New Shooter

Top 10 Survival Tips for Your First IDPA Match

#1 – Safety is Always First!
For your first 2-3 matches, your entire focus should be on the fundamentals of safe gun handling. You will see guys who make a Glock sound like a full auto. They have been doing this a long time. Slow down and focus on the basics: Keep the muzzle pointed down range at all times, keep your finger out of the trigger guard while moving and during reloads, and never ever point your gun at something you don’t intend to shoot.

#2 – The Range is Cold
CSL runs a Cold Range. This means your gun MUST be unloaded and in your holster until it is your turn to shoot. You will load and unload under the direct supervision of the Safety Officer. NO EXCEPTIONS!

#3 – Know the Range Commands
IDPA match shooting is conducted under the supervision of a Safety Officer (SO) at each Stage of fire.  Standardized commands contribute to a safer Match.  The following Range commands are the ones in use.

  1. Range is Hot, Eyes and Ears.   This is the first command Shooters will hear, and it indicates that the range is now clear and the Stage is ready to start the CoF.  The shooter and any other persons in the shooting bay should make sure that his eye and ear protection is in place and properly fitted.
  2. Load and Make Ready. With your finger obviously and visibly off of the trigger remove your weapon from your holster, insert the magazine, render the weapon ready to shoot the stage, reholster the weapon, and assume the starting position for the stage.  The shooter is expected to be ready to proceed within approximately 15 seconds after this command is given.
  3. Are You Ready?  The shooter should respond verbally within approximately 3 seconds or shake his head in an affirmative manner.  If the shooter does not respond within approximately 3 seconds he is assumed to be ready.  If the shooter is not ready he must respond verbally or step out of the shooting position.
  4. Standby. This command will be followed by the start signal within 4 seconds.  The shooter may not move or change position after this command unless required to do so by the SO.
  5. Finger.  This command is given when the shooters finger is not obviously and visibly outside the trigger guard when required by the rules.  If repeated, the shooter will be penalized..
  6. Muzzle.  If the muzzle is moved near an unsafe point this command will be given.  The shooter must correct immediately.
  7. Stop.  The shooter must immediately stop what he is doing, remove his finger from the trigger if so positioned, and keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction until the SO gives further instruction.  This command is given when something unsafe has happened or is about to happen, or some problem with the stage has been detected.
  8. Cover.  This command alerts the shooter to the fact that he is not properly using the available cover and he should correct the situation forthwith or face a penalty.
  9. If Finished, Unload and Show Clear.  This command will be issued when it is apparent that the shooter has finished the stage.  If the shooter is finished he will unload his weapon and a clear cylinder or chamber will be shown to the SO.  If the shooter is not finished he should finish the stage and then comply as above.
  10. If Clear, Slide Forward or Close Cylinder.  Once the SO has verified that the chamber or cylinder is clear the shooter should comply in the proper manner.
  11. Pull The Trigger.  The shooter will point the weapon at the berm and pull the trigger to further verify the weapon is clear.  For weapons with a magazine disconnect an empty magazine may be inserted before complying with this command.  This magazine will be removed before complying with the next command.
  12. Holster.  The shooter safely holsters his firearm.
  13. Range is Clear.  This command indicates to the shooter and all concerned that the range is now clear.

#4 -Pasting Targets and Policing Brass.
If you aren’t shooting, grab some pasters and help paste targets (after they have been scored) or pick up spent brass and place it in the marked containers. If you reload, we evenly divide the spent brass at the end of the match.

#5 – Know the Rules
Spend some time reviewing the IDPA Rule Book prior to the match. You will want to understand Procedurals, Hits on a Non Threat, and general scoring before you go.

#6 – Focus on Accuracy
Scoring in IDPA is fairly simple. Most stages will take your raw score and add .50 seconds for each point you lose. Hits on a Non Threat add 5 seconds and a procedural will cost you 3 seconds. Speed will come with time, focus on making each shot count.

#7 – Don’t Worry About Your Ranking
We just spent all that time telling you about rules and accuracy, and now we are telling you not to worry about your ranking. Again, the top ranking shooters have been doing this a long time. They didn’t start out at the top, they got there by working hard and lot’s of practice. Focus on what you want to improve at each match. If you are safe and improving your skills, that’s all that matters.

#8 – Don’t Give Up
If you ignore #7, you are likely to get frustrated and quit too soon. It takes about 6 months to get really comfortable, and many more to get really competitive. Go back and read #7, it’s important.

#9 – Never Stop Learning
Your fellow shooters are the best coaches you will ever have. Ask lots of questions and watch how others shoot each stage. Learn what works and practice it until it becomes second nature.

#10 – Have Fun
Remember to keep everything in perspective. We are all here to practice our gun handling and personal defense skills and to enjoy the great outdoors. We hope you will join us, and we look forward to seeing you at the next match.