WireShots.com recently had a chance to speak to Zeke Ernst, the reloading manager at H&H Shooting Sports, about his recent trip to the USPSA Single Stack Nationals. Ernst is married with 2 kids and shoots competitively as a hobby. He placed 138 out of 407 shooters. In this conversation with Zeke we talked about the hows and whys of what got him started in competitive shooting.
WS: First of, what is USPSA?
Zeke Ernst: USPSA is the U.S. Region of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) introduced in 1984. It is a test of the shooters technique and skills. There are multiple divisions in USPSA. Production, Limited, Limited 10, Single Stack, Open, and Revolver. The classifications are D,C,B,A, Master, and Grandmaster. In each division there are 14 stages plus chronograph. competitors are organized during events by both the division in which they are competing and the classification they currently hold, helping to level out the playing field. This helps to prevent the average motorist from competing with Dale Earnhardt jr.
WS: What made you decide to shoot in competitions?
Zeke Ernst: I wanted to do it as a way to spend time with my two sons. My youngest Sean started shooting at the age of 8 and my oldest son Conner started shooting at the age of 11. We have all shot competitively in Single Stack, Production, and Limited divisions.
WS: Who have been you biggest influences in learning to shoot pistols competitively?
Zeke Ernst: There are a lot of great shooters out there. The three individuals that have probably influenced me the most would be Robert Rigsby, Will Andrews and Todd Jarrett (although I haven’t ever met him, his youtube videos filled in a lot of questions I had along the way). Robert, who is a USPSA Grand Master in Open division and Will who runs Oklahoma Pistol Skills, have both been a constant sounding board for all of the ideas I come up with and suggestions for ways to do it better.
WS: What division do you shoot in and class are you in?
Zeke Ernst: I shoot currently both Limited and in the Single Stack division and I’m in B class in both.
WS: What type of gear and firearm do you run in the competitions?
Zeke Ernst: Much to my wife’s dismay, I have a wide variety of pistol I have accumulated over the years. Currently I run a custom Caspian 1911 that we built at H&H for the single stack division, with Chip McCormack Magazines. In limited I have a pretty stock Glock 35 and a custom STI, both in .40S&W. I use a Bladetech belt with Safariland magazine carriers.
WS: What type of ammo are you allowed to have during the matches?
Zeke Ernst: You’re allowed to use any type of ammo, including hand loaded. I like to use hand loaded ammo because it’s cheaper to use. It’s mate the ammo to your specific shooting style and ability while still meeting the required power factor. Power Factor is another way of leveling the playing field. The weight of your bullet time the velocity must meet certain numbers. Minor power factor must be at 125 thousand or higher and Major has to meet the power factor of 165 thousand or higher. The courses of fire have round counts that can range from 8 rounds to 22 rounds in a match depending on how the course of fire is setup.
WS: Do you ever get nervous during a match?
Zeke Ernst: Of course, there’s a wide mixture of skilled shooters competing against each other. You meet different groups of people and ages running from 8 to 70 years of age. You have shooters like Rob Leatham who have been doing this sort of thing for over 20 years for a living as well as first time shooters.
WS: How is scoring made during a match?
Zeke Ernst: Scoring is a combination of the value of the hits on your targets combined with the speed at which you complete the course of fire.
WS: Where is the USPSA Single Stack Nationals held and for how long?
Zeke Ernst: It’s held in Barry, Illinois at PASA Park. It’s shot over 3 days, with each days competitors shooting all 14 stages in one day.
WS: What does it take to be able to shoot at Nationals?
Zeke Ernst: You have to be a member of USPSA and submit an entry. There’s only 390 slots open, so you have to sign up early. Anyone can shoot at local club matches. H&H has an open to the public match on the first Sunday of every month. Sign up starts at 5:30 p.m. There’s also a forum on boomer shooter.com where you can find a USPSA match just about every weekend.
WS: Zeke, thank you for sitting down with us today, if our readers have any questions about getting started in USPSA, is there a way they can contact you?
Zeke Ernst: USPSA is a nation wide sport where shooters of all skills have a chance to show off their skills and constantly improve as well as meet other shooters who enjoy the same hobby. If you have any questions you can contact Zeke who is the match director for H&H at (405) 947-3888 ext. 154.