Introduction to IDPA

I’ve been asked to do a short presentation on IDPA for the Ladies Handgun League down at the Wake County Range. I put together an outline and decided to post it here for future reference.


Intro to IDPA

IDPA: International Defensive Pistol Association


• the use of practical equipment
• to solve simulated “real world” self-defense scenarios

Who Competes in IDPA?

In a word, everybody. New comers are welcome and encouraged.

You should be comfortable:
• drawing from a holster and reholstering
• reloading / exchanging magazines in your pistol

IDPA Safety Rules / Reviewed at every match!
• All guns are always loaded.
• Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
• Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
• Identify your target, and what is behind it.

(Versus  NRA Gun Safety Rules)
• Always point the gun in a safe direction.
• Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
• Keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

Skills you are exposed to:

• Emphasis on range safety
• Drawing from concealment
• Strong hand and weak hand shooting
• Shooting while moving, kneeling or prone
• Shooting moving targets
• Using cover properly
• Reloads
• Tactical priority (near to far)
• Tactical sequence (one shot each before additional shots)
• Threats vs. non-threats,
• Shooting for both speed and accuracy
• Adding the adrenaline rush you may experience in real life

How does a Match work?

• Typically 6-8 stages over 4-6 hours
• Break into squads – squad leader will work with you. People are friendly and typically helpful to a new shooter.
• Your squad arrives at each stage as a group.
• Your squad leader will brief the squad on the scenario and any requirements.
• You may all load and make ready as a squad or each shooter may load and make ready as it is there turn to shoot.
• Every one helps to paste targets
• You can ask to see how you did

Examples of Stages

• “You are in the shower…” and you start by opening a shower curtain and picking up your gun from a side table
• At a major match: shoot out a window through a rain storm (actually a hose…)
• “You are on the couch, watching the Super Bowl and your gun is on the coffee table. Sit up and shoot your first target before standing.”
• At a major match: Shoot from the driver’s seat of a car, at night, through a burning engine at your targets (this was a rare night match).

What to Bring

• Ear & eye protection (MANDATORY)
• Handgun, caliber 9mm or larger
• •  Sights must be stock. No lasers, scopes, or lights mounted on pistol are allowed.
• OWB holster that covers the trigger guard (ladies can use a dropped, offset holster).
• Should have at least 3 magazines for your pistol (you can shoot with 2)
• Magazine holster that goes on your belt for each extra magazine
• Belt to support your gun and magazine holsters
• A concealment garment- ie vest or long shirt
• About 150 rounds of ammo
• Some form of range bag to keep your items in.
• Baseball cap recommended – especially for outdoor matches.
• Water & Snacks!

Here’s a link to a Triangle Tactical article that talks about IDPA “on the cheap” for equipment sources.

Gun Handling

• All events are cold ranges.
• Come with your gun unloaded.
• You will be told when/where to load and unload your gun.
• Unless you have been told to load & make ready, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR GUN.
• If you are not sure of when/where you can handle your firearm simply leave it holstered and ask.

Range Commands (not exhaustive…)

• Load and Make Ready
• Unload and Show Clear
• Finger: You will hear this if your finger is in the trigger guard while moving or reloading.
• Muzzle: If you hear this, immediately check yourself as your muzzle is getting near a muzzle
safe point.
• Stop: If a shooter is being grossly unsafe, or if a safety issue has arisen on the range
• Cover: If a shooter is not using cover adequately

Local information (may change over time, verify before driving to a match)

Classes: IDPA Intro class locally at Shoot to Live
Personal Defense Handgun Safety Center – One Thursday a month
The Range in Oxford – 1st & 2nd Sunday of the month

Awesome local blog that encourages completing: Triangle Tactical and their Comprehensive calendar of all regional events.

More detail for first time competitors:
Getting Started in Competitive Shooting over at Triangle Tactical
New Shooter Briefing (Video)
New Shooter Packet (Document) 

Carry in the Console of the Car

The XDS in the center console of a my car

The XDS in the center console of a my car

When I buy something, I like to use it. I’m up to four 9mm pistols at this point and I’m going through a process of deciding where each “fits” in my life — or whether to sell one of them.

  • I’ve parked the H&K in my bedroom. It’s the only gun I have with night sights.
  • When I bought the 1911 it replaced the XD9 as my competition gun (for now). I tried putting the XD9 in the car, but I wanted it in the center console. It’s too big. I can’t really reach the glove box quickly but I can pop the center console and access items next to me fast. So the XD9 went back in my range bag as a back up competition gun.

