It started with the desire to return pistol shooting to its roots as a practical sport. Now, the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) has taken off, with over 20,000 active members and three hugely popular national-level matches: The Indoor Nationals, the Carolina Cup and, of course, the annual National Championship. The 2012 National Championship was held at The Range in North Carolina, the same facility that hosts the Carolina Cup. In September 2012, over 300 shooters gathered at the range to compete in 16 challenging courses of fire.

The IDPA National Championship was loaded with tough competition. Stages tested every aspect of shooting skills, from accuracy to speed. Mental skills were also on the line, with stages designed to force shooters to think critically about their shooting strategy and make tough choices. After four days of shooting, the scores were tallied, champions were crowned, and the shooters returned to their normal lives. To give you a taste of what you missed, here’s a match recap from each of IDPA’s five divisions.

Custom Defensive Pistol

The Custom Defensive Pistol (CDP) division features nothing but pistols chambered in .45 ACP and, as of late, has been the “Glenn Shelby Show.” Shelby, a shooter from Team Wilson Combat, won the 2011 World Championship and the 2012 Indoor Nationals. His last loss at a major match (the 2011 Indoor National) was by 0.87 seconds, to none other than David Olhasso. So it should come as no surprise that Olhasso and Shelby chased each other in the 2012 CDP match. Shooting on separate squads and trading the lead throughout the event, the men won first and second place with scores separated by a scant 1.75 seconds. Shelby claimed another National Championship in CDP.

Mistakes were what ultimately decided the win. Shelby shot a largely mistake-free match (dropping only 44 points), in which he did not shoot any non-threat targets and committed no procedural errors. Olhasso actually shot a faster match pace than Shelby, taking a 5-second advantage in raw time, and dropped 2 points less than Shelby. However, Olhasso garnered more penalties, earning one 3-second procedural error and one 5-second penalty for failing to neutralize all the targets on a stage. His final score was 250.23, just shy of Shelby’s score of 248.48.

Enhanced Service Pistol

The most dramatic and interesting race of the match was in IDPA’s most technologically open division, the Enhanced Service Pistol (ESP). In this division, guns can range from Glock 17s with no modifications to high-end custom 1911s, usually chambered in 9mm. This wide array of equipment can contribute to some pretty interesting competition, and the 2012 ESP match was no exception. On day one, it looked like Team RangeLog shooter Ravin Perry was going to pull off an upset win and claim the title for his own. He barreled through the first half of the match, posting the fastest overall times out of every shooter in attendance on three of the eight stages.

After shooting the lights out on day one, Perry needed to hold off Matt Mink, Eric Fuson and Brandon Wright on day two to keep his lead intact. That is a tall order, as Mink and Wright came storming back to take the lead on day two, trading it back and forth throughout the competition. Strong performances by Mink, Fuson and Wright put Perry down to fourth place overall, with Mink taking the ESP division win.

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