Our look at the proposed reload rules for IDPA

20120417_IDPAIDPA is my current favorite shooting sport because it tends to be a little more defensive shooter than active shooter.

It is also the fastest growing shooting sport and one of the more new shooter friendly, so it tends to be the large end of the funnel for other shooting sports.

If you want your sport to grow, you want IDPA to do well.

Unfortunately because of its defensive focus there are rules in place that force tactically accepted engagement orders that some people believe is restrictive.

They also limit the round count to 18 rounds per stage and the distance that can be covered, so it has a little less running and a little less gunning than other sports.

Older individuals that don’t move as well aren’t pushed out as quickly and now that the association is approaching 20 years old, some of the original members are getting up in age too.

All this leads to the sport getting the stereo type of it being a collection of fat old guys arguing about the rule. (Which isn’t all that difference than a collection of young computer nerds and engineers arguing about the rules in that other sport)

With the rules rewrite, I had hoped that IDPA would remember that it is a game and drop some of the rules that made it so restrictive and fostered the no fun league feeling some had.  In some cases they did… like dropping any mention of the “Round Dumping” rule… in others not so much.

Lets look a the proposed rules on reloads and consider how they will affect the sport

Speed Load

Speed Load

R7. There are only two (2) IDPA approved reloads:

Slide Lock Reload (also known as an Emergency Reload) – recharge the firearm when it is empty and/or out of live ammo.

Loaded Cylinder/Chamber Reload (also known as a Tactical Reload) – recharge the firearm when it is partially loaded while retaining any live ammunition or ammunition carrier.

IDPA correctly combined the Tactical Reload (reloading the gun with both magazines at the gun and storing the partial magazine before shooting) and the Reload with Retention (storing the partial magazine and then reloading the gun) because they effectively did the same thing in a sport where no one is shooting back.

However, they also decided to give it 2 more names and suggest a 2nd for the slide lock reload. Why?

In a defensive situation you would almost always perform a slide lock reload because counting rounds in a gunfight is nearly impossible unless you carry a revolver. This is what I train for and the way I shoot IDPA anyway, so I’m still good.

There are potentially times in a gunfight that you can’t see any immediate threats and you don’t know if you have shot 7 or 15 times, or when you think you are done, but really want a full gun… just in case.

In both cases you have both time and opportunity and would choose to do a Tactical Reload to minimize the time you are standing there with 1 round. When you are shooting on the clock, the only time you have both time and opportunity is when you have to move more than a couple of steps and you would choose the Reload with Retention because it is faster.

So we have already given in just a little to speed.

Ideally I would like to see IDPA go to a Slide Lock Reload only rule, but sometimes you need to recharge because of a moving target that is actuated by steel, because if you don’t, you won’t have time to recharge the gun and won’t have enough bullets for the disappearing target.

This has always struck me odd… what do we do about a disappearing target in defensive situation?

NOTHING! We want them to disappear!

So if you go to slide lock only reloads, you have a dilemma. You can either…

  1. Get rid of disappearing targets all together
  2. Change the way disappearing targets are scored… ie Score the best 2 hits on either of 2 targets. Simulating the disappearing target reappeared somewhere else in the stage.

That could be interesting!

R8. All reloads must be performed behind cover; however, a shooter, who runs the firearm empty while in the open, may initiate an Emergency Reload while advancing to the next position of cover. The shooter must continue moving while performing the Emergency Reload and may not engage any remaining targets until behind cover, if cover is available. Note: When reloading behind cover a shooter does not have to duck back completely behind cover to reload before reengaging targets from a stationary firing point. The shooter may keep his eyes on his next threat as long as he is in cover and does not expose more than 50% of his upper body or any of lower body/legs/feet to the next threat target.

R8.1. The shooter initiates a reload by performing any one of the following actions:

  • Withdrawing a magazine, speed loader/moon clip from a carrier or pocket,
  • Activating the magazine release on a semi-auto pistol (as evidenced by the magazine falling from the firearm) or,
  • Opening the cylinder of a revolver.

SAY WHAT!!!

If I am in the open and I run out of bullets, I am allowed to start reloading.  Good!

Actually… Try to stop me!

Then if I get my problem fixed, I have to run and hide before re-engaging the threat?

That doesn’t even make sense!

What they are obviously trying to prevent is someone reloading while advancing slowly and then taking a shot in the open without using cover. But… um… so?

I’d love to test it but my guess is sprinting to cover while reloading and shooting the targets flat-footed from cover would yield a better score than trying to shoot them on the move slowly, but if you get it reloaded… feel free to get back to shooting!

championship shootingI actually like this application of cover though.

