Getting Started IN USPSA

Practical shooting has been gaining popularity for over 20 years now. New shooters join the sport for a variety of reasons every year, but not everybody is familiar with our sport. To help everyone understand USPSA a little better, we have complied some Frequently Asked Questions to help introduce people to practical shooting in USPSA:

What is USPSA?
USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) was formed in 1984 as the US Region of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). Practical shooting began as a sport to test defensive handgun equipment and techniques and has roots as early as the 1950s. These competitions have evolved to not only test what has been learned by shooters, but also for the enjoyment of being challenged by the constantly changing scenarios while shooting rapidly and accurately with full power handgun.

Do I have to be a USPSA Member to shoot in a match?
No, you do not need to be a USPSA member to shoot in a match. However, some clubs have discounts for active USPSA or club members compared to the general public. Check with your local club for their policy on match fees. At NEO Shooters, everyone is charged the same price regardless of club or USPSA membership.

How long is a match
Match length varies, usually between 2-4 hours. Match length depends on the size of the range or shooting facility, the number of stages being shot, the difficulty of those stages and the number of competitors. We hope to have the NEO Shooters matches be about 2-3 hours in length.

How many stages will I shoot?
Most matches at the local club level (or Level 1) typically contain 4 stages. You will sometimes see a few more if the range has additional facility space for more stages or if the match has a couple of short stages. You can plan that most matches will require between 100-120 shots to be made, but you will always want to bring more ammunition than that to be certain you have enough for the match.

What do I need to bring to a match to get started?
Check out our page: Shooting Equipment for New Competitors

I see there are different divisions in USPSA, what are they?
There are six divisions in USPSA: Open, Limited, Limited 10, Production, Single-Stack and Revolver. These divisions are designed to have shooters competing against other shooters with similar equipment so that shooters aren’t at a disadvantage because of the gun they are shooting. Please see the Understanding the Divisions page for a breakdown of the divisions.

How are we scored in the match?
Shooters are scored on both speed and accuracy. This is accomplished by taking the scores of all the targets that were engaged (minus any penalties) and dividing that total be the time it took to complete the stage. The result is called “Hit Factor”. The shooter with the highest hit factor receives all the points for a stage. All other shooters receive a portion of the total possible points based upon their hit factor compared to the stage winner’s hit factor. This may be a little confusing so here is an example:

Shooter A scores 90 points out of a possible 100 and completes the stage in 18 seconds. The hit factor for Shooter A is 5.0 (90/18=5.0). Shooter B scores 84 points but completes the stage in only 12 seconds. The hit factor for Shooter B is 7.0 (84/12=7). Shooter B wins the stage.

The next step is awarding points for the stage. Since Shooter B won the stage, he/she receives the total possible points (100). Shooter B’s hit factor is 71.4 % of the winning hit factor (5.0/7.0 = 71.4%), so he/she receives 71.4 points for the stage (71.4% x 100 points = 71.4 points)

I also see that shooters are ranked. What is the ranking system?
In USPSA it is called a classification system. The classification system is used so that shooters in a particular division can compare their performance against other shooters of a similar skill level. The classifications in ascending order are D, C, B, A, Master and Grand Master.

How does the ranking system work?
At most matches there is one stage that is called a “classifier”. USPSA has a list of classifiers that it maintains at the national level. These classifier stages are designed to be setup and shot the same way for every shooter at every club that uses them in a match. At the end of a match, scores are uploaded to the national level including the hit factor for each shooter on the classifier stage. The hit factor for that particular classifier for every shooter is then stored in a database (only for active USPSA members, one of the benefits of being a member).

For the shooter with the best hit factor in the nation on a classifier stage, they are awarded score of 100% for that stage. All other shooters receive a score equal to the percentage of their hit factor for that stage compared to the best hit factor. Once you have shot at least 4 different classifier stages, your scores are then averaged. You will be classified according to the following table:

95% to 100% Grand Master
85% to 94.9999% Master
75% to 84.9999% A Class
60% to 74.9999% B Class
40% to 59.9999% C Class
10% to 39.9999% D Class

I also see that shooters are either considered minor or major. What does this mean?

Major and minor refer to Power Factor. The idea of power factor is to “level the playing field” for competitors in the same division that are shooting heavier recoiling ammunition that is more difficult to shoot fast and accurate compared to lighter recoiling ammunition. The minimum caliber for major and minor power vary slightly for all division, but the scoring for targets is the same:



How do I know what my score is for the match?
It is difficult to keep an accurate running score for the match since not everybody is shooting at the same time. Most clubs have an email or some sort of electronic method for communicating match results. NEO Shooters utilizes a scoring system called Practiscore. Our match results should be posted no later than 2 hours after the conclusion of a match on the Practiscore website. Scores are also uploaded to the USPSA website. There is usually a delay of a few days before scores are available on the USPSA website. This is to allow for any scoring corrections that may need to be made.

Please take a look at some of the other articles we have compiled for new shooters: Understanding the USPSA Divisions, Shooting Equipment for New Shooters, and Your First USPSA Match. NEO Shooters also offers a New Shooter Mentorship Program.

If you have additional questions about getting started in USPSA or the NEO Shooters club, please contact us at Be sure to include your name, email address and phone number. We will have a club member contact you to answer your questions.