I have heard that USPSA is to IDPA as Formula 1 Racing is to Timed Parallel Parking.
Obviously I don’t believe that and I don’t think it is fair to either sport. And in fact, USPSA loses out on a lot of new members because of the belief that it is very gear intensive.
If I had to make a motor sport analogy I think USPSA is more like a rally car race and IDPA is SCCA Solo 2.
In rally racing the courses are longer, there are scripted pace notes and you drive the plan more than the actual course making adjustments as you go.
In Solo 2, you walk the course and you make a mental plan but since you are in a parking lot so the course is short enough there really are no surprises.
Still that doesn’t completely tell the whole story because in IDPA you have scenarios and props.
I typically use the scenario as a memory palace to help me remember the stage plan and try to ignore the props as much as possible… but in 2012 I shot charging targets and ones covered by shirts, out of bread trucks and shallow, off of platforms and scissor lifts, through an engine fire and a waterfall, I have shot out motorcycle and van lights, triggered targets with optical sensor, used 5 different drop guns, fired rounds in arc about 270 degrees and started stages based on stimulus that was sound, sight and touch in IDPA.
That is part of what is cool about major matches in IDPA!
It is also part of the reason that the popularity of the Smith & Wesson Indoor Nationals is so surprising.
Let’s face it, it’s inside there are a few major limitations to stage design.
- Since it is an indoor range all of the bullets have to go basically straight down range.
- With a concrete floor and a ceiling shooting from an elevated position or a hole is out.
- It is inside so you can’t light anything on fire or hit it with a fire hose
- The ranges are of limited size so movement is restricted
- And all of the props have to be able to fit through the door (ie… no school buses)
This match is different because it is… 1) At the Smith & Wesson Ranges, 2) Indoors and 3) in February
Still this match is one of the most popular matches in the sport and has received a lot of flak due to the way they offer spots. (Priority is given to those that have shot it before, which makes it harder for new shooters to get a spot.)
This year there are 329 Shooters of which 58 are “Industry”, 4 are “Media” and one is “Me.” Of the remaining 266 it is likely that 46 of them are SO’s and match staff so let’s say there are 220 spots available.
This year after the initial registration period there was a waiting list of about 70 people. Just before Christmas ½ of those got in because people hadn’t paid for their spots, which means that of the people with money, 86% got in including 77 first time shooters! (There are only 31 still on the wait list)
That really isn’t too bad considering the size of the IDPA membership.
It has however done some really interesting things to the make-up of the match.
Classifications. It is a National Match so you would expect that the shooters would be weighted towards the upper classifications, but since 70% of the shooters are from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, or New Hampshire it isn’t as national as you might think. Like all IDPA majors the majority of the shooters are from the surrounding area and there are shooters at all levels. However… Since the match gives preference to shooters that have shot it in multiple years, there are more experienced shooters and therefore the upper levels are weighted even more heavily than you might have thought!
Did you notice that 2 revolver shooters are going to get the mythical revolver match bump!
Experienced Shooters. This will undoubtedly catch the attention of USPSA shooters, but more than 30% of the shooters are shooting in the Senior Div or Distinguished Senior Division. I’m guessing this has to do with the fact that you had to have the time to take off work in February to shoot the match.
So this post jumped around a bit and it is only fitting that the comments do too! Let me know your reactions to either of the IDPA vs USPSA analogies, make fun of me for owning a Miata in the past, or tell me what you think of the indoor nationals’ challenges, the way IDPA accepted shooters to the indoor nationals or the break down of shooters at the event.