IDPA New Shooter Briefing

If you are new to IDPA the following information will help you be ready for your first match.  If you are a bit hesitant about shooting your first match, you are always welcome to come and watch a match.

I. Safety Rules
1.) All guns are always loaded
2.) Never let your muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3.) Know your target and what is behind it.
4.) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target

If these simple rules are always followed, most firearms accidents would never happen. Pay considerable attention to rules 2 and 3. When shooting IDPA your finger should never be inside of the trigger guard until you are on target and ready to shoot. Always get your finger out of the trigger guard before moving. Always be aware of your muzzle’s direction and keep it safely downrange. Muzzle Safe Points are the limits that a shooter’s muzzle can travel without being unsafe. Be sure to know where these limits are and always keep within them. Certain IDPA courses of fire may test your skills of keeping the muzzle in a safe direction. Be mindful of your muzzle and trigger and you will always shoot safely.  While IDPA does not have a 180 rule as part of the sport, we do have such a rule at this range.  Do not allow the muzzle of your firearm to break this plain.  This includes up and down as well as right to left.

II . Range Commands

It is important to learn the IDPA range commands and the proper response.

Range is Hot, Eyes and Ears:  This command is given by the Safety Officer at the start of each stage.

Load and Make Ready: This is the command to load up and get ready. It is covered deeply in the next section.

Are You ready?: Command is given to notify the shooter to get ready.

Stand By:  This command is given as notice to the shooter to prepare for the start timer.  The Safety Officer will start the time within 1 – 3 seconds after the command is given.

Finger: You will hear this if your finger is in the trigger guard while moving. Failure to immediately comply will result in a 3 second procedural penalty. Repeated offenses will earn a match disqualification

Muzzle: If you hear this, immediately check yourself as your muzzle is getting near a muzzle safe point. Do not take muzzle safe points lightly.

If a shooter is being grossly unsafe or is disqualified the Safety Officer will give this command. Upon hearing this, the shooter is to stop shooting, point the muzzle in a safe direction, and await further range commands.

Cover: If a shooter does not have 100% of the lower body and 50% of the upper body behind cover while shooting or is reloading when not under cover, the Safety Officer will issue this command. Failure to immediately comply will receive a 3 second procedural penalty.

If Finished Unload and Show Clear: When you are finished shooting the stage the Safety Officer will issue this command.  You will  unload your gun by removing the magazine, opening the action and remain until the next command. This will be explained in great detail in a later section.

If Clear, Slide Down (or Close Cylinder):  You will close the slide or cylinder.

Pull the Trigger:  Pull the trigger to release the action.  Not given to revolver shooters.

Holster:  Holster the firearm.

III. Penalties
For the most part, a new shooter who shoots carefully and deliberately need will avoid most penalties. Penalties are given out for various rule infractions, but in IDPA penalties are used only when truly necessary. Safety Officers are here to help you have a fun and safe time, not to nitpick.

Procedural: Procedural penalties are given for:
1.) The first non-dangerous finger violation
2.) Not using Cover properly
3.) Not shooting while moving as required
4.) Not reloading as required
5.) Not following other Course of fire rules as required

Failure to Neutralize: is given when at least one round does not hit the -0 or -1 scoring area on a target.

Hits on Non-Threats: Is a five second penalty no matter how many hits. Rounds that pass through a non threat and hit a threat target are counted.

Failure to Do Right: This is a seldom given penalty only dished out to shooters not following the spirit or rationale of any stage. If you shoot the Course of fire as outlined and do not try to “game” out the stage, this will never be a problem.

If you wind up earning a procedural, non threat penalty, or failure to neutralize penalty, do not get upset. This sport is all about learning and the only one who will remember next month is you. Learn from your mistakes and have fun!

IV. Loading and Unloading

“Load and make ready!”
For new shooters, the first time they make ready for a stage can be stressful. It should not be. When the Safety Officer gives the command to “load and make ready” slowly draw your unloaded pistol, (finger off the trigger) insert a loaded magazine, and “slingshot” load the gun. “Slingshot” is to pull the slide back and then release it. Do not follow the slide back as it can create jamming problems. Set the safety if your pistol has that option.

Most IDPA courses of fire require the gun be fully loaded. To fully load the gun it is best to replace the magazine currently in the gun with a fresh magazine. This gives good tactical reload practice too. Re-holster the gun and then top off the magazine and replace it in your pouch. This is the safest way to load your semi-automatic handgun.

Another safe way to “top off” your handgun is the administrative reload. To do this you load the gun, set the safety (if applicable) and holster. Reach over the gun and eject the magazine (without drawing the pistol) and remove the magazine. Top off the magazine and re-insert it into the pistol. This works well for multiple start strings, especially the classifier.

Revolver shooters need to draw the pistol, load the chambers, close the cylinder and then holster.

“If Finished, Unload and show clear!”

