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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided to check out a local USPSA match last weekend. I shoot a lot, but at an indoor range where it's just point and shoot. Figured USPSA would be something different, and more fun. Everyone there, and I mean everyone, was super nice, spent a lot of time showing a total newbie the ropes and coaching. Really welcoming atmosphere. My thoughts going in were to take my time and make safety my #1 goal.

So I go through the 4 stages with my "squad". Shooting my P320 X5 in carry optics. My shooting was good, speed (of course) was not. No DQ safety violations, but I do have some things to work on.

But after a couple of days of reflecting on it, I do have some reservations about the sport. After seeing the scores, where I was 3rd from last in the overall (which I expected), I was struck by the fact that accuracy is not emphasized very much. I had more Alpha's than anyone else at the match (and that with failing to engage 2 of my targets in one stage). I know that by taking my time, I was more accurate, but I'd think that would be more important. It's my opinion, there should be a much bigger points differential between Alpha's and Charley's.

The other thing that bothered me a little is pre-walking the stage. I guess I look at this sport like practice for a real world (God forbid) SD engagement. Walking the course and no-gun practice kind of flies in the face of that. But it would be hard to "hide" the course from shooters too.

I know the game is what it is, and is certainly not going to change for me. These are just things that, as a first time competition shooter, struck me as odd. I may try an IDPA shoot next, but I assume speed is more important than accuracy there as well.
 

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Congrats on the first event. I’m jealous. I was all set in early March to try my first match and then COVID. My wife‘s health continues to limit my ability / willingness to do such.

Anyway, I suspect your concerns have been expressed before in the sport. Actually, every form of competition typically involves tension between a pragmatic competitor and his principled opponent. You lean to the latter and your ‘sloppy-but-fast‘ opponents represent the former.

There are many low-scoring golfers that offset their atrocious swings with efficient play around the greens!
 

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Congrats on the first event. I’m jealous. I was all set in early March to try my first match and then COVID. My wife‘s health continues to limit my ability / willingness to do such.

Anyway, I suspect your concerns have been expressed before in the sport. Actually, every form of competition typically involves tension between a pragmatic competitor and his principled opponent. You lean to the latter and your ‘sloppy-but-fast‘ opponents represent the former.

There are many low-scoring golfers that offset their atrocious swings with efficient play around the greens!
The golf analogy falls apart immediately because an "atrocious swing" is an abstract but their # of swings to complete the course is a concrete measure of their ability. I hear lots of people comment about form in sports of all kinds, heck Hank Aaron batted cross handed and journalists felt the need to criticize.......:rolleyes:

I agree with the OP, speed at all costs is over-emphasized these days. I'm an old competitive shooter and "back in the day" accuracy was more highly rewarded in competitive shooting (mostly).
 
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Congrats on your first event.
 
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The golf analogy falls apart immediately because an "atrocious swing" is an abstract but their # of swings to complete the course is a concrete measure of their ability. I hear lots of people comment about form in sports of all kinds, heck Hank Aaron batted cross handed and journalists felt the need to criticize.......:rolleyes:

I agree with the OP, speed at all costs is over-emphasized these days. I'm an old competitive shooter and "back in the day" accuracy was more highly rewarded in competitive shooting (mostly).
The point of the analogy was that some golfers are very effective in scoring consistent with the scoring system. As to whether that constitutes “ability”, depends on one’s perspective and definition of that term (which gets back to the pragmatic vs principled approach).
 

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Congrats on your first USPSA match. You made a very important observation..."I know the game is what it is, and is certainly not going to change for me." It certainly is a game and have had your same feelings and frustrations shooting USPSA and I shoot there a lot...nothing more frustrating then seeing someone with half the alpha's you have that hands you your rear end because they blew through the stage fast. But it is what it is! I know a lot of folks are really negative towards IDPA and some of the apparent nonsensical rules but from a scoring standpoint, it just makes more sense to me. To each his own but give IDPA a try...I shoot both, serious about how I place in IDPA matches and shoot USPSA to basically compete against myself and have an excuse for more range time.
 

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OP - congratulations on your first USPSA match. Your observations mirror my own.

Back in 2005 was when I shot my first IDPA and USPSA matches. I gravitated towards IDPA due to the rules about a cover garment and pistols more closely resembling stock CC weapons. To this day, I probably shoot one IDPA match per month, with an occasional BUG match or USPSA match. I shoot them all with a CC weapon, most recently with my Sig P365 in an IWB kydex holster at 3:30.

Methinks people get caught up in the 'gear' in both disciplines, but waaaay more so in USPSA. I wind up shooting a $500 gun against $1,500 guns with compensators, aim points, and some wacky holsters. When I show up on the line with my little Sig (or, previously, a Glock 26), there are a lot of chuckles until my scores are added up and then I get a lot of statements like, "Sheesh, I carry a 365 but I never considered competing with it."

