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Types of Matches at the AAFG IDPA Club

Regular IDPA Matches

Our most common type of match is the regular match. A regular match usually consists of six to ten stages, run according to the IDPA Rule Book. Most stages are “scenario” stages. A regular match will often include one “standards” stage, used to build basic shooting skills. Scenario stages (Vickers scoring) allow makeup shots. Standards stages (Limited Vickers scoring) do not allow makeup shots. The minimum round count for a regular match is usually 72 to 96 rounds (if you don’t take any makeup shots). Bring at least 150 rounds to be certain that you won't run out during the match. Ranges to targets may be anywhere from 3 to 75 feet. Generally, most targets are shot from 12-36 feet. 

IDPA Classifier Matches

The classifier match is IDPA’s standard test of shooting skills, used to classify shooters according to skill level. Classifications are Novice, Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert, and Master.  We run IDPA classifier matches at least once every two months.  The classifier match requires 90 rounds, and is a Limited Vickers match (no make up shots allowed). Bring at least 150 rounds in case you have to have to re-shoot an entire stage because of a malfunction.  See Appendix Eight of the IDPA Rule Book for a description of the classifier match.

Three Gun Matches

We have adapted the multigun match format to the constraints of our action pistol range. These are not IDPA matches nor USPSA three gun matches, but they are a lot of fun! Our three gun matches are typically three stages, using a combination of IDPA and steel targets, and are scored using the IDPA Vickers method. Reloads are on the clock. Slings are not required for long guns. An IDPA legal concealment garment is required.

Required equipment:

  • Rifle must be centerfire pistol caliber or .22 Long Rifle, with at least three detachable magazines. Magazine capacity must be 10 or more rounds.
  • Shotgun must be 12 or 20 gauge with a minimum capacity of 5 rounds. Only lead birdshot size 7 1/2, 8, 8 1/2 or 9 may be used.
  • Pistol must be IDPA legal with a minimum of three 3 magazines or speed loaders, an IDPA legal holster, and IDPA legal ammo carriers.

An estimated round count will be provided prior to each match. For a typical multigun match at AAFG, bring 100 rounds for the rifle, 50 rounds for the shotgun, and 100 rounds for the pistol.

Please see the AAFG Multigun Rules to learn more about how we run our multigun matches.

Steel Matches

On days when ground conditions do not favor movement, we will have a steel match instead of an IDPA match. We break out all of our steel targets and use them exclusively for the match. While not an IDPA match, our steel format is scored IDPA style, with 5 points down for each target not hit. Also we download all magazines to 6 rounds to make the match more challenging.

Occasionally we will have a plate rack match, which consists of multiple strings of fire on a rack of six steel plates at distances of ten yards or greater. Plate rack matches are especially suitable for days when the weather or ground conditions make a normal match inappropriate. If there is a foot of snow or slush on the ground, we will still run a plate rack match.

Side Matches

After finishing a match, time permitting, we sometimes have a side match.  One type of side match is called a Bill Drill match.  In a Bill Drill match, each shooter lines up on a single target and shoots several strings at various ranges on the target.  A typical Bill Drill match might have a string of 6 rounds at 30 feet, a string of 6 rounds at 15 feet, and a string of 6 rounds at 9 feet.  Raw times are recorded as each string is fired, and the target is scored after all strings are finished.  Plate Rack matches and back-up gun (BUG) matches may also be used as Side matches.

Matches for Mouse Guns

The handguns most frequently seen in IDPA matches are full size (for example, Glock 17s and 34s, and full size 1911s).  Although it is possible to use one of these handguns for concealed carry, most people who lawfully carry concealed handguns do so with a smaller model (for example, a Glock 26/27, Glock 19/23, or Colt Commander). Nonetheless, shooters tend to participate in IDPA matches with their full size handguns, leaving their more carry-suitable handguns at home.  This has generated interest in encouraging shooters to participate at least some of the time with handguns that are more suitable for everyday civilian carry.


The term “Mouse Gun” is sometimes used as a synonym for Back-Up Gun (BUG), although the rodent pictured here appears to be toting a full size Model 1911.  Note the IDPA approved holster.

At AAFG IDPA, we have two types of matches from time to time that are suitable for less than full sized handguns.  These are short-range course of fire matches and BUG matches.

Short-Range Course of Fire Matches

A short-range course of fire match has all targets at no more than 10 yards.  Otherwise, it is a regular course of fire, with most stages requiring a reload.  A short range course of fire match reduces the advantage of a full size handgun, making carry-suitable handguns more competitive.

A shooter may elect to shoot a short-range match with a handgun that meets the IDPA rule book definition of a back-up gun.  In this case, we permit the BUG to be loaded with up to 10 rounds in the magazine plus one round in the chamber, and reloads on the clock are permitted.

Back-Up Gun (BUG) Matches

A BUG match under IDPA rules is limited to 5 or fewer rounds per string.   There may be multiple strings per stage, but there are no reloads on the clock. Under IDPA rules, a BUG must be of 32 caliber or greater, but there is no minimum power factor.  If a semi-automatic, it must have a barrel of 3.8 inches or less; if a revolver, it must have a barrel of 3 inches or less.   

Recognizing that not all shooters have BUG guns, we allow shooters in our BUG matches to use any IDPA suitable handgun (downloaded to not more than 5 rounds in the gun) with scores recorded in the division appropriate to that handgun.

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