Historically when we think of a “target pistol,” we picture a precision-shooting machine intended to shoot tiny groups. Such guns usually have chambers so tight that they may not fire with certain types of ammunition. Their tolerances are so minute that they must be cleaned constantly, lest they fail to function. The “target-pistol” paradigm is almost exactly opposite the profile of the ideal service pistol.

However, changes in the paradigm have occurred over the years. Six decades ago, a private citizen who wanted to shoot a pistol in competition was limited to what might be called “the precision games”—American bullseye shooting or such international sports as Olympic slow fire. As the years went on, “practical shooting” formats rose to dominance. These encompassed elements of fast draw, extreme rapid fire, and coarse accuracy requirements in which it sufficed to hit the equivalent of vital parts of a deadly enemy’s body. In U.S.-style bullseye work, rapid fire meant a cadence of five shots in 10 seconds. In some International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) or International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) competitions, there might be stages where the winner would fire those five shots in one second—a pace literally 10-times faster than the older standard.

In those arenas, the GLOCK’s attributes proved to be a whole lot more desirable. A 1-inch group at 50 yards was no longer necessary. Instead, utter reliability became a non-negotiable essential. To win against a shooter of equal skill, the competitor could no longer take time to clear a malfunction, and in the practical shooting contests, there would be no “alibi runs”—no chance to do things over if the pistol misfired or choked. Those attributes of “rugged reliability, long service life, and ease of use and shooting” were as prized in this corner of the shooting world as they were on the battlefields and streets for which the GLOCK pistol had been designed. This meant that GLOCKs would be ideal guns for these new “practical” games.

GLOCK Winners

The high-speed, low-drag, “can’t-afford-a-jam” practical shooting sports of today include the aforementioned IDPA and IPSC, with IPSC’s American branch being the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). The latter organization also now encompasses competitive “steel shooting,” as typified by the famous Steel Challenge. Practical handgun shooting encompasses NRA Action Pistol, a program introduced by John Bianchi and the late Ray Chapman in 1979 at what is still that sport’s premier event, the Bianchi Cup. It is safe to say that bowling pin matches fall under the umbrella of practical pistol shooting, and law enforcement and some private citizens have competed on the Practical Police Course (PPC) for a quarter of a century in local matches.

Let’s look at where the GLOCK fits in with all those games.

Starting with those last mentioned, officers with their duty GLOCKs have been known to win the Police Service Pistol Champion title at the national championships hosted every year in Albuquerque, NM, by the National Rifle Association. Though it was built to be a working tool and not a precision shooting machine, it’s no trick to get a GLOCK pistol that will put every shot into less than 2 inches at 25 yards. This is ample for shooting a perfect score on NRA’s official law enforcement silhouette target, the B-27.

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