View Full Version : Difference Between IPSC and IDPA?

September 14, 2002, 10:48 PM
I'm interested in trying competition. Can anyone tell me the difference between these two?

Also, how do you get involved?


September 14, 2002, 11:27 PM
Both started with the idea of giving shooters practical experience.

IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) evolved towards race-guns that had no relationship to defensive shooting, and a focus on speed over tactics. This move alienated some members, which led to...

IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) is a spin-off from the former. The emphasis is on using defensive handguns and tactics, rather than speed. You can be penalized for using insufficient cover. engaging attackers out of tactical order, or extending your firearm beyond a barricade.

I've shot both kinds of events, and both will give you valuable experience. You'll learn more about defensive shooting in IDPA. The tactics that are okay in IPSC can get you killed in a real fight, though.

IPSC is at www.ipsc.org.

IDPA is at www.idpa.com

Jim Watson
September 14, 2002, 11:45 PM
At the entry level, there is no real difference. You are going to have to learn the rules and requirements from scratch anyhow. You can get into Divisions, and Categories, and guns and gear and philosophies later.

The way to get involved is to get involved. Use the www site club locators, ask at local gun shops and ranges. Find the closest place that shoots either and GO.

Check www.uspsa.org for club locations and general information about IPSC in the United States, the IPSC.org site gets you the parent organization and USPSA is our regional HQ.

All you must have is a handgun of 9mm/.38 Spl or larger caliber, a holster, several magazines or speedloaders, a carrier for them, ammo, eye and ear protection. IDPA calls for concealed carry but will often waive the requirement for Novices, until they are comfortable and safe making a draw from under jacket or vest.

You do not have to study or practice to get knowledgeable enough or good enough to shoot. GO! The clubs know they need new shooters and will accomodate you. Just be ready to pay attention, especially to the safety requirements. Some have formal introductions, all will give new shooters extra attention. Your main problem will be absorbing all the information you will be offered and picking one experienced shooter as a mentor to show you the ropes. You can of course take formal training, but few people do.

September 15, 2002, 12:08 AM
I've shot both and found IDPA to be more beneficial to my shooting. Alot of people think that IPSC is more fun though. I'd say go with which ever holds your attention and keeps you from being bored. You also have to realize the difference between competion and reality, don't let the tactics get mixed up or you'll be in trouble.

September 15, 2002, 08:55 AM
The tactics that are okay in IPSC can get you killed in a real fight, though.Bull$$$$:barf:

IDPA is not training, it's a game with marginally different rules than IPSC.

IPSC, doesn't even pretend to teach tactics, it's a game and everybody knows it. Some of the people who promote IDPA have been spewing this propanda factoid to scare people into staying away from another sport to participate in their sport (which is a business, BTW).

Both are games that are remarkably similar and both can be fun and enjoyable for particpants but this IPSC will get you killed crap is based on exactly the same sort of logic and evidence used by Sarah Brady and they gun-grabbers do denigrate gun ownership in general.

flinch_of_gt, please show us the blood running in the streets from dead IPSC shooters killed in gunfights? What? There aren't any?

One Sarah Brady cookie for you!:D

September 15, 2002, 11:49 AM
kbear is dead right

This notion that IDPA is all about tactics is utter crap. It is a timed game just like IPSC. Both will teach you good gun handling skills since you are shooting in different scenarios. Most people shoot both and they place the same in both. The best IPSC shooters are still the best IDPA shooters. I think IPSC is better for the gun handling because you do more varied things. You shoot more, reload more, and run more. I started just shoting IDPA but found that the best shooters did more IPSC than IDPA. I have improved more since shooting IPSC. Go to a match of each and see what you like. It is the same crowd at each and you will be welcomed whever you go. A stock gun can easily be shot in both. Just make sure to have enough mags. Have fun!

September 15, 2002, 12:43 PM
The US Army decided instead of continuing to send their most elite troops to USPSA masters for handgun shooting training they would instead develop the FINEST SHOOTERS IN THE WORLD from within their own ranks.
They started the MMU, and Max Michael is a true (young) gentleman.

IDPA was started by some folks who maybe felt the gun race was getting out of hand. The fact that some have a personal vested interest in more 'standard' guns is at this point of little consequence.

For shooting most people pick USPSA.
Because it's more fun, and fewer 'tactical turkeys'.

"Failure to do right" is my middle name...............

