Improving your score on the IDPA Classifier

Published April 15, 2014 by
Filed under IDPA, Practice, Training

We’ve talked about what the IDPA Classifier is, now let’s talk about how to shoot it well. 

Classifier Score Sheet

This is my scoresheet from the last Classifier I shot. I really wanted to make Sharpshooter in Stock Service Pistol (SSP) Division with this classifier, but I fell short. Fortunately for me, I know why I didn’t make it and what I need to do to improve. For the past few years, I’ve had a practice regimen that is more about developing my skills overall, so this is the first time I’ve had to practice with a specific goal in mind. 

 Guess where I need to improve…

If you guessed “Stage Three”, you’re right! Stage Three is all about making longer-range shots from 20 and 15 yards, and it’s the only part of the Classifier where you’re shooting around cover. So not only are you making longer shots, you’re making them from positions that are more awkward than the other parts of the course of fire. 

It’s like they’re planning on messing with your head or something…

 Breaking it down, with one exception, (a missed headshot on my third shot on Stage One), the first two stages are, in my opinion, an accurate reflection of my current shooting skill, so there’s not a lot of room for improvement there. However, I know I can shoot Stage Three better than I did, because I have. 

So what did I do wrong? 

For starters, I concentrated on the wrong thing. I’ve been shooting a fair amount of USPSA as of late, and the rules for changing the magazines in your gun in that sport are different than they are in IDPA. In USPSA, it’s perfectly ok to let a partially-full magazine hit the ground, in IDPA, that’s  cause for a 10 point procedural penalty. As I was preparing myself for the stage, I was worrying about my reload, not concentrating on slowing down and making sure I got my shots. 

Whoops. 

Secondly, I rushed my shots. While I took more time for each shot than I did in the other two Stages, the fact is, it wasn’t enough: I could have slowed down even more and made doubly sure that my sight alignment and trigger press were there for each shot, but instead, I rushed things a bit and paid the price for my haste. 

Whoops. Let’s break down my breakdown on Stage Three even more.

My Classifier Score
Stage Time Points Down Score Total Time Time Remaining*
One 33.18 8 37.18 33.18 102.82
Two 33.09 11 38.59 66.27 64.23
Three 49.03 61 79.53 115.3 15.2
Totals 115.3   155.3    

* Time remaining is the time I have (before penalties) to complete the Classifier in order to have a score that will push me into Sharpshooter.

61 points down on that stage includes five missed shots, and at 10 penalty points per shot, that translates into 25 seconds taken off my score. Had I made those shots, that would have put me at 130 seconds for the course of fire and into Sharpshooter. 

Hence my problem. I have to balance the speed of my shots with the accuracy of those shots so I come to a balance where I can do better on that last stage. I shot it in 49.03 seconds, and I don’t think there’s much room for improvement right now with my movement speed between the barricades or getting my gun out of my holster quickly, so any improving my score has to come from improving my shot accuracy.

What this means is that 49 seconds is my par time for practices this stage, and the 15.2 seconds of remaining time translates into 30 max penalty points I can possibly have on Stage Three in order for me to make Sharpshooter. This really should not be a problem, as that’s three times the points down I had on Stage Two. 

Fortunately, I know how fast I shot each string of fire on Stage Three, so that gives me a par time that I can use in my practice sessions, and the 15 seconds time remaining tells me how accurate I need to shoot to make Sharpshooter.

Breaking it down, here’s what my practice drills will need to in order to make everything work. 

Stage Three Drill Time Max. Points Down Allowed
String One 19 10
String Two 22 10
String Three 9 10
Total Time 65  

Intimidating, but I know I can turn and shoot three targets clean at 10 yards in under 11 seconds with a reload, so shooting it at 20 yards in under 19 seconds should not be a problem. As with just about everything in practical shooting, I can do what’s required to be successful, all I need to do is do it on demand while the timer is running. 

And that’s the hard part.

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