I have  a CCW but I haven’t gotten comfortable carrying a loaded gun on my body outside of the range or competitions. So I decided my next baby step would be to carry in the car.

If you’ve been reading you know I bought the XDS in 9mm. It’s a perfect fit for the glove box. I took the holster that came with the gun and attached it to a heavy CD case (metallic blue with a zipper in the photo) using a rubber band in order to test out the concept. The holster keeps the gun upright and centered. The CD case keeps the holster in place when I draw the gun. I practice drawing at least once a day now and I’m happy with this system. I just want to find something more reliable than a rubber band to make it work.

The next time I’m at The Range and it’s fairly empty and dry, I will try driving my car out into a bay and practice a S L O W draw with a transition to shoot through the driver’s window and or passenger window.

At this point I have questions. So if you are reading and you are willing to share:

  • Do you carry in your car? Why or why not? 
  • Where do you carry?
  • Do you leave the gun in the car full time or remove it once you are home?

I have many conversations with shooters but never with a consistent mentor and this is the kind of thing I will figure out on my own, but would really like pointers.



No I’m not talking about dancing or sex, although I can dance a fabulous east or west coast swing. I’m talking about moving targets.

When I complete in IDPA most matches have a few of these and that is the only time I get the chance to attempt to shoot them. So I took Frank up on the offer to come shoot at The Range over the July 4th holiday. There was one stage at the Carolina Cup that had two swingers and no electronics. I was hoping they were still in place and I was in luck. I also wanted to spend some time with the XDs 9mm  I bought just before the Cup.

Single Swinger before

Single Swinger before

In the photo above and below, look for the “L” shaped metal boot .Step one is to hit the boot. That sets the target swinging.

Double Swinger before

Double Swinger before

I remember during the competition shooting through the straw bails to hit the target as it was swinging and seeing straw go flying. This time I wanted to be able to set it up, try shooting, see the results and try it again to see if I could figure out how to hit these.

Single Swinger after

Single Swinger after

I tried this several times and never did figure out how to go about hitting the moving target. I got some lead on the targets but I have to admit it was a stroke of fortune, not skill.

I also realized that once the target stopped swinging, I could continue with the current magazine by switching to head shots. I seemed to do worse with the double swinger than I did with the single swinger, but possibly that was because i had twice as many opportunities to miss.

Double Swinger in motion

Double Swinger in motion

It was very muddy after all the rain we have had and I managed to show up at a cookout later that afternoon with red mud on my jeans but I was really happy to have to opportunity to give this a try. Also, the more I shoot the XDs the more I like it.

Double Swinger back behind cover

Double Swinger back behind cover

One other note: Frank says he knows the website is down for the Range and they are working on getting it back up. You can find contact info here if you want to check the schedule while the site is down.

The first step toward winning is to show up

1st Place Novice ESP

1st Place Novice ESP

I won my division at the Carolina Cup. I was a bit embarrassed to pick up the winners plaque though as I was the only one in the division.

I did achieve my two goals:

  • Don’t come in dead last overall
  • Don’t get DQ’d

I’m a slow shooter. My accuracy is improving but the winners could have shot this match 3 times in the time it took me to shoot it once.

Over 16 stages I had 2 procedurals for

  • not reloading behind cover
  • shooting targets out of order (didn’t slice the pie)

I had 1 hit on a non-threat and 3 failures to neutralize. Total points down: 128. That averages to 8 per stage. I did finish my last stage with “zero down”  and that felt good!

I know there was at least one other Novice shooter in another division, but this match was for the more experienced shooters. I’m happy to have the experience and I hope to one day come back and shoot it in a higher division – then if I “place” I’ll know it was earned.


My 1st Carolina Cup: photo with Frank (The Match Director)

My 1st Carolina Cup: photo with Frank (The Match Director)

The 2013 Carolina Cup: Getting your Score

Stats Central

Stats Central: Four laptops, no waiting…

I volunteered for the Cup and was placed on the Stats Team. I worked stats at a prior match so I’d been vetted for the team. I shot the match on Tuesday. Other volunteers shot on Wednesday. We started entering all scores on Thursday morning. The Stats team posted final scores just after 5pm Saturday. Here’s some detail on how that happens.

