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The History of Classes

Duane Thomas

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Okay, I've heard references to AA being "the old Master class." Maybe some folks who've been doing this for decades can answer my question. What's the deal on the classes? What was AA? When did the idea of having classes instead of shooting heads-up come into force? When was Master class introduced? Grand Master? Can someone give me a timeline, from the beginning of IPSC?

And guys, I don't really care to have this turn into a debate on whether or not having classes is a good thing. I have my magic moderator delete button right here. That's been talked to death, and we can talk about it some more later and elsewhere. Just not here.

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I can't speak to most of this. I believe GM was first introduced in 1992 - possibly 1991.

I know this because I remember several of my shooting buddies getting reclassed to GM when I was at the Coors Challenge in Durango. I was just a lowely B class shooter - but hey - I was hangin' with the right crowds right ;)


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Classes were implemented very early. Practical pistol competition started with the southern California combat matches, evolving into the Southwest Pistol League. The 1973 SWPL rules I have define "A", "B" and "C" classes for the shooters.

Clasifications at that time were based on your performance in the first three matches you shot. If you placed in the top 20% twice, you were classed "A". Twice in the top 50% (but not in the top 20%, you were "B". Everything else was "C".

This was extended to your annual performance as well, based on placement in matches you shot.

One thing that was a bit different was that "A"'s competed with everyone. If a "B" placed ahead of an "A", then the points normally awarded (for year end prizes) were not given to the "A" shooter, having been beaten by the lower class shooter. "C"'s could beat both "A"'s and "B"'s, but "C" shooters were only competing among the other "C" shooters for their points.

Shooters could be designated a "Combat Master" if they met a fairly length list of criteria.


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Shooters could be designated a "Combat Master" if they met a fairly length list of criteria.

I happen to recall that our very own host is a certified "Combat Master".

Maybe he can enlighten us on what it was and which were the selection criteria?

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Here's the information from the January, 1973 SWPL Rule book on "Combat Master".

Section 12 --------------- Designation as Combat Master

12.1 The highest League shooting classification is "A". The designation as "Master" (gold border) is awarded by a majority vote of the Board of Directors in recognition of distinguished performance with the full duty combat pistol over an extended period. In addition to demonstrated master of combat shooting, the Master must have contributed to the technique, promotion, and prestige of the sport of combat pistol shooting. The designation is therefore both demonstrable and honorary.

12.2 To be considered for designation as Combat Master, the candidate must:

a). Hold and "A" rating.

B). Have competed regularly and with distinction for three years.

c). Have won three overall firsts, in contests of different types.

d). Demonstrate superior command of heavy calibers, .357 Magnum and above.

e). Defeat all existant Masters (except those inactive) at least twice in formal competition.

f). Fire, on demand, three of the following scores, with a full-duty combat pistol;

1. 500 on Index (5 draws, 7 yards, 12" metal target).

2. 285 x 300 on the National Match Course (free style).

3. 98% on the Practical Pistol Course.

4. 170 x 180 on the Mexican Defense Course (Improved).

5. 490 x 500 on the Advanced Military Combat Course.

g). Submit, as a "Masterpiece", some additional outstanding feat, performed with the combat pistol, which is of sufficient importance to warrant outstanding honorary recognition.


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