Monday, July 8, 2013

IPSC Equipment: Shoes

Perusing my older equipment articles, reveals that I haven't discussed shoes. Is this even important? Well, it depends. If you've invested a substantial amount in your equipment, in the continual search for improvement, why would you overlook your traction? I found that normal track shoes, or runners, weren't effective on wet grass or loose gravel, so I decided to explore what my options were.
Shoes aren't really marketed to the IPSC community. I found a single type, cleats, that were sold on an IPSC website, and observed what some of the local shooters wore, and bought my first pair.

Nike Land Sharks
Fairly common amongst IPSC competitors.
These are affordable, at anywhere between US$40 - 70. My first pair, black and white, lasted me two seasons, and certainly provided me with far more grip than I had experienced before. There are shortcomings, though. They are useless on hard, smooth surfaces. So if you are shooting indoors, or a stage has an obstacle, like a smooth ramp or stairs, then your traction is seriously compromised. Nevertheless, I liked them and eventually colour co-ordinated mine, to match my every growing red gear. However they are not comfortable for all-day wear, as they have a very rigid structure. So I found myself wearing running shoes, during my working stints, until I lost my footing severely, whilst RO'ing a competitor.
That being said, they remain part of my equipment, with me using them for muddy surfaces, so as to not ruin my more expensive shoes, or where solid traction is a must. They're also easier to clean.
Because of the nature of our climate, I find we tend to shoot a lot indoors, and cleats weren't a good option. Neither were traditional running shoes, which didn't handle standing on spent brass too well. This resulted in me looking for shoes that could be used for indoors; in other words, had a soft sole to handle smooth surfaces, but which were also aggressive enough to provide traction where spent brass was in abundance.
Salomon Speedcross III
Increasingly common amongst IPSC competitors, particularly at the larger matches. Receives good reviews on IPSC blogs.
These shoes are really nice, albeit a bit more expensive at US$120 - 150. They are also very narrow, giving you a tight fit. I like the lacing system. It's easier and more convenient than traditional laces. They seem well constructed and offer very good traction on smooth hard surfaces. I haven't used mine outdoors all that much, but because of the softer sole, you can expect these shoes to wear out faster. They are also comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time. The sole padding seems reasonable, and standing on brass isn't uncomfortable. They're really nice, and are available in all sorts of colours.

Inov8 Mudcaws
Not as common, but well reviewed on IPSC blogs. 
I've always known about these shoes, and have seen a growing number of people use them. When I saw them in my colour I couldn't resist. They look aggressive, and comfortable. They are also relatively expensive at between US$120 - 150. They are very light, which was surprising. Also, the construction is very thin, which gives you the impression that they are cheap. The lacing system is traditional, and the padding in the sole is barely existent, to the point that you can feel every pebble that you stand on. The traction is good, although I have slipped a few times on loose surfaces. I'm still new to these shoes, and have been somewhat disappointed, but that may change. They are comfortable for long wear, but I would have liked more sidewall support, and a more padded sole.
At the moment, I would say the Salomon's would be my top pick, and if you are more budget conscious, the Nike Land Sharks. These shoes are freely available online. I usually buy from Zappos USA.
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