I am a 100%, dyed-in-the-wool, no-holds-barred IDPA shooter. I have to check with HQ but I think I almost have a decade participating in the sport and I am know in a couple of forums of coming down hard on anybody who dismisses IDPA with the old “IDPA will get you killed” crap. I believe that IDPA is the best elementary school in Defensive Shooting anybody can get for the price you get to pay and that it has also introduced more people to advanced Defensive Shooting classes than anything else out there.
Wit that being said, I have this feeling we are seeing a trend in the sport that will render it useless as a starting point for more serious stuff. Some call it IPSCfication (yes, there is still the Hatfields v. McCoys thing going on) but to me is just Dumbing Down what it was supposed to be a challenging discipline. I have attended and worked several sanctioned matches and I have seen a distinct trend that shows lots of flash but short of bang. Lots of cute and elaborate stages with amazing moving props, but short in shooting smarts and techniques. We are turning Hollywood as we become addicted to the special effects and set the script as barely secondary. We are losing what made us in the first place.
Nothing drove this point deeper than hearing a Match Director during a State Match I worked as Safety Officer, say that we were in the entrainment business and to make the match fun. Silly me I thought that the first duty of a Safety Officer wast to look after the shooters and make sure they were safe. There were tons of props and amazingly designed stages that were for the most part, amazingly vanilla to shoot. Needless to say the match turned out to be an enjoyable carnival but lacked lots on challenging shooters. I am for a challenge and I would agree most of IDPA shooters are also in this category. You can make a match fun if you challenge shooters to push their abilities instead of just throwing lead downrange.
How do we turn this silly tide? Mainly by designing Courses of Fire that follow the true spirit of IDPA as it appears in the rule book:
The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is the governing body of a shooting sport that simulates self-defense scenarios and real life encounters
So let’s look for true incident out there and design our CoFs around them. Talk to Law Enforcement officers about cases that happened during their shifts, cruise the internet for surveillance video of actual crimes and even incidents that might have happened to fellow shooters or relatives. If you are home right now, you have a fantastic opportunity to design killer CoFs: Run several What Ifs using your house as stage and imagine what would happen if a Bad Guy entered through a window or busted a door or you hear screams coming from your kids’ bedroom. Or you are at a red light and imagine you are about to be carjacked with no way to escape. Or even your local supermarket while you are with the significant other shopping can provide you with Courses of Fire. And let’s face it, if you are a conscientious armed citizen, you are living in Alert Color Orange and running “What if I am attacked right now?” scenarios every time you are out there.
Write the ideas down so you don’t forget them. You don’t need to sit right there and design a whole scenario right there and then. You can do that later and adapt them to IDPA rules. When you finally commit them to paper, don’t soften them up just because it is easier to do or give you a nice round count or you don’t have the all the props you want.
About props. Yes, we would like to have a full tactical Blackwater or Thunder Ranch set up in our clubs, but the reality is our clubs may not have that kind of cash around or the space to do it. Think Smart and be minimalistic. Here is an example: We all like to have a car just dedicated to shoot vehicle related scenarios. Our range is public so we can’t just leave a car sitting at the range and our storage space is a small sea container. So, the solution to recreate carjacking scenarios was simple: A chair, a driver side door and a steering wheel.
If you want to work outside the car scenarion, well darn it, you didn’t get to the range walking or by using public transportation, right?
We did learn something, place some sort of protective cover like carpeting or even a towel on the corner. It will save the time and aggravation later of removing the burnt propellant. We use the props trailer with now instead of a vehicle and does the same job. Even a cut out of half a car propped on target stands will do the job.
Use your imagination, make it challenging, make your shooters think and not just shoot and that will be fun enough.