Sunday, May 07, 2006

IPSC vs USPSA: Open Letter to Ivan

A few days ago I mentioned that the Board of Directors (BOD) of the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA ... the regional governing body of Practical Shooting in America) has proposed a solution to a long-standing point of contention between USPSA and the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC ... the internation governing body of Practical Shooting -- worldwide.)

This subject has been a hot-topic on The Unofficial IPSC List, an email listserv dialogue about Practical Shooting which has (obviously) no official connection to either the regional or the international governing bodies. This email listserve is merely a place where people involved in Practical Shooting Competition can let their hair down and say what they really think.

In fact, the subject (essentially, USPSA autonomy) has caused a lot of hard feelings between the Regional and the International bodies, especially in the area of Rules of Competition. IPSC, as the ruling body 'internationally', has made dramatic and draconian (in my personal opinion, and perhaps in the opinion of other USPSA members) changes in the Official Rule Book, and the USPSA BOD has felt obliged to horse-trade which rules it would accept and which it would not. To date, USPSA has only been allowed to request a regional waiver, or variation, in the competition rules. At stake is the ultimate hammer: if IPSC does not agree to the USPSA request for a waiver, then the American Region must either bow to the International rules, or it may not be permitted to consider itself a member region of IPSC.

Call this "The Nuclear Option", except that it may be exercised not by USPSA, but by IPSC. That's why we in USPSA are so excited and hopeful that the proposal will be accepted. There is no serious move to separate USPSA as a member-region of IPSC, but because the International body has (to date) required strict rules of compliance, this has become an adversarial relationship, which is not the wish of either body.

We are also expecting that it will be accepted, because it allows us to continue what would normally be a congenial relationship with the International Governing Body.

The following is the applicable text in a letter which I ("Jerry the Geek") sent to Unofficial IPSC List member "Ivan the Terrible" in response to his comments.

"Ivan" is a resident of Hungary, and has served on the IPSC Rules Committee during the past two revisions of the IPSC Rule Book. He and I have sporatically exchanged opinions for the past nine years, both publically and privately. This email letter was written in response to specific comments Ivan recently made on The Unofficial IPSC List. I have included a version below (edited to keep it on-topic.)

..................... (Geez sez) ..............
Hi Ivan,
[snip inapplicable exchange]

It's good to hear from you, even when I don't agree with you.

In a development which may come as something as a surprise to some of us, I don't disagree with you at all, at least in the broader statements:

[snip inapplicable exchange]

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============
IMHO, IPSC needs a US region, and USPSA needs IPSC. However,were USPSA leave IPSC, the IPSC USA would be created in a minute.

There would be less members, but IMHO, many would join just as many did join to IDPA when it was created. Shooting more means more fun...

..................... (Geez sez) ..............

It's doubtless true that an "IPSC USA" would be created, almost as a knee-jerk reaction.

The members of that organization would be those who wish to shoot in International Competition, under International rules, for their own perfectly good reasons.

Those who competed in USPSA matches would be those who had no reason to espouse
International competition, and only want to go to the range on the odd Saturday to compete head-to-head with their friends and neighbors.

These two groups are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I wouldn't be surprised to see American shooters who are Internationally Ranked competing in USPSA matches just as they do now.


Because they like to shoot, and if there are TWO matches in a locality which offer competitive Practical-type shooting, it provides more opportunities to compete. Slightly different rules, of course, but the shooting is the reason for the competition.

You seem to feel that the competition is the reason for the shooting. That would be mostly correct for 'professional' shooters, but not so much for 'amateur' shooters.

Most of the people who compete in IPSC spend more money on equipment, ammuntiion, travel and match fees than they expect to make in prizes, endorsements and sponsorship. They don't compete because they expect to win; they compete because they love to shoot, and IPSC competition currently gives them an EXCUSE TO SHOOT.

We deal in bragging rights, my friend. We hope to go home with 'wood', not with 'gold'.
I sincerely doubt that a USPSA which was not directly associated with IPSC would lose a great deal of members or local support.

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============

............ IMHO, the more grief would be with the USPSA. The most experienced shooters and range officers who shoot outside the US would join to the IPSC USA anyhow; and the IPSC logo, the DVC "greeting" and such would all go to IPSC USA. So for IPSC, while it's not that funny, but surviveable.

..................... (Geez sez) ..............

