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Old October 16, 2012, 02:38 AM   #1
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USPSA: First Impression & Possible Alternatives

I recently participated in a few USPSA matches and rediscovered the long ago lost feeling of competitive drive and focus that I once had so many years ago. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, with having to wait almost an hour between turns, I ultimately spent 4 hours just so that I could shoot for a total of 2-3 minutes.

Granted, those 2 or 3 minutes were some of the most exhilarating minutes of shooting I've had in a very long time and perhaps if I didn't have to drive so far to be able to attend the majority of matches (aside from one), having to wait a hour between turns shooting wouldn't feel like such a significant drawback. I have yet to shoot at an IDPA or IPSC event, but reason tells me that it likely wouldn't be much different. Perhaps those of you who have done so could tell me otherwise.

Competitive practical pistol shooting is something that I would very much like to pursue but given my circumstances and the amount of time spent waiting, it's hard for me to justify continuing further beyond the one monthly match that is actually nearby. I know there's lots of other kinds of competitive shooting but, again, I'm hoping those of you with more experience in that might be able to point me in the direction of some possible alternatives which may typically have a more reasonable balance between shooting and waiting.

Don't take this as a knock on USPSA or that I have no sense of patience. It's awesome to be challenged in such a way, but 4 hours to shoot for 3 minutes is a bit much for me. I suspect I might be better off pursuing a different discipline....if I can find one that fits me or unless I move into the area with a possible new job that's in the works. Anyway, I appreciate everybody's time as well as any input or thoughts you might have on the subject . Take care and have a good one.
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Old October 16, 2012, 07:18 AM   #2
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How 'bout a target competition (e.g. Bullseye Pistol, High Power Rifle, Smallbore Rifle)?

Shooters are lined up to shoot, rather than having to wait on each other. May not give you the same adrenaline rush, but they're plenty tough, and plenty of focus is needed. Plus, depending on your situation, you can likely keep overall practice time and ammo costs down by practicing at home with a good air pistol or rifle, or a rimfire understudy.
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Old October 16, 2012, 07:31 AM   #3
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I sympathize with the OP, I would like to shoot IDPA or USPSA but can't see devoting an entire morning to a very few minutes of actual shooting with lots of wait time in between. That's the main reason I shoot Bullseye.

In addition, the local IDPA and USPSA matches are all scheduled on Sunday mornings, not exactly user-friendly to those of us who go to church.
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Old October 16, 2012, 08:13 AM   #4
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Seems to be part of the price you have to pay. Ideally you are practicing all the needed techniques at other times and getting lots of shooting in while the match is only proving (or disproving) that your practice has made you bettter. But most of us only have just so much time we can devote to shooting......

I shot USPSA about 15 years ago and came to the same realization. 4 hrs of time invested (resetting steels, brassing and taping and watching others BS) for 4 minutes of shooting for the day. I chose to use my discretionary gun time to RO at a club indoor range rather than work on my USPSA skills at a different range.

2 weeks ago I went to a IDPA-style zombie-shoot match. 5 stages, 55 shooters. While it was good fun the match took 5 hours and my mid-pack shooting times meant that I spent about 6 minutes with a loaded gun in my hand for the day. (If I was slower I'd have had more gun time :-) It was fun, but I don't enjoy watching others shoot enough to make it a regular activity.

There's probably a fine line between having too few shooters to make the match meaningful and having so many that it takes forever to get your turn.
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Old October 16, 2012, 09:05 AM   #5
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Assuming you're a pistol guy, you have several alternatives. Off the top of my head -

Conventional Pistol (aka bullseye) has already been mentioned. In a full 2700 match, you'll be called to the line to shoot 54 times over the course of the day. In truth, you'll spend most of your time walking downrange and back to score and repair targets but it still feels like you're spending an entire day shooting. You can start with a .22 and shoot just the first third of the match until you know if you like it or not. If you decide to go into it (nearly) whole hog, you only need two pistols (a .22 and a .45), a box to put them in, a scope to look at your target, and a few accessories. Like all shooting sports, it's expensive; however, it's not as ridiculously expensive as some and can be downright cheap in the beginning.

