Scoring in IDPA is all about time–and while most people concentrate on the shooting aspects (because poor shooting penalizes you with additional time) many people new to IDPA don’t realize that much of the time spent on an IDPA stage consists of non-shooting moments. (On most stages, at least.)
And there are things you can do to save yourself time during those non-shooting moments! ANY time you save on a stage makes your score better–which means that doing something as simple as setting up a reload to be taken on the move to a new position instead of later as a standing reload, can have a HUGE effect on your overall score.
So here is a basic, non-exclusive list of some of the things you can do to save time during the non-shooting moments of a stage in IDPA (and it obviously relates to USPSA and ICORE also):
- Be proactive about your reloads. Any time you have a standing reload, you are wasting time, period. A standing reload is almost always the worst choice possible. As such, set up your stage plan so if you burn an extra round on one array you can reload on the move so as not to have a standing reload on the next array. Similarly sometimes if you perform a tactical reload while on the move to the next array you won’t have a standing reload on that next array. Those will all save HUGE amounts of time! For a discussion about how that works, take a look at one of my prior posts about reloads in IDPA.
- Do everything while moving except for the shooting parts–and sometimes do the shooting parts on the move, too. At the start of the stage, if you have to draw and take two steps into the first shooting position? Draw while moving. Or perhaps the first targets are taken “in the open” before you advance to the first shooting position? Draw while moving, then if your skills are sufficient to get good hits, shoot while continuing to move toward the next shooting position. You get closer to the targets as you shoot them, and also will be closer to the next shooting position when you finish shooting the targets in the open. Take advantage of any motion you can perform to save time–and if you have to do other things while moving, do them! After all, you are going to have to move anyway, so you might as well save time by getting other things done also.
- Be ready to shoot as you enter the next shooting position. All too often, you will see shooters quickly move to the next shooting position, then stop and bring the gun up to shoot. Instead, AS you enter the next shooting position bring your gun up to your eye-line and be ready to shoot the minute your eyes/gun clear cover and the targets are available. This also means that when you enter a shooting position, enter into the stance you will be shooting from. (You will see plenty of people run to a shooting position, stop, drop into a shooting stance, then bring the gun up to shoot. This takes MUCH longer than if you step into your stance while bringing the gun up AS you reach the shooting position.)
- Similarly, enter a shooting position with the intent to LEAVE. Place yourself in a mobile stance when you enter the shooting position so that the moment you are finished, you MOVE and head to the next shooting position. Again, often you will see people finish at one position, lower the gun, shift their stance (perhaps after one last look at the targets they just shot) and THEN finally leave for the next shooting position. That takes SO much longer than shooting from a movement position and leaving as the gun recoils from your last shot on that array.
- Do all non-shooting things as quickly as possible. When shooting, sometimes you need to take more time to carefully hit your targets–but when you AREN’T shooting, there is no reason to do anything at any other speed than “as fast as you possibly safely can.” Move at maximum speed. Draw as quickly as you safely can. Reload at your top speed. Shoot ONLY at the top speed at which you can get down-zero hits—but do everything else as quickly as possible.
- Do everything you can legally do to save time. Follow the rules–but within the rules, do everything you are legally allowed to do to minimize your stage time. They want you to start with all mags on a table? Find out if you have to pouch them all, or can just pouch one, load one, and move on. You want to reload after that first array (after starting with mags on a table)? Find out if the table is considered to be a magazine retention space so you can do a tac reload before moving and just drop the old mag on the table without having to pocket it. (You should be able to—the mags started there, so it should be a mag retention space.) Or perhaps the start position has the loaded gun on the table, and says “hands touching the table”? Then put your hands right next to the gun, immediately ready to pick it up. Start position says “holding paper in both hands”? Ok, do that, but put your hands right next to your cover garment to more easily sweep it out of the way to draw.
Little things add up over the course of a match. If on each stage you do something that saves you only one second—over the course of a major match you can save yourself 10 seconds. And in the last major match I shot, the difference between first and third place was less than 10 seconds. (I was unfortunately none of those.)
Overall—when you come up to the stage, think through your stage plan and see where you can do the non-shooting portions faster. You’ll be amazed at how much difference it makes to your stage results!