The 2013 IPSC European Handgun Championships (EHC) were held in Portugal. This event takes place every three years and was held in the north of the country on the outskirts of the town of Barcelos, inland from Porto. The competition were organised by IPSC Portugal, which ensured the Fervenca Shooting Complex was fit for purpose, which included construction of all the stages, rest areas and trade displays for the event. The 24 stages in the match were themed on Portuguese exploration and there was an abundance of nautical pictorial displays and props used in the match.
The increasing popularity of IPSC shooting in Europe has lead to the European Championships being designed to take over 900 competitors in the match and EHC 2013 was filled to capacity. This is in part due to many new IPSC regions being formed in many of the emerging eastern European countries and the new countries that used to make up the former Soviet Union. There was also a contingent of competitors from the modern day Russia. As well as the competitors from European countries, in which Israel and Russia are included, competitors from other IPSC Regions around the world also participated in the match.
The Fervenca Shooting Complex used for this event also hosts clay pigeon and UIT precision shooting events and the complex used 24 of its shooting bays for the 2013 EHC. The ranges were in four groups of six stages and each group of stages was in a common area separated by earth walls. The range complex has been well prepared with the shooting bays made ready. Parking areas, refreshments, seating areas and a trade show were lead on for the event. Parking was to one side of the complex and coaches were also used to bus competitors from the designated “match hotels”.
Competitors from a total of 34 countries from the European area, from Austria to the United Kingdom took part in the match. From Australia to Uruguay, with South Africa in between, competitors from a further 10 countries from around the world also participated in the 2013 EHC.
The Main Match started on the Monday morning of 9th September and consisted of 24 stages, shot six per day over four half days. The competitors were grouped into 60 squads of up to 15 shooters, which shot for half a day alternating between mornings and afternoons; 8.00 am to 1.00 pm and 2.00 pm until 7.00 pm. Each group of 12 squads was assigned a colour; Brown, Blue, Green, Red and Yellow. Each coloured group shot alternate mornings and afternoons, with each colour having one day that they did not shoot. The way the match was organised meant that 24 squads shot in the morning and another 24 squads shot in the afternoon and 12 squads had the day off. Each stage was ranged officered by a range officer and / or an International Range Officers Association (IROA) official. Scouts from the Portuguese Scouting Association also manned each stage and greatly assisted with the patching and target resetting.
The competition was sponsored by the major firms who produce the products used in IPSC events. CZ, GECO ammunition (RUAG), STI International and Tanfoglio sponsored the different match areas. Each individual stage was also sponsored by companies who produce equipment suitable for practical pistol competition such as C-More Optical Sights, Ghost Holsters, Double Alpha Academy, 5.11 Tactical and a host of other firearm, ammunition and accessory manufactures.
The Official Match ammunition was provided by GECO, the German ammunition manufacturer. As many people fly to these bigger IPSC events the round count to complete the event exceeds the 5 Kg weight limit of ammunition that an individual passenger can carry on a plane. With GECO (www.geco-ammunition.com) making available their ammunition to use in this Level IV Championship Match, competitors could prearrange to purchase all or part of their ammunition requirements for the match. GECO also had a trade stand at this event staffed by two of their representatives, who were ready to assist competitors who had any questions about the match ammunition during the event.
With the popularity of practical pistol competition in Europe on the increase, this translated into all five IPSC Competition Divisions being well represented at the Europeans, with 956 competitors completing the competition. This also spread into the various categories of lady, junior, senior and super senior. Open and Standard Division remain popular with 241 and 294 competitors respectively. The number of competitors in Standard Division has steadily increased so that it now exceeds Open Division in popularity. This is bourn out in other major matches around Europe.
Production Division continues to expand across all European IPSC Regions and was the most popular IPSC Division at the 2013 EHC with 330 shooters in this category. Revolver Division continues to have its devotees with 38 entries. Making its first appearance at the European Championship with 53 competitors was Classic Division, in which you have to use a M1911 pistol. The debate on which calibre to use in Classic Division continues. I noticed that many of the top Classic Division competitors were using 9mm calibre M1911 pistols at this event. With a total of 956 competitors completing the match, the Europeans was the biggest IPSC match in 2013.
The 24 stages were grouped into four areas and consisted of 11 short stages of up to 12 rounds; nine medium stages of up to 23 rounds and four long stages of up to 32 rounds for a minimum round count of 412 rounds for the match. As well as static full sized and partial versions, the IPSC Classic targets consisted of moving, bobbing and drop and turn versions placed between three and 35 metres from the competitors. Twenty one of the twenty four stages also included steel poppers and / or steel plates.
Although the competitors spent half a day at the range for four days with one day off, the RO’s were there for the whole day. With more range staff used in this match, the RO’s also had a day off. On the first day a few of the morning stages were still running over the lunch break and some of the afternoon stages were running to nearly 7.30pm. After day one everything started to settle down and the stages were finishing close to the appointed time. The weather remained hot and sunny all week and the temperature was creeping over 30 degrees Celsius, with a few welcome breezes. OK if you are used to it, but a bit warm for those from more northern climates.
