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!