International Practical Shooting Confederation

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International Practical Shooting Confederation
Logo of the International Practical Shooting Confederation.jpg
Motto "Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas"
Formation May 1976
Headquarters Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Nick Alexakos

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.

Founding and organization[edit]

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.[1][2] 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.[3]

Major and Minor[edit]

Power is a requirement in IPSC competition, along with speed and accuracy. The power factor of a given cartridge is measured by the product of bullet weight and velocity (momentum):

Power\,Factor=\frac{mass\,[grains] \cdot velocity\,[ft/s]}{1000}

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.

Procedure and scoring[edit]

The IPSC paper target which is typically used.
Poppers are used as falling steel targets.

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.

Hit\ Factor={points \over time\,[seconds]}

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.

Competitive divisions[edit]

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).


Open Division
The handgun equivalent of top-fuel dragsters.[citation needed] The pistols have compensators, red dot sights, and high-capacity magazines. Typically chambered in .38 Super (or some variant) or 9mm Parabellum, the magazines can hold up to 29 rounds. They can be loaded to Major or Minor.[4]
Standard Division
Limited to pistols .40 caliber or larger in bore size for Major or 9mm or larger for Minor, at the shooter's choice. They may not have compensators, red dot sights, and the pistol with empty magazine must fit within the "IPSC box" a set of dimensions that limit overall size (225 mm × 150 mm × 45 mm (with tolerance +1 mm/-0 mm), which is approximately 8.85 inches x 5.90 inches x 1.77 inches).[4]
Classic Division
Introduced for the 2011–2012 season for an evaluation period until December 31, 2014. The division is limited to guns following the classic 1911 form; features such as extended dust covers and light rails are not permitted. Restrictions are placed on the size of magazine wells allowed, as well as physical dimension as measured using the "IPSC box". Other modifications, such as slide lightening and thumb rests as allowed in Open Division, are prohibited in Classic Division. Competitors may shoot in either Major or Minor power factor; Major power factor requires a .40 or larger projectile (with the exception of the .357 SIG, a .40 case necked-down to accept the .355 diameter projectile which can be loaded to high pressures) and are subject to a magazine capacity limit of eight. Minor power factor can be achieved using a 1911 chambered for 9mm; a limit of 10 rounds is in place for such firearms.[4]
Production Division
Restricted to double-action or striker fired pistols, scored at Minor, that must both meet the dimensional restrictions and are unmodified from the manufacturer's specifications. Only pistols explicitly listed on the approved list from IPSC may be used. Permitted modifications are limited to the application of grip tape in limited areas, replacement of sights that do not require gunsmithing, and the replacement of internal components with those of the original manufacturer and available as a factory option. Minor polishing and fitting of trigger components is allowed. There are differences in allowed pistols in IPSC Production Division when compared to USPSA Production Division.[4]
Revolver Division
Does not permit muzzle brakes or optical sights. Revolvers of any capacity may be used, but a maximum of six rounds can be fired before a reload is required. Competitors can have any caliber .38 Special or larger, and may declare Major.[4]


In rifle there is no minimum caliber, but the ammunition has to make a power factor of 150 for minor or 320 for major scoring. Starting position is usually with the butt of the rifle touching the hip.

Semi Auto Open (SAO)
This is the "Formula 1"-division for semi-automatic rifles. Optical sights are allowed together with muzzle brakes and bipods.[5]
Semi Auto Standard (SAS)
The Semi Auto Standard division is limited to iron sights only, muzzle brakes have to be within maximum dimensions of 26x90 mm and bipods are not allowed.[5]
Manual Action Open (MAO)
The manual divisions are limited to manual action types. Manual Action Open allows optical sights, muzzle brakes and bipods, and is the only manual division with no magazine capacity limit.[5]
Manual Action Standard (MAS)
Manual Action Standard is limited to iron sights only, and no muzzle brakes or bipods are allowed. Magazine capacity is limited to 6 rounds (5 in the magazine plus 1 in the chamber).[5]
Manual Action Standard 10 (MAS10)
MAS10 is a division under evaluation, and sort of a crossover between MAS and MAO, being limited to iron sights only, a magazine capacity of 11 rounds (10 in the magazine plus 1 in the chamber) and factory fitted muzzle brakes only.[5]


The minimum caliber for shotguns are 20 gauge, and starting position is usually with the butt of the shotgun touching the hip

The Open division allows optical sights, muzzle brakes, detachable magazines and the use of speed loaders for internal magazines.[6]
The Modified division allows muzzle brakes, but is limited to internal magazines and iron sights. The overall length of the shotgun has to be at least 1320 mm.[6]
The Standard division is limited to iron sights, and muzzle brakes are not allowed. The shotgun model has to be factory produced of at least 500 units.[6]
Standard Manual
The Standard Manual division is the only shotgun division limited to manual actions. Limited to iron sights and no muzzle brakes, and the shotgun model has to be factory produced of at least 500 units.[6]

World Shoot[edit]

The World Shoots are the highest level shooting matches within IPSC.[7] Held since 1975,[8] 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, Rifle and Shotgun, 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.

See also[edit]

Arranging IPSC matches[edit]

Tools for match organizing and electronic scoring:

  • Shoot'n Score It - Free web based IPSC, USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, SASS/CAS and PPC/ Wa1500 match and scoring service.
  • PractiScore- Another free system for managing practical shooting events.


External links[edit]