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This month, I got to explore the world of IPDA from an insider’s perspective. Our readers consistently pose the question of whether competitive shooting has value in law enforcement. In order to answer this question, I spent some range time with...


Jordan uses an STI Edge, a high capacity version of the M1911 design. The premium features on the STI Edge, like serrations and a funnel-shaped magazine well, are standard. It can be used for duty, although I recommend the ST Tactical 5.0 model. STI guns are top shelf, but viable for every day carry.

IPSC is a tremendous sport. It is exciting to watch. I love to see the athleticism of the competitors. I wish I could even remotely shoot like that. IPSC has advanced the firearms industry the same way formula racing has advanced the auto industry.

There is some overlap in IPSC and IDPA competitions. For example, my two favorite shooters, Jerry Miculek and Rob Leatham, have both captured USPSA(United States Practical Shooting Association, the US organization of IDPA, which has similar rules) enough times to wear a groove up to the podium. Both have competed in IPSC, with Leatham capturing the World Championship six times and Miculek dominating the revolver competition with authority. Could Miculek or Leatham prevail in an actual encounter?

Absolutely.

Jordan and I set up some targets and discussed how we would run through these scenarios. On a simple barricade setup, Jordan ran right up to the barricade and started firing. I noticed a couple of things right away. I wouldn’t have just run up to the barricade. Instead, I approached it slowly, using the barricade to conceal my movement, yet allowing me to align the visual edge of the barricade with the potential target. Instead of finishing against the barricade, I was several feet from it. From my perspective, I could see the target and they couldn’t see me.

When we did a quick recap, Jordan told me he didn’t have concerns about the condition of the range floor. An officer doesn’t have someone rake or clear potential obstacles, never mind the fact that torso targets don’t shoot back.

I noticed another thing: Jordan exposed his whole chest from cover when engaging the target. He explained that one must have 100 percent of the lower body behind cover but 50 percent of the upper body can be exposed. In my line of work, some exposure is inevitable, but 50 percent is a no-no.

When Jordan was reloading, I noticed he looked at his gun, losing visual contact with the target. Although this is a common practice for any shooter, we work hard to train officers not to do this.

However, both of us tended to bring the gun closer to our core, which is the way to go.

IDPA rules encourage shooters to start and finish their reloads behind cover. I am a little partial to doing all of my police business behind cover.

Why do I encourage law enforcement officers to compete, even if it’s in “closed” matches? Simple: Trigger time. The more time behind the trigger an officer has, the more time they will have to practice target focus, picking up the front sight and smooth gun presentation.

Although I have recently become a convert to XS Sight Systems on my Glock, I have always used black front sights and black rear sights without any outline or dots, until tritium sights became popular. Jordan and many shooters prefer “black-on-black” as well.

Jordan also dry fires, something I am an advocate of along with dry magazine changes and using Blue Guns to practice presentation. If there are squad sergeants reading this, each one of these drills is appropriate for a pre-shift training. How much does Jordan dry fire? He works on trigger skills for hours, at least twice as much as I prescribe for new shooters. How much should officers dry fire? Even 15 minutes per workday can add to overall improvement in just a few weeks.

When I practice dry fire, I set my black sights onto a white background, unless I’m training with an M16 qual target, which is smaller and causes the shooter to work hard on placement. Jordan uses black outline sights and shots on a black outline sight. Regardless of the method, the amount of trigger presses a shooter makes directly affects the level of shooter competence.

When I asked my firearm instructor friends about IDPA and police work, most agreed that practice included a lot of gun handling. John Hall commented that a shooter competent in gun handling can be conditioned to move tactically. The gun handling and quick target acquisition can take more practice.

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