September 16, 2002, 03:24 PM
While there are probably not a lot of dead IPSC shooters, you can't argue that shooting from behind cover, rather than attempting to find that one "sweet spot", from which all targets are visible, is pretty good tactics.

September 16, 2002, 05:22 PM
What part of 'it's not tactics' don't you get?

To claim the GAME of IDPA is tactical training is nonsense. Training is training, not going somewhere and shooting a competitive event. An expectation to show up somewhere and shoot a stage and get scored on your ability to score the most points in the least amount of time simply isn't the same thing as going somewhere, evaluating a tactical situation, and developing the skills to solve the problem. IDPA is a minor variation of IPSC with slightly different rules. Face it, nobody outside the two sports can tell the difference.rather than attempting to find that one "sweet spot"The people winning IPSC matches don't do that. What they do, do, is shoot on the move which is likely the only thing that will save your butt if cover is not available. That's another wonderful propaganda factoid from the people who promote IDPA using the worn out the 'IPSC will get you killed' slogan...

If you are dumb enough to run TOWARDS a bunch of people shooting at you, then it's not going to matter if you shoot IDPA or IPSC. You are simply responding to Darwin's Trumpet and purging the human gene pool.

September 16, 2002, 07:54 PM
I play trumpet.
And euphonium, too.

But I haven't played IDPA yet..............

Maybe because all my carry guns (except my GP100's, I think) don't make the grade.

Andrew Wyatt
September 16, 2002, 08:55 PM
"A man will Work twice as hard for a trophy as he will for to lean a skill that will save his life." IPSC was an offshoot of the Southwest pistol league, which was an attempt to use competetion as a skill development tool (competetion as a learning tool is just now beginning to see use in mainstream education)

in any event, those for whom the ends matter more than the means steered Ipsc away from being a learning tool and toward being a rather pointless excercise in gratuitous competetion.

IDPA is NOT A GAME. IDPA is another attempt at providing a program that encourages good tactics and gear selection for street use, and is one among a list of a couple that strive toward that end.

SCTC (Southern California Tactical Combat), which used to be run primarily by Michael Harries until his untimely death is another program that stresses logical real world problem solving skills and gear selection, but does it for pistols, rifles and shotguns. Michael described it as "a research and development program masquerading as a competetion."

The WC 3 gun match is yet another program that Uses competetion as a teaching tool to encourage good tactics, gear selection and appropriate mindset.

Quite frankly, The mindset of "I'm going to shoot this way on the range because i want to win, but i'm not doing to do this when i'm on the street" is pretty disengenuous, anyway. All shooting you do is training, and It behooves you to use proper tactics ALL THE TIME, not just when you don't care about winning.

September 16, 2002, 09:23 PM
The folks I know shooting IDPA consider it a game (at least out loud).

September 16, 2002, 09:29 PM
Tell me how something that is timed and scored is "NOT A GAME"

ANYTHING that has time as a factor is not realistic training.

ANYTHING where you know the scenerio ahead of time is not realistic to real life.

There are minor differences between IDPA and USPSA. There might be some tactical training out there but any competition is basically a game.


I do think that these GAMES teach some of the most important aspects of self defense using weapons. That is a fast accurate first shot. For 99% of the situations you will use a gun in this will help you. I can very easily saw that if I am walking down a dark alley and get jumped there is no one I would rather have packing heat next to me than Rob Leatham. ie. Someone that can draw and shoot quickly and accurately.

September 16, 2002, 11:16 PM

Here's a website that compares and contrasts both sports.


September 17, 2002, 08:11 AM
I'm sure that the whole area of practical pistol shooting is greatly helped by proponants of the two major wings of the sport pi$$ing all over each other!

IPSC had become an equipment race with a $3,000 entry price. IDPA, ICORE (International Congress of Revolver Enthusiasts), Steel Challange, Pin Shooting, and others split off in part as a reaction against the equpment race.

I shoot both USPSA (Limited 10) and IDPA (CDP), and I realize that were it not for IDPA, there would be no place for me in USPSA. Limited, Limited 10, and Production are ALL responses of USPSA to the complaints (and challange) represented by IDPA.

At our last USPSA Match, there was a "House Clearing" stage. This was done by jumping into each "room" into a box and blasting away. Great way to get yourself killed in real life! IDPA tactics would have been to edge around the door opening using the wall as cover, and engaging each target as it became visible. Makes more sense in the real world. Personally, I wanted a "Flash-BANG!" to demonstrate how a room clearing ought to be done.

