I.D.P.A. – for all pistol lovers.

To start off my ‘Firearm Friday’ I thought that an introduction into just what IDPA is, would be appropriate. :)

I.D.P.A. – International Defensive Pistol Association.
This organization is one you will want to be a part of!
Originally founded in 1996 in the US, there are now over 22,000 active members in more than 50 countries, with most likely a club near you!

IDPA competitions have stages that solve real-world defensive scenarios using everyday practical carry equipment. The main goal is to improve and test the skill and ability of the individual by combining accuracy and tactical engagement procedure with speed.
Needless to say- it is a lot of fun.

At the Hluhluwe, KZN club shoot in 2014.
At the Hluhluwe, KZN club shoot in 2014.

Here in South Africa, we are part of a sub-sect of the governing IDPA body, SADPA, The South African Defensive Pistol Association.

In order to get started, you have to go to a NSO (New Shooter Orientation) and pay your membership dues. (Annual membership in the US is $40, in South Africa is R350)
After that, you are all set to go!
Once you have a pistol and the other goodies, of course….

Each club shoot (competition) will cost you about $10, unless you join as a member of that club.
Club memberships vary depending on where you are and how fancy they are.

As for type of pistol allowed, as long as it is one that is suitable for self defense, chances are you can shoot IDPA with it. This includes revolvers!

Just a couple of examples:
All GLOCK pistols, S&W M&P, Beretta 92F, Z88, Star Model 30, Star BM/BKM, Browning Hi-Power, Sig 226, Colt 1911A1, CZ75/85, CZ100, H&K USP, HS2000, S&W 686, Taurus 66 or Ruger GP-100, etc..

I didn’t really want a picture of my posterior, but you can see most gear better from the back… Notice that as I am drawing my finger is off the trigger until my sights are on the target. Here you can see my special Comp-Tac pink kydex pistol and mag holsters. No concealment was required for this stage.

As for the gear required, you’ll need:
*A minimum of three Magazines for your pistol
*A minimum of 100 rounds of Ammo
*Eye Protection
*Ear Protection
*A Holster
This must be suitable for normal everyday carry- it can be inside waistband (IWB) or outside waistband (OWB). If it is OWB, it must be able to be turned upside down without your pistol falling out of it.  A highly recommended and popular brand of holsters and other gear is Comp-Tac – tell ’em Victoria and Ziggy sent you!
*Magazine Holsters
You need to have two. Same rule applies to them being tight enough on your mags for them not to fall out when upside down, but should be easily removable as well.
*A Concealment Vest or Jacket
This has to fit so that when wearing your vest and have all of your gear on, (mags and pistol), with your arms extended out to the side, no gear can be seen visibly from the side or front. It must be practical for your environment, loose enough to allow easy movement, and can’t have any visible or mesh areas to it. I would strongly suggest a tan or khaki color.
*A Strong Belt

Other items you may want to bring along would be a range bag to lug around all of your stuff in, snacks (to keep the hangry monster away), a hat, sunscreen, cash, chair, extra ammo, comfy closed-toe shoes, etc…
A couple of really good brands for apparel and accessories are 5.11 and Midway USA– there you can get the proper concealment vest, pants, belt, and all of the other goodies.
For the mega-list of gear, there is a great one compiled by SADPA here.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 1.51.24 PM

The Shooting Divisions pertain to which pistol you are using and are:
Stock Service Pistol (SSP)
Enhanced Service Pistol (ESP)
Custom Defensive Pistol (CDP)
Compact Carry (CCP)
Back-up Gun (BUG)
Enhanced Service Revolver (ESR)
Stock Service Revolver (SSR)

To compete in a match or club shoot, you first have to do a classifier shoot in the division you want to compete in. This is usually done at the NSO (New Shooter Orientation).

The classifications are:
Novice (NO)
Marksman (MM)
Sharpshooter (SS)
Expert (EX)
Master (MA)
Distinguished Master (DM)

IMG_2085 IMG_2052

In these two pictures you can see shirted targets, a hostage target, and the two types of steel targets used.

In both the classifier and all competitions, your ‘score’ is your time, and your accuracy affects your final time.
Raw Time + Points Down = Score (final time)

The first thing that you need to know is each ‘point’ is equal to a half of a second.
Points can be accumulated two ways, by lack of accuracy or with penalties.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 4.54.26 PMThe green center circle and square ‘head’ area are called ‘zero down’ areas. This is the ‘bulls-eye’ and where you want your shot to end up – shooting in this area means that no points are added to your time.
The larger blue area is the 1-point down area- per shot you shoot in this area is 1 point down.
Any shots within the last larger red area, are 3 points down.
Shots that didn’t hit the target are 5 points down; If you fail to ‘neutralize a target’, then you get an FTN (Failure to Neutralize) and will earn yourself another 5 points.

Everyone will get a penalty at some point in time. (hah- no pun intended)
Some other penalties to keep in mind are:
Shooting a Non-Threat (Hostage) Target +10 points
Failure to do Right (FTDR) +40 Points
Procedural Penalties- This can range from not engaging the targets in the right sequence, to having your finger in the trigger guard, to not using cover correctly.

I could go oodles more into detail about all of the rules, scoring, etc.. or I could just give you the link to the best New Shooter Information Packet I have seen. It is from the Fresno, California IDPA Chapter and is located here. Thanks, Fresno.


As you will soon find out, IDPA is a very friendly sport and most everyone is always willing to help a newcomer in any way- from lending ammo, pistols, and equipment, to helping you with private lessons, to answering any question, to sponsoring you the lunch you forgot to pack.
I honestly don’t know of a more welcoming and supportive sport you could join.

Good people and great times are to be had in the IDPA world –
just find your local chapter, chat up a member, show up to the shooting range, and see what it’s all about! You’ll find yourself having a lot of fun, making new friends, and most importantly, becoming much more competent with your pistol, before you even know it.

If you have any questions, let me (your fellow IDPA member) know and i’ll be happy to help!

Because IDPA is about being competent in defensive situations, it is also all about safety.
In the upcoming weeks some of the posts i’ll be doing will focus on our choice of competition pistols and gear, as well as the safe handling of a firearm and range etiquette.
So stay tuned, and if you haven’t yet – subscribe!



2 thoughts on “I.D.P.A. – for all pistol lovers.

Comments? Suggestions? Let me know!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s