|IDPA shooting is a fun and safe way to learn defensive pistol skills and
sharpen your gun handling and shooting abilities. IDPA’s safety rules are
easy to learn and follow. Please read this material to familiarize yourself
before your range safety orientation and test.
2017 IDPA Rulebook
The 4 Rules of Gun Safety
1.) The gun is always loaded
2.) Never Point A Gun At Something You're Not Prepared To Destroy!
3.) Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The
4.) Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It!
If these simple rules are always followed, most firearms accidents would
never happen. Pay considerable attention to rules 2 and 3. When shooting
IDPA your finger should never be inside of the trigger guard until you are
on target and ready to shoot. Always get your finger out of the trigger
guard before moving. Always be aware of your muzzle’s direction and keep it
safely downrange. Muzzle Safe Points are the limits that a shooter’s muzzle
can travel without being unsafe. Be sure to know where these limits are and
always keep within them. Certain IDPA courses of fire may test your skills
of keeping the muzzle in a safe direction. Be mindful of your muzzle and
trigger, and you will always shoot safely.
It is important to learn the IDPA range commands and the proper response.
Load and Make Ready: This is the command to load up and get ready. It
is covered deeply in the next section
Finger: You will hear this if your finger is in the trigger guard
while moving. Failure to immediately comply will result in a 3 second
procedural penalty. Repeated offenses will earn a match disqualification
Muzzle: If you hear this, immediately check yourself as your muzzle
is getting near a muzzle safe point. Do not take muzzle safe points lightly.
Stop: If a shooter is being grossly unsafe or is disqualified the
Safety Officer will give this command. Upon hearing this, the shooter is to
stop shooting, point the muzzle in a safe direction, and await further range
Cover: If a shooter is not 50% behind cover while shooting or is
reloading when not under cover, the Safety Officer will issue this command.
Failure to immediately comply will receive a 3 second procedural penalty.
Unload and Show Clear: This is the command to unload your gun at the
end of the stage. This will be explained in great detail in a later section.
For the most part, a new shooter who shoots carefully and deliberately will
avoid most penalties. Penalties are given out for various rule infractions,
but in IDPA penalties are used only when truly necessary. Safety Officers
are here to help you have a fun and safe time, not to nitpick.
Procedural: Procedural penalties are given for
1.)The first non-dangerous “FINGER" violation.
2.) Not using Cover properly.
3.) Not shooting while moving as required.
4.) Not reloading as required.
5.) Not following other Course of fire rules as required.
Failure to Neutralize: is given when less than four points are scored
on a target.
Hits on Non-Threats: Is a five second penalty no matter how many
hits. Rounds that pass through a non threat and hit a threat target are
Failure to Do Right: This is a seldom given penalty only dished out
to shooters not following the spirit or rationale of any stage. If you shoot
the Course of fire as outlined and do not try to “game” out the stage, this
will never be a problem.
If you wind up earning a procedural, non threat penalty, or failure to
neutralize penalty, do not get upset. This sport is all about learning and
the only one who will remember next month is you. Learn from your mistakes
and have fun!
Loading and Unloading
“Load and make ready!”
For new shooters, the first time they make ready for a stage can be
stressful. It should not be. When the Safety Officer gives the command to
“load and make ready” slowly draw your unloaded pistol, (finger off the
trigger) insert a loaded magazine, and “slingshot” load the gun. “Slingshot”
is to pull the slide back and then release it. Do not follow the slide back
as it can create jamming problems. Set the safety if your pistol has that
Most IDPA courses of fire require the gun be fully loaded. To fully load the
gun it is best to replace the magazine currently in the gun with a fresh
magazine. This gives good tactical reload practice too. Re-holster the gun
and then top off the magazine and replace it in your pouch. This is the
safest way to load your self loading handgun.
Another safe way to “top off” your handgun is the administrative reload. To
do this you load the gun, set the safety (if applicable) and holster. Reach
over the gun and eject the magazine (without drawing the pistol) and remove
the magazine. Top off the magazine and re-insert it into the pistol. This
works well for multiple start strings, especially the classifier.
Revolver shooters need to draw the pistol, load the chambers, close the
cylinder and holster.
