Guest post by Jake Martens, Director of Media & Events, A52987
The USPSA Classification system is a way to compare your skill level to other members and track your progress. The stages have been designed to test your shooting skills against high hit factors that have been set in each division. There are differences in the hit factors between divisions because each division is somewhat unique based on the allowed gear and firearms.
The classifier stages have been added over the years, and are usually taken from Nationals or Area matches, and introduced to the affiliated clubs to set up and run. In 2017, a full review of the high hit factors for all existing classifiers was completed. There were several classifiers that had not been adjusted for years and new high hit factors were set. There were also several others that had very little activity and were retired. There had not been any new classifier stages added since the 2012 Back to Back Nationals. The ability to get new classifier stages during “9 Days of National” in 2018, where all the divisions were offered, was pretty exciting and nine new classifiers, the 18 series, were established.
Of those nine new stages, some were instantly well received; others, not so much. One thing was clear however: the membership wanted to shoot stages that were more reflective of a “normal” USPSA stage. What is that? Most commonly, it’s a Comstock-scored stage with some movement. So, during the HICAP and LOCAP Nationals last year, four stages, the 19 series, were introduced. HICAP Nationals featured Open, Carry Optics, Limited and PCC Divisions in Utah, and LOCAP Nationals featured Single Stack, Revolver, L10 and Production in Florida. The same four stages were shot at both events, giving over 1300 unique scores as a baseline. This allowed high hit factors to be established in each division. The stages were introduced at the end of 2019 and have been a hit with the members that have shot them.
Needless to say, the early spring has seen almost all USPSA matches cancelled or postponed to later in the year. Many members, especially in parts of the country that were covered in snow and cold, have not yet had a chance to shoot them. As I sit here and write this with the news on in the background, many states are starting to open back up from the restrictions put in place over the last two months. It is still our recommendation to affiliated clubs and members to follow the best practices and guidelines set by your county and state. As members, use your best judgement and common sense when deciding at what level you feel is best to participate in matches.
Special Classifier Matches
Once the gates open however, there are going to be many members that will want to get back to working on their classifications. Affiliated clubs have the option to run “Special Classifier” Matches that consist of multiple classifier stages. A “Special Classifier” Match no longer needs to be pre-approved and clubs can run up to six classifier stages in one match. This is the fastest way to get classified in a new division, and to work on improving current classifications. A member needs to have at least four un-duplicated scores (four different classifier stages) for an initial classification in a division. Once a classification is earned the system will look at the best six scores of the most recent eight. So, if a club decided to run a six-stage classifier match a member could establish a new classification in a new division, or could have all six scores used to calculate a new classification in a division they have decided to work on. Clubs should note that adding more classifier stages to your match does increase the activity fee, so plan accordingly when setting the match fee.
|Level I Match with:||Activity Fee (per competitor per division)|
|1 Classifier Stage||$3.00|
|2 Classifier Stages||$4.00|
|3 Classifier Stages||$5.00|
|4 Classifier Stages||$6.00|
|5 Classifier Stages||$6.50|
|6 Classifier Stages||$6.50|
Something to consider is that classifier stages usually run faster than larger long courses, and they have fewer targets to restore after each competitor. This could limit time on the range and reduce the amount of people needed to restore the stage between shooters, and help with following social distancing guidelines. Plus, many of us have been sitting at home and may have put on a few or 10 pounds and might not feel up to running around a big field course right away. In all seriousness, as restrictions in your state ease up, a classifier match is a good way to start back up and get back to shooting.