First of all happy new year!
Sorry in advance, this is going to be a bit long.
Didn't know that. If you want to know what scopes etc. tactical dudes will be running tomorrow, look at what the Open divisions guys run today. (Except 1.5 meter tall bipods, that is).
Practical rifle shooters used red dot sights in competitions way before they became popular with "professional users". The same with LPVO's. IPSC shooters were the first to use 1-4 sights, 1-6 sights and 1-8 sights at large scale. Basically what you see in Open.
Shooting fast with irons at intermediate range is so difficult and so different that it deserves its own division. Not comparable to shooting rifles with any kind of optics.
Keeping an irons division in IPSC Rifle does not hurt, but adding a red dot division does. True competition iron sights used in IPSC Rifle are good to go on 300 m targets. Can't say the same for red dot sights. Opening up for a red dot division will effectively put a 100 or 200 m distance limit on IPSC Rifle matches, not because the red dot limits the mechanical accuracy of the rifle itself, but because of poor contrast and that the dot becomes larger than the target at long distances, making it hard to aim. Those who want a red dot division in IPSC Rifle have never shot with a red dot in a true IPSC Rifle match, and I urge them to show up and try it in Open. Decent LPVO's are so affordable these days, so cost is not an argument. Red dots belong on a PCC.
It is a fact of life that sometimes sights still fail, mounts come lose, etc. Most Open division shooters have a side mounted red dot in addition to the LPVO, and the red dot can thus work as an emergency backup sight, at least on short ranges. This is the most practical setup in my opinion. The Tac Ops approach of using side mounted irons is plain stupid. Those types of iron sights are unusable on anything above 50 to 100 m, and will snag on ports and stuff.
You are correct that it is often difficult to design a rifle stage with lots of options, and that is because you get much fewer options as a stage designer once you put some of the targets at long distance. Same with adding more targets. You can see this on pistol matches as well. To alleviate this, the required round count balance for IPSC Rifle differs from IPSC Handgun. This helps. Designing a good rifle stage is thus a stage design issue, not a rules issue, and you are welcome to design better stages and show us how it's done.
I don't think they agree. Hosting a level 2 rifle match can be a damn lot of work, mostly because you have to walk much longer to score targets. I can't begin to imagine how much work it is to host a level 4 or higher match. Comparing the World Shoot to a level 1 club match? Not what they want to hear.
Up to the stage design. Really, we should talk more about stage design, not rule changes. I really mean that. We should have more interviews with top shooters talking about stages they've shot at big matches, and what they think made them good or bad. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure the shooting challenge fits the level of the shooters.
Short answer: The rifle divisions do not need any major changes. Basically everyone shoots Open today with about similar rifles and the same cartridge. Wonderful! The winner of the Open division is the best shooter. The winner of the World Shoot is therefore the best rifle shooter in the world! Can't say the same for handgun where there are so many silly hider divisions now, and in some divisions you get a scoring advantage for getting lucky choosing the right caliber for that match.
Do I want equipment changes? Long answer:
1) It was a mistake to allow detaching bipods during a match, which I think became a thing in the 2010's. Before then, from my understanding, it was common to say that that everything attached to the rifle at the start of the match needed to be attached during the whole match. It was a lot of discussion, and they had an opportuniy to get it right and keep a level playing field. The rule is still the same (5.1.8), but the practice has changed. For that matter, it was also a mistake to allow multiple bipods. The result? Everyone has to drag a bunch of bipods to a match to be competitive, bacause "what if" some stage becomes easier with a 2 meter bipod? 3 meter bipod? Jokes aside, now all top Open shooters need to bring prone, kneeling and standing bipods (1.5 meters), and of course bipod extensions so that lengths can be adjusted and tweaked on the go as you prepare for the stage.. Making an interesting stage design just became much harder. By the way, if you are looking for a versatile, quick adjust bipod, I can recommend the "Primos Trigger Stick Gen3 Tall Bipod". Now EVERYONE needs to have it.
2) I want simplification by having only three divisions that are very distinctly different. Open, Standard and Manual. That is, removing one division, and not adding a single one. No one shoots Manual Standard. If you want a medal, shoot this one, cause no one else will come. On the World Shoot they needed RO's to register in the division, filling up during the match until the last day, just to fire a shot into the berm so they could get enough starters. Thus, by gaining division recognition, a few Manual Standard shooters managed to rob 8 Open shooters (top 8 instead of top 16) from getting a chance to compete at the Shoot-Off.
