Geting Started

Welcome to the McHenry IDPA Club.

We hope you’ll find shooting with us a pleasant and enjoyable experience. While we do take our sport very seriously, we are not a highly competitive club. We take great pride in helping less experienced shooters become safer and more confident with a firearm. While having fun is a very high priority – safety is unquestionably our number one concern. The McHenry IDPA club has sent nearly 30 shooters to receive certified Safety Officer training, and we have an IDPA Certified Safety Officer on the firing line with every shooter during every match. We insist that everyone leave one of our matches with exactly the same number of holes with which they arrived. To accomplish this, we have some rules that must strictly be adhered to, by every shooter, every time.

1. There are only 2 places that you may handle a firearm.  One is at the Safe Table, where the muzzle will point only at the wall at all times, and the other is on the firing line under the direction of a Safety Officer.  A Safe Table is located in each range at On Target, and it is here that you will uncase your firearm, ensure that it is unloaded, and place it in your holster.  The muzzle must always be kept pointed at the wall while at the Safe Table.  At no other time may a firearm be unholstered.  If you have a question about your firearm or its operation, it can only be removed from the holster at the Safe Table, with the muzzle towards the wall.

2. Our matches are conducted on a cold range. That means that the ONLY time a firearm is loaded is when you’re directed to “Load and make ready” by one of the Safety Officers when it is your turn on the firing line. If you are carrying a loaded firearm when you arrive at the range, proceed directly to a Safety Officer in order to unload your firearm under his or her supervision.

3. Magazines (or speed loaders for revolvers) may be charged with ammunition anywhere except at the Safe Table.  No ammunition is allowed at the Safe Table at any time. Magazines may not be inserted into a firearm at any time other than under the direct supervision of a Safety Officer or when performing a function check with an empty magazine at the Safe Table. At the Safe Table, only completely inert, solid plastic magazines (“blue magazines”) may be used to practice reloads.

4. If you drop your firearm, loaded or unloaded, do not attempt to catch it. If you drop your firearm outside stage boundaries, find a Safety Officer, who will assist you in re-securing your firearm. Do not touch your firearm after it has been dropped until a Safety Officer assists you.

The range commands a shooter will hear while on the range at an IDPA match are consistent at all IDPA clubs nationwide.  They are:

  1. “Range is hot – eyes and ears” This is the first command a shooter will hear and signifies the start of the course of fire.
  2. “Load and make ready.”  At this time, the shooter will unholster the firearm, load and make ready (insert a magazine and charge the weapon), then reholster the firearm.
  3. “Are you ready?”  The Safety Officer will wait for a positive response.
  4. “Standby.”  This is the last thing a Safety Officer will say before the start signal sounds.

At the sound of the buzzer, you may unholster your firearm and engage the targets.  When you are finished, simply keep the gun pointing downrange (not pointed up at the ceiling, or down at the floor) and wait for the Safety Officer to say…

  1. “If finished, unload and show clear.”  The shooter will remove the magazine, and open the slide for a visual inspection by the Safety Officer.
  2. “If clear, slide forward.” (or close cylinder).  The shooter will comply.
  3. “Pull the trigger.”  The shooter will comply – pointing downrange.
  4. “Holster.”  The shooter will comply – before retrieving magazines or live rounds.
  5.  “Range is clear.”  At this time any safety issues are discussed, the shooter’s time is recorded, and targets and scored.

Some safety commands you may hear while shooting are:

  1. “Finger!”  The shooter must keep a finger outside the trigger guard at all times except when engaging targets.  If a shooter is given a “Finger!” command, immediate compliance is required.  This command is typically given while a shooter is moving or during a reload.
  2. “Muzzle!”  This means the shooter has begun to drift the muzzle in an unsafe direction.  Immediate compliance is required.  The Safety Officer will be ready to physically correct a shooter’s arm if necessary to remain safe.
  3. “Cover!”  This means a shooter is not using cover (walls, barriers, etc) properly, and must reposition correctly behind available cover.
  4. “Stop!”  Means exactly that – stop, take your finger out of the trigger guard, keep the muzzle down range, and wait for further instruction.  This may indicate a safety concern that cannot wait until the shooter is finished, or something as simple as a target malfunction.

On occasion, the Safety Officer may determine that a shooter must be disqualified (DQ) from a match.  Our Safety Officers are required by rules to issue a match DQ when certain unsafe actions are presented. These actions include:

  • Dropping a firearm within the boundaries of a stage
  • Dropping a firearm outside the boundaries of a stage and touching it after it has fallen
  • Drawing a firearm while facing uprange
  • Inadvertent discharge at any time (for example, when loading, unloading, reloading, or moving)
  • Discharge in an unsafe direction (any direction other than into the backstop, such as ceiling or floor)
  • Removing your firearm from its holster (other than at the Safe Table or when explicitly instructed by a Safety Officer)
  • Allowing your muzzle to point in an unsafe direction at any time (such as at a body part or in a direction that breaks a 180 degree plane centered on you and parallel to the backstop)
  • Handling ammunition (live, dummy, or snap cap) at the Safe Table or having ammunition in your firearm at any time other than when directed to load or unload by a Safety Officer
  • Having a magazine inserted in a firearm (empty or loaded) at any time other than under the supervision of a Safety Officer or when performing a function check with an empty magazine at the Safe Table
  • In the case of a single-action-only firearm, manual safety not being engaged at the start of a course of fire

If this should occur, please do not take it personally.  Just resolve to remain safe at subsequent matches, and try to appreciate our concern for everyone’s safety.

We require familiarity with safe handling of a firearm with holster use and movement. To that end, we require that new shooters attend at least one class that includes these topics prior to competing. We require that new shooters demonstrate the ability to safely draw from a holster, shoot on the move, and reholster. It is your responsibility to be familiar with range commands, range rules, and IDPA rules. You must know your firearm and your equipment, and your equipment must enable you to safely participate. For this reason, any holster that requires two hands to reholster (such as a soft nylon or leather holster) is strongly discouraged.

We require that all participants have satisfactorily completed a class on drawing from a holster and shooting on the move, or have prior action pistol shooting experience.
There are many classes that qualify for this requirement, including On Target’s Holster Drills class. A calendar of On Target classes can be found here.

Newer shooters are asked to shoot their first few matches with slow, deliberate gun handling.  Don’t attempt to ‘race the clock’.  As your gun handling skills increase, your speed will increase.

For safety reasons, we reserve the right to deny participation to any shooter at any time.

Monthly matches are held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at On Target Range and Training Center, 560 Beechcraft Ln., Crystal Lake, IL.  Both monthly matches feature the same stages. Set up and sign in starts at 6PM.  The typical match consists of 5 stages, totaling 45-55 rounds, and ends at 10PM.

Once again, welcome to McHenry IDPA.  If there is anything we can do to assist you or make your shooting experience more enjoyable, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Michael Bailey – President
Alex Ilic – Secretary
Jerry Lis – Treasurer
Larry Hall – Chief Match Director
Perry Stevens – Chief Safety Officer
Heath Krier – Director-at-Large
Dave Mann – Director-at-Large