Earlier on Gun Carrier, I showed you different kinds of guns that you can shoot in United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) matches. Head over to that article if you need a refresher, then read on for an overview of holsters and other equipment you’ll need in this sport.
Different divisions allow different types of holsters and ammunition carriers, and may or may not restrict where that equipment sits around your waist, how high or low it must be attached in relation to the shooter’s belt, and how much space the attachment mechanism can add between the equipment and the belt.
Production, Carry Optics, and Single Stack require the use of the kind of holster and magazine carrier that most shooters normally think of when they think of this kind of equipment:
For these divisions, the holster must be placed on the shooter’s strong side, which is the same side as the hand that manipulates the trigger, and may offset the gun away from the belt by a limited distance. In Production and Carry Optics, the gun may be held in a lowered position so that the heel of the butt of the gun is above the top of the belt. Women may also lower or “drop” their holster position for Single Stack, but men are required to have the entire grip of the gun above the top of the belt.
Magazine carriers in these divisions simply need to have individual compartments for each magazine and be carried at or behind the hip bone on the shooter’s support side (the opposite side from their strong side). There is no restriction on what direction the bullets face, and no minimum or maximum number of carriers needed, though I recommended being able to carry at least four magazines on the belt.
These types of holsters and magazine carriers can also be used in Limited, Limited 10, Open, and Revolver, with no limitations on placement or attachment, but many shooters in those divisions use another holster option available to them: speed or “race” holsters:
Speed holsters can more easily accommodate some of the modifications that can be found in those divisions, and can be marginally faster. There are many shooters who never go to them, even when the division they are competing in allows them, so don’t feel the need to run out and buy one right as you’re getting started in the sport.
If you want to use your concealed carry gun and normally carry it in front of your hip, in an appendix position, then that would be permitted in Limited, Limited 10, Open, and Revolver, as long as you follow all of the safety rules, of course.
In addition to standard magazine carriers, which can be placed anywhere on the belt, these divisions can also use magnets to hold magazines. Revolver shooters use different specialty options that allow them to carry the many speed loaders or moonclips needed for a USPSA stage, like these:
In all cases, your equipment must be attached to a belt that rides through the belt loops at your waist or, if you’re a woman, at your hips. USPSA allows shooters to use “inner/outer” belt systems, so that a shooter can wear a simple belt through their belt loops that has one side of Velcro facing out, then attach a second belt with Velcro facing in and holsters and ammunition carriers permanently attached.
The advantage of these systems is the ability to keep your multiple pieces of gear in a consistent location without having to navigate belt loops. While an inner/outer belt isn’t mandatory to shoot USPSA, you’ll find it a good initial investment and one that you can also use in many training or classroom environments where it would be convenient to be able to slap your outer belt on and have all of your gear in place.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the specialized gear that’s associated with competitive shooting, but you can get started with what you might already have or a reasonable investment in equipment that has multiple uses. While it’s a good idea not to go completely to the bargain basement for gear, you don’t need to spend a lot to have a strong start. Think you can be ready for next weekend?