Practical Shotgun


Practical Shooting (also called Dynamic Shooting) combines shooting, movement and problem solving whilst under the pressures of; being timed, not having seen the layout before and normally only having one chance to shoot it.

Due to its nature there is only one Shooter per range at any one time, closely supervised Range Officer(s)… at least one RO, sometimes as many as four!

How does it work?

It is up to each Shooter, whilst keeping within the discipline rules and the “Course of Fire” (aka CoF) design, to decide the target engagement sequence and what physical positions to adopt to engage them, this is called “Freestyle”. Targets are usually only visible from certain angles and/or distances as they are obscured by barriers and other obstacles (EG doors). Whilst most Targets are static a minority may also move and only appear and/or disappear at certain times. Remember, the shooter moves to engage targets. Distances are typically 7-25m.

The score achieved, less any penalties, is divided by the time taken to give a “Hit Factor” (aka HF). This allows for individual strategies, EG one that prioritises accuracy over speed, or vice versa, and the balance is often different for each Shooter.

Targets are usually worth a maximum of 5 points, but some are split into zones (worth between 5 and 1). Difficult shots are worth double. Penalties include misses and “failing to engage a target” at all (perhaps it was obscured and not noticed) etc. Remember the timer is running, and the adrenaline is pumping.

The guiding principles of the sport are: Accuracy, Power and Speed (or in Latin, “Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas” or “DVC” for short). Do you trade accuracy for speed? Do you go back and shoot some “top up” shots to correct a poor score or a miss?

Several Courses of Fire (aka Stages) are brought together to form a practice or competition. Each stage is different in length and design to ensure its enjoyable and provides a sporting challenge. “Friendly” club level events may consist of 1-4 stages, whilst a World Shoot may have 30 stages and take multiple days with over 1,200 competitors attending.

Practical Shooting, a global sport

Practical Shooting is a global sport. Created in 1976 in California with the UK joining in 1977. The rules are set and the sport governed by IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation). IPSC now has “Observer” status from the Olympic Games governing body with a view to exploring adding the sport in the future Olympics.

The world is split into Regions, usually based upon countries. Due to our firearms law, Great Britain is our region and is governed by the UKPSA (United Kingdom Practical Shooting Association). Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey & Isle of Man are in different regions, as they have different firearms laws. The name UKPSA predates the major change in firearms laws which removed fullbore Handguns and therefore the UK region was split.

It is quite normal to see shooters from other countries come here to GB shoot, and vice versa.

As with all international sports there are levels of competition. Starting off with club level “friendlies” (aka “Closed Level 1”), which are often more of a practice than a competition. Next up is the local inter-club competitions (aka “Open Level 1”) then regional (aka “Level 2”), national (aka “Level 3”), continental (aka “Level 4”) and culminating in a World Shoot (aka “Level 5”) for each discipline and for these each Region selects a squad to send and compete on their behalf.

Practical Disciplines

There are several Disciplines within Practical Shooting, organised into “Long” and “Short” categories for training purposes.

Long consists of:

  • Shotgun (aka PSG)
  • Semi-Automatic .22LR rifle (aka Mini-Rifle or MR)
  • Pistol Calibre Carbine (aka PCC)
  • Rifle (aka Semi-Automatic fullbore, which is not done in the UK due to our firearms laws – but GB do send a squad overseas to compete).

Short consists of:

  • Handgun (fullbore, again not done in GB due to our firearms laws, but is done in Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey & Jersey),
  • Long Barrel Revolver (similar to LBP but fullbore, aka LBR),
  • Long Barrel Pistol (a modified semi-automatic .22LR pistol with extended barrel with an overall length that exceeds 600mm, aka LBP)
  • Action Air (aka Airsoft, 6mm BB’s gas propelled to 100m/s)

Within each Discipline there are also Categories (Super Junior, Junior, Lady, Senior, Super Senior) and Divisions (Open, Standard, Modified etc). This enables performance and results to be compared on a like-for-like basis.

UKPSA Safety Courses

SPRPC, with assistance from UKPSA our National Governing Organisation, run two day Safety Courses from time to time which equip successful students with all the knowledge and skills needed to participate. There are separate courses for “Long” and “Short” as well as upgrade assessments/courses EG Handgun (smallbore or Action Air) to Handgun (fullbore).

There are three outcomes from the Safety Course: Fail (mostly because of a safety related issue), Pass (or referral) and Pass with Competition Licence. A Competition Licence allows the holder to enter Level 2 and higher competitions, it is not needed to take part in Level 1 competitions.

Safety Courses are conducted to ensure all participants meet a minimum standard but it doesn’t just cover safety. It is predominately a practical hands-on course. It also teaches all the techniques and physical positions that might possibly be used, it is then for each shooter to decide which of those techniques they used to solve problems. Also taught is all the etiquette needed and then, near the end of the course, are some stages drawn from past competitions for the students to take part in and be assessed.

If this is something you are interest in, do get in touch.