Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Fresh eyes at an IDPA match!

Posted by Lissa on July 11, 2011

(The title is a riff off one of my more popular posts, Fresh eyes at a private range.)

IDPA IS AWESOME.  That’s the short version.

Want a longer version?  Why sure!  Okay, so, we left the house bright-and-early to make sure we made it to the range by eight.  In Mike’s case, this meant that he did his run at 4:30 AM instead of 5:30.  In case you were wondering — yeah, he really loves me 🙂  (He’s also training for a half-marathon, so he is in fact psycho.  If you were wondering about that.)

We pulled up at Not My Usual Range (NMUR) and it was already getting hot.  Toss in the fact that I was wearing jeans and it was already getting REALLY hot.  However, I figured we’d be done in a couple hours and be off before it got really hot.

WRONG!!!  OMG I thought it was just going to be one stage.  There were EIGHT stages (though one was optional and not scored).  It’s a good thing I brought literally four times as much ammo as I thought I needed, ’cause I went through almost ALL of it!

For those of you who (like me) are unfamiliar with the sport, International Defensive Pistol Association is meant to mimic real-life shooting scenarios. They limit the capacity to 10+1 (in my class anyway), demand that you wear a cover garment, have rules about how many magazines you can carry and where you can carry them, etc., etc. They actually weren’t that strict about the rules — I saw many people wearing vests that were clearly only for shooting matches, not everyday wear — but I didn’t know that when I got dressed.  Thus, the jeans (with pockets to hold magazines).  The cover garment actually worked pretty well – it was light and short-sleeved but did in fact cover my gun; they checked.

We start unpacking and immediately I find someone to take me under her wing.  Jane, let’s call her, and her husband John, were regular shooters at these matches. She invited me to join her group and I happily obliged.  They were the typical gunnies that I’ve come to expect — very friendly, very courteous, completely helpful, and just all-around awesome.  The whole group was like that, in fact.  They made sure I completely understood the stages and instructions and allowed me to go last every single time so I could see what strategies the others were using.

My first stage? TERRIBLE. I wasn’t clear on Vickers versus Limited Vickers so I only shot two rounds at each of the six targets. (Stupid stupid stupid.) The farthest targets were perhaps thirty feet away and mostly hidden behind friendlies. While Siguette is my favorite gun to shoot and the round capacity wasn’t a factor (I picked up another two ten-round mags the day before), the shorter sight picture is a hindrance for distance shooting.  Add in the fact that this was the first time in my life that I was speed-drawing a loaded gun* and that I went WAY too fast, and it’s not real surprising that I did terrible – I picked up over 20 points-down on that stage alone, PLUS my only failure-to-neutralize that day.

I completely forgot what the Sig Academy taught me about joining the grip towards your body and pushing the gun out. You can see I'm getting my grip and the gun is waaaaaay out there.

(Quick primer on scoring – you get zero points down for center-shots, either head or body, and more points the farther away from center you hit.  Points rack up for hitting friendlies and for failure to neutralize targets.  You have to shoot from cover if it’s available – 100% of your lower half and 50% of your upper body can’t be visible to bad guys unless you’ve already neutralized them, so you “pie” the scene. Shooter with the fewest points wins. More details can be found here.)

I was disappointed, truly. I came in hoping to score out of the bottom quartile, at least, and suddenly I was certain I was going to be the lowest-scoring shooter at the whole bloody match.  Oh, and did I mention that my group happened to include the winners for the CDP-Sharpshooter, CDP-Unclassified and ESP-Expert as well as the third place in SSP-Marksman?  Yeah. It was intimidating and I felt completely outclassed.

Bang bang!

The second stage wasn’t much better – this one included more longer-distance shots and frickin’ PEEKABOO targets!  (After you shot one center target, the steel would fall down and yank a cable and a cross-field hostile would snap out for a SECOND from behind a friendly. Insane! At least those didn’t get counted as failures-to-neutralize.) Bye-bye to another 30-some points!  GRRRRR.  I was discouraged and hot.

Happily, things got better after that. The next stage was a moving one – you drew, switched to your weak hand and fired at three targets to your left as you moved forward. Slide-lock reload, and two-handed shots at the targets downrange as you moved right. Tactical reload – gotta catch and keep that mag! – and then strong-handed shots at targets on your right as you moved backwards. Ta-da!!

I took the time to get pretty close-and-person with the targets; the misses and large point-totals from the first two stages were haunting me. I still picked up a handful of points, but did fairly well.

The fourth stage was fun! Whoever wrote the scenarios obviously had a good sense of humor. Stage Four made you an air traffic controller at Orlando Airport. You start off “asleep” – that is, with your head on your hands on a table – and wake up to find that domestic terrorists are attacking.  “Upon realizing that your union coworkers aren’t packing”, you take care of business.

(MIKE: “Since you’d be a federal employee, at what point do you get carted off to jail for having a gun at work?”
LISSA: “I don’t know, but I hope it gives me enough time to finish all the stages.”)

Oops - forgot the cover garment!

You’ll notice that the table is high enough I can barely get my head onto it. I guess it wasn’t designed for 5’3″ shooters!

Zzzzz . . . boy, I sure hope nasty domestic terrorists don't interrupt my dreams . . .

At the beep, you stood up, drew, and moved to the first targets (I went right). There were a couple on each side; you had to down the nearest bad guys and then you could get the angle on the farther away guys.

My airport! Mine!!

Since this was *not* limited-Vickers, I put at least three rounds on each target. (Only the best two count. Oh, and I made sure to hustle and tape up some of my own targets whenever I did this – if you’re going to make lots of extra holes, it’s only good manners!)

Targets neutralized (and friendlies un-wounded), I moved across the stage – gun pointed downrange! – and defended the left side.