3) Manual should remain as a separate division. The I in IPSC stands for International, a unified competition ruleset around the world.
It is already possible for the stage designer to include mandatory reloads on short courses (22.214.171.124). Reloading with an AR not so much fun in my opinion, but its a skill I would like to se tested more often. Beware that the stage hitfactor will go down, so that may be a reason it is not seen very often.
In my world there is no better way to test practical rifle marksmanship than a well balanced IPSC Rifle match (126.96.36.199). By that metric, Jarkko Laukia from Finland is currently the best rifle shooter in the world. If you start adding a separate ruleset for US shooters and having divisions differing from those used internationally, it will only become harder to perform at the international scene. Not just divisional differences, but foot faults, pre-walkthroughs, dry firing, sight pictures, ..
Agreed. It is important to adjust the shooting challenge to the audience. The stages on the World Shoot may not be representative of what you will see on a club match.
Short courses in IPSC Rifle are maximum 10 rounds already, so 15 would get you through without a reload. Anyway, it is not the way to go if you want to increase stage hit factors. Reloading AR mags are also generally not as easy as reloading pistol mags. Also remember the RO now has to count makeup shots to catch cheaters. It is doable, but still a thing that would need to be added to the list of RO responsibilities.
Manual shooters are not really slowing down the stages. Manual division fires 1 round per target instead of 2, giving comparable stage times for equally skilled shooters, or sometimes even lower stage times. The lever release division is not really a thing. It was a last ditch resort that went through the system without assembly approval in an effort to avoid these monstrosities getting banned in the UK. They got banned anyway, so thankfully we don't have to care about having a special division for these creations called "lever release" rifles anymore. Put them in Open.
Bolt action rifles are alive and well. In the Norwegian Rifle Championship this year 1st and 3rd place went to bolt rifles, 2nd place was taken with a pump. Straight pull rifles are popular in the UK, and I'm building one myself right now. As said, the I in IPSC stands for International. Having a Manual division makes for an opportunity to travel internationally and compete against others with manual rifles, regardless of firearm laws.
One thing is for sure, adding more divisions dilutes the competition aspect of the sport. Back in the days when men were men, there were no divisions, and the winner was the winner. Following the Handgun World Shoot now is annoying when all the best guys are spread over "their own" divisions, so everyone gets a medal. I would love to follow Max Michel, Ben Stoeger, Eric Grauffel and all the other big guys competing against each other! That would be so much hype!
The proposed Modified division had so much noise around it. Only 1x red dots was one suggestion. Only LPVO's with max 4x was one. Or only max 6x (dubbed "the Swarovski 1-6 Z6i division"..). Fixed magnification only was another. Fixed magnification with backup irons (but only cowitnessed, not side mounted!), etc. Lots of arbitrary suggestions with no one agreeing. In a few years such divisions would maybe be outdated anyways because of improvements in the optics industry, giving everyone affordable 1-10x LPVO's? Who knows. The divisions should strive to be timeless in my opinion.
How much innovation has really happened in the Handgun Open division since 1993? Almost nothing, the guns are about the same.
It depends on what you want to accomplish, I guess. If you want a PCC match with rifles you may be onto something. However, if you want a true rifle match with varied distances have a look at the international rifle rules. They are a stable, unified ruleset developed over the years sorting out many things you maybe haven't thought of.
Major only scoring with .223 as a baseline is actually a pretty good suggestion.
The muzzle brake rules are a joke! People are using the same brakes in IPSC Open and Standard, so what is really the point of having the rule? For example SJC Titan is one of the most effective brakes, and is used in both Open and Standard. The only brakes I know are too large are the JP tank brake and the TE Titan Open, but the latter can easily be turned down a millimeter or two in a lathe. So my conclusion is that limiting comp size are not really limiting neither the effectiveness or concussion of a compensator. So what's the goal? If you want to have flash hiders only, state so. But ruling what constitutes a flash hider and what is a muzzle brake.. Welcome the range lawyers! One alternative could be to have like a "production list" of approved compensators, or just keep it simple and say everyone has to use a $9 A2 flash hider.