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.

Stock Service Pistol

Stock Service Pistol (SSP), the largest of IDPA’s divisions, has been Bob Vogel’s stomping grounds for the past two years—and stomp he did. In the 2012 SSP match, Vogel beat the next closest SSP shooter by almost 50 seconds, with second place going to the talented Rob Tate of Team RangeLog. Interestingly, Tate laid a near Vogel-sized stomping on the rest of the SSP field, as he beat the next closest competitor by over 20 seconds to lay a strong claim on the title of First Master.

The real question facing SSP shooters is, “Who is going to stop Bob Vogel?” While Bob faces stiff competition from other top-tier competitors when he shoots USPSA matches, many of those competitors choose not to shoot IDPA, leaving the SSP division to Vogel’s dominion. This means that most of the interesting matchups in IDPA competition come from other divisions such as CDP and ESP, where tight battles reign.

Enhanced Service Revolver

The Enhanced Service Revolver (ESR) shares a large similarity with the SSP—it’s dominated by one shooter. The running joke in ESR is, “Who is going to finish second to Jerry Miculek?” And that joke is fairly common in all the U.S.’s revolver shooting sports. In the 2012 ESR match, Miculek lived up to his reputation, finishing almost 100 seconds faster than the second-place winner, well-known IDPA shooter and Team RangeLog member Toni Dandreamatteo. Later in 2012, Dandreamatteo went on to win the ESR match at the Indiana State IDPA Championship.

Stock Service Revolver

The Stock Service Revolver (SSR) division is one of the last bastions of the speedloader-fed six-shooter. (The other is the dedicated revolver championship held by the International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts.) At the IDPA Nationals, five wheelgunners headed into the match with a chance to win, not knowing that the match would be absolutely dominated by a relatively unknown shooter. Kirk Crego took home the 2012 SSR championship, winning by an impressive 22.5-second margin over the second-place winner, Tom Becker. The remaining competitors at the top of SSR battled through the tough courses of fire, with no shooter other than Crego dropping less than 90 points. Crego shot a staggeringly accurate match, dropping a paltry 52 points. The next most-accurate SSR shooter was this writer, who dropped 90 points and finished a personally disappointing fifth place overall in SSR. A hit on a no-shoot target and two procedural errors certainly didn’t help my personal performance.

After four days of shooting and 16 stages at the 2012 IDPA Nationals, over 73,000 rounds of ammo were expended. Stage highlights from the match included shooting from an elevated platform, out of a car truck and from a shallow grave. Course design was excellent across the board, with tight shots through wooded areas, tough technical shots and wide-open speed courses. With a hugely successful 2012 National Championship in the books and an enhanced rulebook coming out in 2013, the IDPA should continue its amazing growth. Defensive pistol ownership is a growing demographic, and where better for those new shooters to go than to an IDPA match? For more information, visit or call 870-545-3886.

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