Here you hit on a point which seems entirely likely. If only because IPSC began in the U.S., many of us (old-timers, mostly) would be loath to give upthe symbols which originated here. We would feel that they belong to 'us', even though most USPSA members had little or nothing to do with the origins of Practical Pistol Shooting.

You may not be aware that most Americans are almost fanatic about Tradition. This is probably the most significant reason why (in an almost "Catch-22" manner) we object so strenuously to rules which violate those traditions.

Whether or not it makes any sense to the International crowd, the risk of losing a simple thing like the phrase "DVC" (which most of us can't even pronounce,let alone translate) is important to us.

No, I can't pronounce or translate it accurately, either. But still, the CONCEPT is important to me; as is the symbol.

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============

As for USPSA - being member of an international organization might or might not help to reach their goals. From here, I don't know whether you enjoy any benefits of that or not. But the current solution your BOD invented is a strike of genius. It costs almost nothing, and everybody is a winner. What's the problem with that, then?

..................... (Geez sez) ..............

Based purely on my own experience, and those of the people I usually see at USPSA matches, the 'goals' of the membership here are most often to establish a stable set of rules under which we can compete .... than means we can go to the range on a weekend and shoot a lot of pistol rounds down-range, and expect to be able to objectively define who wins and who loses.

We don't really ask a lot more than that, but there are some subtle buzz-words in that sentence. The most important is the phrase "stable set of rules".

The most important thing YOU have said is: ...the current solution your BOD invented is a strike of genius. It costs almost nothing, and everybody is a winner. What's the problem with that, then?"

The answer is .. no problem. You're absolutely correct. You shoot the way that meets your legal and cultural imperatives, and we shoot the way that meets ours. We call it by the same name, accept our differences, and no body goes away muttering about 'the other guys' (in different places that we don't know or, really, much care about.)

All we want to do is go shoot our game. The problem is when someone suit from out-of-town makes arbitrary decisions about what 'our game' should look like.

Really, that's all there is to it. If we can establish an accordance that let's us shoot the game we love, and nobody (especially someone who has never competed in a USPSA match!) seems to feel that they have the right to make arbitrary decisions about the way we choose to pass our time, we're completely happy to share a common heritage.

Do you perhaps know about "The Boston Tea Party"? Or is the phrase "No taxation without representation" familiar?

Our representation just asserted itself, and it's both timely and appropriate.

As long as we don't have to deal with some external self-professed 'higher authority' from overseas attempting to rule our way of life, we can get along with anybody.

The recently proposed solution from the USPSA BOD would allow Americans to compete in USPSA competition the way we choose, while allowing International competition to be goverened entirely by the IPSC rules. Not a problem, and we've decided to agree that both venues are "IPSC".

I can live with that.

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============
Best Regards,
Ivan "The Terrible"

.................... (Geez sez) ..............

Jerry the ( No problem. You blinked. ) Geek.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Shooting Sports: Family Friendly

In this age of Political Correctness, there are too many people who look upon gun-ownership as being an indicator of beer-breath, sloppy personal hygiene, bigotry, sloth and the political equivalents.

When you tell these people you're 'going to the gun club', their purse-lipped expression suggests that they have formed a mental image of a small crowd of rough-looking Rednecks sitting on the tailbed of a pickup, swilling warm beer from the bottle while waving their guns around and griping about the 'Gubmint'.

While there are probably no fewer incidents of political commentary at a shooting range than there are at New York City coctail party (or a London Tea Party, if they still have them), chances are that a day at the range is something of a Family Affair.

I would like to introduce you to some of the families I see at local shooting matches.

For example, the picture above was snapped at an IPSC match in April, just because of the curious juxtipositioning of TWO father-and-son pairs. That's right, the charming tot at the left of the picture is the son of the man in the red golf shirt (who is a supervisor at a local Private Security Company), and the man in the blue shirt is the son of the last man (who is a retired State Policeman and a part-time instructor at the Oregon State Police Academy.)

Take the 2005 Croc Match in Dundee, Oregon.

This is an unfortunately unflattering photo of Caryn, the High Lady at the match.

To the right is a much more flattering photo of her husband, Rob, who won Second Grandmaster at the same match.

Wives show up at matches with their children. They even bring the family dog. Two of the four men in this photo brought either their wife or their son to the match.

And of course, it's not just the contestants who consider a shooting competition to be an appropriate place for their family. It's the match staff, as well.

Here, Match Director (and Section Coordinator) Mac McCarter is shown publicly thanking Loren and Sherrie, the husband-and-wife team which every year do NOT compete in the Croc Match. Instead, they design, construct and officiate on the "Jungle Run" stage which is the delight and the bane of IPSC competitors from all over America.

