What is IPSC?
You may have seen it on television, in a gun magazine or at a local range. A shooter runs through an obstacle course of props, whilst rapid-firing. Paper targets and steel plates are engaged, rapid-fire, as moving targets are activated and drop in and out of sight. Incredible feats of shooting skill are performed at warp speed. What you viewed on the YouTube clip are practical shooting competitions, known by the initials IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation, pronounced ‘Ip Sic’) and this is both a sport and a game. In some countries this game mimics the way in which handguns are used for defensive purposes. Here, it is a test of shooting skill and to a lesser extent a test of mental and physical skills.
Practical shooting is a sport in which competitors are required to combine accuracy, speed and power to successfully complete many different types of shooting ‘scenarios’. Competitors use centre fire handguns in large calibres (9mm/.38 special is the minimum allowed) and shoot full-power loads. Fewer points are awarded to competitors using ‘minor’ power loads. These handguns are carried in belt holsters and are accompanied by spare magazines in pouches also attached to the belt.
At any given match a shooter may be required to shoot targets 2 meters away in one stage, and 50 meters away in the next. Sometimes the targets are paper, sometimes they are steel. Often ‘no-shoot’ penalty targets are placed near ‘shoot’ targets. Points are subtracted from a shooter’s score for hitting the ‘no-shoots’. Shooting may be done from freestyle, strong hand, weak hand, prone or any other imaginable position, depending on the course of fire. Since scoring uses both total points and elapsed time, the shooters strive to find the best combination of accuracy, speed and power to win.