Case in point: my friend Vince, who has been nagging me to try IDPA for ages, and so I finally said YES FINE OKAY.
So this past weekend I did my first IDPA shoot, and discovered not only that it is a lot of fun, but if you twitter about running around shooting multiple threats your friends will tweet back asking you what the hell you are getting up to.
It was a lot more crowded than I expected. There were about a hundred shooters, which meant a packed parking lot and a big crowd. Hadn't been able to dig up .45 ACP, so I had to scrounge up some ammo, which meant a kind gift from another shooter and a purchase from Tom, my NRA Training Counselor -- couldn't buy from the pro shop or borrow off Vince, as that would have meant unjacketed lead bullets, which I can't shoot in my Glock. (Glocks have polygonal rifling and some features that mean use of lead bullets could potentially lead to catastrophic failure, which we call a kaBoom!.) But I equipped and took on the stages. Next time I'll either use my 1911 (which can shoot lead bullets) or one of my 9 mm pistols (of which I have a crapload of ammo stored up because I rarely shoot them).
IDPA targets are different from the usual thing you see on the range. They're cardboard torso-and-head silhouettes. You have to shoot them a minimum of twice each. The best two hits are scored. The score determines whether you incur a time penalty. Bad hits mean that you are considered to have taken additional time to complete the stage. For example, the heart, like the head, is considered what's called "down zero." If you shoot the target there, you incur no time penalty. The outer chest is "down one" -- you get the bad guy in the lung, say -- meaning that you get one time penalty (half a second, I think). The best two shots are scored per target, so if you hit a bad guy once in the lung ("down one"), once in the heart ("down zero"), and once in the head ("down zero"), that target is still "down zero." There are further wrinkles (penalties for "failure to neutralize," for example), but that's the basic idea. To make it harder, all the targets wear T-shirts, so you can't see exactly where the zones are.
I shot in the new shooter's squad. Vince was one of our safety officers. (Vince is one of the most gregarious, sweetest guys I've ever met, and he has my favorite gun defense story ever (at least, of anyone I know): a dude was breaking into Vince's house from Vince's back yard. Vince caught him and held him at gunpoint while he called the police: "Hello? Yes, I've caught someone breaking into my house -- right. No, I'm okay, but here's the deal: I am a six foot four, two-eighty pound black man. I am pointing a gun at a man who is lying on the ground. I AM THE HOMEOWNER. DO NOT SHOOT ME. Repeat: I am a BIG BLACK MAN AND I HAVE A GUN. I AM THE HOMEOWNER. Okay? THE BIG BLACK MAN WITH A GUN IS THE HOMEOWNER. One more time…")
There were five stages. I made my debut on stage four. You're seated at a restaurant when the place is robbed! Two bad guys are close to you, one is midrange, and two (unlike the others, represented by steel targets rather than cardboard) are far downrange. You start loaded with six rounds and in a sitting position at a picnic bench. Shoot the two close bad guys twice, then the midrange guy twice, reload, and shoot the two steels once each. I tried to decide if it would be bad-ass or douchey to try to make my debut with headshots, because nobody else was going for heads. Then I decided "Why not?" and went for it. Double-headshotted the two close in nicely, but then decided to go center mass on the third guy, and shot despite not having a clear sight picture. Blame the adrenaline for the bad call. I nailed the two steels, but still ended my first IDPA stage down three.
On to stage five. This one was a target-rich environment. You're returning a video to Blockbuster when an army of crazed Redbox employees attack. Kneel behind low cover and return fire. Started with a full IDPA load (for me, eleven rounds), faced seven bad guys, giving each two shots, reloading as required. Did better here, but still ended down one.
We wrapped around and went to stage one. This one was the most embarrassing for me. The premise: you're watching the Super Bowl in your easy chair (okay, a metal folding chair) when there's a home invasion! Your gun and magazines are in a box on the bookshelf next to you. Get your gun, use the bookshelf as cover as you shoot the two guys coming your way, and then clear the rest of your house, where you will find another four baddies. Along with the baddies, you will encounter friendlies -- members of your family, or what have you -- and you are *not* to shoot them. The friendlies are distinguished because they are holding up hand silhouettes in front of them. This was where I crowned myself in fail: I tried to run-and-gun it, when I really shouldn't have. Down *eight.*
This was the point where I realized I should not worry about time, and just go slow and steady and throw in some headshots to be on the safe side.
Stage two: you are mailing Valentine's Day cards and hear a noise behind you. You turn around, see three thugs closing. Retreat, shooting on the move, then clear the walls angled off to either side, which requires you to shoot some more guys. I muffed this one: I was the first to do it, and focused so much on the first part with the shoot-while-moving that I forgot about the walls and actually *unloaded and showed clear* before finishing the stage. Had to reload, but bobbled it and in the process dropped a mag with rounds still in it, which was a procedural fault carrying a time penalty.
The good news was that I did okay on hits, because I took care to shoot everybody again.
Last stage: walking off the Super Bowl calories, you find someone sneaking up on you! Turn, realize the threat, draw, shoot; go to a little stand-up wall nearby with a closed window, open the window, shoot the two guys outside, then move on and clear an angled wall, shooting four more guys.
The storyline was a little puzzling on this one. I thought I was outside taking a walk; now I'm opening a window and shooting through it? Do I really hate my neighbors or something? But it was fun, and guess what? I down-zeroed the stage. So that was a good note to close on.
There was also a surprising encounter: I chatted briefly with one guy a couple of times -- just pleasantries about how it was a great day to be shooting -- and then overheard him talking with somebody about the books he'd written. I angled to get a glimpse of his nametag, and holy crap, it was freedom novelist Matt Bracken. ("Freedom novels" is the term for self-published to small-press conservative-to-libertarian fiction.) Bracken's ENEMIES trilogy (ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, DOMESTIC ENEMIES: THE RECONQUISTA, and FOREIGN ENEMIES AND TRAITORS) is one of the most prominent works in that genre, especially for gun nuts of that political stripe; the ENEMIES trilogy is up there with John Ross's UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. Seriously, folks, if John Ringo squicks you, Matt Bracken would make your head *explode.* Very nice man. We talked about the economics of self-publishing. Maybe I'll review some of his books. Though I do still need to finish my thoughts on the men's adventure novel TNT.
Anyway, IDPA is totally fun and you should try it if you like guns.