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Your First IDPA Match Part 2: The Match

Survival Mom

The IDPA match is on and now what do you do?

In Part One of this series we looked at what to expect when you first arrive at the club to start your first match. We covered the things you should bring, what to do when you get there and even some of the meetings you need to have. Now you are about to shoot your very first stage of your life.

Your First IDPA Stage

When your squad is in place, the timer and Safety Officer (SO) for your squad will usually give you the stage briefing. Now it’s time to find out what you are up against. This is where you learn the stage flow, round counts and even the scenario. Are you coming home from shopping and get jumped by the bad guys, or are you an undercover super operator fighting your way out of downtown to safety? Who knows? That’s the beauty of an IDPA match; the real world scenarios can sometimes throw you for a loop, which is how they’re designed.

In most club level matches, they usually allow new shooters to go later in the rotation and not make them shoot first. That way, you can watch and see what is going on and follow the flow better. You settle back and watch some of the other shooters in your squad start shooting their stage runs.

Suddenly the nerves have set back in. This is it. You’ve read all the rules. You talked to the people at the club and you even watched as a number of shooters in your squad went first. Your name was just called. You’re up! No putting it off any longer!

As you step to the line, the SO looks at you and asks if you have any questions. Again, this is the perfect time for them. Right in the middle of shooting is not, so ask away! If you have no questions, or the SO is able to answer all your questions, they will tell you to turn, face down range and make ready. This is your signal to draw your gun, load it with your first magazine, chamber a round and re-holster. The next time your gun will be in your hand is after the buzzer. Take a deep breathe.

The SO will let you collect your thoughts for a minute and then ask you “Is the shooter ready?” With a nod, they will then say “Standby” and an eternity later, you hear the buzzer. You’re off!


After your final shots ring out, now comes the fun part. Scoring. It’s just a game right? Without a way to score, how do you know who’s won?

Scoring in IDPA is pretty easy actually. There is something you need to keep in mind here. Some clubs will score along the IDPA scoring rules. Others will score slightly differently, but still fall within IDPA rules. Some will not score Failures to Neutralize while others might, for example.

How does scoring break down for IDPA? That beep wasn’t just your go signal, it started a timer. You were timed, so seconds is the main method of measurement.

Then you figure out, from your hits on your targets, how many “points down” you got. There are -0, -1, -3 zones on the IDPA target. Each point down equates to .5 seconds added to your time. So -0 is 0 seconds, -1 is .5 seconds, -3 is 1.5 seconds. Obviously you want all the holes in the -0 down area. Then you get assessed any penalties you may have incurred. That’s additional time to your score. It’s that simple.

So you follow the scorekeeper around to see how you did. They mark down the scores and time and they may or may not have you sign the stage score to verify you agree with the score.

And that’s your first IDPA Stage.


Depending on the club, there will probably be more stages to shoot, so go and have fun. Rinse and repeat, as they say.

When the end of the day comes, remember that it’s polite to help breakdown and put away the last stage you shoot, if needed. Lend a hand any way you can, it’s a good way to develop good faith and get invited back.

At the end of the day, remember to return to the “Safe Area” and pack up your gun and gear.

Feel proud of yourself. You just did something that not everyone wants to try. Put your shooting skills on display for everyone to see and allow yourself to be judged by others with a timer. That takes guts. But in the end, you will have a great time, especially if you stick with it.

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Your First IDPA Match Part 2: The Match