There is a major shift coming to competitive shooting. The announcement by the IDPA Board of Directors fundamentally changes how many will shoot each stage. We will discuss the IDPA sporting aspects later, but are we seeing a more important transformational change in training? Should we?
IDPA Board issues change to Point Down penalty
Last week at the World Championship awards banquet, I announced that the IDPA Board of Directors has elected to increase the Point Down penalty from a half second to 1 second. The BoD is comprised of two MA shooters (both Founders of the sport) and one EX with a combined total of more than 57 years of IDPA experience. This decision was made to keep the sport aligned with the founder’s intent of valuing accuracy over speed. As concealed carry holders, which many of our members are, we are responsible for every round that leaves our gun, and IDPA needs to reflect that in our practices. I met with some of the Area Coordinators recently to share this information and the feedback received from them was very positive. There is no hard timetable for this change. Classification scores and other areas will need to reflect the change, and we are already working with some of our scoring vendors on this change. More information will be available as the work progresses and we will make updates on this via the Tactical Journal and Tactical Brief.
There’s numerous forums discussing this such as Brian Enos Forum
So, the reason given is that, at its core, IDPA is a civilian concealed carry shooting sport. A shooter is responsible for every round fired in a self defense encounter. As such, the competitive shooter should also be held to task.
For those not familiar with IDPA scoring here is a brief overview. Your score is the stage time, plus points down, plus penalties. Lowest time wins. Currently, every point down adds one half second. There is also Failure To Neutralize penalty if the shooter does not get at least one hit in the down zero or down one target areas regardless of the number of hits on target. That’s roughly the A-C zone of an IPSC target or the central two thirds of the 18 inch wide target. There are several other penalties possible but it doesn’t change the fundamentals and intent.
Most cardboard silhouette targets typically require two rounds each and most stages are vickers count (you can shoot as many rounds at the target as you wish). Let’s design a very simple stage. One threat target requiring two rounds, Vickers count. Beep, bang bang bang. Competitor A shot it in 2.31 seconds. One hit in the 0 down center mass and one round in the down one area and one complete miss. Stage time is 2.31 plus 0.5 (points down converted to seconds) for a total of 2.81 seconds. Competitor B only fires two shots (no points down) in 2.95 seconds. Competitor A wins. After the rule change B would be the the winner. A = 3.31 versus B’s 2.95.
Notice Competitor A received no penalty for the complete miss. They “made it up” by firing a third round that hit the target. If you want to make the shooter responsible for every shot you should penalize every miss. Some stages are Limited Vickers which means you can only fire the number of rounds specified. e.g. Engage targets 1-4 with two rounds each would allow eight shots on that stage. If you take any extra you best shot(s) are disregarded.
I think what we are really seeing is shift in the fundamental philosophy of combat shooting. Hits on target are worthless unless they are good hits. When we look at what stops a determined attacker it boils down to three things. 1. Exsanguination. The loss of too much blood. 2. Shock 3. Hits to the CNS (central nervous system) or mechanical structure. A hit to the CNS shuts the bad guy down by separating the path of electrons needed to control the body. It’s instantaneous. Shock is unpredictable. Exsanguination is not immediate but can be fast if a major artery is hit.
Many self defense instructors have broadly taught student to get rounds on bad guys quickly. More holes, more quickly. Why? The CNS zone is a relatively small area to hit. Even a perfectly lined up shot is not guaranteed to hit it. You have body movement, obstacle movement, bones and other things that can cause the bullet to deflect to otherwise miss the mark. Shock is too unpredictable to be a valid shooting concept. That realistically only leaves making the bad guy bleed out. Put enough holes in places where there shouldn’t be holes and they will stop… eventually. You can’t fault the simple math that two holes on target are better than one.
Gunfights aren’t simple, are they? Can anyone say that a shot to the Aortic Artery is the same as the shot to the bicep? Of course not. Currently in IDPA it is a 1.5 second difference and will change to a 3 second difference. Is that a fair enough penalty for inaccuracy?
There’s probably a lot more that can be said on this but let me leave you with this quote. Wyatt Earp said, “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”
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