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GADPA Rulebook Review

So in the past year or so, the folks at GADPA, a large Atlanta-area organization that oversees multiple matches, broke away from IDPA and announced they were writing their own rulebook. Well, it’s finally here and… well… I can’t say I’m eager to shoot a GADPA match.

First off, the scoring is a mess. The target is another attempt to be more “realistic”. When IDPA came up with their target, they deleted the “credit card” in the head from USPSA (less realistic) and made the high scoring zone in the chest round instead of rectangular (more realistic), so that was a wash. These guys have taken the best of both, with a 3″ circle in the head and a circle in the chest that are new new highest scoring zones. Nothing really to complain about there. But then they added this weird 1″ vertical column to simulate the spine. Why? Because in real life, a lucky spine hit (assuming your bullet passes all the way through the target’s front and has enough energy to damage their spine) would be crippling. But just like in real life, it’s such a low-percentage target, nobody shoots at it, the same way we don’t train shooting guns or knives out of criminals’ hands. So putting it on the target is simply a paean to “realism” that will do nothing but occasionally give a shooter a free half second for a shot outside the “down zero”. We don’t train for lucky shots like that so I don’t see why it should be in the rules.

The second problem with scoring is that major and minor use different zones on the target. There’s an intermediary zone between the “down zero” and “down one” that is a zero for major and a one for minor. This means the scorekeeper has to know the shooter’s power factor when scoring each stage. What if there’s a mixup? Rulebook says it’s the “competitor’s responsibility,” i.e. screw you.

That part alone might be manageable, but the pièce de résistance is that the number of holes scored per target depends on where the hits are. One shot in the middle? Down zero. Two shots in the down one? Down two total. Three shots in the down three? Down nine. One shot in the one, two in the three? Down four. But the down one in the head is scored differently than the down one in the body.

We give USPSA crap for having confusing scoring, but at least there it’s clear how to score the hits on a target. It’s the math that goes in to computing the stage score after that where it gets fuzzy. But you try explaining to a first time, wide-end-of-the-funnel shooter that because their down one didn’t quite break the perf in to the down zero (which would score the single best hit, for a score of 0) instead they score the down one as a one and since they only fired one shot at the target, the second scored hit is a miss, so it’s a total of down 6. It’s Calvinball-level confusing.

What about gear divisions? They’ve tried to split the baby, so you can shoot everything from a 5-shot .38 revolver (with 105 power factor ammo, of course) to a USPSA Open gun. The IDPA-ish Concealed Carry Division, for shooting stock guns while carrying no more than 35 rounds on your person (???) requires concealment (still doesn’t allow appendix holsters, though). The USPSA-ish Competition and Open Divisions don’t. And you can run a flashlight (competitive advantage) and slide ride red dot (huge competitive advantage) in Concealed Carry. Yeah, you’ll be “competitive” with an iron sighted stock Glock 19, with air quotes the size of monster truck tires around “competitive.”

Final thoughts on the details of the rulebook:

Calling their SOs or ROs “Advanced Safety Officers” just smacks of insecurity. You’re a guy running a timer and calling cover. What’s so “advanced” about you? (Disclosure: I’m a USPSA CRO.)

Having a 180 OR muzzle safe points is cool. Different bays, different rules. Just make it clear.

Axe to Grind Warning: “2.7.4 Each competitor must report to Match Officials if they intend to leave a match without finishing.” If you don’t have scores for them, just give them a 99 for those stages like IDPA matches have been doing for years. This reeks of a guy in the stats shack that demands people respect his authoritah.

Scoring non-threats based on where you hit them? Just more hassle. Make the whole thing a really stiff penalty (IDPA and USPSA) and be done with it. Kneejerk appeal to “realism” with no real competitive point.

Making the scoring zones smaller (4.75″ circle for minor, 6.5″ circle for major) is neat. Making the whole upper-chest the down one and the lower torso down three is certainly more realistic. No beef there.

