Friday, February 25, 2011

Black Badge: Where IPSC Canada All Starts

I had been introduced to Practical Pistol or Combat Shooting way back in the 1980's, and had always wanted to pursue it in more depth. Well career, family and eventually emigration issues got in the way.

Finally I got around to getting my Canadian firearm license requirements (a topic on its own) out of the way, and eventually explored what options were available to a handgun enthusiast to pursue his sport.

This may come as a surprise to those in the sport, but the paths to IPSC or IDPA aren't obvious. I had to ask many questions, and finally somebody steered me in the right direction. Some internet research uncovered that I had to complete a Black Badge course, whatever that was, but where did one do one of these courses?

Again, some internet research eventually yielded a name and a date. A Walter Hornby was offering a course in Taber. It so turns out Walter is the go to guy, which wasn't obvious at the time. A few emails later and I was enrolled.

The object of the course is to teach you the basics of safe movement, holstering, reloading and the rules of the game. Without the course, you cannot compete in any IPSC sanctioned matches, or holster your firearm at most reputable shooting ranges. It seemed obvious to me, that in order to really get the most out of my hobby, and my investment, that this was a good place to start.

The course itself is fairly straightforward. You shouldn't struggle with any aspects of it. There is a written test, but this is obviously a requirement, and isn't there to make your life hell. The cost will vary, depending on who hosts the program. Walter's course was $240.00, which included instruction, my first year of IPSC Alberta membership, my first match fee and lunches. A bargain, I thought. On top of this, of course, you will need to pay for accommodation, transport and acquire all the necessary equipment (more on this in another topic).

Black Badge courses seem to be fairly rare, especially in Calgary, and this may be a reflection on the low numbers entering the sport. I am not sure, but if you are considering a course, place your name on the list as soon as one becomes available.

I can't vouch for the other courses, but Walter Hornby is definitely a good option, and he remains accessible well after you have been trained.

As for the outcome, well it is only the beginning, but the course is exciting enough to entice you to want to go further.

One of the benefits of completion is that you can holster your firearm at the range. You will be required to provide proof of having completed a Black Badge course. This can be done by either showing them the temporary card your instructor gives you, or by showing them your IPSC Canada membership card, which will arrive in the post a few weeks later.

A final titbit of information; you do not have to have a Restricted license, or a license for that matter. You will be shooting under the supervision of an RO (Range Officer). So as long as you are accompanied by the lawful owner of the firearm, you will be able to complete the course. This will definitely save a lot of time, if you are waiting for the RCMP background checks or have yet to complete your PAL paperwork and/or tests. It isn't the best option, but it will save you time. Just verify with the course instructor in advance that he is comfortable with this arrangement.
UPDATE: For information on recommended Black Badge instructors in Alberta, follow the link.
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