What is happening to IDPA is the inevitable result of the fact that it's a sport that's judged. As such, it must inevitably reward non-tactical behavior. There's nothing wrong with shooting sports, of course, and everything right with something that brings shooters into the fold. The problem with tactically minded folks participating heavily in them, though, is that sports like IDPA and IPSC are actually too much like real tactical shooting - but not actually it. You can easily get confused under stress about what the right thing to do is, and the things you have spend hundreds of hours practicing. As an example: professional tennis players need to have a break from tennis. Maybe they golf or sail or ski. But they don't play squash. Squash and tennis are too much alike, and their squash practice would certainly adversely affect their tennis game.
What is the value of competitive shooting sports like IPSC and IDPA? They actually do offer quite a bit to the true tactical shooter. They gun handling skills (drawing, fast and accurate shooting, reloading, etc.) like few other activities can. But you must compete in moderation and practice in true tactical fashion in quantity if you want to keep your "muscle memory" prepared for a real confrontation.
How To Train: Statically, Dynamically and Interactively
So how do you train for the street? One of the most intelligent ways to think about the answer to this question comes from Dave Young, of CAPS, the folks that make live-fire interactive simulators. Dave says that there are three levels of training that every competent shooter should go through on a regular basis: static, dynamic, and interactive.
The first level is static training. Here we are talking about range training, usually stationary shooters and static targets. At this level of training, the shooter hones the fundamentals of the weapon and marksmanship.
The second level is dynamic training. It can be done at a low level with moving shooters and moving/drop-turn targets, and shoot-house exercises. But it is much better accomplished with a simulator in which a scenario unfolds in video form in front of you. At this level the shooter learns proper decision making, learns about the critical reaction and perception time-frames involved in an encounter, develops appreciation for cover, and proved their ability to professionally and safely operate their weapon in a real-life environment. Besides being about the lowest-cost simulator on the market, the CAPS system has the additional advantage of being the only live-fire system; the shooter uses his or her own weapon with live ammunition throughout the exercise. This is a tremendously important advantage.
Would you fly with a pilot who has only developed his/her skills on a video-game simulator, or would you insist on flying with one who has actually flown an airplane? Likewise, should you ever have to defend the actions of a student - or your own actions, would you rather have the jury see evidence of you playing expensive video-arcade games, or would you rather have them know you exercised good judgment in a realistic scenario with a your own real gun and real bullets? Also consider that once you have mastered the fundamentals of shooting, everyone is still vulnerable to "flinch." We all reach the point where we can dry-fire all day long and our front sight never moves, yet we still are flinching more that we want to during live-fire. So just because you can control a non-recoiling laser gun in a simulation does not all mean that you have proven your ability to hit with a real gun, for real.
The third stage of training is interactive training, using replica guns and actual (but not-lethal) projectiles. Here we are talking about Simunations or airsoft weapons, with airsoft the preferred choice for several reasons. First airsoft replicas are widely available for almost any firearm, meaning that you can use your own holsters and gear, and you will be operating a firearms system identical to your real firearm. Second, as a non-marking technology, you can train in your actual training environment - your own houses, offices, cruisers, schools, etc. (Marking projectiles are not necessary since the participants usually know where and when they've been hit, and if they don't the instructor running the exercise does.) Finally, airsoft is very inexpensive, meaning that more training will get done more often. In this third level of interactive training shooters develop and demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of three-dimensional combat with all of their force options.
How to do it