Who Competes?

In a word, everybody. IDPA membership and matches are open to all people who can legally own a handgun, regardless of occupation, race, gender or religion. IDPA members come from all walks of life and represent all skill levels within the shooting sports.


The idpa community

The IDPA community is made up of shooters like you who are looking to test and improve their skills through the structure of competition. While time and accuracy measure a shooter’s skill, it’s the fun and excitement of spending the day on the range with other like-minded individuals that is the true reflection of the IDPA community.

Each weekend, ranges all around the country are hosting IDPA competitions where friends gather to do more than just shoot a match. By shooting together, IDPA members help one another improve their shooting skills and form close bonds of friendship that often span the globe and last for years. We invite you to join the IDPA Community


Most IDPA competitors are members of a local IDPA club, and there are plenty of affiliated IDPA clubs around the country. Every weekend you’ll find a weekly, monthly, regional or championship match taking place at one of these clubs.

Finding a club and getting started in IDPA competition is easy, and as an IDPA member you’re always welcome at any IDPA club. Think of IDPA clubs as your home away from home, well, your shooting home anyway. Find an IDPA Club


When not impacted by weather, most IDPA clubs run matches year round and these events are open to IDPA all members, although space sometimes limits the total number of shooters competing.


Courses fall into two categories: Self-defense scenarios or Standard exercises. The self-defense scenarios are simulations of actual or possible “real world” confrontations. These scenarios typically require shots from 3 – 20 yards and often require the shooter to change firing points and shoot from awkward positions. Standard exercises do not attempt to simulate a potential threat situation but are designed to test specific shooting and gun handling skills. IDPA matches offer diversity and truly test both accuracy and speed. Physical condition has very little to do with your performance in an IDPA match.

Self Defense Format

selfe defense format

Most courses of fire in IDPA matches fall into this format. IDPA is based on “defensive shooting” and therefore the match designers try to simulate scenarios where you would be forced into using your gun to defend your life or others. Common stages found in matches involve you being caught in a convenience store robbery, a home invasion, car jacking, ATM/bank robbery and more. Many scenarios are drawn from newspaper and TV reports. Others are drawn form the stage designer’s imagination in which worst case scenarios are encountered while performing ordinary, everyday tasks or errands.

Self defense stages will find you having to engage targets from awkward or difficult positions. You might find yourself having to engage targets from inside a car or from beside it, having to move from point to point while shooting, jumping up from a recliner or bed during a “home invasion” or shooting while seated. The possibilities change with every match. You might not even draw from a holster although that comprises the majority of the stages you will see. You could draw your gun from a glove box, a nightstand drawer, under a counter or from a bag or case. All of this combines to keep theses stages unique and challenging for each match.

Standard Exercise Format

excercise format

In standard exercise stages you are required to perform the basic components of shooting such as drawing the gun, sight alignment and trigger control with out the more complex decisions and movements required in a self defensive stage.

The standard exercises are usually designed with minimal targets and require little or no movement. The key is to test specific items such as strong hand only shooting, Weak hand only shooting, simple draw and fire, accuracy at short and long ranges and basic movement while shooting.

These standard exercises help the competitor to gauge their skill level and note areas that they might need to work on improvement. They provide a base line that in important in the continued development of the core skills that not only will elevate your match performance but carry over into your daily life should you ever have to use a gun in self defense.