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How does the classification system work?

What Is It?
The USPSA classification system dates back to 1985 when then President Dave Stanford proposed a system of classifying a large number of competitors from a common database.

Hit Factors and Maximum Hit Factors
Members are awarded a class based on a series of percentages that are calculated for them. Each percentage is the score (hit factor) they shoot on a specific stage divided by the maximum hit factor used for that stage. The maximum hit factors are derived from the scores of the top shooters.

Classification Bracket Percentages
Grand Master 95 to 100%
Master 85 to 94.9%
A 75 to 84.9%
B 60 to 74.9%
C 40 to 59.9%
D 2 to 40%

Earning A Classification
To become classified, a member must have at least four valid scores from different classifier courses in the USPSA database. If more than four scores are in the database when the averages are calculated, the best four of the most recent six valid scores will be used. Any scores in excess of the most recent six valid scores are not used for the initial classification. Those scores over the most recent six may be used at the next monthly reclassification if they are within the most recent eight scores.
It is important to note that for INITIAL classifications ALL scores greater than 2 percent will be used to determine a classification. These scores will be continued to be used until they are bumped from the most recent eight scores in use by higher VALID scores. What this means is that even if a higher score is entered, but is flagged with a B or a C, the lower score will be considered valid and be included in the member’s current percentage.

Most of the scores will come from classifier courses set up by USPSA-affiliated clubs. The clubs are responsible for setting up these stages according to exact specifications and for administering them uniformly. They are part of the club’s monthly match, are included in the calculation of the match results, and are submitted for national classification of the member. According to USPSA board policy, members participating in matches which contain a classifier stage may be allowed to repeat that stage at the convenience of match officials, but this is for classification purposes only. The first score of the classification stage must be used to calculate match standings, but the best single run of the classification stage may be sent in for classification.

Starting in September 2016, USPSA switched to a new system for submitting classifier scores and managing the classification system. This new system uses a singe match results file instead of separate match result and classifier score files. Whereas in the past clubs were given the option of submitting match results, it is now mandatory. Also, since this new system is fully automated on the USPSA web site, it is possible to recalculate classifications and percentages on a weekly basis. Each Tuesday night, the classification program evaluates all new scores that have been uploaded and paid for since the previous week’s run. Note that there may be times when the system is run a day or so early or perhaps not run during a national championship week.

Whereas new classifications are based on the best four of the most recent six scores in the system, reclassifications are based on the best six of the most recent eight valid scores in the system. Beginning in June 2006, a reclassification would occur if there were only five scores on record. In this event, all five scores would be averaged. If the member’s current average is in a higher classification bracket, the member is moved to that class. The member must comply with the same requirements for requesting to be moved down in class.

Moving Down In Class
Members may request to be moved to a lower class because of age or injury. The member must send a letter stating the reasons for reclassification to a lower class along with a letter from the club president or section coordinator endorsing the request. After the request has been received, the member’s scores will be checked to see whether there are any recent scores that indicate the member is properly classified. If the request is granted, the class or classes will be immediately updated on the web site.

Please note that even if a member’s current average drops into a lower classification bracket, the member will not automatically be reduced in class.

The Revolving Window
It is important to understand what is meant by "the most recent eight valid scores." Because the system is based on using the most recent scores submitted for a member, the scores are sorted by the match date in descending order. For matches that have more than one classifier stage, the scores are sorted by the course percentage in descending order. This puts the highest score shot on that day at the top and the lowest at the bottom.

As each new score is entered for a member, an older existing score is "bumped out" of the most recent eight scores. An exception to this is when a club submits scores so late that the scores are already older than the most recent eight in the system. Even though these scores are entered into the database, they will not be used for classification purposes because they are no longer within the most recent eight "window."

Sometimes it is difficult to determine what scores were used for a member’s current average. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that by the time the question is asked, more scores have been added to the database and the list no longer looks the same as when the calculating routine was run.

In addition to the sorting order, scores are evaluated and flagged to indicate whether they are valid scores.