The Jungle Run is such a heart-stopping thrill to shoot, it's the primary reason why some people travel across multiple state lines to compete in this annual high-round-count event. This couple gets little enough recognition except for when Loren (an experienced Range Officer who once appeared on the cover of The Front Sight magazine) reads his incredibly unhelpful stage-procedure poem.

Still at the Croc Match Awards Ceremony, The Lovely Nancy (unfortunately caught with her back to the camera) and her husband "Pelican Bill" are shown in their matching green shirts.

Not the best pictures of The Pelican Family, perhaps, but those who were there can also pick out at least one father-and-son team, and one married couple in the picture.

Until I start to really LOOK at these random photos, it didn't occur to me how well they illustrated the pervasive influence of family participation at gun-games.

And of course, there are The Juniors.

These young people are the future of shooting competition.

The young man on the left/front (Drew), in the red shirt, is the grandson of Mac, the Section Coordinator of the Columbia Cascade Section.

The young man in the center/front (Zac) is the son of Norm The Ungrateful, one of the fastest-rising stars in the section. Zac made B-Open just before this match. Norm was bumped to Master two months ago. Norm has been shooting for just over three years; Zac just over two years.

And the young man in the background, with his head cut off just above the green collar of his Croc Match shirt? That's Stephan, subject of a couple of memorable videos which have graced this blog. He brought his grandfather out to watch him shoot.

And there is Chris, whose father brought him to the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club a couple of years ago to join the Columbia Cascade Section Junior Program. Chris had so much fun shooting Production with a donated Glock 17 (as do most of the Juniors in this section) that his father, Jeff, just couldn't stand just watching anymore. Jeff got his own pistol, went through the certification course give by Mac at ARPC, and started shooting right alongside his son.

Chris (left) won First C-Production at the match.

Jeff (right) won Second C-Production.

You can bet that there was an interesting conversation on the ride home from that match. And you can also bet that Jeff was so proud of Chris that his own excellent finish was not the topic.

Finally, there is SWMBO and The Geek.

SWMBO (it stands for "She, Who Must Be Obeyed", from H. Ryder Haggard's novel "SHE!") spent the first two years of our relationship saying goodbye to me on Saturday Mornings as I left for weekly club match. I always invited her along, but SHE had been raised in a family which saw no use for guns.

One weekend SHE said "I can tell that if I'm going to see you more than half the time, I'm going to be in some crummy gravel pit. Wait a minute, I'll put my boots on. I'll meet you at the car."

She followed me around the range for three years, learning how to pick up brass and give it to the person whose gun had ejected it into the gravel. She learned the different calibers, how to distinguish them at a glance, and also learned that the people who went to these matches were a bunch of tail-gate-squatting, beer-swilling Rednecks. They were, in fact, people who were fun to know no matter what the venue. People she enjoyed spending time with.
Eventually, she said "I'm tired of always picking up other peoples' brass. Get me a gun. I want to shoot some cardboard!"

So I did, and she did, and she still picks up other peoples' brass. But they pick up hers, too.

(I think some of them are scared NOT to brass for her. She's an imposing figure, don't you think?)

Monday, May 01, 2006

USPSA to establish new relationship with IPSC

In a surprise move, the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Board of Directors (BOD) has taken one giant step forwards to establish new permissions for USPSA to compete under rules subtly different from those enacted by the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), while simultaneously forging a closer political bond with the International body.

IPSC publishes updates to its competitive rules in intervals ranging from three to five years. USPSA has typically taken exception to some of these rules, under the premise that the changes are either inapplicable to USPSA or that USPSA finds them administratively untenable given the more 'free-style' nature of USPSA competition or the U.S.A. Second Amendment "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" (RKBA) which more readily acknowledges American individual rights.

IPSC has always labored under a confusing morass of national law, especially since some Regions ... determined by National Laws ... prevent (for example) shooting at 'humanoid' targets or even the ownership or private storage of firearms.

While some American states or munincipalities impose restrictions on the storage or physical possession of firearms, there are few areas where firearms cannot be legally possessed without a minimum requirement of a license or other governmental permission. Also, there are no American areas which restrict the shape and nature of targets which can be shot at with firearms.