Every score sheet is entered twice: once in the pink tables, and once in the blue tables. Each entry is done by a different person. In theory, if there is a mistake made, it is very unlikely that two different people would make the exact same mistake. With roughly 350 shooters, 16 stages and a double entry system, the team entered approximately 11,200 score sheets.

For each score sheet we enter the shooter number, stage, and time. Next are any penalties, then we add up and enter the total downs. Then it’s on to the next score sheet. I’ve never really used a “10 Key” pad before, but I learned quickly.

As they come in the door, we consider them “virgin” or “naked”. Once entered in one table they are marked with a highlighter to show they have been entered for that color. Each entry is color coded, so they get “pinked” and “blued”. There is a special way to fan the pages that allows you to color them quickly, but I’m going to treat that as a trade secret for now 🙂

Once both “pinked & blued” they are sorted by shooter number and filed in hanging manilla folders for later reference if needed. We found it faster to pre-sort stacks then have one person call shooter numbers while the other person stuffed score sheets in the correct folder.

An error report is run periodically to look for any stages that were only entered once or have any mismatches. All of those are pulled from the file folders, re-examined and corrected until they no longer appear on the error report. At the end of the match other error reports are run as well to look for missing stages.

Using this approach, the final scores were posted by 5:10 pm Saturday. Shooters have one hour to file any protests. We had one shooter who asked us to re-examine his scores as he didn’t think his total was correct. We pulled a report of all his entered scores, then I pulled his folder, sorted by stage and checked off each entry. It was an exact match and it was clear to him, using that method, that his score was correct.

Volunteer time: I worked 7am till 5pm Thursday and Friday. I helped out with registration until the stats team started with score entries around 9am. On Saturday, because all shooters were checked in, I started at 9am. I could have left at 6pm but chose to stick around for the awards ceremony and an impromptu picnic afterwards, so I didn’t leave until 9pm. Add an hour commute to/from The Range each way and I invested 35 hours volunteering for the event. One important note: I did that in an air-conditioned building.

I admire and want to say thank you to the RSOs and other volunteers who spend their long days out in the heat.

Carolina Cup 2013: Overview

The signature Bunker Stage

The signature Bunker Stage

Random facts and comments about the match:

  • There were 376 registered shooters. I think roughly 350 participated.
  • There were 3 shooters DQd.
  • There were competitors from 4 foreign countries and one US territory: Italy, Chile, Venezuela, Austria, Finland and Puerto Rico
  • Roughly one third of the registered shooters received a gift when they registered. These were donated by sponsors and randomly distributed.
  • During this match the only job of the competitors is to shoot. Volunteers run scores and paste.
  • The RSOs stay with the stage, so every shooter has the same RSO for each stage.
  • Some of the competitors showed up early to walk the stages. One forgot to bring his ear protection so the Match Admministrator loaned him a set from the lost & found. They were lent out and returned on the honor system.
  • There was an assortment of sun screen and bug spray at the registration station for anyone’s use.
  • Shooters registered for Thursday shot all 16 stages in one day. That was the hottest day of the match and peaked just under 100 degrees. A storm rolled in and unleashed torrents about half an hour after the shooters finished for the day. The storm cooled thing off 20 degrees or so for the Fri/Sat shooters. There was no rain during any of the shooters heats.
  • The host hotel, the Comfort Inn, lost power during the storm and it wasn’t restored until 2:30 the following afternoon. One of the RSOs overheard a hotel employee say, “I’ve never seen so many people prepared with flashlights.” The RSO just laughed at that… clearly they didn’t understand who was staying at the hotel.
  • Due to the power outage, most of the shooters showed up Friday with no shower and no coffee. The tough folks took a cold shower.
  • Friday/Saturday shooters shot the match over two days. They had one morning start at 8am and an afternoon start at 1pm. Friday morning shooters finished Saturday afternoon. Friday afternoon shooters finished Saturday morning.
  • The lunch vendor served a very limited menu: Bologna Burgers & Hot Dogs on Thursday, Hamburgers and Hotdogs Friday, and back to Bologna Burgers & Hot Dogs Saturday.
  • Most stages had sponsor banners and there were several vendors onsite. The result was festive!
  • Friday at 7am was the staff photo. The photographer was in a Utilikilt! So at least one male shooter shot the match in a “skirt”.
  • I met Jim HIcks during one of my lunch breaks and bought a copy of “Fall of the Republic: Seasons of War-Volume One“. It was one of the last 4 copies and I’m looking forward to reading it.
  • Cart drivers ran bottled water to all stages continuously. There was no charge for the water and everyone was strongly encouraged to stay hydrated.
  • There were small dramas. But some turned out well. We had a shooter ask to be moved to a different squad because he “heard” that the international shooter’s on his squad were difficult to deal with. The squads were packed and no one was being moved. The shooter came back at the end of the match and said he had a great time. The team he was concerned about turned out to be very friendly and there might now be an international match in his future!
  • There was a paramedic on duty the entire match. He treated roughly 6 people and mostly he handed out band-aids. There were no serious injuries.
  • There was a complimentary BBQ after the match completed on Saturday. All shooters and guests were invited to eat. The menu included: Shredded Pork BBQ, potatoes, green beans, a roll, dessert, and the expected southern “sweet tea”.
  • Final scores were posted just after 5pm Saturday. IDPA rules state challenges can be made to the posted scores for 1 hours after posted. The awards ceremony started at 6:30pm.
  • The awards ceremony included 8-10 gun giveaways in random drawings.
  • Awards were given to the top shooter in each of these categories: Ladies, Juniors, International, Active Military, Senior (50+) and Distinguished Senior (65+).
  • Awards were given for the top 5 places in each category of each division. Top place in the expert division won a large trophy.
  • The Italian Team hosted an impromptu picnic after the awards ceremony with delicacies from Italy that included salami, cheese and grappa.
  • There were still folks on-site after mid-night celebrating.
Awards Ceremony