If you really want lots of shooting time and you can find a club that shoots Men's 50M Pistol under ISSF sanction, you get just one turn but you'll be shooting continuously for over an hour, up to 90 minutes. (Time limit is currently 2 hours but the rules change next year to 90 minutes, max, for 60 shots.) I don't know of a club in your state that regularly shoots that competition, though.

Pistol silhouette under IHMSA sanction is available in several places in Texas and the amount of shooting you do on a match day is pretty much up to you. If you want more trigger time, just shoot a different pistol. IHMSA has far too many pistol categories (that's a discussion for another day) which means it's possible to stay on the line, shooting, pretty much all day at most silhouette matches just by switching guns. Actually, you don't even have to switch guns. In at least 3 of the categories offered by IHMSA (Production Standing, Revolver, and Field Pistol) a quality revolver like a Freedom Arms is fully competitive. 120 rounds from a magnum revolver over the course of a couple of hours of continuous shooting is about all the fun I'd care to have in a day; ymmv.

It seems to me you have options.
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Old October 16, 2012, 12:45 PM   #6
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I shot a USPSA match almost every weekend, from 1998-2010. Since I was often part of the match staff, I was usually either at the range early, late, or both, so my time commitment is/was often six hours, or more, to shoot for five minutes. You have to find a way to enjoy the whole experience, not just the shooting, or you will never be able to justify the time commitment. My competitive juices don't flow like they used to, so I get more enjoyment out of the socializing, and taking breaks from that to work as a Range Officer (or is that the other way around?), to fill the time that would otherwise be a lot of standing around.
In my area, the weekly "outdoor" matches might have as many as 60-70 competitors, but there are some smaller matches at the various indoor ranges. I used to shoot a Friday-night match that consisted of three, 18-round stages, and there'd usually be 15-20 shooters, so it went pretty quickly.
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Old October 16, 2012, 01:53 PM   #7
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After many years of going to matches, and being a R.O and match director for three different groups, I, too, ran out of steam and quit going.
To keep involved and still enjoy it, I joined a club that allowed setting up stages on unused ranges, and run them on my own.
The stages were usually downloaded from match book stage designs from the internet, along with the match scoring results.
Like doing postal matches, sometimes alone and sometimes with a few friends, in a fraction of the time and expense of going to a real match.
Just as much fun, great practice and less rules to have to follow.
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Old October 16, 2012, 10:13 PM   #8
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"There is no option" said the USPSA-borg

Beats golf (do the math).

"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old October 17, 2012, 02:46 PM   #9
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I'll have to look into the IHMSA & ISSF options. I actually have a friend of mine who should have his CHL in hand any day now so I may give IDPA I shot if I can get him to go along as well. Long range precision shooting and competition is what I'm truly interested in however since my range has been reduced to 55 yards, I have nowhere to practice and I'm not quite good enough to compete yet. Such is life. I'll make it happen somehow. I appreciate yall's input and will continue to keep trying new things. Take care and be safe everybody.
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Old October 17, 2012, 07:50 PM   #10
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Unfortunately, with having to wait almost an hour between turns, I ultimately spent 4 hours just so that I could shoot for a total of 2-3 minutes.
You must have some fairly big squads in your matches. Here they're kept down to about 7 to 10 people (max) for all level matches. We can easily shoot 6 to 8 stages in a one-third day that way, especially if there's a few classifiers. You should see how they hustle you around the stages in level 3 competitions like at the nationals when you have more than 20 stages to shoot. You barely have time to reload! Anyway, you're supposed to be helping to patch and stuff between turns so you shouldn't be getting bored.

But between major range stage locations at half-time you get to eat whatever is on the range BBQ and hang out for an hour or so shootin' the s**t. One of my favorite parts of the match!

I hear that with ISSF pistol events at the Summer Olympics, you can have more than a day between turns. That's even worse.
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Old November 10, 2012, 12:09 PM   #11
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@ GeeJ, that's just the nature of the beast.

