Getting started with IPSC and TASC

• What is practical shooting and IPSC
• Safety and the 4 laws of gun control
• Personal conduct: walking the walk, talking the talk
• Equipment
• Safe Handgun Competitor Course: new shooters, safety, and holster qualification
• The matches
• Fees, dues, and membership
• Match day information

USPSA video What is practical shooting and IPSC?

Over 60 countries currently participate in this version of the sport of practical shooting.

Practical shooting is a sport in which competitors are required to combine accuracy, speed and power to successfully complete many different types of shooting "problems".
     -- from Karl Rehn's IPSC FAQ

IPSC (the International Practical Shooting Confederation), is the governing world body.

USPSA (the United States Practical Shooting Association) is the region of IPSC that governs U.S. activities.

USPSA Area II is the group of states that consists of California, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Area II's Northern California Section consists of clubs ranging from Redding down to San Luis Obispo, including TASC.

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Safety and the 4 laws of gun control

Firearms saftey is a matter of personal responsibility. The shooter is always responsible for his actions and safe gun handling. Safety violations, as defined by the USPSA/IPSC rule book, swiftly lead to disqualification from the day's competition.

The following are the basic principles of safe gun handling, as presented by the Yavapai Firearms Academy:

The Four Basic Rules of Firearms Safety*

1. All guns are always loaded.
Treat every gun as if it was loaded, at all times, no matter what. Think and BELIEVE every time the gun is handled, it could fire.

2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
Be conscious of the direction your muzzle is pointed at all times. This includes at yourself, any other person, animal, or property unless you are either intending to or do not care about destroying or killing that person/object. NEVER handle a gun behind other people or bend over with a gun in your hand on a shooting range.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned with the target.
Pay attention to what you are doing while handling a firearm. DO NOT let your finger contact the trigger until the gun is on target.

4. Be sure of your target and its surroundings.
Pay attention to what is going on around your target. YOU are responsible for the terminal resting place of the bullet, intentionally fired or not, no matter what happened.

*Base rules from Col. Jeff Cooper, American Pistol Institute, 1977

Download a PDF of these rules, to share or distribute...

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Personal conduct: walking the walk, talking the talk

Club matches and practical shooting, as it is conducted at TASC, is a sporting activity. The object is to be safe and have fun.

Members and participants come from all walks of life; on the range, they are not representatives of any particular social, cultural, or political affliation. They share their experience and expertise with each other.

Our activities are conducted on a public range. We must represent the sport and the responsible ownership and use of firearms in the most positive light as possible.

We also ask that you not wear any camouflage, paramilitary clothing, or apparel which may express any controversial or inflamatory sentiments.

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Eye and ear protection       Don't go on the range without them. Don't skimp on quality when it comes to your eyes and ears.

Firearm Pistols are the norm, but we also have revolver shooters. 9mm/38 Spl. is the minimum caliber you can use. Be sure your firearm is safe and in proper working order.

Magazines or speedloaders Depending on your gun, you'll need anywhere from 3 to 8 magazines. If you're shooting a revolver, you'll need enough speed loaders to handle up to 8 reloads. A course of fire can require anywhere from 12 to over 40 rounds.

Ammunition You'll need around 150 to 200 rounds for the day. We normally shoot four stages, and each stage averages 30 or so rounds. There can be cases where you'll have to take a "reshoot" on a particular stage, so you'll want to be sure you have enough ammo (we recently had a shooter get TWO reshoots on a 54 round course!).

Holster The holster needs to securely hold the gun and cover the trigger. Nylon or leather "generic" holsters with top straps seem to work well for beginners and are inexpensive. Your holster should be attached to your waist belt on your strong side (no shoulder holsters, etc.).

Magazine holders Also refered to as mag pouches, these go on your belt to hold your magazines or speed loaders.

Clothing Negoitating a field course with a loaded firearm can be hazardous without good boots or running shoes. Many shooters use shoes with cleats. Some stages also require very low or prone shots. Some shooters wear knee and elbow pads for those situations. Matches and practices are conducted outdoors, rain or shine, so be prepared for the weather.

Food and beverages Don't forget a lunch, snacks, and liquids, as the club matches run all day. Dehydration can be a problem, particularly during the summer months. Vending machines with basic snacks are available at the range. Otherwise, the closest food is about 6 miles back down the hill!

Work equipment      Since all shooters are needed to help set up an put away props and equipment, you should also bring a pair of work gloves, and any other clothing or equipment (such as a lumbar brace) that you might need.

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Safe Handgun Competitor Course:
new shooters, safety, and holster qualification

As a sport, IPSC has an excellent safety record. All shooters are held to strict rules of gun handling on and off the firing line. Violation of safety rules usually result in disqualification from the day's match activities. We run what is known as a "cold" range, in that shooters are never allowed to load a firearm until they are on the shooting line, under the control of a range officer.

