If you’ve competed in the National Championships of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), you’ve probably met Lance Biddle. He would have been running one of the stages you shot. As IDPA’s Florida State Director, Biddle has been an ambassador for this reality-based handgun sport. As a match director and safety officer alike, he’s a stern taskmaster, but a fair one when he arbitrates the rules. That attitude comes from 23 years as a street cop in a busy municipality adjacent to Columbus, Ohio. When Biddle designs a course of fire, he builds in street reality.

A while back, aware of the fact that even off-duty cops often carry small “pocket guns” instead of the full-sized, competition-grade handguns that show up in regular IDPA matches, he decided to create an unofficial state championship for the truly small handguns that IDPA calls BUGs, or Back-Up Guns. He was inspired by Mack Rudisill, an IDPA regular who always competes with his daily carry J-frame snubnose and Speed Strips. Lance jokingly named it the National Championships, and then the World Championships, of the BUG. When another person suggested he extend it to the rest of the known galaxy, Lance planted his tongue firmly in his cheek and titled it “The BUG Championship of the Universe.”

I attended the match not too long ago at The Gun Shop in Leesburg, Florida. Owner Gordon Schorer’s wonderfully eclectic gun shop encompasses a state-of-the-art indoor range where he and Biddle host regular IDPA matches, bowling pin shoots, and of course, the now-annual BUG event.

The Rules

It was made clear from the outset that this was not an IDPA match, and it departed from IDPA rules in some ways. The rules for this independent event mandated revolvers with barrels no longer than 2.5 inches, and truly subcompact autopistols, such as 3.5-inch-barreled 1911s and “Baby” Glocks. In deference to the hugely popular J-frame revolver, all guns had to be loaded with only five rounds and could only be reloaded once with five more rounds per stage. Lasers were also allowed because of their popularity.

In the first couple of matches, Lance had noticed that those who carried in pockets or fanny packs were distinctly disadvantaged when they began with the usual IDPA position with their hands relaxed at their sides. He had long since realized that an advantage of either the pouch or the pocket was that a hand could surreptitiously be placed on the gun without anyone else being aware of it; therefore, event shooters are allowed to start with a hand on the gun in the pocket or fanny pack, so long as the gun itself is not exposed to view. Each shooter was also given the choice of reloading or going to a second small handgun after the first ran dry.

In one stage, the shooter begins seated at a table, handcuffed, and has to access his hidden gun(s). Yes, you can shoot that way. Yes, you can even reload that way. But having a second gun really helps if you have to defend yourself that way.

In another, you find yourself at a poker table in a game gone bad and realize the other players have set you up for armed robbery. There’s time to sneak your pocket gun out and get it leveled on the opposition “under the table” before they go for their weapons. In nearly 40 years of competitive “combat shooting,” I’ve never had the chance to try this tactic at a match. We all did at the 2011 BUG Championships.

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  • kevin wright

    I would like to see more events like this where what the greatest majority of gun owners carry everyday is put to the test.