United States Practical Shooting Association

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
United States Practical Shooting Association
United States Practical Shooting Association logo.png
Headquarters Burlington, Washington
Parent organization
International Practical Shooting Confederation
Subsidiaries Steel Challenge
Website uspsa.org

The United States Practical Shooting Association, or USPSA, is the national governing body of practical shooting in the United States under the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). Its over 25,000 active members,[1] and over 400 affiliated clubs, make USPSA the largest competitive pistol shooting organization in the United States and the largest region within IPSC. USPSA publishes a member magazine called Front Sight six times a year.


IPSC was formed in 1976 at a meeting in Columbia, Missouri, led by the late Jeff Cooper.[2] It was here that the sport of Practical Shooting was formally established after years of independent efforts around the country to build upon the handgun skills and training for self-defense. The early days of the sport can be traced back to the 1950s and the quick draw “leather slap” competitions that grew out of America's love affair with the TV westerns of that era.

In 1984 USPSA was incorporated as the US Region of IPSC.

Practical Shooting challenged the then accepted standards of technique, training practices and equipment. Its early pioneers developed scenario-based competitions to accurately measure the effectiveness of their own shooting techniques and equipment.[citation needed] The rapid shooting on-the-move style of Practical Shooting gave birth to the term “Run and Gun” so commonly used today to describe the sport.

For more than 30 years the sport has served as the test bed for new products and the unofficial R&D for the firearms industry. With some competitors annually shooting in excess of 100,000 rounds, no other venue offers a better in-service assessment of a firearm’s performance or the brutal gauntlet of high-level competition through which a gun must survive to be declared reliable.[citation needed]


USPSA is a 501c(3) non-profit Delaware corporation and currently headquartered in Burlington, Washington. The association is organized into 8 "Areas", each of which is represented by an Area Director at the board meetings of the organization. Further, each Area is divided into sections which is represented by a Section Coordinator responsible for coordinating the activities of clubs within his/ her section, and managing the nationals slot distribution process.

Area States[edit]

The USPSA is divided into of eight areas, each area having several member states.


The Board of Directors comprises the President and the 8 Area Directors. Each member of the Board has an equal voice, with the President breaking any ties.

The President is elected by all of the members to a 4-year term. Each Area Director is elected by the members in that Area to a three-year term. The Board of Directors' responsibilities include financial strategy, including budget, planning and investment strategies, membership recruitment and retention strategies, marketing strategies, strategies for the format and location of USPSA/ IPSC National Championships matches, strategies for the establishment and/or management of relationships with other shooting organizations, including IPSC, drafting and revising the rules that USPSA matches are conducted under, and review and ratification of National Range Officer Institute (NROI) policies and procedures.

As of 2016, the Board is:[3]

Title Name
President Mike Foley
Area 1 Director Bruce Gary
Area 2 Director Jerry Westcott
Area 3 Director & Vice President Sherwyn Greenfield
Area 4 Director Art Brown
Area 5 Director Rick Steele
Area 6 Director Bruce Wells
Area 7 Director David Bold
Area 8 Director Steve Thomas

Competitive Divisions[edit]

As the governing body of IPSC shooting in the United States, USPSA provides a wide range of competitive opportunities for shooters with regulated competition in six distinct divisions. Each division within USPSA is determined by the kind of firearm used and ranges from production guns, the “stock cars” of the sport, to fully customized open guns that are the Formula 1 cars of Practical Shooting. The following is an explanation of the six divisions within USPSA.


Although very similiar, there are some equipment differences between the USPSA and IPSC handgun divisions.

Open Division

As its name implies, the Open Division allows for the greatest range of pistol and sight modification.[4] Pistols used in Open Division competition are the shooting equivalent to the Formula 1 race car. They are custom built with parts and features specifically designed for competition. The most notable modifications are the use of recoil compensators and red dot optical sighting systems. While the most popular cartridge in the Open Division is one of several variants of the .38 Super, shooters may compete with a pistol chambered in any caliber that takes a .354" or larger bullet. While USPSA rules previously prohibited 9×19mm from scoring major power factor in the Open Division due to too high pressures, that rule was removed as the power factor was relaxed to 165 and in consequence 9x19 mm loaded to Major has now become popular.