Rules for procedural penalties say only one per shooting position unless the ASO determines it was intentional, it which case they get to make up a penalty on the spot. (2.18.1) To answer your follow-up, no, the words “arbitration” do not appear in the rulebook.

Making rules lawyering a disqualifiable offense ( might as well penalize “violating the spirit of the rules.” At least they’re making it clear that serious competitors need not apply.

IDPA and USPSA have an exception to the sweeping yourself rule for sweeping the lower extremities while drawing. Agree with it or not, it’s clear that’s not a DQable offense. GADPA has this mess ( it is a DQ for the shooter to point “the muzzle of the firearm at themselves or others. Sweeping yourself while drawing and holstering the firearm may result in a disqualification (DQ) if the Advanced Safety Officer deems the action unsafe.” The first sentence says it is always a DQ to sweep yourself. The second sentence says the ASO decides. Which is it? Is there an exception?

Duty gear exception is cool.

Restricting the amount of ammo a competitor is allowed to have (but only in some divisions) seems so pointless. Doing it in the divisions that also requires concealment doubly so. Seems like someone just has an axe to grind about people wearing more magazines than they think is tactically sound. 8+1 in a 1911 and three 8 round reloads is okay, but a fourth one would just be absurd. (IDPA does this too, and I think it’s equally silly there.)

Having a Not For Competition division is as smart for GADPA as it is for IDPA. Don’t try and let people be competitive with their carry gear. Just create a place they can come, get scored, have fun, and not make the gamers butthurt by using a flashlight or a slide ride. Allowing that stuff in the “stock gun” division means it’ll be a de facto requirement to be competitive. And for god’s sake let me draw from an appendix holster. That’s as real as it gets.

5.3.1 says the competitor “must” indicate when they’re ready after the “Shooter ready?” command. If they don’t, though, 5.3.2 says the ASO can just give them the “standby” anyway. Is it required or not?

6.7 takes the concealment criteria to another level. No “noticeable bulges” for concealment? Who defines noticeable? Is noticeable at your home range in Mississippi the same as when you go to the Nationals in Atlanta? Sorry buddy, you just got bumped to NFC because you put on ten pounds and now your gun bulges!

They’re using fault lines, but they are simply visual indicators, not raised edges? IDPA tried that and they said it sucked. We’ve tried it with tape on the floors at the Wake Action Pistol matches and it sucked. I can only imagine how it’s going to go outdoors. But it has to be that way so they can have multiple fault lines for one position of cover. You have got to be kidding me. allows cover lines that aren’t visually marked? So you just get to guess where they are?

8.4 is beyond weird. Fault lines have to be color coded red or yellow? Which indicates how they are to be used? Seriously?

8.5: shooting while touching the fault line is a procedural. Good luck determining that without raised fault lines. Shooting with any part of your lower body “visibly past” the fault line? Oh jeez, here we go again.

Good news: stage walkthroughs. Bad news: 2.5 minutes. Maximum. Have fun trying to elbow your way to see up to 18 targets on the stage in 150 seconds.

There is no classifier. You can only be classified by shooting three larger-than-club-level (“area”) matches in a single year. Almost everyone that shoots USPSA is a member because they get a benefit every match they shoot. Few regular IDPA competitors are members unless they want to shoot at least one sanctioned match a year. So making the only benefit to being a member require three big matches or a state or national match means even fewer people will join.

They don’t have classes (novice, marksman, expert), they have Tier 1-5 with 1 being the best. The more points you have on a scale to one to five, the lower your tier is. 5 points makes you tier 1, 2 points makes you tier 4. They couldn’t have reversed it? 5 points is tier 5, 2 points is tier 2? Nah, that’d be too simple.

In USPSA, states are “sections” and groups of states are “areas” (there are 8 of them). In IDPA, states are “areas”. In GADPA, there are no “areas” but an “area sanctioned match” is a smaller match than a “state sanctioned match”. So why call it an “area”? Just to be confusing?

