or crawl�from one killing scene to another. Some courses of fire are much more explicit than others. Track 2 shows a common scenario at competitions all around the world. It's often called something like "Wake Up" or "Nightmare."
The white targets with the black crosses on them are called "no shoots," or "hostages." The other targets�the ones which get perforated�are commonly referred to as the "bad guys."
Track 3 shows another typical scenario, which draws on self-defense fantasies common to combat shooting.
NARRATOR: This is a 15 round, 75 point Comstock stage, which has the shooter starting laying on a simulated bed with legs crossed and hands and arms relaxed at both sides. Your pistol and ammunition are both in the night stand, 10 feet away.
Some of the worst mass shootings in America have occurred in diners and caf�s. Another common combat shooting fantasy is to outgun the "baddies" and save fellow diners, as depicted in Track 4.
NARRATOR: Stage 10 and Stage 11 are called "Road Kill Caf�," Part I and Part II respectively, and sponsored by CP Bullets. Here the shooters start with hands flat down on the table, seated at a booth in a caf� with the gun on the table top, muzzle facing downrange. Here's our next shooter, this is Herb Connolly.
Like all firearm-related sports, combat shooting tries hard to attract new young competitors. This brings in fresh blood and sells more guns. Pistol clubs take great pride in highlighting the participation of both women and children.
NARRATOR: Now here's the youngest shooter at this year's championship, he's also from San Diego. This is Damien Mikelson.
You can see Damien is a very aggressive shooter out of the gate there,11.19 seconds is his time.
DAMIEN MIKELSON: Actually my dad started shooting and I went out with him, and for about a half a year I watched people shoot, and people just offered me to use their guns and try it, so I said "OK." My dad bought me a little Ruger .22 and I started shooting with that.
NARRATOR: How long ago was that?
MIKELSON: About, almost two years.
NARRATOR: And you're how old now?
MIKELSON: I'm 14.
A popular combat shooting event is the three-gun shoot, which features assault rifles, riot shotguns, and large-caliber semi-automatic pistols. In Great Britain, where handguns have been banned by law, the same competition survives as the two-gun shoot.
NARRATOR: The shotgun. The rifle. The pistol. Three different firearms. Is there one person who can master all three, one person who is the best at three completely different disciplines? There's only one way to find out.
UNNAMED WOMAN: The Masters is all handguns, three different categories, three different styles. I like probably the combat of it. It's more situation/practical shooting, so you could�might have to use it down the road some time. Hopefully not!
NARRATOR: From an assault rifle stage to an assault shot gun stage. Next up is "Up Your Alley," sponsored by Winchester.
Many combat shooters will tell you it's all just a game. But the gun lobby also uses IPSC events to pursue a serious political agenda. By gaining recognition for combat shooting, its leaders hope to legitimize the private ownership of the non-sporting firearms it features�including military assault weapons.
DAVE STANFORD, USPSA President: They wanted to see something done under the USPSA format and we tried to give them what they asked for. We are probably the only sport right now that is really building and improving, and now we're branching into combined arms matches. All of our matches really involve semi-automatic firearms, so we're really one of the strongest bulwarks towards legitimizing the continued use of semi-automatic firearms in America.
And it's not just in the United States. In many countries with a less evident gun culture, combat shooting is promoted by enthusiasts as an ideal way to persuade the authorities to permit civilians to possess non-sporting weapons, either at home or at work. This videotape tells us that combat shooting is practiced in 35 countries. Yet the international body, the IPSC, claims there are combat shooting clubs in 65 countries.
BILL McCARTHY: The International Practical Shooting Confederation, IPSC, was the originator in 1976 of practical shooting which is now a worldwide sport covering some 35 regions or countries. NZPA [New Zealand Pistol Association] requires shooters to have a minimum level of experience and participate in a comprehensive training program before competing in action or practical shooting. A minimum power level is required for ammunition. And speed, accuracy, and power are rated equally.