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The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) is a shooting sport based on the concept of practical shooting. Accuracy, power and speed are all required to achieve a maximum score.

Founding and organisation IPSC was founded at a conference held in Columbia, Missouri, in May 1976. Practical shooting enthusiasts from around the world participated, creating a constitution and establishing the rules governing the sport. Jeff Cooper served as the first IPSC President.

While IPSC is an international organisation, countries have their own organisations under the IPSC umbrella. In the United States, this is the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). In the United Kingdom, this is the United Kingdom Practical Shooting Association (UKPSA).

Major and Minor Power is a requirement in IPSC competition, along with speed and accuracy. The power of a given cartridge is measured by both bullet weight and velocity. The weight of the bullet fired in grains (7,000 to the pound) is multiplied by the velocity (feet per second) and the total must exceed certain thresholds. A competitor's ammunition is fired, in the competitor's firearm (velocities can vary slightly from one firearm to another) to measure the velocity for scoring. A Major load is one that exceeds the threshold of 165,000 (depending on the division competed in). To shoot Minor, a competitor's ammunition must exceed 125,000. Extra scoring is not given for exceeding the threshold. A competitor declaring Major, but who fails the threshold, has his/her score re-calculated at Minor. A shooter who declares Minor, but fails that threshold, is given a score of zero for the match.

Procedure and ScoringThe typical course of fire is an array of targets, which the competitor must engage with two hits each (Sometimes more.) Also, steel plates that fall when struck can be added to a course of fire, or stage. The shooters time is recorded electronically, by means of a timer that "hears" the sound of the shots. Scoring is relatively simple to explain, but involved to calculate for a match. Known as "Comstock" scoring, the points generate by hits on the targets are totalled. Penalties (if incurred) are subtracted. Then the points total is divided by the time it took the competitor to engage the stage. This calculation, called a "Stage Factor", is essentially the ratio of points per second. The highest Stage factor wins the stage and the full total of Stage Points assigned to it, and lesser scores are awarded Stage Points according to the percentage stage factor they fired, compared to the winner.

The points from shots fired and hits generated vary slightly. A center hit for both Major and Minor is five points. However, lesser scoring rings are not rewarded as much for Minor as for Major. The A-C-D rings are scored 5-4-2 for Major, and 5-3-1 for Minor. A shooter who has declared Minor must either shoot all "A" hits, or shoot faster than one who has declared Major, in order to make up for lesser hits being so punished.

Each competitor then has his/her stage points totalled for all stages of the match, to calculate the match standings. The highest total of points wins the match. Comparing each shooter directly to the performance of the fastest shooter of each stage allows for precise gradation of performance across a match, but requires a computer and software to do in a timely fashion.

Competitive DivisionsIn the beginning, IPSC was fired with whatever handguns the competitors chose. After a relatively short period, it became clear that equipment mattered, and equipment divisions were thus designated.

Open Division is the handgun equivalent of top fuel dragsters. The pistols have compensators and red-dot optical sights. Typically chambered in .38 Super (or some variant) or 9mm Parabellum, the magazines can hold only 10 rounds in Australia. They can be loaded to Major or Minor.

Standard Division is limited to pistols .40 caliber or larger in bore size for Major or 9mm or larger for Minor, at the shooters choice. They may not have compensators, red-dot optics, and the pistol with magazine must fit within the "IPSC box" a set of dimensions that limit overall size.

Modified Division is a combination: like Open guns they can have muzzle brakes, and optics. But like Standard Division pistols they must be .40 or larger in bore size to declare Major, and they must fit within the IPSC box.

Production Division is restricted to double-action pistols, scored at Minor, that must both meet the dimensional restrictions and are unmodified from the manufacturers specifications.

Revolver Division does not permit muzzle brakes, optical sights, or more than six-shot capacity. Competitors can have any caliber .38 Special or larger, and may declare Major.

All Divisions fire the same stages, on the same days, as all other Divisions, in a match. However, when calculating match standings, only Divisional stage scores are compared. Thus, the top shooter in Open on a stage is the measure for all other Open shooters, and likewise for all other Divisions.

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