1978 First Draft IPSC Rules

More from Bob Hanna: a copy of the first draft of the IPSC rules for practical pistol competition, sent to Bob by Jeff Cooper, when Bob was competition director for the Brazos Practical Shooters, a sub group of the Sugarland (Texas) Sportsman’s Club.

The rules are interesting, in historical context, as so many of them have eroded over time from the original intent. Principle #4 was perhaps the first to go, as truly ‘realistic’ stages simply don’t have enough targets or shots fired to be as exciting or interesting as longer courses of fire. Principle #5 (weapon types are not separated) proved to be unworkable in a sporting context, as every practical pistol sport is now subdivided into divisions based on action type and other characteristics.

In 1978, the idea of a magazine capacity ban was not a concern. It was only after the 1994 national magazine capacity law (and state laws that persisted after the national law expired and was not renewed) that capacity limits became an issue in the pistol sports. The lack of limits on magazine capacity, along with courses of fire requiring more and more rounds, drove interest in higher capacity pistols and magazine upgrade kits allowing a few more rounds to be fit into existing magazines – from 8 round 1911 .45 magazines in the 1980’s to today’s aftermarket spring, follower and base pad vendors offering ways to increase magazine capacity by 1-3 rounds without extending mag length, and magazine extension kits for the competition approved 170mm magazines, and super extended magazines used in Pistol Caliber Carbine divisions.

The ballistic pendulum, and major/minor scoring, was later replaced with pulling and weighing bullets and measuring velocity with chronographs. The intent of this process was to prevent the use of downloaded ammunition, as was common in PPC and bullseye matches.

Principle #19: “holsters must be practical” became a controversial topic in the 1980’s, as open carry, high speed competition holsters were developed and used by match winners. Holsters evolved from steel lined leather holsters suitable for concealed carry, to very open designs using plastic locks grabbing the trigger guard. The limits imposed on holsters by IDPA are an attempt to get back to the original principles of the sport.

The current rulebooks for IPSC and USPSA and IDPA are considerably longer than this original draft, but much of the original language and intent still exists within those competition formats. Many of these rules date back to the rules for the Leatherslap matches that predate the formation of IPSC, and some are derived from PPC and other pistol match formats from the 1950’s.