The United States Practical Shooting Association, aka USPSA, has too many divisions for shooters to choose from. There’s Open, Limited, Limited-10, Revolver, Single Stack, Carry Optics, Production, and Pistol Caliber Carbine. There was a time when all these divisions made sense. However, changes in firearms technology have blurred the lines between a “production” gun and a competition gun, for example. So, here’s how I’d fix the competitive divisions in USPSA.
USPSA Open: Leave it Alone
Open division is fine. The rules make sense, and technically it’s the oldest division in the sport. This is where the fastest of the go-fast pistols come together to properly race around stages. Open’s fun to watch, and it’s quite fun to shoot. There’s nothing wrong with Open.
Carry Optics: Allow Single Action Guns
In USPSA, the fastest growing and most popular division is Carry Optics. The rules of CO require that guns used in the division must be legal for Production division. That excludes single action hammer-fired pistols like the Staccato or Wilson Combat EDC 9. Excluding single action guns made sense when there was a difference between the triggers in striker fired guns vs hammer fired single action guns. That time is past. When you can get a Sig P320 with a 2 lb trigger, there’s no sense in not allowing double stack 2011 style pistols in Carry Optics. Also, there’s absolute no reason to not allow magazine wells as pictured on the Sig P320 MAX above. IDPA allows 2011s and mag wells, so why not USPSA?
USPSA Limited Division: Limited is Fine
Like Open, Limited is fine. It’s where people who want to race iron sight guns live, and in many ways it’s keeping the 40 S&W cartridge alive. There will always be a number of shooters that want to use irons and want to score major power factor. Limited is fine.
USPSA Pistol Caliber Carbine: Keep It
It’s quite trendy to make fun of Pistol Caliber Carbine in USPSA circles, and I get that. Who brings a rifle to a pistol match? But I’ll tell you, it’s certainly fun to shoot. If you think of PCC as “Long Boi Open” then it makes a lot more sense. I’ve run a couple of matches in PCC and had an absolute blast doing it. If someone wants to run around with a carbine shooting short range targets, let them have their fun.
USPSA Revolver: Keep It, I Guess
Look, I LOVE revolver division. In any/every sport. However, I also recognize that the few people shooting revolver are the keepers of a dying flame. I’m 40 years old, and when I shoot revolver at a USPSA match, I’m usually the youngest guy in my division. But even though not a lot of people shoot revolvers, there’s no reason to get rid of the division. Having it doesn’t hurt anyone, and if people want to show up to matches with their 8 shooters and be stressed about ammo management on every stage, they certainly can.
All the Low-Capacity Divisions
Now here’s where we get to the meat of it. The biggest problem with the USPSA divisions right now is that you have three divisions that are similar and not all that popular anymore. Production used to be the king of USPSA. However, Carry Optics stole many shooters away from it. Now, it’s usually in the four least attended divisions at major matches, along with Single Stack, Limited-10 (L10) and of course Revolver.
We’ve already decided to keep Revolver in USPSA, but what about the rest of the low-capacity divisions? Single Stack caps magazine capacity at 8 for guns scoring Major (40 S&W and above), and 10 for guns scoring minor (9mm, 38 Super). L10 has all the same rules as Limited but with a 10 round magazine limit. Production only scores minor regardless of caliber, and caps everything at 10.
The Super Division
In my perfect fix for the USPSA divisions I’d roll Production, L10, and Single Stack into one division, call it LoCap or something. The rules are simple: any gun that would have been legal for the previous three divisions is legal in LoCap. Guns scoring major power factor get 10 in the magazine. Guns scoring minor power factor get 15.
Think about how tight that would be. You’d get to see Limited race guns capped at 10 rounds going head-to-head with Tanfoglio Stock 2s in 9mm with 15 on board. It would be an interesting way to see which is more important to USPSA: capacity or power factor. Old school dudes could rock 1911s with the 10 round Chip McCormick magazines against people with Glock 34s. The only people left out in the cold are the 9mm 1911 guys, because they don’t have a way to get 15 in their guns to be competitive. Oh well.
Obviously, this pretty much all speculative, as USPSA is reluctant to get rid of any divisions. And in their defense, people do show up and shoot those divisions at Nationals, so maybe there’s no need to change anything.