IPAS – When Speed Is Not Enough

Iron Plate Action Shooting, or IPAS, was created by Steve Taylor and Graham Wilkes in the late nineties in response to the handgun ban in the United Kingdom. Essentially IPAS is speed shooting at steel plates, known in the USA as “Steel Challenge”.

The sport was developed to test a shooter’s speed and accuracy with a pistol, the weapon is kept holstered on the hip (no shoulder-holsters or cross-draws allowed). The starting position is with the competitor facing the targets “square on”, with his hands in the “surrender position”. The shooter, on the start signal, engages the targets as fast as possible from a static standing position. Only one shot on each target is required and the plates can be engaged in any order, as long as the “stop plate” is engaged last. The total time to engage all the targets is taken and the fastest time wins. Sounds easy enough? Top competitors can complete a run of five plates in under 3 seconds and remember, you start with the pistol holstered and your hands in surrender… Trust me, it takes some doing!

It is a very dynamic and exciting sport to both participate in and also as spectator, the adrenalin rush is immediate and of course must be controlled, (there is no point in fast missing!) but the real world application for this type of shooting is obvious.

It would not be uncommon for Special Forces Operatives and law enforcement officers around the world to find themselves in a situation where they may need to engage multiple targets in a close quarter situation with their handgun, so practicing the techniques required to become a top level IPAS competitor would benefit any shooter who relies on his sidearm.

IPAS It is a totally inclusive sport with shooters of all ages and abilities competing together. The IPAS association runs the sport in the UK and hosts several matches each year, held at various clubs throughout the UK. Safety is a priority so those new to the sport will be required to have safe gun handling. There are many clubs already shooting IPAS where you can learn how to shoot and practice safely before entering a competition. The IPAS association also offers coaching for “newbies” on how to shoot fast and accurate and training for individuals who wish to become an Official IPAS Range Officer.

The great thing about IPAS is its simplicity; it is very easy to understand, easy to set up and the scoring, well, your time is your score. There are between two and five metal plates “down range” depending on the particular stage being shot (the metal plates are usually 10”x10” and fixed to a wooden post standing about 40” high). The target plates are painted grey and the “stop plate” is either red or blue. The shooter is required to start with the pistol holstered on the hip (as mentioned earlier drop leg holsters, shoulder holsters etc. are not allowed) and the shooter’s hands must be raised in the “surrender” position at the start of each run.

On the audible start signal the shooter engages each of the grey plates (one shot on each plate) in any order but the stop plate must be hit last. The last shot will stop the timer and the total time for that run will be called. There are five runs at each “stage” and the worst time can be discarded. The other four runs are added together and the competitor with the fastest overall time for the match wins. Simple!

DSC_9927There are various “divisions” available to suit an individual shooter’s skill set and weapon of choice and two main categories; “Open” and “Standard”. An Open division gun can be as “tricked up” as you like, with extended barrels, red dot sights or even lasers. A Standard gun can be modified and enhanced but cannot with an extended barrel and can only have “iron sights”. Although most competitors use Co2 powered air weapons firing .177 calibre lead ammo, 6mm airsoft pistols are becoming more widespread and popular.

All in all, IPAS is a dynamic and safe action shooting sport that will test the pistol craft of shooters of all abilities. Try it for yourself and you won’t be disappointed.