1986 USPSA Match Video

In going through my archive of historical handgun material, I found an old, low quality VHS tape that had video footage of a local club match from 1986. It was shared with me by one of the club members. I didn’t start shooting USPSA until 1988. This was back in the day when everyone shot single stack 1911’s in .45 ACP (with few shooting .38 super), using cast lead bullets and ammo reloaded with the cheapest (and often smokiest) powder available. Some of the footage is from a winter match where everyone shot from concealment. IDPA didn’t spin off from USPSA until the early 1990’s, and many clubs had an equal mix of gamers and tacticians. This was from back in the day when a “big” club match would have 25 people (current weekend club matches in Austin have 60-80 participants), and a club match was 3-4 short stages. 75 rounds was a typical match round count. Stages were simpler, a lot of “run to the box, shoot 6-8 rounds” design, often with minimal props, although the video shows a lot of falling steel and partial targets. One stage required engaging the body of the partial target from one box, and re-engaging the heads on those same targets from a different box after a reload.

When I joined in 1988, the club was operating pretty much the same way they did in 1986. Times and hits were written on paper score sheets, and after the match was shot and torn down, most of the club would go to the BBQ place down the road from the range, calculators in hand, to do all the math to calculate hit factors and stage points and figure out who won. This was back when “who showed up” was the only division. At the time the only people running red dot sights on pistols were bullseye shooters running super light target loads. In USPSA, everyone shot major power factor loads, back when “major” was 185,000, not the watered-down 165,000 limit that exists today. .45 ACP factory ammo was 200,000+ power factor, and factory .38 super was 160,000 (maybe), so the only way to get .38 super loads hot enough to make major was to exceed safe loading pressures, even with heavy 150-160 gr bullets. Most of the loads people were shooting in the video were probably 190,000 power factor handloads, which had a lot more recoil than the 130,000 power factor 9mm ammo most people shoot today.