See the target out the window? Yeah, I killed it 🙂

I did pretty well on this one as well.

The next stage was awful. AWFUL. I learned just before I shot that if targets had black paint on them it was “hard cover” – i.e., any shots you put into the black don’t count. I *knew* that . . . but when I drew it didn’t even flit across my mind.  Not once. I put a good half of my rounds into the black paint and picked up a HUGE number of points-down.  Wahh!!!!!  Grrrrrr.

Sigh. Happily, Stage 6 was my best – only three points down! Yay! You started out with a target to your left, center, and right. In “tactical priority” you had to put two rounds in each target with both hands; then with your weak hand; then with your strong hand. “Tactical priority” means that each target needs to have a round in it before you shoot any of them twice, so there’s a fair amount of swinging about. The first time I did it I swung once more than I had to, but still, it was good – my points down were low and my time was pretty fast.  That helped restore my confidence after the Cover Catastrophe.

Stage 7 was steel and didn’t count towards the IDPA – it was just set up for fun. Steel was painted three different colors and there were three different shooting areas; you could only shoot red targets from the red-designated-area, etc., etc. I had fun with this but shot too quickly at the little-and-low targets that were the farthest distance; it took a while for me to get them to fall over!!

The last stage was my favorite and, interestingly, the most complicated. You started out by the corner of the building facing the front wall. When the beep sounded you drew and used the building as cover to fire on the hostage at the end of the “hallway” (who was behind a friendly). Once you cleared the hallway you could move farther into the maze. There were a total of six targets, two of whom were behind friendlies.

Only three points down, baby! I went quickly but not-too-quickly; I put an extra shot into the targets that I hadn’t hit dead-center the first time; and I aimed for heads of the targets who were hidden behind friendlies.  (I always, always do much better at center-mass shots than head shots. Since the targets had about the top-left-quarter exposed, the taller people could aim at center-mass, but I just didn’t have the angle.

End result: I scored about halfway in my class.  Yay!  (Interesting, if we had been in same class I would have done better than both Jane and her husband John. Ego-boost!)

It was HOT. And LONG. I hadn’t packed extra water (they had coolers at each station) or food (thankfully we picked up breakfast on the way and I dug a mini-Cliff bar out of my purse for Mike) and I almost ran out of ammo and I didn’t have mag pouches.

And it was AWESOME. I had SO MUCH FUN and really got to practice real-life-type scenarios and met nice people and learned a lot and shot a lot and shot from behind cover and on the move and it was AWESOME.  Yay yay yay!!!

Definitely going back to do it again, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes shooting!!

P.S. Safety rules were the usual stricter-than-God. They were nice when they corrected me for “airgunning”, but I had to practice-walk the stages with my arms crossed to keep from lining up angles.  Bad Lissa!

*Drawing at the Sig academy was slow and smooth. I’ve practiced draws, of course, but always with an empty gun; I’ve never visited a range where drawing from a holster was allowed. Also, my practice draws are from concealed-carry holsters; side-of-the-hip doesn’t count.

UPDATE: Weer’d links and Alan links. Thanks!

10 Responses to “Fresh eyes at an IDPA match!”

  1. ZerCool said

    Awesome. 🙂

    Sounds like you have hit all my likes and dislikes of IDPA in one post: you get to move and shoot and draw from a holster, think about cover/concealment, targets that don’t hold still (I’ve seen one on a zip-line that crosses the entire pit at an angle. Shoot fast.), and goofy-ass rules that make sense to “keep it fair” but don’t always resemble reality.

    I’m really bad about airgunning as well. And shooting the no-shoots. 😉

  2. […] Update! Check out Lissa having a hellovatime doing some IDPA! This entry was posted in Guns. Bookmark the permalink. ← Lethal Force Over […]

  3. Borepatch said


  4. guffaw said

    Good for you!
    I did IPSC back when we shot around our covered-wagons (or was it chariots?)

    Keep at it!

  5. You’ve come a long way baby! 🙂

  6. alan said

    Everyone sucks the first time at IDPA. You discover that moving and time pressure REALLY affect accuracy.

  7. Lissa said

    Thanks everyone!! And TOTWTYTR – I’ve been lucky enough to have a ton of people hold my hand every step of the way 😉 (In fact, a number of them commented on this very post!)

  8. Kevin H B said

    Even more pressure for me to get to a USPSA match at local (kinda) range I joined….

    Looks like you had fun…

  9. Jeff said

    Awesome. So many people avoid shooting matches because they’re afraid of the ego damage. Good for you for not just doing it, but putting it out there for all your readers. I highly recommend every one give action shooting a try. Nobody remember how you shot, only whether you were safe and helped tape and reset.

    One minor nit, tactical priority is near to far in the open or slicing the pie from cover. Tactical sequence is everybody gets one first.

  10. warriorknitter said

    Any questions
    Load and make ready
    Shooter ready
    Stand by


    That is so cool. So few women shoot these kinds of matches and most of the few I know that do, shoot only in a women only match.

    I LOVE shootin’ IDPA outside!! They can be so much more creative on the stages. I also have a bit of trouble now and then with a tall prop. It’s great to have ranked shooters in your group. It’s not intimidating, it’s helpful. And the other shooters are so friendly and helpful.

    Did they tell you that your IQ drops when the buzzer sounds? LOL! Even the experts make dumb mistakes sometimes, such as slicing the pie backwards, or forgetting to shoot the BGs in tactical priority or forgetting to do a mandatory tac reload. But it’s all fun! I enjoy the camaraderie as much as the match.

    I am so glad you’re hooked. Here’s a link with some videos of some of our IDPA matches. http://www.youtube.com/user/WarriorKnitter?feature=mhee

    Unload and show clear
    Slide forward
    Hammer down

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