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First IDPA match, what an experience!

Discussion in 'GSSF' started by Happy Hunting, Oct 11, 2010.

  1. Happy Hunting

    Happy Hunting

    Jul 27, 2010
    All for the love of the sport, I summed the willpower to get up at 7 am on a Saturday to drive an hour and shoot in my first IDPA match, which was also my first shooting match in general. It goes without saying that I was completely out of my league, but everyone, especially the SO's, were very helpful.

    I shot in the CDP division and learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as a shooter. I had my first ever malfunction with the Colt which was a failure to feed the last round during the first magazine of the first series.

    First off, I learned that the adrenaline of competition made me jerk the trigger and fire about 6'' to the 7:30 of where I intended on the close-in headshots. I shot(missed) at one target 3 times and was told that I am jerking the trigger it by the SO. I thought to myself... s***, he's right. I'm an idiot, then squeezed and made the should-have-been easy shot.

    Next, I learned that I really need to practice reloading. After watching the more experienced shooters fire their last round and have the pistol reloaded in a blink, I saw just how fluid the motion can be become. Reloads probably took me 5 seconds every time, so I practiced doing that today for a while and noticed that the slide would not close on an empty chamber with my 47D's, but would close fine with the Colt factory mag? Oh well, that's for another day. I will get some snap caps or dummy rounds to keep the slide from banging when I practice in the future.

    It was the most fun I have ever had shooting, and I know that regular firing range shooting will never be as fun now. I had 67 points down :embarassed: and that is what I will try to work on as I now know to account for my nerves and to tell myself to slow down and make the shots.

    I now also know the kind of modifications I might want to make on the pistol. If I continue to fumble with reloading I may pop on a S&A magwell or shell out for a smith to cut the frame and install the Chen setup. Also, the Colt's come standard with the 3 white dot combat sights and I sometimes wouldn't re-grip correctly after a reload and would be looking at the wrong dot(the rear-right one) and the muzzle would be angled left. If I continue to do this I may want to blot out the back dots or get some different sights altogether.

    Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions of what they learned in their first few IDPA events I would love to hear them. And if anyone is about to compete in their first match try to account for your excitement. According to the crowd I had the happy feet!
  2. crazymoose

    crazymoose Nonentity

    Feb 9, 2005
    I've basically had two major realizations as a shooter. The first was being able to (more or less) put holes where I wanted them, when I finally understood what people meant by "focus on the front sight." The second one was being able to do it quickly, when I realized what Wyatt Earp meant by "Take your time in a hurry." Still working on that second one, and probably will be for the rest of my life. But it was shooting while being timed and scored that really opened my eyes on accuracy while shooting at speed. Short of actually being shot at, I think competition is probably the best way to see how your shooting skills hold up under stress.
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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010

  3. 21Brutus


    Jun 21, 2010
    Man what a great story!@!! I am just now "about to" enter my first IDPA match....I assume the adrenaline is what needs to be contained the most? How about drawing the pistol? I myself have just lately blacked out the back sights and it has improved my accuracy considerably, but I am timing myself and not on a clock in front of a group. Keep shooting, and updating!
  4. keninnavarre

    keninnavarre bulletproof

    Jan 16, 2008
    Where were you shooting?
  5. ronin.45


    Apr 24, 2008
    Glad you had fun. You are lucky to figure out a couple of your mistakes so quickly. It takes some people a while to figure out what they are doing wrong. Remember to focus on the basics to start. Once you are able to hit consistantly and manipulate the gun efficiently you will naturally get faster. Don't try to race the experienced competitors right away. The magwell can be a useful upgrade on a 1911. Single stacks can be a little harder to reload under stress.
  6. Aceman


    Nov 30, 2008
    I gotta do this...
  7. Spiffums

    Spiffums I.C.P.

    Sep 30, 2006
    After one match? I think I practice a little more before you going dropping coin on something that "might" help you.

    The stress of the timer is pushing you too fast. It's only a game no one expects you to be top shooter. Just slow down, figure out what you need to work on and get that down.

    Then you can go to adding stuff to your gun if you think it will help.
  8. Just as a note.. the IDPA has pretty strict rules about equipment, before you do anything make sure it's a "legal" modification if you want to keep shooting that pistol in IDPA.
  9. Jon_R


    May 3, 2009
    Central Florida
    I wish I had a dollar every time I have heard "it has never done that before when I was shooting". Something about being near timers messing up perfectly good guns. :cool:

    Glad you had a good time. In general I can't bring myself to stand on a static firing line slow fire anymore and plug away at bulls eye targets..... :dunno:
  10. checkyoursix


    Dec 15, 2009
    Austin, Texas
    Glad you had a good experience, and that you took the time to reflect on it and to share it.

