What I Wish I Had Known Before My First IDPA Match
y the end of the day, I was out of my head and having a great time! I finished the match thinking it’d definitely be something I’d like to do again. On the drive home, I could not believe how the day started off so bad and yet ended up so great!
(Photo Credit: Łucasz Tomczyk)
There were a few things I wish I had known going into it that would have helped me enjoy it sooner:
-This match bears almost no resemblance to USPSA. It’s not at all about finding or creating a more efficient way to shoot the points. It is ABSOLUTELY about shooting the points the way the stage designer wants you to as quickly as possible. Don’t confuse the two. It’s not about running your pistol as fast as possible in whatever direction plays to your strengths. This game is all about execution.
-This is not a hits divided by time match. You aren’t going to get extra points for being creative. They design the stages to be shot a specific way, and it’s likely you’ll incur penalties if you shoot it differently. For the most part, stick to the way it was intended to be shot, put your rounds through the zero circle, and do it faster than anyone else and you’ll do well.
-Listen to the brief, figure out how to move through the stage like it requires, and ASK THE SO if your movements are okay. They may not explicitly tell you you’re good to go, but they might give you hints or clues or suggestions as to ways you could change it to shoot the stage more appropriately.
-If you don’t already know the definition of cover as it pertains to a particular situation, or if a prop seems to leave some question as to how cover will be called, ASK! Your SO’s will tell you what will constitute appropriate cover and what won’t.
-And on that note, if ANYTHING leaves room for interpretation, ASK! Don’t assume something will be within the parameters, get conformation that it will.
-Use your squad mates. Some of them have been shooting this a Very. Long. Time. They know what you can and can’t do, and are usually more than willing to share their knowledge and ideas. Again, these stages aren’t about finding a better way to do things, they’re about perfect execution of a pre-determined plan. If you can’t seem to figure out what the stage is asking you to do, ask your squad.
-It’s okay to shoot up-range, as long as your muzzle stays inside the Muzzle Safe Zone. Your SO will show you where the cones are, and it’ll most certainly feel weird. You’ll probably trigger freeze at first, but you’ll get used to it.
-There are more draws from a seated position than you’re probably used to. Practice at home how to draw your pistol while seated in a chair, on a bench, or squatted down, without sweeping yourself.
-You are not allowed to take a sight picture or dry fire during make ready. Insert a mag, rack the slide, press check if you must, then holster. You can go through your plan one more time in your head, but if you bring your hand up and punch at targets the way we sometimes do, you’ll likely get called for it.
-The vests aren’t bad, suck it up buttercup.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t think a better stage plan is going to win the day. Execute the stage description, and use your USPSA skills to do it faster than the competition without dropping points. IDPA isn’t easy, there are a lot of things to remember, and as we know, being on the clock intensifies our ability to forget things quickly! If you love USPSA, but live in an area where there’s only one USPSA and one IDPA match per month, don’t shy away. Shoot IDPA too. It’ll require a paradigm shift, and it might even be a little painful at first. BUT, it’ll help you be more accurate. It’ll help you learn to shoot better from awkward positions. It’ll help you focus on other skills by removing the stage-planning process.
I get it if it’s not your passion, some people feel the same way about USPSA. But shooting is shooting, and we can always learn something new. If you’re lucky, you’ll do it surrounded by people you enjoy, at a match where a lot of bright, dedicated, hard-working individuals put a ton of time and effort into building bunch of really fun stages and running an exceptionally great match. (And really, the props are crazy fun. They made the match way more exciting by adding an X-factor!)
Don’t listen to the nay-sayers on either side who tell you one discipline is “better” than the other. “Better” is a judgement that only you can make. They’re both games. They’re both about shooting points on a clock. They both have rules designed to keep the game fair and to measure speed and accuracy.
And, for what it’s worth, neither have targets that shoot back, so I think it is still anyone’s guess who will be the first to get killed in the streets. Find someone who shoots IDPA and make them take you with them next time. You might be surprised, I know I was!
(Photo Credit: Łucasz Tomczyk)
Gun Racer and Gear Breaker