Honorable mention: the non-rulebook FAQ they posted. They mention at one point “an ASO may prevent a competitor from retreating in a course of fire to recover a partially spent magazine due to the safety concerns associated with doing so.” Prevent how? Physically? DQ them? Under what rule? “ Refusing to comply with Match Officials”? In other words, “do what I say or else”?

Them saying they “will revisit the divisions periodically to make sure we don’t need to make any changes” is like a police chief saying “there will be a thorough investigation to ensure the officer was justified in using his weapon”. Kinda tells you the assumed conclusion, doesn’t it?

There are effectively no classes. The paragraph about how this system will eliminate “the sand bagger” smacks so hard of having an axe to grind. The FAQ outlines some kind of classification at each sanctioned match, which is apparently distinct from the “annual classification” discussed above and in the rulebook. Maybe those rules should, like, be in the rulebook?

Alright, anyway, rant mode off. Long story short: GADPA for me as it stands is a non-starter.

About Ben

Blog contributor. Active in IDPA and USPSA, and he won't flinch if you call him a rules lawyer. Ben is a beard wearing, bacon eating, whiskey drinking, motorcycle riding, coder.


  1. Yikes. Are you sure this organization isn’t merely a front — a fake organization (and rulebook) created by IDPA to make their muddled rulebook seem crystal clear by comparison?

  2. I shot this match today…..I would suggest that you actually SHOOT a match before you attempt to discredit it. And for the record….We shoot the 4th Sunday of the Month…and you can shoot an indoor match M-F every week in the metro Atlanta Area, So you have no excuse to not come shoot the match.

  3. No I am talking about You. Reading it on paper is one thing seeing it in actual practice without shooting it is another.

  4. Lucas it was not you it was Ben my apologies…But until you actually shoot a match you have only a slight concept of the Game…In practice it’s much smoother and gives the shooter MANY more choices on how to shoot a stage not the cookie cutter template.

  5. So, I added the video I shot and you can see the red/yellow fault lines they are raised ( slightly). Scoring as follows ( which is simple) If your best hit is in the zero zones or spinal strip you only have to hit the target once to neutralize it for zero down. If your best hit is in the 1 zone you must have two hits on target. If your best hit is a 2 (outer ring) you need to have 3 rounds on target. So if you completely miss a target you get 15 down. On the other hand I saw getting any hit on the head could only be a max of 1 down and if you hit center of the head of course zero neutralize.
    Major power factor shooters like .40 or .45, open class have a larger zero area on the body.

    • Your last video is a perfect example of the options available with the fault lines. I don’t think I saw anyone else shoot bay 18 the way you did. Everyone on my squad went to the inside fault lines, most taking the hostage target from behind the yellow, then stepping out and taking the other two on the move, then turning and shooting the three down-range targets from behind the 3rd red line there. Nice videos. I think I might do that next time.

  6. I also shot the match yesterday and I like the game! I, too, thought scoring would be complicated after reading the rules. But the SOs flew right through scoring targets. They’ve obviously practiced and have it down. After a couple of stages, I figured out that it’s a simple system to shoot, as well. If you don’t confidently call a zero on the first shot, shoot it again! It really is that simple.

    I agree with Ron A about the fault lines, too. I liked having options. I was shooting revolver so in the interest of round economy, I chose to stop at most yellow lines and make sure I got good hits. I noticed a lot of other guys kept going and shot the targets on the move but used a lot more ammo. It was definitely more interesting and fun than the typical IDPA “my way or the highway” stages.

    Yup, I think all you nay-sayers should try it out before you trash talk it. A lot of the complexity is cleared right up once you see things in action. Although, I did notice a couple of USPSA shooters at the match yesterday shooting open. I’d be interested to hear their take on things.

  7. And for the record Scoring is pretty simple looking at it on paper is confusing and I’ll admit I was confused myself ( not going to lie) but actually scoring yesterday and my friend Doug’s excellent video. Tell me how difficult you think it is….


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