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Is IDPA realistic? Is IPSC? I have my issues with both which I will briefly discuss:

IPSC: too much gamer for me. The man with best toys wins.

IDPA: too many silly rules about gun size, caliber, weight and wardrobe. As a matter of policy, I do not wear shoot-me first vests. And I’m sure my carry rig in general wouldn’t allow me to play in their reindeer games.

That said, both are still great. Practice is practice.

16 Responses to “Realism”

  1. The Duck Says:

    None of it is realistic, no one is shooting back, but it’s a lot better than “just” going to the range. Even Force on Force is lacking everyone knows they are going home, and “Ping” is not as dramatic as “Boom” and some muzzle flash, that will make most peoples instinct, will make them cringe. Our local IDPA chapter is not ridge on the rules for newbies. As you said IPSC can be won with the $$ gun although, as we saw with guys like Todd Jarrett, he can shoot stock guns real well too. IDPA has tried to keep it with production guns. I advice a lot of my students to try it, it’s how you go about it, you can take a tactical view or a comptitive view in IDPA

  2. Miguel Says:

    I side with IDPA as a intro tool for self defense. Yes, it is just a sport and no, it ain’t real life. But more and more serious and renowned instructors are supporting IDPA for several reasons:
    1) Teaches you cover. If the first rule in a gun fight is to have a gun (reliable please) the second is “Don’t get shot!” IDPA addresses the use of hard cover and even concealment to give the shooter the mindset to look for it.
    2) It test your equipment. If you shoot IDPA with your everyday carry rig, you will find out what works. Granted some people have IDPA “equipment” that they promptly shed once the match is over, but many of us will actually shoot what we carry every day and have learned the cheap way what works and what doesn’t. It is nice to find out that your mag pouch will not retain the magazines if you make a sudden movement and that you will be without reloads when you need them during a match and not when your life depends on it.
    3) Non-standard positions. If you have creative people designing Courses of Fire, they’ll make sure you just don’t tale on a CoF from the standing position facing downrange. Good CoF designers will have you shooting from sitting, kneeling, laying down upside, downside on your weak side, strong side, etc.
    4) Non-standard hand shooting. Again if you have creative CoF designers, you will face Weak Hand shooting that we really don’t practice as much as we should (maybe right before a Classifier?) This is something every shooter should know.

    IDPA perfect? Nope. I consider IDPA the equivalent of elementary school in shooting. You learn your ABCs, basic match, etc. For many people I know it became an eye opener about what they did not know and decided to seek further training.

  3. Tam Says:

    The man with best toys wins.

    Dude, that is spoken like someone who has never shot a USPSA match.

  4. Homer Says:

    I stopped recommending local IPSC matches to my students as a practice tool when the last club went full bore Run ‘N’ Gun with the matches: a 42-round stage with a steel cable swaying foot bridge in the middle, lots of portholes, and 6 movers may be Teh Blast for the tactical types, but it doesn’t do much for climbing the learning curve easily. In fact I stopped shooting them the day I ran out of ammo for the 625 halfway through the last stage. Some guys had more ammo in mags on their belt than I brought to the match. And I wasn’t missing; the shortest stage was 30 rounds.

    IDPA doesn’t seem much better, mostly because of the rule nit-picking. My 5″ 625 isn’t legal for IDPA by .8″ of barrel length, and my holster is the wrong color, not to mention my shoes aren’t the right size, and the air pressure in my truck tires is too high.

    I can foresee, sort of, the possibility of a spinoff that’s a combination of IDPA and USPSA matches: relaxed equipment rules and stages longer than the 18 round max mandated by IDPA, but well under Run ‘N’ Gun standards, with a mixture of steel, paper and cover requirements, a couple of which take some work to hit (one of my favorites has always been a 10″ steel plate 1 yard in front of a no-shoot at 15 yards). Mix in some “tactical” engagement requirements – requiring 2 rounds per target against the clock teaches shooters to work L to R (or R to L) because that’s faster, always putting two rounds in every time; practice 2 rounds/target enough and that’s what you’ll do every time, whether that’s the right thing to do or not.

