If you have questions about practical shooting not answered by this FAQ, several sources are listed below that may help.
There is an email mailing list for IPSC shooters. Typically this list averages 5-20 messages a day on the topics of equipment, upcoming matches, rules and regulations, and general information. Shooters of all levels, from beginners to Master class shooters, as well as experienced range officers and USPSA/IPSC officials are subscribers. Any questions not answered by this FAQ can likely be answered by someone on the mailing list.
To subscribe , mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also many IPSC-related WWW pages, including:
The best way to get started in practical shooting is to find the club (or clubs) in your area and go watch a match. One way to locate a club is to check bulletin boards at local ranges and gun shops. Someone on the IPSC mailing list may live nearby and could direct you to a club. Most often the easiest way to find a club is to call your Region or Section Coordinator who can give you the name and phone number of a contact person at a nearby club. Names and numbers for IPSC officials are listed below.
In the United States -------------------- United States Practical Shooting Association P.O. Box 811 Sedro Woolley, WA 98284 President: Andy Hollar 1-206-855-2245 (office) 1-206-855-0380 (fax) office hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The USPSA office has a listing of all US clubs, and should be able to provide contact names for a club near you.
Many people who shoot IPSC pistol matches also enjoy several other shooting sports which use similar equipment and/or rules, such as: USPSA 3-gun competition for rifle and shotgun, NRA Action Pistol shooting, Steel Challenge shooting, Bowling Pin shooting, and Cowboy Action Shooting. Brief descriptions of these related sports as well as contact information is provided below.
In addition to practical pistol competition, many clubs also put on '3-gun' matches where pistol, rifle and shotgun are used in courses similar to those shot with pistols only. USPSA has developed a set of rules for rifle and shotgun competitions based on the practical pistol rules. All rules of the standard handgun edition apply to rifle and shotgun, except for amendments as discussed in the USPSA rule book.
Shotgun: All shotguns 20 gauge or higher are scored as Major, and anything less than 20 gauge is Minor. Standard paper IPSC targets and Pepper Poppers are used, with the paper targets commonly engaged with buckshot or slugs, and the plates engaged with lead shot (from #2 - #9). Other types of targets may be used, including falling round and square steel plates, bowling pins, and 'thrown' clay birds. Although some clubs may give awards for pump or Limited classes, many Serious Competitors are now using shotguns with extensive modifications similar to those found on Unlimited class pistols. A 'full-race' shotgun might be a Remington or Benelli semi-auto with an extension magazine tube that holds 10-15 rounds and a ported barrel. Some competitors are using 'red-dot' scopes in place of traditional sights, and a few have added bipods for use in courses that require engaging targets with slugs at distances from 50 to 100 yards.
Rifle: The power factor for rifle is calculated using the same equation that is used for pistol: bullet weight in grains times velocity in feet per second, divided by 1000. The Major caliber minimum power factor is 340 and the Minor power factor floor is 160. In the US this usually divides the .223 caliber rifles (AR-15, Mini-14, and others) from the .30 caliber rifles (such as the M1A). Standard IPSC targets may be used as well as steel plates suitable for use with rifles (thicker and stronger than the plates used for pistol and shotgun competition). Some clubs may give awards for Limited Class in rifle, which prohibits the use of scopes, bipods and compensators.
Practical rifle and shotgun competition requires the same balance of accuracy, speed, and power as practical pistol. As in the pistol game you will likely find a wide variation in course design from club to club. For further information consult the USPSA rule book.
The NRA has an Action Shooting program which has events similar to IPSC, except that there is a pre-defined set of courses of fire. Instead of the standard IPSC paper and steel targets, the NRA uses the Bianchi 'tombstone' paper target, 8' falling steel plates, and a 'speed target' similar to a Pepper Popper. There is a minimum power factor floor of 120, but there is no Major/Minor division as in IPSC. All courses of fire are scored using points only, as all events are Fixed Time. All courses are 'revolver-friendly' in that all strings require 6 shots or less or include mandatory reloads. The NRA Bianchi Cup is the national championship for the NRA Action Shooting Program. For more information contact the NRA.
