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Old September 16, 2008, 08:28 PM   #1
RetiredMajor
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Difference between USPSA and IDPA?

I've visited both web sites and watched some videos of each and I've read a little about them. Are they really the same thing just run by different organizations or there "real" differences in what I would experience if I shot one or the other?

I'm a little confused and any help would be appreciated.

Thanks, in advance!
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Old September 16, 2008, 11:42 PM   #2
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They are much more alike than different, but the differences can't be overlooked. If you watch videos of the two sports, it may not be clear about the differences, as not all matches, in either sport, are run strictly by the rules. The similarities are the targets themselves, that the scoring is a balance of accuracy, speed and power, and the general rules that govern safety and shooter behavior. The differences are mostly in how the targets are engaged. USPSA prides itself on its "freestyle" approach, in which the shooter is given a general overview of the shooting "problem", and the shooter is somewhat free to decide how to "solve" it (there are ten targets out there, engage them in any sequence). IDPA courses of fire are scenario-driven, with the problem and the solution generally laid-out in advance, and the shooter left to execute the solution better than anyone else (there are two badguys on the left side of the convenience store, and after you have engaged them, move to the right side and engage the other two, keeping the counter between you and the threats at all times). In USPSA, the targets are mere bullet fodder, to be ventilated as efficiently as possible. IDPA targets are "threats", to be treated as if they are shooting back. Poor course design blurs the distinction, and that can lead to a false impression of the differences. Equipment can be similar; any gun that is IDPA legal is also legal for USPSA competition, but it may not be as suitable as a gun that is tailored especially for USPSA.
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Old September 17, 2008, 10:37 AM   #3
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They aren't run by the same organization. There are differences in procedures used during shooting, reloads, scoring and some equipment rules.

If you don't do any action pistol now I'd figure out which one has matches that are easy for you to get to and go to those. You will learn the rules as you go. Down the road experiment with the other one and see which you like better, or shoot both.

If both are easy to get to, go to a few matches and try and decide which you like better.

I only shoot USPSA now, and I prefer it. But if I had more time, I'd shoot IDPA too. If I moved somewhere where it was hard to shoot USPSA and there were a lot of IDPA patches, I'd just switch.
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Old September 17, 2008, 03:33 PM   #4
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You guys have it covered!

RickB summarized the differences very well. And I would second the suggestion that the difference isn't enough to matter to a beginner as much as convenience, cost, and fun. I shoot USPSA weekly right now and have not shot an IDPA match, but if someone puts on a match nearby I won't hesitate to try it. I shoot USPSA because there's a weekly match run close enough to home that I can swing in after work, shoot a couple of runs and be home in time to put the baby to bed.

Several top guys shoot both. Ben Stoeger has a thread a little way down this forum called "USPSA Nationals Video." He shoots IDPA and is good enough in USPSA that he made a pretty good run at the Nationals.
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Old September 17, 2008, 04:07 PM   #5
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Guys, this has been helpful. I plan to shoot some IDPA because it is close and I have a friend who will "take me under his wing". But, another guy I know swears he won't shoot IDPA and made it sound as if they are night and day.

I am a complete novice at these sports but want to try both, if possible. My goal is to hone my shooting, moving and reaction skills. I have no illusions of beating anyone else and really don't much care about that, at this point. But, I love shooting and can't help but think it will make me a better CCW'er.

Thanks again, it helped a lot!
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Old September 17, 2008, 09:26 PM   #6
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Looks like everyone covered the question pretty good.

I shoot both, and there are differences that will screw you up. One thing for me is after shooting mostly USPSA is dropping the mags and reloading on the fly, a no-no in IDPA. In IDPA you must have have the gun/mags concealed, etc.

