Sport Shooting

There are many fun sport shooting disciplines and associations in South Africa that really take recreational gun ownership to whole new level of involvement and enjoyment.

Shooting sports are a great, social way to practice and improve your firearm handling and marksmanship skills by participating in a fun, competitive environment, as well as learning from others with more knowledge and experience.

From static target shooting to dynamic action sports to long-range precision rifle, there are many organizations that focus on all manner of styles and skills, utilizing every possible type of firearm, so one is sure to find something that appeals to one’s particular interest or strengths.

Aside from the pleasure and skills development gained from sport shooting, regular participation and commitment to an accredited association also enables one to purchase ammunition quantities and apply for firearm licenses that would normally be limited or restricted for the exclusive purpose of self-defense.  

Starting a new shooting sport doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to break the bank purchasing expensive, specialized firearms and equipment.
There are many disciplines that can be enjoyed using stock, standard firearms, whether old or new.
And when trying one out for the first time to determine whether it’s your scene or not, it certainly makes sense to start with something economical.

Below is a list of some of the sport shooting associations active in South Africa, with a short description of their format as well as what type of firearms are required or are suitable to be used.

Below is a list of some of the sport shooting associations active in South Africa, with a short description of their format as well as what type of firearms are required or are suitable to be used.

INTERNATIONAL DEFENSIVE PISTOL ASSOCIATION (IDPA)
IDPA is an practical shooting sport where participants engage paper and steel targets which are arranged in various courses of fire that are intended to represent possible, “real-world” self-defense scenarios.

In IDPA you use standard, concealed-carry firearms and equipment as well as full-charge service ammunition to simulate the same conditions as a real-life self-defense encounter.
Scoring is based on accuracy of shots as well as time taken to complete all courses of fire.

IDPA is primarily a handgun sport and incorporates divisions that cater for most pistols and revolvers from .32 ACP (9mmK) and upwards. It also includes a division for Pistol Caliber Carbines.

Since IDPA focuses on using every-day carry guns and equipment and also has limited round counts, it is one of the easiest and most economical practical shooting sports to get into.

SOUTH AFRICAN DEFENSIVE PISTOL ASSOCIATION (SADPA)
SADPA used to be the local body that managed and ran IDPA shooting throughout South Africa, but it is now an independent organization that only provides Firearm Endorsement letters and Dedicated Sports Status (DSS) certificates to those who are members of IDPA and participate regularly in matches.

Firearm Endorsement letters and DSS certificates are important documents that are required when applying for licenses for firearms that are specifically for sports use (Section 16 licenses).
In order to makes use of these services, one must become a member of SAPDA.

SADPA also manages its own, independent sport shooting discipline called Dynamic Multi Gun (DMG), which was developed around the principles and scoring procedure of IDPA, except that it focuses on the use of long guns, i.e. shotguns and rifles.

In DMG one completes courses of fire using a combination of handgun, shotgun and rifle, and includes divisions for pump and semi-automatic shotguns, semi-automatic rifles from .22 LR upwards, and all handguns also suitable for use in IDPA.

INTERNATIONAL PRACTICAL SHOOTING CONFEDERATION (IPSC)
IPSC is the oldest and largest (nationally and internationally) practical shooting sport.
It involves completing various courses of fire made up of static and moving steel and paper targets in the shortest possible time.
Scoring is also based on the accuracy of your shooting, but the emphasis certainly lies more on speed.

IPSC differs from IDPA in that the rules are far less stringent regarding how one completes a course of fire (but not at the expense of safety).
The courses of fire also tend to be longer and more elaborate with higher round counts, and resemble a shooting gallery or arcade game rather than “real-world” scenarios.
Even so IPSC courses tend to have smooth flow which lend themselves to much faster, more dynamic shooting.

IPSC has separate matches and competitions for handguns, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles, which are usually held on different days.
As a member of IPSC one can choose whether they wish to partake in 3-gun matches, or only focus on a specific platform.

The divisions in IPSC cater for most types of firearms, and are more accommodating regarding modifications than IDPA. There are, however, still divisions that are strictly for stock/unmodified guns.

In South Africa IPSC is governed by the South African Practical Shooting Association (SAPSA), who manage all provincial bodies, select national teams and award South African colours.

INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF REVOLVER ENTHUSIASTS (ICORE)
ICORE is a practical shooting sport exclusively for revolvers.
It shares many of the same characteristics as IPSC with regards to feel, rules and stage design, except that courses of fire are designed specifically for 6 and 8 shot revolvers.

