GUN EDU: So you wanna get into competitive shooting? IDPA and USPSA 101

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by AB13, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Please Note: This is a live doc. Expect many updates and revisions to be made as I complete the various parts of this EDU. So check back often for revisions. If there's a question you have that I have not yet covered, please feel free to bring them up.

    I've had a few people both PM me and asked me in threads about getting involved in competitive shooting. There are two distinct misconceptions I will often hear from interested shooters that I'd like to address.

    Misconception #1: "I'm not "good enough" to compete..."

    I placed this #1 because this is about the most used reason I see when I am promoting IDPA or USPSA.

    YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A BULLSEYE SHOOTER TO BE COMPETITIVE

    A vast majority of our target arrays will be within realistic "defensive enagement lengths". So targets are normally set from 1 yard, to 10 yards. We have had COF's in the past where we had to shoot targets out to 35 yards prone with a handgun, but that's few and far between. For the most part, if you could put two shots in an 8" area from 5 yards, you are good to go.

    Misconception #2: "Don't I need a race gun to be competitive?"

    The "race guns" people that we often see or talk about, probably make up only 15-20% of the match. And for the most part, they only compete with other "race guns" aka "Open division guns" so you don't have to worry about them anyhow.

    A vast majority of competitors in a regular match run regular production guns that are only slightly modified. Guns like Glocks, XD's, M&P's, etc. IDPA is a lot less of an equipment race, and they actually frown down upon race guns.

    That aside, lets get to the meat and potatoes:

    What should I get involved in first, and how do I get involved?

    I will often advise new shooters to try IDPA out first. I think it's better structured for new shooters getting into shooting dynamically.

    As long as I lived in my state, I didn't even realize how many active clubs are in the area, and I'm fairly confident that once you dig into your area, you will also be surprised at how active they are.

    I would simply do a "google search". And search for "insert your state" IDPA or USPSA matches / Schedules. If you don't get any hits there go to the two respective sites and they have a "locate a club near you" feature on both IDPA and USPSA's site.

    www.idpa.com

    www.uspsa.org

    What equpment do I need to get started?

    Because there's two disciplines, I'll break it down.

    IDPA:

    -Gun
    -Eyes and Ear protection
    -belt holster. I highly recommend Kydex holsters. But IWB holsters work, like the ever popular Milt Sparks, etc (not allowed: SOB holsters, ankle holsters, shoulder holsters, pocket holsters)
    -a mag pouch that will hold two magazines on your belt. ( Uncle Mikes, Galco, Bladetech, Comp tach all make dual mag pouches )
    -100 bullets a match
    -Time

    IDPA is where I always send new people because they are much less stressful and they're course of fires are much more "defined" meaning. They will tell you "exactly" how they want you to run the stage. Example of a regular "COF" for idpa would go something like this.

    Standing in Box A, shooter must engage targets T1-T3 strong hand only while retreating behind low cover. From low cover, shooter must perform a reload and enage targets T4-T6 with two shoots each.

    And they'll ususally precede the course description with the scenario:

    You are standing in line at the ATM, when 3 assailants attack you. You must defend yourself and retreat with your SO. yada yada yada

    USPSA:

    -Gun
    -Eyes and Ear protection
    -belt holster depends on what division you want to compete in. Most beginners will be better of competing in "Production" division. Which is where most stock guns are, like Glocks, XD's, etc. For this division a OWB Kydex holster is ideal. For Limited, Limited 10 and Open you can use a "race holster".

    Here are two examples of "race" and "production" rigs.

    Race:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Production:
    [​IMG]

    - Mag pouches. You will need upwards of at least 4 mag pouches. 6 if you want to come prepared. But I've competed plenty of times with only 4 mag pouches, and currently only use 5. You can buy two Uncle mikes kydex dual mag pouches on your belt. Or do the adjustable mag pouches like the CR speeds I run. Uncle mikes pouches: $10-15 for dual pouches. or a single CR speed adj pouches: $35 each CR's are a great investment even if your only shooting production for now because it offsets the pouches better, so it's easier to grab and if you ever decide (and you will) to play in Limited, you can mount it tilted on the front of your belt for easier mag grabs. (which is what I do)

    -150-200 bullets a match
    -Time

    I'm hoping other competitive shooters like Sprite chimes in. I can't do this alone. So please feel free to chime in with anything I haven't alredy covered. I anticipate a lot of basic questions like rules, scoring and approriate equipment.

