The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) is a shooting sport based on the concept of practical shooting. Accuracy, power and speed are all required to achieve a maximum score.
IPSC was founded at a conference held in Columbia, Missouri, in May 1976. Practical shooting enthusiasts from around the world participated, creating a constitution and establishing the rules governing the sport. Jeff Cooper served as the first IPSC President.
While IPSC is an international organization, countries have their own organizations under the IPSC umbrella. For example, there is the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) in the United States, and the United Kingdom Practical Shooting Association (UKPSA) in the United Kingdom, and the South African Practical Shooting Association (SAPSA) in South Africa. There are currently over 90 active IPSC regions.
Power is a requirement in IPSC competition, along with speed and accuracy. The power of a given cartridge is measured by both bullet weight and velocity. The weight of the bullet fired in grains (7,000 to the pound) is multiplied by the velocity (feet per second) and the total must exceed certain thresholds. A competitor's ammunition is fired, in the competitor's firearm (velocities can vary slightly from one firearm to another) to measure the velocity for scoring. A Major load is one that exceeds the threshold of 160,000 or 170,000 (depending on the division competed in). To shoot Minor, a competitor's ammunition must exceed 125,000. Extra scoring is not given for exceeding the threshold. A competitor declaring Major, but who fails the threshold, has his/her score re-calculated at Minor. A shooter who declares Minor, but fails that threshold, is given a score of zero for the match.
The typical course of fire is an array of targets, which the competitor must engage with two hits each (sometimes more). Also, steel plates that fall when struck can be added to a course of fire, or stage. The shooter's time is recorded electronically, by means of a timer that detects the sound of the shots. Scoring is relatively simple to explain, but involved to calculate for a match. Known as "Comstock" scoring, the points generated by hits on the targets are totaled. Penalties (if incurred) are subtracted. Then the points total is divided by the time it took the competitor to engage the stage. This calculation, called a "Hit Factor", is the ratio of points per second. The highest hit factor wins the stage and the full total of Stage Points assigned to it, and lesser scores are awarded Stage Points according to the percentage hit factor they fired, compared to the winner.
The points from shots fired and hits generated vary slightly. A center hit for both Major and Minor is five points. However, lesser scoring rings are not rewarded as much for Minor as for Major. The A-C-D rings are scored 5-4-2 for Major, and 5-3-1 for Minor. A shooter who has declared Minor must shoot more "A" hits or shoot faster than one who has declared Major, in order to make up for lesser hits being so punished.
Each competitor then has his/her stage points totaled for all stages of the match, to calculate the match standings. The highest total of points wins the match. Comparing each shooter directly to the performance of the top shooter of each stage allows for precise gradation of performance across a match, but requires a computer and software to do in a timely fashion.
In the beginning, IPSC was fired with whatever handguns the competitors chose. After a relatively short period, it became clear that equipment mattered, and equipment divisions were thus designated. All Divisions fire the same stages, on the same days, as all other Divisions, in a match. However, when calculating match standings, only Divisional stage scores are compared. Thus, the top shooter in Open on a stage is the measure for all other Open shooters, and likewise for all other Divisions. In addition to the handgun discipline, there are the rifle, shotgun and action air disciplines of practical shooting. These disciplines have competition rules similar to handgun and are scored in the same way. The divisions in all the disciplines are similar.
Competing in all three disciplines or two of them is called a tournament, with scoring similar to that of the individual disciplines. Action air is not included in the tournament structure as yet and is restricted to handgun (2010).
The World Shoot is the highest level shooting match within IPSC. Held since 1975, it is a multi-day match comprising at least 30 separate courses of fire, where the best IPSC shooters from around the world vie for the title of World Champion. Currently the championship is held every third year for each of the disciplines handgun, shotgun and rifle, meaning that since the last Handgun World Shoot was held in 2014, the next Shotgun World Shoot will be held during 2015 and the next Rifle World Shoot in 2016.
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