Getting Started in Practical Shooting - SAFELY!
Maybe you've tired of the same old stand-'n'-shoot at the same old targets, over, and over, and over.
Or perhaps you've exercised your right to own a defensive handgun, acquired a concealed carry
license, and are now wondering where and how you can hone your defensive pistolcraft skills,
in a sporting, "non-Rambo" environment?|
"Practical Shooting" is a fun, fast-paced, action shooting sport, using realistic courses
of fire and scenarios, that challenges your mind, your body, and your hardware as you explore
the limits of the man-machine combination. The only restrictions on course designers pertain
to safety and standardized targets; beyond that, the sky's the limit! Practical Shooting
Matches are realistic and diverse. Multiple targets, moving targets, partial targets, knock-down
steel targets, no-shoot targets that cover or obscure "shoot" targets, barricades, doors,
windows, walls, tables, cars, boats, motorcycles - all these and other props are mixed together
by course designers to create constantly changing situations which challenge the competitor
to shoot and think! As Practical Shooting is freestyle, you provide the solution to the
shooting problem, and both your score (points) and speed (time) are factored.
"IPSC" stands for "International Practical Shooting Confederation," which is the world
governing body for Practical Shooting (a sport now practiced in nearly 40 countries).
The United States Practical Shooting Association, or USPSA, is the governing body in America.
The terms "IPSC" (pronounced ip'-sick) and "Practical Shooting" are used interchangeably.
"DVC" (diligentia, vis, celiratis) is the IPSC motto; it stands for "Accuracy, Power, and Speed,"
and symbolizes the challenge of the sport. How fast can you shoot? How accurately? Can you find
the right mix of speed and accuracy to solve the shooting scenario before you?
Safety First, Foremost, and Always!
Practical shooting is a sport with its roots in martial arts. IPSC won't teach you tactics, or
sort out the moral and legal questions of deadly force. It will, though, teach you to shoot,
safely, accurately, and quickly under stress - and that's a good foundation.|
All of this helps you to discharge your responsibility to your community to learn safe
gun-handling skills. If you wish to exercise your Second Amendment rights, but are
unwilling to develop the skills needed to do so safely, don't delude yourself into
thinking you're "armed:" in point of fact, you're just dangerous. Owning a gun doesn't
make you a safe shooter any more than owning a guitar make you a musician. In fact,
it can make you a dangerous one if you're not willing to learn how to safely control
the force at your fingertips.
Firearm safety is ultimately a matter of personal responsibility and self control,
two key qualities stressed in Practical Shooting. The shooter is always responsible
for his or her actions and safe gun handling. The basic principles of safe gun handling
are expressed in the Practical Shooting Code of Ethics --
Violations of this Code of Ethics, as defined in the Practical Shooting Rule Book, are
considered severe safety violations, and will lead to disqualification from matches.
The careless will find other shooters intolerant of sloppy gun handling; they expect
to compete under safe conditions. Like rock climbing, white water rafting, or sky diving,
Practical Shooting contains a remote element of danger. Unlike virtually any other sport,
though, the "disaster factors" are all under your direct control. Practical Shooting is
SAFETY IN ACTION: SAFETY is the watchword of the entire USPSA program! Practical Shooters
instinctively practice safe gun handling under pressure, and they demand the same of others:
USPSA-affiliated clubs always check new shooters to insure that they have the skills needed
for safe participation. Consequently, before you are allowed to compete in any USPSA/IPSC
match or organized practice, a Practical Shooting Safety Check is always required -- always.
SAFETY COMES FIRST AND FOREMOST -- ALWAYS!! You may arrange for a Safety Check, at no cost
to you, at any Northwest Section IPSC Club (see the NW Section page for a club locator map
and contact information).
- I will treat every firearm as a loaded one
- I will never point a firearm at anything I am not willing to destroy
- I will be sure of my target and what is behind it before firing
- I will keep my finger off the trigger until my sights are on my intended target
Your Safety Check
At your Safety Check, you will need to have:
At your Safety Check, you will need to demonstrate these safe gun-handling skills:
- A serviceable and safe handgun, minimum caliber 38 spl./9mm. All of the
critical safeties (slide safety, safety catches, half cock notch, disconnector,
hammer block, etc.) on your handgun must be functional. If your gun is fitted
with a trigger shoe or extension, it may not protrude beyond the outer dimensions
of the trigger guard.
- A safe holster on a belt; the muzzle of the handgun must point downwards to the
ground within three feet of you when standing naturally relaxed, the trigger must
be covered, and the belt upon which the holster and allied equipment are carried
must be secured at waist level (please leave your shoulder holsters, S.O.B. holsters,
manly "Tactical" thigh holsters, fanny packs, etc., at home!).