Although the IDPA rules can be challenging to understand, I mainly like the general idea that you shoot from behind barricades ('cover') and you have to avoid no-shoots (hostages) and there are often moving targets as well as movement for the shooters.

On a good day, I'll wind up in the middle of the pack --- mostly recently 24th out of 44 shooters. But, most of them were shooting full-sized guns with mag wells and trigger jobs. A few more are going to optics, which I haven't embraced and probably never will because it makes the gun harder to conceal while returning what seems to be marginal improvements in accuracy. And, the range where I compete (Pima Pistol Club near Tucson) is home to some international and national champions, so my miserly once-a-month shooting at matches can't even come close to the hundreds of rounds these people shoot every week.

Give IDPA a try. Lots of good folks willing to lend a hand and offer advice. Remember, in IDPA there is no 'air-gunning' allowed as you walk through the stages. My advice is to get there early and review the stages and descriptions so you can be mentally prepared to some extent. Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies folks. Good to know I'm not unique in my reservations about the format. I'll study up on the IDPA rules and give that a shot.

I did have fun and all, don't get me wrong. I can see why folks enjoy it and get caught up in it. And who knows? Maybe I'll end up diving in. But it was for sure not love at first shoot.
 

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jejb - depending on your age, you might want to consider reloading. I get the impression from the better shooters in both USPSA and IDPA that many of them reload. Of course, I have no idea about the availability of powder, primers, casings, etc. I shoot factory ammo in my matches, courtesy of my local FFL dealer who sponsors me. He knows better than to expect me to actually win a match, but I think he enjoys hearing about my matches and I quite regularly thank him for getting a monthly chance to practice with my CC pistol and holster.

At my age (a couple weeks from 70), it makes no sense to take up reloading, but for a younger person it might make sense. Good luck.
 

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Welcome to an exciting new world.
 

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The thing I valued about IDPA shooting was being able to track my own progress, and finding out (sometimes the hard way) exactly how FAST I could push myself and still maintain accuracy. I never competed to win. I competed to get better. Yeah, I won a couple of times but those were occasional special treats for my diligent work.

Now that my health doesn't allow me to shoot that type of match, I still use the skills to balance my speed and accuracy when I'm shooting on the move -- remembering the saying, "You can't miss fast enough to stop the threat."
 

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You still have to be fast and accurate to a point, if you want your scores to be up there. Since you’re already accurate, now is the time to speed up up everything. Hit factor is computed by dividing the hits over the tine spent to finish the stage. Mikes, no shoots and PEs count against your score/hit factor also so a balance of speed and accuracy is what you want.

Don‘t be like some competitors I had seen come and go because they got their egos bruised during their first match and never competed again. You can only improve from here on out. Get a book by Ben Stoeger or Steve Anderson and dry fire on a regular basis. I can assure you that you’ll improve a lot. I dry fire at least 5-6 days a week for about 30-45 minutes and livefire 1-2 a week. I was able to see an improvement in only a month of doing dry fire. It’s more important now that ammo and reloading components are hard to come by.

You’ll find out that speed and accuracy is also needed in IDPA. You just have to maintain a good balance between them like @ShooterGranny stated.

Keep in mind also that you’re only competing against shooters in your division (carry optics with the 320) and not others even though practiscore shows everyone’s score from highest to lowest. Don’t think that you’re competing against race guns in the open division as an example.

I wish you had more fun than you did. I sure had fun on my first match even though I slipped and fell to the ground on the very first stage I shot. I got up, ejected the empty mag tube (ammo, spring and base pad flew out when I hit the ground), put a new mag and continue shooting and finished the stage albeit it took so long.

edited for spelling
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
jejb - depending on your age, you might want to consider reloading. I get the impression from the better shooters in both USPSA and IDPA that many of them reload. Of course, I have no idea about the availability of powder, primers, casings, etc. I shoot factory ammo in my matches, courtesy of my local FFL dealer who sponsors me. He knows better than to expect me to actually win a match, but I think he enjoys hearing about my matches and I quite regularly thank him for getting a monthly chance to practice with my CC pistol and holster.

At my age (a couple weeks from 70), it makes no sense to take up reloading, but for a younger person it might make sense. Good luck.
Thanks. I've been reloading for at least 30 years. And I've shot 150-200 rounds a week for years now. Not likely I'd be doing that if I wasn't making my own. Primers are VERY hard to source right now. I'm well stocked, but still hoping that problem eases soon. Most powder is readily available, but some particular ones are scarce. Bullets are out there, but often with a 2 month lead time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You still have to be fast and accurate to a point, if you want your scores to be up there. Since you’re already accurate, now is the time to speed up up everything. Hit factor is computed by dividing the hits over the tine spent to finish the stage. Mikes, no shoots and PEs count against your score/hit factor also so a balance of speed and accuracy is what you want.

