Training scars: the idea that your practice routine will dictate what you do under stress. Is it real? Yes. Does it need to be? No.
The first objective of basic practice and training is to become proficient at specific tasks, like drawing a pistol or reloading a rifle. Unfortunately, that seems to be where a lot of people stop. In my opinion, the real goal of practice and training is to develop the mental capacity to perform those tasks under stress while still be aware of both the task and the “big picture” situation of what is goin on around you. With no practice, you are unable to do complex things under pressure. With some practice, you are locked into how to perform those tasks so that you don’t have to think about them. But the ultimate goal and purpose of practice is to be able to remain fully conscious of what you are doing under stress, so that you can do the right thing in any given situation.
In my experience, this sort of mental awareness comes from the amount of trigger time one has under stress – whether real stress or artificial competition stress. Competition is a lot more accessible and a heck of a lot safer than real combat, and thus competition is an essential element of any robust training program unless you’re one of those tier 1 special operators who has access to shoot houses full of roleplayers on a daily basis.
The real training scars do not come from shooting too much competition; they come from not shooting enough competition.