Archive for the ‘IDPA’ Category

Get on the brakes

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Front Range Gun Club, IDPA

Last year before the Colorado state IDPA match, I had a course with Master-level shooter Matt Sims. He said that IDPA is like Nascar, you have to know when to get on the brakes, and when to get on the gas. It sounds simple and rings of truth, but putting this into practice feels counterintuitive, we have a natural desire to go faster.

Tonight, I figured I’d take a crack at getting on the brakes a little more. I shot the weekly pistol combat league with an emphasis on taking a little more time on my headshots and trying to be more accurate. The result was an improved score, and one of the highest I have had shooting in this format.

I have concluded that the league shoots place a premium on accuracy more than speed. Partially this is a result of the scoring of the target, which is more of an NRA target than an IPSC/IDPA style. Of course, the timing of the course of fire is the same for everyone, but it does take good speed to be able to get off all of the shots including the mandatory reloads.

What I have found lately is that I still end up finishing in many cases with two or three target exposures to spare. So tonight, I tried to slow down and take my time with the headshots in particular. In this case, the difference between a miss and a hit can be either 10(head) or 20(ocular cavity) points. In the past I have shot this faster than I could make good solid hits and I’ve had some misses. Tonight I just managed to get off all of my shots on the head, but they were much better, and my score rose as a result.

I still went a bit faster than necessary on the body shots, but here the difference between an X and a 7 is not as much of a factor. I did have two flyers that were misses to the body, but it was overall okay.

For this week’s “Top Shot” competition, we finally got to shoot guns of all things. Seriously, I was glad to not see another slingshot or bow. This week we fired a Ruger SP101 revolver, an adult air rifle, and a Hi-Point 9mm carbine. I will say that I liked the front sight post of the Hi Point which reminded me a little of an HK sight, and it had negligible recoil, but otherwise it was a huge pile of crap. One of the two magazines would not take a 10th round, and I got a double feed that I think may also have been the result of the magazine (couldn’t be operator error of course). The ejection port is ridiculously small, and the method for locking the bolt back is just stupid. I suggested we name our blue team: “*bleep* Hi-Point”

Now, I know they are American made and a lot of people like them, but I think it’s crap. The good news is this thing is very cheap. Of course, for a gun this ugly, it has to be.

Check out our club’s second “episode” of “Top Shot”

Perishable Skills

Posted: May 1, 2011 in IDPA

Today I shot in a Defensive Pistol Match at the Northern Colorado Rod & Gun Club. It has otherwise been three weeks since I shot an IDPA match, or had a chance to get any rounds down range.  Boy did it suck.  While I managed to come out without too many points down, I had two major malfunctions of the cranial variety.  Firstly, I had one stage that required a mandatory reload halfway through and I just completely forgot which is not only a penalty but also a ‘failure to do right.’ Secondly, I had an all steel stage and I just couldn’t knock them down for the life of me.  There was a dueling tree at about 15 feet out and the first few plates went well, but then I blew away half a magazine trying to knock down the last plate.  Combine that with some other misses and it’s clear that I was just not on top of my game at all.  I’ve been incredibly busy with work lately and it’s kept me off the range, but if I’m going to have a chance at all at the state match later this month then I really need to get in at least once a week and start making dryfire a nightly priority.

Otherwise, I had an awesome time shooting the match and really enjoy the defensive pistol format.  It’s basically like IDPA but with no limits on magazine capacity, and a lot more targets.  It’s kind of a nice mix between IPSC and IDPA type shooting, and absolutely work checking out. Hope to see you there.

Last week I purchased a wearable camera aka helmet-cam to record my mountain biking adventures and shooting matches.  I thought this would be very handy for showing a better view of my grip while shooting and I won’t have to ask folks to record me as much.  I had done some research online previously and had decided to go with the Contour HD vholdr 1080P camera.  I had found that I could use my 20% off dividend coupon at REI on this camera, which seemed like a good deal because these are almost always full price.

So, the first question, how does it perform? Very well. I am very pleased with how easy it is to operate the camera when it’s mounted to the side of your head.  The camera makes little beeps to let you know when it’s going on/off or recording start/stop.  The instructions weren’t great, but it’s pretty quick to figure out. I used the video on a 720p setting with 60fps frame rate, check out an example below from last week’s Front Range IDPA match (note that youtube will show the 360p unless you specify otherwise).

Check out the fish-eye affect on the shotgun shells at the end of the video. I dig it.

To be honest, the camera got uncomfortable after awhile, I had it on the whole time I was at the match which was about half of the day.  I mounted it via Velcro cable ties and two scrunchies to my Peltor Tac-Sport electronic hearing protectors. Perhaps another method would be better, it wasn’t too heavy, but I could feel the mount pressing against my head.  Not a deal breaker though, and I’ll probably mount it the same way again, though I may go back and forth between this and ear plugs if it’s going to be a long day. 

IDPA Match – Shaking off the dust

Posted: March 19, 2011 in IDPA

Had another IDPA match today, I got lucky on this one as I have been so busy lately that I haven’t shot at all since my last match.  I shook a little dust off today and should have a chance this week to get into the range and work on some walk-back accuracy drills.  Many of the courses of fire here were pretty close and so accuracy was not as critical in this match.

Watching the video after the fact, I can see some spots where I could have shaved off some time, my reloads with retention in particular.  They are something that I’ve not practiced much and I am inconsistent with how I stow the loaded magazine depending on what clothes I’m wearing.

I have just over two months before the state IDPA match in Montrose, so training for that match is my primary goal now.

