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International Defensive Pistol - First Event

On May 7th, 2011 I went to my first IDPA event.  I had a blast.  It was sort of what I expected it to be, but a little bit more.  As a fairly new shooter I knew I would have to improve all across the board, but I did isolate some areas I needed the most amount of work.  And yes, boy did I suck!  Now, let me be clear; while I do expect to see some benefits for self-defense, I am really seeing this as a game and a competition.  A hobby.  I am sure a lot of you are very interested in trying it out, if you haven't done so already.  So lets start with some preliminary questions.

What is IDPA?
IDPA stands for the International Defensive Pistol Association.  Its history stems from former IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) members and founders branching off to start a new competition.  Their concerns was mainly in that IPSC has become something far removed from defensive, "practical" shooting.  If you look at what IPSC is now, you see tricked out race guns, high-speed holsters and other load bearing gear, and guns that hardly have any muzzle climb and really awesome optics.  As a sportsman, I personally don't mind all that; I'll have fun either way.  But the problem was that it would have been cost prohibitive for me.  I'm a recently graduated unemployed.. erm.. bum, so I just didn't see how I could afford a gun that costs more than a few hundred dollars.

So came the IDPA.  True to its intent, its scenarios do its best to emphasize realism, or they are sometimes more of a drill to improve skills that you can use in a defensive situation.  The equipment is modest; you are limited to generally umodified, mass-produced handguns firing a feasible defensive caliber (9mm minimum).  Your holsters can't be super high-speed competition holsters; they need to serve the needs of laymen.  That means concealed carry feasible, secure holster.  Likewise, most of the events require you to dress in a way where your weapon is hidden from plain view, which is usually achieved by wearing a vest or a jacket.

So let me ask again, what is it?
Opening box to retrieve weapon, then firing from seated
A typical event holds multiple stages, each stage being a different scenario.  In each scenario, there will be targets set up for you downrange.  Sometimes these targets are out in the open, sometimes they are behind cover, sometimes with non-targets (i.e. non-bad guys), and sometimes moving.  Almost always there is cover for you to use.  In fact, most of the times the cover is mandated.  You then engage the targets in an order that is tactically sound, although sometimes the firing order is mandated by the predetermined steps of the stage, also known as the "course of fire."  You have to reload behind cover, you have to minimize your body's exposure to the hostiles, and have to neutralize your targets.  That means your shots have to land in the IDPA target's "4" zone or better, which is a nice sized target area in the center mass of the target.  Head shots also count.  Most of the things you do are what you should be doing in real life.  Your starting positions are varied, to replicate the unpredictability of real life situations.  Sometimes you start seated, sometimes you start with your back to the target, other times you may be in a car.  Scenarios get very creative and, once again just like in real life, you never know what you are going to get.

Firearm safety is emphasized over and over again.  You only handle your equipment at selected safe zones, your finger goes into the trigger guard only when its pointed at a target you are about to fire at, and if you ever point the muzzle at the direction other than downrange while the weapon is out of the holster, you'll be asked to leave.  I felt very safe at the IDPA event.

Like I mentioned before you do not need an expensive race gun to compete.  In fact, you probably will not be allowed to use one.  All the gun you'll need is a firearm that fires at the smallest a 9mm parabellum round or a .38 special round.  Yes there is a division for revolvers.  You also need a holster that sits on your waistband.  No appendix or cross-draw.  After that, you need at least three magazines.  You can have less but you may not be able to complete some stages.  Of course, you need some way of keeping those magazines on your body.  A pocket suffices, but I recommend you get a cheap magazine carrier.  Requirements get a bit more particular than that; for instance, your barrel cannot exceed 5 inches for automatics and your holster cannot
leave space between your belt and the holster body itself.  So please go to the IDPA website and check the rules.

One more note: I recommend you bring magazines that hold at least 10 rounds, since that is the IDPA limit.

So whats next?
Use a search engine or the IDPA's website to find a club nearest to you.  You can attend one match as a nonmember to see if you like it or not.  After that, you just apply for membership and keep attending!  Be sure to bring sunscreen, eye and ear protection, plenty of ammunition, water and some snacks.

Photo credits
IDPA Logo: International Defensive Pistol Assoc.
Glock photo: Combat Handguns
Race gun photo: Southern Vales Practical Shooting League, Inc.

1 comment:

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