My advice: Participate in and enjoy either (or both) sport, and QUIT SNIPPING AT EACH OTHER!

Jim Watson
September 17, 2002, 08:36 AM
Very good, Fred.

I was getting worried that all this More Tactical than Thou, More Competitive than Thee stuff was going to scare SteveW13 off.

We are all much nicer than some diehard One Way types come across on the www.

He should consider mostly which is closer, so he can get out and shoot more.

Jim w.
IDPA A-00177
USPSA TY-017711

September 17, 2002, 12:32 PM
IPSC had become an equipment race with a $3,000 entry price.

In and of itself, that's not necessarily a bad thing. What made it bad was the untruth that expensive equipment was needed to be competitive. While there's no argument that reliable hardware is necessary, Dave Sevigny, who's been cleaning up in IDPA has also made USPSA Grand Master and won some big matches in Limited using a virtually stock Glock. Dave's the poster child for 'it ain't the gun, it's the shooter'. Too many people have yet to figure that out.

September 17, 2002, 03:35 PM
"IPSC had become an equipment race with a $3,000 entry price. IDPA, ICORE (International Congress of Revolver Enthusiasts), Steel Challange, Pin Shooting, and others split off in part as a reaction against the equpment race."

The cynic in me says that Bill Wilson's promotion of IDPA, plus the weapons restrictions in IDPA, serve to create a market for his very expensive (and fine) line of single-stack 1911's.

The fact that IDPA can be shot with a $500 stock Glock does not mean that there is not an equipment race in IDPA.

The Steel Challenge and Pin shooting (epitomized by Second Chance) were NOT "split off in part as a reaction against the equpment race." Someone's history is a little off.

Both are games with different rules. Both will help you learn to shoot. Pick which one is more fun for you. But by all means, pick one. You will be light yaers ahead of those who don't compete.

September 17, 2002, 04:24 PM
Both USPSA and IDPA are in the business of running shooting games just like Steel Challenge and ICORE. None are in the business of teaching tactics. You may wish to practice your tactical training in an IDPA match, but do not interpert IDPA rules (or use of equipment) as tactical.

September 17, 2002, 11:12 PM

If you like to run around with a loaded gun in your hand, spend your bucks on gun wizzbangs, then IPSC is for you.

If you like to shoot what you carry, comfortable drawing your gun while burried in concealing garment, duck behind covers while shooting, try IDPA.

If you're the theoritical type who likes to read about guns and stuff, thank God you have this forum. :)

September 18, 2002, 10:00 PM
I shoot a lot of IDPA, and enjoy it greatly, but I won't BS myself that it's "tactical" or training in any form other than improving gun handling skills, because it flatly isn't.

In fact, IDPA's insistence on finding cover, may very well get you killed in a real gunfight. Look around you - see any hard cover? In real life, hard cover is pretty rare, and seldom available in the sorts of places where you might need to use deadly force. So turning around and looking for cover may very well get you killed, when you should be shooting instead. Sheetrock and plywood are not cover. Throw in goofy tac-loads, and some of idpa's other quirks, and "tactical" becomes a non-sequitor to the sport.

On the other hand, as a shooting game, IDPA is a bunch of fun. Highly recommended. I shoot USPSA too, and while the style is a little different, the two games are basically the same, with minor differences. Shoot both, have twice the fun, and resist the temptation to become a pompous tacticalberry.

If you want to be truly "tactical", then consider that the real skill that wins gunfights is raw, naked, aggression and fury. As important as gun handling skills are, they take a distant second place to the simple agressive willingness to actually *use* the gun.

I've been unlucky enough to be there a couple of times. I lost two, and won one. The one I won, I did with a piece of heavy chain. I won, because I was mad clear through, and wouldn't back down. The ones I lost, I lost because I couldn't make myself gamble on dying, and stood like a sheep.

The one thing training can't do for you, is to make you commit. Anger, on the other hand, makes you *do*. Trust me on one thing - you won't be icily in control of your feelings. You'll be scared spitless, and probably frozen in place - unless you get mad.

Chris W
September 18, 2002, 10:20 PM
When I shoot IDPA, it's a game. Like a video-game, but more exciting, 'cause I get to shoot a real gun (which is the point of how many electronic games?) and even put myself in exciting imaginary scenarios (so it's not just a gallery-game, it's a 1PS game). When I first tried to explain to my wife what we did at the club matches, she took about 3 seconds to say, "So you're playing Charlie's Angels?" And hence it has been known thus; on Tuesday nights, i go play Charlie's Angels.

