Building IDPA from Within, Texas-style

Jun 29, 2012
"The best Safety Officers and staff in the sport."
That's what Cody Ray, MD (match director) for tomorrow's Texas State IDPA Championship, says about the Safety Officers (SO) working the match. So what training program does the Collin County (Texas) club use to provide rank and file members of the International Defensive Pistol Association with what Cody Ray says are the top officials in the sport? Ray explains, "At Collin County IDPA we try to foster a culture of leadership within the club rather than rely on a fixed set of rules for advancement." "We require 100% IDPA membership prior to shooting a second IDPA match with us, so shooters feel they are a part of a real shooting organization. We try to identify early on those shooters we refer to as contributors, and start encouraging them to move up the participation ladder by becoming an SO or an MD." This effort to develop leaders from within the club was initiated by the President of Collin County IDPA, along with fellow board members and their CSO. In the SO classes, Collin County IDPA's CSO, and IDPA SO Instructor, C.J. Pruszynski, follows the IDPA HQ curriculum, but places a heavy emphasis on the role of the SO in maintaining range safety, including the proper way to run a timer (i.e., where to stand), how to watch the gun, how to move with the shooter, how to avoid safety "traps", and what to do if and when problems arise. "We prefer to initially focus our prospective SOs on learning range/shooter safety protocols as opposed the details of the IDPA competition rules, which can be learned by study and mentoring", explains Ray. "New SOs immediately get a lot of timer practice, rules mentoring and on-the-job training at our club matches under the watchful eyes of our senior SOs. They can then graduate to performing scorekeeper and squad SO assistant roles at our sanctioned matches, followed by eventual promotion to the squad CSO role, after demonstrating the appropriate level of knowledge, maturity and experience." Collin County IDPA also offers a Match Director class, with curriculum mostly written by the club's Secretary, Don Perkins. Perkins and Ray teach this class to those members that are willing to help out at matches, and want to move toward becoming a Match Director within the club. And, it's working. "We often pair new MDs, as a co-MD, with an experienced Match Director for their first couple of matches. This effort, coupled with C.J.'s SO classes and a high level of CCIDPA member/peer support, keeps Collin County IDPA at the forefront," says Ray. To help improve the shooting skills of its members, Ray arranges classes for shooters that are taught by Gordon Carrell of GLC Shooting Academy, a world class shooter and firearms instructor who just happens to be one of the few Distinguished Masters in IDPA. He's also a member of Houston based Comp-Tac Victory Gear's shooting team. "Gordon is one of the best firearms instructors available and has helped raise the performance of many of our club's shooters, regardless of their initial skill level. We have found that money invested in Gordon's classes is money well spent," said Ray. The key to IDPA's success at the club is pretty straight forward. "At Collin County IDPA we are all volunteers, and we do a fantastic job promoting IDPA to the fullest extent," Ray proudly declares. That attention to building a strong IDPA program at CCIDPA probably explains why tomorrow's championship match has been sold out for some time now. - Kitty Richards Kitty Richards, besides competing in this weekend's championship, is an IDPA Safety Officer Instructor for New York state. She is also Co-Leader of IDPA's Tiger Team Initiative, a member-driven effort to review and update the rules and procedures that govern the fast growing sport of defensive pistol shooting.