    Fun matches, in other words, that don’t cost an arm and leg’s worth of ammo to shoot and can be done in half a day. The newbie can use them as a tool to develop skills with draw, reload, front sight and thinking through engagement sequences, the more experienced shooter can focus on speed and accuracy.

    Seems like opportunities abound for local clubs and ranges that want to gain shooters who aren’t necessarily interested in either Run ‘N’ Gun or Lawyering over holsters.

  5. Vlad Says:

    USPSA is really not about the most expensive gun. Thats why it has 6 divisions. An of the shelf Glock or M&P can win the nationals in the right hands, for less then $700.

  6. Ninth Stage Says:

    IDPA is as “gamer” as USPSA. The problem is, once you start keeping score, someone wants to win. When someone wants to win they will study the rules, finding “loopholes” and use them to their advantage and the losers will call them “gamers”. Since USPSA keeps score and IDPA keeps score there will be gamers.

    In my experience (at local IDPA matches) USPSA shooters who cross over to IDPA will tend to dominate over IDPA only shooters. Major match results seem to reflect the same.

  7. Motor-T Says:

    Somebody that shoots IDPA or IPSC/USPSA is better prepared than somebody that only goes to the range, stands still, and shoots at one target.

    Is it training? No. Is it good practice? Absolutely.

  8. Caleb Says:

    The problem is, once you start keeping score, someone wants to win. When someone wants to win they will study the rules, finding “loopholes” and use them to their advantage and the losers will call them “gamers”. Since USPSA keeps score and IDPA keeps score there will be gamers.

    This is 100% pure truth. It’s also true that people who shoot USPSA and IDPA tend to beat the “pure” IDPA shooters; the best explanation I have for that is USPSA shooters have a more agressive mindset approaching a stage. They’re more likely to attack the stage and less likely to treat the stage like a procedural waiting to happen.

  9. Paul Says:

    IDPA in itself is not training. But the practice you do to do well in IDPA is! Learning to draw fast and safe, pivots, barricades, moving-while-shooting, one handed shooting, retention shooting, etc… are definatly what you need for defensive skills.

    And while ‘shoot me’ vest are used, that does not mean you have to use them (and many don’t, particulary at the local matches.)

    As for the ‘The man with best toys wins’, that is what the IDPA rules are trying to stop.

    Get out and practice! Then go to a IDPA match and test your skills.

  10. Ninth Stage Says:

    USPSA shooters have a more agressive mindset approaching a stage. They’re more likely to attack the stage and less likely to treat the stage like a procedural waiting to happen.

    That seems like a pretty good assessment. Most of the pure IDPA shooters seem a lot more timid and in fear of getting a “failure to do right”. I always ask the R.O. (S.O. whatever) if whatever “gamer” approach I’m going to take on a stage is acceptable. Once I get his OK it’s hard for him to change his mind after the fact.

    As for the ‘The man with best toys wins’, that is what the IDPA rules are trying to stop.

    I expect that Bill Wilson disagrees (at least privately), the difference being that he sells what he believes are the correct sort of “best toys”.

  11. Caleb Says:

    Ninth – yeah, I always try ask the SO if what I’m about to do is okay. Especially if it’s in one of IDPA’s many gray areas.

  12. mariner Says:

    And I’m sure my carry rig in general wouldn’t allow me to play in their reindeer games.

    Do you know that because you’ve been to a match and tried, or do you suspect that based on what others have written/said?

    I like the IDPA requirement to use cover, and the 18-rounds-per-stage restriction. I shoot IDPA for fun and to develop self-defense skills, but I realize others have different motivations.

