New Shooter Info


If you are looking to expand and improve your skills beyond what is allowed at a static indoor/outdoor range, you have found the right club. We are a public club (no club membership fees/dues) and welcome all to participate. If you are very new to shooting and are not fully familiar with your firearm, we recommend looking into NRA FIRST Steps Orientation and NRA Basic Pistol courses to get you started.

Your First Match

We pride ourselves on having a very welcoming first-time competitor program. There is a new competitor briefing every match starting around 0900. If this will be your first USPSA match, we highly recommend that you attend even if you’re coming with friends that already shoot our matches (you’re more than welcome to rejoin them after the briefing). We want to make sure that all your questions are answered and that a level of comfort and understanding has been reached in order to ensure a safe and positive experience for everyone.

It’s really common to feel a little nervous at your first USPSA match. To help ease you into it, you are welcome to shoot the match with the instructors and the other new competitors. There may be some downtime while waiting for stages – go mingle! You’ll find that both experienced shooters and Range Officers are friendly and helpful with new shooters. We all enjoy Practical Shooting, and want to get you started right! Matches are just as much social gatherings as shooting contests.

First key thought – forget speed and think safe! Literally walk through the match. Don’t try to imitate the “hosers” that you’ll likely see running full tilt, shooting as fast as their trigger finger can move. To be good at this (or any other) sport, you have to pay your dues, learn the fundamentals, and be able to apply them on demand. Forget about your time – concentrate on getting all “A” hits. We guarantee that as long as you get your points, you will place decently! Forget winning – think about a good sight picture and trigger control.

Second – concentrate on controlling your gun! We focus heavily on safety during our new competitor briefing so you should know what is expected of all shooters. Nobody wants to see you get disqualified on your first time out because of a safety violation, but it will happen if you try to run before you can walk, or try to miss fast before you can hit anything slow. Concentrate on learning and ingraining safe gun handling practices – speed will come with practice and experience. Always pay attention to your muzzle direction and to where your trigger finger is!

Now get on out to the range and join in on the fun!

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Match Schedule, Start time and fees

  • Matches are the first Sunday of every month, rain or shine. Always check the website for the latest match information.
  • Match Registration/Sign up is from 0800 – 0900.
  • New shooter orientation begins at 0900. Please let us know you are a new competitor during signup and we’ll take care of you!
  • Match fee is $30 cash or check only

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What gear do I need?

  • Eye and Ear protection
  • Safe, serviceable pistol (9mm, 38 special or higher) that you are functionally familiar with
  • At least 150 rounds
  • At least 3 magazines, the more the better. Some of our stages have round counts of 32 or more!
  • Magazine carrier to hold at least 2 magazines.
  • Sturdy belt that fits your belt loops or double competition belt
  • Suitable holster that fits on your strong side and covers the trigger guard. Sorry, no cross draw, shoulder, FBI cant or small of back holsters due to safety considerations (see “180 Rule”).

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Principles of USPSA Competition

Source: USPSA Handgun Competition Rules

  1. Practical competition is open to all reputable persons without regard to\r\noccupation. It may specifically not be limited to public servants.
  2. Accuracy, power and speed are the equivalent elements of practical shooting and practical competition must be conducted in such a way as to evaluate these elements equally.
  3. Firearm types are not separated within their respective divisions, all compete together without handicap. This does not apply to the power of the firearms as power is an element to be recognized and rewarded.
  4. Practical shooting competition is a test of expertise in the use of practical firearms and equipment.
  5. Practical competition is conducted using practical targets, which reflect the general size and shape of such objects as the firearm used may reasonably be called upon to hit in their primary intended use.
  6. The challenge presented in practical competition must be done with the utmost safety in mind. Courses of Fire should follow a practical rationale and simulate hypothetical situations in which firearms might reasonably be used.
  7. Practical competition is diverse, never permitting unrealistic specialization of either technique or equipment. Problems are constantly changed. The exception is Classifier Stages which are used to measure practical shooting skill.
  8. Practical competition is free-style. In essence, the competitive problem is posed in general and the participant is permitted the freedom to solve it in the manner he considers best within the limitations of the competitive situation as provided.


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USPSA/IPSC shooting is a very safe sport provided all shooters follow some basic safety rules. Whether you adhere to the NRA’s Safe Gun Handling Rules or Jeff Cooper’s Rules of Gun Safety, there are several match-related rules added to ensure a safe environment for our competitors. Though we’ll go over a few key safety rules in the sections below, it’s a good idea to review the Official USPSA Rulebook prior to your first match.

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New Competitor Skills Check

Below is a list of skills that are often utilized in USPSA competition. It is highly recommended that the new competitor know and be able to demonstrate them SAFELY before your first match. If you are unsure about any of these, please feel free to ask!

