Increase font size Decrease font size
 

IPSC shooting: What kind of shooting sport is IPSC?

IPSC marksman Sascha Back

The dynamic IPSC shooting is becoming increasingly popular among passionate shooters as it combines athleticism and maximum precision. But what is IPSC in fact and what is the fascinating thing about this addictive shooting sport? Read on for an overview and further information.

The Team of all4shooters.com / Source: GECO Magalog, VISIER; Authors: Stefan Perey, Matthias Recktenwald

First of all: IPSC sport shooting can be addictive. Once you start, you often end up hooked for life! But what does IPSC shooting actually mean? IPSC is an advanced and vibrant sport which is originated in the USA – a purely technical high-performance shooting sport. The "International Practical Shooting Confederation" (IPSC) was started by 40 founding members from all over the world in May 1976. It was established to promote, maintain, improve and advance the sport of IPSC shooting, to safeguard its principles and to regulate its conduct worldwide.


As a sport, practical shooting was becoming increasingly popular over the last years, attracting droves of sports shooting aficionados to its ranks. Today IPSC shooting is practiced by more than 200,000 active sports marksmen from 96 nations, reaching from Andorra to Zimbabwe. And one shouldn't neglect the fact that more and more women turn into enthusiastic IPSC shooters. The single factor which prevents the dynamic shooting sport from spreading even more in most countries is the lack of suitable shooting ranges.

IPSC shooter with a shotgun
The dynamic IPSC shooting contains all the different shooting disciplines: handgun, rifle, shotgun and action air.

What is IPSC shooting?

Women in the IPSC shooting sport - shooter Maria Gushchina
Dynamic shooting sport: More and more women turn into enthusiastic IPSC shooters.

The Latin motto "Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas" (Accuracy, Power, Speed) reflects the high standards expected from IPSC shooters. IPSC shooting recognizes all the shooting disciplines: handgun, rifle, shotgun and action air. Through the combination of athleticism and maximum precision, IPSC is the supreme discipline of shooting sports. Therefore shooting all the IPSC disciplines can be seen as the pinnacle of marksmanship and overall shooting skill. Along with the other "action" types of shooting sports, such as the "Bianchi Cup", "Steel Challenge" or "Cowboy Action Shooting", it is the only shooting sport where a fire-ready gun is drawn from the holster at a signal.

IPSC shooter Eric Grauffel in a stage
IPSC shooting is a purely technical high-performance sport where a second can prove curcial.

Ambitious IPSC shooters have to blend accuracy, power and speed into a winning combination. But don't worry – basically, it is quite simple! Once a start signal sounds, the shooter must complete a predeterminded course (COF; course of fire, stage or course). This signal is an acoustical peep tone generated by a timer used to measure both: the time and the number of shots. The main objective is to shoot at multiple targets, moving targets, targets that react when hit, penalty targets or even partially covered targets in the shortest possible time while scoring the highest number of points.


For ranking purposes, clean hits are more important than speed. The velocity will automatically improve with continuous training and increasing competition experience. It should be noted that high-speed-shooting may look spectacular. But if it doesn't produce any hits, the shooter scores no points. In the end, the score is determined by the number of hits divided by the time between the start signal and the last shot.

GECO-IPSC-Team shooter in a course of fire
Competition success in IPSC shooting: Clean hits are more important than speed.
Course of fire at the German Championship IPSC handgun 2016
IPSC shooting never gets routine or boring: Matches are continuously furnishing new, varied and challenging courses.
IPSC marksman is accompanied by a range officer during a match
The concept of "free styling" counts most in IPSC shooting: There are often many differnt ways that a marksman may apply his particular abilities in coping with a specific course.

IPSC shooting: Safety first!

IPSC shooter with a range officer at her side
IPSC shooting: As safety is the top priority, every competitor is accompanied during the match by a range officer.

Due to the fact that IPSC recognizes all different shooting disciplines, the shooters have many possibilities to practice their passion. Marksmen, who prefer handguns, may enter one of five different Divisions depending on the style of firearm used. IPSC shotgun and rifle disciplines are similar to handgun but differ in some details. In IPSC shooting, no course is ever the same from one competition to the next. Furthermore, the shooters don't know in advance what to expect in any given match. This is a part of IPSC to keep competitors challenged and spectators engaged.


In any way, safety is the top priority because the shooter is moving through the course against the clock with a loaded, fire-ready gun. In some countries like Germany this means that those who want to participate have to pass a Safety and Rules test (SuRT) before they are allowed to actively take part in the sport. In addition, every competitor is accompanied during the match by a range officer (R.O.). He gives the start signal, ensures safe weapons handling and controls rule violations. In consultation with other officials, the range officer is also responsible for recording hits. If necessary, he is authorized to disqualify shooters from the match – for example when a handgun falls to the ground or something occurs that isn't reconcile with safety rules.

IPSC shooting: The hit factor counts!

Points divided by time = hit factor


The result of points divided by time is the so-called "hit factor", which is also the shooter's score for the respective course. The higher the hit factor, the better the score. The marksman with the highest hit factor is awarded 100 % of the possible points for the course. All other shooters receive a percentage of their hit factor relative to the best marksman. The primary target media used is the "IPSC target", a cardboard target in standard and mini sizes. The targets are divided into "A" (Alpha), "C" (Charlie) and "D" (Delta) zones and these yield various point-values depending on the capabilities of the caliber the shooter uses.

