IDPA and USPSA both offer great opportunities to practice with your pistol outside of a traditional square range. The main one, performance under pressure, is the biggest thing that most people need out of competition shooting to be a better, and more well-rounded shooter. But, to perform well under pressure, you need to understand how to manage your gear. So for this article, we’re going to cover magazine management for IDPA and USPSA Production in particular.

IDPA and USPSA Production both share a limit on magazine capacity, and for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll use 10 rounds as the number, but you can apply these same principles if you’re shooting a division or sport that has different rules.

The 10 Round Challenge:

The reason magazine and round count management is so critical for IDPA and USPSA Production is compliance with the rules. In both cases, competitors are only allowed “10 rounds in the magazine after the start signal.” What this means, is that if a competitor has more than 10 rounds in the magazine after the start buzzer sounds, the shooter will end up either shooting for no score, or moved to the “Open” division, which is pretty much the same thing. Where this gets sticky is that you’ll always want one extra round in the chamber to start, for a total of 11 rounds in the gun.

Managing The Challenge:

There’s a couple of ways to manage keeping your magazines and equipment straight. Back in the dark days of an Assault Weapons Ban before September of 2004, many of us carried an extra magazine, or had a “Barney Bullet” pouch made for a single extra cartridge. Now that we’re back to having full capacity magazines, most of us just load an extra round into the first magazine we’re going to use. But, every time, you run the risk of getting magazines mixed up in the fray of everything going on, and shooting for no score.

The Fix:

My personal fix for this is to use a different color basepad for my starting magazine. That way, I can always keep track of the magazine that DOESN’T have the normal 10 rounds in it. No matter what I’m doing, I know the mag with the red basepad from Springer Precision is the one that goes in the gun first. It doesn’t HAVE to be a basepad, but for the sake of everything holy, make it something that is IMPOSSIBLE to miss.