Introduction to IDPA Competition

So, you’ve heard about an IDPA match being held nearby, and want to give it a try. But…you’ve never done it before. What do you need to know to get started? What gear do you need? How do you sign up? What match procedures are standard? What are the basic rules for how the match goes?

What follows is not a comprehensive walk-through of all the rules and procedures for IDPA–but it should give you what you need to safely manage your first match. Because that’s the point of the first match, really—completing it safely. If you are SAFE in your first match, you’ll enjoy yourself and you’ll know what sorts of things you need to do to go back and do even better in your next match. So…your goal in your first match is to be safe, and not get disqualified.

So, how do you get started?

1) Registering for the match:
These days, most matches have their registration set up on Practiscore.com. If you plan on shooting matches of any type, you might as well click on that link and go ahead and register for a free account.

Most places who hold matches will literally give you a direct link to their match registration. Or, you can search “Matches” in Practiscore, and find it that way. You can also just search for clubs in your area that are holding matches.

For example, if you want to shoot IDPA near Omaha, The Marksman Indoor Range and Inner 10 both hold monthly matches (on different days, so that you can do both!) and you can find them both on Practiscore:

The Marksman: https://practiscore.com/clubs/idpa_at_marksman_indoor_range
Inner 10: https://practiscore.com/clubs/idpa_omaha

(If you are near Lincoln, Thunder Alley also holds IDPA matches. Search them out!)

Take a look at the divisions in the IDPA Rulebook so that you know what division to sign up for. If you aren’t an IDPA member yet, your “class” will be UN for “unclassified.”

2) Going to the match:
First things first: If you show up with a loaded carry pistol, always immediately contact a range safety officer so they can take you into a bay to unload and show clear. IDPA matches are almost always held on cold ranges, so you should not have a loaded firearm unless you are on the line shooting the stage.

The match will have a defined “Safe Area” in which you can handle firearms. However, no ammunition handling is allowed in the Safe Area. So, when you come to the range, you can gear up with your holster and mag pouches pretty much anywhere, then walk to the Safe Area to take your pistol out of its bag and holster it. (Cleared and empty.) You can also practice draws and dryfire in the Safe Area, along with any gun maintenance that needs to happen. But NO AMMUNITION HANDLING. (Because that’s a DQ offense, and you don’t want that to happen.)

You can load magazines and handle ammunition (though obviously, not putting any in the gun) anywhere ELSE on the range that isn’t the Safe Area.

If you have ANY questions about safety procedures and so on, ASK. The range staff and the match safety officers would really prefer not to have to DQ anyone. But safety is important–if you break a safety rule, you’ll be done for the day. (Whereupon we want you to go home and practice safe gun-handling some more, but definitely want you to come back and try it again.) When in doubt, ask a question.

3) What gear do I need to shoot an IDPA match?
The nice thing here is that the gear/equipment needed for IDPA is pretty minimal.

4) How are IDPA matches scored?
That’s pretty straightforward also.

5) What is this “Tactical Priority” I keep hearing about regarding how to run a stage?
Okay, that part is a little more complicated. Once you practice it a couple of times, however, it ends up being pretty straightforward–and it makes most stage plans very easy to figure out.

6) What other rules should I probably know for my first match?
Like an sport, IDPA has a number of rules, but with the above knowledge, plus one last video about allowed reloads, you should be pretty solid for your first match.

7) Anything else in particular, safety-wise, that you should carefully practice before going to an action match like IDPA?
Watching your 180, keeping the finger out of the trigger guard unless actively engaging targets, and making sure you don’t sweep anything is VERY important.

The main thing is….sign up for a match, get the gear you need, and come out and give it a safe, careful try. People will be more than happy to help you and answer questions–and once you’ve tried it once, you’ll realize that you want to keep doing it, and you’ll have the information you need to start getting better at it.

Come out and shoot!

A Realistic View of Crime in Nebraska

Several years ago I wrote an article about Crime Definitions You Should Think About, talking about the definition of “Aggravated Assault” (as opposed to “Attempted Murder”) and what it meant—and how often it happened.  If you haven’t read that, please take a moment to do so, because it describes the definition of aggravated assault, and why that definition is important.  It’ll make the next part a lot more clear.

Each year, states (and divisions within that state such as county and city departments) are required to report crime statistics in various ways.  One of the most important “indexes” of crime are “Part I” crimes, which include (among other things) the various categories of “Violent Crimes” which are:  Criminal Homicide, Rape, Robbery, and Aggravated Assault.