  • Safely clear/check your gun to ensure it is empty
  • Loading your gun
  • Draw from various starting positions
  • Safely reloading while stationary and while moving
  • Safe down and cross-range movement
  • Safely clearing a jam/mulfunction
  • Unloading and clearing your firearm

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When Not Shooting:

  • PRADO IS A “COLD” RANGE – Do not handle your firearm anywhere other than “safe areas” (see below) or under the direct supervision of a range safety officer when it is your turn to shoot. Failure to follow this rule will result in match DQ. If you are an LEO or are fortunate enough to legally carry in CA, you may either (1) secure your firearm in your vehicle or (2) unload your firearm in a “safe area” before signup.
  • SAFE AREAS – To unbag/uncase and holster your firearm, please move to a designated safe area. For our matches, a small table is set up to the left of Stage 1 and the right of Stage 6. If for some reason the tables are unavailable, you may go to an EMPTY berm, go downrange, and holster/unholster your firearm. If you are unsure about any procedures, ASK!
  • DO NOT HANDLE AMMO IN THE SAFE AREA. We do not want loaded firearms in the safe area! You may load your magazines etc anywhere EXCEPT the safe area.

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When It\’s Your Turn To Shoot:

  • DO NOT HANDLE YOUR FIREARM UNTIL THE RANGE OFFICER GIVES THE COMMAND “MAKE READY”. As noted in the Stage Commands section below, the Range Officer’s job is to ensure everyone’s safety on a stage as well as ensure competitor’s comply with the stage instructions. Be sure to listen and follow his/her commands!
  • WATCH THE “180” – As USPSA/IPSC competition often involves movement with a loaded firearm, it is important to ensure that the firearm is ALWAYS pointed in a safe direction. The “180” line is an imaginary line that extends left, right, up and down parallel with your body when you are facing directly downrange. Pointing the gun (loaded or unloaded) outside of this area during a course of fire is considered unsafe gun handling and will result in match DQ.


  • KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNLESS ACTIVELY ENGAGING TARGETS – This is an extension of the NRA and Cooper rules of gun safety in that you will likely be moving or reloading during a course of fire. To help avoid an accidental discharge (AD) resulting in match DQ, remember to keep your finger out of the trigger guard unless you are actively shooting at the targets.

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PRG-IPSC Specific Match Rules

  • Besides the 180 degree rule, Prado also has a “wall rule”. As the majority of the bays have one or two block walls on either side, and the management frowns upon folks shooting them up, please be mindful of where your shots are headed even if they are not “breaking the 180”.
  • Re-running or practicing part of a stage is ok only if no other squad is waiting. Be sure to tape targets before leaving – there may be other shooters coming up after you.
  • Do not sight in on no-shoot targets! If you need to sight in, use a designated shoot target and tape it up after you’re done.
  • Do not pick up brass other than your own. This is a direct request from the management of the Prado Olympic Shooting Park. With this in mind, if range employees see you with a Brass Wizard and bucket, they may ask you to empty it’s contents.

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Scoring Questions

Practiscore @PRG

  • PRG uses Practiscore only for scoring – paper scoresheets are no longer used and will not be accepted for Level 1 (normal monthly) matches.
  • PRG uses a BYOD (bring your own device) philosophy for Level 1 matches so there are no PRG supplied devices available for these matches. It’s 2016 – you should have your own IOS or Android device by now. The application is also FREE for download via IOS or Android stores.
  • There must be at least one person in your squad that has the app downloaded and installed on their smart phone or tablet. If not, your squad must disband and join another squad that does have the app.
  • Ensure that your device has a decent amount of battery life left or bring your power cable and charge it between stages. To help extend battery life, enable “airplane mode” on your phone or turn off Bluetooth, GPS and Wifi until your squad has finished the match.
  • Please view the Practiscore @PRG page (coming soon) for details.

Scoring Issues

Most, if not all, questions re: posted score discrepancies can be avoided by doing the following:

  • Follow the person (RO) calling out your hits (or lack thereof) to ensure you agree with what he/she is seeing. You may find that edge hit that they missed and any issues can be handled right then and there with the scorekeeper and timekeeper.
  • Once you press the “Review” button in Practiscore, you agree that the data on there is correct. There will be NO modifications to score once turned in. Period. End of story. It is your responsibility to ensure the validity of the data prior to saving.
  • Why did I get a “Did Not Finish” on a stage? – There was no record of your score found in Practiscore. It’s likely a scorer error (did not save score, etc), however if you did indeed shoot the stage and hear hits and stage times, then you did not follow the second bullet point of pressing “Review” to ensure all your stage data is correct. Again, it is your responsibility to ensure the validity of the data prior to saving.
  • I was put in the wrong division/class – what should I do? – Send an email to [email protected] with the correct information. We’ll take care of it within a couple days.
  • I got my new USPSA number! What do I do now? – Send an email to [email protected] with your membership number. We will update any classifier you shot within the last 30 days so that you can start getting credit for them.

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Stage Commands

The Range Officer (RO) is the Match official in charge of competitor action on a stage. This official ensures that competitors comply with the stage instructions. The RO will position himself/herself in close proximity to the competitor (usually behind and to the strong side of the shooter) to observe correct procedure and issues the range commands and oversees safe competitor behavior. When it is your turn to shoot, you step up to the line and wait for the RO’s commands. Here is what you should hear: Updated 7/5 – thanks to Bill McCurdy for noting official commands.