    I was approached by the president of our club to do a film about something exactly like this to target interested shooters into our sport which will cover all of the basics I just addressed as well as equipment misconceptions, rules, range commands and gun handling. I'll post that up as soon as we get it done here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2008
  2. thedude11

    thedude11 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2003
    Messages:
    16,165
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ATX
    Good post. :bigthumb:
     
  3. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Part 2 of my post will cover the various divisions with in each discipline. And answer the "where do I start?" question.

    BRB
     
  4. bearsdidit

    bearsdidit OT Supporter

    Joined:
    May 8, 2004
    Messages:
    32,809
    Likes Received:
    37
    Location:
    Huntington Beach,CA
    great info thanks!
     
  5. Soybomb

    Soybomb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Messages:
    9,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Illinois
    How often do you see guns that are less....competition friendly like DA/SA guns being shot at the matches?
     
  6. Clusive

    Clusive Happiness is a belt-fed weapon.

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2005
    Messages:
    6,685
    Likes Received:
    0
    What gun modifications are allowed for the different divisions?
     
  7. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Quite often actually. I've seen Ruger .22's, Subcompact HK's, Hi Power 9mm. 5 shot break away revolvers that look like they belong in museums. I've even seen a Kel Tec 9 compete.
     
  8. sprite

    sprite Active Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Messages:
    2,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    MI, USA
    Great post.

    I'll just add is that clubs LOVE to see new shooters. When you go to your first match let the registration guys know that you're a new shooter. Many clubs will have a brief "new shooter orientation", where they'll go over the range commands and expected responses, safety rules, and will look over your equipment to make sure it is safe. At our club, we'll usually try to squad newer shooters together with a couple of expereinced guys and will usually have them start off on one of the simpler courses of fire. This lets them get the jitters out before they need to worry about movement, motion targets or negotiating props. On the more complex courses of fire, the range officer can/will help you dissect the stage.

    The other thing to remember is the USPSA & IDPA are volounteer driven, which keeps match fees very reasonable. At our club, a 7 stage, 150 round match that takes 4-5 hours to shoot is only $20. You will not have more fun for $20 anywhere. A small percentage of your match fee goes to the organizations (USPSA/IDPA) headquarters, and the rest gets pumped back into the club, to help pay for targets & pasters, props, and procurement & maintenance of reactive and moving targets, etc. If you really want to make friends with the match staff fast, show up early to help setup and stay after to help tear down.
     
  9. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Here's a break down of the various divisions within IDPA. And what is allowable modfications, as well as examples of the various pistols that would be used to compete in them.

    Please NOTE: this list is not comprehensive. To be sure you are compliant, please refer to the IDPA rule book or feel free to ask me.

    IDPA rule book: http://www.idpa.com/Documents/IDPARuleBook2005.pdf

    Minimum caliber for all divisions is .355 aka 9mm and it must make a powefactor of 125.

    SSP aka Stock Service Pistol divison:

    This is where most Glocks, M&P's and Sigs compete in. allowable modifications are: Grip tape, after market "post and notch" style sightes, trigger work (as long as the pistol retains all of it's safety mechanisms). There are also size dimensions, and weight slot for this division. Please refer to the rule book for exact size and weight.

    You must compete with only 10 rounds in the mag +1 in the tube. And your two other mags must have the same amount in them.

    Not allowed: Stipling, grip reductions, slide lightening, aftermarket guide rods, extended slide release (unless it comes OEM), extended mag release (unless it's OEM) and NO mag wells.

    ESP aka Enhanced Service Pistols:

    This is more "race" than SSP. Everything that's legal in SSP is legal here. But you are allowed to do more things to your gun here. This is where you see the tricked out 1911 9mm's compete. Modified CZ's and Sigs are also big in this division. As well as Tricked out Glocks. XD's must compete in this divison because they're action is "defined" as being different than Glocks. "dont ask, its' one of those dead horses everyone debates"

    CDP division aka Custom Defensive Pisol

    This is the home of the 1911. This is where the more tricked out 1911 in .45 compete. You can also compete in this division with a XD in .45 or glock in .45. This is a .45 only division.

    Rules are basically anything that's legal in ESP, is applicable in CDP. With the only big exception is you are limited to only 8 rounds in your mags +1 in the tube.

