Match Report: French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018

The rumbling complaints heard last year that the CDF (Championnat de France) Rifle 2017 had been little more than a thinly disguised handgun match (shooting handguns instead of rifles) were absent this time around. In actual fact, it was fairly evident that the organizers had set their sights on making it an “authentic” rifle match. Indeed, they overshot the mark a little here, and that is another story entirely. But more on that a little later...

Organization of the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018

In total, 185 shooters from 13 nations assembled for the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018. Although the match was held at the same time as the Nordic Rifle Championships, it managed to attract shooters from further afield than just the neighboring countries. Marksmen from Norway and Sweden also made the trip to compete in this event.

Firearms used by IPSC shooters at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018: The long bipods for stage 12 are already mounted on the firearms used by Sascha Back’s squad.

Originally, the match comprised 24 stages to be completed in 3 days. This made it an excellent preparatory event for the European IPSC Rifle Championship 2018 in Sweden, which will take place in August. Unfortunately, though, the number of stages was subsequently reduced to 18, held over 2 days. Evidently the organizers had underestimated how long it takes to complete a rifle match with all of the various distances involved. Even the organization of the remaining 18 stages proved overly optimistic, certainly in regard to the time that an average squad needs to complete the stage and the number of helpers simply doing so requires. So in the end, the entire schedule was thrown into disarray. What’s more, the shooters had to help out in resetting the stages throughout the match in order to at least try to keep on schedule.

This didn’t work quite as smoothly as envisaged, either, so another 2 stages were struck from the list as well. In the end, it proved impossible for all of the shooters to complete the match on time by Saturday evening, so they returned to continue the competition on Sunday morning. But a few of the shooters from other countries had travel arrangements for Sunday and were unable to complete all the stages. It’s a real shame if you invest a lot of time and money and have to leave the proceedings without having “taken your shot”, so to speak. Naturally, the awards ceremony was also delayed due to the extra time needed for the match, and it eventually took place at Sunday lunchtime instead of Saturday evening.

French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018: a match with demanding stages...

Description of stage 1 at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
Stage 1 at the CDF Rifle 2018: Description of the extremely exacting 500 m stage.

Enough of the unfortunate organizational hiccups and back to the match itself: As indicated earlier, this match was a real toughie! 

The French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018 was dotted with tiny, steel targets off in the distance, aimed at from tricky shooting positions. Only 3 of the 16 remaining stages featured paper disks placed at a distance of between 5 and 30 m – the targets in the other 13 stages were positioned up to 500 m away! 

The 500 m stage asked competitors to shoot at 10 paper disks in total: 2 x 200 m, 2 x 300 m, 3 x 400 m and 3 x 500 m. As if that weren’t enough, the shooting positions were anything but ideal as well… 

The left side of the exercise was completed from a raised shooting stand with the rifle perched on a bipod – too high to kneel, too low to stand upright. Shooters took their mark on a wobbly barricade to shoot at the 200 m disks. The right-hand side of the stage featured a stunted platform on which it was simply impossible to assume a comfortable prostrate position with your legs stretched out. So it’s hardly surprising that only a smattering of shooters completed this stage with no misses. Most of the shooters racked up 6 or more misses and departed the stage with zero points.

GECO IPSC shooter Sascha Back at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
GECO IPSC shooter Sascha Back progressing through stage 3. He visualized precisely this shooting position before starting the stage.
Sascha Back from the GECO IPSC team mentally prepares to take on stage 3 of the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
Stage 3 at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018: preparing to start, Sascha Back visualizes the exercise one last time.

In many of the other stages, the designers used 15x15 steel plates that usually feature at handgun matches. They were often set up at distances of 150 to 170 m, in one case even 200 m. Blessed is he who has a high-quality, meticulously sighted and zeroed telescopic sight mounted on his rifle and is familiar with the ballistic data of his ammunition! Shooting at this kind of target quickly became a game of chance without a clear point of aim and careful sighting, so there were quite a few marksmen who emptied an endless succession of magazines and would literally have been better off banging their heads on the plates... Not to mention the – here truly pitiable – mediocre shooters. Firing from a prostrate position through a thicket of long grass at mini poppers dangling 200 m away was a real challenge for sure!

Match Report: Results of the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018

GECO IPSC team shooter Sascha Back shooting at the 500 m stage during the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
Too high to kneel, too low to stand upright: The exercise on the left of the 500 m stage separated the wheat from the chaff.

It was a very demanding, challenging match, even for experienced shooters. That in itself had its own special appeal. But it was bound to be frustrating for less experienced marksmen without the ideal gear. So it seems to reasonable to ask whether less might have been more after all... 

A distant, tricky plate can be the pièce de résistance – the crowning glory, as it were – for strong, experienced shooters. But setting up a couple of closer targets for less seasoned marksmen to collect a few points would be a good way of reducing the number of misses and zero ratings just a little. Ultimately, this would contribute to making the day more enjoyable for all the shooters.

Top 5 results at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018

Open Semi Auto

PlaceNameCountryPointsMatch %
1.Mikael SchelenSWE1147,9708100,00
2.Olle AckehedSWE1136,424898,99
3.Kenneth SalenNOR1080,948494,16
4.Sascha BackGER1045,020891,03
5.Christian Holzapfel     GER1029,736489,70

Standard Semi Auto

Match %
1.Ján PálkaSVK1274,4130100,00
2.Leon BosNED1016,009279,72
3.Marc KleserGER964,535075,68
4.Cees KooltjesNED765,560760,07
5.Christoph BerlenbachGER740,339958,09

Click here to see all the other results of the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018.

Semi-automatic rifles with long bipods used by IPSC shooters at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
Stage 12 was a 40-round long course with the targets set up at 70 m. These disks are easier to hit with sufficient speed if the shooter kneels down and uses the long bipod.
Kalashnikov AK used by a shooter at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
Kalashnikov AK used by a shooter at the CDF IPSC Rifle 2018: Competing in this event with this gun? Wow...
Targets for stage 4 at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
The targets in stage 4: Shooting through a low window to strike 2 round plates at a distance of 100 m; disks to the left and right of the assembly also have to be hit at 150 and 200 m.
Targets for stage 3 at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
The targets for stage 3: a small plate and disk at 100 m, shot at once from the left, then the right; 2 poppers on the left and 2 disks at 150 m that can be taken from the left or the right (but with better visibility from the right); 1 plate on the left and 3 poppers on the right at 200 m.
Configuration of stage 14 at the French IPSC Rifle Championship 2018
Configuration of stage 14: The stage started with the unloaded weapon in the tube; the IPSC shooters were not allowed to touch the wall; they could use the rope to help assume a reasonably stable upright stance or to kneel down. You really had to lean out to aim at the disks positioned 180 m away.

What is IPSC exactly and how does dynamic shooting sports work in detail? We give you a comprehensive overview of IPSC shooting.

Which IPSC classes, are there in the handgun category? Here is an overview of the divisions with pistol and revolver.

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