Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex I



  The history of this "sport" appears to begin in the 1930s with the advent of combat pistol courses for the FBI. These courses departed from conventional bullseye shooting and sought to impart tactical skills and the realistic use of the handgun. They were intended to improve the combat capability of the military and security services and it was only in the 1950s that groups like the Bear Valley Gunslingers of California were established with the avowed purpose of introducing realism and variety into sporting pistol shooting.

  The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) was founded at the International Combat Pistol Conference held in Columbia in May 1976. The word "Combat" was dropped in recognition of the fact that even in the USA it was seen as politically incorrect and offensive. However, nothing else changed and the IPSC is today arguably the world's most popular method of training military, paramilitary, police and civilians to shoot fellow human beings in close quarters combat. It is working hard to attain Olympic recognition and is the fastest growing of all the shooting disciplines. The more respectable it is, the more difficult it becomes to ban the weapons involved. In the USA it is seen as one of the strongest bulwarks against the banning of semi-automatic firearms and in the UK it offers the main legitimate opportunity to use pump action shotguns.

  On the sensitive question of targets, the IPSC is moving away from the traditional humanoid target towards a new "Classic" target. In response to criticisms from devotees of the old system, Nick Alexakos, President of the IPSC recently wrote

"A common misconception is that the proposed target is `headless'. Not so. The Classic has all the same features as the current target. It can `peek' over or around walls. It can be used in exactly the same manner as the current target . . ."


  1.  There is understandable public revulsion to an activity which so clearly encourages participants to develop their killing skills in realistic situations and which may feed the fantasies of socially inadequate or unstable people. Courses of fire or stages are designed to resemble the fantasy of the day such as "Save the Bank", "the Bodyguard", "House Clearance", "Carjacked by Gang Members", "Cartel House Raid".

  2.  As a weapon, the pump action shotgun is unacceptably dangerous. It is associated in the public mind with violent crime and gang warfare. It serves no legitimate purpose in civil society.

  3.  The fact that "practical" shooting is the fastest growing shooting "sport" internationally is in itself a cause for concern. In post-conflict areas of the world where extensive proliferation of combat weapons threatens the stability of civil society, the presence of a regional branch of the IPSC can serve only to fuel violence and lawlessness. Other countries now look to the UK as a source of inspiration for its tight gun controls and we have a responsibility to lead the way by banning this sort of shooting. In addition, we should do all we can to ensure that it never becomes an Olympic sport as it clearly contravenes the sporting ideals associated with the Olympic movement.

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