Getting Started in USPSA
By OutdoorAly

Posted: June 29, 2014

Over the last couple of weeks we have taken a quick look at United States Practical Shooting Association competition. Now let’s look at how you can get started in USPSA and what gear you will need.

First, join USPSA; you can join online at A regular membership is $ 40.00 annually, an associate membership, $ 25.00. Associate members are entitled to the same benefits as regular membership, but they do not receive FRONT SIGHT magazine. In either case you will receive member credentials, some miscellaneous information concerning USPSA, and a complete and current rule book. I also suggest that you join a local club if there is one near you. For instance, membership in the Missoula club is $20.00/ year. You will get great advice from your club peers and have access to the equipment used in competition.


Study your rule book and find a division that you would like to compete in. Perhaps you have a Glock, M&P, XD, or some other semi-auto pistol chambered in 9MM; if so, the production division might be the one for you.


Most match stages will be no longer than 30 to 40 rounds. You will need 4 or 5 magazines, or in the case of revolvers, 5 or 6 speedloaders depending on your power factor. A strong belt, a good retention holster that fits your gun, and magazine or speedloader pouches will pretty much complete your rig. You will also need eye and ear protection. With a little work you can find quality equipment at very reasonable prices. One note, don’t scrimp on magazines, good ones work, cheap ones; well, they are a gamble.


Most clubs host clinics for new shooters early in the year, usually around March. They also normally have practice days or evenings once or twice a week. Take advantage of these opportunities, they will speed your integration into competition.

Most match entry fees in Montana are around $15.00-$20.00. Not much money for all the fun you will have. You will probably need 150-200 rounds per match. This will vary with the design of the stages and whether or not there are a lot of classifiers.


I’ve included a USPSA target that is commonly used in competitions, in addition steel targets, often described as poppers or plates, are also used. If one is competing with a major power factor gun, points are awarded as follows:

  • A zone hits-5 points
  • B zone hits-4 points
  • C zone hits-4 points
  • D zone hits-2 points
  • All poppers-5 points


If competing with a minor power factor caliber the points are:

  • A zone hits- 5 points
  • B zone hits-3 points
  • C zone hits-3 points
  • D zone hits-1 point
  • All poppers-5 points

As you can see, there is a reward for using the more powerful, yet heavier recoiling handgun.


Study your rule book thoroughly, gather you gear and head out to the range. USPSA competition is really fun and quite affordable; in fact it is one of the best bargains in the shooting sports. Safety is the paramount concern at all matches. Compete and you will be a better shooter and most importantly, a safer gun owner and user.

Target 2

Finally, often I like to leave you with a quote or thought from one of our founding fathers. Here is James Madison’s first draft of the Second Amendment, June 8, 1789.

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore


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