Ingenuity Divested of Practical Application

Milestone! I have now been initiated into the rough-and-tumble world of International Defensive Pistol Association competitive shooting. How’d I do? I sucked. Well, I hit my targets pretty faithfully, but between the procedural deductions and the relative snail’s pace, my overall ranking was nothing to write home about (sorry, Mom). As most of you know, I’ve been long ensnared in an epic tug of war between accuracy and speed. Until I figure out that balance, I won’t expect to stand out among the lightning-quick quadruple-tappers (some of whom I noticed are perfectly content with dropping a few shots in exchange for blinding speed). I do hope to lessen my procedurals though, as I become more familiar with the rules. And speaking of rules, eh hem. A few things left me, well, I’ll say mildly bewildered. For example…

  • If I’m playing cards and suddenly find myself accosted by the six disgruntled opponents across the table from me, why the hell would I stay in my chair? Because IDPA requires it.
  • Why would my spare mags ever be sitting on the table in front of me instead of in the pouch on my person? Because IDPA requires it.
  • If I’m at work — especially since I work at a gun store (according to the scenario) — why on earth would my gun be parked on a shelf under the cash register instead of nestled in my holster? You guessed it. IDPA requirement.
  • If I’ve got full access to upper center chest, why would I limit myself to head shots only? IDPA says so.
  • If find myself in an outdoor gun fight, why would my gun be sitting in a box on the table? IDPA.
  • Back to that card game — why would I be playing cards with six people willing to shoot me over a card game? But I digress.
  • If my bad guy is 15 yards away and there’s an innocent person standing two inches directly behind him, why would I shoot that guy at that moment? IDP… you get the drift.
  • If my life is in imminent danger (which of course it would have to be in order for me to legally resort to deadly force), why would I be doing arithmetic in my head? (Maybe this one was just me being a newbie unaccustomed to the scoring system; but I really did feel at times unduly preoccupied with point calculations and varying requisite shot totals instead of just focusing on getting good hits.)
  • And my biggest pet peeve of all: Why in the Sam Hill would I ever “unload and show clear”? Say what? Do what now? Heck, what if the sh*t hits the fan while we’re out here fiddling with IDPA tomfoolery? I’d have to fight with my trusty IDPA-approved-but-otherwise-utterly-useless paperweight. Competition or not, a gun with no ammo is about as handy as a car with no gas. Sorry, you all know how I feel about cold ranges. Then again, we did have one guy get DQed for unholstering off the line. So I admit it was probably a good thing that he was empty. 🙂 I also admit I was mildly amused at the awkward spectacle that was the SO very diplomatically ripping that guy a new one.

I had never really done much competition shooting before. It’s different. I gave IDPA a whirl (as opposed to other competition leagues) because I had heard that the whole point was defensive shooting instead of sport shooting. And yet, the entire experience really felt a lot like gaming — pretty intense, high-stakes gaming; but gaming, nonetheless. People were dispatching clandestine reconnaissance missions to scope out the scenarios beforehand so they could pre-choreograph their intended course of action. One dude had a 30-round Glock mag. Really? When he draped his shirt over the gun for “concealment,” I swear if it weren’t for the anatomical incorrectness I might have assumed he was really, really, really happy to see everybody. Another guy’s mag well looked like a freakin’ sousaphone. Think he might reload a bit faster than the guy getting mugged on the street? I’ll go out on a limb and bet yes.

Random Side Note: You know, being the token black person gets old. So does being the only girl (or one of the very few). Or the only person under 50. Or the only person not dressed in a fishing vest and cargo pants and a t-shirt with a trendy gun manufacturer’s logo splashed across the front or some cutesy tacticool “don’t f*ck with me” quip on the back. I hereby challenge everybody in the gun world to get out there and recruit some folks who don’t look, act, talk, walk, or think like you do, don’t listen to your kind of music, and don’t have the same hairstyle as you. Go find somebody whose name you can’t pronounce. Just sayin’.

All that being said, I think I’ll continue going to IDPA and try to make it a regular thing. Besides the fact that the match director is one of my very favorite Rangemaster instructors, I do like the idea of being pushed beyond my comfort zone; having to shoot under time pressure; working in a three-dimensional, 180-degree environment with something other than paper targets; and managing my own adrenaline (not to mention having scores of veteran eyeballs trained on me while I negotiate a defensive problem). However, I do worry about subconsciously habituating the IDPA “rules of engagement” and having them later bite me in the butt cheek in the real world. I would certainly hate to blindly dump my mag after ten-plus-one or “unload and show clear” by force of habit in the middle of an actual holy-crap kerfuffle. If that happens, game over.

Back to Top