With Eric Grauffel no longer competing in Open Division his crown as European Open Division Champion was passed onto a new contender. In Open Division at the EHC 2013 first place went to Spain’s Jorge Ballesteros, with France’s Emile Obriot in second place with 98.52% and Sweden’s Tony Lars Skoog was in third place with 98.49%. The top competitor from outside Europe was the USA’s Kamille Eusebio with 98.30%.
In women’s Open Division Spain’s Lorena Ballesteros took the woman’s top slot and Rakel Ruiz Malanda from Spain and Austria’s Margit Steurer took the next two places. In the open junior class Simo Partanen from Finland came in first place. Daniil Karchev from Russia came second and Roberto Gomes from Brazil was close behind in third place.
In Production Division France’s Eric Grauffel was in first place with a 13% margin. Matti Manni from Finland was in second place with 87.07%. Ljubisa Momcilovic of Serbia and the CZ Shooting Team was just behind him with 86.21%. Women’s Production Division was won by Russia’s Maria Gushchina, with fellow Russian competitor Svetlana Nikolaeva in second place. Switzerland’s Christine Burkhalter was in third place. The Russian Lady’s Production Team of Anastasia Chernenko, Maria Gushchina, Svetlana Nikolaeva and Zoya Petrushina also won the team event as well.
Production Division continues to grow in popularity across the European IPSC Regions and had the biggest number of competitors at EHC 2013, with 330 completing the competition. As well as being the perfect entry level into IPSC matches, Production Division at the top level is also as competitive as any other IPSC Division.
The battle for Standard Division took place across several squads; in which where found Europe’s top competitors. Adriano Santarcangelo, Ralf Jensen, Blake Miguez (USA), Petr Znamenacek and Gyorgy Batki were adjacent to each other and JC Jamie Diaz was a few squads away. I was able to watch all of them shoot at various stages of the event. Congratulations to Spain’s JC Jamie Diaz for winning Standard Division at the 2013 EHC. The Czech Republic’s Petr Znamenacek was second on 96.44%, with Italy’s Cosimo Panetta on 95.30%
As Tori Nonaka is from the USA her score was not included in the European list, but her result would have made her the first placed Lady in Standard Division. The first place Lady in the European Zone was Germany’s Petra Tutschke, with Russia’s Mira Barinova in second place. Close behind in third place was Hilde Nakling from Norway.
Gerald Reiter from Austria won Revolver Division by the closest of margins! Germany’s Sascha Back was just 0.04% behind him in second place! Austria’s Hermann Kirchweger was third with 96.74%.
Classic Division was the new Division at the EHC 2013. A total of 53 competitors completed the match in this Division. This Division mandates the use of a M1911 pistol. I spent some time talking to and looking at the pistols that the competitors were using and a lot of them were shooting 9mm calibre M1911 pistols, as they favour the extra magazine capacity over the ability to score Major point values on the paper targets.
The first placed competitor in Classic Division was Edward Rivera from the Philippines. In second place and the first placed European was Roberto Buticchi from Italy. The third place finisher was the USA’s Angus Hobdell. In fourth place and the second placed European was Roberto Vezzoli from Italy. Marijan Loch from Germany was the third placed European competitor.
One competitor I had several conversations with during the event was Max Wiegand from Germany. Now a super senior, Max is still competing. He started shooting IPSC in 1978 and back then he won many matches with his 9mm Heckler and Koch P7.
Have a look at the competition web site www.ipscmatches.org/ehc2013 for the full set of results, which will show you all the various division, category and team results.
Steel Plate Shoot Offs
On the Saturday morning after the completion of the main match the Shoot Off Finals took place. These included the top eight competitors across all the five IPSC Divisions and were numbers of competitors in the different Divisions permitted, it also included women, juniors and seniors. The shoot off consisted of each competitor engaging eight steel targets. They also had to make one compulsory reload.
Two over lapping poppers were placed in the middle of the range. The first of the two final poppers to hit the ground decided the winner. There was only one bout between each competitor to decide the winner, until the final two competitors and then it was the best of three bouts.
A grandstand was erected at the rear of the range to enable spectators to view the shoot off match. The event then proceeded through the various IPSC Divisions and finally Open Division. The shoot off finals finished with the top Open Division competitors.
The competitors reconvened for the awards dinner in Barcelos on Saturday evening. The flags of the 44 participating nations were draped around the dining area. We heard speeches from IPSC officials and the national anthem of the winner of each award was played. The French competitors enthusiastically joined in with the singing of La Marseillaise!
Appreciation is due to our hosts in Barcelos and to the Portuguese people; both those who were involved in the match and the general public who made us all feel very welcome in their country. I look forward to returning to this area of Portugal in the future.
The Europeans accommodated 956 shooters in the main match, with the 08.00 am starts and, in some cases, close to 19.30 pm finishes. The match worked due to the pre planning and organisation and the dedication of the range officers and all the associated staff. Congratulations are due to IPSC and the Portuguese IPSC Region and IROA putting together an excellent 2013 European Handgun Championship and for giving all the competitors an enjoyable week.