The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) is the largest and oldest practical shooting in the world. This shooting sport is a purely technical high performance shooting for dynamic marksmen where a milli-second can prove crucial. IPSC matches are all about being fast and presumably furious. You, as a shooter, must blend accuracy, speed, and control of the power of the firearm into a winning combination.
Hence, the Latin motto of IPSC – Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas (Accuracy, Power, and Speed) which are the equivalent elements on which IPSC was founded, reflecting the high standard of IPSC shooters. IPSC keeps its shooters challenged and the spectators engaged by designing courses of fire that include shooting at multiple targets, moving targets, reactive targets, penalty targets, or even partially covered targets in the possible minimum time while scoring the highest points.
It all started in May 1976, when the Late Jeff Cooper led a group of practical shooting enthusiasts from around the world over a conference held in Columbia, Missouri, to create a constitution and establish the rules to govern practical shooting in the world. The confederation was born and named at the conclusion of the Columbia conference.
The establishment of IPSC was based on promoting, maintaining, improving, and advancing the sport of practical shooting, to safeguard its principles, and to regulate its conduct worldwide in order to cultivate the safe, recreational use of firearms by persons of good character. Today, the confederation has incorporated more than ninety (90) active regions (countries) from around the world, accruing over 200,000 active members along the line.
In IPSC, there are no set types of course of fire. One of the unique characteristics of IPSC lies in the diversity of its courses of fire designed for shooters. A shooter can’t shoot a stage twice in any match because the matches are continuously furnishing new, varied and challenging courses. The major matches comprise a balance of “short courses” with a maximum of 12 shots, “medium courses” with a maximum of 24 shots and “longer courses” with a maximum of 32 shots in a ratio 3:2:1 (3 short courses, 2 medium courses, 1 long course). However, IPSC matches are built to challenge all competitors and improve their skills.
Also, there is a freestyle principle applied to matches which give shooters the permission to solve the challenge presented in a freestyle manner or shoot targets on an “as and when visible” basis. Courses of fire should not require mandatory reloads nor dictate a shooting position, location, or stance, except otherwise stated in some level matches, short courses, classifier matches, or for safety reasons. An IPSC match will fall into any of the following five (5) approved levels:
- Level 1: Club matches
- Level 2: Matches open to participants from different clubs
- Level 3: Regional matches, e.g. National Championship
- Level 4: Continental championships, e.g. European Championship
- Level 5: The World Shoot (This is held once in 3years)
IPSC recognizes all the shooting disciplines – Handgun, Rifle, and Shotgun. In a quest to abolish the superiority of some competitors over others because of the firearm and modifications used, the weapons are then grouped into divisions that are based on their type and modifications. Each of the disciplines has its divisions as follows:
The Handgun Divisions
Open: Firearms must have a minimum Power Factor (PF) of 160 for Major and 125 for Minor with a minimum bullet weight of 120 grain for Major and 9mm (0.354”) minimum bullet caliber. A handgun doesn’t have maximum size nor is there any maximum ammunition capacity, but modifications such as optical/electronic sights, ports, and compensators, sound, and/or flash suppressors are all permitted (The only handgun division that allows such modifications).
Standard: Firearms must have a minimum of PF of 170 for Major and 125 for Minor with and a minimum bullet caliber of 9mm (0.354”) for Minor and 10mm (0.40”) for Major. A handgun in its ready condition, but unloaded and with an empty magazine inserted, or empty cylinder closed, must fit wholly within the confines of a box which has internal dimensions of 225mm (length) x 150mm (height) by 45mm (width) [tolerance of +1mm, -0mm].
Classic: Handguns must be based on, and visibly resemble the classic 1911-genre design with a minimum PF of 170 for Major and 125 for Minor with a minimum bullet caliber of 9mm for Minor and 10mm for major. The handgun in its ready condition, but unloaded and with an empty magazine inserted, must fit wholly within the confines of a box with the same dimension as in Standard Division. At the start signal, maximum ammunition capacity shouldn’t be more than 8 rounds for Major or 10 rounds for Minor.
Production: Handgun must have a minimum PF of 125 with a minimum bullet caliber of 9mm and the barrel length shouldn’t exceed 127 mm. Maximum ammunition capacities of 15 rounds at the start signal. Single-action-only is expressly prohibited.
Revolver: Firearms must have a minimum PF of 170 for Major and 125 for Minor with a minimum bullet caliber of 9mm. A maximum of 6 rounds must be fired before reloading. Self-loading revolvers with retractable slides are prohibited.
The Rifle Divisions
All rifles must produce a minimum PF of 320 for Major and 150 for Minor.
Semi-Auto Open: No restriction on action-type. Modifications such as optical/electronic sights, compensators, sound and/or flash suppressors, ports, bipods, and vertical front grip are all permitted.
