The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) is the world’s second largest shooting sport association and the largest and oldest within practical shooting. Founded in 1976, the IPSC nowadays affiliates over 100 regions from Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Competitions are held with pistol, revolver, rifle and shotgun, and competitors are divided into different divisions based on firearm and equipment features. While everyone in a division competes in the Overall category, there are also own separate awards for the categories Lady (female competitors), Junior (under 18 years), Senior (over 50 years) and Super Senior (over 60 years).
IPSC’s activities include international regulation of the sport by approving firearms and equipment for various divisions, administering competition rules and education of range officials (referees) through the International Range Officers Association who are responsible for conducting matches safely, fair and according to the rules. IPSC organizes the World Championships called the Handgun World Shoot, Rifle World Shoot and Shotgun World Shoot with three year intervals for each discipline.
The sport of practical shooting originated from competitions in California in the 1950s with the goal of developing handgun skills for defensive use, but quickly evolved into a pure sport with little grounding in the original purpose. The sport soon expanded to Europe, Australia, South America and Africa. IPSC was founded in May 1976 when practical shooting enthusiasts from around the world participated at a conference held in Columbia, Missouri, creating a constitution and establishing the rules governing the sport. Jeff Cooper served as the first IPSC President. Today there are over 100 active IPSC regions, making practical shooting a major international sport which emphasizes firearms safety highly. Through international rules concerning firearms, equipment and organizing of matches one tries to unite the three elements precision, power and speed, which is also the motto of IPSC that is “Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas” (DVC), Latin for “precision, power, speed”. Only full caliber firearms are used, i.e. for handguns 9×19 mm is the smallest caliber, and the competitors try to achieve most points in the shortest time possible.
Eye and ear protection is mandatory for both competitors and spectators.
The safety of all competitors, officials and spectators are always of the highest importance in competitions. Eye and ear protection is mandatory for both competitors and spectators. Firearms are kept unloaded until on the firing line under the direct supervision of a Range Officer, and can otherwise only be handled in designated safety areas. The safety area contain a direction with a secure backstop where competitors can handle unloaded firearms for example for packing or unpacking, holstering, cleaning or repair, dry firing or training with empty magazines. Handling of ammunition is expressively prohibited within the safety areas, including any dummy rounds. Outside the safety area ammunition can be handled freely to load magazines, but firearms may only be handled under the direct supervision of a Range Officer. The strict separation of firearms and ammunition prevents accidents like accidental discharge (AD). Violations result in disqualification from the competition.
The IPSC paper target which is used in all disciplines.
Poppers are used as falling steel targets.
Left: Drawing of a full size IPSC Popper (85 cm).
Right: A 2/3 scaled down IPSC Mini Popper (56 cm) used to simulate greater distance.
To achieve a varied, challenging and exciting sport there are no fixed target arrangements, distances or shooting programs, making every match unique. Paper and steel targets can be mixed in the same stage, and may be static, moving or partially covered by targets called no-shoots that give minus points if hit.
Paper targets have the three scoring zones A, C and D with points per hit varying slightly depending on power factor. A center hit for both minor or major is five points, but hits in lesser scoring areas are rewarded more for major than minor with the A-C-D zones being scored 5-4-2 for major and 5-3-1 for minor (see table below). A competitor who has declared minor must therefore either shoot more “A” hits or shoot faster than one who has declared major in order to make up the scoring disadvantage.
Some typical examples moving target setups are swingers, bobbers, clamshells, movers and drop turners.
Steel targets score 5 points and must fall to be scored. (For rifle some steel targets may score 10 points).
Competitions are held at all levels from club matches and up to the world championships. Level 3 matches and up require official IPSC pre-approved match level sanctioning in regards to courses, IROA-range official etc.
- Level 1: Club matches
- Level 2: Matches open to participants from different clubs
- Level 3: Regional matches, i.e. national championships or other large matches such as the Extreme Euro Open
- Level 4: Continental championships, i.e. the European or Pan-American Championship
- Level 5: The World Shoots
The World Shoots are the highest level shooting matches within IPSC. Held since 1975, it is a multi-day match where the best IPSC shooters from around the world compete for the World Champion title.