The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) is the national governing body of practical shooting in the United States under the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). Our over 31,000 active members and over 440 affiliated clubs makes USPSA the largest practical shooting organization in the United States and the second largest region within IPSC after the Russian Federation of Practical Shooting.
Practical shooting is a sport that evolved from experimentation with handguns used for self-defense. The researchers were an international group of private individuals, law enforcement officers, and military people generally operating independently of each other, challenging the then-accepted standards of technique, training practices, and equipment. The work was, for the most part, conducted for their own purposes without official sanction. Even so, what they learned changed the face of police and military training forever.
You may remember that in the original Dirty Harry movie, Clint Eastwood's character visits a training center and walks down the street of a mock city engaging hostile targets and while identifying and sparing innocents. A lot of us saw it too, and thought, "cool!" It looked like too much fun to be just the law enforcement work of qualifying with a handgun.
Competition had begun with the "leather slap" quick draw events of the 1950's, which had grown out of America's love affair with the TV westerns of that era. However, many wished for a forum that would more directly test the results of the experimentation that had been going on in Big Bear, California and many other places. Competitions evolved to test what had been learned, and just for the pure fun presented by what quickly became a sport requiring competitors to deal with constantly changing scenarios while shooting rapidly and accurately with full power handguns.
In 1976 an international group of enthusiasts interested in what had become known as "practical" shooting met in Columbia, Missouri. From that meeting came the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). In 1984 USPSA was incorporated as the US Region of IPSC. Membership in USPSA automatically includes membership in IPSC.
For 20 years USPSA competition has provided a test bed for equipment and techniques, many of which are now the standard for police and military training. Some of USPSA's top competitors are regularly employed as trainers for elite police and military units. Today, USPSA matches are conducted every week by the nearly 400 affiliated clubs all over the United States. For most people, practical shooting is pure sport conducted with little or no thought of the self-defense aspect of firearms use. However, USPSA members are generally the most proficient shooters in the world as witnessed by their domination in the world of firearms competition.