I don’t use IDPA cover when I am shooting IDPA, I use a tactical definition of cover, because the idea of pieing the corner is that you are only engaging 1 threat at a time. IDPA’s cover rule makes it so you can pretty much see the whole array without moving and technically still be behind cover.  I try to only see 1 target at a time.  It isn’t as fast, but it is right. If you are using cover tactically, this interpretation is good.

With IDPA cover?  Maybe not so much but it is splitting hairs.

R9. Under no circumstances may a shooter leave a position of cover with an empty weapon. A position of cover is defined as any fixed location in a stage from which the shooter is required to engage targets from cover.

Honestly the way this rule is written, I have no idea what it means.

First what is an empty weapon? Is it one with out a magazine or with and empty chamber?

If it is an empty chamber, you should be able to cross openings while performing a Loaded Cylinder/Chamber Reload/Tactical Reload/Reload with Retention (or a LCCRTRRWR for short). This would actually eliminate one of the goofier rules of IDPA and would be a very good thing.

If it is without a magazine, it doesn’t make sense. Why is a gun with 1 round and an empty magazine better than gun with 1 round and no magazine?  Here is a hint… it isn’t.

Going a step further, if I’m not going to need an empty magazine after a Slide Lock reload, why do I need an empty magazine after an LCCRTRRWR?

Hmmmm.

Now lets look at the second part of that rule “A position of cover is defined as any fixed location in a stage from which the shooter is required to engage targets from cover.”

If I have engaged and neutralized all the visible threats, then they are no longer threats, I am no longer required to engage them and being in front of them with an unloaded gun doesn’t matter.  If they are still threats, then you should still be behind cover and it doesn’t matter if your gun is loaded or not.

The only possible explanation to why you shouldn’t be able to cross an opening while reloading I can think of is this…

In a real encounter, you don’t know how many people are in a room until you have cleared it all, so you should always precede like there are additional threats… in this case with a pistol in a ready state. Furthermore, having a single round in gun with and empty mag is like not knowing how many rounds you have in your gun; this is more likely than knowing you have 1 round left and dropping an empty mag and recharging the gun.

While I can actually follow that train of thought it misses a few key points…

  1. This is a game and not a real situation, we know this because…
  2. No one is shooting back and…
  3. We got a walk through and…
  4. We actually do know where the threats are and…
  5. We paid to play.

When it come down to it, IDPA is a game and if the people playing aren’t having fun they will go shoot something else.

Here is my suggested rewrite for these rules…

R7. There are only two (2) IDPA approved reloads:

Slide Lock Reload (also known as an Emergency Reload) – recharge the firearm when it is empty and/or out of live ammo.

Loaded Cylinder/Chamber Reload (also known as a Tactical Reload) – recharge the firearm when it is partially loaded while retaining any live ammunition or ammunition carrier. (While storing the ammunition comes in a different section, I don’t care where it goes as long it remains in your control. Hand held is fine.)

R8. All reloads must be performed behind observe all cover rules; however, a shooter, who runs the firearm empty while in the open, may initiate an Emergency Reload while advancing to the next position of cover; however, the shooter must continue moving while performing the Emergency Reload and may not engage any remaining targets until behind cover, if cover is available. Note: When reloading behind cover a shooter does not have to duck back completely behind cover to reload before reengaging targets from a stationary firing point. The shooter may keep his eyes on his next threat as long as he is in cover and does not expose more than 50% of his upper body or any of lower body/legs/feet to the next threat target.

R8.1. The shooter initiates a reload by performing any one of the following actions:

  • Withdrawing a magazine, speed loader/moon clip from a carrier or pocket,
  • Activating the magazine release on a semi-auto pistol (as evidenced by the magazine falling from the firearm) or,
  • Opening the cylinder of a revolver.

R9. Under no circumstances may a shooter leave a position of cover with an empty weapon chamber or open cylinder before engaging the visible threats with the required number of rounds. A position of cover is defined as any fixed location in a stage from which the shooter is required to engage targets from cover. 

That seems a lot simpler doesn’t it? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Carter says

    Sounds great to me, I made a few comments on the website regarding reloads and cover. My personal pet peeve is when it comes to shoot houses, cover is extremely relative in there and I figure if I can turn my back to a target (already neutralized) I can reload in front of it.

  2. Michael Roberts says

    “counting rounds in a gunfight is nearly impossible unless you carry a revolver.”– what magical mathematic abilities do wheelguns impart? If I can count to six, maybe I can count to 8, 9 or 10. Who is to say. IDPA is making presumptions about a shooter’s abilities which isn’t the point of rules.

    • says

      Honestly, I think the limit is probably north of a G26 and south of a G17, but if you read the actual proposed rules I abandoned the maintain the empty mag requirement. Count rounds, leave one in the chamber, just don’t leave one in the mag or you have to take it with you.

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