The Flagging System
Because we are receiving all scores shot, there is a flagging system that is used to denote what scores are valid. Some of these scores are added when the scores are initially submitted, and others are updated as time passes

A - Scores that are more than 15 percent above the member's classification bracket may be given an "A" flag and not used for classifications. Reasons for assigning an "A" flag include seeing evidence that the stage was not set up or run correctly, or if all the member’s scores on file are significantly lower than the one being entered. For example, if a C-class shooter has no scores higher than 65 percent, it is likely that a 95 percent score will be flagged with an "A." This is done to prevent the member from being moved to a class higher than the member can reasonably be expected to perform. Should you have a score with this flag, there will be a link in the flag description to request that it be removed.

B - Scores that are more than 5 percent below the bottom of the member's classification bracket (e.g. a 54 percent score for a B-class member) are flagged with "B."

C - Scores that are more than one class below the member's highest classification in any other division are flagged with "C." For example, if a member with an ‘A’ classification in Open division submits a C-class score in Limited division, the score will be assigned a "C" flag. An exception to this is if the member has not established a classification in a division. If a member is not classified in a division, all scores higher than 2 percent will be entered in that division until a classification is earned. However, if the resulting classification is more than one class below the other division’s classification, the member will be automatically moved to the classification bracket that is one class below the other division.

D - The lower scores for classifier courses that have been shot more than once and are within the most recent eight are flagged with "D." Only the highest score will be used for classification. If the highest score is older, the lower scores "D" flag may be replaced with another flag. It is possible that the lower score may even be reflagged with "Y" after the higher score moves beyond the most recent eight and used to calculate the current average if the score is one of the highest six scores.

E - Scores that are no longer within the most recent eight (six for initial classifications) are flagged with "E." If a member earns an initial classification with more than six scores in the database, the seventh score and any additional are flagged with "E." If no additional scores are entered before the quarterly reclassification, the seventh and eighth scores will be reflagged based on the "best six of the most recent eight" criteria. Scores flagged with "E" will be removed from the system periodically to keep the sizes of the databases to manageable proportions.

F - Scores that are the two lowest scores of those being considered for classification purposes, six for initial classifications and eight for reclassifications, are flagged with "F."

G – This score calculated to less than 2 percent so it is not used for classification purposes.

I – This flag denotes a score that has been administratively excluded from consideration. Reasons include, but are not limited to: a score submitted by a club with the wrong member number, or a membership that was expired for more than 60 at the time the score was submitted.

X – This flag is also used to denote a score that was submitted when a membership was expired for more than 60 days.

Y - Scores that were used to calculate the latest current average are flagged with "Y." Scores flagged with Y may later be changed to other flags depending on the criteria already mentioned above. For example, if a member shoots a classifier a second time and the new score is higher than the previously entered hit factor, the previous score will be given a "D" flag at the next calculation if both are still within the most recent eight.

No flag - Scores that have been entered since the last time the classification system was run are not given a flag. These scores have not yet been evaluated by the classification routine and will be assigned the appropriate flag the next time averages are calculated.

Your Scores On The Web Page
Members who want to verify their classifications can easily see all of their scores and classifications by logging into the USPSA web site at http://www.uspsa.org. Your personal profile page will have all the  information concerning your match and classifier activity that have been submitted.

USPSA staff members frequently receive phone calls or e-mail from members asking why a particular score does not appear on the web page. Usually this is because the club had not submitted the match results yet, or the club did not enter your correct member number into the scoring software. If you don’t see a particular score in your profile, you can easily find out what results have been uploaded by a club on the match results page. You will need to know the club code. If you see the match results have been uploaded, but your member number is not there, let the club stats person know what it is. They will need to re-upload a corrected set of results.

Scores From Major Matches
A shooter’s performance in larger matches and tournaments may also be used to help establish a classification. In order for overall scores from a Level II or Level III match to be entered as a classifier, minimum requirements have to be met.

• A division must have at least three Grand Masters,

• All three Grand Masters must have a match percentage of 90 percent or higher,

• There must be at least 50 competitors in the division.

If the match is determined to have satisfied all of the requirements, the final score of the match will be entered as a classification score for each shooter. This is now an automated process that runs during the weekly classification routine.

Level II and Level III matches also may contain classification stages taken from the National Classification Course Book.

In addition, if the competitor shoots an major match which meets the criteria above, and finishes with a match percentage that is 5% or higher than his or her current class, the member will be promoted to that higher class, except for Grand Master.