My First IDPA Match of 2018

Suddenly and unexpectedly being called upon to coach little league baseball this Spring, with games EVERY Saturday morning for a few months, forced me to delay my first foray into competitive pistol shooting this year.  Though it was fun to spend that time with my son and his teammates, I had really hoped to get the IDPA ball rolling a little sooner. 

This particular match was a two-day affair, with some shooters choosing to shoot on both days while others, like me, only shot on one day or the other.  Due to rainy weather on Friday and predicted rain on Saturday (when I shot), a more typical IDPA match was replaced with what was primarily a steel match. 

Registration and Equipment

As this was my first match of the year, I chose to register in the Stock Service Pistol (SSP) division, as I typically do.  Though my Glock 19 would also fit into the Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) division, I usually prefer to shoot in SSP because it allows you a few more rounds in each magazine (10), closer to the actual capacity of the 19 (CCP allows only 8 rounds). 

I used my OD Glock 19 Generation 3.  As noted in this article from last week, it has recently been updated to, uh, actually have all the correct parts!  It is equipped with Ameriglo I Dot Pro sights, skateboard tape on the slide top, and a Glock 17 smooth-faced trigger.  I used Blazer Aluminum 115 grain ammunition.  I fired a total of 123 rounds during the match and had no malfunctions of any kind.

Set Up of the Stages

There were a total of seven stages in this match, five of which were entirely composed of steel targets.  The exceptions to the steel stages were one “warm-up” stage consisting of a mere 9 rounds fired in three strings of three rounds each (three from 10 yards freestyle, three from about 7 yards strong-hand only, and three from about 4 yards support-hand only).  This stage was set up in all three of the bays, so that everyone would get to shoot the “warm-up” first (although called a “warm-up”, it was still shot for score).  The other non-steel stage was the new IDPA abbreviated classifier consisting of the Bill Wilson 5×5 drill.  As it would happen, that stage would be the last I would shoot.

My Performance

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My first stage was the aforementioned “warm-up” stage (visible way off to the left in the above photo……just the one IDPA target and three cones).  I must confess that, for whatever reason, I was not entirely sure that the “warm-up” was being scored, so I did not really push myself.  I finished this stage in 20th place out of 44 shooters overall, 7th out of 18 in SSP.

My second stage was the first of the all-steel stages I would face, and is evident to the left side of the above photo.  Off-frame, because I suck with a camera, was a fabric wall from each side of which we had to knock down all the steel poppers “in tactical sequence”.  In this case, because we would be slicing the pie from both sides of this “cover”, we actually would work from outside in, which meant from far to near.  I finished this stage 17th of 44 overall, 6th out of 18 in SSP.

My third stage was a comparatively easy stage (visible to the right side of the above frame), with all targets requiring two hits.  The five smaller steel silhouette targets that had to be shot first, since they were closer, and any miss that hit the steel behind would result in a procedural penalty.  I finished this stage 18th out of 44 overall, 6th out of 18 in SSP. 

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My fourth stage, visible to the left side of the photo above, was a bit of a pain in that there were a bunch of small pieces of steel that had to be knocked off steel posts along with three poppers to hit as well.  One of the plates that had to be hit, however, blended in very well with the base of a popper positioned behind, and I, like several other competitors, thought I was finished until someone said, “You’ve still got one to hit!”, and then I put it down with one round.  But that probably cost me three seconds!  I finished this stage 18th out of 44 overall, 7th out of 18 in SSP (catching the theme yet?). 

My fifth stage, visible to the right side of the photo above, consisted of a Polish plate rack and then a “hostage” shot with a non-threat black silhouette next to it.  To make things interesting, our first magazine could only be loaded with five rounds.  I got very lucky on the plate rack and knocked over three before it had even moved more than an inch or two, so I was able to clear it fairly quickly and then made the hostage shot with no issues.  I finished this stage 14th out of 44 overall, 4th out of 18 in SSP.

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My sixth stage consisted of a standard plate rack and then a Texas Star.  Again, our first magazine had to be downloaded, this time to six rounds.  I finished this stage 19th out of 44, 5th out of 18 in SSP.

My seventh and final stage was the 5×5 Classifier.  This is a new thing for IDPA this year.  Every member of IDPA is supposed to shoot at least one Classifier match per year, but this is tough for some depending on personal schedules as well as how often their local venues offer the Classifier (my local club generally only offered it twice per year).  So, this year IDPA came up with the idea of doing an abbreviated Classifier by shooting the Bill Wilson 5×5.  This could be set up as a single stage at any match, as here, and thus competitors could get classified at any match.  This is particularly useful for those who regularly shoot in several divisions.

The 5×5 requires only 25 rounds and is shot in four strings, all from the draw (cover garment not required for classifiers), all from 10 yards at a standard IDPA target:

String One:  Five rounds two-handed free-style

String Two:  Five rounds strong-hand only

String Three:  Five rounds free-style, slide-lock reload, five rounds free-style

String Four:  Four rounds free-style to the body, one round to the head

I finished this stage 7th out of 44 overall, 2nd out of 18 in SSP.  But had I known what I now know (that the 5×5 will be offered as one stage of every match moving forward), I would have registered as CCP instead of SSP.  Why?  Because the threshold for each classification (Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert, Master) is lower for CCP (since a Glock 19, or a gun of its size, should be at a bit of a disadvantage to something like a Glock 34, which was designed for SSP). 

As it happened, I had just shot the 5×5 twice, once in each of the two weeks prior to this match, both times using a Glock 19.  On my first occasion I had shot an Expert score in CCP but what would have been a Sharpshooter score in SSP.  The second time, using this same OD Glock 19, I shot Expert in both CCP and SSP.  So, going into this classifier “for real”, I was feeling pretty good.  As it happened, I shot what should have been my best score ever.  Yet, inexplicably, I launched my final shot, the head shot, somewhere into the stratosphere!  It did not even hit the target!  That cost me a five second penalty.  So my final adjusted time (I had two other hits in the “down one” zone) was 25.57, and the threshold for Expert in SSP is 25.4 seconds!  So I missed Expert by .17 seconds.  And yet, had I made the head shot, my time would have been 20.57.  In essence, I could have taken 4+ seconds to get a nice sight picture and pressed that trigger straight to the rear and still made Expert (my times on the first three strings were that good).  And, worse yet, had I made the shot and been registered in CCP, I would have put up a Master time!

I seem to recall the Dennis Hopper character in “Apocalypse Now!” quoting Colonel Kurtz at one point, “Do you know that ‘If’ is the middle word in life?”  If, if, if.  Oh well.  I now know for sure that Expert is within easy reach; I just have to execute.  And to give me some leeway, I plan to register in CCP next time!

Final Thoughts

I finished the match 16th out of 44 overall, 5th out of the 18 shooting in SSP.

Overall, my performance throughout the match was pretty consistent.  I was generally in the high teens overall on each stage and in the upper third in my division.  I had some nice successes (the Polish plate rack standing out to me), and even though disappointed by my 5×5 performance, I have a good idea of what I am capable of doing.  I should also note that this match marked the first time I ever shot a Polish plate rack or a Texas Star.  I realize some reading this may be shocked to read this, but these are just not opportunities that exist for me, for the most part, where I live.

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

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