USPSA's revolver problem

In the comments here, we’re discussing why USPSA has lower participation in the revolver divisions than IDPA.  At the USPSA Nationals in 2009, there were 33 revolver shooters, one of whom was disqualified.  On the flip side, the IDPA Nationals had 41 revolver shooters across its two revolver divisions.  While that’s not a huge number, IDPA generally has a higher revo turnout than USPSA.  A huge part of this is because shooting USPSA with a revolver borders on “not-fun” at times.  The max round count for a USPSA stage is 32 rounds, compared to IDPA’s 18 rounds.  IDPA also has the controversial “revolver neutral” rule, which means that you don’t generally see engagements longer than 6 rounds before moving shooting positions, USPSA has no similar rule (and shouldn’t, I would add).

What that leads you to with USPSA is a sport that’s generally unfriendly to revolver shooters.  Shooting multiple 32 round field courses gets tiresome after a while; as I’ve said in the past it becomes less about shooting and more about reloading – USPSA revo is a very technical discipline.  It often borders on masochism, because unless you land in an all revolver squad, you’re going to be the slowest guy in your bunch, and that can be quite demoralizing.

Of course, that creates the question of “why are all the courses of fire 32 rounds”?  If you’ve shot a USPSA major recently, you probably noticed that majority of the COFs were 30-32 rounds (with the exception being the Single Stack Nationals) and wondered “why”?  It’s a relatively simple answer – people like to shoot more.  The majority of USPSA shooters live in the B-D classes, and we all like shooting more.  It feels like you get more for money if you have a high round count match, especially if you had any kind of travel to get there.  So a lot of times, stage designers will want to satisfy that desire, if even on an unconscious level and make sure to throw lots of high round count stages out there.

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with that.  USPSA’s culture has developed to the point where long field courses are the standard; and no amount of revo shooters saying “this is kind sucky” is going to change that.  The long, high round count courses are good for the sport – people like shooting, they look cool on TV, and they really are an excellent test of a shooter’s skill.  I also encourage my fellow revolver guys to go shoot at least 1 USPSA major a year – if you’re ever questioning your reloads, a USPSA major is a great way to find out how fast you can actually reload your gun under match conditions.

I don’t really want USPSA to change their culture.  I’ll still shoot it, and I’ll piss and moan about it, but secretly I kind of like it.  I live for those rare moments when you post a higher hit factor on a stage than someone shooting a semi-auto in your squad.  I’ll still shoot IDPA, because it’s very revolver friendly, and of course there’s always ICORE; it’s not like revolver guys don’t have options, after all.


  1. Other than the following minor point, I agree with this post 100%.

    “IDPA also has the controversial “revolver neutral” rule, which means that you don’t generally see engagements longer than 6 rounds before moving shooting positions, USPSA has no similar rule (and shouldn’t, I would add).”

    They kind of do, but the number is 8, and it’s not quite as simple:

    “Course design and construction must not require more than 8 scoring hits from any single location or view, nor allow a competitor to shoot all targets in the course of fire from any single location or view.”

    There’s a key difference between require and allow. There’s no reason you can’t shoot more rounds from a given spot to save a position but stages aren’t supposed to let you shoot from only one position.

    Stage design and round count is a whole nother post. I’m part of the match staff at an IDPA club, and designing stages that work across the IDPA divisions is tricky. It seems somewhat easier in USPSA because people can just reload early when it makes sense, but I haven’t designed any USPSA stages.

  2. Yeah, the rule of 8 in USPSA has created a problem in that course designers will often just build up a stage that 4 “shooting positions” with 8 shots at each position for an easy 32 round stage.

    I think if anything I’m annoyed by a lack of creativity in stage design. Lots of shooting doesn’t necessarily make a stage good – I’ve seen plenty of devious 12 and 20 round stages across various sports.

    1. Looks pretty good; as mentioned on the Enos forum you might want to try the method of dropping the rounds in to the cylinder. The trade off is that if you’re throwing/dropping them, you need to get the gun more vertical than you would if you’re pushing the moonclip in.

      Of course, the real trick to USPSA is reloading at full speed while running.

      1. that’s the thing that requires a lot more practice. dropping the rounds into the cylinder while moving! that’s a challenge.

        thanks for the feedback! I’ll give it a go!

  3. I almost exclusively shoot USPSA revolver. At a match today a single-stacker was pointing out that revolver shooters are the only ones that have to reload more than single-stack. This was after I had to do two extra reloads on a relatively short course. I pointed out that the reload was part of the fun.

    I shot production division before, I liked the limit there too, and I can’t imagine shooting a limited or open gun with fewer reloads. That sounds kinda dull.

    I’m a “C” class shooter, just out for some fun, the reloads give me more to do.

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