Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fire When Ready!


When I set foot in the Land of the Oragons, Bicolandia, I discovered so many pleasant surprises. I have appreciated the scenic spots and the fresh air; and, I met a lot of nice, friendly Bicolanos.

As a shooting aficionado myself, my first point of interest during my first week in Cam Sur is the site of the firing ranges. I felt sorry that we didn’t have a reputable rifle range like the ones in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac. Therefore, I make myself contented with the improvised 300m firing range in the quarry site near the Pili airport. Endangering the jetsetters? No, it is beyond our line of sight (LOS) and bullet path (BP).

Upon learning that one of the best firing ranges in Bicolandia lies 200m from my very own office, I became elated. Shooting is my stress-reliever. Others call me a shooting addict. I don’t care. As a soldier, it is my own way of continuously harnessing my shooting skill which I need to protect myself, my family, and anyone who may need my help. As I regularly visit this firing range, I came to know that the shooters here in Bicol are indulged in a different shooting discipline. “This is the so-called IDPA shooting match”, says LTCOL LEO CIRUNAY (CDP Division, Sharpshooter), one of the best shooters in Bicol today. It was quite new to my ears but I became interested. “Permission to join the group Sir!”, was my quick reply. Having been exposed to IPSC, AARM and PNSA shooting disciplines, I wanted to learn the challenges of IDPA matches.

This shooting sport is governed by the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) which is based in Berryville, Arizona. Founded in 1996, it now boasts membership of more than 13,000 coming from 36 different countries. In the Philippines, Bicol is home to over fifteen gun clubs which are all involved in IDPA matches. Almost every month, IDPA matches are hosted by different gun clubs; and, a Regional Level match is held every quarter. A national level IDPA match is scheduled in November 2009.

Unlike the IPSC matches, this shooting sport is “friendly” to all, even to the new shooting enthusiasts. Firstly, shooters are categorized according to their marksmanship skill level. A Shooter’s Classification shooting test is normally conducted by a qualified IDPA Safety Officer to determine the IDPA qualification of a particular shooter. The classification is as follows: Novice (NV), Marksman (MM), Sharpshooter (SS), Expert (EX) and Master (MA). The classification is further divided into divisions, depending on the type of gun being used. As such, the firearms are grouped into five (5) divisions: 1) Custom Defensive Pistol (.45ACP semi-automatics only); 2) Enhanced Service Pistol (9mm (9x19) or larger caliber semi-automatics); 3) Stock Service Pistol (9mm (9x19) or larger caliber double action, double action only, or safe action semi-automatics); 4) Enhanced Service Revolver (.38 caliber or larger double action revolvers); and 5) Stock Service Revolver (.38 caliber or larger double action revolvers). Therefore, if you’re using the M1911A1 Cal .45 pistol, you will compete against shooters in the same division (CDP) and marksmanship qualification. Since the sport is designed in such a way that the shooter is required to use a practical gear and handguns, it is realistically practical in the truest sense of the word. The main goal of this shooting match design is to test the skill and ability of the individual and not the equipment. “Competition only” equipment is not allowed in IDPA. Modified and scoped pistols (also known as “race guns”), as well as IPSC type combat rigs are not allowed. After all, do we find a policeman or a soldier carrying these types of equipment on duty? If yes, he may be due to be sent to the mental hospital for being impractical and for making himself the laughingstock in the streets.

Fortunately, the Commander of the 9th Infantry Division, MGEN RUPERTO R PABUSTAN, is an avid shooter himself. One of his first standing orders upon assuming command is to enhance the marksmanship skills of all soldiers. While mobile training teams (MTTs) are regularly sent to line units to propagate the marksmanship skills to all personnel, officers in the garrison are all required to undergo the Combat Pistol Qualification Course (CPQC). Those who excel in the CPQC are organized to compose the Spear Gun Club (SGC). Today, members of the SGC are heavily involved in IDPA matches all throughout Bicol region. We have ten regular members representing three different divisions: CDP, SSP and ESP. Believing the capabilities of my CZ SPO1 Tactical 9mm Pistol, I decided to qualify under SSP Division.

IDPA shooting matches are based on real-life scenarios. You normally find hostage-rescue situations and “room-clearing” as well. Basically, the shooter is required to engage the target using Tactical Sequence or Tactical Priority. Unlike in IPSC format, you must hide at least 50% of your body behind hard cover (concrete wall) or else you will be penalized. There are two main magazine reloading techniques: IDPA Tactical Reload and the IDPA Reload with magazine retention. A shooter is only allowed to drop the magazine in the event that all ammo is spent and the gun is in “slide-lock” condition.

As a newcomer in this shooting sport, I usually commit mistakes due to my IPSC background; but, I am learning along the way. Thanks to IPSC, I can shoot fast and accurately; but, I tend to come face-to-face with the “enemy” as if I am Nardong Putik with all the amulets. I sometimes apply in IDPA what is impractical in world self-defense. Interestingly, I have encountered so many scenarios that I have not found in IPSC shooting format. It was the first time that I engaged targets in low-light conditions inside a dark room full of “terrorists” with their hapless “hostages”. When engaging the enemy out in the open, IDPA format requires you to shoot targets while in the move using the Tactical Sequence engagement technique: one bullet per enemy at a time in the fastest manner possible. Adding to the challenges, you may find yourself slugging it out with the “enemy” using hip-shooting, weak-hand shooting and hitting head-shots. With what I am experiencing, IDPA shooting sport is probably the best for soldiers and VIP protection specialists. This sport is economical, practical and challenging. My IPSC gears were rendered useless this time. You only need to wear your conceal carry holster and military type magazine pouches. It is through participation in various shooting sports like the IPSC, IDPA and AARM that soldiers can bring their marksmanship skill to another level. The annual Rifle/Pistol Marksmanship training is inadequate to respond to the varying conditions that we may be exposed to while performing our various duties. Your Expert qualification in the Army’s marksmanship training does not guarantee your survival in street fighting using your service issue gun. Can you draw your pistol fast enough when you’re inside your car or when both of your hands are tinkering the ATM machine? Can you rapidly change magazine, keep the spent magazine with some ammos left, then continue engaging the enemy? For those who are too lazy enough even to dry practice in the range, I bet you will miss more often in tactical shooting scenarios than shooting enthusiasts from the civilian community. As members of the uniformed services, soldiers and policemen need to engage in fruitful activities such as IDPA shooting rather than involving in nonsensical extra-curricular activities such as cockfighting and watching TV soap operas.

Today, IDPA shooting sport is rapidly growing due to the aggressive involvement of Bicolano shooters. It is now declared as the official marksmanship training for all police personnel after their participation in the IDPA format competition in 2008. As the proponent of the CPQC in the Philippine Army, I am also pushing for the adoption of the IDPA shooting sport as the part of the pistol marksmanship sustainment training of all soldiers. I hope that we can replicate this excellent training methodology Armywide.

See you in the range! Fire when ready! 

1 comment:

  1. kailan po paexam sa pili cam sur sir? .