Free Practice Targets!

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.

Classifiers: are specific courses of fire that are designed to measure a competitor’s abilities within a division. They are a consistent way to evaluate accuracy, speed, and gun manipulations across different events.  

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

Comstock: The most common stage rules used in USPSA competition. These rules have no restrictions on the time it takes to complete the course of fire, the number of shots fired, or the number of hits on a target.

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. 

Fixed Time: stage rules place limits on time, the number of shots, and the number of hits per target. The Fixed Time stage format specifies the use of cardboard targets or disappearing targets where possible.

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.

Hit Factor: is the measure of a competitor’s performance and how well they can manage the balance of speed and accuracy. The number represents how many points you score per second on a given stage (i.e., the higher the number, the better your stage score).

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. 

Power Factor: the measure was designed to help keep the playing field equal for competitors around ammunition performance and recoil. The calculation uses your bullet’s weight in grains, multiplies that by the velocity in feet per second, then divides it by 1,000. For example: [Bullet Weight (Grains) x Velocity (Feet Per Second)] / 1,000 = Power Factor (PF). Power factor calculation is a way to measure the relative performance of a competitor’s ammunition in their firearm.

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.

Virginia Count: more common in classifiers and standard stages. Virginia Count limits the number of rounds a competitor may shoot per target across the course of fire. There are no restrictions on the time it takes to complete the stage.

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