Most often, people  (when talking about armed self-defense) discuss the criminal homicide rates in their various areas, touting those areas as “safe” or “dangerous” in various descriptions based on those rates, most of which are misleading at best, and downright wrong fairly often.

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How do you gain knowledge?

In a past post, I talked fairly bluntly about how if you don’t have any education, training, or experience in a technical area, you don’t really have a right to an opinion in that technical area.

Unsurprisingly in this time of “everyone is equal and their thoughts are all equally valid, even if they are clueless,” lots of people grew angry about the idea.  It probably would have gone better had if I said it differently, but what I was REALLY thinking was “…your opinion is worthless.”

And I wasn’t wrong.

So how do you get to a point where your opinion is valid in a technical area such as self-defense?  Answer:  Education, training, or experience. (And preferably, all three.)

Let’s start with education (this will be the first in a set of three posts). Continue reading

Why make match videos?

Awhile back, someone asked me why I keep making match videos.  It occurred to me that from the outside, it probably just looks like I’m posting them so people can watch me shoot–and that’s very much not the point.  (Quite frankly, there are a number of stage attempts that I’d rather people didn’t see!) Continue reading

Useful Shooting Accessories, Part I

I’ve been meaning to write a couple of articles listing a number of the useful gadgets and accessories I’ve picked up over time that help me when I’m out shooting. I use these things, and I feel they have really helped make my life easier—whether practicing, competing, or carrying.  In a later post I’ll also talk about what I’ve found that you should NOT use. Continue reading

How much do you practice with your carry gun?

For me, the answer is “pretty frequently,” especially if you consider dryfire to be effective practice.  I dryfire my competition gun frequently, and a percentage of that time I also get in some reps with my carry pistol.  When doing live fire practice for competition shooting, I do the same–I generally start each practice session with a drill using my carry gun from concealment, cold, then put it away and practice with the competition gun.  When I’m done, I then end the session with some reps with my carry gun.  That’s in addition to various dry/live fire sessions with only the carry gun. Continue reading

2019 – New Year, More Practice!

As is normal, at the beginning of each new year I make myself some goals–some shooting skills/practice goals, some informational/conceptual goals, and some self-defense training/practice goals.  As part of that, I also print out a copy of my dryfire practice report, to get myself ready to track everything.

For 2018–I failed badly on most of my goals.  :/   Continue reading

Would you teach the class differently…

A couple of years ago, an acquaintance of mine put up on Facebook a question about “As a firearms/self-defense trainer who teaches courses, if someone came to you knowing (for certain) that they’d have to use their firearm as a lethal-force response to a self-defense threat tomorrow, would you teach them any differently?”

I said:  “Of course I would!”

Whereupon I got jumped all over by lots of people who claimed that as firearms instructors, their classes were all completely focused on teaching REAL self-defense, and that if I had to change my class, it was an indicator that my class just wasn’t very good.

Which just goes to show that like any other group of people, “firearms instructors” contains all kinds, a significant proportion of which are idiots who have no idea what they are talking about.

Why am I right and they were idiots? Continue reading

Rule Three of Concealed Carry

You are a consistent follower of Rule One, so you always carry a gun.  And since you are not merely a gun owner, but instead are actually prepared to defend yourself, you also follow Rule Two, and have trained sufficiently (and have kept in training sufficiently) to have at minimum a solid grounding in the fundamentals of shooting and gun-handling while also acquiring the requisite knowledge of the law with respect to use of force, and use of lethal force.

So what’s the third Rule?

It’s quite simple, really, even though this is the situation where the largest number of people will create the most ridiculous rationalizations to defend their emotional investment in a piece of equipment.

Rule Three of Concealed Carry:  Carry the most effective tool that you can.

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2017: How are you going to get better this year?

At the start of 2016, I posted an article about one of the things I was going to try to do to get better at shooting throughout the year, which was attempt to dryfire every day.  While I didn’t manage to meet my goal of dryfiring every day, I did certainly dryfire much more often than I had in the past, and it made a difference to my shooting.   (I made excuses for myself on some days later in the year, rationalizing not putting in the work.  The excuses weren’t valid, and it isn’t like the extra 3 minutes I got instead of practicing ended up being useful to me.  One of my goals this year is to not make excuses for not doing the work.)

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