In order to maintain a high level of safety, shooters who have little or no prior IPSC experience are required to attend a short holster qualification class, called the "Safe Handgun Competitor Course", where you will be shown what is considered to be the basic requirements for safe conduct, draw and fire from the holster, movement, and other basic techniques.

The course is now given only on the 2nd Saturday of each month and begins promptly at 8:00am on range #4. Cost is $40.00, and includes the day’s match fee.

Shooters must bring:

  • A safe firearm, caliber 9mm or larger
  • A holster that securely retains the firearm and covers the trigger guard
  • 5 or 6 spare magazines and holders
  • Eye and ear protection
  • Approx. 150 rounds of ammunition

The course includes morning lecture, with dry and live fire exercises in the afternoon. Plan to be at the range all day. Shooters who complete the course will shoot the next match for free.

In order to attend the class, please make prior arrangements with the instructor:

Dave Bunn

The Richmond Hot Shots also conducts an introductory class. They have also made available a PDF of their revised Safe Handgun Competitor: A manual for students and instructors.

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The matches

Since the club is small and shoots on a multipurpose range, shooters are asked to show up at the setup time (8:00 am) to help set up the stages. The sooner the stages are set up, the sooner the shooting can start. At the end of the day, the stages are broken down and put away.

Shooters compete with their USPSA classification. If the shooter's class changes during a quarter, he/she will be scored with their latest classification and status for the purposes of class, category, and division.

Plaques are awarded by division and class after a match series. One plaque is awarded for 3 three shooters in a class, 2 plaques for 5 in a class, and 3 plaques to 7 or more in a class. Other categories include Overall Limited, Overall Open, Female, Senior, and Junior.

If you simply come to a match to watch, you'll find out more about IPSC/USPSA competition and what to expect. We have many people on hand who can explain the game rules, safety rules, equipment options, classification system, range procedures, and anything else related to the game. Keep in mind the object is to be safe and to have fun.

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Fees, dues, and membership

Regular matches: $20.00 for TASC members, $25.00 for non-members.
Classifiers: Included.
Practice sessions: $10.00.
Holster qualification: check with instructors.
TASC membership: $40.00/year, prorated.

Membership application.

Club By-Laws.

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Match day information

Just a few reminders, for new shooters and veterans...

Please help out!
This club operates with volunteer effort and has to set up stages on the morning of the match. Try to arrive at 8am to help set up. During the match, stay with your squad and help out with range duties. Consider helping out even when it isn't your turn.

Shooter registration list
Please check the competitor list that will be posted near the registration area. It is information printed from the scoring program about your division, class, categories, etc. for the day's match, and will ususally be posted late in the morning. It is your responsibility to check and make sure that your information is correct. This is particularly important if you switch between Open and Limited divisions from match to match. Mark any corrections on the sheet, and/or contact the statistician.

Classifiers: These score sheets are sent to USPSA every month, and count towards your national classification. Fill out the bottom of your sheet completely. You are responsible for the accuracy of your basic information: division, USPSA number, major/minor load. If this information is incomplete, your scores may not be properly entered into the national database.

If you keep score on a stage, please remember the following about scoresheets:

  • Don't use hash marks- When recording the shots on the sheet, DO NOT mark them with hash marks. Use numbers only.
  • Mark steel with a circle- When you record hits on steel targets, please draw a circle around them, so they can be entered accurately in the scoring program. Do not, however, mark a miss on a steel target with a circle.
  • Also with a circle- Misses on a disappearing target are also marked with a circle around the number. This is critical so the competitor will not be assessed a penalty.
  • Add up everything- When you total up the sheet, be sure to also add up the procedurals, misses, and no-shoots.
  • If you have to make corrections on the sheet, write your initials next to the change.
  • The shooter is responsible for verifying the correctness of his/her score.
  • Once the scoresheet is signed, it cannot be modified or contested.

Final scores
Match scores will be posted as soon as possible. Although you should check your scores, the statisticians will also double check the scores for accuracy before posting them.

Help tear down
After all the props have been stored, a drawing will be held among the remaining shooters. The winner gets to shoot their next match for free!

Volunteer to design a stage
The match directors always need volunteers to design and put on a stage. It's a great way to develop your understanding of the game. Need ideas or tips? There are links on the next page for stage design resources.

Be safe, have fun, and don't assume
Please remember to be safety conscious at all times and comply with range rules. IPSC has a great safety record, due in great part to the fact that you will be quickly disqualified (DQ'd) from the match for safety infractions. If you have questions, don't be afraid to ask. Most members will be more than willing to help you out.

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The Richmond Hot Shots have made available a PDF of their revised Safe Handgun Competitor: A manual for students and instructors.

More introductory articles are also on the USPSA web site.

Next: Getting better: developing your game...


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