    SSR or Stock Service Revolver division

    As the name indicates, this is for stock revolvers in 9mm and up.

    ESR or Ehanced Service Revolver

    You can use moon clips, etc here. Smith and Wesson 600 series revolvers are king here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2008
  10. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Here's a break down of the various divisions within USPSA. And what is allowable modfications, as well as examples of the various pistols that would be used to compete in them.

    Please NOTE: this list is not comprehensive. To be sure you are compliant, please refer to the USPSA rule book or feel free to ask me.

    USPSA rule book: www.uspsa.org/rules/Handgun_15th_2004.pdf

    Minimum caliber for all divisions is .355 aka 9mm and it must make a powefactor of 125.

    Something also unique about USPSA is that there are two sub divisions within Limited, Limited 10 and Open depending on your ammo.

    There are "major" division, and "Minor" division. This is dictated by your Power factor. So in "limited" you can shoot " minor" or "major" in .40 depending on how your powerfactor is recorded over a chrono. The trade off is that by going minor, you are scored differently. A "B" hit aka "Bravo hit", shooting in Major is 4 points, and in Minor it's 3 points. So you may gain an advantage with a slightly less recoil, with the expense that your hits on the target are scored differently than those shooting it in "major" power factor. This can be good if you are accurate, bad if you are a run and gunner.
    Production divison:

    This is where you will find all "stock" pistols, from Glocks to Sigs. The allowable mods are basically the same as IDPA SSP division. With the exception that they are more strict on where grip tape is applied, amongst other small things.

    You must also place your holster on your "hip bone" or directly under your arm pits. Your pouches should also not exceed this point on the opposite side.

    Limited 10:

    This division is where you can go nuts on your gun. You can do just about anything to your gun except for having electronic "red dot" sights and compensators. But you are free to do just about anything else to your gun, with only a few exceptions.

    As for holster placement and mag pouches. You can arrange them in any maner that is safe and secure.

    The big difference between Limited 10 aka L10 and Limited, is in L10 you are restricted to only having 10 rounds in your mags, but you can have up to 6 mags on your body or more. This was the division made for the Californians with their strict gun mag restrictions.

    Limited: Same as L10 except you can have as many rounds as you can cram into a 140mm magazine. So Extended mags are key here. The theory is you won't have to reload quite as much. And when I compete in Limited, I only have 3-4 mags on me and I hardly dip into my 3rd mag.

    Here is an example of my L10/Limited guns:

    [​IMG]

    L10 with 10 rounders:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Open division:

    Anything goes. If you can bring it to the line, we'll let you shoot it. Red dot scopes, full comps, weights, the whole nine yards. You can also stuff as much as 28 rounds in your 180mm mags. 9mm in Major and 38 super is king here because of the additonal rounds able to hold in a mag.

    Single stack (new in 2008) is now a recognized divison in USPSA. This is where Single Stack 1911s in various calibers are shot in within the sub factors of "Major" or "Minor". The differense is that they are not allowed to use Race holsters, and the location of their holster on their belt, is the same as production and must be directly your arm pit. Mag pouch placement must mirror this on the other side.

    Revolver:

    Just as the name states.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2008
  11. kamikaze

    kamikaze Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2005
    Messages:
    33,629
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Barrie Ontario
    anything for competitive rifle shooting?

    oh, the green text in the post above is impossible to read on the dark forum skin, fyi
     
  12. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Absolutely. We also compete in 3 gun as well as Multigun. Where you have a rifle stage mixed with Pistol targets. Shot gun stage, mixed with Pistol. They are not nearly as popular in my area as they are in California, or Arizona and Texas.
     
  13. sprite

    sprite Active Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Messages:
    2,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    MI, USA
    One note regarding equipment... at local level (i.e. Level 1) matches the non-safety related equipment rules are not typically strictly enforced (safety related equipment rules are always strictly enforced). For example, the USPSA rule book states that 9mm is the minimum caliber, and 125 is the minimum power factor (bullet weight * velocity). If someone shows up wanting to shoot their .380 carry gun, or a kid wants to shoot .22LR they'll be allowed to shoot the match with the understanding that they will severly handicapped on stages that require falling steel to activate movers down range.