Awards Ceremony

Note: any inaccuracies are my responsibility.

Shooting the Carolina Cup

Shirt, Cap & Badge: Carolina Cup 2013

Shirt, Cap & Badge: Carolina Cup 2013

I shot the Carolina Cup yesterday (Tuesday, June 11th) with other volunteers. Most of the volunteers are RSOs but I am not, so when the RSO for our squad said “You are all RSOs so I expect you be safe” I spoke up and made him aware that I was a novice shooter that would be working stats. In spite of that or because of that, everyone on my squad was welcoming and helpful. I was not sure I was “good enough” to shoot a regional match but I’m very glad I made the decision to sign up.

Some details that might be helpful to other shooters:

  • Pack sun screen. Really. We had a beautifully sunny day after several days of major thunderstorms in the area and I was thankful that it was dry. However, you will be in the sun for 8 hours over 1 or 2 days — assuming it doesn’t rain again. 
  • Bring snacks for the time before and/or after lunch.
  • Frank recommends 250 rounds. I brought 400. I had to completely reshoot one stage and I never opened the last box of 100 rounds. Even if you want to be conservative, 300 is plenty.
  • When you arrive you sign in and get a goodie bag along with match info. Your score sheets and scoring labels are in the bag. Since I was running late, I set up my scores sheets and caught up with my squad. I read the info later.
  • I’d never shot a major match so the way they handle score sheets was new to me. You get a stack of duplicate score sheets. Top copy is white, bottom copy is yellow. They have pre-printed labels that you attach to each top copy. Write in the stage numbers (move each score sheet off the stack or the carbon on lower sheets will get that stage number as well). As you shoot, the RSO will give you the yellow copy as soon as you complete the stage. I really liked the instant and clear feedback. They also took the time to explain any penalties I incurred, which I appreciated.
  • I started shooting at 9am, took a break for lunch, and finished my last stage by 4:15pm. You can opt to shoot the match in 1 day or across two 1/2 days. I am commuting an hour each way and didn’t want to drive back Wednesday so I opted for the 1 day experience. We started with a squad of 10 or 12  (of which 5 were women) and ended with a squad of about 6 (3 women finished the day). About half our squad dropped out for the afternoon and will shoot the rest on Wednesday. It was a long day and I’m not used to being on my feet all day, but it was a good decision for me.
  • The Range fed us lunch – it’s part of the volunteer experience. We had a never ending supply of cold water and there were canned drinks at lunch. They will have a food vendor on Thurs, Fri and Saturday and I’ve been told I HAVE to try the “bologna burger”. Stay tuned for the assessment on that!
  • If you haven’t worn ear muffs for 8 hours straight – they can give you a headache. Next time I’ll pack my in-ear protection and swap off during the day.
  • I wore shorts but I was in the minority. I didn’t find that to be a problem and I did find that to be cooler. If you are considering shorts be aware there are a few stages where you must kneel and there is poison ivy in the woods on the “across the road” stages. I know what it looks like and I’m not very allergic, so I would wear shorts again.