The only differences between the IPSC and USPSA Handgun Open divisions are magazine length and major power factor requirements. While IPSC restrics overall magazine length for Open to 170 mm (approximately 6.69"), USPSA restricts the length to 171.25 mm (6.742"). Power factor requirements are also different, while the threshold for making major power factor is 165 (8.5 Ns) in all USPSA divisions, IPSC separates its power factor requirements into 160 (8.1 Ns) for Open and 170 (8.6 Ns) for all other all other handgun divisions.

Limited Division

Most modifications are permitted in Limited division except optical sights or compensators. It is often though of as the USPSA equivalent of the IPSC Standard division, but there are some differences. While Standard handguns must fit inside the IPSC box with any of its magazines inserted, there is no box for Limited division and instead there is a restriction on magazine length of 141.25 mm (5.561 inches) for double stack magazines or 171.25 mm (6.742 inches) for single stack magazines.[5] Also there is no restriction on holster position in Limited.

Although most handguns can be used, the most popular choices are the high capacity 2011 frame STI and SVI pistols. Minimum caliber for minor scoring is 9x19 mm loaded to a power factor of 125 (6.3 Ns) while minimum caliber for major scoring is a 10 mm (.40") cartridge loaded to a power factor of 165 (8.5 Ns). Competitors can make various modifications such as change sights, grips, slide stops, magazine releases and mainspring housings.

Limited-10 Division

Limited-10 is very similar to the Limited division, except that (as the name implies) the competitor can only load a maximum of 10 rounds per magazine. The division was developed in response to the 1994 Crime Bill, and eliminates any capacity advantage pistols with pre-ban magazines would have had over those with post-ban magazines. Although the federeal ban sunset in 2004, the Limited-10 division enjoys some populariry in the few states that has continued to place restrictions on 10 rounds per magazine.

Although most handguns can be used, double-stack 2011 pistols and single stack 1911 pistols are popular in Limited-10.[6] As with Limited, shooters must use a .40 caliber or larger bullet in order to score a major power factor.

Production Division

Production Division[7][8] is strictly limited to the use of production handguns with actions that are either double-action-only (DAO), double-action/ single-action (DA/ SA) or striker fired. These are the “duty guns” available from nearly every pistol maker and each of the major manufacturers offers a wide variety of models that meet USPSA Production Division requirements. Stock revolvers may also be used, including the 7- and 8-shot variants. The rules greatly restrict the level of modifications that can be performed on a Production gun.

Since everyone in the division is scored as a minor power factor regardless of the round, mostly 9mm handguns are used. While capacity is not uniform across model, caliber or manufacture, USPSA levels the playing field by limiting shooters to just 10 rounds per magazine. Holsters and allied equipment must be “non-race-type” and be worn behind the forward most point of hip. Most shooters use a standard outside-the-waistband belted holster intended for daily wear, often made of kydex or plastic.

There are several differences between USPSA Production and IPSC Production:

  • The approved lists of USPSA and IPSC contain different models.[9]
  • USPSA do not allows race holsters, while they are allowed in IPSC.
  • In USPSA the handgun must fit inside a "Production box" with dimensions 8 15/16 x 6 x 1 5/8” (tolerance +1/16”, -0”), (approximately 227.01 x 152.40 x 41.28 mm) with any of its empty magazines inserted. On the other hand IPSC has no restrictions on handgun size, except of a maximum barrel length of 127 mm (5 inches).
  • USPSA has a magazine capacity limit of 10 rounds for Production, while IPSC has a limit of 15 rounds.