I like to shoot so I shoot whatever competition there is, I might prefer one over the other, but its a moot point, its all fun. Shoot whatever is available, you might have bowling pin shoots, siloettes, steel challenge, etc. All these shoots have people putting in a lot of work to have a shoot for you to enjoy. Help is always appreciated setting up and tearing down.
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Old September 17, 2008, 10:26 PM   #7
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Yeah, in USPSA you never want to run the gun dry, while in IDPA you always want to run it dry.
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Old September 19, 2008, 02:34 PM   #8
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Big difference to a new shooter is round count per stage (and number of magazines required). USPSA might be 32 or more. IDPA goes up to 20 rounds max by rule, and usually less. All else equal, having done both, I would shoot USPSA. I like the freestyle approach of USPSA better. If all I had were IDPA, I would be happy.

What RickB said is so true:
Quote:
Poor course design blurs the distinction, and that can lead to a false impression of the differences.
Good stages make or break any match. I have seen IDPA scenarios where the only way to know what order to shoot them is to read the description and that bothers me. I do not like procedurals because I failed the memory test. However, matches are run by volunteers and my attitude is that if I want to complain, I should get out earlier and help set up.

Lee
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Old September 20, 2008, 11:00 AM   #9
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mentality (never did like bein' told what to do)

IDPA: "Execution of specified tactics".

USPSA: "Safe execution, to be decided by the shooter".

In other words, IDPA has more 'rules' about what is allowed.

I found the most realistic scenario I've ever shot at an IDPA match.
I also found more argumentative souls 'discussing' "proper tactics" (ad nauseum).
Neither is a legitimate testbed for "tactics", yet both offer the opportunity to enhance one's safety and gun-handling skills.
I personally think, based on my experience, that USPSA offers more-better shooting; more fun; less whining.
Mostly.

I notice that USPSA continues to grow its membership.

Other things: There is pretty much no gun that can't find a Division in USPSA, but IDPA is considerably more restrictive in equipment choice.
One can shoot USPSA just like IDPA, except one will not be competitive.
One cannot shoot IDPA like USPSA.
IDPA is privately owned; USPSA is not-for-profit.

A33102
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Old September 20, 2008, 10:17 PM   #10
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IDPA is more restrictive in terms of equipment? Depends on how you look at it. Walk into a gun store, buy a gun and holster, and I'll bet they're IDPA legal; hardly restrictive. USPSA is more liberal about allowing you to make modifications to the gun, but there is a much greater perceived need for specialized equipment in USPSA.
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Old September 20, 2008, 10:54 PM   #11
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I have been shooting for a while and all the IDPA vs IPSC(USPSA) debates are just replays of the Martial Artist vs Gamesman IPSC debates of the 1980s. Just faster because Algore hadn't invented the Internet back then. The Gamesmen won so Bill W. and some other Martial Artists set up IDPA to shoot like they were used to.

The best game does not depend on the fine points, it depends on which is more convenient and which local group receives you better.
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Old September 22, 2008, 03:14 PM   #12
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I'm new to both sports as well. Last season I tried USPSA and this year it's IDPA. From my "new" point of view I noticed these differences. USPSA is faster and you pick your route to shoot the stage. In IDPA you wear a concealment vest, the stages are shot in a specific manner or you are penalized, and maybe (for me) the biggest difference is reloading behind cover and not always from slide-lock empty either. We shooters are all different in our likes and dislikes. You'll never know which is best for you unless you get dirty and shoot 'em.
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Old September 22, 2008, 05:33 PM   #13
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IMO I feel that IDPA lacks consietency. IDPA is a great shooting sport and I shoot alot of matches. I also shoot alot of USPSA matches and will tell you this, if you want to become a better shooter start with USPSA and a good mentor. Just my two cents.

Last edited by .40S&W4me; September 23, 2008 at 06:54 PM.
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Old September 23, 2008, 11:14 AM   #14
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first we fought over one tiny half inch

Of Redhawk barrel length.
Then the rules changed further.

(I tried to "do right", but so much of "it" felt so wrong).



