Saturday, February 10, 2018

Shooting and Musing about the New IDPA 5x5 Classifier

IDPA now has two pistol classifiers for clubs to choose from—the Standard Method (the 72 round, 3 stage classifier) and the Abbreviated Method (the new IDPA 5x5 classifier).  I initially dismissed the 5x5 as too easy—that was until I actually went out and shot it.

The 5x5 is shot on a single target placed 10 yards from the shooter as follows:

String 1: Draw and fire 5 shots freestyle.

String 2: Draw and fire 5 shots using primary hand only

String 3: Start with only 5 rounds in your pistol. Draw and fire 5 shots, emergency reload (slide lock) and fire 5 additional shots freestyle

String 4: Draw and fire 4 shots to the body and one shot to the head freestyle

A video of the 5x5 classifier is here: Click

Over the course of 3 shooting session in 2 weeks, I fired Master using the 5x5 in all divisions including under the new Carry Optic criteria. Although this was not a trivial endeavor, it clearly was an achievable goal.  Should it have been?  Although I am an IDPA 6-gun Master, I have not practiced in every division in well over 18 months.  I primarily practice with and shoot my carry pistol which is a 9mm CCP pistol.  Although it has a carry optic, I grew up using iron sights and can still shoot iron sights with no problem.

I friend of mine who is also an IDPA 6-gun Master shot master in all divisions as well.  As we went through the process, I quickly fired master in CCP, SSP, ESP, and BUG—1st run in all 4 divisions.  CDP took more effort; however, revolver was a challenge. I have not consistently practiced with a revolver since the 2016 IDPA Nationals and my lack of reloading practice was evident. However, some dry practice put me over the top and I shot a 19.37. My friend Steve had a little trouble with the CDP and BUG (he primarily shoots revolvers), but shot Master in the other divisions easily and CDP and BUG soon after.

I have always admired the IDPA Classifiers (both the 90-round original and the current 72-round classifier) and believe they provide a good test of shooting ability. These courses of fire capture the 10 major tasks you must perform in the course of shooting a match. These are:

1. Safely draw the pistol

2. Extend to fire

3. Execute precise shots

4. Transition between targets

5. Reload the pistol

6. Shoot the pistol unsupported with either hand

7. Turning then drawing the pistol

8. Moving while shooting accurately

9. Shooting from cover

10. Moving from one shooting position to another

The new 5x5 classifier only tests the first 5 major tasks.  The fact that the IDPA classifier no longer tests shooting from cover nor moving while accurately shooting may reflect IDPA’s recent direction with fault lines and discontinuing the practice of giving procedural penalties for movement.

I initially suspected that the new 5x5 classifier could result in significantly greater numbers of shooters moving up in classification.  Removing the “athletic” portion of the classifier in theory may permit older shooters and those who are perhaps not in great physical shape to do better. These individuals may be able to shoot very well; however, moving between shooting positions takes time. The 5x5 does not penalize a shooter’s inability to quickly move from point A to B.

However, the sandbaggers may prove me wrong. Our local IDPA club shot both the 5x5 and the 72-round classifier today. No shooter scored Master and only a couple squeaked into Expert. Yet many of these shooters always place well and/or win our local matches. I would never question a shooter’s integrity; however, it’s hard to imagine why some of these shooters did so poorly.  Oh well—it’s a game after all. 

Please note: This video is for educational purposes only. Do not try this yourself without proper instruction. Inexperienced shooters often put their finger on the trigger too soon in the draw with negligent discharges the result.
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