By Søren Renshi, october 2012
Right now was the second to shoot, not in a moment but right now. There was only one problem, my trigger finger had gone into spasm and I couldn’t move it down to the trigger and shoot. What the f… do I do, I thought. Now I had watched my finger carefully the whole weekend in order to be away from the trigger, and in the moment it actually was allowed, it couldn’t because of cramps. There was only one thought in my head, to smash the pistol into the target area, since it had to be hit. But irrespective of how much I tried to throw the pistol, it was stuck on my finger. It seemed as if my finger was attached to the gun by super glue. Ok, plan C was next, the target had to be hit by my left hand. But I could not move and started to sink into the ground.
Yes, now it was my turn to approach stage 1, and I woke up from my nightmare. Actually, it wasn’t because I was sleeping, but this whole weekend we had heard a lot about peoples’ sick minds which turned IPSC shooting into more than a sport just like football. And in this moment I wondered how sick my own mind was. But we should leave this aspect now since I could risk to become hospitalised 🙂
During the course focus lies on safety constantly to get the participants used to this, which may lead to dreams about this issue at night – or at daytime in between shooting sessions 🙂
The past 10 months, especially the latest 5-7 months of structured shooting sessions, 5 of the chief instructors have been preparing intensively to get ready for the IPSC A-license course. A course aiming at making us confident of the formula 1 of shooting, and which would be the grand final of a project which has drawn attention several places worldwide.
Could that be different in perspective of our projects within Shindenkan?
No – since we don’t do anything accidentially, and we don’t do anything meaningless. The POMW project is absolutely no exception. IPSC A-license was intended to be the conclusion of part 1 of POMW project, which everybody had worked towards. Although another small step still is missing, which won’t be a problem.
In my personal perspective the path towards this weekend had been full of challenges, since some people related to shooting environments didn’t feel comfortable or happy about that I was reaching competence in IPSC shooting, and rather would like to prevent that. Those I would like to tell, that it takes lots more to stop a Shindenkanian with a goal.
I could have chosen a less challenging path towards my goal, but unfortunately I tend to not always to listen to others’ experiences, and then I have to learn the hard way.
Our course began with a cup of coffee and a presentation of all the participants and instructors. Hereafter we attended the shooting range, where we were asked to build stages and to demonstrate our shooting competences – meaning, if we were capable of hitting the target, and how.
Were our shots scattered on the target or gathered in one of the target’s zones which it is divided into (alpha, charlie and delta zone, alpha representing the best hit). My personal shots lay together in the border between alpha and charlie zones, the main part of these in alpha zone which was a quite good result of the first shooting exercise. I also glimpsed at the targets of the other chief instructors and could see that their shots were gathered in groups as well. After this shooting session we were divided into teams and were asked to shoot on two different stages.
In my team we were four participants. A firefighter and three Shindenkanians, myself, Martin Renshi and Kjeld Renshi-dai. My team had to start on the small shooting range, which does not make shooting easier – on the contrary. For in this case you are challenged by stages with high demands for correct pistol movement.
When you shoot IPSC, there are some security angles at each stage that you are not allowed to exceed. This means that the pistol muzzle may not point in a direction outside of these angles. On the stages we were passing the safety angles became smaller and smaller, while movement possibilities decreased – a major challenge for all of us, but also a very instructive one. One can also say that the training all chief instructors had received from Kimu Sensei payed off. We got very fast control of how to move around the stages, and we shot some good shots in the alpha zone.
IPSC is about to carry out shooting with accuracy, power and speed – meaning to pass as quickly as possible, with as accurate shots as possible, and the combination of these two things shows the shot’s power factor. At the same time you must stick to all safety rules to not get DQ’ed (disqualified). Otherwise you do not get a second chance in the match.
During the course it was ok to be DQ’ed for at this point the goal was to learn. If you were DQ’ed, you were allowed to shoot again – which was not such a bad thing. The only time you absolutely should not be DQ’ed, was under examination as the consequence would be the end of the license.
After the group had passed many of the stages in the small area, we changed with the other group and moved to the large area. Here we had to move over longer distances and with more targets to be hit. There were targets overturning and targets swinging from side to side. We should also perform slightly different shooting positions and some karate, with a door to be kicked open to access some targets. Shooting is great fun. But even if it is fun, you have to remember that shooting is highly dangerous if you do not comply with safety rules all the time. It can go badly wrong if you forget safety and a shot goes off in the wrong direction. The kind of DQ I got sometimes, was that my trigger finger was placed on the trigger at times when it definitely should not be there. This is a thing you are not much aware off, but which is very important. This detail was something that I worked a lot on to remember, and which leaded my thoughts in the direction I described at the beginning of this article.
