I hope it is not getting tedious for our followers to read of my IDPA matches. I am including brief write-ups here on the blog for a number of reasons:
- To describe what shooting in such a match is like, especially for newer shooters who may be interested, but hesitant;
- To disclose more about my self-defense training/practice progress, as per my article here;
- To outline those aspects of the matches that I think may be applicable in real-life self-defense scenarios.
Preparation and Gear
Prior to this match I had shot two club matches (see here and here) plus the IDPA Classifier (see here). Leading up to this match, I had not shot live in any type of practice session. My last live-fire was at the Classifier fifteen days before this match.
Gear for this match was identical to all of the other matches I had so far shot, with the exception that, for this match, I decided to shoot my Generation 3 Glock 17 in lieu of my Glock 19 (I did bring along the 19 as a spare pistol, just in case). Although I prefer to carry the Glock 19, the Glock 17 typically resides as my nightstand pistol equipped with an extended magazine and pistol-mounted light. I rarely shoot it (under 1,000 rounds through it even after several years of ownership), so I thought it was time I brought it to a match to give it a bit of a workout. It has the same Ameriglo I Dot Pro sights as my other Glocks. It is normally equipped with a Vickers Extended Slide Stop/Release Lever, but I replaced it with the stock lever for the match in keeping with the rules of the Stock Service Pistol (SSP) division in IDPA.
This match was a two-day event. Though some participants chose to shoot the match on both days (sometimes competing in a different division each day), my schedule only allowed a single day of shooting. I would shoot on Day Two, and from talking to those who had shot on Day One, it was obvious that this would be a tough match. During the safety brief and walk through, the match director was able to confirm that some of the better shooters who typically participate in matches at this club were getting scores of 40 or more points down on several individual stages.
The big challenge for this match was that every stage (six in total) had some sort of active target. Some of these targets were activated by shooting at a target (for example, a hit on a steel target activates a pop-up target), stomping on an activation plate (stepping on the plate makes a target appear), or pulling on an activating rope like a lawnmower starter (the one example like this activated a swinger). There were also two stages that featured moving targets operated under the direction of the safety officer for that stage.
Plan Your Shoot and Shoot Your Plan
Given the nature of some of the stages and the activation methods for some of the movers, a certain amount of stage planning—perhaps more than usual—was necessary. Let me say here that I did a great job of coming up with a plan for each stage. However, I did not always stick to the plan, and this had very predictable, negative results on my overall performance.
I began in Bay Two (there are three “bays”, basically pistol pits, at this club) with Stages 3 and 4 (two stages were set up in each bay). Despite planning my strategy for Stage 3 ahead of time, I nearly committed a procedural error by not utilizing cover properly (got a warning) and completely failed to engage one of the targets. I knew it was there, but I basically lost track of it and failed to hit it at all (it was only the head of an IDPA target visible “peaking” around a barrel). My final score on Stage 3 had me in the bottom quarter of all the shooters. Stage 4 was better. I got good hits and my time wasn’t bad, putting me in the top third for that stage.
On to Stage 5, where we had to do all of our shooting from a sitting position from about 12 yards, I again planned my shoot well. This time, I successfully followed my plan, as I noticed that, once an activation plate was shot, it took a long time for two targets to disappear (replaced by two others). Thus, I engaged the first two, then hit the activation plate, and while the first two targets were falling I was able to engage three more targets, then work my way back to the “new” targets without having wasted time waiting for them to appear. I was in the top third again on this stage.
Stage 6 was my worst, where my plan did not survive the first shot fired. This stage featured a double-mover (a no-shoot target swinging in front of a swinging target), and then another foot-pedal activated fast dropping moving double target (now you don’t see it—now you do—now you don’t). I earned a procedural penalty for not engaging the initial swingers while moving forward (I was aiming, but never comfortable with the shot, so I waited until I had advanced to a closer point and stopped and shot….and at least hit the correct target!). I also did not plan my reloads well due to a make-up shot or two I had to take, so that when I activated the “now you see it…” targets, I only had two rounds left in my pistol (and needed at least four). I ranked in the bottom quarter for that stage.
