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How to start shooting IPSC Action Air

Shooting an IPSC stage at a club

IPSC Action Air is a very easy shooting sport to get involved in due to accessibility and how economical it is compared to other shooting disciplines within the IPSC bracket. It is worth noting that IPSC Action Air is a mirror representation of the Handgun discipline with only a few changes based on the equipment being used.

Action Air Practice Stage

IPSC Action Air is also known as AIPSC (Airsoft IPSC) and uses Airsoft gas blowback pistols instead of firearms, but should not be mistaken for the hobby of Airsoft. Starting this IPSC discipline can be a great entry towards taking part in other disciplines without having to wait for licensing and any other regulations that may prevent participation.

Find out more about IPSC Action Air

Find a local Action Air club

The best thing to start doing is looking for an IPSC club that practices the Action Air discipline. These clubs are a great source of knowledge and experience. Clubs are especially useful as they can provide regional information and advice which this guide would not be able to provide.

The best way to find your local club is to contact your region’s (country) governing body for the International Practical Shooting Confederation. Your governing body should be able to let you know which clubs are affiliated and practice the disciplines you are interested in. They also provide resources and membership that will assist with the journey to becoming an IPSC competitor.

If you live in the UK, check out the UKPSA website.

Be aware that your region is responsible for training you and providing you with the resources to compete in IPSC matches locally and internationally. Local affiliated clubs should be able to support your region and cater to those responsibilities.

Learn & Choose an Action Air Division

There are a multitude of divisions available in IPSC Action Air. These divisions can be found in the Action Air rulebook. This guide will focus on four of the most popular divisions within Action Air. One must understand that Action Air essentially utilises toy Airsoft guns which may not be reliable or durable enough for use in IPSC. A competitor is generally only allowed to shoot one division at a match and does not normally swap between divisions often.

Action Air Open Division Pistol

Although we will provide a summarised list of the divisions below. We thought a cheat sheet of the main specifications of each division should be provided in table format.

OPENSTANDARDCLASSICPRODUCTION
Handgun Selectionno handgun limitationno handgun limitationmust be 1911 genre design (single action hammer)must represent a handgun from the production list
Maximum Handgun Sizeno limitmust fit in boxmust fit in boxmax barrel length 127 mm
Maximum Magazine Length170mm<= 20mm from end of handgun<= 20mm from end of handgunallowances as long as negligible weight
Maximum Projectile Capacity28 BBs18 BBs10 BBs15 BBs
Equipment Belt Positionanywhere around torsobehind the hip bonebehind the hip bonebehind the hip bone
Allowed Electronic Sightsallowednot allowed not allowed not allowed
Compensators, Porting, Ports, Flash Suppressorallowedslides and barrels may be ported onlynot allowednot allowed

Production Division

A mirror representation of the Handgun division with the same name. Production division only allows for the use of a pistol with the same look and function of any real handgun on the IPSC production approved list. Most manufactured handguns are on this list however it is guaranteed that you will not be able to use a single action hammer mechanism pistol (such as a 1911). The pistol is mostly unmodified both internally and externally and is only permitted to carry 15 projectiles in each magazine from the start of a course of fire. A double action hammer mechanism must always start with the hammer rested (decocked) prior to the start of a course of fire.

Allied equipment (holster, magazine holders) must be carried on the belt, behind the hip bone with the heel of the pistol above the belt when holstered. It is worth noting that there are further rules about the distance of the magazines and the handgun when placed in allied equipment, from the body.

Action Air Production division is common amongst new competitors as its one of the easiest to start with whilst training. The main issue with this division is the lack of durable options for replica handguns and its varied popularity in some regions. This division is not the most competitive compared to other disciplines as reliability can be the deciding factor in competition.

Classic Division

A mirror representation of the Handgun division with the same name. Classic division is focused on variations of the Colt 1911 single stack handgun. The handgun must be a derivative of the 1911 design with a single stack frame, and a slide with stirrup cuts on the front of the gun. The handgun must be a single action hammer pistol with an external safety. The pistol can be modified both internally and externally (must maintain 1911 genre design) and is only permitted to carry 10 projectiles in each magazine from the start of a course of fire. The handgun is subject to the requirement of fitting inside the IPSC handgun box which is 225 x 150 x 45 mm.

Allied equipment (holster, magazine holders) must be carried on the belt, behind the hip bone with the heel of the pistol above the belt when holstered. It is worth noting that there are further rules about the distance of the magazines and the handgun when placed in allied equipment, from the body.

Action Air Classic Division is the legacy division of IPSC which focuses on maintaining the origin of IPSC Handgun. Their are many reliable and durable replica handguns available for this division which make it relatively competitive. Not all regions find this division to be as popular as the others however and one may find a lack of competitors for that division, at a match.

Standard Division

A mirror representation of the Handgun division with the same name. Standard division is the most commonly recognised division that only has a few limitations to the handgun that can be used. The handgun can be of any repeating mechanism and does not need to represent a real counterpart. The handgun can be single action, double action or striker fired but must have some form of safety mechanism (internal or external). The pistol can be modified both internally and externally (some limitations include the prohibited use of electronic optics) and is only permitted to carry 18 projectiles in each magazine from the start of a course of fire. The handgun is subject to the requirement of fitting inside the IPSC handgun box which is 225 x 150 x 45 mm.

