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Best Entry-Level Match Practical Shooting Discipline?

  • USPSA/IPSC

  • IDPA

  • Steel Challenge

  • Non-Sanctioned, Club-Level Action Shooting

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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to handgun shooting, but am diving in head-first into match shooting. I am taking a couple pistol courses locally, and am looking forward to competing in my first match as Novice in a few weeks. I have scoured the local club sites and filled my Google Calendar with match events. There's quite a variety of matches around here, from USPSA/IPSC, IDPA, and non-sanctioned action shoots, to Steel Challenge matches. These are being held at several clubs from Tampa Bay to Jacksonville.

I want to ask the experienced FL competition shooters out there, which match and which club should I start with? Who/what is most friendly to a new match shooter? I'm got enough brains to know not to show up at a state championship, but all the websites say they accept new shooters, just come and pay. I've also got enough brains to know that some are better than others to actually start with. What I don't know is the word on the street.

Lastly, which division should I start with? USPSA or IDPA-style? I bought a handgun to match shoot with (stock XDm 9mm 4.5), not carry concealed. However, I can appreciate the training and skills you learn while practicing defensive shooting. I do have my weapon also as a home defense tool, so any practical skills I can get will help.

I'm lucky to be located near Gainesville, FL, so I'm practically smack dab in the middle of the action here. Most matches are within a 1.5 hour drive away. So, hope to meet some of you guys on the range!

Thanks,
Erich
 

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Ive shot all the ones listed i voted for USPSA because its the most popular in my area. I dont live in your area but they are all good to shoot and fun, try and get an email or phone number for a match director most clubs have a new shooters meeting before the match, and usual will try to hook you up with someone else to squad with to show you the ropes. All you need to be is be safe,act smart and have fun:D As for which one to try fisrt may depend on how many mags you have for USPSA production class I suggest 5-6,IDPA only need 3, Steel its nice to have 4-5 this is likely the highest round count if you shoot all 8 stages bring 300rds my first time shooting steel is humbling but very fun, and local matches vary round count

things to remember
DONT break the 180
FINGER out of trigger area while reloading
those two will get you mainly uspsa/idpa
 

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Erich,

I was new to action handgun shooting just a year ago.

It's great that you're diving into the shooting sports. It will help train, test, and build confidence where there was only theory or very limited controlled practice.

Although I'm not in the great state of FL, I want to encourage you to think about a few things.

What is your "Philosophy Of Use" (POU) for the competitions?

Is it to improve your defensive combat skills?
Is it because you love competition and are driven to win?
Is it fun and entertaining?

The "gamers" as they refer to themselves around here in Dallas, TX are out to win matches and they tune their tactics and equipment and training to that end. They're always looking to game the system and edge out a win. You'll quickly begin to see who these are. Their guns and equipment are designed for competition. Their competition tactics don't always agree with combat tactics. Their equipment wouldn't be safe or practical in the real world. They walk through and simulate what they're going to do to. When to change mags. Where to position. What order to engage. They enjoy it and have a great time.

As for me, currently I care less about winning and more about training to fight and improving my skills while building confidence. So I don't walk through much. I just approach and process the stage as it comes to me. As I would find myself in a real engagement. I don't think you get a dry run in a real gunfight.

Philosophy Of Use ideally should drive all the decisions about how you approach action shooting. From the gun you buy to the ammo you shoot, the trigger and sights on your pistol, the belt, holsters, the matches you select, etc. So before you invest heavy amounts of hard earned $$$ in gear that may not be in agreement with your POU, think about what you want to do. Otherwise you might end up with gear and training that has wasted precious time and $$.

And keep in mind that the muscle memory you build and the way you train and the way you practice and the way you compete will greatly influence the way you fight in a real defensive shooting engagement.

The shooting sports is a great and rewarding hobby. But its always worthwhile to begin your journey with the end it mind.

So my question is what do you hope to do with shooting competitions?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the posts, guys.

Philosophy of Use...that's an interesting and valid concept.

Is it to improve your defensive combat skills?
Is it because you love competition and are driven to win?
Is it fun and entertaining?
Well, I like some good competition, but I don't thrive on it...it's not what drives me to do anything. The fact that shooting sports are fun and entertaining to me is the litmus test. Either #1 or #2 above SHOULD result in having fun, however "hard" it may be to achieve. I've never been one to enjoy "easy fun". I used to race sailboats, still compete in precision R.C. helicopter aerobatics - both require lots of practice and discipline to be competitive.

