Shooting Career

Career Path

IDPA shooting is more about skills and less about equipment. Proper instruction, effective practice and perseverance are a better path to enjoy the sport and have success than buying fancy gear. SwissAAA and selected partners offer a well-proven career path for competitive shooters.
The foundation provides the fundamentals of shooting and hitting. The fundamentals remain the same, independent of whatever specialization one wants to explore afterwards. Whether competing in dynamic sports shooting, carrying on armed duty or participating in traditional precision shooting: sound fundamentals are the basis for safety and success in any case.  Specification facilitates the start as an IDPA competitor for pistol, revolver and PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine).  The next step is to compete and keep becoming a better shooter!
The career path is designed to take you from beginners to master level - if you do your part of course. Take contact today and get moving to take your next step!

Competitive Shooting Career Path

Foundation: Basic Firearm Education

What is included in a good basic pistol education? What skills should you have in order to start with dynamic sports shooting?

A solid foundation for the pistol should at least consist of the following skills:

  • Understand and automatically apply the four universal firearms safety rules always and under all circumstances

  • Know the main pistol parts and their function

  • Execute pistol disassembly, maintenance and re-assembly

  • Safely execute drawing and re-holstering

  • Understand and apply the five fundamentals of shooting: stance, grip, aiming, breathing, triggering

  • Execute the basic pistol manipulations: load, unload, PSC (Personal Safety Check), mag-change and reload

  • Shoot and hit from standing, kneeling, crouching and prone positions at distances of 5-25m

  • Produce accurate hits with fast double taps

  • Shoot and hit after drawing from the holster

  • Swiftly clear simple and extended malfunctions

  • Shoot and hit one handed (left and right)

You should be able to perform and apply all of the above correctly on your own without any pressure in order to move up from the foundation level. They form a sound basic pistol competency, irrespective of the following specification steps. Whether you carry your gun on duty or for civilian self defense or you become a sports shooter in any discipline you choose, you will be able to acquire additional, specific skills building up on a solid, common  basis.

The Four Universal Safety Rules

Four Universal Safety Rules

There are four universal safety rules that a shooter has to apply under all circumstances, irrespective of the type of firearm.

1) Always treat a firearm is if loaded.

2) Always point a firearm in a safe direction, away from people.

3) Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

4) Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

No exceptions, no excuses. 

The Five Fundamentals of Shooting

Five Fundamentals of Shooting

Effective shooting is based on five fundamentals. In the center is the shooter and his or her mental and physical capabilities. Whether you do target shooting, dynamic shooting or self defense training: the fundamentals remain the same, while their execution may differ depending on the circumstances.

1) Stance
Whether you are standing, kneeling, prone or moving, the shooters body has to provide an optimal platform.

2) Grip
The shooters interface to the firearms is the grip. No matter if you use two hands, one hand or your firearms has a stock, the better the interface the faster and more accurate will your shots be. 

3) Aiming
Proper aiming technique and mental and eye focus is to employed from instinctive, close range shooting to precise hits at several 100m and beyond.

4) Breathing
Whether you hold your breath for  one tenth of a second or you take much longer to calm down your pulse, breathing control is key.

5) Triggering
Constant and straight force on the trigger will make your shots hit.

Specification and Application: Advanced Firearm Education

After the generic basic pistol education, you can chose to start your career in dynamic sport shooting.

The additional skills you will learn include:

  • Sports rules and their application in competitions

  • Drawing and holstering wearing concealment

  • Shooting and hitting using cover

  • Shooting and hitting while moving

  • Specialized firearm-dependent techniques (for example for revolver or for PCC - Pistol Caliber Carbine)

  • Efficient movement techniques and optimal departure from and arrival in shooting positions

  • Manipulating while moving

  • Building and using muscle memory

  • Mental preparation and superior competition performance

  • Overcoming perceived performance barriers

  • Stage execution planning

  • Training strategies, planning and execution

Many of the general methods known from other sports apply to advanced-level dynamic shooting as well. The more you invest, the bigger the return.

Performance Factors

A very common trap that catches many shooters is to keep buying new guns, parts and equipment and expect to somehow perform better with all the new kit.

Of course, your equipment has to be reliable and it has to fit your individual characteristics such as for example hand size or eye sight. If a pistol keeps malfunctioning or doesn't fit your hand or you can't acquire the front sight well, then you need to make the necessary changes in order to free the path to performance improvement. If you don't, you will be stuck fighting against a sub-optimal setup.

On the other hand, if you don't know how to execute a proper shooting position or how to move efficiently, then an expensive 'race' gun or a super-light tuning trigger won't really get you anywhere. 
The graphic shows some subjective estimations of the importance and the investment done in the most common success factors that make you a better shooter. It's not scientific, there's no thesis behind it but it's probably not far from the truth. You should invest in the most important factors and reap the benefits. There's no way around sound fundamentals, hard practice and physical and mental fitness!

Performance Factors Sports Shooting

Training Effort and Performance Progress

The 80/20 Rule or Pareto Principle states that with 20% of effort 80% of the result can be achieved. However, for the next 20% of the desired result you will need 80% of total effort spent. The principle comes from project management but is probably applicable to sports activities as well. Whether it's exactly 80/20 or rather something like 70/30 is beside the point.

Training Effort and Performance Progress-Performance

At the beginning of your shooting career, using simple and regular practice sessions based on sound basic know-how will enhance your shooting capabilities dramatically. You will get better almost from one training session to the next one.

If you are on a fairly high performance level, making further progress will prove increasingly hard to achieve. You will need to practice multiple times a week and keep a detailed record of your exercises, the training results and make expert analysis on it to adapt your training program. Individual coaching and specialized, proven training programs are going to be a big plus. To get near your personal maximum will take years of practice and experience!


Remember that repetition makes perfect. In sports, there's a rule of thumb saying that about 10'000 repetitions are needed in order to really learn a particular physical skill.

10'000 Repetitions

Let's take the magazine change as an example: if you perform 20 repetitions a day, five times a week, it will take you roughly two years to become really good at it.

Make sure to you adopt efficient movements and the right coordination and timing before you push for faster times.

Here's the good news though: each repetition will make you a little better and will bring you closer to your goal!


Standard Courses

SwissAAA and selected partners offer a set of standardized courses. The goal is to assure an optimal and uniform quality of shooter education. Theses courses have been in use for many years and have proven very effective.

The Pistol Kick-Start and Pistol Skill-Up courses provide a solid basic firearms education independent of any further specialization planned by the student. After  successful completion, a student can specialize in any specific shooting sport. The courses ares suited for professional firearms users and civilians with a concealed carry permit as well.
The IDPA Intro course is a much recommended basis to start with the sport.
The IDPA Safety Officer (SO) course is a standard managed by the IDPA headquarters and allows successful students to become certified SOs.
The Instructor course is a teach-the-teacher course. It enables successful students to hold the Pistol Kick-Start, Pistol Skill-Up and IDPA Intro courses.

SwissAAA Pistol Kick-Start Course

One-day SwissAAA standard course taught by a certified instructor.

SwissAAA IDPA Intro Course

One-day SwissAAA standard course taught by a certified instructor.

SwissAAA Pistol-Skill-Up Course

One-day SwissAAA standard course taught by a certified instructor.

SwissAAA SO Course

One-day IDPA standard course taught by a certified IDPA SOI (Safety Officer Instructor).

SwissAAA Instructor Course

Two-day SwissAAA standard course taught by Andy Pfenninger.



Sport Shooting Academy

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