Shooting the IDPA Classifier: 2017 Edition


I got a late start shooting matches this year, not shooting my first until July.  I was somewhat eager to shoot another Classifier, but missed one in August due to some family obligations.  I was looking forward to shooting the Classifier to see if I could improve upon last year’s performance enough to earn an Expert classification.  Thus, I was pleased that the club at which I typically shoot IDPA matches added another Classifier this past weekend.

The “New” Classifier

Along with some new rules and the addition of a pistol-caliber carbine (PCC) category at matches this year, the powers-that-be at IDPA chose to change the course of fire for the Classifier.  What follows is copied straight from the IDPA website (diagram below):

Stage 1

Start Position:  Shooter Position 1 24 rounds total All Shot from P1 

String 1 (12 shots): Load exactly 6 rounds in the firearm. Draw and fire 2 shots to each body, re-load from slide-lock and fire 2 shots at each head.  

String 2 (6 shots): Draw and fire 2 shots at each target strong hand only.  

String 3 (6 shots): Start with firearm in weak hand, pointed down range at a 45 degree down angle, safety may be off but the trigger finger must be out of trigger guard. Fire 2 shots at each target weak hand only.

Stage 2

Start Position:  Shooter Position 2, Shooter Position 3 The start position for all strings is standing erect with hands naturally at sides.   

String 1 (12 shots): Load exactly 6 rounds total in the firearm at P2. Start back to the target, turn, draw and fire 2 rounds to each target, re-load from slide-lock and fire 2 more shots at each target.  

String 2 (6 shots): From the 10 yard line (P2), draw and fire 2 shots at each target while moving forward. Do not cross the line at P3.  

String 3 (6 shots): From the 5 yard line (P3), draw and fire 2 shots at each target while retreating from the targets.

Stage 3

Start Position: 

Shooter Position 4, Shooter Position 5 The start position for all strings is standing erect with hands naturally at sides.   

String 1 (12 shots): Load exactly 6 rounds total in the firearm at P4. Draw and fire 2 shots at each target using from either side of the barricade, re-load from slide-lock using cover, advance to barrels at the 15 yard line (P5) and fire 2 shots at each target using cover shooting inside of the barrels on either side. Shooters choice. Shooter may not shoot around outside of barrels without incurring a penalty Per 5.1

 String 2 (12 shots): Load exactly 6 rounds total in the firearm at P5. Draw and fire 2 shots at each target using cover from inside of the barrels, re-load from slide-lock using cover, move to the opposite barrels and fire 2 shots at each target using cover from inside the barrels. Shooter may not shoot around outside of barrels without incurring a penalty Per 5.1

Below is a diagram of the stage setup:


Here is a video of someone shooting the Classifier (not me and no affiliation):



I shot this match with what has been my typical gear for shooting matches.  I brought both of my Glock 19s (one OD, one black).  I always bring a spare firearm to classes and matches.  If something breaks, it is easier to grab a spare gun than to try to effect repairs while sweating bullets (no pun intended).  My Glock 19s—other than their colors—are set up identically with Ameriglo I-Dot Pro sights, Glock 17 factory smooth-faced triggers, and grip tape on top of the slides.  I also used my F3 Holsters Slide Modular holster and no-name kydex double magazine carrier mounted on my Ares Gear Enhanced Aegis belt.  No cover garments are needed to shoot the Classifier.  I used PPU 115 grain FMJ ammunition for this match.  The course of fire is a total of 72 rounds, and I did not experience any malfunctions during the match.


I typically compete in the Stock Service Pistol (SSP) division at these club matches.  Although pistols as large as the Glock 34 are allowed in SSP, I usually use my Glock 19 to compete in SSP.  I do so for several reasons.  For one thing, the allowable magazine capacity in SSP is 10+1 rounds, whereas CCP only allows 8+1.  One of those numbers is closer to the standard capacity of the 19, so it makes more sense to me to compete in that division.  I also like to compete in SSP because there are invariably more fellow competitors in SSP, giving me more people to compare myself with.  Finally, it is fun to compete with a 19 against fellow competitors who use “better” pistols (such as the Glock 34 and its long sight radius).

