IDPA Is Not Tactical Training

Posted: October 29, 2009 in IDPA
Tags: ,

Tonight I completed the last class of an eleven week course called the Civilian Police Academy. Every Thursday night I’d go down to the station around 6pm, eat dinner, then sit through about 3 hours of presentations and demos by seasoned officers and detectives on the various aspects of Police work.

The course covered a kinds of things, some included:
History of Policing
Internet Crimes
Sexual Crimes
Animal Control
Search and Seizure
Domestic Violence
Community Services
K9 unit

The last class tonight was about building searches and as part of it, we did a live demo where we had to clear an office. As I’ve shot IDPA for a few years now, I thought I definitely had an advantage.

They gave us very brief overviews of techniques then basically set us loose to find the bad guy who could be hiding anywhere in a 3000 square foot office. I was in a group of 3 and we all had plastic red guns and flashlights.

Now one of IDPA’s things is to use cover (well ok, concealment in the real world) and to slice the pie. Those are usually things that we do at virtually every match, even in the classifier, so I was comfortable with that. However, it was a completely different experience knowing that there was a bad guy hiding in there who could be hiding motionless, moving around or waiting to jump out. Due to the construction of shooting ranges, your line of sight is pretty limited, however, in an office we had to look up at the ceiling tiles and at one point I had my gun pointed almost vertically. I broke the 180 countless times and probably swept my comrades a few times as we negotiated the tight confines of the cubicles. When clearing a building there’s no one standing there with a timer and in this scenario there was only one target and there was certainly no rush to move from one position to another.

I did eventually find the bad guy (well girl actually), she was hiding behind a box under a desk. At first I just saw a piece of gray cloth, so I kept my flashlight on it, then I saw it move just a tiny bit as she breathed. I shouted something like “Let me see your hands” and at that moment I saw a hand come out holding a red gun. It was moving up towards me so I shouted bang bang and that was that! I was really glad that we managed to get the bad guy and not get shot, but it was quite an experience to say the least.

While I felt like I did have some advantages over people who had never done any IDPA, there’s a whole lot more to the tactics and communications aspects, especially when working with others, which is one thing that you can never get in IDPA.

I know we did a ton of things wrong, but hey, we had absolutely no training, so I think we did ok considering. I’ve always heard people say that IDPA is just a game and I’ve always approached it that way myself. My view has always been that if someone’s timing me and keeping score, then it’s a game, it’s that simple. Now IDPA is good for working on basic gun handling skills, but when it comes to real defensive shooting or room clearing, as many scenarios have us do, IDPA is not and can never be used as training.

Of course now I can’t sleep and am itching to do a class at one of the firearms training centers.

  1. Eric Daniels says:

    I’ve preached this all along; however, anytime you get the opportunity to shoot under stress, it enforces muscle memory. Remember, in the real deal, you will default to your level of training. I’ve seen you shoot and rest assured, you are competent in the pistol craft. Tactics aside, most IDPA shooters are more competent than your “average” LEO. Believe me, I’ve been an LEO for 13-years and can attest to the “average” LEO shooting skills.

    Sounds like you got something from your class and I’m glad you had a good time. Now head down to TDI and get some training. Good write up, BTW.

  2. Jon Walls says:

    Once you get done with TDI’s handgun Level’s I-III, you can take a partner class where you learn to work with a partner. tactics, communicating and live fire shooting are a part of the class. I’ve always wanted to go to that class. I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

  3. Jean says:

    You should try airsoft sometime. It gives you those skills and experiences. And can be fun sometimes.

  4. Robert says:

    I think you’ve missed the mark on this one. Let’s remember what the “D” in IDPA stands for. There’s nothing defensive about clearing a room, or hunting down a fugitive. Our game should simulate lethal force scenarios in which a civilian is the sudden, and unwitting victim of an attack from armed assailants. The game you played sounds fun, but it’s not appropriate to vilify IDPA because it’s not the same as clearing a room with a team of people. That’s not what it’s intended to do. I don’t badmouth my shotgun because I can’t put a quarter in it and have a gumball come out. It’s a shotgun, not a gumball machine. It was never designed for that purpose.
    I maintain that IDPA is the best ongoing, affordable, training designed to force the participants to simulate a civilian, concealed-carry, lethal force scenario.

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