This implies a dramatic difference between the legal restriction among American States, and national laws in other parts of the world. While IPSC must cater to the 'least common denominator', at least in the sense of providing competition rules which allow participation by citizens of the most restrictive nation-states, the "least common denominator' bar is a bit higher in America ... generally concerned with magazine capacity and gun-safety tests (eg: California.)

IPSC even provides a 'non-humanoid' shaped target, which has found little acceptance in America .. the home of origin of "Practical Pistol" competition where the "Practical" use of a pistol has historically been assumed to be personal defense against a human aggressor.

The advantage to USPSA is that the BOD would no longer be required to negotiate with ISPC to determine which rules, often inadvantageous to USPSA, would be waived and which would be accepted ... albeit unwllingly on the part of the USPSA BOD.

The new relationship, as defined by the USPSA BOD, would allow USPSA to modify rules of competiton without the need to seek special permission (or "waiver") from IPSC to ignore rules intended to permit competition in countries which have legal restrictions not applicable to American law.

Further, it establishes the right of USPSA to sponsor firearms competition which is generally not supported by IPSC.

An example is 'multi-gun' matches, where three firearms (Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol) may be used in the course of a single stage. This is different from a "Three-Gun" match, where the same three types of firearms may be used but only one type of firearm may be used in a single stage.

Neither of these types of matches are currently officially sanctioned by IPSC. The new agreement would officially recognize a situation (multiple match types) which has ipso facto been sanctioned in USPSA for several years at a National level.

The BOD motion is included in toto, below. This is taken directly from the official BOD meeting minutes (The "Dallas"BOD meeting of March 3, 2006), as previously published by USPSA:

11:27 am

19: IPSC and USPSA-Planning for the future. Area 1 moves to pull off table.

Area 2 seconded.

Area 1 moves as follows:

Insofar as the International Practical Shooting Federation (IPSC) and its sole recognized affiliate for the United States region, The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) share a common interest in promoting shooting competition, and;

Insofar as USPSA has historical, practical and reasonable needs to deviate in several and various ways from the IPSC rules for the conduct of shooting competitions within the United States, and has continuously maintained a long-standing precedent for doing so, and;

Insofar as neither IPSC nor USPSA desire to detrimentally affect their current affiliation, nor to detrimentally affect the image or operations of the other,

The Board of the United States Practical Shooting Association hereby declares its desire to resolve this issue in a manner that benefits the interests of both organizations, to wit:

?? The United States Practical Shooting Association will offer and promote IPSC competition within the United States, in accordance with IPSC rules, and in doing so fully satisfies its obligations under the IPSC constitution and affiliation agreement.

?? Separately, the United States Practical Shooting Association will offer and promote other forms of shooting competition within the United States, in accordance with such rules, policies and procedures as it deems appropriate, with specific details established by further action of the Board.

Because the United States Practical Shooting Association currently operates under an existing IPSC waiver granting authority for a United States rulebook, and because it is our mutual desire to minimize any disruption to competitors within the United States, it is reasonable and necessary for the IPSC Executive Council to approve our request for an extension of the current rulebook waiver through 12/31/2007.

This approach in no way represents a violation of the IPSC Constitution or the affiliation agreement currently in effect between USPSA and IPSC, and in fact represents a resolution to a long-standing conflict and a substantial growth opportunity for both organizations. Accordingly, the Board of the United States Practical Shooting Association directs its President, as the Regional Director for the US Region of IPSC, to communicate this direction to the IPSC Executive Council.


Area 4 seconded. Passed

11:50 am

Area 1 moves for USPSA to make announcement release re: agenda item 19: IPSC and USPSA-Planning for the future,

Area 8 seconded.


This statement not only opens the door for USPSA to freely re-interpret rules according to American law and American values, but at the same time acknowledges IPSC as the ruling body of International Practical Shooting competition.

In other words, IPSC can do what it needs to do, for the benefit of regions outside the United States. At the same time, USPSA can do what IT needs to do, for the benefit of its 15,000 members, in competition within the United States.

In the meantime, USPSA will permit IPSC competition within its national boundaries based upon the 'pure' IPSC rules of competition. While nobody is obliged to attend these "IPSC-Only" matches, they can "vote with their feet" in regards to the degree of interest in 'pure' International Practical Pistol Competition.

This move is entirely in keeping with the democratic principles of American vigor, and establishes IPSC competitive rules as the root-stock of Practical Pistol competition.

Above all, it establishes a test-bed whereby the "IPSC vs USPSA" question can be settled for good, by the most rigorous and practial test possible, and at the same time preserves the vital relationship between IPSC and USPSA.