Ricardo Lopez is an active practical competition shooter shooting USPSA Open division and runs the GunBot website.

Among other interesting topics, he posted great videos showcasing side-by-side comparisons of USPSA competitors of different Classifications.

USPSA – Comparing A Class and GM Class in Open Division:

USPSA – Comparing GM Class and Master Class

USPSA – Comparing A Class and C Class

Some takeaways and lessons learned.

The jump in classification from A Class to Master is fairly significant and going up again to Grand Master is a bigger jump still. When I earned my first Master card from USPSA a fellow competitor quipped, “Congratulations! Now the hard work begins.” Improvements at this level are well past the point of diminishing returns and harvesting improvements comes only at great effort. The low hanging fruit has long been picked, the ladder no longer reaches high enough, and we’re now just beyond the reach of the hydraulic “cherry picker” boom lift… As one commenter noted, “A lot of the time it seems like [the GM shooter] is poised to run out a string a half second faster…” At this level, competitors are measuring differences at eye-blink speeds and faster.

Despite being two skill classifications apart, these shooters are quite close in capability. Yes, the GM is getting better shots and completing the stage quicker (obviously) but this far from a trouncing. Then again, at this level of competition, it is. In conventional competition, especially Long Range matches, events are often won and lost by X count. I once took second place in a 4,500 point aggregate military match lasting a week by two points.

Outside of competition, tenths of a second and X-count aggregates rarely make or break performance. Both the A and GM class shooters in this video are so far beyond the skill levels of typical military and police-trained gun carriers they are effectively a different species of shooter.

This small difference is even smaller when comparing results due to type of firearm.

Driving skills beyond novice levels is the point of organized events such as competition. At higher levels, the differences in skill demands much more work for tiny improvements. This necessitates stringent scoring. Novices can qualify on huge silhouette targets with ridiculously generous (or non-existent) time standards because they are that low skilled. Such a course becomes a non-event for a skilled shooter, rather like a Doctor of Mathematics taking an elementary school arithmetic test.

Getting personnel, especially everyone in an instructor or similar capacity, to a skill level where this even starts to matter is a huge jump in making programs better. It sure beats the current status quo of having low-skilled novices run things.