Tag Archives: simunition

IDPA for Everyone

Our Intro IDPA group in Hellertown, PA
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So you have taken a first step or intro to pistol class, you have been shooting at paper at the range for some time and you may be thinking what’s next?  There aren’t many opportunities in this area to practice shooting from a holster or doing much more than standing in a port, but one outlet that is available to shooters of all skill levels, beginner through advanced, are matches run by the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA).
IDPA is a shooting sport that was founded in 1996 and simulates self-defense and real life encounters.  Anyone can get involved in shooting matches as beginners are welcome and the cost of necessary equipment is minimal and limited to practical gear shooters most likely already own.
Recently, the Second Amendment Women Shooting Club/SAW sponsored an all-female introduction to IDPA shooting for our members.  Not everyone can afford to take advanced tactical classes and certainly not on a monthly basis.  IDPA offers an inexpensive opportunity to practice moving and shooting and experience how you will react when shooting under stress.  And our members were ready for the challenge!  Granted, the stress is not induced by your door being forced open at 2am and you having to confront a bad guy in your pajamas, however, there is some stress that comes from competition shooting even if you are only “competing” with yourself.
Monthly “local” matches usually cost between $10 and $ 20 . One even includes a pizza lunch on top of a full day of shooting various scenarios. All you need to bring is your firearm, three magazines, a holster/belt, and enough ammunition for the day.  After your first match a concealment vest or garment will be needed as well , and you will need to join IDPA for a nominal fee.  No special competition gear is allowed in IDPA, this would be the firearm you would use for home defense or plinking at the range.
A typical scenario starts with your gun holstered and Safety Officer pressing the buzzer on the timer.  Targets have an order to be engaged in, some will be moving,  some will be aimed at from behind cover,  sometimes there may even be an “injured” bystander who needs to be retrieved while the shooter continues to engage the targets.  All of the matches are performed in a safe and fun atmosphere which provides a perfect environment to learn about your firearm,  how you handle it under stress and how you respond to pressure while shooting, even if that “pressure” is your time elapsed flashing on the timer when the buzzer goes off and you show all clear with your firearm.
SAW had the pleasure of an introductory class taught by two highly ranked competitors, Ken Ortbach and  Joanna Lenczewska, this past month at the Hellertown Sportsman Center in PA.  Our students ranged from beginner to intermediate/advanced, but none had participated in an IDPA match.  IDPA ranks their participants and offers different stages so that all interested individuals can compete and be challenged.  Several of our members are continuing to participate in local matches.
Another intro class will be scheduled soon in Easton PA.  It is worth checking out, even if you just go to observe or pay your $10 to $20 to hang out with a group of like-minded individuals.

What is SAW? Thoughts on all female training

When I first started shooting about five years ago, I rarely encountered women at the range shooting alone.  I encountered women with a boyfriend, or husband, but rarely if ever did I see a woman by herself.  How that has changed in the last five years!  As I became more involved in shooting sports and began taking tactical and instructor classes, the ratio of men to women in those classes still seemed to be however many men had registered … and then one woman … me.  I went on to take classes in various other self-defense disciplines and I encountered perhaps a few more female participants, but women were always in the minority.

Was it sometimes uncomfortable to be the only female in a class of ten, fifteen even 50 men?  You bet it was.  (I took this Simunition teaser class as the lone female with 50 men at Gun For Hire.) But that wasn’t going to stop me, and in fact I firmly believe, it actually helped me. Part of taking an advanced class, one where you have to react and interact with those around you, is predicated on bringing the student out of her comfort zone.  The circumstances that will surround an individual having to draw her gun and perhaps use it, will undoubtedly take place under stress.  I had a jump start on feeling that way as I was already out of my comfort zone the minute I walked into the range with twelve men as my fellow students.

But as much as I enjoyed having the ladies room to myself during the class breaks, there were those times that I hoped I would walk in and there may be one other female there.  And there were moments like the time when the instructor told us to fill our pockets with thirty rounds of loose ammo, and my pockets were, well, too small.  Women’s fashion does not usually include large or multiple pockets (and just try to find a pair of tactical pants in a size 0).  It was awkward moments like that one, where it would have been nice to have someone who could understand.

When I took the low light pistol class, I was already used to being the only female in the class, already past the discomfort, already feeling like “one of the guys” but when I walked into the range this time Sandy was in the class too.  As we holstered up, and started to chat it turned out Sandy had just had a baby.  It was nice to be able to talk to someone else about tactical gear and how it fits on a woman’s body!

Although it didn’t happen right away, that was the beginning of the Second Amendment Women Shooting Club.  The idea that a woman can have other women to go to for an introduction to shooting, to find more advanced training, to be able to talk to about all topics firearms such as shooting, how to find gear that fits a female body and finding the time to shoot when you are already an active and involved mother and wife and so on – that was the basis for founding Second Amendment Women Shooting Club.  As well as the need to create a strong female presence in the shooting community, to show that there are many women and mothers out there, who are not asking for more gun control, but are advocating for the right to continue to protect their children and families.

One of the things Sandy and I both feel strongly about, is that while it is fantastic to have a group of women to socialize and train with, it is not a good idea to ONLY train with other women.  Whatever self-defense discipline you are training with – pistol, pepper spray, krav maga etc a woman is many times more likely to encounter a male attacker than a female one. If you have only trained with other women, you don’t know how it feels to be approached by a larger, male aggressor, to be intimidated by him, and then to injure him or knock him down and create an opportunity to escape, using what you have learned in the classes you have taken.

In the words of a popular quote used by shooting instructors, in a moment of crisis, you will not rise to the occasion, but merely default to your level of training. If your training does not include practice with the type of aggressor you will likely encounter, then your training has not served you in the best capacity. If a class full of other women with a female instructor allows a woman to show up for the first time, learn to shoot, be comfortable asking questions then Second Amendment Women Shooting Club is doing its job by organizing those classes and making those opportunities available.  But if we don’t go on from there and invite men to train with us and share their knowledge and experience, then Sandy and I have left our members at a disadvantage.

This is the reason the SAW club will have events that include men, like our gun cleaning and holster shows.  We will have all female events like the upcoming Introduction to IDPA (June 1) that allows a class full of women to get comfortable using a holster.  And we will continue to plan monthly social open shoots both for women only and for men/women.  Hope to see you all there!