The author of TPF has been shooting for a short time compared to many, a scant dozen years of firearms experience under his belt. As with most individuals who are into shooting, the entire ordeal started with the acquisition of a single rimfire rifle and a bag of old soup cans and other small items to enjoy shooting at. Since that point in time however, interests change, as does exposure to whole new fields of firearm events and disciplines which are radical changes from plinking at tin cans. A few of those disciplines are those in the category of Action Shooting Sports.
What are Action Shooting Sports? Unlike most shooting disciplines, action shooting mainly does away with static position firing and utilizes movement and strategies which challenge competitors physically and mentally in a safety oriented game in which competitors must physically overcome and avoid obstacles in order to engage various targets with the greatest accuracy in the least amount of time. These games of skill, speed, and techniques have multiple reasons for being popular and showing continued increase in participants. These reasons can be a trial to improve one’s self, have fun in a non-static shooting event, or even strive to be a top competitor in your discipline. As with ALL shooting disciplines safety is the number one rule and must be adhered to at all times. Failure to follow these safety protocols will at best disqualify you from matches and at worst could lead to legal ramifications. Firearms are tools and can be used in recreational activities for immense enjoyment and entertainment, yet unsafe handling can lead to negligent discharges and the possibility of injury. Thankfully, Canada’s action shooters practice levels of safety which far exceed federal requirements as most competitors are extremely safety conscious.
Most action shooting sports practised in Canada are those which utilize a handgun and require a holster for participation of the game, yet several disciplines include rifles and shotguns in their rules and regulations. TPF will only be concentrating on the handgun portion of Action Shooting Sports at this time.Here are some background and details on some of the more popular action shooting disciplines which have captured the attention of tens of thousands of Canadian shooters, the author among them.
Disciplines of Action Shooting:
International Practical Shooting Confederation (aka IPSC)
While it’s origins can be traced back to the late 1950’s in California, the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) was officially founded in Columbia, Missouri, in May 1976. IPSC’s origins began as a competition in a newer realm of action shooting. It is widely considered to be the founding father of all action shooting disciplines due to it’s history and initial departure from traditional shooting sports. Primarily a handgun based sport, IPSC is derogatorily known as running and gunning due to the fast paced action while participating in a course of fire. A Latin phrase; Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas (DVC) is the basis for all IPSC participation. These translate into Accuracy, Power, Speed. These three items are the cornerstones of what IPSC embodies and it’s popularity is evidenced by participation in over 80 countries around the world and having literally tens of thousands of competitors among those participating countries.
IPSC also has addition divisions outside of handgun, these are Rifle, Shotgun and, as of 2010, Action Air. Action Air is controversial as it does not embody the “power” aspect in IPSC and usually only found in countries where firearms ownership is extremely difficult.
International Defensive Pistol Association (aka IDPA)
After many years of IPSC, a group of individuals (Bill Wilson, John Sayle, Ken Hackathorn, Dick Thomas, Walt Rauch and Larry Vickers) believed that IPSC had become an equipment race and the courses of fire had become extravagant obstacle courses. In 1996, the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) was founded. IDPA decided to keep the gaming aspect but made the game revolve around real world defensive scenarios. Regulating the firearms to minimal alterations and adopting a more tactical outlook, IDPA became a slower version of IPSC with many technical penalties added in to create a more reality based action shooting game. From the website, “the main goal is to test the skill and ability of an individual, not his equipment or gamesmanship.” IDPA has gained acceptance in Canada in the last half dozen years and now has continued to grow to several thousand members in Canada alone. In the last 5 years the number of clubs that practice IDPA has tripled across Canada to number nearly two dozen.
Ontario Defensive Pistol League (aka ODPL)
The Ontario Defensive Pistol League (ODPL) started originally as a Canadian copy of IDPA. Back in the late nineties while IDPA was growing in the USA, several individuals decided to emulate it in Ontario. The Independent Defensive Pistol Association – Ontario was formed without the blessing of the IDPA and decided to use formal IDPA rules and start their own Action Shooting locally in Canada. For nearly a decade IDPA-Ontario existed and then underwent a face lift and converted into the ODPL. There were some rule changes in regards to scoring and penalties between ODPL and IDPA; but the biggest difference was the lack of shooter skill grading and the requirement to be a member of an organization in order to compete in ODPL. ODPL also has incorporated rifles and shotgun usage aspired from multiple gun matches commonly found in the United Staes of America. Officially there are seven (7) clubs in Ontario which host ODPL events and more are in the works.