    On the equipment: do not rush to modify magwells and stuff before making sure the mods are legal. The rulebook does not allow a lot of modifications. Look carefully at Appendix 1, and mostly ask more experienced shooters ( I have shot a lot in IDPA but am not familiar with either of the mods you mention, sorry). I shoot SSP and don't have any modification to my gun, nor I desire any. Night sights are the only thing I install on my guns in general. Fiberoptics are excellent in daylight, useless indoors and I shoot frequently indoors.

    Most of all though, don't rush towards the mods when what you need is training and experience. After thousands of drills repetitions, dozens of matches and so forth the limitations of the equipment will become apparent and might need to be addressed.

    For now, focus on yourself and on learning your way through matches. IDPA has a lot of rules, and I think is a good thing because you have to shoot while thinking. For more freedom of movement, shoot USPSA. Improving accuracy is vital in IDPA, which penalizes errors quite heavily. Speed will come in due time, the important thing is to become smooth.

    "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is your new mantra, and a useful one at that.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  11. Happy Hunting

    Happy Hunting

    Jul 27, 2010
    IDPA allows for the types of sights I would be changing to as they are still classic in design and not the ghost ring type which they specifically prohibit. The magwell is also allowed as long as I don't put a tremendous SVI-type one on there I am fine. The Heinie doesn't add any to the width or length to the grip, and I still have 3 oz of room to go on the weight.

    I didn't have any real trouble drawing, even when I was doing IWB before someone loaned me a kydex OWB. I mean sure, it took me a little longer to fire my first shot, but it was nothing compared to my super slow reloads.

    Thanks for all the input. Yeah I was rushing myself to be competitive with the experienced guys so I will try and slow it down next time.

    This was at Brock's Gap in Hoover, Alabama.
  12. JimM_PA


    Sep 26, 2001
    Resist the temptation to chase after modifications to your gear. I found that the time and money is better spent on ammo and practice. Check out used gear (from other shooters who were upgrading). Shoot it enough to see what works. I had some trouble picking up my front sight with bifocals, so colored fingernail polish or fishing jig paint became the low cost solution for now. Last but not least, I found that the other experienced shooters were willing to answer my questions, help me square away my gear, and encourage me to keep plugging away. Mark the calendar for the next shoot.
  13. Or try to see if there are any USPSA (IPSC) matches in your area. Usually if there is IDPA there is USPSA. They have a single stack division and there are less rules then in IDPA.

    USPSA is more rounds down range per match and a lot more movement.

  14. Glockbuster


    Jun 30, 2005
    Middle America
    You made a great choice on Saturday morning. To be sure, the rush in the first match be it IDPA or IPSC is something to experience. Right off the bat, your fine motor skills deteriorate, not as bad as in combat or SD but certainly another ballgame compared to static shooting at the range. All your previous training went down the tube...sight acquisition, trigger finger action, shooting stance etc. etc. Don´t worry, do much more of that and it will be second nature to you. Like the other posters have said, don´t race the timer beyond your abilities. You must make an effort to confront the targets in the proper stance and concentrate on your sights and trigger, not the timer. Don´t try to emulate the other shooters. At the end of the stage you will be trembling with your heartbeat up the roof. After a few matches, this will no longer be and it will be a sign for you to slowly work you speed up. As you work your way up, you´ll also learn how to save time by efficient movement, and how to shoot while moving slowly.
  15. HK Dan

    HK Dan

    Mar 27, 2008
    Fun ain't it? I've been shooting matches for about 7 years now--as many as 4 per month. I run the local IDPA club, and have been an officer inthe USPSA club. Go help. Help set up, help tear down, get certified as an RO or SO, keep score, paste targets, reset steel--do what you can do! 10% of the shooters do 90% of the work, so they'll REALLY appreciate your nefound enthusiasm translating into actual effort! And they can help you decide on things like gear of custom parts.