Stage 1 was regarded as the toughest stage. The stage would be shot in two strings, each of only 6 rounds. The shooter would have to engage a very fast moving, electrically controlled target moving from right to left at about 7 yards across an opening about 7 yards wide. The target was oriented horizontally, and just to screw with everyone a bit, there was a no-shoot target positioned several yards behind (not moving). The shooter would have to draw and engage the target with 6 rounds while it was moving very quickly. I was told that few people on Day One even got off all 6 rounds, let alone hit it. The second string of this stage would be identical, except the target would move left to right. I planned this one well, figuring out where to position myself so as to limit potential hits on the no-shoot and account for my time to draw. I ended up being one of the few to get off all 6 rounds on both strings, getting a great draw that allowed me to almost wait for the target to cross my line of fire. My combined raw time for the two strings was 6.03 seconds….I felt like this was pretty good for 12 rounds from the draw on a mover at 7 yards. Indeed, my score on this stage was 3rd overall for the match.
Stage 2 incorporated that same mover, but it only had to be hit with two rounds. The rest was IDPA-style “room-clearing”, with seven more targets plus another foot activated “now you see it”-style target. On this stage, I ranked in the middle of the pack.
Overall, I finished 29th out of 47 participants, 16th out of 25 in SSP. Not where I had hoped to be, even adjusting for my goals in shooting IDPA as outlined in my prior articles. Clearly, Stages 3 and 6 really killed me at this match.
There wasn’t much good about my overall performance in this match, at least in terms of scoring. I guess I was happiest with my shooting on Stage One, where I twice was able to draw and shoot 6 rounds in about 3 seconds on a moving target. I think I got 9 total hits, which may not sound particularly good, but as I ranked 3rd out of 47 shooters over the two days, I guess it was okay (for perspective, consider that, from concealment at 7 yards, I expect to get first shot A zone hits on a stationary target in 1.5 seconds. So two draws would be 3.0 seconds. Which means I shot 12 rounds in a combined 3.03 seconds, getting 9 hits somewhere on the moving target). The other positive I can take away from this match is that I did not hit any of the non-threat targets, and there were several in what could only be described as precarious positions for the competitors.
My two biggest issues were using the Glock 17 and my eyesight. As noted earlier, I rarely shoot my Glock 17, and it just felt “weird” to me compared to my 19. Perhaps because it has been shot less, the trigger felt stiffer and the recoil impulse just seemed different. Also, I had not shot it much since I replaced the sights, and so I was not super confident that the pistol would be hitting where the sights indicated they should. Nothing worse than not being confident in your hits!
My eyesight was an issue because, other than Stage One (two string of 6 rounds each), all of the other stages were unlimited, meaning you could take makeup shots. Many of the targets were “hard cover” targets, meaning all but their “heads” or other portions were painted black, which meant that my hits on the cardboard could have been partially masked by the black paint. The result was that, on several occasions, I could not see, at distance, if my head shots were good, so assumed that I had hit the black-painted “hard cover”, and then made make-up shots. Upon inspection of the targets, I sometimes then found 3 hits in the “0” zones, meaning I fired more rounds than I needed to, wasting time (the minimum number of rounds required to complete the 6 stages was 98 rounds. I fired 121, which means I took 23 makeup shots. I find this unacceptable). Solutions to that are to either be confident in my sights and my hits, or shoot a .45 to make bigger holes I can see from a distance! A better solution would be to have all targets be reactive, so I would not have to guess about whether or not they had been neutralized, but that is not in any way realistic for an IDPA match.
Despite a performance that I found disappointing, I had a lot of fun at this match. It was fun to shoot at so many moving targets and to be challenged on every stage. There weren’t any “easy” stages at this match, at least from my perspective. I suppose shooting at the moving targets was the most realistic aspect of this match.
Due to life events and several training classes I have scheduled in October, this may end up being my final IDPA match for the year (if the weather holds, maybe another in November?). This means I will miss the obligatory Halloween weekend “zombie” shoot, or whatever this club calls it, but I am much more excited about my upcoming classes than any IDPA match could hope to create.
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