What is IPSC

IPSC is the acronym for the International Practical Shooting Confederation. IPSC is a dynamic shooting sport where the principles of Accuracy, Speed and Power are balanced in a unique scoring system. IPSC has defined Action Shooting. It requires competitors to shoot fast and accurately, often shooting on the move and developing techniques and styles to shave off fractions of a second between shots, during reloads and drawing from the holster.

Competitive IPSC-style shooting developed in southern California in the late 1950's and quickly spread throughout the shooting world to Australia, Central and South America, Europe, and Southern Africa.

As the sport attracted greater interest, the participants sought a more structured competition environment. As a result, in May of 1976, the International Pistol Conference was held in Columbia, Missouri where sportsmen from around the world participated in determining the structure, organization, and future of IPSC marksmanship. A constitution was established and the Confederation was born.

Accuracy, power, and speed were recognized as the quintessential elements and have become the foundation of IPSC shooting. The Latin motto Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas (DVC) meaning accuracy, power, and speed was introduced to reflect these balanced elements. Range procedures and rules for competitions, as well as safe gun handling standards, were also adopted.


Scoring system

Accuracy and speed is reflected by the comstock scoring method, while power is reflected by the minimum power factor requirement. Competitors fire the stages one at a time, and the scoring system is based on achieving most possible points in the shortest time.



The scoring method is called comstock, named after its inventor Walt Comstock, which means that the competitor has unlimited time to complete the stage and can fire an unlimited number of rounds. The time is measured from the start signal until the last shot fired using special shot timers with microphones, and this way the competitor can influence the total stage time. Since the number of rounds is unlimited, the competitor can re-engage the same target in order to get more points, but at the cost of using more time. Usually the two best scoring hits count for each target.

Competitors are ranked for each stage by their hit factor, which is the ratio of points per second. The hit factor is calculated by summing the points (target scores minus penalties) and dividing by the time used.

  {\displaystyle hit\ factor={points \over seconds}}

For example, if a stage has 12 paper targets, requires two scoring hits per paper taget, and since an A-hit gives 5 points, the stage will have 12 × 2 × 5 = 120 points available. If a competitor scores 115 points and uses 25.00 seconds he will get a hit factor for that stage of ​115 points⁄25.00 s = 4.6. The competitor with the highest hit factor wins the stage and gets all the available stage points (in this case 120 stage points), while other competitors are given stage points based on their hit factor percentage compared to the winner. For the overall match score, stage points are added for all stages, which means that each stage is weighted by how many stage points that are available.

The scoring method allows for a precise gradation of performances across the match, but requires a computer and software to do in a timely fashion. Matches can either be scored on paper and manually transferred to the official IPSC Match Scoring System (WinMSS), or can be scored directly on electronic devices like smartphones and tablets with the WinMSS Electronic Score Sheet (ESS) app or third party scoring systems like Shoot'n Score It or PractiScore.


Power factor

The power factor is the momentum of the fired bullet as it's moving through the air, which contribute to the recoil of the firearm (together with the propellant gases stemming from the amount of gunpowder). Thus, the power factor in a way reflects recoil. The power factor must exceed certain thresholds, and is calculated by measuring the bullet speed using a chronograph and measuring another of the competitors bullets on a weighing scale to find the bullet mass, thereafter calculating the power factor by the formula:

  {\displaystyle {power\;factor}={mass}\cdot {velocity}}

The official unit used for the power factor is the imperial unit "kilo grain feet per second" (kgr·ft/s). "Grain feet per second" (gr·ft/s) can be obtained by measuring the mass in grain (gr) (equal to ​1⁄7000 pound), and velocity in feet per second (ft/s), but since their product yields a very large number it is common to multiply by a factor of ​1⁄1000, obtaining the power factor in "kilo grain feet per second" instead.

  {\displaystyle kgr\cdot ft/s={\frac {grain\cdot ft/s}{1000}}}

To measure the muzzle velocity the competitor's ammunition must be fired in the competitor's firearm, since velocities can vary slightly from one firearm to another. In for instance handgun competitions the ammunition must exceed 125 kgr·ft/s for minor scoring, and at least 160 or 170 kgr·ft/s for major scoring (depending on division). Extra scoring is not given for exceeding the threshold. A competitor declaring major, but who fails the threshold, have their score re-calculated at minor. A competitor who fails the threshold of minor is given a score of zero for the match.



The IPSC paper target which is used in all disciplines. Drawing of a full size IPSC Popper (85 cm). A ⅔ scaled down IPSC Mini Popper (56 cm) used to simulate greater distance.

Poppers are used as falling steel targets.


To achieve a varied, challenging and exciting sport there are no fixed target arrangements, distances or shooting programs, making every match unique. Paper and steel targets can be mixed in the same stage, and may be static, moving or partially covered by targets called no-shoots that give minus points if hit.

Paper targets have the three scoring zones A, C, and D with points per hit varying slightly depending on power factor. A center hit for both minor or major is five points, but hits in lesser scoring areas are rewarded more for major than minor with the A-C-D zones being scored 5–4–2 for major and 5–3–1 for minor (see table below). A competitor who has declared minor must therefore either shoot more "A" hits or shoot faster than one who has declared major in order to make up the scoring disadvantage.

Some typical examples moving target setups are swingers, bobbers, clamshells, movers, and drop turners.

Scoring of the targets is done by the Range Officer. For the competitor to get the relevant scoring value or penalty points, the bullet hole must at least touch the line of the scoring area. (Breaking the relevant scoring line is thus not necessary.)

Steel targets score 5 points and must fall to be scored. (For rifle some steel targets may score 10 points).


A 5 5
C 3 4
D 1 2


For paper targets, the octagonal IPSC Target in typical cardboard color is used throughout all the disciplines, and a ⅔ scaled down IPSC Mini Target is used to simulate a full size target placed at a greater distance. Additionally the Universal Target can be used for rifle or shotgun, while the A3 and A4 paper targets are approved for shotgun matches only.

For steel targets, there are two standardized knock down targets, the IPSC Popper (85 cm tall) and the ⅔ scaled down IPSC Mini Popper (56 cm tall). Metal plates are often circles between 20–30 cm in diameter or squares between 15×15 cm to 30×30 cm for handgun, and circles between 15–30 cm in diameter or squares between 15×15 cm to 30×45 cm for rifle and shotgun.