IPSC athletes must blend accuracy, power, and speed into a winning combination. Handgun targets are 57 centimeters by 45 centimeters with a 15 centimeter center representing the "A zone" or bullseye.

Most shooting takes place at relatively close distances, with rare shots out to 50 meters. Hitting a 15 centimeter zone might seem easy to an experienced pistol shooter, but in IPSC only full power handguns are used (9 mm or larger).

Mastering a full power handgun is considerably more difficult than shooting a light recoiling target pistol, especially when the competitor is trying to go as fast as possible. Time is a key factor. Scores are divided by the time taken to achieve them, adding to the challenge.

Handgun shooters may enter any one of five
Divisions depending on the style of firearm they use.
IPSC is not restricted to handguns. There are four disciplines; IPSC Handgun, IPSC Rifle, IPSC Shotgun and IPSC Action Air.

Shooting all disciplines can
be seen as the pinnacle of
marksmanship and shooting skill.

Rifle and shotgun disciplines are similar to handgun but differ in many details. The differences are found in their respective competition rules, but only a detailed comparison will show how different they are.
Shooting all disciplines can be seen as the pinnacle of marksmanship and shooting skill. IPSC Tournaments and Grand Tournaments are where we bring multiple disciplines together for score to calculate overall tournament results. In a Grand Tournament, each discipline is a stand alone match and the individual match scores are used to determine the overall Grand Tournament results.
Multiple targets, moving targets, targets that react when hit, penalty targets, or even partially covered targets, obstacles, movement, competitive strategies, and other techniques are all a part of IPSC shooting to keep the athletes challenged and the spectators entertained.
Although the roots are martial in origin, the sport matured from those beginnings, just as karate, fencing, and archery developed from their origins. IPSC shooting is an international sport, emphasizing safety and safe gun handling, accuracy, power, and speed, in high-level competitions around the world from Argentina to Zimbabwe.