IDPA Grandmaster

There is a phenomenal discussion at the Enos forum regarding the announcement at Nationals that IDPA was considering the introduction of a Grand Master class to differentiate the cream of the Master class pool from the lower end.  Effectively, this would put shooters such as Dave Sevigny, Bob Vogel, etc in the new GM class which I suppose in theory would be a good thing.  On the issue itself, there seem to be two schools of thought:

  1. A GM class is a good thing, as the Masters that can’t beat the Sevignys and Vogels of the world would then be competing just against their skill level.
  2. A GM class is a waste, because the Master class shooters that can’t beat the studs should just practice harder if they want to.

What do you think?  Should IDPA add a Grandmaster class?  I tend to think “whatever” on the question as I don’t really see it changing all that much at major matches.  As a low level Master-class shooter, I know that the only way to beat a Jerry Miculek shooter is to practice, and I actually enjoy being in the same division as guys better than me, as it gives me strong motivation to practice and improve.

But what about you guys?  Good idea or bad idea?


  1. I’m of opinion number one, because it will make the game more honest.

    At one point, I was capable of shooting master class. At that time, Brian Enos and Rob Leatham (among others), were shooting at my local clubs.

    I knew there was no point in my moving into master class, because I wouldn’t have been even close to competitive.

    I liked actually occasionally winning a match. But I never won two matches in a row that’s for sure. I’m not saying I tanked it, I didn’t… but you can be damn sure, knowing that winning would have automatically moved me to master class, threw off my game.

    Now, I’ve said before, I primarily shot IDPA as a form of practice under pressure; as training and skill improvement.

    Some may say that making a grandmaster class would go against that ethos, making it more of a game. I think the exact opposite.

    By creating a grandmaster class, those who are willing to do whatever it takes to compete better according to the rules of the game, effectively get their own division. This leaves room for the people who are serious about shooting well, but aren’t as dedicated to the “competition” aspects, to still be competitive in the remaining classifications.

    On a related note, I’m for relaxing the rules for SSP and ESP a bit; as there are a lot of box stock from the factory guns that have features which restrict them to CDP; rather arbitrarily.

    In particular, I have a problem with the restriction in ALL classes (including CDP) against “heavy or cone style barrels, and “sights of a non-standard configuration”. with the exception that barrels 4.2″ or under can have them in ESP and CDP ( I believe the exception was specifically added to allow the common Springfield and Kimber 4″ 1911s).

    Frankly, as long as the weapons barrel or sights are suitable for carry, they should be suitable for IDPA.

    For that matter, SSP should allow single action guns, particularly hi-powers and 1911s.

    The real rationale here is that when the rules were written, people wanted to stop the 1911 gear race that had happened in USPSA; along with the perception was that other pistols were at a disadvantage to 1911s.

    I don’t think that’s inherently true; as USPSA competition has shown. In relatively stock configurations, Glocks, SIGs, EAA,s CZ’s and Berettas are perfectly competitive with 1911s.

    The IDPA is supposed to be about shooting what you carry, so why should people who carry 1911s, but not raced out guns, be forced to run in the same division as “gamer guns”.

    Of course, the restrictions on CDP are such that common custom carry guns might even be excluded, and certainly there can’t be anything TOO “game”-ish.

    And if you want CDP to be 1911s only, why not just say so? If you DON’T then why limit it to .45acp and 8 rounds?

    What I’m really ranting about is the hypocrisy of the thing. The rulesmakers in IDPA are always trying to pretend that at the top end of competitors… the ones they are really making these rules revisions for (or because of), this is a big money game… because it goes against the IDPA “ethos”. Ok, maybe it does, but you also don’t want to get rid of those big money gamers now do you?

    Why can’t the IDPA just deal with reality as it is, and make separate divisions and classifications for the “gamers”, and “everyone else”.

    Set some basic standards as to what is “suitable for carry”, and give the match directors the discretion to decide AND admit that at the top end, it’s a game, with money on the line, and we make divisions that account for that fact

    Personally, I’d like to see a “Grand Master” class, and I’d like to see a new pistol classification allowing basically everything USPSA allows in limited, but it has to fit in the box and weight limit.

    Then every “lower” division gets to be run at the discretion of the match director; and if it’s what the guy carries on his hip every day, unless it’s got obvious competition only mods or optics etc… let it run.

  2. In IPSC, that last 10% to get from 85% (Master) to 95% (Grand master) is the highest hill to climb, and the steepest. At least in my own case I stalled out at Master because demands of work and family simply don’t leave enough time to put in the intense level of practice required to get there. The GMs that I know all got there by making reaching that goal the primary focus of their lives. Most are single with no kids and jobs (and/or bank accounts) that allow them the free time to train at that level.

    The GM ranking is a good way to recognize those that have put in that effort to get to that next level, because there is definitely a level above that 85% Master score that takes a lot of work to achieve. Generally it takes a GM level score to win Master in any IPSC match, so just as with every other division, Master is won by those well on their way up and out of their current rank.

    Definitely agree that IDPA needs a GM rating.

    1. Karl, you actually make a good point which I hadn’t thought about in that climb from from Master to GM is a difficult climb. I don’t really shoot USPSA enough to worry about my classification, but once I get IDPA 5-Gun Master I has entertained the idea of going for my GM card.

      If IDPA added a GM rank, the top dogs would still be the top dogs – but I think that in retrospect it would be nice to open up Master again for the semi-pro shooters.