Defensive Pistol Match

Posted: March 6, 2011 in IDPA, Shotguns

Along with IDPA, the Northern Colorado Rod & Gun Club also hosts a Defensive Pistol match each month. This is very similar to IDPA, but with a few less restraints.  For one thing, the stages are not designed to be revolver neutral and there are no limits to how much ammo you can place in your magazines.  For those that have the 33rd glock magazines, this is your chance to use this for fun and profit. I particularly enjoyed the increased amount of steel and no-shoot targets in this format.  For me, it’s another chance to practice IDPA type shooting and get some more trigger time in.  There’s absolutely no reason you can’t adhere to every IDPA rule while doing this such as drawing from concealment, and loading no more than 10 rounds in a magazine.

I said previously that I’m going to focus more on accuracy in the near-term here. I’ve not put in the range time on this yet, but my performance today shows again the need.  I had a handful of points down on some shooting that wasn’t too difficult.  Most importantly were some misses on steel that should have been easy hits – I got a bit sloppy on my trigger control and the steel reminded me to start paying attention again.

We had another shotgun side match which was again a blast, I’m really liking the new shotgun and now need to work on my reloading skills.  We had a reload heavy stage and I spent most of the time fishing for shells in my pockets, so I’ll be getting some shell caddies in the near future, and still anxiously await a shell carrier side-saddle that’s apparently on back order until the end of time.

Shooting the IDPA classifier

Posted: February 20, 2011 in IDPA, Shotguns

The classifier was a humbling experience.  Not only was the match more difficult than I first gave it credit for, but I also could tell I was not shooting to the top of my abilities.  That said, I believe I have been fairly classified and feel that I’ll be appropriately competitive with my new classification.  This just means I have a lot improvement ahead of me to reach the next competitive ‘level’.

Despite my prior research, I managed to forget all of the tips when the buzzer went off, and blew through my first stage with way too many points down.  I recovered a bit in the second and third stage, but not enough to pull up my scores.  I ended up as a ‘Sharp Shooter’ with a raw time of 105.68 seconds, but a whopping 71 points down, and one penalty for a total of 143.68. I’m over 20 seconds from expert class, and that’s not something I can make up even on a good day the way I’ve been shooting lately.

My biggest mistake was probably on my weak hand shots from 7 yards, I was not paying enough attention to the course of fire and was thinking it was two shots on each target, rather than a single shot.  The RSO helped correct me, but I still drew the penalty, lost some time figuring out what I was doing wrong, and blew my next few shots.

Looking back, I have decided that I need to work on my accuracy as the number one way to improve my score. I had nearly as many points down in the first stage (27) as I did in the third stage (30) where I tended to dip my shots low on the target and had two misses. It is fun to work on speed but without accuracy it is just pointless.  I’m going to spend the next month of my shooting practice concentrating on tightening my groupings, shooting at longer distances, and learning to love a double-action draw shot.

Side-Match Shotgun Fun

Despite some concerns over the classifier, I had an absolute blast shooting the shotgun side-match (video at the end of the YouTube above). I recently purchased a Benelli SuperNova Tactical specifically for shooting the side-matches, and it absolutely exceeded my expectations.  Not only was the gun great fun to shoot, but the course of fire was pretty clever.  When shooting steel with birdshot, the closer shots can be more difficult than the further shots because of the way the shots patterns and spreads with distance.  This is a bit contrary to pistol shooting and the reloads add a little more complication to the course.  Everyone else seemed to be enjoying it just as much, and a number of us ran through the course a second time without score just for grins. Shooting events like this remind me why I love shooting.

IDPA Classifier Preparations

Posted: February 16, 2011 in IDPA

This weekend I am shooting the IDPA classifier for the first time.  I consider myself a decent shooter and usually come in among the top few at my local matches of 30 to 40 shooters. I will probably be much more competitive if I end up ranked as an expert, but who doesn’t want to end up in the ‘master class?’

Now I realize that the point of the classifier is to see how you rank, not what performance you can reach with specific training.  That said, I intend to put at least a little thought and training in to make sure that I shoot at my potential, rather than suffering from a meltdown (like not loading a magazine all the way before a string of fire, not that I have ever done that before).

Classifier Cheat-Sheet
To start my preparation that first thing I did was revisit the ‘Quest for Master Class’ that Caleb Giddins had done for  The videos and descriptions there are helpful in picturing the classifier and understanding the course of fire. I was particularly interested in how he scored substantially better when placing a higher precedent on speed than accuracy. I tend to shoot my matches with few points down, and know that I could improve overall if I went a little quicker, and didn’t take extra shots on standard Vickers targets.

I also googled classifier tips and found a great post here along with a forum posting here. A shooting buddy had done something similar, and the result is the spreadsheet linked here that has a recap of the strings of fire along with tips that go along with them.  We will use this for a quick practice shoot tonight and have it as a reference during the day of the classifier.

Download the spreadsheet here

Classifier Dry-Fire Video
Recently I found some PowerPoint files of various classifiers for dry fire practice on the Brian Enos forums.  I have found that by making the slides advance automatically and converting from powerpoints into windows media files that I can play these on my flat screen off a USB drive.  This seems like a much better solution for dry fire practice than taping targets to the wall. I’ve made files for both the full IDPA classifier as well as draw practice with 1.5 second par times. You can view the videos on youtube or download from the links below.  Note: if your TV won’t play files off of USB  you can use AppleTV or other internet TV to get the videos from youtube onto the TV.

Download the WMV in 720p below:
IDPA Classifier

Draw Practice

Credits for the original files goes to jnikoley on Brian Enos forums.