    Additionally, at local level matches declaring your division and power factor is usually done on the honor system... meaning a local match will not typically have a chrono & scale to verify your power factor, nor will they inspect your gun to make sure it fits the division rules to a "T". At Level II & higher matches you can expect these types of procedures.
     
  14. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Good note Sprite. It may seem like a lot of people, but we are a close knit community and most everyone knows most everyone. You DON'T want to be that guy that gets caught doing those things. You won't hear the end of it. I have had to "police" my own in the past.
     
  15. Milky

    Milky I'm in your Millenium Falcon, rumbling your Wookie

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,067
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Mississippi State
    What kind of belt do you guys recommend? I would assume that an old, beat up leather belt is not exactly ideal for these competitions.
     
  16. sprite

    sprite Active Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Messages:
    2,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    MI, USA
    Nothing wrong with a beat up leather belt...that is pretty much what everyone starts off with.

    I currently use a 1.75" Wilderness Combat Shooters model, but if I were starting from scratch I'd no doubt go with a CR Speed belt. That is the belt AB13 has all his rigs mounted on... definitely the stiffest and most versatile.
     
  17. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    For IDPA, 5.11 makes an excellent new belt which I have been using for the past 2 months. It's a leather double stitch belt.

    But for USPSA, the CR speed is amongst the most widely adapted. I have an old Safariland inner/outer belt system I used to run in Limited, and it's not as stiff and doesn't hold up the weight well enough.

    You have to remember that for USPSA, you are packing a gun, and 4-6 Fully loaded mags. That can get heavy, and a good belt helps distribute the weight better.

    CR speed belt systems can be had for 50-60$. Safariland, 40$. You won't miss the extra 10 you spend on the CR speed.
     
  18. el capitan

    el capitan New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Messages:
    3,833
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    cleveland ohio
    :cool: glad to see you did this
     
  19. mds2004

    mds2004 OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2004
    Messages:
    10,600
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bakersfield, CA
    Very cool, but what exactly are the differences of IDPA and USPA? I read the rules you posted, but how are the shooting style different?

    Edit: Found this on IDPA site.

     
  20. Lightsped

    Lightsped Glockaholic

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2006
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kennesaw/Acworth Georgia
    This is without a dobut one of the better topics I have seen here in WMD. LOTS of highly useful info here.

    After reading through this topic, I now have the desire to try a IDPA match again. I have done several in the past.

    This may be the wrong mindset, but I went into the IDPA matches not expecting to do good or win anything. I just went in with the idea that I would get to learn some dynamic techniques and having fun. I wasn't concerned with being the best on the range that particular day. I didn't win anything, but I definately learned some things and had a great time as well. I'd say it was a success....

    Guns I have used were my G26 with my IWB Galco Royal Guard, and my G34 with my Galco Jak holster. I'd like to try out my SIG 226, Glock 17L (is it legal?), and possibly one of my Ruger Mark II bull barreled pistols (I am assuming .22lrs are legal??)...
     
  21. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Excellent question! And I was wondering when it would be asked. :)

    IDPA is built upon the spirit of IPSC/USPSA but with with more of a focus on Defensive shooting scenarios. The intent was to promote a sport that's less about your equipment, and more on the ability of the shooter to negotiate more realistic defensive scenarios.

    It's within these parameters that all of the rules of IDPA are derived. From the laws of engagement using "tactical sequencing". The use of shooting from behind various barriers/cover. Using tactical priority shooting from said barriers/cover. To specific reloads to use in a defensive situation like reload with retention, and a tactical reload. And lastly the ability to engage multiple threats "on the move".

    It's because of this, each IDPA course of fire has a very specific description of how a shooter "must" shoot the course, and do so within the rules of engagement set forth by IDPA rule. And the courses are also built, also has restrictions on total travel from array to array, as well as a bullet cap on each stage because in IDPA, you are only allowed 2 full mags on your belt, and a another in the gun with one in the pipe. We build the courses to not exceed that bullet count.

    IPSC, it's basically, run and gun. DVC, Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas, which translate to Power, Speed and Accuracy sums it up nicely. It's not entirely realistic. But it's fun to shoot. Reloading multiple mags, long, complicated stages with up to 16 targets in crazy sequencing. It's basically, heres a course of fire with 16 targets, here are a bunch of puzzles in a form of a maze, stacked target arrays, swing and moving targets.... now shoot them all as fast as you can. lol

    This is how I described it to a newer shooter in orientation.