The fact that this game makes me better at skills (like shooting and, probably more important, hiding) that could conceivably save my life is a bonus, sure; but with the miniscule odds that I'd ever have to do the kind of shooting I'm practicing there, the 'training' component is surely no more than a tertiary benefit, after fun and socialization. I know that some of the guys I shoot with think differently about the relative value of this game as 'training'; I just think they're thinking unrealistically about the probability of getting caught in a tac-load, hard-cover, pie-the-corner, two-to-the-head, one-to-the-body, weak-hand-only scenario.


September 19, 2002, 04:26 AM
Great post.

Welcome to TFL.

Intrinsic value of both IDPA and IPSC: confidence (hopefully) in one's gunhandling, ability to make (first) shots count, finding out what's 100% RELIABLE.

First rule = Have a gun. If it doesn't go bang it's just an intetresting paperweight.

In games first rule is "Bring a reliable gun (or make one)".

Never wear cammo to a pistol match.................

September 20, 2002, 09:26 AM
Ok here is my $.02....you knew it was coming didn't you?

If you are looking to have fun shooting your gun in a competitive enviroment it doesn't matter which disipline you choose. Both are full of very nice, helpful people that will encourage you to join and have fun.

If you are looking to improve your defensive tactical skills...it doesn't matter again. If you use competitive shooting to improve you tactical skills (which is good because it adds a level of stress not available at a range by yourself) then shoot which ever competition you want but don't let winning get in the way of practicing your tactics. If you are competeing to win and move outside cover to engage targets you are palying a game. If you use good tactics and take extra time to engage all your targets you still win by training for the day you need to engage a live target.

I use competitive shooting (mostly IDPA because of local) but usually do not win because I refuse to sacrifice the tactics I have trained for years to develop...and I don't care. I am a good enough shooter that I occasionally bring home a trophy to stack in the reloading room with all my other crap.

Shoot competitively for fun. If its tactical traingin your looking for go to a good school, get your tactical training there then go shoot competitively but don't let competition get in the way off your training.

Ok, I'm off my soapbox now.

Thank you.

September 20, 2002, 01:21 PM
I like them both, and I consider both of them games.

I mostly shoot IDPA, because that is what I shot first, and that is where many of my shooting buddies are.

As far as which one is more "tactical" I don't ever see myself in a million years doing a tac reload. Nor am I going to go to one knee when I can squat. As for IDPA being a more realistic test of CCW gear, then you would see a lot more folks shooting with P32s and .38 snubs drawn from bellybands and fanny packs than anything else. But at my local matches, all of us are using full size guns drawn from strong side belt holsters. :) Go figure.

I've been accused of being "gamey". Well then if I ever get in a gunfight hopefully I can game the badguy to death. :)

Andrew Wyatt
September 20, 2002, 03:01 PM
It's primarily a matter of approach. If you wanted to, you could use good tactics and shoot your carry gun in IPSC and get in some good practice.

you could also have a gun solely for IDPA shooting and use equipment you wouldn't use for CCW and not learn anything of merit.

Whenever I shoot in any sort of competetion, I Think of the situation the stage is presenting and then use the equipment i'd have in that situation.

for example, If the stage was primarily a rifle stage with some pistol shooting, then i'd have on my rifle gear with a full flap field holster. inclusing the clothes and shoes i wear when I'm rifleshooting.

if the stage was a pistol only stage and was such that it was intended as a CCW stage, then i'd wear my CCW holster and equipment.

I given my mindset, I think i could compete in any sort of shooting and learn from it, since i consider any kind of shooting i do to be training.

September 21, 2002, 06:44 PM
Andrew, just a point of clarification. Since you won't be 21 until Dec of 2003, you must be speaking figuratively about your CCW... and handgun ownership here in CA.

September 21, 2002, 07:41 PM
Tapper - welcome! Excellent first post.

I'm sitting here sort-of bemused but rather turned off, watching the various camps piss on each other.


Andrew Wyatt
September 21, 2002, 08:27 PM
9X45: well, yeah. I probably should have put that in there.

September 22, 2002, 07:01 AM
Dave Sevigny won some big matches <snip> using a virtually stock Glock.

Dave just took the Production class at the World Shoot.


Jim Watson
September 22, 2002, 09:45 AM

I know what you mean.
We haven't heard back from SteveW13. I suspect all the "My match is better than your match." mudslinging and nonsense ran him off and we have lost a shooter.