IPSC shooter analyzes the course of fire during the dry walkthrough
Where is the pistol? During the dry walkthrough with the squad, experienced top shooters can read and perfectly analyze a course of fire in a few seconds before the round begins.

An "A" or center hit scores a full 5 points, while hits in the periphery "C" and "D" zones are weighted by the capability of the ammunition, with a "major Factor" or "minor Factor", scoring 4 points/3 points and 2 points/ 1 point, respectively. The "major" or "minor" factor applied as the basis of the score is calculated from the bullet weight and bullet velocity of the ammunition used. It is determined by the following formula:


Bullet weight (in grains) multiplied by the bullet velocity (in feet per second) divided by 1,000 = Factor


During a match, the competition officials take eight cartridges of match ammunition from each participant. One cartridge is then disassembled at an assigned shooting station and the bullet is weighed on a scale. Three other cartridges are tested with a chronograph to determine whether the ammunition is to be assigned to the "minor" or "major" ammunition performance category.

Multiple targets for IPSC shooting matches
IPSC shooting: The goal is to shoot at multiple targets in the shortest possible time while scoring the highest number of points.

What is the fascinating thing about IPSC shooting?

Motion study with IPSC World Champion in the Production Division Maria Gushchina
IPSC shooting: Motion study with IPSC World Champion in the Production Division Maria Gushchina.
IPSC shooter with a handgun 
IPSC shooting combines athleticism and maximum precision as its essential characteristics.
IPSC shooter is moving through a course of fire
IPSC shooting: The shooter is moving through the course of fire against the clock with a loaded, fire-ready gun.

Major competitions consist of an equal balance of "short courses" with a maximum of 12 shots, "medium courses" with a maximum of 24 shots and "long courses" with a maximum of 32 shots. In addition to the standard IPSC cardboard targets in standard and mini sizes, which may be cropped or cut in half and used in static and moving stage configurations as pendulum or running targets. There are also steel popper targets in different sizes ("IPSC Classic Popper" and "IPSC Mini Popper") as well as circular steel plates or angular steel plates. Generally, cardboard targets are fired at twice while a single shot is usually enough to make sound and knock over steel plates. It is valid: "Hit or miss". Though a shooter can always take a second shot if he thinks he missed or failed to make a solid hit.


The fascinating thing about IPSC shooting is that matches are continuously furnishing new, varied and challenging courses. No two courses are ever the same at the various competitions – IPSC sports shooting never gets routine or boring. And what counts most in IPSC shooting is the concept of "free styling": there are often many different ways that a participant may apply his particular abilities in coping with a specific course. By being clever and carefully planning out how to handle the course, a participant can easily climb up the rankings. That goes to show just how much of a vigorous mental exercise IPSC is.


Experienced top shooters can read and perfectly analyze a course in a few seconds during the dry walkthrough with the squad before the round begins. They know exactly which shooting stance to use at any given moment and how they should orient their body to the target, when to magazine-change and which targets are especially difficult, all of which requires the highest degree of concentration for sighting and clean release.


Here's an example that shows laymen what makes a good IPSC shooter: In the IPSC standard course "El Presidente" three targets hang at the same height next to each other. The shooter has to hit each target twice, change the magazine and then hit each target another two times. That makes a total of 12 shots along with a change of magazines for a maximum possible score of 60 points. Currently, the best IPSC shooter on the planet, six-time World Champion Eric Grauffel from France, completed this course at a distance of 10 meters with his Open Division pistol in 3.48 seconds, scoring the maximum number of points!

IPSC shooter Eric Grauffel in a match
The uncrowned king: Currently, the six-time World Champion Eric Grauffel from France is the best IPSC shooter on the planet.

GECO – The right ammunition for IPSC shooting

GECO-IPSC-Team shooter Sascha Back with a rifle
The right combination ensures the best possible resulsts: The success in IPSC shooting depends not only on the weapon but also on the perfect ammunition.

Thus IPSC shooting is a purely technical high-performance sport where a second can prove crucial. The sporting success depends not only on the perfect choice of the weapon but also on the suitable ammunition – the right combination ensures the best possible results.


The famous brand GECO offers a wide product range for the several disciplines in IPSC shooting. Furthermore, a special GECO cartridge series that satisfies every need was developed specifically with dynamic shooting in mind. The muzzle velocities required were determined using guns actually used in matches, and adapted so that the gun can be fired safely while keeping muzzle flip and recoil as low as possible. This ensures a valuable time advantage during competition shooting.


By the way, GECO is not only the official ammunition supplier to many past major IPSC events including both European and World Championships. The company is involved in the world of dynamic sport shooting far beyond simply supplying specialized ammunition for IPSC marksmen: GECO provides generous support to four IPSC top shooters from three countries and the brand also lends its name to the IPSC Level III Competition – GECO Masters – in Germany.

GECO IPSC shooting team with pistols
GECO offers ammunition for match winners: A special GECO cartridge series that satisfies every need was developed specifically with IPSC shooting in mind.

The flagship event in the world of dynamic sport shooting will take place in France from August 27 to September 3, 2017.

We will be reporting live from the 18th IPSC World Championship. 


Visit the International Practical Shooting Confederation website to learn more about the world of dynamic shooting sport.

Rate this item!IPSC shooting: What kind of shooting sport is IPSC? 5.0 (5 ratings)
print