IPSC vs. IDPA Shooting Competitions, Which is For You?

There has been an ongoing confusion between IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) and IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association), regarding which is a better format for people.

Comparing the IPSC vs. the IDPA Shooting Competition is like comparing apples and oranges! Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The outcome depends more on the shooter then the game itself. Overall, it is purely a matter of personal preference.

Someone who likes IPSC will obviously think it’s better while someone who prefers the other one will think that’s better. They both differ in their format and the equipment used, but both aim to improve a person’s shooting skills.

Target Shooting at an IDPA Match

Target Shooting at an IDPA Match


USPSA or the US Practical Shooting Association is the USA wing of IPSC. Even though both qualify as competitive games, the USPSA games do not relate to real-life situations and lay more emphasis on technical shooting, whereas IDPA competitions are made to mimic something you might come across in real life.

Both competitions lay equal emphasis on safety. When a person does not follow the safety rules and regulations, it can result in premature withdrawal from the competition, which is something neither shooter wants to do.

The USPSA games have various divisions such as the Open Division, Limited 10 Division, Limited Division and many more. The USPSA lays down ground rules on the equipment allowed in each of these divisions.


IDPA has divisions named SSP (Stock Service Pistol), ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol), CDP (Custom Defensive Pistol) and SSR (Stock Service Revolver) and each have restrictions on the equipment permitted to be used.

There is also a list that entails what all accessories are on the IDPA approved list. Each shooter receives a classification after 4 scores have been submitted to the USPSA. The classification is given based on the best scores under file for that particular stage. Each different division has different classifications.

Just like the USPSA, there are different classifications for each division in the IDPA based on your shooting score. There are differences between the two based on the when to dump a magazine (only when empty in IDPA), whether cover must be taken behind an obstacle and which target to hit first.

Since IDPA tries to simulate real life situations, magazines are dumped only when empty and it is imperative that you must shoot at the target that poses a bigger threat as a result of proximity.

So Which is Better?

Simply put, it is foolish to claim that one competition format is better over the other. Both have their own pros and cons that individual shooter have to weigh when deciding. Better yet, compete in them both to become a more skilled shooter. The overall goal is to ensure that each shooter understands the game and enjoy their shooting experience.