I had mentioned last week that I was going to shoot IDPA for the first time in about 6 or 7 this weekend, and lo and behold I actually did make it out to Atlanta Conservation Club in northern BFE to shoot the match. Having not shot at Atlanta before, nor having shot IDPA since before I left the Coast Guard, I honestly had no idea what to expect.
The first thing that happened when I got to the range was I immediately wished I had brought a hat. For some (stupid) reason, I was expecting the range to be somewhat shaded – like my usual haunt at Marion County Fish & Game. Hoo boy was I ever wrong – we were right out in the beating hot sun all day. Next time I shoot one of these, I’m bringing a damn hat.
I think the easiest way to coalesce the experience in to a readable format is to give you a list of pros and cons – because honestly none of the stuff is worthy of its own paragraph, but it is worthy of at least a line item. Plus, I love bulleted lists.
- Course design – The courses of fire were both creative and challenging. I would look at a course of fire and think “I can shoot this clean, no problem” and then the next thing I know I’d be looking at places where I dropped hits out of the A zone and wondering how the hell I did that.
- My favorite course was one that required just two rounds if you shot it clean – from the seated position, stand, turn and draw and then take cover behind the chair and fire one shot at each target – with the hit zone only being about 3 inches wide and 6 inches tall to simulate a spine shot.
- The range itself is great, lots of bays allow quite a few squads to rotate through the courses of fire, the actual facility is very nice as far as ranges go.
- Intangibles – this is the “gut feeling” part of the match, and ultimately what I base my decision on whether or not I would go back to another match and whether I’d recommend friends. My gut feeling is that I would go back, and I would bring friends with me to shoot.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all milk and honey, as there were a few things that were kind of “huh?” moments for me during the match.
- Rules Lawyering – I think this is more a problem with the IDPA format than anything else, but it seemed like there was an excessive amount of “is that a procedural penalty or not” discussion going on. That’s the sort of thing that makes the sport less friendly to new shooters and harder for them to get excited. As I said, I think that’s more a problem with the IDPA format than anything. While some of the penalties are clear (like using cover) some of the others seemed a little obtuse which lead to the aforementioned rules lawyering.
- “User friendly” environment – this sort of goes hand in hand with the above, and again I think it’s more of an indictment of IDPA, but the format didn’t seem very user friendly to me. If I was a new shooter and was just looking for a place to get some more involved practice with my home defense or carry gun, I would have been 1) confused, and 2) turned off to the sport because I was confused.
I don’t want people to think I’m getting down on IDPA or Atlanta Conservation Club – I did have a lot of fun and the match was run in a safe, organized fashion. I think my concerns come from taking myself out of my shoes, and putting myself in say, my wife or The Breda’s shoes. Remember, one of my biggest interests in shooting competitively and blogging is attracting new shooters to our sport, and I think that part of doing that means that the sport must be easily understood by new shooters, and challenging enough for skilled veterans.
I feel that IDPA does meet both those criteria, but in my personal opinion (note: my opinion and my opinion only) it is on the hairy edge of being overly complicated for newbies to shoot.
However, with that being said, I do plan on going back to Atlanta and shooting another IDPA match there in September. I had a lot of fun, I learned that I tend to jerk the trigger on my DAO Beretta on follow-up shots, and I realized that there are few things that are more fun than playing outside with friendly people, good shooters, and a hot gun. All the above criticisms aside, I didn’t see or do anything that would make me not want to go back and keep shooting matches there – I had a blast, and I think that a lot of other people will have a blast as well.
I have been thinking of trying to promote some kind of IDPA-style match at my club, but in order to ease people into it, it would have to be sort of like “IDPA Lite.”
Chas – I think this is a great idea. We have two “IDPA-style” practice nights a week at two different local clubs. One is indoor so we can practice all year long, and the other is at an outdoor range during better weather.
It is good practice, the fee is cheap, it’s a great chance for newbies to learn the ins and outs, and most off all… no pressure. I learn so much on the practice nights because the high intensity and competitive spirit is much lower than at a real match. The regulars love it because the practice keeps them sharp for regionals and nationals. Many nights interested people come to watch to see if they want to try it.
One thing both match directors do… they have one stage that is the exact same every week. Since scores by stage are posted online we can see how we are progressing over time. We do an “el prez” each week and I know I’ve consistently shaved time off each week. It’s a great feeling to know I’ve been making progress.
This is my two cents from a newbie’s perspective, and how the experienced shooters view practice nights. I know the rules are overwhelming, but there has to be some since of order and boundaries. For example, on practice nights we don’t shoot from concealment. I think you need to figure out what rules you need and go from there….
Hope this helps! Good luck!
I have plenty of fun at IPSC and 3-Gun matches, but the IDPA-style (2-Gun) tactical matches we do help confirm to me that I’m *not* a beginner, even though I’m lifelong C Class in IPSC. The tactical formats are not beginner-friendly, but the people ARE, and that’s what’s important.
Indeed. I did have a lot of fun. An IDPA-Light match wouldn’t actually be a bad idea to ease newbies into the sport – despite how much I enjoyed it, there are a lot of rules and stuff to remember. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to gently wrangle newbies into the IDPA mindset with “Light” matches and practice.
Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.
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