If going to a defensive-oriented match increases my skill set, while being fun, then that's a winner. If going to a competition-oriented match satisfies my competitive itch, again while remaining fun...good to go. As I don't intend to start dumping incredible amounts of cash into anything other than ammo, I don't see me participating in any classes or divisions other than Production/ESP. I've got no intents on going out and buying a RazorCat to compete for that 0.001 second advantage. My trusty XDm 9mm will do just fine for some time.

I spent the day today with a former competitor in the next county. He coached me on some action drills, holstering, reloading, shoot n scoot, etc. It was incredible! It gave me some confidence, muscle memory, and fundamentals with which to take to my first match and not be a total knucklehead. He enforced trigger guard, 180 line, etc...not that I actually violated any of those fundamentals, but he was right there watching. Good stuff!
 

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I started shooting IDPA about 4 months ago. My main purpose is to be comfortable shooting on the move and just having the opportunity to practice target acquisition and reaction for defensive purposes. I know nothing will ever prepare for the real deal but this is a lot better than shooting at a still target at a range. All in all, it gives you an opportunity to spend quality time with your pistol.
 

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I have shot IDPA in Orlando and USPSA 3 gun in Orlando. The Central Florida Rifle and Pistol club is pretty good. They are one of the only ones that I know about with an outdoor range and lots of competitions in the area. I am not an experienced Comp shooter but what I have shot there was well organized and fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow, so far no-one cares for Steel Challenge matches?
 

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Steel challenge is very fun, but its not a run and gun shooting only one stage has you move from one shooting box to another. Its very good for draw and shoot, eight stages, five strings per stage back to back,(one stage only four strings) five static steel per stage so with no make ups you draw from a holster (unless shooting rimfire pistol/rifle its low ready position) 39 times 195 rounds with no misses if i did my math correct. Great training for drawing from a holster and getting on target and tin,tin,bang,bang,bang,wtf,tin,tin:cool:





Wow, so far no-one cares for Steel Challenge matches?
 

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I was once a new shooter also, still am compared to most. I joined a club 50 miles from home (a smaller town that the one I live in, but the closest actual shooting range to home) and started attending their non-sanctioned club level action shooting matches. My first time was scary for the others but even scarier for me. The gun I was using was a 1911 in need of some serious gunsmith attention. I finished far behind the last place guy. The guys however were great and even invited back for the next one. Needless to say after a few years of practice and a GLOCK 19 I'm getting much better. I've had fun and learned at every match. I've not even attempted to try anything higher. My suggestion is start at the club level and work your way up.
 

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I was once a new shooter also, still am compared to most. I joined a club 50 miles from home (a smaller town that the one I live in, but the closest actual shooting range to home) and started attending their non-sanctioned club level action shooting matches. My first time was scary for the others but even scarier for me. The gun I was using was a 1911 in need of some serious gunsmith attention. I finished far behind the last place guy. The guys however were great and even invited back for the next one. Needless to say after a few years of practice and a GLOCK 19 I'm getting much better. I've had fun and learned at every match. I've not even attempted to try anything higher. My suggestion is start at the club level and work your way up.

While I can understand where you are coming from no one should feel like they need to work your way up to any of the other matches idpa/uspsa/steel. Its all about having fun and being safe and enjoying the sport. You do not need to be a world class shooter to compete in them.
 

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Wow, so far no-one cares for Steel Challenge matches?
I like steel challenge matches too.

For me, they allow me to focus on building muscle memory in a loaded state with a modest amount of pressure with a drive toward speed. Drawing and engaging a target, transitioning, combat accuracy. It allows me to to focus on some of the building blocks of shoot and move without the move part. Because we do a single stage 5 times, I get to respond to my mistakes immediately in the next run.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I just got home from competing in my first match...and I'm still on a high! I haven't had this much fun in years! I'm addicted, now looking for stuff to sell to fund more ammo and maybe even a 5.25.

The match was at the Gainesville Target Range and was a non-sanctioned IPSC-style match.

My new XDM9 4.5" did superbly well, and pointed well with my instincts and reflexes. I couldn't have done better with any other gun, as I was surely the lower denominator here.

I did pretty well for a first match, and only shooting a handgun for about a month or so. I got mostly As with 4-5 Cs in the later stages when I started to lower my times.

Can't wait for the next match!

Erich
 
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