Canadian Defensive Pistol (aka CDP)
Canadian Defensive Pistol (CDP) originated under the purview of Mr. Dave Burke, who decided that Canada needed a Canadian version of IDPA (prior to IDPA expanding into Canada). The concept was to take those Canadian Shooting Clubs which already hosted IDPA-like matches, but were not officially IDPA affiliates, and give them a set of rules and regulations similar to IDPA but with Canadian flavour to them. While the concept was sound, the execution of CDP dragged and the complete rewording of commonly used IDPA terminology did not translate well. CDP still exists in some clubs, but has fallen to the wayside for a multitude of reasons. The CSSA is determining if it should completely pull out of CDP matches, redesign, revamp and relaunch CDP entirely, or come out with a generic Action Shooting Guide book that would give information to clubs who wish to run action shooting without being associated to anyone.
Action Shooting Sports are some of the fastest growing shooting activities in Canada. The amazing thing about these sports is that their safety records are nearly perfect with injuries only resulting from sprains and strains. That is correct. A game/competition where individuals have their times recorded for completing a given course of fire, assessed accuracy penalties, and are penalized for procedural violations. Several thousands of Canadians, shooting millions of rounds annually, for the last several years and have ZERO firearm related injuries. There are several reasons for that. As with all firearms disciplines, safety is the primary, secondary, and tertiary rule government the usage of firearms. To that effect there are several options which are available for learning the various games and the required safety levels in Action Shooting.
All of these disciplines involve the use of handguns with a minimum calibre of 9mm/.38 Special and are the primary tools for competing in these games. Add in multiple magazines, holsters, and gear, and you can range from under $500 to several thousands just for competition equipment, and that is prior to expenditures of ammunition. IDPA, ODPL, and CDP are usually considered to be a cheaper alternative than IPSC due to the generally greater numbers of magazines utilized, the higher volume of rounds expended, however, one can compete in IPSC using the same equipment that is acceptable for usage in the other aforementioned disciplines.
IPSC’s Black Badge course is the most comprehensive and intense training available for those wishing to learn how to compete in IPSC matches. Usually a 3 day event requiring just shy of one thousand (1000) rounds of ammunition, the Black Badge course is geared specifically for those interested in IPSC and holders of such are recognized by ALL other disciplines in Canada as having acceptable certifications for action shooting. That being said, IPSC ONLY authorizes those who have attained a Black Badge to compete in IPSC events.
IDPA in Canada has a New Shooter Orientation Course (NSOC) which allows competitors to become familiarized with the usage of handguns in a holster and the basics of competing in an IDPA Match. IDPA accepts all accredited certifications in order to participate in official matches. As the author has not experienced this course, it is difficult to tell you how many rounds or what the course entails. By far the least expensive prospect of all available courses. IDPA recognizes IPSC, CDP, course qualifications in addition to the NSOC. To shoot sanctioned matches you need to be a member of IDPA.
ODPL at one time considered creating a training regime but it was decided to allow all other forms of accreditation and not split up manpower and time resources to dedicated training courses. As ODPL has no membership requirements, as long as the individual has an accepted qualification,they are allowed to shoot all ODPL matches.
CDP arranged to have courses to be performed by CSSA instructors, this course is between IDPA’s NSOC and IPSC’s Black Badge. Performed over one and a half days, and roughly 400 rounds of ammunition, the course teaches holster usage and the technical basics for defensive pistol shooting. To shoot sanctioned matches you need to be a member of CDP.
Which one is the best to participate in?
That is a question that can only be answered by yourself. I do recommend if you decide to try it, go to a local club practice night for the related discipline. Not all clubs shoot all, or even any, of these disciplines, but watch a practice or a match and see if it interests you. The camaraderie and friendships developed by the author has made Action Shooting a, hopefully, permanent fixture in his life. As with all firearms related activities, Stay safe and enjoy!
Action Shooting Sports – Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?