Run, Gun, Pistol Fun
By OutdoorAly

Posted: June 15, 2014

There are many disciplines in the firearm target sports. In the past we’ve talked about the shotgun sports of trap, skeet, sporting clays, and some of the lesser known clay target games. There are many different rifle competitions and we will look at some of them in future posts. This week, I thought that a beginning look at some handgun games might be interesting.


Before I discuss some of the pistol games, I want to make a very important point. Whether or not one is a recreational or a competitive target shooter, none of us play with guns, we play games and the tools we use in those games are firearms. It is really no different than tennis with rackets and balls and played on a court; hockey with sticks and a puck, played on a rink; baseball with bats, balls, and gloves, and played on a diamond. The list goes on, but for sure, like the equipment of the other games, firearms are tools used in the shooting sports; nothing more, nothing less.


There are lots of games that are played with a handgun as the main tool. The NRA has several disciplines including bullseye, silhouette, and action pistol. The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC, is the worldwide governing body for practical pistol, as well as some rifle and shotgun competitions. In the United States, the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA, and the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA, are the two NGOs for most of the practical shooting competitions. There are no IDPA clubs or shoots in Montana at the present time, but USPSA is very popular here and one can find a USPSA match on almost any weekend between March and October.


There are 6 USPSA affiliated clubs in Montana and they span the state from east to west. Here’s a list of the state’s clubs:

A trip to the USPSA website will give those interested in practical shooting competition a road map on how to get started and what equipment is needed. Most handgunners already have most, if not all of the gear required to start competing in USPSA matches. Go to one of the local club’s websites, or even better, a visit to the range will get you in touch with people who compete in your area. I guarantee you will be welcomed and your questions will be answered.


There is no practice that can fully prepare any of us for a lethal force encounter, read gunfight, but practical shooting matches can provide the stress of competition, the need to solve problems, and the opportunity to improve our marksmanship and defensive pistol skills. They are also a whole bunch of fun and you get to make new friends and spend time with some really great people.

Next week, we’ll look at the various divisions of USPSA competition, I’m sure there is one for you.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore


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