Both the IPSC and USPSA Production rules are restritive in regards to permitted modifications, custom parts and tuning, but while IPSC has stayed very restrictive on its interpretations, USPSA have loosened up on its interpretations of the rules.

Carry Optics

Carry Optics is a provisional division under evaluation, essentially for "production" type handguns with red dot sights attached to the slide between the rear of slide and the ejection port. With a maximum weight limit of 35 ounces (992 grams) including an empty magazine, only lightweight semi-auto handguns are permitted.[10] Like USPSA Production there is minor scoring only and 10 round magazine capacity limit.

Single Stack Division

The USPSA Single Stack Division caters to the traditional 1911 fan,[11] and its IPSC equivalent is the Classic division. USPSA introduced Single Stack as a provisional division in 2006 and made it a regular division in 2008. Only single-stack model 1911-pattern pistols are allowed in this division, and they must comply with a maximum weight limit, as well as fit fully within a box of specific dimensions. The equipment rules are similar to Production Division, other than providing for 8 rounds for major calibers and 10 rounds for minor. As for holsters, Single Stack shooters must adhere to guidelines similar to the Production Division, although unlike Production, dropped and offset holsters are not allowed. All equipment must be worn behind the hips and the holster must be a practical, non-race style such as those intended for daily wear.

Revolver Division

The Revolver Division is intended for stock revolvers and shooters are restricted to only six rounds between reloads.[12] Modifications are limited and optical sights, porting and recoil compensators are prohibited. However, shooters may change grips, enlarge the cylinder release, change sights, chamfer cylinders and tune the action as they desire.

While .45 ACP is the most popular, shooters may score major using any cartridge that fires a .355 or larger bullet. Typically, competitors will use a "race" style holster in the Revolver Division.


The minimum caliber in USPSA Rifle is 5.45×39mm, and the ammunition has to make a power factor of 150 for minor or 320 for major scoring. Important elements include the use of prone, off hand and supported shooting positions. Knowledge of the firearms ballistics is a key element to succeed at the long range targets. There are some differences between the USPSA and IPSC Rifle divisions.


In the open division one can have any number of many optical sights and bipods, and there is no size restriction on muzzle brakes. 1-4 or 1-6 scopes are popular in the Open division. Some use reticles with marked hold overs, while others prefer reticles with a simple dot and crosshair and choose to dial long range adjustments on the turrets istead.


The Tactical division is very similar to the open division, with the exception that only one optical sight is permitted, no bipod and the muzzle brake has to be within the maximum dimensions of 1x3 inches (1 inch diameter and 3 inches long).


The limited division is limited to one non-magnifying red dot sight, no bipod and the muzzle brake has to be within the maximum dimensions of 1x3 inches (1 inch diameter and 3 inches long). Rifles with non-magnified red dot sights are very competitive with scoped rifle at short ranges, but have a disadvantage at longer ranges.


Different options on shotgun chokes and ammunition (from different pellets sizes and up to slugs) makes for interesting choke and ammunition choices based on the stage at hand.

Like IPSC Shotgun, the minimum caliber for shotguns are 20 gauge in the Open, Limited and Tactical divisions, only the Heavy Metal division is unique in that it requires a 12 gauge pump action shotgun.


The Open division allows optical sights, muzzle brakes, and detachable magazines or the use of speed loaders for internal magazines. Magazines must not contain more than 10 rounds at the start signal. Bipods are also permitted, and the shotgun does not have to be factory produced.


The Limited/ Tactical division is restricted to iron sights only, tube magazines and the shotgun has to be factory produced of at least 500 units. The magazine capacity limit at the start signal is 9 rounds. Speed loaders are not permitted, neither are muzzle brakes or optical sights. The USPSA Limited division is very similar to the IPSC Modified division.

Heavy Metal

The Heavy Metal division reqiures a 12 gauge pump action shotgun with a tube magazine, and the shotgun has to be factory produced of at least 500 units. The magazine capacity limit at the start signal is 9 rounds. Speed loaders are not permitted, neither are muzzle brakes or optical sights. The USPSA Heavy Metal division is practically identical to the IPSC Standard Manual division.


