The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is on to something big and they might not even realize it.
Last weekend I shot my first match in over a year — the inaugural IDPA Back Up Gun (BUG) Nationals. In a sport that has been known for intricate target engagement sequences and specific rules regarding reloads and the use of cover, those who signed up to compete in the match weren’t sure what to expect for the first national championship featuring small, concealable carry guns. The BUG Nationals presented shooters with short and simple shooting problems, uncomplicated equipment rules and quite possibly one of the easiest ways to get the female demographic into the shooting sports.
With the increasing number of women purchasing firearms for both target shooting and self-defense, women represent a huge market for the gun industry. Think of the many women who own a Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver or a pocket size .380 or 9mm for personal protection. How many of these women carry such firearms in purses or non-traditional holsters designed specifically for women? It’s a number that could easily be in the many thousands.
Instead of forcing quick magazine or speed-loader changes on the clock and requiring that shooters wear unpractical, rather unfashionable shooting vests with their firearms holstered belts, for this competition, IDPA eliminated drawing from a holster and speedy loading of ammunition into the handgun all together. It was a bold move that generated a bit of criticism from many IDPA enthusiasts, but once the first shots flew downrange at the Smith & Wesson Shooting Sports Center, the skepticism dissolved. Shortly into the competition, vibes registered in pure fun mode.
I shot the 13 dynamic courses of fire with the gun I have kept by my side daily, even while pregnant and on maternity leave – my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. After competing for more than 20 years with various firearms – everything from space-age looking “race guns” to off-the-shelf production models – I finally had the opportunity to compete with the gun I carry to protect myself and my family.
Each stage presented me with a unique problem. I had to shoot from awkward positions, like lying in a bed and over the top of a car steering wheel. I even had to engage targets that ducked, bobbed and charged directly at me.
On one stage, the scenario placed me on a camping trip and inside a tent in simulated nighttime conditions. In a pitch black setting, I had to use a flashlight to see the targets. Lighting conditions throughout the event varied – from complete darkness to full light, and everything in between, as I put my glowing tritium night sights to the test.
My performance earned me a 2nd place finish in the women’s category behind a fellow teammate, the talented Randi Rogers. Even more importantly than the bouquet of roses and glossy black plaque, I came home with a whole new level of confidence in shooting the gun I depend on to defend my life. As someone who chooses to carry a gun for personal protection and as a mom, that means more than any trophy ever could.
For women looking to improve their shooting skills with their carry guns beyond occasional plinking sessions at their local ranges, an IDPA back up gun competition is quite possibly the best way to do so. No holster. No concealment vest. No competition specific gear required. It’s a fantastic way to get trigger time with the gun you depend on, build confidence in your shooting and, of course, have fun!
To learn more about the national championships, IDPA and the Back Up Gun division please visit IDPA.com. Check out IDPA’s Facebook page for more photos from the event and watch the video below for a sampling of the inaugural Back Up Gun Nationals stages of fire.
Check out this video on the IDPA Bug Out Nationals.
Julie Golob is one of the most accomplished professional shooters in the world and captain of Team Smith & Wesson. She has won more than 120 championship titles in international, national and regional marksmanship competitions in seven different shooting disciplines. Learn more about the champion, author, veteran, hunter and outdoor television personality at JulieGolob.com. View all posts by Julie Golob