Competitive Shooting in Canada: What Are My Options?

Posted by Jo Leen on 22nd Jun 2018

Competitive Shooting in Canada: What Are My Options?

With the nice weather having arrived in Canada, the competitive shooting season has officially started.

You may be new to the shooting sports or be a more experienced shooter and looking for a way to test your shooting skills against others. So what are your options out there and what is needed to get into competitive shooting matches?

Most shooting disciplines are regulated by international, national and provincial shooting organizations who will set the rules as to target size, equipment used, number of shots, etc.

So let’s have a closer look at some of the choices you have here in Canada.


International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC)

A dynamic discipline within the shooting sports is IPSC. Shooters in this discipline are required to be holster qualified and rules are determined and governed by IPSC.
In this discipline shooters are scored on a combination of accuracy and speed. Targets are set up on a dynamic course requiring shooters to shoot on the move while reloading.
Within the IPSC Competition there are several sub categories in which shooters can compete. Each category determines the equipment used such has factory sights vs aftermarket sights/optics, modified triggers etc.
IPSC is a centre fire shooting discipline and allows competitors to experience a more “real life” shooting experience.
IPSC is the most participated discipline within the shooting sports at this time and has members in over 100 regions worldwide.
Equipment: Handgun, competition style belt, holster and magazine pouches, extra magazines/speed loaders

3-Gun or Multi Gun Competition

3-Gun Competition is another dynamic discipline in the shooting sports where competitors use a variety of firearms along a preset course. The firearms used are a handgun, shotgun and rifle.
Competitors either carry all 3 firearms for the duration of the course or “abandon” a firearm at a predetermined point where they transition to the next firearm. Shooters are required to carry a load out on their belt for all 3 firearms and are scored on accuracy and speed.
3-Gun is the fastest growing discipline within the shooting sports.  One of the reasons is that it simulates a combat feel, where shooters have to transition between firearms and shoot and reload on the move.  3-Gun is also becoming popular in pop culture as could be seen in the catacombs scene in the movie John Wick 2.
This discipline requires participants to be holster qualified.
A variant of 3-Gun is Cowboy Action Shooting. In this discipline shooters use "Wild West" era firearms such as single action revolvers, lever action rifles and break barrel shotguns.
Equipment: Handgun, rifle and shotgun, belt, holster, magazine pouches for handgun and rifle, shotgun shell holders, extra magazines for handgun and rifle

Canadian Defensive Pistol (CDP)

If you want to experience and compete in a discipline that simulates self defence and real life shooting scenarios, Canadian Defensive Pistol or Ontario Defensive Pistol League (ODPL) might be the sport for you.
CDP/ODPL shooters need to be holster qualified. However, equipment used can be more affordable since it is “straight out of the box”. Competition only equipment such as speed rigs and modified guns are not allowed in order to get a feel for more real life encounters.
Shooters are required to shoot and reload on the move and shoot at static and moving targets, from different positions such as standing, prone, kneeling and sitting, shoot while using cover and shoot/not shoot at certain targets which simulates innocent bystanders.
CDP/ODPL is internationally known as International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA). Some rules had to be modified in order to adapt IDPA competition to the stricter Canadian gun laws and the result is CDP/ODPL.
Equipment: Handgun, regular belt, non competition style holster and magazine pouches, extra magazines/speed loaders

Precision Rifle Series (PRS)

PRS is a rifle competition and is scored on both speed and accuracy. Target distances can be known or unknown which require the competitor to be extremely knowledgeable on the ballistics of their rifle. The main focus in this discipline is long range shooting and targets can be placed anywhere between 10 and 1,000 metres.
There are different categories in PRS to allow for shooters of all budgets to compete in this discipline.
PRS shooters will engage targets from a variety of positions and platforms making it more challenging.
PRS is becoming a fast growing discipline in Canada.
Equipment: Depending on discipline a rimfire or centre fire rifle, scope/optic


Bullseye Competition

The Bullseye Competition is regulated by the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) and consists of several disciplines such as Standard Pistol, Rapid Fire Pistol, Sport Pistol, Air Pistol, etc.
The Bullseye Discipline is usually shot with rimfire pistols and revolvers and air pistols.
Bullseye competition is a static discipline where the shooter has the gun drawn pointing downward until the Range Safety Officer (RSO) gives the command to fire.
The purpose of Bullseye Competition is accuracy and precision and shooters are ranked by their score determined by numbers of shots closest to the bullseye of the target.
Bullseye competition does not require shooters to be holster qualified.
Equipment: Depending on discipline a rimfire or centre fire handgun or air gun

The competitive disciplines above are by no means the only options available. There are many more choices such as International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA), Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), Sporting Rifle, Air Rifle, Skeet Shooting, Trap Shooting, etc.

If you are not sure what discipline is best for you, attend some events. Below is a list of websites that will provide you with more details on membership requirements, video and picture files as well as event calendars.

Also ask your club about which disciplines train at your range. They will be more than happy to inform you about all there is to know and they can help you make a decision that works best for you.

Welcome to the target sports and happy shooting!