The future of the IDPA BUG Nationals

IDPA hit a home run with the inaugural Back-Up Gun Nationals. The Courses of Fire were largely good, the officiating was even and fair, and the competitors seemed to genuinely have a blast at the match. Obviously, for the first ever national match there are going to be a few bugs to work out, and so here are three simple suggestions for next year’s match.

1. Tighten up the definition of a Back-Up Gun.
A Springfield XDm 3.8 with the full size grip isn’t really a BUG and we all know that. Neither is a L-frame 686 with a 3 inch barrel. While yes, these guns are legal they’re precisely in the spirit of what a BUG is intended. That’s fine; because playing the game by the rules to gain maximum advantage is totally awesome and is something that Gun Nuts heartily endorses. However, to grow this match and maximize its potential, it makes sense to tighten up what is and isn’t a BUG.

2. Create a new division for laser equipped guns
With the above in mind, it also makes sense to add a 3rd division to the match. At the inaugural, there were only 2 divisions: Semi-auto and revolver. A third division, Laser-Equipped could be added to grow the spirit of the match which seems to be to allowing people to compete with their actual carry gear. The Laser division would be simple: guns must conform to the BUG rules, and must be equipped with a laser sighting device. Doesn’t matter what action type, so semi-autos and revolvers would compete side by side in this division. I would imagine that finding sponsorship for this division would be pretty easy. It would also provide interesting data on the application of lasers in self-defense. The S&W Shooting Center’s lighting conditions are such that you’d be able to realistically use the laser on every stage, meaning that the match would create side by side data on the use of laser-equipped guns vs. guns without lasers.

3. More movement and fewer five shot strings
The only criticism of the stage design at the BUG match was that there wasn’t a lot of movement and very few strings were less than five shots. Stage 1 was probably the best stage in the match, and it’s no coincidence that it had the most movement and two strings that were four and 3 shots respectively. By creating strings that are four rounds, or that involve movement, stage designers can actually place a higher emphasis on accuracy by bringing back the Failure to Neutralize penalty. Because the inaugural match had many strings that were by rule Limited Vickers, targets that would normally be assessed and FTN were not.

Bonus: Allow reloads on the clock
No COF at a BUG match should require a reload. But I think reloads should be allowed at the shooter’s discretion.

The first ever IDPA BUG Nationals was a hit. This was an excellent match, and one of the most fun IDPA matches ever. As it goes forward and grows, hopefully it will continue to innovate and do new and creative things to keep the format and the shooting fresh.


  1. I hope local clubs start doing these.

    They could offer a -5 second reload bonus?. You’d be able to gain a second or two here and there.

    I agree with adding a laser class. I think it would be a big hit, as a lot of BUGS don’t have sights for low light conditions without custom work.

  2. It was a great match.

    I agree with the reloads. I had a malfunction and was not allowed to reload so I was not able to put enough rounds range.

  3. BUG should have its own box. Barring that, reduce the maximum barrel lengths to ~3.25″ for autos and ~2.25″ for revolvers. Throw a weight limit in there so folks can’t show up with the silly snub Performance Center N-frames.

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