Which pistol association would be most helpful for SD type competions? From what I can tell IPSC looks like a high dollar specialised game, rather than Joe Blow shooting his CCW. The US practical shooting association looks like a maybe, anybody have any input?
IDPA is geared more toward self defense shooting, USPSA is more of a shooting gallery.
Both build good skills, but IDPA is a little more realistic with most stages being 18 rounds or less with fewer targets.
Attend matches of each discipline and see which you like better.
IPSC and USPSA are basically the same thing there are a couple different rules, but other than that it's the same type of stages etc.
As VAMarine said above, IDPA makes more sense for defensive-oriented shooters, but to keep it useful, you've got to use your normal carry rig. Sometimes folks get tired of losing by just a few points/seconds, and decide to go to a different (faster) holster for the matches. Next thing you know, they're far away from their preferred mode of carry, and then it becomes just another shooting game/sport. If you can "keep it real", it can be useful as well as fun.
"Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
(RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)