    To be honest, I'd hold off on modding up the gun. Every 1911 (except Kimber) that I've seen screw up in a match have been modded up in some way. Just shoot the gun. It'll outshoot you for a good long while. :)

  16. Great story! Glad you had such a good time; it took about a week for the smile to wear off after I shot my first match. I had the best time of my life shooting it and also had so many things go wrong. But, like you, I didn't get frustrated and took back home with me the things I needed to work on. NOTHING shines a light on the areas that you'll need to work on like the stress of shooting on the clock in front of your peers. The hardest thing a new shooter will do, though, is show up to their first match. You've gotten the hardest part down, no the rest is just academic.

    Small things can make such a big difference and one of the things I did wrong was not pay attention to how I grab fresh mags out of my mag pouch. I had them oriented in such a way that when I grabbed for them quickly they'd come up to my gun backwards, so I changed that. Second was losing my sight picture when reloaded. Many shooters bring the gun down to their waist because it is closer to their mag instead of bringing the fresh mag UP to the gun. The trick I was taught, keep your head up and eyes forward and on the target, take your finger out of the trigger guard and rotate the gun, keeping it pointed down range, to where you can almost see inside the mag well. Bring 'hands to hands' by bringing the mag from your belt up to the gun. You never take your eyes off of the target and can quickly rotate the gun back and rack the slide or hit the slide release and are back in business. I lost countless seconds by looking down and then having to reacquire the target and then bring the gun back up in a firing position.

    Doing mag changes at home plus dry firing drills cost nothing but can seriously improve your game. So many of the skills needed can be done without firing a single round and simple things like just drawing from concealment, finding your fresh mags while wearing your concealment clothes, stowing mags in pockets or vests... It has taken my boring and static range time and has given me focus while I'm at the range and has really streamlined my time there, too. Just keep shooting and let us know how you do! Also, check out the Competition section on GT, too.
  17. Nemesis Lead

    Nemesis Lead

    Mar 3, 2007
    Just remember to RELAX. Rather than amping yourself up before you step to the line, force yourself to relax. You also have to force concious thought out of your mind and just focus on your front sight.

    Now--I DO NOT mean relax and slow down. Just get into a relaxed rhythm that whenever you get a good sight picture on the -0 target zone, you pull the trigger, watch your front sight rise and fall, and then repeat. If you are relaxed you won't jerk and you will know exactly where your shot went.

    Really focusing on the front sight and then tracking is key. When you get better, you will be able to prep your trigger and break that shot immediately as your sights line up on the -0 zone.

    Dry fire practice wil help with target transitions, draws and reloads, among other things.

    Forget equipment unless you have real reliability problems! It is YOU that will make you better, not your gun. New shooters always seem to want to find the "magic bullet" gun that doesn't exist. You would be better served buying your own timer and a few targets to practice with.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  18. rem2429


    Nov 26, 2004
    Llano, TX
  19. mattyd123


    Jun 30, 2010
    New York
    Awesome story...Addicting isn't it? I just shot my second IDPA match Saurday. I took 2nd in ESP and 4th overall. I've only had a pistol permit since july so I was pretty excited I did so well. I shot first on the very first stage and I was shaking like a kid in a candy store and ended up being down 8 which would've put me right up there on top most likely. I was pissed at myself, but the stress is something realistic and I just gotta learn to cope with it.

    As far as modifications make sure you read up on the different pistol classes and whats legal in the idpa rulebook. I stippled my glock 19 and even though it was bone stock, that put me in ESP, shooting against STIs, decked out glock 34s etc...Since then I added a 3.5 connector and magwell because I want to be able to keep shooting my carry gun in IDPA.

    Don't worry about normal range time being boring, use it as time to fine tune your basic skills. Things that will help are: shooting one handed (with both hands), shoot from retention, etc. My first IDPA match I had to shoot lefty, shoot from retention, and shoot one handed while moving, all things I've never done before. Any of these things you can practice at the range will help you.

    Dry practice at home is where you'll master your reloads and draws from concealment. Practice tactical reloads as well as reloads at slide lock.

    Luckily I have an IDPA practice league I shoot in every tuesday night which has really helped me deal with the pressure, but it's just a god send to be able to shoot IDPA style once a week so I can feed my addiction haha...
  20. mattyd123


    Jun 30, 2010
    New York
    This is also great advice...get involved with helping with set up, break down, target taping, whatever you can do...Mention you're a new shooter and really want to get involved in the sport, and you'd be surprised at how many people offer to help you...I've even been invited to shoot with a few people who helped me practice