Conventional Pistol renamed to Precision Pistol

While the term “bullseye pistol” will hold on as the most used, yet colloquial, form, the National Rifle Association has retired the term “Conventional Pistol” and replaced it with “Precision Pistol.” Good call, NRA.

A pistol target scoring a 99 out of 100.
Precision Pistol is colloquially referred to as “bullseye pistol” because, well, we shoot at a bullseye.

A couple of years ago the National Rifle Association officially renamed Conventional Pistol to Precision Pistol.

This competitive shooting sport has been known informally as bullseye pistol, and to my knowledge that hasn’t changed.

While I’m aware that some competitors are disgruntled by the name change, on the premise that all name changes are bad because they confuse the topic, I personally like the change.

Here’s why: the word “conventional” was too generic. Let’s try “conventional pistol” with some synonyms for “conventional.”

  • Normal Pistol
  • Standard Pistol
  • Regular Pistol
  • Ordinary Pistol
  • Usual Pistol
  • Traditional Pistol
  • Typical Pistol
  • Common Pistol
  • Orthodox Pistol
  • Established Pistol
  • Accepted Pistol
  • Mainstream Pistol
  • Prevailing Pistol
  • Prevalent Pistol
  • Accustomed Pistol
  • Customary Pistol

What does that sense of the word “conventional” give us? It says something about the sport being the most typical and probably with the most ordinary of guns.

And that is not the reality of the sport, at least not today.

Precision Pistol really does have a lot of competitors. I visited the National Pistol Championships at Camp Perry last year, and I’ll estimate that there were about 500 competitors in attendance. (Will anyone who has a more precise number please comment on that?) And for all those who made it to the nationals, there were far more competitors who didn’t attend. The sport of Precision Pistol is very much alive, although when I competed at the nationals in the 1990s, we had closer to 1,000 in attendance.

There are other competitive pistol sports that seem to be more active than Precision Pistol. Action Pistol, Police Pistol Combat, Practical, Defensive, and so on. These are the pistol sports with shooters firing at multiple targets, some that fall over, from different positions, often with the shooter moving through a course of fire. And the targets are much, much closer—but shooters compete for best time to complete a course of fire.

Let’s admit the truth: Precision Pistol looks slow and boring next to these fast-paced pistol competitions, so of course the various action pistol sports will do better at recruiting new shooters.

Also, with so many people picking up concealed pistol licenses these days, some of these programs, like IDPA, do a good job at training shooters in techniques they ought to have acquired if they are to actually carry their pistols.

And are these “ordinary” guns? Well, you can enter the sport with comparatively inexpensive guns, but when I look through the merchandise at a typical gun store, I see a lot of pistols with combat-style fixed iron sights. For bullseye pistol you’ll want adjustable iron sights or a red-dot scope. With targets placed at 50 yards, a good set of sights makes a big difference. So, your typical gun isn’t quite right for this sport.

All that said, I love Precision Pistol. It is my sport, it is extremely challenging, and I’ll bet some great action pistol shooters cross-train in bullseye to their great benefit.

But back to the words. The term Precision Pistol does a better job at contrasting the nature of the sport from NRA Action Pistol, and bullseye pistol is no longer the primary, or typical, pistol sport in town.

Good call, NRA.

Now, can you come up with a set of terms to describe all of the shooting sports around the world, instead of just referring to their organizing groups? For instance, would you consider Olympic-style pistol competitions, which look a whole lot like bullseye pistol, to also be Precision Pistol? I’d like a taxonomy please, but I don’t personally know enough about all these sports to propose one.

Author: Davin Granroth

Davin is Chief Operating Officer for Covenant Eyes, Inc. in Owosso, MI, USA, where he gets to mix his background in user experience design, research, and strategy with the operation of a software company. For more, see his LinkedIn profile.

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