I’m glad you’re interested in learning more about shooting sports in Canada. This is part 2, of a two-part guide. Part 1 focuses on history. This one is all about definition, because there are many different types of shooting sports available.

Ready to shoot, the ‘ish?

Alright, let’s go!

International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC)

According to the International Practical Shooting Confederation of Canada, IPSC is the acronym for the International Practical Shooting Confederation. “IPSC is a dynamic shooting sport where the principles of Accuracy, Speed and Power are balanced in a unique scoring system. IPSC has defined Action Shooting. It requires competitors to shoot fast and accurately, often shooting on the move and developing techniques and styles to shave off fractions of a second between shots, during reloads and drawing from the holster.” All competitors must have attained their “Black Badge”, a certificate earned by successfully going through a training course, before they can participate in a match. You can find out more about the Canadian Division of the IPSC here.

Sporting Clays

A Sporting clay is a round disk-like object often referred to as a ‘’clay pigeon’. Back in the day, actual birds would be released but, as you can imagine, this became too costly and rather cruel. The actual birds were replaced with clay pigeons. In this particular shooting sport, the shooter does not know from which point of entry the clay pigeons will appear. You can see examples of the sport here. Depending on experience and expertise, shooters are classified for competitions. If you’re interested in competing, you will find matches throughout Canada at CNSCA.ca.


Trapshooting involves the use of a shotgun in which the shooter fires at 25 clay pigeons which are thrown individually from five standard positions. As with most shooting sports, shooters are distinguished by classification. For those interested in competing, attaches can be found at the Canadian Trapshooting Association website.

Skeet Shooting

Skeet shooting is another shotgun-only clay pigeon shooting sport in which shooters must fire from 8 different positions around a semicircle. Unlike Trap Shooting, in this sport, either 1 or 2 clay pigeons come out at every station. For Ontarians interested in this sport, go to https://www.ontarioskeet.com/.

Cowboy Action

This is a very unique and fun shooting sport. It combines both historical enactment (you know, ‘Wild West Days’) with shooting competition. This sport involves the use of, you guessed it, Cowboy-type guns: the lever-type gun, break action shotgun, and a couple of revolvers. The Single Action Shooting Society (or SASS) is one of the bodies that develops and organizes events across Canada. You can find out more about competing in this sport here. This sport looks like a lot of fun: Cowboy Action Shooting Video

Steel Challenge

Steel challenge is a shooting competition that involves timed pistol or 22 rifle shooting. In each stage, five shots are fired. There are generally 8 stages and your worst time is eliminated from your total score. Competitors are organized according to ability and performance. This competition is about speed and accuracy. To learn more about Steel Challenge shooting competitions, go here

3 Gun

3 gun is a shooting competition in which competitors use a rifle, shotgun, and pistol. There are different sets of rules that various gun clubs use across Canada. Some clubs shoot “3 Gun Nation” style rules, while others prefer USPSA Multigun, Shooters are divided by division, which is dictated by the style of equipment they use. You can find out more about 3 Gun competition here. And you can find 3 Gun matches across Canada at 3gun.ca.

National Service Conditions (NSCC) (Service Rifle, Duty/Operational Pistol, Precision/Sniper Rifle Pairs)

This is a unique type of shooting competition because it allows police, military and civilians to all compete against one another. These matches are ‘relay’ involving multiple lines of shooters. In the first competition, called Service Rifle, shooters must fire in three different positions: standing, kneeling, and prone. Targets range from 100 to 500 metres in distance. For the Precision/Sniper competition, shooting is done only from a prone position and targets range from 200 to 800 metres in distance.

And for Duty/Operational Pistol competition, shooting is done from a standing position and targets range from 10 to 35 metres in distance. You can find out more about these types of shooting competition here. 

In the Service Conditions CQB category, competitors are involved in a combined rifle – pistol match in which they alternate the use of weapons while moving into a 50 metre bay area. For more information on this category of shooting, click here

Silhouette Shooting

Silhouette shooting is a great shooting sport to introduce someone for the very first time to small bore riflery. Shooters use .22 calibre rifles aimed at small knock-down steel targets of animals at fairly close distances. Once a shooter becomes more familiar with firing a .22 calibre, they can move on to using larger calibre rifles for larger steel targets placed much farther away. Either hunting or standard rifles can be used by competitors who are separated by classification based on experience and past performance. To find out more about Silhouette Shooting visit the following site

Precision Rifle Competitions

In this type of shooting competition, there are three categories: 

PRS requires the competitor to fire a rifle from the prone position. At times, the competitor will be required to fire from behind barriers or obstacles.

NRA large bore is a rather elite form of competition which requires shooters to use high-powered rifles at varying distances and in varying positions. You can find out, in considerable detail, more about this sport here – especially pages 11 – 25.

F-Class requires competitors to shoot at targets between 300 and 900 meters with high-precision, single-shot, centre-fire rifles with high-powered scopes, resting on either pedestal or bipod rests. The targets are a standard bull’s eye type and the winners are determined by most shots grouped within the center of the target. Participants must be able to read wind and other conditions to determine the effects on the path of their bullets. The letter ‘F’ in the name comes from its originator, the late George “Farky” Farquharson. For more information on this type of shooting sport, click here.

Canadian Rimfire Precision Series (CRPS)

This type of shooting sport is quite unique because it involves the use of .22 caliber long rifles – or rifles that can shoot longer distances. Generally speaking, matches in this sport shoot at a medium range i.e. from 75 to 350 metres. This is actually quite a shooting distance for such a small calibre rifle. There are two Divisions in CRPS: Production and Open. Competitors in the Production Division cannot spend more than $500.00 on their gun or more than $500.00 on their scope. In the Open Division, there is no maximum spending limit. To find out more about CRPS visit this site

International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA)

IDPA is a tactical and defensive form of competitive shooting. Reloading is done behind cover and there are stages, divisions, and classifications that distinguish competitors. In order to compete at this level, you must complete an IDPA holster qualification course. Shooting can occur behind a door, from a seat, inside a vehicle, from a boat, a horse, etc. It is a fast-paced, exciting form of shooting for the more experienced shooter. IDPA matches across Canada can be found here


PPC (Precision Pistol Competition or Police Pistol Combat) is a shooting competition that is somewhat older than others because it predominantly uses revolvers (which most police forces used at one time) at various distances and in specific shooting positions. These competitions are usually done in relays. More information can be found here and here

Canadian Defensive Pistol (CDP)

The purpose of this type of shooting sport is to simulate real-time, self-defence, and tactical scenarios. In Ontario, the sport is regulated by the Ontario Defensive Pistol League (ODPL) and it requires competitors to be holster qualified. This shooting sport requires standard-issue handguns to be used i.e. it does not allow modified of any type to the handguns. Competitors must move, shoot, and reload while firing at both fixed and moving targets. At various times throughout these competitions, shooters will be required to fire from sitting, kneeling, prone, and standing positions behind various forms of cover. To keep things interesting,  there are some targets that competitors are allowed to fire while other targets represent innocent bystanders.

Now, that’s a lot to choose from.

If you’re just starting out, the best bet is to head to shooting ranges and try out different activities. You’ll sure get lots of great advice from the experienced trainers and fella shooters there.

You can also sign up to join a shooting club, where you can get much guidance from multi-generations of shooters, some of them have been in various competitions, if not organizing competitions themselves.

Have fun, and shoot responsibly!

– A Canadian dad, who loves history as much as shooting guns

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