If you are new to shooting pistol and you have decided you like IPSC and you want to improve and grade up there are a few things you can do, now I am not a coach but I can share some of the things that helped me.
Buy a variety of dry fire training books, I bought one of Ben Stoeger’s and one of Steve Anderson’s, Bens book suited me better so I use that and also listen to as many podcasts as you can!
Be 100% honest with your quality of dry fire (sight pictures/ transitions) as you are only cheating yourself so video your dry fire every now and again to make sure you are not being sloppy.
You don’t need the top of the line gear to start, buy a good quality belt as you will go thru multiple brands of holsters and pouches thru your shooting life, I can recommend Ghost 360 pouches as a good start for pouches and either the Ghost Stinger or Double Alpha PDR Pro2 holsters for production, and I like the Viper Holster from Auz, DAA Alpha-X, or Guga Ribas speed holster for standard/open.
Whatever gear you choose, practice and get comfortable with it, practice all drills and gun handling in uncomfortable positions and places .e.g. holding a rope or handle to shoot strong or weak hand and having to swap hands on the gun, or a weak hand stage and you have to do a reload then practicing a weak hand reload is a good idea.
The drills you practice in live fire should be done in a structured way and recorded so you can see improvement and when you move on you can go back to them later and monitor improvement or loss.
Pairing up with a fellow shooter from your club will help you improve because of the personal competition factor and being able to film and critique each other, and when you travel away to competitions sharing costs makes your shooting money go farther.
The really good part of being a new shooter is everything is new and exciting even the travel; you will see faster improvement in your skill level and you don’t have the level of self imposed expectation.
So I am going to run thru what I do just so you can get an idea of what it’s like, Dry fire a minimum of 20min a night 4nights a week , Live fire drills at least once a week for 250-500rnds, and on average there is four level 3 events a year and another 5-6 level 2 matches, sometimes more with a average round count of 200 (not counting any club matches) so costs can rack up quickly (13,500-27,000rnds a year*)or ($4,500-$9,180 40S&W**) ($3,315-$6,885 9mm**)not including match entry fee or travel costs.
I would invest in a reloading setup if you get serious; Dillon being one of the best brands, Winchester Primers are generally cheapest, Personal preference for powder I use AP70 and Titegroup , I use either Delta Mike or Rusa Reloading for my projectiles, Brass wise hopefully you have bought ammo and have brass already or range pick up brass to start with.
There are 2 types of tumblers, Dry Vibration Tumbler
Pros. Dry tumblers are cheaper, and you can tumble tarnished loaded ammo.
Cons. doesn’t clean inside the cases, media blocks flash holes so don’t de-prime before tumbling, dusty.
Wet Rotary Tumbler
Pros. Larger amount of cases fit in tumbler, Cleans inside cases and primer pockets.
Cons. More expensive, Noisier, you have to dry your cases, if you use the pins they can get stuck in the cases.
* Round count based on doing 10 matches a year, as well as doing live fire once a week for 10 months which wouldn’t be likely with weather and day to day life
**Pricing is reloads and not counting bulk buying deals of supplies