    IDPA is the gal you dated that made you take her home by 9pm. Didn't let her kiss you on the first date. And made you meet her parents.

    USPSA is her hot, slutty cousin that will on the first date. lol
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2008
  22. AB13

    AB13 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Messages:
    3,668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    17L isn't IDPA legal, but bring it over to USPSA and you are all good. There is an "IDPA" legal box, which basically is just a wooden box with a hinge that you have to place your gun in. If the box closes properly, it's legal! lol

    .22's are "special stage only" matches. We have .22 matches, where the entire match is shoot with a .22. But in normal IDPA matches they would only be allowed for "score only". Which means you aren't a part of the regular match, and will not be factored in with the standings.
     
  23. KRUSTYTHECLOWN

    KRUSTYTHECLOWN OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent post! Thank You so much. :bowdown:
     
  24. sprite

    sprite Active Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Messages:
    2,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    MI, USA
    How a USPSA match works...

    Local clubs will have their own idiosyncrasies but for the most part they all run matches the same way.

    Two "Big Picture" rules you should always keep in mind at USPSA Matches
    1) The ONLY time you should be in possession of a loaded firearm is while under the direct supervision of a Range Officer
    2) The ONLY time you should be handling an unloaded firearm is while under the direct supervision of a Range Officer, OR at a designated & clearly marked "Safe Area" (more on this later)

    Before Arriving at the Match:
    USPSA matches are run as a "cold range" which means all guns should be unloaded unless you are under the direct supervision of Range Officer. It is easiest to just arrive at the match with your gun unloaded and bagged. If you have a CCW piece, you should remove it before heading to the match area. If you will be shooting your CCW piece at the match, you should remove it, clear (unload) it, and bag it.

    Arriving at the Match:
    Most matches will have a registration table near the entrance to the range/match area. Signing up:
    1) Basically all clubs will require signing an insurance waiver.

    2) Registration - this usually entails filling out a form with the following info:
    - Your name
    - Your email
    - Your USPSA #, if you are a USPSA member
    - Your USPSA Classification, if you are a USPSA member
    - Your declared Division (match staff will help if you don't know)
    - Your declared power factor (major or minor)

    3) Pay the match fee

    4) Squadding - Once you're registered and paid up you'll be assigned to a squad. A squad is just a group of shooters who will be shooting the match together, so if you go with some buddies make you're all put on the same squad. Squads just make the match run faster since multiple squads can be shooting multiple stages simultaneously, and they just rotate until all squads have shot all stages. Squads are usually 5- 10 shooters, but that can vary based on turnout, stage count,and the number of RO's available.

    Gearing Up:Once you're done pushing paper it is time to gear up. Don't touch that gun yet! Put on your belt, holster & mag pouches. Now look for a table marked "Safe Area"

    The "Safe Area":
    The Safe Area is the ONLY place you should be handling your gun other than when under the direct supervision of the RO. The Safe Area is where you transfer your gun from your bag/case into your holster. While at the Safe Area, you may also practice draws and dry firing your gun. If you are not at a Safe Area or following the commands of an RO you should not be handling your gun, period. Additionally, there is NO ammo allowed in the Safe Area, this includes snap caps and dummy rounds. Don't load your magazines here, and don't handle loaded magazines here.

    Once your gun is holstered you can go back to the general area to finish gearing up. Get your mags loaded up, your eyes & ears ready, etc...

    Pre Match Shooter Meeting:
    Usually shortly before the start time for the match, the Match Director will have a Pre-Match meeting. They will go over some specifics of the match, make any special announcements, announce the squads & RO's, and assign the squads to stages. If the club has a dedicated new shooter briefing, this is usually also the time they will call new shooter off to the side to go over basic range commands, safety rules, and do a basic equipment check.

    Once all that is done then you're about to shoot your first stage. I'll work something up on how stages are run later.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2008
  25. texchef

    texchef Guest

    Also, most clubs will let you shoot the first time for free to see if you like it. At least the one here does. You will need to be an active member of IDPA/IPSC to get ranked and ranking happens after the 4th qualifier. Once you are ranked then you will only shoot with those folks of the same rank until you advance to the next rank.

    Yearly IDPA membership is $40 and 3 years for $105.

    amirite?
     

Share This Page