Assuming you've found this site because you have some interest in guns that involves something more than standing at a static firing line and shooting at targets with little round circles (not that there's anything wrong with that), what are the action pistol sports all about and how do you get started?
Most people start shooting IDPA (or ICORE or IPSC) because they have some interest in shooting a handgun in a way that more closely simulates the real world - drawing from a holster, shooting while moving, shooting from behind cover and at multiple targets. While ICORE and IPSC concentrate more on the sport aspect of shooting a pistol as described at their respective sites, IDPA seeks to add an element of practical application for those who have an interest in self-defense.
"The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is the governing body of a shooting sport that simulates self-defense scenarios and real life encounters. "
-- IDPA Homepage Statement of Purpose
As with any simulation or sport there are concessions to safety as well as manageability, practicality, and participant skill levels. IDPA is perfect for those who have little or no experience and want a place to start.
"One of the unique facets of this sport is that it is geared toward the new or average shooter, yet is fun, challenging and rewarding for the experienced shooter. The founders developed the sport so that practical gear and practical guns may be used competitively. An interested person can spend a minimal amount on equipment and still be competitive. The main goal is to test the skill and ability of the individual, not equipment or gamesmanship. “Competition only” equipment is not permitted in this sport."
All of us started somewhere and being a novice isn't something to be ashamed of. So gather your gear and come join us. You'll be surprised how quickly you'll advance and get hooked on a sport that is not only fun but practical.
What to Expect
A typical match at Rivanna involves 3-4 stages that you will shoot one at a time. You can see one described and video in several of the earlier entries here. Our range is run as a "cold" range, which means your gun should be unloaded and holstered at all times unless you're at the firing line of a stage and following the directions of a Safety Officer (SO for short). If you arrived carrying concealed there will be a designated place and person who will help you go cold.
Registration begins around 8:30 and goes to 11:00. Shooters are run through first come, first serve as much as possible. You can plan on spending a half a day with us at least. When you aren't shooting you should be watching and asking questions. You'll find lots of opinions and advice at every match, just remember it's worth what you paid for it!
New shooters usually get some special attention and instruction. Make sure you understand what you're being asked to do. Watch the people ahead of you. Ask questions! We've probably heard them all but you haven't heard the answers and that's why many of us are there and volunteer our time. We like to help people be successful at shooting.
What to Bring
The basics include: a gun (just about any modern pistol or revolver will do), a quality belt holster that firmly holds your gun and covers the trigger guard, a couple of spare magazines or speedloaders, 50-75 rounds of ammo, a cover garment (a shirt or coat works fine), and some eye and ear protection.
And depending on the weather: water, snacks, hat, sunscreen, umbrella, bug spray, etc.
What to Do
Show up early to get registered and have time to watch and get a feel for the match. Feel free to help set up. It's a good way to see what's ahead and hear the Match Director (MD) explain the intent of the stages to his chief SO's. Listen to the stage briefs and think about what you'll be required to do. Watch others shoot the stage and ask questions. Be comfortable that you understand what you're being asked to do. Help paste the targets. Be safe. Enjoy yourself!
Be familiar with the rules. You might not understand them all at first but they will make more sense as you attend the matches. It is a sport and we keep score. You can find out how here.
What Not to Do
Don't violate any range safety rules. Don't take your gun out of your holster unless you're shooting a stage or at a safe area. Don't try to go fast (be smooth, fast will come). Don't be overwhelmed by the match or the crowd.
We all started someplace. Everyone has been a Novice. Come join us and see how much fun you can have while learning some life-enhancing skills.