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Where did USPSA and IDPA come from?

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When I was 11 and finally talked my Dad into letting me buy his .38 S&W off him to shoot the 1st Sunday practical matches, things were different.

It was IPSC, not USPSA or IDPA.

Most stages at most matches ran six to twelve rounds, occasionally more depending on the person setting it up.

Reloads were after six if he liked revos, seven if he liked 1911's and all of those with CZ's and BHP's were the devil, minor, or hi-cap freaks!

You think this sport is somewhat obscure now? Jeeze! This was 1980, when I stopped competing on a regular basis in 89 I think I still hadn't heard of USPSA.

Well now I'm a member, but wanted to know what happened in those years! I feel like I just woke up from Rumplestilkins nap and the world has passed me by.

Where and why were USPSA and IDPA created? ( please be as unpolitical as possible)

Is there still a Second Chance bowling pin shoot?

Anyway, if there is an old timer who's been around fron the beginning and couild shed some light on this I would sure be appreciative.

Thanks, JZ

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Where and why were USPSA and IDPA created?

USPSA was created in the early-to-mid 80s as the governing body for IPSC in the USA.

IDPA was created in '96 when some of the founding members of IPSC decided that IPSC/USPSA had gotten too far from its defensive shooting roots, and the leadership at USPSA at that time was (apparently) unreceptive to changes moving it back in that direction. The malcontents broke away and formed their own shooting organization, IDPA.

For about five years there was a lot of acrimony between supporters of each organization. Then things leveled out, and just about everybody decided "It's all good!", and there are now a lot of crossover shooters who belong to and compete in both organizations.

USPSA is a membership-run, not-for-profit organization. The leadership is elected. IDPA is run as a "benevolent dictatorship" and is a for-profit organization with a limited number (about five) of stockholders.

At the time IDPA was founded, there were two divisions in USPSA - Open and Limited. Open guns ran comps and optical sights, Limited was everything else. (Limited 10 was instituted about this time due to the AWB.) IDPA came along with four divisions, none of which permitted comps or optical sights, and all of which were targeted toward carry guns...including one division for revolvers. Shooters without the means and/or desire to run a double-stack 1911 had a place to shoot on a more equal footing, and IDPA grew quickly.

IPDA was perceived as a more-friendly environment for new shooters due to the shorter courses of fire and the emphasis on stock guns, though definitely not due to problems with the vast majority of shooters in USPSA who were and remain noob-friendly.

IDPA had growing pains. While there was a rulebook, some folks thought they were more "tacti-cool" and decided to create and enforce their own versions at sanctioned matches. The rulebook (and revisions) was poorly organized. These problems have pretty much worked themselves out.

In a way, IDPA functioned as a "2x4 upside the head" for USPSA. USPSA saw the popularity of relatively stock guns in IDPA and instituted Production and Revolver divisions, and this year Single Stack became official. The result has been growth in USPSA, and also much of the crossover effect - an IDPA shooter can use the exact same equipment in Production and Single Stack as s/he can in SSP and CDP, and a lot of us do.

How far have the organizations reconciled? About a year ago, the main article in Front Sight was about Bill Wilson, the current president of IDPA and the driving force in breaking away from USPSA. As for the shooters, we razz each other, but it's shooters razzing other shooters. ;) And the 2007 IDPA Nationals was done on the range of a USPSA club with their help.

Chuck Edwards

IDPA A01966

USPSA A-51222

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Well I started IPSC about the time you quit, so I will try to being you up to date in terms of equipment / Divisions.

In the late 80’s there was one division, the compensated single stack 1911 38 supper (10+1) was considered high cap and the pistol to have, compensated single stack .45’s using 155-160 grain bullets were still competitive, minor caliber pistols and revolvers were few and far between.

Para wide body frames then became available and for a short time the .45 (13+1) was king again. But soon shooters learned to make Caspian and Para guns work in .38 Supper then Bending to pressure from Para and Caspian USPSA removed the ban on extended magazines and how fast you could reload became much less important. About the same time pistols with red dot sights started wining matches.