- Magazines or speed loaders (2 or 3 is plenty to start with), and carriers for same.
Bring at least 50 rounds of ammunition - 100 is better. We suggest factory ammo for your
safety check (unless you already know what's considered "safe handloads" under USPSA rules).
- Ear and eye protection. Shooting glasses must be industrial safety glasses or
genuine shooting glasses; most sunglasses lack the strength needed to afford adequate
protection. Foam ear plugs provide excellent ear protection, and they're cheap.
- Clearing and checking your gun
- Loading and making ready
- Draw and fire from various starting positions
- Safely reloading your gun while stationary, and while moving
- Safe down- and cross-range movement
- Safely engaging multiple targets from multiple shooting positions
- Safely clearing a jam
- Unloading and clearing
Your Guns, Gear, & Ammo: Getting Started
First, shoot a few matches. You can actually get started with minimal equipment:
A safe gun and holster, ammo carriers, a belt, and several hundred rounds of ammunition.
Eye and hearing protection are mandatory. Most all magazine/speedloader carriers work -
some are more elegant than others. You can start with two magazines (or speed loaders),
but most shooters carry four or more (courses of fire requiring up to 30 rounds are not
uncommon). A bag for spent brass is handy.|
Your gun must be serviceable and safe - not fancy, trick, or custom. Start with the
gun you selected for personal protection - your first few matches with it will tell you a
lot! Remember - it needs to make minor (.38/9mm) to compete for place and/or prizes. Got a
Glock? A 1911? Great! Need a $2,000+ race gun to be competitive? Not! In fact, "Limited Class"
(stock guns) has outstripped "Open Class" ("race" guns), very much favoring newer shooters
with "entry-level" armament. USPSA has also implemented "Limited 10," "Production," and
"Revolver" categories - basically, if you have anything in 9mm/38 Spl or larger,
and a way to carry and reload it
there's a category for you to compete in!
Don't rush out and spend - you'll be sorry later!! Study what other shooters are using
and ask them about their guns and gear; they're always happy to help new shooters. Get a
number of opinions (no shortage of opinions exist in this sport!) and ask where the best
buys are before you do any major spending. Frequently, you can arrange to borrow equipment to try.
Wear adequate clothing. Practical Shooting is an outdoor sport practiced in all weather.
Pouring rain, a foot of snow, whatever - the match goes on. Dress to stand around while
you're waiting your turn to shoot. Pants should allow you to freely bend and stretch.
Shirts should fit closely so loose fabric doesn't snag your draw. Stop holster wiggle
with a good gun belt (if you ever shoot a match with a holster on a thin dress belt,
you'll quickly find out what holster wiggle is and how it badly it slows down your draw!) --
in fact, the selection of a good gun belt is every bit as critical as the selection of a
good holster and firearm! Good running shoes (cleated football shoes are popular) are a
plus. Sunscreen and umbrellas are nice to have, as are gloves and handwarmers for
standing about in the cold. A small first aid kit (USPSA's Sport Safe is ideal) is nice to have.
Gun store commandos and Rambo wanna-be's have no place in our sport, so leave
your camouflage clothing and your shirts with those clever and/or obscene sayings
at home. IPSC is a sport - not SWAT training, not combat training, not militia
apprenticeship!!! Un-sportsmanlike appearance and/or behavior will get you barred from the range.
Your First Match!
Nervous about your first "public performance?" Most people are! Hey -- Relax and enjoy it!
This sport is fun! Moreover, everyone you meet had a first match too; we've all been there.
You'll find that both experienced shooters and Range Officers are friendly and helpful with
new shooters. We all enjoy Practical Shooting, and want to get you started right! Matches
are just as much social gatherings as shooting contests.|
Above all else, though, forget speed! Walk through the match - it's the smart move.
Don't try to imitate the "hosers" that zip through a course in flying cleats and a shower
of brass. To be good at this (or any other) sport, you have to pay your dues, learn the
fundamentals, and be able to apply them on demand. Forget speed - think safe and smooth!
Forget your time - concentrate on getting all "A" hits. Forget winning - think about your
front sight. Practical Shooting is very much a mental game. Shooters who are obsessed with
winning rarely do - they distract themselves.
Finally, concentrate on controlling your gun! Nobody wants to see you get DQ'd on your
first time out because of a safety violation, but it will happen if you try to run before
you can walk, or try to miss fast before you can hit anything slow. Concentrate on learning
safe gun handling practices - speed will come with practice and experience (or, put another
way, it'll happen by itself or it won't happen at all - don't "try" to go fast!). Always,
always, always pay attention to your muzzle direction and to where your trigger finger is!
Find our more about IPSC and Practical Shooting at USPSA's site,
and the International Practical Shooting Confederation's site.
KR Training's Site also offers some excellent background information and links . . .