I haven't been able to shoot competitively since the Fredericksburg USPSA Monster Match on November 2. I've made a few trips to the range since then, but have been itching for a little more excitement. I knew there is a year-round Tuesday evening IPDA match at Colonial Shooting Academy in Richmond, and that's been tempting me for a while. For one reason or another, weather, work, or family commitments, shooting that match kept eluding me.
This week the stars aligned, so my friend Greg and I made the trip down. When we arrived the shooting was underway and we got queued up for the next group. That was good as it gave us some time to watch and get re-familiarized with the rules and other differences from USPSA matches.
The first stage had six targets shot from three positions. It was pretty straightforward and a great ice breaker for a "return" to the sport. The second stage was an "El Prez" type of stage. The shooter started facing up range, hands over shoulders, turning and drawing to engage three targets. After a mandatory reload, the targets were shot again. As an added challenge, the center target was upside down, which meant the down 0 area was lower than usual — a switch that dinged some shooters. The final stage had 6 targets shot from 4 positions while moving down an L-shaped "hallway." They were all quick, fun stages.
It was apparent to me while shooting, and after watching the video of my first stage, that I need to practice getting into position from behind cover. In a USPSA match there's generally little shooting from behind cover, and as you approach a shooting position you are often able to see the target and have the gun lined up. In two of the IDPA stages at this match, which is typical, you are moving to target that it is hidden on your approach. As you "pie" around the barricade, the targets come into view to be engaged. Also, there is no walking the stage in advance and air-gunning in IDPA to burn the movement into memory.
The other "gotcha" for USPSA shooters is that magazines with rounds still in them must be retained, and not dropped on the ground. Most of the time though, you will shoot to slide lock and have an empty mag which can be dropped. When I finished the second stage mentioned above, I didn't even look at my hits, I was simply thrilled I remembered to not drop the mag when reloading!
When it was all said and done, I was down 10 points at the end, adding a total of 5 seconds to my time, and finishing 8th out of 26 in the SSP division. I'd like to speed up a bit, especially getting settled to shoot from behind cover, but I was very happy with how I shot. It was especially satisfying after the long break and lack of practice. The folks running the match do a great job of setting up interesting stages in a limited space. I've watched videos of other matches at Colonial and they seem to get in a good variety of challenges. Some of this week's stage setups overlapped in their space, but were arranged so that only the appropriate targets were visible to the shooter. The shooters were also run through in an efficient manner.
I had a great time at the match, and I know I'll be back for more. I really like the idea of a quick match, especially on a weekday evening. It's hard to get time away from other commitments to devote an entire Saturday or Sunday to shooting (no matter how much I enjoy it.)