We were shooting IDPA rules to start with at FAS here in western Washington, but as Marty Hayes(director of FAS), Dane Burns and some of the rest got thinking about it, we evolved some new rules to keep things a little more realistic. That is, as realistic as one can be and still use stationary targets.
The range is always hot. That gives you a chance to do that tactical reload at the end of a stage, Rich. There are usually fewer safety problems on a hot range (Rule One is true: All guns are always loaded!!!!)
To make scoring work better, a tactical par time was set for the surprise stages. A set amount of time is allowed without penalty to solve the problem. Each second over the par time is scored as penalty against your score. Other IDPA scoring is used for procedurals and such, but SO's keep a closer eye for having too much of the shooter hanging out of cover.
The surprise stages work realy well. the shooters don't talk about the stage they have completed so everyone gets the same chance at it. The honor system works among honorable people.
To make the targets more realistic, the Reactive Teds were developed. They have been discussed in this forum before. Steel plates and regular IDPA cardboard targets are used as well as the odd pepper popper.
It helps to have the type of facility that is at FAS (which stands for Firearms Academy of Seattle, BTW).
This year there will only be four match weekends, but one day of each will be a three gun match. It looks to be a fun year.