In this Classifier match, however, I chose to compete in CCP.  My reasoning was based on how the Classifier is scored.  Because pistols in CCP are considered to be tougher to shoot compared with those allowable in SSP, the threshold to achieve Expert is slightly easier.  Since I am used to shooting the Glock 19 in competition anyway, it just made sense to compete in CCP.

The Match

My squad had an eclectic mix of shooters.  They included one woman who seemed fairly new to shooting.  There was also a young man who I have seen at one or two other matches this year who I know is new to competition (if not shooting in general).  At the other end of the spectrum were at least two excellent shooters who compete much more than I do, regularly traveling to major matches around the region and beyond.  I also witnessed my first ever negligent discharge at a match when one of the newer shooters, on string two of the first stage, drew with the strong hand—finger on trigger—and lost a round into the dirt a yard or two in front of the targets.  It hit close enough to the targets that the shooter was not disqualified, but a strong warning was issued.

Because the course of fire changed from the Classifier I shot last year, I did some online research prior to the match, looking for any tips.  One universal bit of advice was to NOT miss the headshots in the first string of Stage One, just like the “old” Classifier.  Also, it should be noted that, as of September 1st, all IDPA targets must have the “down-zero” three-inch diameter circle added to the head portion of the targets.  This means that a hit in that circle would be scored as down zero, outside the circle but in the head “square” would be down one point, and anything off the head (including into the torso, when headshots are required) would be scored down five.  As per the IDPA rules introduced in early 2017, all “down” points would add one second to the overall time (it used to add 0.5 seconds).

One other note:  I numbered my targets this year, always putting the “1” to my left and the “3” to my right.  I did this just so that, afterwards, I would be able to see if one of the targets gave me more issues than another.

My Performance

Stage One—On string one, I got two down-zeroes on the first head, a down-one and a down-zero on the second head, and a down-zero and a hit on the chest on the third target, about 2 inches below the head box (down-five….DAMMIT!).  Despite all of the tips I read and trying to take them to heart, I needlessly rushed a shot and cost myself 4-5 seconds!  My other shots as part of string one, along with the strong and support-hand only shots of strings two and three, were all in either the down-zero or down-one zones except for my only down-three of the entire match, one of my left-handed shots.  I finished this stage down 13 points.  At 7 yards, I should really be hitting all down-zeroes, and I feel like this was the stage that cost me.  I finished this stage ranked 11th of 22 shooters (overall).

Stage Two—Maybe I’m the Sundance Kid, but I seemed to do better on the move.  The first string is the classic El Presidente, followed by a string moving forward and then one moving backward.  I finished this stage down only three points and was ranked 4th overall.

Stage Three—Stage Three is shot from 20 and 15 yards, and I felt like this might be a good chance to make up some ground, as I tend to practice a fair amount at these distances.  I was pleased with my performance on this stage as well, finishing with 10 points down and ranked 3rd overall.


My final raw time was 91.66 seconds.  The threshold for Expert in CCP is 103.00, so this did not leave me a lot of wiggle room for hits outside the down-zero zones.  With the penalties added in, my final score was 117.66, which just did not get it done.  I will remain classified as a Sharpshooter.

Conclusion:  I need to shoot more accurately faster.  Duh!

I must say, I was happy that it was more than just the missed head shot on the first string that kept me from my goal.  Still, that and the errant down-three on one of my left-handed shots cost me 8 seconds.  Six other hits into the down-zero—or acquiring my sights a little quicker a few times and executing my magazine changes faster—would have gotten me what I wanted. 

On another positive, although the course of fire has changed since my first Classifier a year ago, I did improve considerably from then, as my score last year was 137.77 (using the same pistol).  Just looking at my targets, they look considerably better than they did last year.

As can be seen in the photos of my targets, I shot the best on Target 1, the tallest target and the one positioned to my left for the entire match.  I was down 6 on that target, versus down 9 on the middle target and down 11 on the target to my right.

Final Thoughts

Although I improved considerably from a year ago, there is clearly still room for improvement.  The main things I need to work on are making ALL the headshots, improving my reload speeds, and increasing my speed and accuracy across the board.  Oh, and for those who might be wondering, only one participant put up an Expert score in any division at this Classifier.  So it seems I am, in essence, a reasonably-sized fish in a tiny pond.

As always, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or comments, please post below or on our Facebook page, as we always welcome civil discourse. 

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