Guides, IPSC, Shooting, Shooting Sports

IPSC Fundamentals: Safety

Shooting an IPSC stage at a club

IPSC is well known for having an excellent safety record for a sport involving firearms. This is due to multiple factors which include the use of protection and a very disciplined and safety oriented ruleset. Eye and ear protection is required for all disciplines (ear protection is not necessary for IPSC Action Air) throughout a match and during practice. Every stage at a match is conducted with one to one supervision between the competitor and the range officer. Some stages with more complexity will include more range officers to maintain an acceptable level of safety.

Shooting an IPSC stage at a club

It is a golden rule that safety begins with the competitor. It is their responsibility to listen to the range officer at all times and adhere to the safety rules. The competitor is not only responsible for their actions but are also responsible for their equipment (including their firearm). The chosen use of ammunition at an IPSC match is also the sole responsibility of the competitor and falls under the IPSC rules to maintain clarity. Firearm maintenance is also the sole responsibility of the competitor and will be held responsible under IPSC rules.

As a part of any shooting sport, the IPSC preach the critical firearms safety rules that should be known by all firearms enthusiasts.

  1. Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction
  2. Treat all firearms as if they were loaded
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger (outside trigger guard) until you are ready to fire
  4. Be certain of your target, your line of fire, and what lies beyond your target

Many of the IPSC shooting disciplines involve dynamic shooting which require a basic understanding of different shooting dynamics. A competitor must understand basic bullet trajectories of their ammunition and the lethal distances. This knowledge is given to the competitor so they have a greater understanding of the implications of being unsafe. Another dynamic to shooting is understanding sight over bore axis at both close and long ranges.

Knowing that the barrel can be many centimetres below the optic, can mean the difference between hitting the target, and negligently shooting an obstacle that can inflict damage to individuals and/or obstacles. The competitor must also understand the angle of trajectory in which they are engaging targets from. Shooting from high and low apertures with visual barricades, can make it potentially dangerous, and should be observed prior to shooting by both the competitor and the range officials.

Safety angles are enforced in all shooting sports. IPSC is no different and dictates the importance of maintaining safe angles in the rules for all shooting disciplines. Unless the local regulations and/or shooting range dictates stricter, all courses of fire must enforce the safety angles that protrude from the direction of downrange by ninety degrees in all directions. The competitor has to maintain muzzle discipline from the beginning to the end of each course of fire that they shoot. If at any point, the competitor’s firearm points in an unsafe direction, the range officer will stop them and the competitor will be disqualified.

Practical shooting involves many dynamic forms of movement, which could lead to the muzzle of the firearm sweeping a body part of the competitor. This is very unsafe and is considered a safety infraction if the competitor performs this action in a course of fire. This safety infraction commonly occurs when performing actions such as opening doors and windows.

When not shooting, competitors are still responsible for maintaining safety throughout the match premises. Depending on the firearm, the rules stipulate what is and is not allowed. All IPSC matches specify a safety area in which the firearm may be handled. These safety areas are declared “safe” because no ammunition is allowed to be handled in these areas. If a competitor handles ammunition whilst in a safety area, they will be disqualified for being unsafe.