Thoughts on My First IDPA Match

Well, I did it – I shot my first IDPA match today! Thanks to Match Director Joe L. and all the Safety Officers who made it possible (and put up with more than a few newbie mistakes from me). A special shout-out and sincere thanks to Julie Golob, whose encouragement got me through that moment of panic when I looked at the stage diagrams and thought to myself “what the &#!* have I gotten myself into?!?”

For the curious and intrepid, here’s some video – we shot six stages, but I only was able to get video for four of them:

Let me say, first of all, that IDPA is an absolute blast! You get to exercise skills – drawing from a holster, shooting while moving, shooting from cover – that rarely get exercised at a regular range. You also get the adrenaline rush that comes from shooting under pressure (in this case, time pressure), which is a good thing to know how to deal with. In a self-defense situation, you can bet the adrenaline will be pumping, so knowing how to shoot through that is an important survival skill. (In fact, after my first stage today, I was so buzzed/shaky from the adrenaline surge that I dropped four cartridges while trying to reload.)

A few thoughts about the experience and lessons learned:

  • I definitely need to get in some practice shooting at longer distances. Although they say 95% of gunfights happen within 3 yards or less, I’d hate to be in the 5% that isn’t. Today the longest shots we took were out to 20 or 25 yards, and my accuracy at that range was not what I’d have liked it to be.
  • That adrenaline thing. In the heat of the moment, all your carefully prepared plans (not to mention your fine motor control skills) go out the window, and you fall back on what you’ve been conditioned to. By the sixth stage, I was starting to learn how to get past the big adrenal dump (within a few seconds, anyway) and start thinking again. This is surprisingly difficult to do.
  • The gun safety habits you learned at the range and in your basic firearms class? You’ll need to re-train those habits in the context of moving, shooting from cover, and otherwise shooting in a more dynamic environment than the range. This is something I’ll have to practice, I can tell.
  • I saw three main kinds of shooters at the match: The gamers who shoot IDPA as a sport/contest and whose primary focus is maximizing their scores; those who shoot IDPA as a way practice and train their defensive handgun skills, and those who treat an IDPA match as just an opportunity to visit with friends and put some rounds downrange and be outside on a nice day. There’s nothing wrong with being in any of these categories, of course, but which box you place yourself in informs your gear and tactical choices. I’ll have some more thoughts about the “IDPA as a game” vs. “IDPA as practice/training” contrast in another post.
  • IDPA is wicked fun. Did I say that already? Well, it’s true.

As I mentioned above, I’m going to post more about a couple of specific lessons I’ve learned preparing for and shooting this match, but probably not until tomorrow or Monday. Right now, I’m going to go bask in the residual adrenaline buzz.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Edited to Add: Scores were posted this morning. I was #5 out of 6 shooters in the SSP/Unclassified group, with a total score of 256.22. Unfortunately, I was 34 points down for the day and incurred 1 Failure to Neutralize and 2 Procedural Error penalties. Still much room for improvement.


  1. Glad you enjoyed the match!! See you in September!

  2. amphibspook says:

    You go Girl! Glad you’re enjoying it. Props for taking a PRACTICAL approach to practical competition.


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