Glossary of Shooting Sports Terms


180 Rule
: Refers to the 180-degree plane which follows competitors as they move on a stage.

A Zone: This is the highest-scoring area used on USPSA cardboard targets.

Berm: A dirt mound that serves as a safety backstop.

C Zone: This is the second-highest scoring area used on USPSA cardboard targets. 

Caliber: Refers to the diameter of a firearm’s bullet.

Cartridge: Assembled ammunition that includes a bullet, case, powder charge, and primer. It is also referred to as a round.

Centerfire: Firearms designed to shoot cartridges where the primer is located in the center of the cartridge’s case head.

Chronograph: Instruments used to measure the velocity of ammunition fired from a gun.

Classifications: Defines a competitor’s performance and skill level.

Cold Range: Refers to where all firearms must be kept unloaded until a competitor is operating under the direction of the range officer.

Course of Fire (COF): A design that defines the shooting challenge in terms of scoring method, targets, rounds, starts, and procedures. It is also referred to as a stage.

D Zone: This is the lowest scoring area used on USPSA cardboard targets.

Decibels (dB): A unit of measurement used to determine the intensity of sound or sound pressure levels. 

Division : Defines the equipment and firearm used in a competition.

Dominant Eye: The eye your brain trusts to process sight information.

Dominant Hand: The strongest hand that supports your preferred trigger finger. 

Dot Sights: Optical sight that uses a laser to project a sighting point onto a glass window or reticle. These sighting systems allow for fast target acquisition. 

Double-Action (DA): A trigger type that performs two actions for each trigger pull.

Downrange: The 180 degrees of safe shooting direction toward the targets.

Dry-Fire: The practice of manipulating a firearm without any live ammunition. This is used in training to improve gun handling skills. 

Grain: Used to measure the weight of bullets and the size of a powder charge in a cartridge.

Hang Fire: When a round has a delayed discharge.

Hard-Cover Targets: Targets that do not incur penalties or points when you shoot them.

IDPA: The International Defense Pistol Association. They focus on sport-based defensive pistol techniques and simulated self-defense scenarios.

IPSC: The International Practical Shooting Confederation. They offer world-class competitive pistol shooting competitions that take place every third year and are hosted by participating countries. 

ISSF: The International Shooting Sports Federation. They focus on Olympic-style shooting using air rifles and pistols, and shotguns for trap and skeet.

Live-Fire: Refers to shooting a firearm with live ammunition.

Minutes of Angle (MOA): A unit of measure used to align POA with POI. One MOA represents 1.047 inches at 100 yards.

Muzzle: The barrel of the gun where the bullet exits.

No-Shoot (NS) Targets: Targets that incur penalties when you shoot them.

Point of Aim (POA): Where the sighting system appears on the target as you aim the firearm.

Point of Impact (POI): Where the bullet impacts the target using a consistent aiming point. 

Practical Shooting: Shooting sports that focus on point scoring using the balance between accuracy and speed.

Rimfire: Firearms designed to shoot cartridges where the primer is located in the rim of the cartridge case head.

SCSA: The Steel Challenge Shooting Association. They offer an annual Steel Challenge event, a steel target, speed shooting competition that appeals to a broad audience of shooting competitors.

Shooting Index: The ability to draw or transition to a target where the sights are visibly aligned and in the correct position in order to execute a shot.

Sight Picture: What you need to see on a target to execute an accurate shot.

Single-Action (SA): A trigger type that performs one action for each trigger pull.

Soft-Cover Barriers: Used to obscure scoring and penalty target areas.

Splits: The time recorded between shots on the same target.

Squib: A very serious condition where the bullet gets stuck in the barrel of the gun.

String: The number of shots and targets required to be executed on a stage.

Support Hand: The nondominant hand used to support your gun when using a two-handed grip.

Sweeping: When the muzzle of your firearm is aimed at yourself or a person as you move about a stage.

Transitions: The time recorded between shots on different targets.

Trigger Action: How a firearm operates with each trigger press. The trigger action releases the striker, or hammer, causing the primer on a cartridge to be struck and fire a shot.

Up-Range: The unsafe 180 degrees of shooting direction, away from the targets.

USPSA: The United States Practical Shooting Association. They offer competitive shooting competitions that focus on a competitor's ability to manage speed, power, and accuracy. Competitors compete for the highest scores and shortest times.

Walk-Through: A designated time to walk through and inspect the stage before you compete.