Almost 6 months after joining IDPA, I finally had the opportunity to shoot the IDPA classifier, and I have to say, that is a no BS test of your shooting ability. I primarily shoot USPSA and their classifying system is quite different and in many regards, doesn’t always represent the current level of the shooter’s ability, it is merely a sliver of what that shooter’s current abilities are. In fact there is often a skew between a USPSA competitor’s classification and their field course shooting ability. That’s why you’ll sometimes see a competitor who is destroying their division but only ranked as a C class shooter (Sandbagging). Or conversely, you’ll have a Master class shooter who can’t hold his own with the A class competitors (Grandbagging). It’s not a perfect system, but it’s what we have. But I digress.
The IDPA classifier isn’t a single shooting skill held off in isolation from everything else, rather it is a series of strings that test a shooter’s overall abilities in the context of IDPA and it’s plethora of rules. The classifier tests everything from shooting on the move at 5 yards, to longer range targets from behind a barricade, and everything in between.
One notable thing worth mentioning about the IDPA culture is that unlike USPSA who offers a classifier stage as part of every match, IDPA classifiers are few and far between. They are usually a special event held primarily for shooters to update their classification, or in my case, to get their initial ranking.
My buddy who is responsible for getting me into IDPA in the first place practices the classifier occasionally, usually to get tuned up before a classifier is scheduled to take place. On a couple of occasions I’ve had the opportunity to run it in practice with him so I wouldn’t say I was unfamiliar with it even though I hadn’t officially shot it. So when it was announce that our club was going to run a classifier match I jumped at the chance to finally shoot it officially and see where I sat with my fellow competitors.
During the classifier match I really just focused on calling every shot and not rushing or trying. As it turns out, that seemed to work out pretty darn well for me and I didn’t rack up any penalties and shot very consistently. The one and only “error” I made the entire day was on the 5 yard while retreating string. Being that it was only five yards I did get ahead of myself and didn’t get quite the placement on the target that I needed, so my first shot was just outside of the down zero section. I knew it the instant I broke the shot and although it didn’t affect my classification outcome, that one small lapse in discipline cost me the overall match win and I was just barely edged out into second place. I just never pays to rush and/or not give any target the respect it deserves. It reminds me of something I heard Steve Anderson say once; “The close targets are worth the same points as the far ones.”
Anyway, was I disappointed with the outcome or beating myself up over the error? Heck no! I was too excited with the time I had completed the classifier, which came in at 106.95. That was just enough to squeak me into Expert class for SSP, and as it turns out, ESP, too.
If you’re interested in the IDPA classifier and how each stage breaks down into various strings and requirements, check out the Stages Link on the IDPA website. Just click the “Classifier Stages” check box to filter out everything else.