  3. I only get to see it on TV and in 30 minute show and calculate in the commercials its really a 15 to 20 minute show we pretty much get to see only the top guns. I think this is really going to effect only the actual shooters I don’t believe us spectators will see anything different than a new title.Not being a shooter in the sport or an official in the sport I think what I its none of my business and thats the way it should be .

  4. Caleb, you mentioned that you find it motivating to have higher-level shooters in your division. Personally, I find it motivating to have higher-level shooters in my squad, regardless of whether they are in my division. If someone is in my division but in another squad, I don’t know how I’m doing relative to that person until the match is over and the scores are posted. I’m much more motivated by improving my score over my previous outing or doing something better than I did the last time.

    As far as the good of the sport, I think it’s a question of numbers. Are there enough people who will shoot GM level to create a viable division at local events? If not, then perhaps IDPA isn’t ready for a GM class.

  5. I can see myself eventually getting a master classification. I cannot see myself ever being good enough to compete with the likes of Vogel, Butler, etc. The people that are the very best will still be the very best in GM. They don’t care about people that play at the top of expert or the bottom of master. I’d love to see a GM class. It would bring life to the Master class for the non-(semi)professionals.

  6. I’m less concerned about the name of the classes than I am with how classes in IDPA are assigned.

    I live in Texas, and there is a plethora of opportunities here to shoot in both IDPA and USPSA. One can easily get classified in USPSA within a month or two by simply attending every weekend match. One can shoot just as many IDPA matches, but it could take upwards of 11 months to get classified, because no one ever seems to want to host a classifier.

    Why IDPA doesn’t develop a catalogue of classifiers similar to USPSA – and encourage clubs to include a classifier stage in local matches – is beyond me. IDPA is supposed to be sort of anti-gamer, but nothing is easier to game in the action pistol sports than the current IDPA classifier.

    1. If you’re not at the top of the chart it does not matter. People can quickly become very good. There’s always somebody zooming up the classification chart that can beat you. Winning as MM, SS, EX is a personal triumph. Even in USPSA wouldn’t some fail to win a club match (bag a classifier stage) so that the only classifiers that really matter happen a major matches? You can’t stop it.

      1. I do agree with that. With the addition of a GM class you’re still going to have sandbaggers and paper Masters, they’ll just be GMs. I’m a low enough level Master that I know I’ve got a lot of work to do before I can compete with the super-squad guys anyway, but for me that’s motivation to get better, not to sandbag so I can beat shooters below my skill level.

        1. Easy way to prevent sandbagging in a GM class would be to make it a class that can only be won.

          Say, shooting the IDPA Classifier can take you up to MA. But if you win your overall division at an IDPA state championship or similar major match, you get bumped up to GM.

  7. Some of us having been pushing for a GM-type classification in IDPA for years. Go to enough major matches and the need becomes obvious. Reaching Master class, as a non-professional shooter, is for most people the end of the journey because beating the three to six guys always at the top is not practical.

    The proposal some of us sent in years ago was for a Champion class, which would be attainable ONLY through winning major matches. There could be no paper GMs that way. The Champion class shooter was eligible only for division champion. There was no “1st Champion, 2nd Champion” etc and it also took them out of high LE, high press, etc. The folks who can win it all tend to care only about that top spot, while the average joe is proud to walk home with 2nd Master.

    The way things are now, the true pros take up the first 5-10 slots in a big division at Nationals. That doesn’t leave a lot of motivation for non-pros to shoot that division.

  8. Found this by way of ToddG’s site… I think it sounds like most of us agree on most of the points being discussed here: the current state of things has any non-pro MA’s competing against the top-level pros, which while great for pushing one’s skills, leaves little to no motivation for an “average guy” with a family and otger priorities to spend the money and do the traveling to shoot a major match… and, as a side-effect IMO, almost encourages (maybe not the right word) the sand-baggers to continue their BS in the lower classes.

    I think a “GM/Champion” class is a no-brainer, and I also agree that many of the gun/equipment rules need an overhaul as there is plenty of arbitrary disparity and cherry-picking (whether real or perceived) and fuzzy logic in what’s allowed and what isn’t, guys don’t show up with race-guns and are respectful of that tenet, IDPA has grown enough to where they should relax the rules enough so I guy can shoot what he carries as the rules in place leave quite a few duty/carry guns out because of ticky-tack reasons (to borrow a phrase from the NBA).

    IMO, the bigger issue may be how to crack down on the sand-baggers. As an example of just one way it could be addressed: What if when entering a major/sanctioned match a shooter had to provide the results from their last 4-5 matches (club or otherwise)? Would it take extra time for someone to go through them and find the MM’s beating their local EX’s and MA’s on a regular basis? Yes. Would they be able to identify many of the sand-baggers and possibly put them into a class where they really should be making the match/sport better and more fair in the process? Yes.
    It’s going to take some new rules to get it to stop or at least squashed down, but think everyone would agree that it’d be worth it.

  9. I just recently joined IDPA and have yet to be classified. Based on my performance at matches and comparison to similar skill level shooters, I feel that I will classify as a solid, upper-end expert. I really don’t think that master would be too far down the road, but then again, I have yet to classify and may be fooling myself.

    I like the idea of the new class achieved through winning matches. I really don’t want to take up a new sport only to get to a point where there is no point in competing because I’m just never going to get the caliber of shooter as the pro guys.

    I shoot amateur class GSSF, and I have a couple of top five finishes typically clustering with the same group of shooters. GSSF promotes to master after winning a third amateur match. There is nothing beyond master in GSSF. Eventually, either I’ll get the amateur wins either by good runs or the others getting promoted to master leaving wins to me by default. I want to win, but I know as soon as I get promoted to master that I am out of the running for anything other than random prizes.

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