I have much more to write about my performance and the stages I shot, but I’ll reserve that for future posts. I’m headed back up at 6am tomorrow to help folks check in who will be shooting Thursday. I’ll be in the “Stats Building” entering scores until the end of the day Saturday. I’ll write more about my shooting experience and my volunteer experience next week.

For other tips and reasons to shoot a reagional match, I recommend this podcast from Triangle Tactical:

If you are shooting the cup, please stop by and say “hello”.

Shooting IDPA in Oxford, NC

I shot my 2nd match in Oxford on February 3rd. Here’s a summary of the experience:

When we were doing squad introductions, one of the guys said “You’re the GirlGoesBang blogger.” And I was floored. Someone other than family and close friends reads this blog… go figure? But I’m smiling as I write this (thank you!).  Another guy remembered me as the girl who tied up Honey Bunny!


I met the author of this book: Fall of the Republic by Jim Hicks. Jim was in my squad. I heard him talking with another guy on the squad about a survivalist fiction book. Since that is my favorite subject matter at the moment I asked about the book and it turns out he was discussing his book. I’ve added it to my reading list and will drop him a note once I’ve read it.

Now I have to admit something: I’m having trouble telling many of these guys apart. Many are trim, in khaki pants, vest and caps and have military type haircuts. I’m hoping I’ll start recognizing faces but twice I asked one fellow a question thinking he was someone else. It’s very embarrassing and I hope I’ll get better at recognizing the regulars.

I am really struggling with the 1911:
  • I nudge the safety up at times when I don’t wrap my short little thumb over the safety.
  • The magazines sometimes don’t seat right, and
  • at least 3 times the gun wasn’t in battery — because a round jammed — and I have no idea why.

I really, really miss the simplicity of my XD.


After the match, one of the guys in my squad suggested relaods with less recoil. Tunrs out they cost less than what I’ve been buying retail (well, they would if prices stabilized and he could get supplies again). And I can get a further discount for supplying my own brass. It appears all that brass I’ve been saving may do me some good even if I don’t reload myself.

After I was finished and headed home, I called Mom to check in with her. She went to her local range all by herself the day before. That’s a first for her! She’s in her 70’s so I have to say it: You are never too old to learn something new.

Notes on the Stages:
  • New for me, I started seated in a car and shot through the passenger window and driver’s window. There was no glass in the windows. I was advised to watch the steering wheel when moving the gun across the car.
  • I start another stage lying on the couch, in theory watching the super bowl. I shot two targets while laying on the couch and I found it very hard to aim. My body wanted to roll back into the cushions when I rocked forward toward the targets. I took a procedural penalty on this stage as I was supposed to reload before getting off the couch. In the excitement of the stage, I stood to reload. If this had been real I’d have made myself more of a target to the bad guys.
  • My last stage (the 3rd stage in the video below): I was very slow but I shot 6 targets and got no “downs” (all shots were in the targeted zones). That was a nice ending to my day!
Even better, here is video of the stages. The shooter who posted this video to You Tube, Ben, wasn’t in my squad. He’s a much better shooter than I am and he makes this look easy. I’m posting the video so you can get a first hand look at the stages:

IDPA Triple Crown Stages

In the previous post I shared my experience as a volunteer.  But one post is just not enough.

I wanted to comment on the stages for the first and second match of the Triple Crown. I’m guessing I’d want to comment on the 3rd match too if I’d been there the 2nd day. I was dumbfounded at the creativity involved and wondered if this was typical of IDPA matches. Evidently not… One of the shooters shot the match and in his write up about the match he said:

Shooting from the Scissors Lift
[Triple Crown, Day 1]

“Nearly every major match has 1 stage, feature, target,shooting position or something that is the signature of the match and shooters discuss whenever that match comes up. This match was a little different in that almost every stage would have been that signature at another match.”

“Toni Dandreamatteo and Frank Glover created a 2 day event that, without hyperbole, may never be done again, because this match was mentally and physically draining for every shooter, volunteer and the staff that put it on.” Posted by: 

Having never attended an outside match of any kind, I’ll take his word for it. The day stage that really intrigued me was the one that used the sissors lift. I love heights and had never thought about shooting down. I had the opportunity to go up on the lift once the shooting had stopped and see the angle into and behind the parked car below.

