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Quest for Master Class – Stage 2 Breakdown

Two weeks ago, we took a look at the first stage of the IDPA classifier, breaking it down to help improve your times on each string and thus give you the cushion to make Master on the entire stage. We used an approximate par time of 25 seconds after points down, and while we failed to hit that goal, I personally was able to get some good takeaways from that practice session, and apply them to Stage 2.

In Stage 2, you have only 4 strings of fire, so your presentation isn’t as critical here as it was on Stage 1. The first two strings of fire are shot on the move – starting at the 10 yard line moving forward, then starting at the 5 yard line moving to the rear. Each of those two strings consists of two shots to each IDPA target. The 3rd string is as famous as it gets – Jeff Cooper’s El Presidente drill. Facing away from the targets, turn, draw and fire two shots at each target, reload then fire two more shots at each target for a total of 12 shots. The final string is two shots per target, strong hand only and can be a place where people drop a lot of points.

Using the same guidelines as we did for Stage 1, here are the aggregate times (adjusted to include points down) that you’d need to get under that goal of 25 seconds for Stage 2.

String 1: 4 seconds or less

String 2: 4 seconds or less

String 3: 10 seconds or less

String 4: 7 seconds or less

All of those times are easily achievable with a little bit of practice. In my opinion, Stage 2 is the easiest of the three classifier stages. I generally post my fastest times here and have the fewest points down on this stage of all three whenever I shoot it for real. Let’s take a look at this week’s video and see how I do.

Unlike Stage 1’s choppy, uneven performance I was quite pleased with my run on Stage 2. A raw time of less than 21 seconds and an aggregate time of under 24 seconds and only six points down? I’ll take that any day. The thing about this run through Stage 2 was it wasn’t blazingly fast, I didn’t shoot a sub 5 second El Pres or do anything particularly cool. What I did do was get good hits, follow my front sight, and make sure that I wasn’t doing stupid stuff with the gun. On String 1 and 2, the most important thing I did was take my time with the first shot. Because you’re moving, if you hurry the first shot on these strings it will throw you off for the subsequent shots. Get this hit, because it sets the tone for the next 2-4 seconds! Don’t take big steps, either. While I’m constantly in motion, the “heel-toe-heel-toe” style walk is very stable. It’s not practical or even a reasonable facsimile of how I’d walk in a gunfight, but for the purposes of the game of IDPA, it’s perfect.

Moving on to El Presidente, you have what is one of the most misunderstood pistol drills on the planet. El Pres is a great drill, as it tests multiple aspects of the fundamentals of marksmanship and forces shooters to move their feet, reload, make transitions, and generally demonstrate every basic skill of combat marksmanship. But on the IDPA classifier, there is no need to go as fast as possible on this drill. What’s more important in the scope of the IDPA classifier is to get good hits. If you can shoot this drill in 4.52 seconds it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if you’re down 12 or 15 points! On this run, I shot it in around 8 or so seconds, which again isn’t a blazing fast time…but because I had excellent hits it was good enough!

The final string on Stage 2 is strong hand only, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s a piece of cake. If you’ve beaten the par times for Strings 1-3, you can give yourself a little extra time here and get really good hits. Remember, shooting strong hand only doesn’t change your sight picture or your trigger squeeze, so take your time and get your hits.

Ultimately, that’s the takeaway for Stage 2 of the classifier – take your time and get good hits. Because three of the four strings are speed shoots, it’s easy to want to go wild and slam these strings as fast as possible, which will give you a whopping bunch of points down and put you in a world of hurt for Stage 3, which is the hardest stage. Resist the temptation to hose Stage 2, and you’ll set yourself in a strong position for Stage 3. If you want to push your skill level, Stage 2 is a good place to try and pick up lost time on Stage 1 or try to give yourself a cushion on Stage 3. Just don’t do it at the cost of a good time here!

Quest for Master Class Statistics

Rounds Fired: 2903

Fastest Time: 84.66

Club Matches Won: 5

Major Match Best Finish: 12th

ESP Classification: Expert

SSP Classification: Expert


Caleb Giddings is the founder of Gun Nuts Media (www.gunnuts.net). He has been involved in competitive shooting since he was a cadet at the US Coast Guard Academy in 2000 and has attending training courses at Gunsite and the former Blackwater USA. Since shooting his first IDPA match in 2008, Caleb has started the climb through the rankings, earning the title of Master Class shooter in the Enhanced Service Revolver division in 2010.

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