  • “Make Ready” – The competitor will face down range and prepare the handgun in accordance with the stage description. The competitor will then assume the required ready position. At this point, the Range Officer shall proceed. If you have any questions about the stage, ask the Range Officer before you prepare your handgun, this is also the time to take a sight picture with an unloaded handgun. Good protocol is to ask the RO if you can take a sight picture.
  • “Are You Ready?” – You have several options at this point. (1) If there is a lack of any negative response, the RO will assume you are Ready. (2) You can say ready or nod your head up and down. (3) You must shout “Not Ready” if you’re not ready to go.
  • “Standby” – This command will be followed by the start signal within 1-4 seconds. If you move after the “Standby” command and before the start signal you could be assessed a procedural penalty for “Creeping”.
  • “Start Signal” – The audible or visual signal to begin the course of fire.
  • “Stop” – This command may be issued by officiating officers at any time during the course of fire. The competitor shall immediately cease firing, stand still and wait for further instructions from the Range Officer.
  • “If You Are Finished, Unload and Show Clear” or “Unload and Show Clear” – When the Range Officer issues this command and the competitor has finished the course of fire, the competitor shall keep his/her pistol pointed in a safe direction, remove the magazine, unload the chamber and hold the handgun open for inspection. Always make sure that you inspect the firearm along with the RO.
  • “If Clear, Hammer Down, Holster” or “If Clear, cylinder closed, holster” – This command is given after the Range Officer is satisfied that the handgun is unloaded and safe for further action. The “Hammer Down” portion is the final check to ensure that the firearm is indeed unloaded, so point the gun in a safe direction and actually dry fire. Do not use a decocker if your pistol is equipped with one. Some pistols have a magazine safety – if yours does, insert an empty magazine then pull the trigger. A couple things to note – (1) it is your responsibility to ensure that your firearm is unloaded. If both you and the RO make a mistake and the gun discharges during the “hammer down” portion, you will be DQ’d. Always take full responsibility for your firearm! Also, (2) holster your pistol before bending over to pick up your magazines or bullets.
  • “Range is Clear” – Competitor, Range Officials or other squad members will not move forward until they hear this command.

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Commonly Used Words/Phrases

  • 180 LINE – The imaginary line that extends right, left, up and down parallel with your arms and body, if you stick your arms straight out to your sides while facing downrange at the targets
  • CATEGORY – Special shooting groups i.e. ladies, juniors, and seniors
  • CLASS – Shooting level assigned by USPSA, based on Classifier stage scores
  • CLASSIFIER – Shooting stage used to measure a competitors shooting level
  • COMSTOCK – Method of scoring where no limits are placed on time or number of rounds fired.
  • CREEPING – Moving between the “Standby” command and the start alarm
  • DIVISION – Shooting category defining the type of equipment being used
  • DOWNRANGE – Facing the targets
  • DQ – Match Disqualification
  • DVC – “Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas” in Latin, “Accuracy, Power, Speed” in English
  • FAULT LINES – Foot barriers set up to show the limits of movement towards targets
  • FREESTYLE – Your choice in how you hold the handgun and shoot
  • HARD COVER – Target coverings that are considered impenetrable by a full bullet diameter hit
  • IN THE HOLE – Two competitors down the list from the shooter; follows the “on deck” competitor
  • IPSC – “International Practical Shooting Confederation”
  • JUNIOR – Category of a competitor who is under 18 years old.
  • LIMITED – Division describing type of firearm used in competition
  • LIMITED 10 – Division describing type of firearm limited to 10 rounds in magazine
  • MATCH – Shooting event consisting of 4 stages or more
  • NO SHOOT – Non shooting target that results in a penalty if hit
  • ON DECK – Next competitor to shoot after the shooter
  • OPEN– Division describing type of firearm that can have major modifications
  • POWER FACTOR – The level, which indicates what power level, you are shooting
  • PRODUCTION – Division describing type of firearm that is double action only, DAO/SAO, or “safe action” and has holster and magazine pouch position requirements.
  • RO – Range Officer
  • SENIOR – Category of a competitor who is 50 to 59 years of age
  • SOFT COVER – Target obstructions that can be shot through
  • STAGES – Individual course of fire
  • STRONG HAND – The dominant/trigger hand with which you normally hold the pistol
  • SUPER SENIOR – Category of a competitor who is 60 years or older
  • SWEEPING – Passing a portion of your body in front of the firearm muzzle
  • UPRANGE – Standing with your back to the targets
  • USPSA – “United States Practical Shooting Association”
  • VIRGINIA COUNT – Method of scoring where there are limits on the number of rounds shot
  • WEAK HAND – The support/non-trigger hand opposite to strong hand

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We are here to help you enjoy the sport of IPSC! If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail us. See you at the range!