Target below the Scissors Lift
[Triple Crown, Day 1]

 I also helped Toni clean up the lift before the rental company arrived to pick it up. It was 2 inches deep in brass at one spot. Toni extended the platform to get all the brass that had worked it’s way under the middle and was quick with the broom. Can you imagine the thoughts of the next rental customer if it had been just passed along? And I wonder how many shooters realize that the match director has many jobs, including one like this.

I helped set up several stages for the night match. I’d stand and hold targets while Toni directed, “back”, “left”, “not that far left”, etc. Each target was held in place by a metal spike to ensure that each squad through the stage shot the targets in the exact same placement. Targets were arranged to create challenging configurations when navigating a stage. He explained that advanced shooters would opt for the tougher shots and newer shooters could spend more time to move into a position to make the shot more clear. He reviewed options for holding a flashlight with me. Most important, he made me feel welcome and encouraged me to continue to grow my skills. But I digress…

Welcome to the Strip Club! Shooters start seated with one hand on the dollar bill in her garter

Then there was the strip club. I think this was a “family” oriented strip club as the dress on that dancer was fairly modest.

However, the actions of the patrons in the private booths was a bit more risque. The “staff” was tagged as non-threats and I have to think the bad guys were a bit preoccupied. See photo below…



A patron in a private booth the IDPA Triple Crown “Strip Club” getting personal attention from a non-threat.


Toni told me the night match would include fire, water, and several flavors of light. I didn’t really understand what me meant till I attended the briefing.

Here’s the brief list of the night stages and what unique situation or challenge was included. I didn’t take the videos listed below, I found them with a quick search of YouTube. 

1) The Water Stage included shooting out a window through a rain storm. The never ending storm was created via a fountain that was rigged just above the outside of the window. I heard one story when I was entering scores about a shooter who extended his gun into the “storm” and couldn’t figure out why it was steaming. The things you just don’t think about, eh? This stage also required a flashlight.

2) The “Police” Stage included a car with flashing orange and blue lights (think strobe).

3) The Strip Club used regular lighting and, in the process, worked against eyes that had become adjusted to the dark.

4) The “HeadLights” stage was triggered by a motion sensor and included shooting 3 steel plates across the bumper of a deliver truck (to stop the truck) and shooting a light bulb through a small hole in a steel plate that emulated a motorcycle headlight. [Video here].

5) The Deck stage was originally designed to be shot with an oil lantern as the only light. Guess what? The muzzle flash kept blowing out the lantern. This required a change in the stage requirements to switch to flashlights and the first group re-shot the stage after the change. I thought: better to figure this out in a match rather than in your own back yard with someone shooting back at you.

6) The Camp Fire stage was shot with light from the (electric) campfire only. Targets were very low to the ground to simulate a dog pack zeroing in on your campsite.

7) The Glock Convenience Store stage was shot using a large Mag Light provided at the stage. The entrance to the store was obscured by dangling firehose and would have been a challenge to shoot in daylight.

Frank briefing the “Car on Fire” stage
[Triple Crown Night Match]

8) The Car on Fire stage was the one that boggled my mind. Imagine sitting in the driver’s seat of a wrecked car with the engine on fire and having to defend yourself against a half a dozen freaks with guns. This stage simulated that experience. A flashlight was needed to pinpoint the furthest targets. [Video here].

Shooting started at 6:30pm and the last set of scores came in around midnight. It was bitter cold and a big contrast to the 70 degree afternoon. These two matches made for a very long, very interesting day.

Attending as a volunteer still raised my awareness about shooting a match like one of these and prompted some questions:

  • How do you layer to stay warm enough at night but not have your clothing get in the way of your holster and concealment garment?
  • What’s the minimum amount of gear you need in your range bag as you have to haul it from stage to stage?
  • How to you insure you don’t lose gear in the dark?
If this sounds like something you want the opportunity to shoot, there is another Day / Night / Day match next month: December 8 – 9 2012. Details are on the home page for The Range.
Thanks to everyone who made me feel welcome. I have much to learn but this experience has made me eager to put the time in to improve my skills. Attend one match at The Range and you will never be a stranger again.












