Information for Your First Match


Find the "Safe Area." Most USPSA Ranges are "Cold Ranges." You CANNOT draw or handle your gun except:
  • In the "Safe Area." This is a designated area where you may take the gun out of a bag or gun rug. You can "dry fire," rack the slide, perform minor repairs, etc., provided the gun remains unloaded. You cannot load the gun or in any way handle ammunition in a safe area. While you can be wearing ammo on your belt, do not touch or load magazines in the Safe Area. (P.S. You can load your magazines and handle ammo everywhere else on the range.)
  • On the firing line, when it is your turn to shoot, and the RO has given you the command to "Make Ready."
  • Whenever you have asked for, and received, special permission; and you are supervised by an RO; and while facing a safe direction; and the gun points into a berm.
When you leave a Safe Area, the gun must still be unloaded, and it must be in your holster, or in a gun rug/gun bag. If you are not shooting a course of fire, and your gun accidentally falls to the ground, DO NOT pick it up yourself. Call for an RO. The RO will carry the gun safely to an area where it can be checked (shown to be unloaded), and return it to you.

Listen to the walk-through, and read the stage description, if one is provided.


You are expected to be in control of your firearm at all times. There are three general rules you must always follow, whether loading, unloading, shooting the stage, or just walking around the range.

Do not "Break the 180" degree line. At the start position of each stage, there is an imaginary line that runs parallel and forward from the backstop (berm). This defines the 180 degree line. The muzzle of the shooter's gun cannot point rearward (back toward the spectators) at any time.

Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. This is why we have safe areas. This is why there is a "180 rule." This is why we have a rule about "sweeping." Whenever the muzzle of the gun crosses the shooters body (during the draw, during re-holstering, or during a stage while opening a door), it is called "sweeping" and this is a safety violation.

If you are ever "out of control" of your gun, you have broken a safety violation. Examples are dropping the gun during a course of fire, or having an "accidental discharge" (a round is fired when you did not mean to do so, like during a reload, or at the "load & make ready" command, or while moving from one position to another). Rounds that "leave the range" are ALWAYS unsafe. Most "out of control" violations are the result of sloppy gunhandling. Your finger should NEVER be on the trigger unless you are aiming at a target.


The RO for the stage will call you up to the firing line. Often they will ask if you understand the course of fire, but this is not required. It is your responsibility to find out what you have to do before you step to the line.

MAKE READY. Put a magazine in the gun and rack the slide, or load your revolver. Apply a thumb safety, if the pistol is equipped with one. Do any thing else you must do to get the gun ready (optic scopes turned on, etc). Put the gun in the holster (or where ever the stage procedure specifies as the starting position for the firearm). Assume the starting position specified by the course description.

ARE YOUR READY? If you are not ready to shoot, say so now. You will hear several variations of this range command: "Give me a nod when you are ready," "Just nod when ready," and so on. Actually, the official rules say that if the shooter does not answer, the RO can assume the shooter is ready. Speak up, if you need to.

STANDBY. The timer will go off any second. Sometimes these are set on "instant," and sometimes there is a variable delay. Be ready to start any time after you hear the stand by command.

IF FINISHED, UNLOAD and SHOW CLEAR. Once you appear to be done shooting, the RO will ask this question. If you are not finished shooting, continue firing. If you are finished, unload the gun (drop the magazine and rack the slide to open, or open the cylinder and unload bullets). Allow the RO to look down the barrel of the gun. The RO must verify that the gun is empty. Do not rush through this part. Unloading is not a speed event.

IF CLEAR, HAMMER DOWN and HOLSTER. Once the RO has confirmed that the gun is empty, you will be instructed to drop the hammer and holster the gun.

"STOP" or "FREEZE" If you ever hear the RO yell STOP or FREEZE, do so immediately. Stand still, with your finger OFF the trigger, and the gun pointed safely at a berm. The RO will have you unload, show clear and holster you gun. Although this command is frequently used when a safety violation occurs, it can also be used when there is an unsafe situation or range malfunction that is not the shooter's fault. The RO will explain why he stopped you once the gun is unloaded and in your holster. If the problem was not a safety violation on the part of the shooter, you will be allowed to re-shoot the stage.


The field course will test your abilities to move safely around a stage of fire, while opening doors, glancing through windows or around barricades, (oh, yes, and shooting at targets!) while managing to avoid damage to those "No-Shoot" targets. All field courses are scored "Comstock." This means that there is no fixed penalty for shooting at a target again, if you missed it. You can shoot until your happy with the hits. Remember, however that TIME is a factor of your score, so do not make up shots unless you really need to do so. Any hits on a designated No-Shoot target will earn a penalty of minus 10. Any misses on a target you were required to shoot, will also earn a penalty of minus 10.