  13. WPZ Says:

    I hear this debate at close quarters a lot.
    At the club I belong to, I run the USPSA program, put on about half of the IDPA matches, and occasionally run outlaw matches under my own jokey banner of “Prac-Tac”. All of these are well-attended programs, averaging in the forties for monthly attendance.
    In other words, I’m a crossover guy. My IDPA friends consider me “IPSCy” and my USPSA cohorts think of me as closet IDPA. They’re all right.
    Here’s the big deal about action pistol competition like USPSA, IDPA, ICORE, and the outlaws: they provide the shooter with pressure. Intense, sweat-provoking, pulse-rate-increasing pressure. No, it’s not returning gunfire. No, the targets often aren’t mobile and altering the threat landscape in unpredictable ways (with one exception to be noted later).
    But the competitors get cranked up and in high-activity mode, and that’s what’s good about these disciplines.
    We often tell the new competitors that the buzzer turns brains to oatmeal, something most all of us experienced once upon a time. It was a shock to me, the first time I heard one at a hokey little IDPA-ish match and discovered I no longer knew how to operate the 1911 in my hands that I’d been shooting frequently for the previous three decades.
    Bringing pressure to bear, even if not total life-or-death, is still pressure, and makes ordinary shooters go to pieces, to forget things they need to know, to lose the fine skills of operating the tools and getting the hits.
    Then we find ourselves adapting to the pressure and getting better. That’s still not perfect practice for the gravest extreme, but it’s an enormous benefit.
    I said I’d bring in an exception, and that’s IDPA’s allowance of blind stages. That is, stages that the competitor cannot see or scope out ahead of time. It’s not legal in USPSA, and it’s what first drew me to designing and putting on IDPA stages. As an RO, I’ve seen some darn fine competitors go to pieces, and some pretty ordinary ones keep their wits about them and do quite well in blind stages. It’s so significant of an improvement on the premise that I try to do a blind stage at least several times a year, despite how extraordinarily difficult the logistics are.
    Meanwhile, the real differences between IDPA and USPSA aren’t the rules and the rule-i-ness, as so many of my friends from one side or the other insist. USPSA’s production and single-stack divisions, as mentioned above, are quite close to IDPA’s equivalents, so close that apart from concealment, a shooter could walk across the road and attend the other discipline’s match without so much as a change of mag carriers.
    No, the difference is cover. IDPA demands it, USPSA abhors it. Taking cover ruins a USPSA run and is a waste of precious time. IDPA demands it, actually more than most IDPA match directors and designers realize.
    Yes, they both have tacky rules, and IDPA rules get so vague that endless arguments result and are the bane of IDPA forums everywhere.
    But it’s cover that counts, and what makes, for me anyway, designing IDPA and USPSA stages every month so completely different.
    I, for one, am very glad there’s two different kinds of approaches, and I like them both for what they offer.

    One more interesting side note: I get to see the whole thing from both sides, as noted above, and what I do know is that I get more of my USPSA friends at my IDPA matches than I do my IDPA guys at my USPSA matches. My take is that it’s rigidity of thinking, resulting in something like timidity, something I suspect IDPA’s blurry but smothering rulebook tends to foster.
    The USPSA guys crab about the IDPA rules but have fun (and the next guy who brings up “reloading” as a significant difference will get the same dirty look and patient lecture as the last)(it isn’t), but the IDPA guys won’t come down the driveway.

  14. ModlCitzn Says:

    yea you can show up with anything at IDPA, i’m not sure about your short barrel length concern – I’ve seen people shoot matches with P3ATs and Kahr 40s. I show up to the matches with what I carry, a loaded 1911 and a leather open top mag holser, but then I put one loaded mag in my front left pants pocket and another in my rear left. Those who shoot more matches win – but so do the guys who fight in more UFC or Boxing matches, and I bet they also do well in street fights. Nobody is saying it’s perfect, but I think IDPA makes the effort to make it more real, vs IPSC which is like offensive handgun (an oxymoron) combined with sparks training. You can’t say IPSC makes any attempt to replicate or train for a defensive encounter. The guns cannot be carried defensively – what does that say? Who would ever carry 40+ rounds on them while CCW while food shopping?

    Regarding ‘shoot me first’ vest – criminals do not know what they are, and a bet most cops are oblivious, and who’s going to shoot the middle-aged white guy with a spare tire first?? lolz

  15. Anon Reader Dude Says:

    Anyone who thinks USPSA is “best toys wins” isn’t keeping up with the developments in the sport too closely. The Production division rules the roost at my local gun club. Always draws the most competitors. Ordinary Glocks, XDs, and M&Ps do great.

  16. Caleb Says:

    The best thing about shooting a lot of USPSA is that you end with guys who are fast enough to eat a procedural or two and still win.

    Hypothetically, I may have once or twice “forgotten” to do something that incurred a procedural because it was faster. Hypothetically, of course.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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