My recommendation would be for clubs to not be so structured, that is if they can write the Written Stage Briefings/ Course of Fire diagrams worth a darn.

Just have a window of time for shooters to show up. And let them float from empty stage to empty stage or whichever stage has the least amount of waiting. People like electricity will take the path of least resistance.

I used to carpool with a bunch of guys 3 hours one way to a "local match".

Looking back on that, that is just nuts!

You get more bang for your buck just practicing on your own.
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Old November 10, 2012, 11:20 PM   #12
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I was the MD for a USPSA "club".

We would have 6 stages set up on 6 different bays. About 30 to 40 shooters attended my match on a regular basis. I figured 3 squads was normally adequate. So I would start a squad out on stage 1/bay 1, then there would be a gap where stage 2/bay 2 was empty. Then the next squad would start on stage 3/bay 3, leave a gap, then the last squad would start on stage 5/bay 5 leaving stage 6/bay 6 open.

You didn't say how many people were at this match or how many squads or stages there were???

If you're pasting targets and resetting steel and BS'ing with your squadmates it does make the day go by faster.
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Old November 11, 2012, 08:03 AM   #13
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I REALLY prefer short stages that cycle quickly.

I particularly like to shoot special classifier matches. I enjoy the CoFs and the match usually goes fairly fast because the stages are short, unless you have an unusually big crowd show up or the weather goes bad or something.

The former match director at one of the local USPSA clubs shot in "Limited" class and liked 32 round field courses. I usually did not shoot the match if he was also the match designer, unless I had the entire day to dedicate to being on the range.

Different people have different preferences and compete for different reasons. I approach USPSA/IPSC and IDPA shooting as more of a training exercise than a competitive event.

It is nice when clubs post their courses of fire on the web prior to the event -- then I can look at the CoFs and decide if I want to shoot that match or not.
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Old November 11, 2012, 11:25 AM   #14
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Publishing the stages, somehow beforehand, also allows the folks running the matches to judge who and how many show up for the various kinds of stages.
It helps the designers of the stages to keep them agreeable to their audience.
No need to show the exact stage, just the general idea and layout is enough.
Don't want to give away all the surprises.
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Last edited by g.willikers; November 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM.
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Old November 11, 2012, 11:43 AM   #15
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I've ran the USPSA program at a local club for about 8 years now, and
shoot matches several times a month at local clubs. Have been to area
and National matches too.

Shooting about once an hour is pretty normal. You want the time to go
a little faster? Get off your butt and tape targets. Take a turn as
scorekeeper. Help pick up brass. Take the RO course and take your
turn running shooters. It's a volunteer sport------do your part.

Probably the fastest "action" type competition is GSSF. Steel Challenge
and IDPA are about like USPSA as far trigger time.

I've tried the scramble format a few times, and know of at least one
club that uses it all the time. It can be a bit faster, but not by much.
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Old November 11, 2012, 01:56 PM   #16
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I shot my first steel match, yesterday. Compared to local IDPA and USPSA matches, it provides more shooting for the same time commitment.
I expect to be at the range for six or seven hours, and the typical round count for IDPA is fewer than 100 rounds; for USPSA, 150+ rounds; and for the steel match, shooting a rifle and a pistol, 300 rounds. And, there's no taping or resetting of targets. And, there are rimfire divisions for both rifles and handguns, so you can shoot for cheap, and not have to pick up your brass.
Having shot IDPA and USPSA for over fifteen years, in the rain more often than not, this no-taping, no brass-picking, shooting twice as many rounds through two guns deal, is pretty appealing.
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Old November 13, 2012, 08:52 AM   #17
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ours usually run pretty fast, but they limit each bay to 8 shooters, and you rotate the bays, we usually have 3 open, but as more people show up they open a 4th, we have 10 total, but almost never use them. the matches "start" at 10, but actually seem to start at 11, that is when things have been ironed out on the stage and things flow well from that point on, you have usually a shooter going in each bay if not at the same time, then very near it, and they say your bay flow is to your right, once you reach the end, you go back to bay 1, so people are constantly switching and it keeps things interesting.
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