It must be the shoes!

Choice of footwear for the practical shooting sports remains one of the least standardized pieces of equipment in the games. What works for people tends to differ widely, depending on their individual feet, their movement style, and personal taste. If we’re talking IDPA, your footwear choices are also limited by the rules of the game (no cleats!). Regardless, the shoes you wear need to be comfortable for a long day of standing, and provide enough support and grip to keep your feet solidly on the ground in a wide variety of surfaces.

For a long time, the best shoe for my criteria have been the Adidas Turf Hog low cleats. These are actually an artificial turf baseball and football shoe with a large number of low nubs that are reasonably soft in composition, allowing them to remain secure even on wood and concrete surfaces. I’ve worn them in pretty much every condition you can imagine, including snow, deep mud, rain, dust, rocks, concrete, wooden decks, you name it. Minus a couple of specific conditions (dust over hard rock), the shoes have stuck hard in all those conditions. Unfortunately, it seems like perhaps Adidas has decided to stop making them.

To me, the most effective shoe gives me a solid connection to the ground, even under a hard launch. I tend to get my center of gravity out in front of my feet in some situations which in turn causes me to slip sometimes when the surface isn’t favorable. A shoe that helps mitigate that situation is a must, for me. They also need to be very comfortable. I’ve worn cleats in the past where I could literally feel the actual cleats on the bottom of the shoe pressing into my foot after just a couple of hours of standing in them. Having sore feet doesn’t do anyone any good.

I started looking for a new shoe to replace the Turf Hog as my main footwear, and came across an interesting trail running shoe made by a company called Inov-8 – the Mudclaw 333. Inov-8 makes a number of shoes that are popular in the CrossFit community, due to their low heel and light weight – in fact, I have a pair of their f-lite 230s that I use for workouts, and like them a lot.

So, I ordered up a pair of the Mudclaw 333s from Zappos.com to try out. About the same time, a friend of mine with connections at Adidas was able to get ahold of a pair of Turf Hog Mids. I’ve worn mids before, but really prefer a low-cut shoe – but it’s nice to have a pair of what I know already works, and having a new pair of Turf Hogs will allow me to compare/contrast the Mudclaws against them directly. A little shooting shoe showdown, if you will…

As you can see in the photos, the Mudclaws have fewer lugs on them than the Turf Hogs, and they’re a bigger, chunkier lug. However, the rubber on the sole is very sticky, and some preliminary tests suggest that the Mudclaws will not be detrimental on smooth surfaces like concrete or wood. Time will tell, as I have a chance to use them on various different surfaces in match conditions.

One thing to be aware of about Inov-8 shoes – they seem to run about a size small. I nominally wear a US size 11 (though recently I find an 11.5 fitting better in a lot of manufacturers’ shoes). I wear 11.5 Turf Hogs, but needed a 12 in the Mudclaw to fit correctly. Luckily, Zappos has free shipping in both directions, and I was able to quickly remedy the situation. Inov-8 shoes are a little tough to find locally in most places, thus the online ordering without being able to try them on first.

I have no idea how the Mudclaw 333s would be received by the IDPA community. They are clearly not intended to be cleats, per se – these are a trail running shoe intended to be used in soft and muddy conditions. It might be an option for you, if you play that game. Use at your own risk!

About the author


USPSA Grand Master, NRA Instructor, http://re-gun.com/about/

Permanent link to this article: http://re-gun.com/2011/02/it-must-be-the-shoes/

3 pings

  1. DR Performance says:

    It must be the shoes! http://bit.ly/gcKlZf

  2. xre says:

    RT @drperformance: It must be the shoes! http://bit.ly/gcKlZf

  3. Inov-8 Mudclaw 333… what a shoe! | Re-Gun says:

    [...] an informed opinion about Inov-8′s Mudclaw 333. You might remember I mentioned them in my It Must Be the Shoes post a couple of months ago. I can say without reservation that these are the best shoes I’ve [...]

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