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What started as informal contests in the 1980s has become 3-gun, an action-shooting sport in which competitors are timed using a rifle, shotgun and handgun to engage targets on a course of fire. With its rapid surge in popularity, you may be wondering what it takes to get into this rising sport. Beginning actually takes less of an investment than you might expect.
Much like amateur golfers, a novice 3-gun shooter needs only a set of basic "clubs" to get started. Once you've decided you're serious about competing, it's easy to add to that gear. But there isn't any urgency in making a big financial commitment.
The guns, gear and ammo you'll find here can serve as an affordable blueprint for anyone looking to get started into 3-gun competition.
Find the club you want to shoot at and visit with the match director before you go out. Inform him that you're a new shooter. It's likely the match director will offer to meet you early to give you the rough layout, go over your gear with you and clarify the rules.
Unload and case all guns. Even if the pistol you're going to use is the one you carry every day, empty it before you get to the range. People get nervous when strangers show up and start pulling out loaded guns.
Get out to the range and practice. Getting a feel of what it's going to be like will help you stay relaxed at the match.
Most importantly, be safe and have fun. 3-gun is an adrenaline rush that comes with a great safety record.
When you start talking about everything that can be bolted onto a modern sporting rifle (MSR), the options can seem overwhelming. The good news is, if you have a semiautomatic platform and a couple of 30-round magazines, you'll be in great shape to get started. Most 3-gun matches have three divisions: Open, Limited and Scoped Tactical. Open is where the really fast shooters, who spend a lot of money on their gear, typically compete. If you're just getting started, there isn't any need to compete in the open division. In the limited division, rifles can have either iron sights or nonmagnified red-dot optics. The scoped tactical division rules allow the competitor to have one variable-power or magnified optic on their rifle. This is where most novice shooters start.
...if you have a semiautomatic platform and a couple of 30-round magazines, you'll be in great shape to get started.- Travis Gibson
Most 3-gun matches will have at least one stage where you'll be shooting steel targets at longer ranges (150 yds.-400 yds.). For safety reasons, almost all matches specifically prohibit steel core, tracer or incendiary rounds. Be sure to check your ammo with a magnet before you go to the match. If it sticks, leave it at home.
Having a way to load the shotgun quickley is another item people spend large ammounts of time trying to perfect. For your first time out, a puch you can attach to your belt will be fine. Cargo pockets on your pants are also perfectly fine for your first time out.
A semiautomatic 12 ga. is what most people are using, but a pump shotgun in 12 ga. or 20 ga. will work just fine...- Travis Gibson
For the last couple years, I've been running a Remington VersaMax with a 12-round extension and I'm loving it. This is one of the softest, sure-shooting guns I;ve ever had the pleasure of getting behind. It is also capable of running 3" shells so loading is a breeze.
The handgun is the one necessity that most people interested in 3-gun already own. Almost all the top 3-gun shooters are using some variation of an STI 2011. This is similar to a traditional 1911, but it takes double stack magazines, which can hold up to 23 rounds of 9mm ammo. Because of the higher magazine capacity and low recoil, a 9mm is the preferred choice of most competitors. The larger capacity is important, because some courses will require up to 30 rounds of pistol ammunition to complete. Other popular 3-gun pistol calibers include: .38 Super, .40, 10mm, .357 Sig. and .45.
In addition, you'll need a holster and magazine pouches that secure your handgun and ammo during vigorous activity.
Just about any bulk pack ammunition you can find will work well for a 3-gun match. For pistol ammo, any inexpensive ammo you can purchase or reload in bulk is what you want. Remember, this isn't a bull's-eye competition, so don't get too worried about having ammo that will shoot 2" groups at 50 yards.
Standing still behind cover, shooting on the move or laying prone for that long-range shot — running a 3-gun course successfully requires discipline, focus and an awareness of your surroundings. Setting up your own course? Check out our selection of MGM targets and accessories.Download PDF
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