The Triple Crown: My Volunteer Experience

I read about the IDPA Triple Crown in several blog posts. This one says it best. I wanted to shoot but I’m making trade-offs financially after purchasing my first 1911 and all the accessories to set it up for competition. I’d been to The Range only once before to shoot my IDPA Classifier but I had briefly discussed working matches with Frank when I was there.

Even though I wasn’t willing to spend the money to complete, I wanted to see how outdoor stages differed from what I’d been shooting on an indoor range and I wanted to widen my network of shooting friends. So I called and volunteered to work the day and night match on Saturday. Frank said he’d put me to work and to come on up.

It seemed like a good idea at the time but when I pulled into the parking area at 9:30am Saturday morning I saw groups of people chatting and I thought, “What was I thinking? I don’t know a single soul here but Frank and he’s going to be very, very busy”. I took a deep breath and parked the car. I checked in at the only functioning building and told a stranger that I was here to help out. Again, I had second thoughts about this impulsive idea.

Focusing on the job: entering scores with the “Den Mother” who made me feel welcome.

Then I found something I could do that really needed to be done: I networked the two laptops used for the match scoring program. I do tech support for a living and am happy to leave the job behind when I head to the range, but in this case it won me a new friend and the “Den Mother Stamp of Approval”. I was immediately recruited to enter scores and that nagging feeling that this was not my brightest idea disappeared as soon as her words were out.

We had some time to wait before the first scores would come in, so Frank offered to let me ride along while he took care of last minute setup issues. He showed me how to drive the Gator (think: topless golf cart) and he told me a bit about several of the stages as we fine tuned them. Then he got a call:  “Honey Bunny’s pants are falling off.” Say what???

Turns out  the match director’s nickname is “Honey Bunny” and they set up a special stage in honor of (or was it to bust on…) him. Turns out it’s his nickname but also what he calls everyone he meets. Of course I didn’t know this yet… Here’s the setup for the stage: You are in a convenience store after an IDPA Sanctioned Match when you hear “Hey Honey Bunny!!!”. You turn around and Honey Bunny gives you a hug. Just at that moment, bad guys enter the store shooting. Start Position: You with Honey Bunny hugging you with his revolver holstered on his belt. You draw the revolver to shoot the bad guys. In this case, the stage Honey Bunny is a 6 foot stuffed rabbit. And his pants kept falling off due to the weight of the gun.

Sadie and Honey Bunny, post-bondage

I think someone mentioned suspenders. I asked Frank if he had some rope and told him I could fix this for him. And I did! Frank and I pulled up to the stage and got out of the Gator. There were 8-10 shooters looking at us and Frank looks at me and says to go ahead and fix the rabbit. No pressure here, eh? Remember I don’t know any of these people, yet, and I’d like to make some new friends.

I used a bowline on a front belt loop, took the rope behind the rabbit’s head and tied off to the front belt loop on the other side of his zipper. One of the guys suggested I tie to the back belt loops too. I was already on it. We had plenty of rope so I secured the 2nd front belt loop, went over the shoulder and diagonal across the rabbit’s back to ensure the rope wouldn’t slip off his shoulder. I passed the rope in front of the rabbit’s neck to get opposing tension for the last belt loop in the back and muttered under my breath, “You’d never do this with a person” and one of the shooters asked me if I taught bondage classes. That got a good laugh! One shooter gave me a fist pump and that really meant a lot to me. And now Frank has a new story to tell about the bondage bunny.

Sadie with the original Honey Bunny: my boss for the afternoon.

I managed to sneak in a few photos of the most intriguing day stage (think: high!) but spent most of the match entering scores. Once the day match was complete, I offered to help do the final setup for the night match and Toni put me to work. That’s when I heard the full disclosure about the Honey Bunny moniker.

Toni was very patient with my numerous questions while I helped set up targets and props for the night stages. He chatted with me about flashlights, the best way to shoot the stages we set up and how these matches were similar to or different from other matches. I helped clean up used targets from previous matches and tried my best to be useful.

Frank fed the staff and range safety officers Brunswick stew made by a local church that was excellent. The night match started around 6:30pm. The night stages vastly exceeded what I thought was possible and I’ll cover that in a future post. The last scores came in around midnight and I headed home by 12:15am. Very tired but very happy.

I didn’t meet many shooters, but I did meet people that helped me to get a better understanding of how competitions work and more important, made me feel welcome. I definitely see more volunteering in my future.

For more on the stages in the match, keep reading.