Even though I had dabbled in IDPA a few years ago, I’d switched to shooting USPSA matches almost exclusively for a few years. Regular readers may have noticed that my focus was on the IDPA game this year. At a match last Spring I was asked, "What brings you over to the dark side?" My quick answer was it was simply a desire to shoot more. It so happens that local IDPA matches fit my schedule better than the local USPSA events. There are also multiple weekday and weekend options for IDPA matches locally.
After a couple of matches I decided to shoot IDPA exclusively this year in order to concentrate on one set of rules. As I thought about it more, and shot many more matches over the summer, I found a renewed enjoyment in competitive shooting. Even though both organizations promote very similar handgun shooting sports, their focus is quite different.
I took up shooting for self defense reasons, my interest in competitive shooting came later. The IDPA founders intended IDPA to be self defense oriented, but I recognize it is still a game, a way to test skills while having fun. There are rules, there’s a timer, there's a score, and thankfully the "threats" don't shoot back. The rules, however imperfect, are intended to apply some defensive fundamentals in a way that can be standardized for competition. It appears that USPSA might be feeling the pressure to attract defensive shooters to their sport as well as they’ve now added a provisional division for "Carry Optics".
IDPA also updated their rulebook this past year, making some changes that helped attract me back to the sport. The rules on reloading your gun on the move became a bit more reasonable. The new Back Up Gun (BUG) and Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) divisions offer options to shoot different guns in the matches. (And provided an excuse to buy a new gun.) The equipment needs in general are much less intense than USPSA. If I have a new gun I want to shoot, three magazine and two mag carriers are just about all I need. I do like the option to be able to compete "as I carry." I will admit, that I usually play IDPA with a full size gun in an OWB Kydex holster and a custom fit concealment vest, rather than my day-to-day carry gun, IWB holster and untucked shirt. However I do plan to shoot in both CCP and BUG divisions in the coming year.
I managed to get to twenty-two local IDPA matches this year. That included weekend matches at Cavalier and Rivanna, as well as weekday matches at Black Creek and Colonial Shooting Academy. I often didn't feel like driving to the weekday matches after a day at work, or I probably would have shot even more.
After a few months, I'd gotten accustomed to the IDPA rules, and kept the cover and reload differences, and the rule against "air gunning" well in mind. It was a little longer before I stopped trying to "run 'n gun" and concentrated on getting the hits. It wasn't a bad season. Rivanna runs a year-long "Top 10" competition, and I managed three Top 10 finishes, ending up 12th overall at the end of the season. I never expected to make the cut, but still it was a bit of a motivator, even if it was a fluke.
I've already marked up my calendar with some regional IDPA matches in 2016 that I might try to attend in addition to local matches. I am still hoping my schedule will allow me to get to the local USPSA match from time to time. In the meantime, for my interests, and schedule, IDPA provides the game I am looking for. If that’s the “dark side” so be it.