Guest post by Kelly P.
Many women enjoy target shooting, but I have found something even better – a fun and practical shooting sport called IDPA. IDPA stands for International Defensive Pistol Association and is a shooting sport that simulates real life self-defense scenarios. Shooters use full size weapons and holsters that are practical for real life concealed carry. All you need to compete is a handgun, strong side belt holster, magazine/speedloader holder, cover garment for concealment, and eye and ear protection.
I have been shooting in IDPA matches for a year now. Notice I didn’t say “competing”, because I am still far from reaching a competitive skill level. IDPA is a friendly sport and beginners are always welcome. I’m not sure if this is true everywhere, but in my area kids are also welcome. Experienced shooters are friendly and encouraging and happy to share tips and discuss equipment and gadgets.
At a match, shooters are assigned to squads and are under the direction of a Safety Officer. The SO runs the squad and gives all the range commands. A match consists of several stages. In each stage, the SO reads a scenario and explains the requirements for that stage. There are instructions for the order of shooting targets and how many rounds in each target. For example, you might need to put two rounds in the chest and one round in the head of each target, from behind cover or while moving to cover. You might have to shoot with just your strong hand or just your weak hand. Some targets are marked “non-threat” and partially block targets you need to hit. Most targets are fixed, but some swing back and forth so they peek out from behind non-threat targets. Some targets only face the shooter for a couple of seconds and are activated by shooting a steel target. It is a challenge!
Scoring is based on a combination of speed and accuracy. Your total shooting time is recorded and points, which are converted to seconds, are added for misses, hits on the target but outside the designated areas, hits on non-threat targets, and procedural errors such as shooting targets in the wrong order.
You can find a club that sponsors IDPA matches on the IDPA.com website. Be aware of the range’s safety rules before arriving. Even if you have a concealed carry permit and normally carry a loaded gun, if it is a “cold range”, you may only have a loaded gun on the firing line under the SO’s supervision, and you may only handle your gun in designated areas. If you can’t find a club with IDPA matches near you, check out IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation, ipsc.org) and USPCA (United Practical Shooting Association, uspsa.org). I have not shot in their matches, but they are along the same lines of using practical shooting skills. You can find YouTube videos to get an idea of how a match works.
The events really get your adrenaline pumping, and it’s a great way to meet new people and gain important skills.
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