USPSA shooters were divided, many were happy to be able to shoot fast with out being distracted by sight alignment or reloading, others believed these were important skills that should be tested when shooting IPSC. The solution was Limited Division, (No comps, no optics, 10mm and above Major.)

Limited Division soon became as popular as Open and was dominated by .45ACP wide body 1911’s but Single stack .45’s were still competitive.

Then along came the .40 S&W cartridge and STI / SVI guns. Soon Limited became Open with out comps or optics.

Bill Wilson and some others were not happy, they wanted a place in the USPSA for non race guns, but USPSA was not interested, Bill and friends left to form IDPA.

Thanks in part to the success of IDPA at attracting new shooters USPSA started pushing Production Division, (and recently Single Stack Division), Stock pistols once again have place in USPSA / IPSC. In the last few years Production Division has really taken off.

I’m going to stop now; I did not cover L10 or Revolver Division, IPSC vs. USPSA or lots of other stuff.

A lot has happened in almost twenty years, there is a place for every one in USPSA.

IDPA is different but fun, it’s becoming more and more common to shoot both.

Edited by AK74
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Jimmy, sadly Second Chance is no more. Richard Davis went through a multi year lawsuit due to some bad Chinese Fireworks and could not incur the liability of the shoot. Then came the divorce and with other unknown issues including his new wife bringing in horses to the range.....you get the idea.....We keep hearing rumors of the match coming back, but I am not holding my breath.

The 90s had the short lived Pin Nationals in Waterloo, Iowa where the best Pin Range in the world is still set up, vacant.... :( There were a bunch of great Pin Matches in PA, and there are still a couple left, but the big money Pin matches are a thing of the past right now. There are still pockets of resistance left all over, but nothing organized.

Most of the shoots went away due to Match Directors and staff getting burned out and shooters feeling like they got gipped, one way or the other. It was usually customer service issues that unfortunately harmed the great matches, and kept shooters from coming back. That of course kept the matches from growing and then you have the descent downward until we have no match.

Pins is what I started shooting, and I do miss the sport. Luckily my friends that shot Pins still shoot USPSA or Steel, so I get to see them during the year. Give us a game to shoot and we will be there!

Sorry for the ramble....

Good to see you getting back in......Make sure to shoot the Steel Challenge in your backyard!


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The leadership is elected. IDPA is run as a "benevolent dictatorship" and is a for-profit organization with a limited number (about five) of stockholders.

One more detail: USPSA is a 501©(3) IRS recognized charitable organization, and does not have any 'stockholders'.

Since USPSA is a non-profit, you can view the public filings at www.guidestar.org - and can view the IRS 990 by setting up a free account. You have to spell out "United States Practical Shooting Association" in the search to find the USPSA record.

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You think this sport is somewhat obscure now? Jeeze! This was 1980, when I stopped competing on a regular basis in 89 I think I still hadn't heard of USPSA.

Are you sure you were shooting IPSC matches? USPSA was formed in 1984, and I think by 1989 (when I joined USPSA) pretty much every IPSC club was in USPSA.

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Thanks All!

Revchuck and AK74 you guys really shine. Well, the shoots I used to shoot were some IPSC and some not. I was not a member of IPSC or USPSA, and my favorite match from that era I am glad to hear is still going strong in Rainbow California.

Thanks for the link Steve, that was a real trip down memory lane. Although I was a bit young for some of those shenanigans, it sounds like some of the same type of stuff I used to see around here. The matches I remember the most were Linea Del Fuego? I think in Calexico, Coto De Caza , The old Desert Sportsman( Nick Pruitt and Ray Neal) Which later disbanded and many of those shooters went on to shoot at Palm Springs Gun Club.

Once again thanks to you all. You people have been too cool and have made this last week of post-op bearable. This IS the coolest place for shooters on the net.


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