ICORE stages can also include elements of Bianchi Cup and Steel Challenge shooting and can vary from short, quick courses with static targets to long, elaborate ones with lots of dynamic movement. 
Scoring is similar to IDPA and is based on accuracy of shots as well as time taken to complete the course of fire.

There are virtually no restrictions on the type of revolver or equipment that one is permitted to use, including modifications, making this one of the most accessible shooting sports for new shooters.
There are however different divisions for different types of revolvers to ensure that everyone competes on an equal playing field.

ICORE is managed by ICORE SA in South Africa but requires no membership to the local nor international associations to partake in matches.
Since it is a relatively new sport in South Africa, the only barrier to entry is that it may not be available at as many sports shooting clubs as the more established sports.

3 GUN NATION (3GN)
3GN is an action shooting sport where pistols, shotguns and semi-auto rifles, or a combination of at least two of these types, are used to complete a course of fire.
The courses of fire, made up of paper, steel and clay targets, are very dynamic and usually involve some movement.

There is a fair amount of freedom of choice regarding how a competitor decides to complete a stage, as certain targets may be engaged by more than one firearm type.
Scoring is based on accuracy of shots and time taken to complete all stages, but the emphasis is strongly on quickest possible time.

In 3GN shooters compete in divisions determined by the type and combination of firearms and accessories that are used to ensure an equal playing field.
3GN includes divisions for semi-automatic rifles from .22 LR upwards, as well as pump and semi-automatic shotguns, and almost all pistol types.

3 Gun Nation South Africa (3GN SA) is the body that manages 3GN locally.
3GN does require some investment is equipment, but not much more than is required by other 3-Gun sports like IPSC or DMG.
Also, since it is a relatively new sport in SA it may not be available at as many sports shooting clubs as the more established sports.

STEEL CHALLENGE
Steel Challenge is simple yet challenging shooting sport that tests both accuracy and speed.
Competitors must engage five, hanging steel plates of various size and orientation from a static position as fast as possible.
All the plates must be hit at least once to score, with one of them designated as the last or ‘STOP’ plate.

Each competitor has five attempts per stage, and their best four results (shortest recorded times) are included in the total score.
A match is comprised of eight, standard but different stages, and the competitor with shortest overall time is the winner.

Steel Challenge includes divisions that cater for virtually every type of handgun, as well as rimfire rifles (.22 LR) and pistol caliber carbines.
Very little other equipment is required to partake.
Since the scoring, rules and format are so simple and easy to grasp and the firearm divisions so encompassing, Steel Challenge is one of the easiest shooting sports to get into as a new sports shooter.

Since shooting is done from a static, standing position, it is also suitable and equally competitive for shooters of all ages or anyone with a mobility disability.

PIN SHOOTING
Pin shooting is another speed shooting sport that requires both speed and accuracy.
Competitors are required to knock several bowling pins off a steel table by shooting them from a static, standing position 7.6m away.
The pins must fall off the table onto the ground to be scored.

Each standard handgun match includes three separate events comprised of tables of different quantities and orientation of pins, which must also be shot with different gun categories.
Each competitor attempts each event three times, and their best (fastest) time is counted towards their final score.
At the end of some matches, the fastest shooters compete against each other in a round robin match to determine the overall winner.

The different events specify the use of either a pistol or a revolver. For some events there may be certain restrictions placed on the type of firearm used or allowed modifications, but for the most part pin shooting covers almost al types of handguns.
There are also separate pin shooting events for shotgun and .22 rifle.

In South Africa Pin Shooting is managed by the South African Pin Shooting Federation, who govern regional bodies like the Pin Shooting Association of the Western Cape.
Since the scoring, rules and format are so simple and easy to grasp and the firearm divisions so encompassing, Pin Shooting is one of the easiest shooting sports to get into as a new sports shooter.

Since shooting is done from a static, standing position, it is also suitable and equally competitive for shooters of all ages or anyone with a mobility disability.

Since the goal of pin shooting is to knock the pins completely off of the table, the sport does favour more high-powered handguns, with longer barrels for better accuracy.

CLAY PIGEON SHOOTING
Clay pigeon shooting involves shooting small, round, clay discs (known as clay pigeons) out of the air from a static, standing position, as they are launched across your line of fire at different angles from different locations.
The traditional firearm used for this is an over and under, double-barreled shotgun, loaded with regular bird shot.