After a course of fire has been completed, the Safety Officer will ask you to “unload and show clear.” For self loading pistols you should remove the magazine, pull the slide fully back ,(let the cartridge fall to the ground) and allow the Safety Officer to visually check the chamber to see it is empty. The Safety Officer will then say “slide down, pull the trigger, holster.” Let go of the slide, point the gun at the backstop, and pull the trigger, dropping the hammer. Shooters with double action automatics that have magazine safeties may use the de-cocker. You may then holster the unloaded pistol.

Revolver shooters need to open the cylinder, empty the gun, and show the empty cylinder to the Safety Officer. Close the cylinder and holster.

V. Movement

Movement with a drawn pistol is easy if you follow the basics. First, always move only when your finger is outside the trigger guard. Second, be mindful of the muzzle at all times. You must keep the muzzle in a safe direction (which will mostly be downrange) at all times. Third, take your time. You will see experienced shooters moving very quickly, but they started out moving slowly as should you. Take your time, move and shoot carefully.

Be sure to listen to the safety Officer for any special instructions related to a particular course of fire.

VI Malfunctions.

If your firearm fails to fire do not panic. Keep the muzzle downrange. Most of the time the problem is due to a bad round or improperly seated magazine. In this case: Tap the bottom of the magazine, Rack the slide back to chamber a new round, and Bang (fire if needed). This is called the Tap-Rack-Bang method.

Professional training will help you diagnose and quickly cure malfunctions and a small pamphlet cannot give you all the information you need. If a Tap-Rack-Bang does not work it is best to stop and get help from the Safety Officer.

Another malfunction with a dangerous potential is the squib load, caused by a primer but no powder in the cartridge. What usually happens is a “pfft” noise with no recoil. If this happens, stop and get help from the Safety Officer. Remember to keep the muzzle downrange.

VI. Reloading

All Reloads must be done from behind cover if cover is available. Do not reload in the open if cover is readily available to you. (Note: the MD or stage designer can override this rule in certain situations, but it must be stated in the stage description.)

In IDPA there are two kinds of reloads; the emergency or slide-lock reload, and the tactical reload/reload with retention. There are no provisions for the USPSA type speed reload.

In most IDPA stages the shooter will have the option to either reload when the slide locks back, or to tactical reload/reload with retention. Both of these reloads are to be done behind cover. The general principle is that no loaded magazine is to be left behind. The speed load (even if the magazine is empty) is not permitted. You need not argue a case for it.

Emergency Reload (aka-Slide Lock Reload): When the slide locks back the shooter is to seek cover, eject the spent magazine, insert a fresh magazine and release the slide.

Tactical Reload: The shooter is behind cover and removes a fresh magazine, and with the fresh magazine in hand the shooter removes and retains the spent magazine, inserts the fresh magazine, and places the spent magazine in a pocket. The magazine must be stored before resuming shooting. Shooting before storing the magazine will earn a procedural.  You may use this reload as you see fit, but it will not be used as a requirement except during Standards Stages.

Reloading with Retention: To start, the shooter should be behind cover.  First he removes the spent magazine and places it in a pocket; next the shooter inserts a fresh magazine in the pistol and resumes shooting.  Again, this reload is used at the shooter’s discretion.

Reloading Revolvers: Revolvers can be emergency reloaded or tactical reloaded.

Revolver Emergency Load: Open cylinder, eject shells to ground, and reload using speedloader, speed strip, or loose cartridges.

Revolver Tactical Reload: Open cylinder, eject shells into hand, pocket both brass and fresh cartridges, reload using speedloader, speed strip, or loose cartridges. (A true tactical reload would find the shooter pocketing only the loaded cartridges and discarding the brass but since IDPA is an “against the clock sport”, not many shooters do it) 

VII. Scoring

Scoring in IDPA is easy. After shooting a course of fire the time is recorded. Hits are counted and any misses are noted at -5pts each. The scoring rings are looked over; all head and 8” center ring hits are -0 points. Hits on the next ring count as -1 point each. Hits on the last scoring ring are -3 points each. Hits on the edge of the target count as misses. All the points are totaled multiplied by 0.5 seconds and recorded. All penalties (which are all in the form of a time penalty) are calculated and recorded. The sum of the stage time, points down, and penalties is the shooters score given in seconds. Lowest Score wins.

VIII. Pasting Targets

After each shooter finishes a stage, the targets must be pasted. They don’t paste themselves, so someone has to do it. Please do your part and help paste the targets.

VIII. Tips

IDPA rewards accuracy over time. Take the time to place your shots properly. Remember you will lose 1/2 second for each point down. This adds up more quickly than you would think.

Do not crowd the cover. Staying back from the cover will make you less than a target (in the real world) but will help you move from target to target easier.

Always remember to concentrate on your front sight. 

Good Luck and Have Fun shooting your first IDPA Match!