Last weekend, while a few of us Carolinians were shooting the NC state IDPA match, the first big USPSA match of the year happened: the Florida Open.
The club hosting the Open, the Universal Shooting Academy, is the same club that will be hosting the IPSC World Shoot later this year. Despite this being a USPSA match (USPSA is technically the US chapter of IPSC, but we use slightly different rules than IPSC), the whole match used the “classic” octagon-shaped targets that will be in the World Shoot, since IPSC doesn’t use the humanoid “metric” targets.
The word coming back from competitors is that it was a distinctly difficult match. 3rd Production GM Nick Yanutola told me “At most matches the average shot difficulty is what I would consider easy: A metric target at 10 yards. There are some closer and some further, but the ‘average’ shot is not hard to make pretty well at speed. The ‘average’ shot at this match was about 15 yards on a classic target.”
“Slipping up and hosing virtually ANY shot at this match would quickly bite you in the ass, and you can see that reflected in nearly everybody’s scores including mine. The guy who won was able to keep it down to two penalties and that was the difference.”
“The most important skill needed at this match is the ability to shoot TIGHT shots at high speed, and ability to keep the mental discipline of making a good trigger pull almost every single time.”
This match saw world class Raleigh shooter Chris Tilley take third in the Open Division, behind current IPSC Open World Champion Eric Grauffel and reigning USPSA National Open Champion Max Michel. Max and Chris are two of the four members of the United States’ Open division delegation to the IPSC World Shoot later this year in Florida where they will again square off with Eric Grauffel as he shoots for his native France.
Interestingly, since the last IPSC World Shoot three years ago, Grauffel took a break from his traditional Open division gun and has been shooting Production in both IPSC and USPSA for the last two seasons, including taking high overall at US Production Nationals two years running. (You have to be a US shooter to win the national title, so both times it’s gone to consistent second fiddle Ben Stoeger.)
The Flordia Open this year also used the Wirtex MSSC software to do all the scorekeeping digitially to fairly positive reviews. Coming on the heels of USPSA’s announcement that they are approving mobile-centered Practiscore as an official replacement for the EzWinScore and paper score sheets system currently in use, it’s cool to see practical shooting keeping pace with technology. One cited advantage of Wirtex’s solution over Practiscore is that it builds in the concept of live feedback, so that as soon as scores are entered, they are visible online. Between verifying scores were entered correctly to knowing up-to-the second standings in the match and even just being nice for spectators watching from home, this seems like a real win.
Everything from the targets, to the facility, and even the competitors makes me think that this year’s Florida Open is just a preview of the World Shoot to come. Of course, that match will three times the stages (36 instead of 11) and have vastly more competitors from many more countries, but I think we can expect it to be a good match to come.