The following descriptions detail the classification structures used in the sport of Fast Draw. It should be noted that these classifications are used in combination with each other (ie: Traditional Elimination, Traditional Index, Open Elimination, Open Index). Also, men and women always shoot in separate divisions.
Traditional & Open contests:
Contests are advertised as either Traditional or Open style. This mainly refers to the holster and type of draw that can be used in the contest.
Example of the hand positions of a shooter using a Traditional style holster while waiting for the light command (trigger finger can not be in the trigger guard).
In Traditional style competitions the holster and types of draw are more heavily regulated than the Open style contests. For Traditional contests, the boot (the part of the holster that holds the gun) is more restricting and should "fit the gun", while in an Open style contest the boot is a lot more open, allowing a "flip" or "twist" draw to be performed.
The hand positions of a shooter using a Open style "Twisting" holster while waiting for the light command. Note that the gun is turned on it's side.
Traditional style contests require that the gun be drawn in a straight up and down manner. The gun can not be twisted on its side in any manner. In Open style contests you will often see the twist draw being performed. This entails twisting the gun on its side to flip or "pop" it out of the holster. This is the fastest method of drawing and firing a single-action revolver.
It must be noted that in an Open style contest a Traditional style holster and type of draw are allowed. Many shooters simply use equipment and draws that are legal in all competitions instead of learning two different draws and acquiring two holsters. At least 90% of competitions in the last few years have been Traditional style.
Index contests are ones where each shooter fires the same number of shots in each event. Times are added up, with a one second penalty added to the shooter's time for each miss. There are normally five shots per single target events, and three strings for double target events. Each shot or round is fired individually, with the shooter reloading and the target being reset for the next shot. Index contests normally consist of multiple events, with the winner being the person with the lowest total time.
Traditional style Elimination (8" blanks)
Elimination contests involve two shooter's competing head-to-head against each other, each shooting at their own target. The Fast Draw clock controls the light signal on each target, displays the shooter's times on its dual readout, and indicates the winner with a blinking light on the winner's target. The shooting round is won by the shooter to first win a certain number of shots (usually 3). Elimination contests are normally multiple X's, meaning that a shooter must loose that number of rounds before being eliminated from a contest. Contests are often 3X, so each person in the contest will get to shoot against at least 3 shooters before being eliminated from the contest.
Elimination contests are classified, with three classes for each of men and women. These classes are broken down by speed. A shooter competing in one of the slower classes is assigned a miss if they fire a shot faster than the cut-off time for that division. Elimination contests are normally a single event, with the winner being the last shooter not X'd out of the contest.
In general, almost all of the smaller Fast Draw contests are Index, while the large contests are split roughly 50/50 between Index and Elimination.
Description and comparison of the Index and Elimination classifications in the sport of Fast Draw