PowerFactor Show

Episode 43 – Sandbagging & Grandbagging

We know folks who do this, heck, some of us do it as a career. Rick and Steve take considerable risks to talk about the topic that is considered taboo in IDPA and USPSA. Enjoy!



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  1. Interesting show. I’m new to the shooting sports (just shot my second USPSA match a couple of weeks ago). I was familiar with Sandbagging but Grandbagging was new to me.

    When you guys began talking about Grandgabbing, the first thing that went through my mind was “why in the world would anyone want do do that?” As you talked more and more, it all began to make sense. I know a handful of people that take a title more seriously than they do performance, and I guess that same mindset can be applied to the shooting sports.

    Because I’m new to the sport, I tend to shoot pretty conservatively during the match, then turn it up for the classifier. The reason being, I’m new to creating a stage plan and don’t want to bomb it by moving too quickly. The classifier, on the other hand, is pretty much stationary and more difficult to botch, unless I throw my shots.

    The last classifier I shot was El Presidente where I shot a 10.48 with 7 A’s and 5 B’s. I should consider myself lucky as those B’s weren’t intended. I was shooting faster than I felt comfortable and had my shots drifting up.

    After listening to the show, I think the next match I shoot will be more consistent (I’m not going to push myself on the classifier). Your reasoning made a lot of sense for not turning it up on the classifier and holding a steady pace throughout the entire match.

    Again, good show.

  2. Hi, my name is Chad and I’m a Grandbagger (everybody say, “Hi, Chad”) 😛

    I’m an old school IDPA shooter. I started in 1997 because I was looking for a, heck, I won’t call it a sport, let’s say shooting activity that complemented my new concealed carry permit. Over the years I’ve gotten better at the game but I still try to shoot “tactically,” meaning, I won’t rush through a shoot house, I pie corners slowly, I won’t crowd cover, et al. I try not to slow down my squad, but I won’t do things that I consider unsound just to gain a second or two. That’s how I’ve chosen to play the game. Others play it differently, and I try to be okay with that. In the classifier, however, I go all out and shoot it as the pure speed & accuracy test that it is. You guys dismissed the shooter who regularly comes in last Master as somewhat pathetic, but frankly that’s me. If I were a USPSA shooter the situation would probably be different, but I chose IDPA — as it was originally set up and promoted — for a reason. I stick to those reasons even as the game changes around me. So, yeah, I’m last Master.

  3. I should add, however, that I’ve recently shot a couple of Zombie Shooters Association (http://zombieshootersassociation.com/) matches and have had a blast running & gunning. When you presume the zombie apocalypse the mindset changes radically. High round counts? You bet! Those bastards are everywhere. Popping tricky headshots in a sea of no-shoots? Yep! Sixteen targets alternating between three body shots for the back row and one headshot for the front row, all done at a dead run? Did it yesterday and had a ball. I don’t know if I’m a hypocrite or just changing my strategies for the different games as I see them. Probably a little of both.

  4. Chad –

    Even though Steve and I went to great lengths to define both “sandbagger” and “grandbagger”, a lot of viewers seem to still not understand the concept. Someone who practices is not a grandbagger. Someone who just gets into a higher classification by less than a second is not a sandbagger. It’s all about the intent, not the performance. If you’ve earned your “last Master” status through diligence and hard work, congratulations!

    It’s absolutely appropriate to change your approach for different shooting games. When I’m shooting USPSA, I’m happy to see charlies on some targets, as it means I’m not wasting time trying to get perfect shots. When I’m shooting IDPA, I hate seeing even a single point down, as it generally doesn’t take an additional half-second to shoot a -0.


  5. Guys, I have shot IDPA and USPSA and was wondering which sport you see the most in? My opinion is it’s much easier to sandbag the IDPA classifier than a USPSA classifier as it is part of the match and most people want to do well in the local match. What do you think?


    • Tom – Truthfully, I don’t see much sandbagging in either sport. That’s not to say it’s not prevalent, just that I’m not aware of it. Where it’s usually noticed is when someone just does not shoot many classifiers, so their classification lags behind their abilities. There’s no way to tell if the individual is avoiding classifiers intentionally, or just not attending many matches that feature classifier stages.
      A lot of people believe that a shooter’s IDPA classification should be one level higher than their USPSA classification; ie, Marksman = D, Sharpshooter = C, Expert = B, and Master = A. Having run literally hundreds of shooters through the IDPA classifier over the last ten years, some being extremely accomplished USPSA competitors, I’d say I have not seen that “one higher” rule in effect. If you do expect it, then any USPSA regular who does not have a “one higher” classification in IDPA would be suspected of sandbagging.
      IDPA clubs are required to run one classifier match each year, and I don’t see why someone would be reluctant to shoot a bad score at that match in order to preserve a classification that does not reflect their true abilities. USPSA classifier stages usually don’t involve a lot of points, so you can shoot a bad classifier score and not screw-up your match too badly (I’ve won plenty of local scraps in L10 and Single Stack with a 35% classifier as part of my score!). I don’t know that one is easier to do than the other, and if someone is truly motivated to sandbag, I’m sure they’d be happy to sacrifice one local match score in order to preserve their lower classification for major matches.


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