“Unload and show clear!”
After a course of fire has been completed, the Safety Officer will ask you
to “unload and show clear.” For self loading pistols you should remove the
magazine, pull the slide fully back ,(let the cartridge fall to the ground)
and allow the Safety Officer to visually check the chamber to see it is
empty. The Safety Officer will then say “slide down, hammer forward.” Let go
of the slide, point the gun at the backstop, and pull the trigger, dropping
the hammer. Shooters with double action automatics that have magazine
safeties may use the decocker. You may then holster the unloaded pistol.
Revolver shooters need to open the cylinder, empty the gun, and show the
empty cylinder to the Safety Officer. Close the cylinder and holster.
Movement with a drawn pistol is easy if you follow the basics. First, always
move only when your finger is outside the trigger guard. Second, be mindful
of the muzzle at all times. You must keep the muzzle in a safe direction
(which will mostly be downrange) at all times. Third, take your time. You
will see experienced shooters moving very quickly, but they started out
moving slowly as should you. Take your time, move and shoot carefully.
Be sure to listen to the safety Officer for any special instructions related
to a particular course of fire.
If your firearm fails to fire do not panic. Keep the muzzle downrange. Most
of the time the problem is due to a bad round or improperly seated magazine.
In this case: Tap the bottom of the magazine, Rack the slide back to chamber
a new round, and Bang (fire if needed). This is called the Tap-Rack-Bang
Professional training will help you diagnose and quickly cure malfunctions
and a small pamphlet cannot give you all the information you need. If a
Tap-Rack-Bang does not work it is best to stop and get help from the Safety
Another malfunction with a dangerous potential is the squib load, caused by
a primer but no powder in the cartridge. What usually happens is a “pfft”
noise with no recoil. If this happens, stop and get help from the Safety
Officer. Remember to keep the muzzle downrange.
In IDPA there are two kinds of reloads; the emergency or slide-lock reload,
and the tactical reload/reload with retention. There are no provisions for
the USPSA type speed reload.
In most IDPA stages the shooter will have the option to either reload when
the slide locks back, or to tactical reload/reload with retention. Both of
these reloads are to be done behind cover. The general principle is that no
loaded magazine is to be left behind. The speed load (even if the magazine
is empty) is not permitted. You need not argue a case for it.
Emergency Reload: When the slide locks back the shooter is to seek
cover, eject the spent magazine, insert a fresh magazine and release the
Tactical Reload: The shooter is behind cover and removes a fresh
magazine, and with the fresh magazine in hand the shooter removes and
retains the spent magazine, inserts the fresh magazine, and places the spent
magazine in a pocket. The magazine must be stored before resuming shooting.
Shooting before storing the magazine will earn a procedural.
Reloading with Retention: While the shooter is behind cover: remove
the spent magazine and place it in a pocket. The shooter then inserts a
fresh magazine in the pistol and resumes shooting.
Reloading Revolvers: Revolvers can be emergency reloaded or tactical
Revolver Emergency Load: Open cylinder, eject shells to ground, and
reload using speedloader, speed strip, or loose cartridges.
Revolver Tactical Reload: Open cylinder, eject shells into hand,
pocket both brass and fresh cartridges, reload using speedloader, speed
strip, or loose cartridges.
Scoring in IDPA is easy. After shooing a course of fire the time is
recorded. Hits are counted and any misses are noted at -5pts each. The
scoring rings are looked over; all head and 8” center ring hits are -0
points. Hits on the next ring count as -1 point each. Hits on the last
scoring ring are -3 points each. Any hits on the edge of the target count as
misses. All the points are totaled multiplied by 0.5 seconds and recorded.
All penalties (which are all in the form of a time penalty) are calculated
and recorded. The sum of the stage time, points down, and penalties is the
shooters score given in seconds. Lowest Score wins.
This sport rewards accuracy over time. Take the time to place your shots
properly. Remember you will loose 1/2 second for each point down. This adds
up more quickly than you would think.
Do not crowd the cover. Staying back from the cover will make you less a
target (in the real world) but will help you move from target to target
Adapted from an article written by William E. Clay, Jr. of
Used with permission