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
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
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
Muzzle: If you hear this, immediately check yourself
as your muzzle is getting near a muzzle safe point. Do not take muzzle safe
Stop: 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
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 the firearm.
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
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
“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
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
Revolver shooters need
to open the cylinder, empty the gun, and show the empty cylinder to the
Safety Officer. Close the cylinder and holster.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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
Load: Open cylinder, eject
shells to ground, and reload using speedloader, speed strip, or loose
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
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.
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