The sport is intended to simulate the experience of hunting flying birds like ducks, pheasants and pigeons (known as Wing Shooting) in order to practice and hone the skills required for this.
Within clay pigeon shooting there are many different disciplines all with their own rules and format, such as Skeet, Trap and Sporting Clays.
Some of these disciplines are practiced internationally and competed at the highest levels, e.g. Olympic Skeet.

There are many shooting clubs as well as private organizations however that also offer clay pigeon shooting in an informal, purely recreational format, either as day events or private functions like corporate team building or parties.
Clay pigeon shooting is extremely fun and easy to get into, with the only goal to hit as many flying clays as possible.

Since shooting is done from a static, standing position, it is suitable and equally competitive for shooters of all ages or anyone with a mobility disability, provided they are able to safely wield the shotgun.

METALLIC SILHOUETTE SHOOTING
Silhouette Shooting is one of the very oldest shooting sports with its origins dating back to the early 1900s.
It is a target shooting sport that involves shooting and knocking down small, steel targets that are cut out in the shape of various game animals (specifically; chicken, pig, turkey and ram targets) at various distances.

Depending on the category of firearm used, these targets are positioned between 10m (chicken for air-gun) and 500m (Ram for Large Bore Rifle) away.
The objective is to knock these targets off of their stands with a single shot.

The firearms used in Silhouette are categorized into Big Bore Rifles (centerfire), Small Bore (rimfire .22), Big Bore Handgun (centerfire), Small Bore Handgun (rimfire .22) and field pistol.
While these are the main official categories, it can also be shot using black-powder and air guns.

Within these categories there are different events which can specify a firearm type (e.g. revolver only) or a shooting position (e.g. standing, prone, freestyle).
A typical event consists of 40 shots, or 10 shots per target type.

Pin Shooting is an international discipline and can be highly competitive.
Locally it is governed by the South African Metallic Silhouette Shooting Association (SAMSSA), who manage provincial bodies like the Western Province Metallic Silhouette Shooting Association (WPMSSA).

The firearm categories are very encompassing making it easy for a new shooter to participate, however the long range and precision shooting format lends itself to high-powered, target style firearms.

COWBOY ACTION SHOOTING
Cowboy Action Shooting (also known as western action shooting, single action shooting, Cowboy 3 Gun, Western 3-gun) is a competitive shooting sport that originated in Southern California in the early 1980s.
It is a type of multi-gun match utilizing a combination of handgun(s), rifle, and/or shotgun in a variety of “Old West-themed” courses of fire for time and accuracy.
Participants must dress in appropriate theme or era “costume” as well as use gear and accessories as mandated by the respective sanctioning group rules.

Cowboy Action Shooting requires competitors to use firearms typical of the mid-to-late 19th century, namely:
– Single action revolvers
– Lever-action rifles chambered in pistol calibres
              – Colt Lightning slide-action rifles are permitted
– Side-by-side double-barrel shotguns (without automatic ejectors)
              – Pump-action shotguns with external hammers like the Winchester 1897 are also permitted
              – Winchester 1887 lever-action shotguns are also permitted

Both original and reproduction guns are equally acceptable. All handguns must be “single-action“, meaning that the hammer must be manually cocked before each shot can be fired.

Cowboy Action shooting matches generally require four guns: two revolvers, a shotgun, and a rifle. Some matches also offer side events for single-shot “buffalo rifles”, derringers, speed shotgun, and other specialty shooting.

Wild Bunch Action Shooting is a variation of Cowboy Action Shooting where competitors must use firearms from the famous 1969 Western film of the same name, namely:
             – 1911 pistols chambered in .45 ACP (no modifications allowed)
             – Lever-action Rifles
             – 1897 style pump-action shotguns only

Competition involves a number of separate stages (stages are always different), each typically requiring ten revolver rounds (shooters generally carry two single-action revolvers), nine or ten rifle rounds, and two to eight shotgun rounds.
Targets typically are steel plates that ring when hit. Sometimes reactive targets such as steel knockdown plates or clay birds are used.

Shooters compete one at a time against the clock. Most matches are scored simply by “total time” minus bonuses and plus penalties. Other matches are scored by Rank Points.

Cowboy Action Shooting is an international sport and can be highly competitive.
Locally it is governed by the Western Shooters of South Africa (WSSA) who are associated with the international body, the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS).

There is not very much movement in Cowboy Action Shooting, so it is suitable and equally competitive for shooters of all ages, provided they are able to safely wield and manipulate the firearms.

Acquiring all of the firearms and gear (including clothing) can be a barrier to entry, but many members are willing to lend their firearms to new shooters at matches to help them get going.