Gaming vs. cheating

I’ve been shooting IDPA for about 3 years now; I’ve really come to love the sport.  I feel very strongly about IDPA, and I feel just as strongly about the rules of IDPA, which I think are ridiculous at times but are still the rules.  In my still young IDPA career, I’ve been called a “gamer” a lot.  In IDPA circles that usually means someone that treats IDPA as a game to be won, and will work within the full extent of the rules to win.  For example, a “gamer” will ask the SO during the walk-through very specific questions about where they’re considered behind cover, if they’re allowed to load on the move in certain areas, etc.  The reason for this is that a gamer doesn’t want to cheat – but they certainly want to win.

Cheating is an entirely different concept.  A cheater is someone who is aware of the rules and simply doesn’t care – whether they’re the rules on reloading or the rules on magazine capacity, this person simply ignores them.  In 3 years of shooting IDPA, I had never encountered a true cheater until recently, and it was a completely flabbergasting experience to me.  I can honestly say that I’ve never seen someone openly defy IDPA rules, get a procedural and they say that they “don’t care”.  I’m not going to lie to you guys, I was pretty angry, and when I think about it, I’m still really angry.  Here’s why – yes, IDPA is a game and it’s not “the streets” (whatever that means) but the whole point of playing a game with other people is that you all agree to play by the rules of the game.  When you flagrantly flout the rules like that, what I feel like you’re saying is that you don’t care about the other shooters.  Even if you’re a Marksman class shooter, you’re saying to the other guys in your skill that “screw you, I don’t want to play your reindeer games”; which to me is incredibly disrespectful.

There isn’t really a point to this rant – obviously most of us know that cheating = wrong and don’t do it.  I guess if I had to find a point, it’d be that when you’re shooting a match, even if it’s just a practice match at a local range that you should respect the other shooters you’re there with enough to do them the courtesy of playing by the rules.  Plus, attitude has a lot to do with it – if the shooter in question had said “I carry the 10 round magazines and I don’t mind the procedural to practice with my carry gear” I would have said “cool, let’s rock and roll”.  Ultimately, I think I’m frustrated because I really like IDPA and I want other people to like it, and more importantly to respect the sport.  Sure, the rules are silly sometimes.  I don’t like the rules about reloads.  But I love the game, so I try to respect the rules and by so doing also show my fellow shooters the respect they deserve.


  1. I don’t see it that way at all. I know some people who use IDPA matches as practice time. They aren’t there to play the game. As long as their honest about that, and are safe and help tape etc, that’s fine with me.

    I don’t think ignoring the rules and taking the consequences is cheating. Cheating is trying to go beyond the rules and get away with it.

    1. I think that attitude counts for a lot. For example, if I had a shooter that said “hey, I carry these 10 rounders and I’d like to keep that consistent, I just want to practice with my carry gear so you don’t have to count my scores” I’d be totally fine with it. We used to let semi-autos compete in our local ICORE matches in an Outlaw division specifically so they could get some trigger time.

      This particular shooter’s attitude was “I don’t care about your rules, screw you”. I think that pissed me off more than anything.

      1. Then he’s not a cheater, he’s just an asshole. 😛 I agree 100% that attitude is everything. As far as choosing who I prefer to shoot with, safety is by far #1, followed by attitude. Everything else is pretty far down the list. Actually that raises another discussion topic that might be interesting. Who do you prefer to shoot with at matches, higher skill level, lower skill level, or same skill level?

        Why wouldn’t someone’s score count with 10 rounders? Single stack that doesn’t fit in the box?

        1. I actually prefer to shoot with people who are better than me most of the time – 2 reasons. 1) keeps me humble, and 2) I like to learn stuff from guys that are really good.

          10 round mags for a 1911 don’t make the IDPA box, and also CDP limits magazine capacity at 8+1, so you’re already over the limit.

          1. You can always shoot a 45 in ESP, though the box still gets you.

            I get different things out of shooting with different skill level shooters. I like shooting with the top guys for the same reason you do. I also really enjoy shooting with peers because it’s fun to compete with them. I had a really fun experience at an IDPA club match recently shooting with a bunch of new shooters. I came off my first stage mumbling about how it was a good clean run but I wasted a little bit of time. One of the new guys was like, ‘it looked really fast to me’. It was good for the ego. 🙂 Also I find I learn a lot about my own shooting by trying to help someone else.

  2. Jeff, I do also very much enjoy competing with shooters right in my skill level. Back when I was in Indianastan I had a couple of very friendly rivalries going with a few IDPA guys – we’d always check to see if we beat the other gun before we looked at the rest of the scores!

  3. If they’re keeping score, it’s a game.
    If it’s a game, someone will want to win.

    1. I want to win. I don’t play games to lose them; and I’ll do everything I can within the scope of the rules to win.

      1. Yup, we’re gamers because we follow the rules, quickly.

        In the land of the blind the sighted will have his eyes gouged out by old IDPA can’t-do grumps.

  4. Regardless of sanctioning body, I usually see 3 groups at a match: the Gamers, the Practicers, and the Learners. The Gamers know the rules exist to regulate, and that you can bump right up tight against a rule but as long as you don’t cross it you’re golden. These shooters are there to win, and wining is foremost. Just like you don’t win football games by practicing tennis, they’ve learned one can sacrifice “pure” self defense technique by attacking the stage with the rules always in mind.

    The Learners are there trying to figure things out. They’re usually the “newbies” to whatever sport it is, and can frequently be identified by either the extreme presence or absence of gear. Some of them will develop into Gamers.

    The Practicers are the shooters who constantly try new stuff, be it how they approach a stage, both mentally and physically, equipment changes, technique, etc. About 10% of Practicers are trying to develop into Gamers because they want to win. The rest are trying to become better shooters and enjoy themselves, not necessarily in that order.

    The Gamers cluster around the top of the score sheet, the learners in the bottom third, and the Practicers in the middle, although a Practicer will occasionally get everything in the combination right and win a match.

    As much as I’m a Practicer, I don’t see anything wrong with being a Gamer. As Ninth Stage said above, if someone is keeping score, then someone will want to have the best score. As for attitude, most competitive sports have something resembling a “spirit and intent” section in the rulebook, but the remainder of the rulebook is always pretty darn specific. If the rules allow 8 round magazines I don’t prove I have a “better attitude” by using 7 round mags. .

  5. When you flagrantly flaunt the rules like that…

    As long as they don’t FLOUT the rules, they should be just fine. 😉

    1. Touche Tam,

      Perhaps Caleb should have participated in your discussion of that over at VFTP.

    2. I’m really glad posts have an “edit” button. That way I can fix grammar errors and make it look like you people are insane.

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