A perception of need does not make it true; education is all that is required.
The simple fact is more guns and gear are welcomed under current USPSA rules.
There are less rules about execution.
Rd-ct is higher, so more shooting occurs.
Both can be fun, but I find USPSA funner.
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Old September 23, 2008, 06:58 PM   #15
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I think that IDPA is growing faster that USPSA due to advertising. IDPA is more cost effective for those on a budget. The lower round count of stages does help one save cash on ammo. Like I stated earlier, if one wants to become a better shooter then start with USPSA and a good mentor. A solid B USPSA shooter usually does very well against those that shoot only IDPA.
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Old October 21, 2008, 04:28 AM   #16
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USPSA is more of a shooting skills game. There are equipment rules and safety rules, but you are given the freedom to shoot a stage the way you think fit to accumulate points in the fastest way possible. It is challenging on many levels. IDPA makes you think about things that they think are important in an actual gun fight. For example, in IDPA you have to take cover and shoot from cover when at all possible, you can't leave a mag with ammo on the ground (tactical reloads), you can't walk through a scenario and plan out a strategy. I prefer USPSA, because I enjoy the shooting challenge and it is more fun to me.
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Old November 16, 2008, 03:44 PM   #17
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IDPA / concealed carry type of competition

It is my experiance that in IDPA the shooter must wear clothing that conceals the holster and magazines, IE; a vest or jacket. Also all competitions are the same in all states, meaning a 10 round magazine maximum. Both are fun but I prefer the production class in USPSA, but if you can only shoot IDPA then fire away... I like both... each improves my shooting, or at least I like to think they do.
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Old November 17, 2008, 05:55 AM   #18
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if you like to follow a regiment, shoot less rounds, practice "scenario" shooting and retention reloads, wear a vest, and like a lot of structure, IDPA is your ticket. Especially if you are in LE, or Armed forces. I call the the difference "tactics vs. Practicality" both are great games if you like to do something more than plink or try to shoot for bullseye accuracy. They are both games of action shooting w runnning n gunning.

I personally like USPA because it is less restrictive, I can negotiate the course of fire the way I want, I love to go pedal to the metal and shoot as many targets & stages with the exact gun of my choice in any of the divisions. If you want to race, and enter the "equipment race" as well, uspsa is your game.
There are also steel shoots for those who don't want to run as much as they wanna gun. I really like steel shoots 10 different stages all designed the same way every time just like the real steel challenge. Since USPSA bought the steel challenge I plan to see a lot of steel matches. Perhaps something to check out...
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Old November 19, 2008, 11:09 PM   #19
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Uspsa/ipsc V Idpa?

Down load the rules for both, get somewhat familiar with them, go watch a match, both, or one or the other, shoot either, or both.

Have fun.

All matches can be fun, but the more fun is from the best stages, either or!
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Old November 19, 2008, 11:09 PM   #20
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One is the True Way and one is a False Path Which Will Render You Un-Tactical and Therefore Un-Ready.

But I can never remember which is which.
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Old November 20, 2008, 08:39 AM   #21
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and therein lies the truth

Both are fine; both can be fun; both can allow the shooter the opportunity to enhance their safety and gun-handling skills.

Neither teach tactics.
Both can encourage bad 'real-life' habits.
Both beat shooting in the back yard.

Try both for yourself first......
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Old November 27, 2008, 05:57 PM   #22
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" IDPA goes up to 20 rounds max by rule, and usually less"

18 rounds max. actually.


Take Care

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Old December 7, 2008, 12:31 AM   #23
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I just did my first USPSA event today. Tons of fun. Haven't read anything on IDPA before but just by reading the responses here it sounds like i'd prefer USPSA.
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Old December 10, 2008, 01:54 PM   #24
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true way vs. False?

the only formal set of training I needed was common sense, accuracy, and balls. Neither USPSA or IDPA helped w defense strategies, as the targets we all engage dont shoot back..
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Old December 10, 2008, 02:00 PM   #25
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That's especially good news if you are standing amongst fifteen targets, with nowhere to go.
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