What you need to succeed in IPSC

Here’s a short overview of what you need to succeed in IPSC. It’s remarkably simple.

© Norah Josephsen
Mads shooting at European Handgun Championship 2013, photo © Norah Josephsen

You need gear that works

  • You don’t need expensive, top-of-the-line gear, and it won’t really help you become a better shooter.
  • But you need gear that’s reliable. If your gun has reliability issues, get them fixed. Many, if not most, reliability issues are caused by magazines that out of spec.
  • Your ammunition needs to hit where you’re aiming, and it needs to be reliable in your gun. Most commercial ammo should be fine, once you’ve tested a few hundred rounds in your gun.
    If you reload your own ammo, pay attention to what you’re doing. Check that all primers have anvils and primer compound before you use them. Make sure every round gets the right amount of gunpowder. If you have a problem while reloading, check every station of your press before you continue. If you’re in doubt, clear all stations before you continue.
    Chamber check every round you’ll use for a match.

You need certain skills

  • You need to be able to shot accurately at speed. Most shooters can shoot accurately or fast, but in IPSC you need to be able to do both, at the same time. This also means you’ll need to practice shooting accurately at speed. If you only practice shooting accurately or fast, you won’t reach your full potential.
  • You need to be able to move efficiently. This is where you’ll really gain or lose time during a course of fire.
  • You need to be able to manipulate your firearm securely and quickly. You need to be able to draw, pick up, load and reload your firearm, among other things, all while under time pressure and while keeping your firearm pointed in a safe direction.

You need to put in the work

There’s three main reasons you need to actually practice to ensure success:

  • You need to hone your skills. IPSC competition gets harder all the time. If you’re not improving, the people you compete with probably are, and you’ll get left behind. Fortunately, information on how to improve has never been more available than now.
  • You need to believe in yourself. When you’re presented with a task at a match, it’s a tremendous advantage to know and believe you can accomplish this task, because you’ve done the same or similar, or even harder tasks in practice.
    If you’re thinking you can’t perform a certain task, you’ll probably be right.
  • You need to catch any problems with your gear, skills or mental self image before they bite you in a match.

Simple, right? But not easy.



I've been shooting pistols since 2002, and shooting IPSC since 2004. I'm a NROI Chief Range Officer and instructor. See full bio.