Getting Started with IDPA

Written by Aaron Haines
Those who shoot IDPA come from all types backgrounds and ages... Yet we all have two things in common: we were all new to IDPA once, and we all love our guns.....

Many folks who are new to guns, or those who have firearm experience but are new to IDPAask the same questions. While I cannot cover every subject or question in one article, nor is my opinion the only one you will ever hear. I will attempt to cover the basics as I see them.

TNG (The New Guy)
Yes, each and every one of us has been the new guy at one point in our lives. MWT at its core consist of individuals who want to see as many safe shooters as we can at our events. We love the sport and we want you to be part of it. Admittedly, we do have a hidden agenda with welcoming new folks. MWT wants to grow the core team with individuals who enjoy the sport so much that the are willing to make personal contributions to MWT as Safety Officers, Course Designers, Prop Designers, Laborers, etc. We feel strongly that the MWT community gives back as much as it receives to assist individuals to become great shooters and a part of a supportive community.

IDPA Introduction
So you have decided to check IDPA out - GREAT!! With MWT, your introduction to IDPA can be done in three different ways.

IDPA Practice: We have regular IDPA practices every 1st and 3rd Monday of each month 7:30PM in the Indoor range at HSC. Practices are free and open to the public. Attendance varies but everyone should expect to participate actively and, learn new things, and have fun. All are encouraged to come, we will get you shooting!!

IDPA Matches: Monthly club matches are listed on the upcoming events page as well as the calendar and also open to the public. Come and shoot for a nominal fee. You are welcome to come and just watch for free but you will likely want to jump in and participate.

Intro to IDPA Class: MWT holds a one day Intro To IDPA class annually. Certified IDPA instructors teach the basics in a classroom environment. The students then proceed to the range where a team of certified SOs and master-class shooters run students through a small three-stage match. Stages are designed to complement the classroom teaching, and provide practical illustrations to many of the rules of IDPA. As well, we share experiences and suggestions to improve your performance. The class is offered every spring. Please check the upcoming events page for details.

The most common method of being introduced to IDPA is through monthly practices. Some come with guns and gear, some come to watch and talk. Coming to a match with guns and gear is fine, just inform the registration staff that you are new to IDPA and you will be squaded appropriately for that day.

Equipment: A comprehensive article can be found here on the MWT website.

Gun: For your first practice, if you only own a single gun or are not sure if what you own will "work" – just bring it... We have never turned away anyone in the beginning of their IDPA journey because they brought a 8" Colt Python.. .We will work with you and your equipment. If you continue to come and play with us, we will ask that you comply with the equipment rules.

Holster: Holster must be secure, has to be mounted on your belt, and and must cover the trigger guard. Again, if you don’t have one, at your first practices, we will work with you. Provisions can be made to ensure safety while letting you participate. Continued participation will require an appropriate holster.

Magazines/Speedloaders/Moonclips: A minimum of three devices for your firearm is required for matches. At practices, if you do not have all three we can work to accommodate you.

Mag Pouches: A double or two single mag pouches is needed. If you wear pants, you most likely have pockets. Many first timers go this route before going out and buying the required gear.

Concealment Garment: A shirt or a vest that covers the holstered gun.

Ear and Eye Protection: Both are required to participate or watch. A hat with a brim is also strongly suggested.

IDPA is designed for use of practical equipment, versus an equipment race. There are four main divisions of firearms. Most likely any practical firearm you own will be suitable for use in IDPA. A few examples are Glock 17, S&W M&P, Sig 226, Ruger SR9, Beretta 92FS, 1911, just to name a few. Before you go and spend money on "the best" guns and gear we do suggest you check out a practice and a match first.


Matches will require 100-120 rounds. Most bring 150 rounds to be on the safe side and have rounds left to bring home. Practices vary, depending on how many folks show up but shooting about 100 is typical.

Lead, FMJ, Plated, HP are all acceptable types of ammunition. Harvard Sports Man club can handle all forms of ammunition on its ranges other than tracer rounds. As a courtesy to other participants and to minimize wear and tear of the backstop, we ask folks to abstain from lead and hollow point ammunition at indoor practices.

Gun Handling: All events are ran as “cold” ranges. If you come to an event with a loaded firearm please inform aSafety Officer (SO) of the conditionand you will be instructed where and how to safely unload your gun for the duration of the event under the supervision of a safety officer. Once you are cleared, there are only two places you can handle your gun: on your own in any designated safety area OR under the direction of an SO at the line of fire. Safety areas are clearly marked; no ammunition is allowed at the safe areas. If you are not sure of when/where you can handle your firearm - simply leave it holstered and ask! Someone will gladly guide you so we can all have a safe and enjoyable event.