Practical shooting (also called combat shooting or defensive shooting) differs significantly from bullseye, in that the gun can be fired using both hands (unless one-handed shooting is specified, as part of a course of fire); there is no bench; and a holster is used to retain the gun on the range when not shooting.

The only form of practical shooting with regular participation at the A&DRRA is PPC (Police Pistol Combat).

In addition to PPC, there are "action shooting" forms of practical shooting, where the shooter moves quickly through a "stage" or course of fire, engaging targets in a variety of situations. Action shooting includes disciplines such as IPSC / USPSA (International Practical Shooting Confederation / United States Practical Shooting Association), IDPA  (International Defensive Pistol Association), ICORE (International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts) and CAS (Cowboy Action Shooting).

Police Pistol Combat (PPC)

PPC shooters at a match in Connaught firing from the kneeling position.

PPC shooters at a match in Connaught firing from the kneeling position.

PPC is the oldest form of action shooting, having begun in 1959 as a form of practice and evaluation for police officers. In fact, in the United States you still have to be a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) in order to compete in PPC. In a rather odd twist to the way things might be expected, in Canada civilians are also allowed to participate — one of the few cases where Canada can be seen as more "open" in a firearms situation than the U.S. The governing body for the discipline is the NRA in the United States, and the CPCA in Canada. The Arnprior & District Rifle and Revolver Association is affiliated with the CPCA, and our matches are sanctioned by them, which means members of the CPCA can get classifications in our competitions.

The heritage of PPC is apparent in the fact that it is a very "revolver-friendly" discipline, with all shooting being done in groups of six rounds at a time, even if the competitor is using a semi-automatic handgun. When PPC was first developed, virtually all police forces in North America used revolvers, and the sport reflects that history.

A PPC match (normally either a 1500-point or 1200-point event) requires the shooter to shoot at human silhouette targets at different distances and from various stances. The nearest target is shot at 7 yards, then 25 yards, and the farthest distance is 50 yards (again, at our range, we use reduced scale targets to allow our 20-yard maximum). Although benches are not used, a PPC range does contain a sturdy vertical post next to each shooter. Part of the match requires the shooter to use this post (called the barricade) in two of the stances.

The stances used during the match are:

  • Standing unsupported
  • Kneeling
  • Sitting
  • Prone
  • Gun in left hand, shooting against the left side of the barricade
  • Gun in right hand, shooting against the right side of the barricade

A PPC snub nose match at Connaught.

All shooting is done two-handed, and reloading of the gun is required, with 24 or 36 rounds being fired at a target. There is a set amount of time for shooting each target in a match. The time seems quite generous, but PPC demands surprisingly good precision in order to score well (the target scoring rings go from a low of 7 points straight to zero), so a good shooter budgets that time well. This contrasts with the action shooting disciplines, like IPSC, where score is measured in points per second, and completing a course of fire as quickly as possible is critical.