Thursday, September 23, 2004

IPSC Australia

Guns are frowned upon in Australia, where gun restrictions grow tighter every year. But there are still those who practice the shooting sports down under. Check out the home page for IPSC Australia. Here's their description of this challenging sport:
In Practical competition, a variety of target types are used (both paper and steel), and there is no set way these targets are arranged, nor even how many targets are used in a single match. A competition organiser creates a number of “stages” (conforming to a set of design rules), each using different numbers and arrangements of targets, to create a shooting challenge that the competitors have to solve as accurately and as rapidly as possible.

The other major difference to other shooting competitions is the way in which the final score is calculated for a competitor. In most other competitions, the score is calculated simply by adding up the values of the scoring zones hit by the competitor. In Practical competition, the time taken is also part of the final score. The sum of the scoring zones is worked out, and this then divided by the total time the competitor took to engage the targets. Thus the quicker the competitor completes the stage, the better the final score will be.

Additionally, stages usually require competors to move from a starting position to enable them to see and engage all the targets in the stage. This adds an athletic component to the test, as well as an intellectual one in that the competitor is required to work out the most efficient manner and order of engaging the targets, taking into account his/her own shooting skills, athleticism etc.

In Australia, Practical competitions are most often for centre-fire pistols and revolvers of calibres from 9mm to .38. Stages are started with pistols holstered on the belt, and most often will require the competitor to perform reloads of the pistol during the stage. Occasionally, competitions are also held for rifle and/or shotgun.

Practical shooting competitors, then, do not train by shooting the set competition over and over again. There is no set competition. Instead they practise the skills that are required to fit them to engage whatever stages a match organiser may throw at them.
I attended an IPSC meet at my local shooting range. Safety is paramount, and the club has never had an accidental shooting in its fifteen year (I think) history. There are two range officers working with each shooter. One follows about three feet behind the shooter to observe safe pistol handling technique. I was very impressed, and hope to try out this sport myself.