Brock's Gap Training Center is a massive private outdoor shooting range located in Hoover, Alabama (which is within the Birmingham Metro area). There are multiple areas to shoot every type of firearm you can think of, and the range hosts a plethora of matches including IDPA, Cowboy Action, 3 Gun, 2 Gun, and a variety of other matches for rifle, pistol, and shotgun individually. Most matches are open to non-members.
My day there started at 9AM with an hour long segment that included a safety briefing and a detailed introduction into what shooting IDPA is all about, range commands, demonstrations of those commands in action, and equipment we'd be seeing.
By 10AM we hit the shooting bays to shoot an unofficial match, and that's where we saw that the man responsible for this course, Charlie Baker, hadn't been kidding when he told us that he followed the philosophy of "train harder than you play." Every single target I saw had half the scoring area blacked out to signify that portion of the target being behind hard cover. It was explained that any hit in those areas would be counted as a miss, and since we were shooting limited there would be no make up shots.
Fear the black!
Shooting started out slow. The first stage was draw, one shot to the head six times (each shot timed separately). From there things got progressively harder. Every shooter suffered from the hard cover markings which made plenty of zero down shots misses.
Most of the shooting was set up around drills (double taps, triple taps, Mozambiques, modified El Prez). Every stage involved multiple targets except stage 1 and a non-scored shooting from retention target. Stages incorporated as many as nine targets. We shot one stage with with a popper activated swinger, and another with three human and three dog targets (our final stage) that included free style standing shooting, weak hand only kneeling, and strong hand only prone all from cover.
One shooter shooting laterally. This stage was 9 targets, all shot on the move.
The last stage, and probably the most difficult.
I only interacted with my own squad of 8 shooters (we had two for a total of 16), but everyone was friendly, willing to offer advice, complimentary, and helpful. Everyone pasted targets as quickly as possible. There were so many hands pasting that at times it was hard to find a hole to paste! After the match ended everyone assisted the RSOs with the cleaning up the bays we'd used.
Speaking of the RSOs, these guys were also great. Charlie Baker handled the lecture part of the day and then acted with another man as instructor/RSO for the second squad. My squad had a gentleman named Robert Moore and another man whose name I am sorry to say I've forgotten. Both of them were extremely competent and informative, willing to answer questions and quick to give praise where it was due. A key thing they pointed out time and time again was that we'd probably never see that much black in a real match so a lot of our misses would be zero down hits.
This was a very fun day, and one in which I learned a lot. The first stage found me with shaking hands and wobbly knees. Wobbly enough that I was worried about walking. The nervousness and adrenaline wore off quickly but it was a new experience. It didn't stop me from shooting well though.
I really enjoyed this experience, and I can't wait to become an IDPA member, shoot my first official match, and shoot a classifier.
I did all of my shooting with my Glock 17 Gen IV carried in my DSG Alpha holster with a DSG Alpha double mag holder carrying my magazines. I was very pleased with how everything worked.
Oh, and while it was an unofficial match we were emailed match results Saturday afternoon that included results by stage and overall. Out of 9 stages I finished 5th or better out of 16 shooters in all but one stage. I won one stage outright. Overall I finished 4th of 16. I also had a total of 83 points down, which was the lowest for all shooters, meaning even with all the black I was shooting the most accurately. The next lowest points down was 100.