Semi-Auto Standard: No restriction on action-type. The uses of optical/electronic sights and bipods aren’t permitted. Compensators, sound, and/or flash suppressors with a maximum size of 26mm x 90mm are permitted. Also, Vertical front grip with a maximum length of 152mm (6”) from the centerline of the barrel are allowed.
Manual Action Open: Manual-action-only rifles with no maximum ammunition capacity are allowed. Also, Optical/electronic sights, compensators, sound and/or flash suppressors, ports, bipods, and vertical front grip are all allowed.
Manual Action Standard: Though Manual-action-only rifles with a maximum ammunition capacity of 6 rounds are allowed; Optical/electronic sights, compensators, sound and/or flash suppressors, ports, and bipods are all not permitted. Also, only the vertical front grip with a maximum length of 152mm from the centerline of the barrel is allowed.
Manual Action Standard 10: Although manual-action-only rifles with a maximum ammunition capacity of 11 rounds are allowed, the use of optical/electronic sights and bipods aren’t permitted. Also, only factory fitted compensators, sound, and/or flash suppressors with a maximum length of 65mm are permitted. And only vertical front grip with a maximum length of 152mm is allowed.
The Shotgun Divisions
All shotguns have a minimum PF of 480 with no maximum shotgun weight and a minimum caliber of 20gauge/20bore.
Open: There is no restriction on action-type Detachable magazines, speed loading devices, compensators, sound and/or flash suppressors, and ports are all permitted. Nonetheless, only factory-produced guns with a minimum of 100 units and modifications are allowed. Prototypes are allowed and the overall length for a complete gun shouldn’t exceed 1320mm.
Modified: No restriction on action-type. Compensators, sound and/or flash suppressors, ports, barrel heat shields are modifications permitted. However, overall shotgun length shouldn’t exceed 1320mm. And the use of speed-loading devices, optical/electronic sights, and detachable magazines aren’t permitted.
Standard: Similar to other shotgun divisions, there is no restriction on action-type. However, only factory produced guns with a minimum of 500 units are allowed. Internal modifications to improve reliability are also allowed. And prior to the start signal of a course of fire, the ammunition capacity shouldn’t exceed 9 rounds.
Standard Manual: This is a Standard Division with restriction to manual-action-type only.
Categories and Classifications
IPSC approved different categories and classifications to be included within each division to recognize groups of competitors and assured every shooter that they’ll shoot against equal level shooters. However, division status must be achieved before categories are recognized. The following categories are approved for recognition:
- Lady: Competitors of the female gender
- Super Junior: Competitors under the age of 16 on the first day of the match
- Junior: Competitors under the age of 21 on the first day of the match
- Senior: Competitors over the age of 50 on the first day of the match
- Super Senior: Competitors over the age of 60 on the first day of the match
Classifications for each division are considered independently from one another. The classification is dynamic as it may move up or down based on a competitor’s performance, and it’s based on the average of the best 4 scores of the most recent 8 scores. Meanwhile, the score is the competitor’s stage hit factor compared to the highest hit factors for the classification stage. The classifications are: Grand Master (95%-100%), Master (85%-94.999%), A (75%-84.999%), B (60%-74.999%), C (40%-59.999%), and D (Below 40%).
Targets and Scoring
Just like in USPSA targets, IPSC paper/cardboard targets have three scoring zones – A, C, and D. The kind of caliber you shoot will make you fall in the Major/Minor class. A hit on A-zone with both Major and Minor is scored 5 points. A hit on C-zone with Major scores 4 points and 3 points with Minor, while a hit on D-zone scores 2 points with Major and 1 point with Minor. Steel poppers score 5 points with both Major and Minor and only scored if dropped, the same thing goes for steel plate. Kindly read on Targets and Scoring from the USPSA write-up to understand the scoring system and the terms used.
Safety Rules and Range Commands
IPSC matches are designed, constructed, and conducted with due consideration to safety precautions of handling firearms. These safety rules were exhaustively explained in one of my previous write-ups on firearms safety. Practically, the range commands used in the Steel Challenge are the same as that of IPSC.
Equipment and Ammunitions
To shoot an IPSC match, a competitor will need:
- Firearm: This is dependent on the division the shooter wish to shoot
- A belt/pouch system to carry extra magazines and ammo
- A holster that can safely carry the firearm
- Eye and ear protection equipment
- Ammunition suitable for the firearm
In IPSC shooting, there is no discrimination as to who can compete, IPSC membership spans across every field of life, from craftsmen to executives. Even women and families do participate in the shooting programs. Once you have your reliable firearm, suitable equipment, ammunition, eye and ear protection, and a big dose of enthusiasm; you’re welcome to join any of the IPSC regions to become a member and enjoy the wide array of benefits that comes with being a member.
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