What Is IDPA?


The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is the governing body of a shooting sport that simulates self-defense scenarios and real life encounters. It was founded in 1996 as a response to the desires of shooters worldwide. The organization now boasts membership of more than 20,000, including members in 50 foreign countries.

In South Africa, the sport started in May 2001 and members can compete under the auspices of the South African Defensive Pistol Association (SADPA). IDPA offers an exciting forum for practical shooters in which truly practical equipment, techniques and courses of fire are mandated. Prior to IDPA, there was no place to compete with common service pistols. There were no shooting sports where your concealed carry holster could also be your match holster without handicap. One of the unique facets of this sport is that it is geared toward the new or average shooter, yet is fun, challenging and rewarding for the experienced shooter.

The founders developed the sport so that practical gear and practical guns may be used competitively. An interested person can spend a minimal amount on equipment and still be competitive. When you come in an IDPA match, you can not only use your duty/CCW equipment, but you can also be completely competitive with it! Other shooting sports have become equipment “races”; because of this, IDPA will not. The main goal is to test the skill and ability of the individual, not equipment or gamesmanship. “Competition only” equipment is not permitted in this sport. If you’re interested in using truly practical pistols to solve challenging and exciting defensive shooting problems, then IDPA is the sport for you.


Who Shoots IDPA?

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 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 to improve their shooting skills and form close bonds of friendship that often span the globe and last for years.


When Can I Shoot IDPA?

To compete in IDPA, you must first become a member of a local IDPA club. Every weekend you’ll find a weekly, monthly, regional or championship match taking place at one of these clubs across South Africa. 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.

Our IDPA club runs matches year round and these events are open to all IDPA, although space sometimes limits the total number of shooters competing. Clubs across the country list their regular weekly or monthly matches along with registration and contact information on the SADPA website.

To help keep IDPA members up to speed on rule changes, match results and product news, SADPA communicates to it's members mainly via an email list. It is important that you subscribe to this list to keep up to date with the happenings within SADPA and results of matches. To join this list, send a blank email (that is an email
with no text in the body) to sadpa_group-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

The SADPA database also keeps track of your personal detail as well as the matches you have attended. Please log into the SADPA website to ensure that your details are correct. Enter Your SADPA and password into the fields provided to log into the website the first time. Please don't hesitate to contact SADPA directly if you hare experiencing any trouble logging in to your account.

From here, you can download and print your membership certificates and DSS certificates, apply for endorsements and DSS, as well as vote on important matters within the sport, directly from the SADPA website.


How Do I Shoot IDPA?

The format of IDPA match 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 2 - 20 meters 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.

Before a new member can compete in any SADPA event, they must first complete the New Shooter Orientation (NSO), which consists of both a theory and practical portion. At the end of the NSO, all new members are given the chance to shoot the Classifier Match, which is used to place shooters into classifications by skill level inside their divisions.


IDPA Self Defence Match Format.

IDPA Matches, shooting match 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 Excercise Match Format.

IDPA Match format, shooting match 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 without 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.