Don‘t be like some competitors I had seen come and go because they got their egos bruised during their first match and never competed again. You can only improve from here on out. Get a book by Ben Stoeger or Steve Anderson and dry fire on a regular basis. I can assure you that you’ll improve a lot. I dry fire at least 5-6 days a week for about 30-45 minutes and livefire 1-2 a week. I was able to see an improvement in only a month of doing dry fire. It’s more important now that ammo and reloading components are hard to come by.

You’ll find out that speed and accuracy is also needed in IDPA. You just have to maintain a good balance between them like @ShooterGranny stated.

Keep in mind also that you’re only competing against shooters in your division (carry optics with the 320) and not others even though practiscore shows everyone’s score from highest to lowest. Don’t think that you’re competing against race guns in the open division as an example.

I wish you had more fun than you did. I sure had fun on my first match even though I slipped and fell to the ground on the very first stage I shot. I got up, ejected the empty mag tube (ammo, spring and base pad flew out when I hit the ground), put a new mag and continue shooting and finished the stage albeit it took so long.

edited for spelling
Thanks for the reply. I did think about the ego thing, but I don't think that's a factor. I expected to be dead last. So I really out performed my expectations there. I was going slower than I could have to be on the safe side. And I didn't see the scores until well after the match. Just trying to decide if I'm okay with sacrificing accuracy for speed, I guess. Tough hill for me to climb.
 

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Thanks for the reply. I did think about the ego thing, but I don't think that's a factor. I expected to be dead last. So I really out performed my expectations there. I was going slower than I could have to be on the safe side. And I didn't see the scores until well after the match. Just trying to decide if I'm okay with sacrificing accuracy for speed, I guess. Tough hill for me to climb.
it takes a lot of practice to get the speed and accuracy at once. That’s the main difference in doing stand, point and shoot compared to shooting on the move under time pressure. Practice, practice, dry fire nd live fire to confirm what you learned in dry fire.

My wife and kids were laughing at me by the time I got home from my first match because our club’s photo/video guy posted on Facebook the video of my fall. I used that as motivation to get better and bought Ben Stoeger and Steve Anderson’s books to learn more about practical shooting. I got classified as Master within a year and I can attribute that to the dry fire and live fire practices I did on a regular basis.

You can push yourself to be fast anytime and be efficient during your stage runs. Be explosive in moving out of position and have your gun up and ready to shoot before getting to the next position. Learn to call your shots so you don’t have to waste time looking at the target to confirm your shot.

Shoot some more matches and have fun. Good luck and be safe.
 

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Good for you for getting out there. More people should get out and compete on a timer. Having some pressure on you as you shoot really tends to focus the mind.

I've been shooting USPSA on and off for about five years, only 13 matches lifetime. I'm currently classified as a high D, 36%, in production. Which means I'm not that good.

I do enjoy it immensely though. I've an watched IDPA match, and it does not appeal. I also tried Steel Challenge a couple times; standing and blasting on the timer with the PING! was a lot of fun.

I think you raised two common points. One is speed vs accuracy. To be a top shooter in USPSA, you have to shoot accurately, but fast. You found out that even though you shot "accurately", you didn't quite finish where you might have. Shooters who finished ahead of you likely also shot as accurately or better, and took less time. That means they were acquiring targets and engaging them effectively (within the rules) quicker than you. So their power factor (speed x accuracy) was higher.

Their target acqusition was quicker. Their recoil control was better. Their transition time between targets was faster. Their speed between shooting positions was quicker. Their reloads were smoother and faster. I shot my last match with a bunch of M and GM shooters. They didn't look all that fast to be honest, just really really smooth. The scores told the story though, as they finished up near the top, while I didn't exactly finish DFL, but near the bottom, with other U/D shooters.

The other aspect of USPSA is that it's not tactical, or practice for real life. It's a game, with it's own rules. Everybody plays by them. You can use USPSA for live fire practice, and measure yourself against your progress, being better than the guy you were the last time. That's what I do. To measure yourself against top shooters, well, you have to be better if you want to score higher, simply put.

Walking the stage to develop a stage plan is a very important part of my activity at a match. Since I shoot P, and reload a lot, generally I am working out where I am going to reload. Typically this is in between target arrays. I start with 10, plus 1 in the chamber for 11, then have 10 round mags on my belt. Ideally I can engage a set of targets in an array with that mag, then reload as I am running in between that shooting position and the next one.