The Steel Challenge is a major pistol match held in California each year that uses all steel targets and is scored on time only. Until 1993 there was no mandatory power factor of any kind; in 1993 a minimum power factor of 125 was instituted due to the replacement of the stationary steel targets with falling steel plates on several events. All courses of fire consist of 5 steel targets (8', 10' and 12' circles, or 18'x24' rectangles) in various configurations. There are 7 of these events, most of which do not change from year to year. For each course, the competitor begins in the 'surrender' position, draws his/her handgun and places one hit on each of the 5 steel targets. There is no limit on the number of shots that may be fired at each plate. After the competitor finishes shooting, the time is recorded. If the competitor has left a plate unhit, a time penalty is assessed. Some courses require that a particular plate be engaged last. Plates not hit before the stop plate is hit are counted as misses, and the time stops when the stop plate is hit. Five strings are shot at each event, and the best 4 of 5 times are kept for score. After all 7 events are completed the times from each stage are added. The match winner is the shooter with the fastest total time.
Some IPSC clubs also shoot Steel Challenge or 'speed plate' matches where a lower (or no) power factor is required, and you may IPSC shooters talking about 'steel guns' or 'steel loads' in reference to lightweight guns designed to fire loads in the 100-140 power factor range.
Bowling pin matches were started by Richard Davis, the man behind Second Chance body armor. Mr. Davis is 'behind' Second Chance in more ways than one, as he is the inventor and U.S. Patent holder for the modern-day concept of concealable soft body armor, and he is also known for demonstrating the effectiveness of this body armor by shooting himself with a .44 Magnum while wearing it. Often during his early sales demonstrations he would shoot himself and immediately turn and fire at several bowling pins (knocking them over) to prove that one was not incapacitated by the impact of a bullet stopped by body armor. He also began holding an annual shooting match, the Second Chance bowling pin shoot.
The original format for the bowling pin shoot was to place 5 pins near the front of a flat table. The shooter would then lift the handgun from its ready position resting on a rail and fire at the pins until they all hit the floor. The time began with an audible signal and ended when the last plate hit the ground. The format of the match has been changed and the pin tables are now multi-level. Events are held for pistol, revolver,snub-nose revolver, rifle, shotgun, submachine gun, and other firearm types. An organization was founded to promote pin shooting matches - the North American Pin Shooters' Association. This group, along with the Second Chance company, can provide more information about bowling pin shooting competitions:
For more information:
Second Chance P.O. Box 578 Central Lake, MI 49622 USA 1-800-253-7090 North American Pin Shooters Association c/o Practical Shooting International magazine P.O. Box 62 Emmetsburg, IA 50536 USA 1-712-852-3918
Cowboy Action shooting is a combination of Old West gunfighting with IPSC-style rules and scoring. These matches use single action revolvers, lever-action rifles, and side-by-side or pump shotguns in 3-gun courses based on cowboy scenarios. Like IPSC, these scenarios use props (tables, chairs, 'horses', storefronts, etc) and are always different. Scoring is done on time only, with time penalties for misses. There is no power factor, but firearms and ammunition must comply with the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) rulebook. Shooters compete in Traditional, Modern (adjustable sights), Lady and Junior classes.
One of the unique aspects of SASS approved cowboy action shooting is the requirement placed on costuming. Each participant is required to adopt a shooting alias appropriate to a character or profession of the late 19th century, a Hollywood western star or an appropriate character from fiction. Their costume is then developed accordingly. Many matches (especially big matches) also include costume contests, trail rides, and other related cowboy activities in parallel with the shooting.
For more information:
The Single Action Shooting Society 1938 N. Batavia Street Orange, CA 92665 714 998-1899 Fax 714 998-1992 http://www.sassnet.com
There are other matches not described in detail in this FAQ which may be added in later updates, including the Masters (which combines the sports of IPSC, bullseye, and metallic silouhette), the NSSA/Chevrolet Sportsman's Challenge (a 3-gun match combining pistol, rimfire rifle, and clay bird shotgunning), revolver-only IPSC matches, the American Handgunner Man on Man shootoff (an all shoot-off match), the Texas Paper and Iron championship (similar to the Steel Challenge), the Soldier of Fortune match (a 3-gun match), and many others. Magazines such as American Handgunner and Practical Shooting International can provide additional information about the wide variety of shooting competitions currently available.
Yank Price (1-310-280-0911) is organizing a new league which will use a time-only format and have a single power factor floor of 125. This new format will also support .22 rimfire action events and use an ISSA-style (headless) target. Use of standard IPSC and Bianchi targets will also be allowed.