Most of the participants had shot with rifle and pistol through many years. In fact, some had experience between 7-30 years. Shindenkans’ chief instructors have between 5-7 months of serious pistol experience. Serious refers to structured training approx. 1-2 times a week. Prior to that none of the chief instructors had much experience with pistol, they had only some knowledge about shooting with rifle and pistol, a single had experience from the period being a soldier. But it did not match the experience of the other participants at all. All the shooting instructors were highly experienced, a single one was actually the first IPSC shooter from Denmark .
As the course progressed, it became increasingly clear to us all, if you really have to show what you can perform with a modern weapon, that IPSC is not without reason the formula 1 of shooting. To stand on a stage and spend all the time in the world you have in order to aim, anyone can learn. But learning to perform shooting with speed, accuracy and power is reserved for few. IPSC is uncomparable in the matter of shooting, only oneself can decide the outcome and only oneself is to blame when things go wrong. Unfortunately, only very few of the IPSC shooters I’ve met think this way. Possibly they look at IPSC as a sport like football, where we all know that the grass is to blame when a team loses 🙂
You have always to remember that there is a human being behind the weapon. It is the person who fails security, the person who does not hit the target and it is the person who does not run fast enough on the range. But it’s also the person who can do the opposite and thus better. Therefore you have to look at yourself when things are not going well, and of course also when they are. I noticed during the course that all the instructors were very open to share experience. They also pointed out often that we should feel free to ask questions. Conversely, they also underlined that if you became aware of some noteworthy detail you should not share it with others right away. This was strange in a way to think about, and the opposite of what we are used to in Shindenkan. In Shindenkan, if you become aware of something possibly important, you share it, so that everyone can learn from it and maybe improve. Though we do not compare ourselves with football or other sports. We recognize what and who we are, and what we not are. We can not be anyone else but ourselves.
After many hours of training in mud and rain the time came for final exam where we had to pass four stages without being DQ’ed. The two first stages my group had to pass were in the small area, first using both hands, and afterwards almost the same stage, but by only using the “strong hand”. For me personally it worked out okay. I passed, and I could see that my score were acceptable. Martin Renshi increased the level on the “strong hand” track, where he shot double alpha all the way, meaning two shots in the alpha zone on all targets. That’s the way to do it.
After these two stages we were assigned to the large area and to shoot at two major stages with larger movement range. Here it was really fun. Shooting prone, shooting under a boom, running and shooting at targets overturning and metal plates making sounds as in movies, and finally shooting at targets lined upon the right and left side of the shooter. The last stage brought up a new dimension, here we had to start sitting on a chair, with all magazines lying in a drawer. This was a fabulous beginning, putting a shooter’s mentality to the test, since it was obvious that inner peace is something you don’t achieve without working for it.
When all stages were finished I felt joy and inner peace about the process. I had a good feeling with the whole course and was happy to pass without being DQ’ed – my goal was reached. Now there were two more matches left without DQ, and then I had the A-license permanently.
The day after the course I had to travel to Saudi Arabia on a work-related trip. And when opening my mail tuesday afternoon, I read an email from Martin Renshi in which he slightly surly stated that I had beaten him. I had not been really aware that we competed but it was a damn good feeling anyway 🙂 And I knew that he was joking. When I opened the attached result files, I could see that he had been No. 2 in all matches, concluding that I was No.1 and had won the 4 exam matches.
I had to read this again a couple of times before I realized that it was a fact. I had become the number 1 on the course. I was really happy, but it was diffucult to share the joy sitting in the desert, and the people around me were obviously not the most appropriate to discuss weapons with. So I had a little cheer and a big smile on my face for the rest of the week – I did it. Of course I had a good reason due to the sun was shining, and to the fact that I, with my approx. 5-7 months of serious experience, had won over participants with 7-30 years experience.
Actually, all chief instructors gained good results. Numpbers 1,2,5,6 and 7 were occupied by Shindenkans’ new IPSC shooters. Certainly we can be proud of ourselves, and I think that even the next in line in Shindenkan can see that the training and education we provide are not random, and that it can really pay off if you go for your goals.