IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) is a shooting sport based on practical shooting requiring a combination of accuracy, speed and strategy to achieve a maximum score.
A stage is laid out which includes a range of cardboard targets, steel plates that fall and moving targets. The targets can be engaged randomly or in a specific order set by the stage designer to make it more technically challenging.
You could be asked to shoot while standing but you are more often expected to run around and shoot on the move which is more challenging. Crouching, shooting around corners, lying down or shooting through apertures (windows) is also included.
A ‘Card’ is a brown octagonal sheet of corrugated board with 3 zones – A, C and D. The B was the head section of the target that has since been removed to create a less human-like target so subsequently there is no B. Each card requires a minimum of two shots, A will score the highest, then C and then D. The points will vary from one division to another, usually 5 points for an A, 3 for a B and 1 for a D.
Thick metal targets spray-painted white. Plates or Poppers require only one hit and must fall over.
A No-Shoot is an identical octagonal card that it is white rather than brown. Hitting this card will incur heavy penalties. Usually a No-Shoot is positioned over a brown card to reduce the size of the target area forcing the shooter to slow down or risk incurring penalties.
Moving targets have normal cards attached to a metal frame that swings, turns or runs on a cable. Sometimes they can disappear entirely forcing the shooter to hurry.
Time and score
The time is recorded with an electronic timing device held by the RO (range officer) who stands behind the shooter. Points are accrued and penalties deducted for procedural faults and misses, then the total is divided by the time to achieve a final score called the Hit Factor. The shooter with the highest Hit Factor will win and the runners up are awarded Stage Points according to the percentage they fired compared to the winner.
IPSC is divided into categories depending on the type of gun the shooter uses:
All Divisions fire the same stages, on the same days and in mixed order. However, when calculating match standings, shooters are only compared to other shooters in their division and not across the board.
Rig and Equipment
To dabble in IPSC as a novice you do not need fancy gear. You can function perfectly provided you have an external holster on a rigid belt, a few spare magazines, non-slip shoes, ear protection and safety glasses.
If you would like to pursue the sport and start competing at club and league shoots you will need to get yourself some better equipment. You do not have to spend a fortune on the most expensive gear (it won’t improve your accuracy) but here is what you will need:
These are compulsory for everyone as bullet shards can flick back towards the shooter and even the spectators. Get yourself a comfortable pair of fitted, anti-fog safety glasses. You can use mountain biking glasses if you have a pair or buy some from a gun store, they are much the same. Make sure the arms are slim or they could hurt your temples if your ear covers are tight. Interchangeable lenses are a good idea – they come with clear, yellow and/or orange and shaded lenses.
Ear plugs are not recommended as your ears can still be damaged by the concussion – you need full covers. Look for something light and comfortable that makes a good seal around the sides of your head.
Any rigid belt will do, but IPSC belts are advised. They have a soft inner which threads through your belt loops, and a very rigid outer which the gun holster and the mag holsters attach to. This fits around the inner belt with velcro.
Holsters vary widely in cost and design. A beginner may feel more comfortable with a closed plastic holster but advanced shooters prefer the speed holsters which the gun clips into the front and comes out a bit faster.
You will need about 3 or 4 magazine holsters, generally they are specific to the make and model of the gun.
You will need at least 3 spare magazines for your gun, 4 in total.
The most important item of clothing is a pair of comfortable, non-slip shoes. Trail running shoes are ideal. Use non-slip laces or double tie them so they can’t come undone.
Pants must be well fitted and non-stretch with strong belt loops. If your pants are loose or stretchy you will struggle drawing the gun out the holster. Long or short pants can be worn depending on the climate.
Golf shirts work well for this sport. You need something light-weight with a collar that is well fitted – baggy shirts will get in the way. The shirt must be tucked.
Caps are always recommended as well as lots of sunblock!