Ever heard of the IDPA? If you are a new shooter, you probably haven’t. So, let me be the one to introduce you to the International Defensive Pistol Association!
If you were to google IDPA, you would find that it is a competition shooting organization and not only click right off of the page but also completely dismiss the idea. While I absolutely understand and sympathize with those of you who do not think you are ready for competition shooting, this club is not what you think it is. Not even close.
Local IDPA clubs are not competitions between people, and there are no winners and losers. Have I got your attention now? Simply put, you are only competing against yourself. Your one goal is to shoot better each time by beating your own score from the week (or month) before. The scores of everyone else are completely irrelevant to yours.
If you want to compete to win, however, then by all means find a national or sanctioned IPDA match to attend. They have those too. IDPA clubs shoot weekly or monthly, and many members then go on to compete in matches across the country. That is not for me. I just like to shoot every week and improve, with no “trophy” waiting at the end.
IDPA: Why You Should Consider Joining
Shooting at paper targets and plinking steel targets is fun, but gets boring. Not only that, is it really preparing you for a real life self defense situation? You point and shoot while taking your time. Then maybe chat with your shooting buddies. Maybe even post a pic on social media. Are you really taking your range time seriously? And practicing both smartly and correctly?
In all IDPA clubs and matches, you will be forced to think and have no attention for anything else. You are given a set of instructions that you must follow immediately upon hearing the buzzer. My first command was “two in the chest.” I’m not going to lie, the first time I was out there it was really intimidating. But boy that buzzer really gets your adrenaline flowing! When you are forced to think, however, your focus actually becomes clearer.
Depending on whether you are inside or outside, you may be shooting from a car, from behind some bushes or boxes, or from the ground. When you first start out, you will be standing still, and most shots will be head on with no interference. But as you progress, you will be walking, running or even charged at if you desire. Instructors are there to help and want to help! They will not put you in any situation you are not comfortable with. You can opt out of anything.
IDPA: Great for Beginners, Average Shooters, and Experts
Everyone, no matter their skill level, needs constant practice to stay proficient with a firearm. The IDPA is a safe and instructive place to learn and keep up these skills. There is absolutely no judgement, but plenty of encouragement!
If you are a new shooter and still intimidated, bring a friend! Or seek out an all ladies IDPA group. It is amazing how women in this sport are so encouraging to one another. Strength is in numbers girls! Many of my Well Armed Women sisters compete at our local range once a month at their all ladies IDPA shoot. The range also has a mixed (men and women) IDPA match once a week. You can go as often or as little as you want!
Even if your friend is an expert and you are a beginner, it doesn’t matter. Each of you will start off where you left off. Maybe even shooting different scenarios. If you take 2 minutes and she takes 2 seconds, it doesn’t matter. Just try to best yourself the next time!
The IDPA simulates real word self defense scenarios in a safe environment. I really can’t think of a better way to keep up your training, and, as a bonus, it’s really fun!
IDPA: Necessary Equipment
One of the most attractive reasons to join the IDPA is that you don’t really need any “special” or “fancy” equipment. While there are specific rules that must be followed, the guns used are basically “stock,” or unmodified and right off the shelf. In other words, regular carry pistols. They must be “self defense calibers,” which means 9mm or greater, for regular semi auto classes and at least 38 special for revolver classes. There are other classes for smaller calibers, but no .22s are allowed.
You must also have a holster, either IWB (In the Waistband), or OWB (Outside the Waistband) and some sort of vest or shirt or jacket that covers it up.
Many IDPA clubs will let you slide a few weeks before *requiring* you to fulfill all of the rules. Our women’s only group is one that does just this. Just show up and you will be accommodated! But if you attend a match, you will have to follow every rule. For a full set of the rules and more info on all things IDPA, click here.
IDPA: How Much Does it Cost?
Not much! To compete in IDPA events, you must first be a member of the organization. It only costs $40 a year to join, or $105 for three years. Then, each event costs whatever the local range charges, usually $10 -$25 per event. Keep in mind that you must provide your own ammunition, and that most matches average 100 rounds.
Some IDPA groups are weekly, and some are monthly. You are not committed to attending every week or every month. You may choose to attend more than one group, or rotate between an all ladies group and mixed groups. Come when you can and don’t if you can’t! But, after you shoot the first time, you will be addicted. That is a promise. Be prepared to *want* to come!
IDPA: Shooting Match Procedures
You will shoot in the order you arrive, usually. You will be briefed on what the tasks will be, and then sent to the “safe” table where you will present your unloaded firearm for inspection. After this, you will be sent back to a holding area and wait for your name to be called to compete. Don’t worry or fret about other people watching what you do. Everyone will be focused on their own shoot.
For each round you will be called up one at the time. There may be more than one shooter up, depending on how many RSO’s (Range Safety Officers) are present. Just keep in mind that everyone is on a different journey. Don’t rush! This sport rewards speed but punishes lack of accuracy. It is better to have a long time with a perfect score than a short time with misses and penalties.
Not too much to worry about here, as this is done for you. All scoring will be explained prior to starting, but here is a primer. Your goal is zero seconds added. For every shot you miss, seconds are added to your score depending on where, or if, you hit the target. If you hit what you are supposed to in 2 seconds, then that is your score. But if you miss, and depending on how far the miss is, seconds are added to your score. All you really need to worry about is getting better each week (or month). The instructor will give you tips on how to improve.
At first, all you need to do is go out there and take on the challenge. That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. When you hear scores better than yours, don’t get discouraged. Never compare someone else’s middle to your beginning. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You are in the minority just by showing up each week! Your persistence will pay off!
IDPA: Firearms Training Made Easy
The IDPA does not advertise itself as a firearms training association, but in my opinion, that is exactly what it is. You are given a chance to practice gun handling skills, draw from concealment, shoot from behind cover, and learn to hit a targets quickly and under pressure—all while instructors are by your side. And, the adrenaline rush you get is very similar to what a real life situation would cause.
IDPA: Gaming or Training?
Think of the IDPA as a game that trains you to be ready for what could happen. But remember, skills take time to build. Do not ever feel a sense of failure when you don’t do well. Learning new skills is hard! Also, there will always be that one person at every event that outdoes everyone, and then brags about it. Don’t strive to be like him or her. You are on your own journey. You can do this!