In Multi-Gun, equipment from the handgun, rifle and shotgun divisions are combined into own Multi-Gun Divisions.

Open Division
  • Open division handgun
  • Open division rifle
  • Open division shotgun
Tactical Division
  • Limited division handgun
  • Tactical division rifle
  • Tactical division shotgun
Limited Division
  • Limited division handgun
  • Limited division rifle
  • Limited division shotgun
Heavy Metal Tactical Division
  • Limited 10 division handgun in major caliber
  • Iron sighted rifle in major caliber
  • Heavy Metal shotgun
Heavy Metal Limited Division
  • Limited 10 handgun in .44 caliber
  • Iron sighted rifle in major caliber
  • Heavy Metal shotgun


Mainly two methods are used, either Comstock or Time Plus. The shooter's time is recorded electronically, by means of a timer that detects the sound of the shots.

Comstock ranks the competitors based on achieved points for a stage divided by their time, giving them a hit factor ("points per second"). The points are added based on which scoring zones the hits are in and the competitors declared power factor (minor or major), with penalties subtracted, before dividing by the time the competitor used on the stage. The highest hit factor wins the stage and gets the full total of Stage Points for that stage, while a percentage of the total avaiable Stage Points are awarded to the other competitors based on their percentage hit factor compared to the winner. To calculate the final match standings each competitors stage points are totaled, and the competitor with the highest total of points wins the match. Comparing each shooter directly to the performance of the top shooter on each stage allows for precise gradation of performance across a match, but requires a computer and software to do in a timely fashion. Comstock is the only scoring method used internationally by the IPSC.

Time Plus is a newer scoring method that has seen a rising popularity in Multi Gun matches because of its simplicity. Minor and major power factor is ignored, and only two hits anywhere on the targets are required (no points or scoring zones). The competitors time is their score, and instead time is added for misses, penalties etc. This scoring method is faster, but has the drawback that if a competitor makes a time consuming error on a stage they may drop severly in the match classification because the time scoring is cumulative.

Other scoring methods are Limited Time Comstock, Virginia Count or Fixed Time.

Competitor Ranking[edit]

The USPSA ranks its shooters in classes, according to their performance on classifier stages. The ranks are:[13]

Rank Percent
Grand Master 95-100%
Master 85-94.9%
A 75-84.9%
B 60-74.9%
C 40-59.9%
D 2-40%

Match personell[edit]

In conjunction with IPSC, USPSA has their own dedicated range offfcials, which is run by the National Range Officers Institute (NROI). The NROI is responsible for the training and certification of the Range Officials, firearm safety, good course design and advising the membership on the application of the rules as determined by the Board of Directors. USPSA has five different types of Range Officials, which are:

  1. Range Officer (RO)
  2. Chief Range Officer (CRO)
  3. Range Master (RM)
  4. Tournament Director (TD)
  5. Range Master Instructor (RMI)

USPSA Purchases Steel Challenge[edit]

In December 2007, USPSA purchased the Steel Challenge and the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) from owners and creators Mike Dalton and Mike Fichman.[14]

The match design of Dalton and Fichman called for simple stages, or courses of fire, made up of just five steel plates. The steel plates are of differing sizes and placed at various distances and angles to create a variety of challenges. The shooter assumes his or her position in the shooting box and, upon the beep of the timer, draw their pistol and shoots each plate with the fifth being a stop plate synchronized to the timer. Each shooter shoots the stage five times with the slowest time dropped. The score is the combined time of the best four runs and that time added to the combined times of the other stages for a final match score.

In 2007, more than 220 shooters competed for over $390,000 in cash and prizes. The match was held every year in Piru, California until 2012 when it was moved to Frostproof, Florida.


Arranging USPSA matches[edit]

Match managing and electronic scoring:

Stage design:


External links[edit]