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Position:International Defensive Pistol Association creates new Qualifier course

Modern shooters can't help but compare the 1911 design pioneered by Colt with the Glock semiautomatic. One is blued steel, walnut and history; the other is gray metal, plastic and ergonomics. (No, I won't say that one is history and the other is future; it would be too simplistic and, frankly, it would be uncertain.)

IDPA, the International Defensive Pistol Association, has put together a splendid 90shot Qualifier course that encompasses the Colt .45 automatic and its clones (as Custom Defensive Pistol or CDP class) and double action and other more "modern" guns like the Glock (in Stock Service Pistol, or SSP class). There are also categories for lighter caliber single action autos like the Browning Hi-Power 9mm (Enhanced Service Pistol, or ESP) and Stock Service Revolvers (SSR).

The demanding IDPA Qualifier includes shooting weak hand only and strong hand only, shooting while moving forward and backward, speed reloads, tactical reloads and slidelock reloads, shooting from behind cover, and more. It packs a helluva lot of tactical awareness into 90 shots and is one of the best defensive handgun skill tests ever devised.

Your time for those 90 shots is the measure of your skill, including penalties of several extra seconds for anything done "untactically," and a penalty time of half a second for every point less than maximum. You get max points by hitting a center zone that measures 8" in diameter.

IDPA founder Bill Wilson and his colleague Ken Hackathorn, both among the top shooters in the land, shot this course to determine the "skill level breaks" of Master, Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman and Novice. They sent the course to world champions Rob Leatham and Jerry Barnhart for testing and input. The result was levels for Master class of about 89 seconds for ESP, 91 seconds for CDP class, 98 seconds for SSP class and 102 seconds for SSR class.

No one has yet made Master officially in all four categories, according to Bill Wilson in a conversation in late August of 1999. How you score on the difficult IDPA test can tell you a lot of things about yourself. including which firearms work best for you.

When I was a younger man, I believed what I read in the gun magazines and presumed that an auto would always easily outshoot a revolver when things...

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