Allied equipment (holster, magazine holders) must be carried on the belt, behind the hip bone with the heel of the pistol above the belt when holstered. It is worth noting that there are further rules about the distance of the magazines and the handgun when placed in allied equipment, from the body.

Action Air Standard Division is the most common division in IPSC and normally has the most competitors at a match. Because of the few limitations to handgun choice, there is an extensive choice of replica handguns available. Most common replicas for standard division is the 2011 style (Hi Capa) variants of the 1911 which are double stack, single action mechanism pistols.

Open Division

A mirror representation of the Handgun division with the same name. Open division is the second most commonly recognised division that has almost no limitations to the handgun that can be used. The handgun can be of any repeating mechanism and does not need to represent a real counterpart. The handgun can be single action, double action or striker fired but must have some form of safety mechanism (internal or external). The pistol can be modified excessively as long as it operates in a realistic fashion (this almost exclusively includes the use electronic optics and compensators) and is only permitted to carry 28 projectiles in each magazine from the start of a course of fire.

Allied equipment (holster, magazine holders) can be carried anywhere on the belt with the heel of the pistol above the belt when holstered. It is worth noting that there are further rules about the distance of the magazines and the handgun when placed in allied equipment, from the body.

Action Air Open Division is the second most common division in IPSC and is normally close behind standard division in the number of competitors at a match. It is most popular amongst competitors who want to use electronic sights as it’s one of the only disciplines that allows this. Because of the few limitations to handgun choice, there is an extensive choice of replica handguns available. Most common replicas for standard division is the 2011 style (Hi Capa) variants of the 1911 which are double stack, single action mechanism pistols.

Action Air Pistol & Allied Equipment

It has already been mentioned that Action Air requires reliability and durability from the replica handguns being used in IPSC matches. Other than what has been described in the division requirements, there are a few other requirements that are reflected in each division. Make sure your chosen replica handgun (and the magazines) follows the specifications of the division you want to shoot and is reliable enough to practice and compete with. Note that the replica handgun must have a reciprocating slide, function relative to the real counterpart and only use 6 mm plastic ball bearings (used in Airsoft).

Action Air Gas Magazines

Safety equipment for the act of shooting Action Air is relatively simple as with all other disciplines. It is a requirement to wear safety glasses or equivalent to protect the eyes. Ear protection is not necessary for IPSC Action Air due to the use of gas as a propellant instead of powder.

IPSC Allied Equipment Diagram

As mentioned above, each division allows for different positioning for allied equipment. The appendix of the rulebook demonstrates the positioning of equipment for all divisions excluding open division.

IPSC Magazine Length for Open Division

When measuring the magazine length for open division, the magazine must be measured as placed vertically upright on a flat surface, with the measurement taken from the flat surface upwards to the rear of the feed-lips. Only straight, rigid magazines are permitted.

Handgun position of IPSC holster

As required by all divisions, the holstered handgun’s heel must be above the belt. The illustrated photo from the appendix demonstrates the INCORRECT placement of the handgun for all divisions.

Learn the Rules

If you join a club and participate in their regular practice sessions, you will learn the rules more naturally and gain a more semantic understanding of why those rules are in place. It is however very useful to learn and understand the IPSC Action Air rulebook prior. Understanding that the rules can be daunting and not very inviting, we have recommended the following chapters for beginners who are yet to start participating in training.

Note: It is highly recommended you read all the rules just to get an overall understanding of the sport.

Course Information

Chapter 3 of the IPSC Action Air rulebook provides key information on Courses of Fire, otherwise known as stages, of which you would be shooting a series of at a match. This chapter also includes how the stage briefings are structured and what information you would expect prior to shooting a stage. This section is relatively small but contains very important information for stage planning a course of fire.

The Course Of Fire

Chapter 8 of the IPSC Action Air rulebook provides key information on the range commands and how a competitor is to act prior to and once finished with a course of fire. The range officer commands are the most important safety aspect of IPSC that should be adhered to at all times. Although these commands may seem over the top, they are universally used in the same language across all regions of IPSC shooting (including non English speaking countries). The use of these commands universally ensures that non English speaking competitors can still understand range officers regardless of their understanding of the English language.

Scoring

Chapter 9 of the IPSC Action Air rulebook provides all the information regarding how IPSC stages are scored. Other than safety, this is the next most important part of IPSC shooting as it dictates your ability as a competitor and is the quantitive segment of calculating the positioning and grading of competitors in comparison to each other.

Patching Action Air IPSC Target

IPSC uses a Comstock system which uses points scored divided by time to calculate the Hit Factor of the competitor for that given stage. This is then accumulated across a match to dictate the positioning of competitors and the results of the match. Bare in mind, unlike other disciplines, Action Air only scores in minor power factor (scores on C region account to 3 points and D region account to 1 point).

Penalties and Disqualifications

The best way to avoid gaining penalties and disqualifications when participating in an IPSC match is to know the penalties and disqualifications to avoid. Most disqualifications revolve around safety infraction and are vital knowledge for beginner competitors especially when they are stage planning and conducting themselves at a match. Penalties are also very important as part of the understanding of both scoring and what you are not allowed to do when shooting a stage.