There is a lot of choice in USPSA in how you shoot a stage, in fact as long as you follow the published stage rules, there's no restriction on how or what order to shoot targets. The rules are a bit more restrictive on Classifiers.

As say, I don't have any IDPA experience, I do know a lot of folks shoot that, and have fun.

Either way, good for you for getting out there!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good for you for getting out there. More people should get out and compete on a timer. Having some pressure on you as you shoot really tends to focus the mind.

I've been shooting USPSA on and off for about five years, only 13 matches lifetime. I'm currently classified as a high D, 36%, in production. Which means I'm not that good.

I do enjoy it immensely though. I've an watched IDPA match, and it does not appeal. I also tried Steel Challenge a couple times; standing and blasting on the timer with the PING! was a lot of fun.

I think you raised two common points. One is speed vs accuracy. To be a top shooter in USPSA, you have to shoot accurately, but fast. You found out that even though you shot "accurately", you didn't quite finish where you might have. Shooters who finished ahead of you likely also shot as accurately or better, and took less time.
But that's the thing. I shot more alphas than anyone else at the match. Certainly slower, and I did not deserve to finish better than I did. I'm fine with that. Just surprised me that accuracy seems to be down played a bit.
The other aspect of USPSA is that it's not tactical, or practice for real life. It's a game, with it's own rules. Everybody plays by them. You can use USPSA for live fire practice, and measure yourself against your progress, being better than the guy you were the last time. That's what I do. To measure yourself against top shooters, well, you have to be better if you want to score higher, simply put.

Either way, good for you for getting out there!
Thanks for your throught, and I agree. If I continue to shoot it, I'll only be concerned with any progress I make against myself. I doubt I'll ever shoot enough of it to actually be competitive.
 

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But that's the thing. I shot more alphas than anyone else at the match. Certainly slower, and I did not deserve to finish better than I did. I'm fine with that. Just surprised me that accuracy seems to be down played a bit.

Thanks for your throught, and I agree. If I continue to shoot it, I'll only be concerned with any progress I make against myself. I doubt I'll ever shoot enough of it to actually be competitive.
You may know this, but In USPSA, to score two Alphas (5 points each) in minor power factor (9mm, which is what I shoot) I need to land two rounds in an "A zone (on the order of 8" x 14", IIRC) out to as far as 35 yards. I have to do this quickly, sometimes on the move, on multiple targets. Sometimes I have to knock down steel, either large poppers or mini poppers, or shoot plate racks, or a dissappearing target, or shoot a Texas Star (a rotating set of five steel plates you knock off, which is quite challenging when that thing starts spinning around). All within a stage which might have up to 10 or so USPSA paper targets and 1 or more steel. Plus reloading several times (typically at least two), plus executing my stage plan by selecting starting position, my path through the stage, and my shooting positions. All with no trips to Dairy Queen. :)

When you watch skilled shooters on a stage, you can see them getting Alphas or Alpha/Charlie on many shots. They are aiming, just faster than me. Shooting accurately doesn't meant slowing down, necessarily, it means if you get an acceptable sight picture for the target you are engaging, you break the shot. Whenever I've gotten a bunch of Alphas at a match, it's always been because I was slow. But anyway, that's my issue. When I was starting out, my main goal was to be safe. I've transitioned through the accuracy part, and now I'm working in Dry Practice with my Ben Stoeger books to be accurate, and fast. Hard to do lol.

Compared to IDPA, I understand (I have never shot an IDPA match) scoring is much simpler than USPSA. Your score is your time plus penalties. IDPA targets use a "down" concept (time added), meaning if you put your rounds in the "down 0" circle, you have no penalty added. I am not sure of the exact size of the "down 0" circle (it might be 8"? Not sure.) The next "down" zone is "down 1", which is torso-shaped. The shape / size of an official IDPA target, and the zones, is not really that different than a USPSA target. So I'm not that sure you'll find IDPA any less challenging than USPSA; either sport will put pressure on you to make the shot in as little time as possible, using comparable target zone sizes.

The way IDPA stages work is also different than USPSA. You might want to watch one, or shoot one and see how it goes. There are some fundamental differences in philosophy. I prefer to shoot USPSA, but there are lots of folks who like IDPA to get better at shooting, and have a lot of fun doing so. Which is the main thing. But while the two sports have different philosophies, and scoring methods, they both account for accuracy and speed, about the same way. They just do it differently.

Either way, congrats on your first match. Good luck and stay safe!
 

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My first season shooting (I shot around 15 club matches that year) I consistently had the most points but because I was slow I averaged around 45%. However, the vast majority of my slowness was not in the actual shooting but from everything happening in between; movement, target transitions, reloads, target order etc etc. Especially on a long stage, all those bits add up awfully fast.
 
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