Speed shoots require the shooter to stay in one location. Speed shoots may be "Comstock scoring" in which additional shots are okay, but they may also be "Virginia Count scoring." Listen to the "walk through" or ASK if you are not sure. Virginia Count means only the specified number of rounds may be fired without a penalty. A penalty of minus 10 points is assessed for any shots in excess of the stated rounds required for the course. To add insult to injury, if there is an extra hit on a target, there is an added penalty of minus 10 (for example, you made up a shot that you thought was a miss, but really already had enough hits on the target). For a new shooter, it is usually a good idea to not try and take extra shots on a Virginia Count stage.

A speed shoot may require one or more "Mandatory" reload(s). The procedural error is assessed at minus 10 points for each shot fired after failure to perform a required reload. Ouch. Virginia Count stages force the shooter to concentrate on accuracy and to pay close attention to the stage procedure.

Fixed Time Standards are another type of course you may see. The time frame in which the shots must be fired is established in advance. Fixed Time is also called Par Time. There is a Start signal & a Stop signal. There is a penalty of minus 5 for any shot fired after the stop signal, so listen carefully. Please note that whenever you have a fixed time stage, there is no HIT FACTOR listed on the score sheets. Your actual points will always equal the stage points. Standards Courses do not have to be FIXED TIME. They can also be Virginia Count. Always be sure what type of scoring method or timing is being used before you get to the line to shoot.


The scoring system for USPSA-IPSC matches can take a bit of time to understand. Save this page for future reference. Most stats people will be happy to explain your scores.

Stage Results are printed before a Final Match Result is posted. Just what do all those numbers mean? Points are based on how well you shot. For Major caliber: A's are 5 points, B's and C's are 4points each, D's are 2 points, and Misses or No-Shoots are minus 10 points. Oh, yes...any Procedural error will also cost you minus 10 points. For those shooters using Minor caliber (9mm or 38's): B's and C's are 3 points and D's are 1 point. All other point values for hits or penalties are the same.

To calculate HIT FACTOR, divide your points by the time. Hit Factor tells you how many points you are earning per second. If you took 30 seconds to shoot a 60 point stage, you have a hit factor of 2.000, and if someone else took 10 seconds to earn those same 60 points, his hit factor is 6.000.

Stage Percentage is calculated from Hit Factor. The competitor with the highest hit factor gets 100% for the stage, and the STAGE POINTS for the shooter with 100% will always be all the points available for that stage.

The Stage Winner is the shooter with the highest HIT FACTOR. All the other shooters are ranked below the stage winner, in order of HIT FACTOR. To get a Stage Percentage, your hit factor is divided by the highest hit factor for the stage. The total number of stage points that you earned for a stage are based on the total points available, multiplied by your stage percentage. Going back to the example above, your hit factor of 2.000 is 1/3 of the fellow who shot 6.000, so if he won the stage & got 100% (all 60 points), then you shot 33% of the leader, and earned 20 stage points.

Another example, a Stage is worth 100 points. You shot real carefully, but real slowly. You earned 100 points for the stage. The fellow who was first place for that stage only earned 80 points, but was fast. Once hit factors and stage percentages are calculated, you are at 50% for the stage, and the fast fellow is at 100%. The stage points will only award you 50 STAGE POINTS, (50% of 100) and the fast shooter gets 100 STAGE POINTS.

At the end of the match, we add up the stage points for every shooter, and get MATCH POINTS. The shooter with the most match points wins, and gets awarded a 100%. Your match point total is divided by the match winner's total match points. This is how we calculate a total MATCH PERCENTAGE.

Again, please ask if you EVER do not understand the scoring system. The scorekeepers make mistakes too. We never have a problem if you want to see your score sheets, or request that the stage be recalculated. Your scorekeepers are shooters, too. We want you to get every point you have earned.


Ask the RO's for help if you have any questions. They are there to help you. Always explain that you are rather new to the game, and have a few questions. Questions are preferred over the "know-it-all" attitude anytime.

In the beginning, try to shoot for accuracy. Your times will improve as you learn the rules, and become more comfortable with our sport.

Most shooters are happy to show off their guns, their gear, and discuss reloading.

EVERYONE, I repeat, EVERYONE is required to help with the match. At MCRC we have RO's who are trained by USPSA to run the timers, watch for safety violations, and assist shooters. ALWAYS listen to the RO. When you are not shooting, or the next up to shoot you are EXPECTED to help pick up brass and tape targets, and re-set the stage. This is an all volunteer sport.

I have USPSA membership applications available. While I would like to encourage everyone who shoots IPSC to join USPSA, let me stress that there is absolutely no requirement to join ANYTHING. Most clubs will encourage you to join, and offer a discount to members vs non-members, but you never have to join USPSA or MCRC to shoot in the matches we have the second Saturday of each month. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there is not an USPSA club in the state that requires membership in order to shoot in the monthly match. We want you to have fun, shoot safely, and join us again!