Definition of Shooting Terms

By: plinker Posted in FAQ

Below is a list of terms and expressions commonly associated with the pistol shooting sports. This post also explains how the terms are used in the Sport of Plinker.

Cartridge: A casing containing a primer, charge and a bullet for small arms.

Round: Common name for a cartridge.

Pistol: A handgun that requires a magazine to feed cartridges into the chamber.

Glock Pistol

​1911 Pistol

Magazine: A magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm. Magazines can be removable (detachable) or integral to the firearm. The magazine functions by moving the cartridges stored in the magazine into a position where they may be loaded into the chamber by the action of the firearm. The detachable magazine is often referred to as a clip, although this is technically inaccurate.

Single Stack: A magazine that contains only one row of cartridges.

​Double Stack: A magazine that contains 2 rows of cartridges.

30 round magazine

High Capacity Magazine: There is no such thing. How high is high? All firearm magazines have a finite capacity that is determined by the caliber of the bullet and physical dimensions of the gun and/or magazine tube. This term is often used by the anti-gun crowd in an attempt to demonize guns and gun owners. Some States have passed laws making magazines with capacities greater than some "number" illegal. This "number" varies depending on the State.

Revolver: A handgun that has a cylindrical chamber into which cartridges are loaded.

Speedloader: A device for quickly loading a traditional revolver.

Moonclip Revolver: A revolver with a cylinder machined to accept moonclips.​


Using a speedloader

Moonclip Revolver


Clip: A clip is a device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm. This speeds up the process of loading and reloading the firearm as several rounds can be loaded at once, rather than one round being loaded at a time. The actual "clip" does not usually go into the firearm, it simply holds the cartridges together making them easier to insert into the firearm. After inserting the cartridges the clip is disposed.

Referring to a magazine as a "clip" demonstrates you have no idea what the hell you are talking about .

John Doe
and every other competitive shooter

Shooting Chronograph: The modern chronograph consists of two sensing areas called chronograph screens, which contain optical sensors that detect the passage of the bullet. The bullet is fired so it passes through both screens, and the time it takes the bullet to travel the distance between the screens is measured electronically. The chronograph is placed a short distance from the muzzle (3 feet) so that the expanding gases from the burning gunpowder is not accelerating the bullet, but air resistance has not had time to slow it down.


Power Factor: In almost all pistol shooting sports, ammunition is classified by how much recoil is generated. To measure recoil, the standard method is to multiply the bullet weight times the muzzle velocity. (Note: a chronograph is used to measure muzzle velocity). For example, if we have a .45 ACP bullet weighing 230 grains and a muzzle velocity of 750 feet per second (230*750) the power factor would be 172,500. It is common to drop the last 3 digits when discussing power factor. So in our example, we would say the cartridge has a power factor of 172.

Downloaded Ammunition: Ammunition is typically manufactured in order to obtain certain terminal ballistics. Generally speaking, the goal is to impart as much energy into the target as possible. Some refer to this as "stopping power". In the shooting sports, the targets are usually cardboard or paper and accuracy is measured by the hole left by the bullet. Since recoil directly affects one's ability to fire rapidly, the temptation is to reduce recoil by reducing the amount of gunpowder in a cartridge. This practice is referred to as downloading your ammunition. So in the shooting sports, it's not fair to compare scores from someone who is shooting factory ammo to someone who has downloaded his ammo. In order to eliminate this disparity, most shooting sports define a minimum Power Factor for each division.

Division: In the Sport of Plinker, divisions are based on the caliber of gun you are shooting. This makes the competition more level. The recoil of a .45 ACP pistol is significantly greater than that of a .22 rimfire and therefore not fair to compare the results on the same basis. In the match results, only shooters in the same division should be compared to each other. Since handloaded ammo can be "downloaded", each caliber has a "Custom" division. Generally speaking, factory ammo has a higher power factor than handloaded (custom) ammo and this also affects recoil. Therefore, custom handloaded ammo is placed into a separate division.

Shot Timer: A timing device that picks up and records the sound of gun shots. An audible sound (or beep) is emitted indicating the clock is starting. Each time a shot is fired, the timer records the elapsed time since the initial beep. When the shooter has finished shooting, the last time recorded indicates the total time for that string of fire. Shot timers come in many shapes and sizes.

String of Fire: A string of fire is a series of one or more shots taken while participating in a shooting match. Traditional action shooting sports involve a shot timer. (See the definition above) The shots recorded by the timer for a particular shooter on a particular stage is called a "string of fire". In the Sport of Plinker, there is no shot timer, but all the shots taken after the All Flash and before the end of the display sequence is considered the string of fire.

Stage: In traditional action shooting sports, one or more targets are engaged during a string of fire. These targets can be arranged in many different ways. Sometimes a stage is referred to as a scenario. Each shooter in the match shoots the exact same stage. Most matches consist of one or more stages. In some shooting sports, the same stage is shot multiple times by each shooter. In the Sport of Plinker, a stage consists of one Presentation Sequence, shot multiple times.

Match: In most action pistol shooting sports, a match consists one or more stages. In the Sport of Plinker, the level of the match determines how many stages are involved and the number of strings per stage. For example, a level 1 match consists of 2 stages with 3 strings of fire for each stage. So in this case, the match would consist of a total of 6 strings of fire.

Electronic Plate Rack: The Sport of Plinker is based on the Plinker Systems electronic target system. This target system consists of 9 steel plates with sensors on the back to determine if the plate is hit by a bullet. The system has a set of lasers in the base that indicate which plate the shooter is to engage during the string of fire. If the shooter hits the plate being indicated by the laser, he scores match points. If the shooter fails to hit the indicated plate while the laser is on, he scores penalty points.

Plinker Match Points: Each Plinker Game Pattern (string of fire) has points that are awarded for hitting the plate being indicated by the laser. If the target is hit, while the laser is on, he is awarded those points.

Plinker Penalty Points: If a shooter fails to hit the indicated plate while the laser is indicating it, he is awarded penalty points. (NOT GOOD!)

Plinker Scoring: In the Sport of Plinker, the lowest score wins (like golf). A number of factors go into computing a score, but the object is to hit each plate when the laser indicates it. For details on how scores are calculated, please see our video on scoring.

All Flash: The Plinker Electronic Plate Rack indicates when to start visually -- there is no audible signal. The visual start signal is when all of the lasers come on for a brief moment at the begging of a string of fire. This signal is referred to as the All Flash.

All Flash Delay: The period of time between the "All Flash" and when the first target is indicated. Think of this as the "draw time". If your start position is "low ready" or holstered, the All Flash Delay time is how much time you have to get your sights on the first target before the game starts.

Presentation Sequence: In the Sport of Plinker, the presentation sequence or "Game Pattern" is the order in which the lasers indicate which target to shoot. See our video explaining the different Game Patterns.

Game Pattern: See Presentation Sequence above.

Display Interval: The Display Interval is the period of time the laser indicates a given plate.

Raw Time: The total time required for one string of fire. This includes the All Flash Delay plus the number of targets times the Display Interval.

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