IPSC/USPSA is, indeed, an equipment race, but, shoot in the class you want and don't worry what the Grand Masters shoot.
In IPSC/USPSA, time is everything! We have an old saying...'if you're shooting all A's, you're going too slow!'
In IDPA, one still needs to hurry, but accuracy is better. In either genre, 'you can't miss fast enough to win!'
Some facilities are better than others. Pick the ones you like and forget the rest.
As far as scary is concerned...do you mean unsafe?
You'll find that IPSC/USPSA matches are a little more laid back as far as the rules are concerned (not safety rules) while IDPA is a bit constipated with rules. With a little flexibility on your part, either one will provide a safe, fun way to shoot!