When I was preparing myself to participate in the 2022 IPSC World Championship in Pattaya, Thailand, I was wondering how it will be to shoot a 30 stage match that would take 6 days (including 1 day rest) to complete.
And, in the back of my head a little voice kept telling me: 'You should try to establish larger matches in IDPA too'. At the Swiss International Championship last year, we were happy to welcome many competitors travelling from far away to join the match. That match had 12 stages. How about providing a lot more than that this time? More stages, more rounds, more days of action?
And that's how the idea for the Ultra Matches was born.
We created the brand 'Ultra Match' and our partners at PRO Visual Solutions from Lithuania created a superb logo for it.
We defined the criteria for a competition to become an Ultra Match as:
20 or more stages
300 or more rounds minimum
2 or more days of shooting action
Those dimensions were so far unheard of in IDPA and we certainly pushed the commonly perceived boundaries of the sport. Along with that, the effort for the Match Directors, the organization committee and the staff would have to be extraordinary in order for the project to be successful.
My two co-MDS from previous years, Diego Silvestri and Thomas Herzog agreed to partner up again and with the range of the Defense 360º Formazione club in Arcisate, Italy we had a suitable location for the match.
Bays, Stages and Squads
The club agreed to build 3 additional bays, bringing the total of available bays to 16. Two of those are very large and would have to contain two stages in parallel. That took us to 18 possible stages on the range. We divided the range into two areas and then designed two short standard stages that could be shot as starting or warm-up stages in each bay. With this we grew the capacity to 20 stages in total.
A squad would complete one area in one day. That means 9 stages and one warm up stage at the beginning.
We limited the squad size to 8 people to allow for a very fast match flow with short waiting times. A squad would have to shoot 10 stages in one half day. We planned for 9 squads starting in the morning in one area and another 9 squads starting at the same time in the other area. This would then be repeated in the afternoon. The maximum capacity of this plan amounts to 288 shooters during two days. Ambitious but possible!
This match would require a large number of staff and it was a priority to allow the staff members to shoot their pre-match under optimal conditions. We needed 50 staff members and they all would shoot the match in two-half-days. Thus, all staff would have to be available for four days, two for shooting and two for working the match.
Additionally to the SOs running the stages we also had the IPOC representative, the MDs, a scoring officer, a responsible for all technical installations, the people running the restaurant, a medical team and ambulance on standby and some free SOs for trouble shooting.
A huge team to make the event possible.
Intense work for the match preparation started in November 2022 and the workload was growing constantly over the months. It culminated in the very hands-on actual building of 20 stages and in making the range ready in every aspect for the big weekend.
Countless hours were spent by the organization committee on tasks such as: designing stages, bulldozing bays, preparing stage material, doing marketing campaigns, acquiring sponsors, arranging with the authorities for international shooters to be able to bring their equipment, organizing food and beverage, preparing trophies and medals, answering questions and many more.
Finally, after a lot of effort and sweat, the stages were ready and approved by the IPOC representative, George Varoutsas, on Wednesday evening without any problems. We were ready to welcome all our staff members and start the pre-match on Thursday!
A total of 255 shooters, including the staff, had registered. The participants were coming from 15 different countries: Austria, USA, Switzerland, Estonia, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Thailand and Turkey. A truly international championship!
Fotos: Benjamin Soland
Despite the tight timeplan and a nasty weather forecast for Sunday, the match could be completed without any flaws and under great conditions. Thanks to the tireless and professional work of all the staff members and the excellent sportsmanship of the participants, there were no major delays, no hick ups and no problems that could not be solved quickly.
I would like to congratulate all participants to a great festival of dynamic sports shooting and international friendship! In particular, I congratulate our winners and the top Swiss shooters!
Next Ultra Matches
The concept of the Ultra Match has gained momentum around the world. There will be two upcoming Ultra Matches this year:
July 20-23, 2023 at the Bamburi Rifle Club in Mombasa, Kenya (20 stages)
December 14-17 at the Tiger Tac Academy in Bangkok, Thailand (22 stages)
Don't miss these great matches, join up, they will definitely be worth the trip!
With the first Ultra Match we have surely proven that high stage-count matches are absolutely possible in IDPA. We will continue with them this year, creating a global Ultra Match series!
Of course, we are still far away from competitions like the IPSC World Championship but we certainly have made a big step forward.
A special thank you goes again to the staff team and their immense work that they put in to make this event a success. Don't forget that the huge effort for such a match is done almost exclusively on a voluntary basis and in the free time. Without large sponsor contributions, as they are maybe possible in the USA, such matches do hardly yield a profit. At least not under the circumstances here in Europe. This allows to compensate only a fraction of the work and the expenses for the staff.
Join me to thank our sponsors, who have chosen to support our efforts and our sport. Please make sure you support them in turn at your next opportunity!
Finally, a word on IDPA itself. I would wish some improvements of the sport and the association. Firstly, the approval process for the match has developed into an ordeal that, for this match, took two months of back and forth to complete. This could be simplified and made more efficient. Secondly, the many rule changes have caused some confusion and provoked many discussions about stage design and scoring. Sometimes the discussions drifted off to absurd levels. Less is maybe more. Thirdly, well established range safety rules concerning, for example, sweeping (muzzle covering own body) or AD/ND (Accidental or Negligent Discharge) had to be temporarily revoked in order to get the match sanctioned. Exceptions to the 4 Universal Safety Rules are not something to make a Range Officer feel comfortable. I hope that those issues can be solved for upcoming competitions.
Defense 360º Formazione
Bamburi Rifle Club
Tiger Tac Academy
PRO Visual Solutions