Many of our readers use AR-type rifles for Service Rifle matches, varmint hunting, 3-Gun competition, or defensive use. AR-platform rifles can be configured in a multitude of ways to suit the application. But if you plan to put together your own purpose-built AR rifle, how do you get started?
For AR Do-It-Yourselfers, we suggest reading Glen Zedicker’s book, the Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide. Following Zedicker’s New AR-15 Competitive Rifle (2008), the Builders Guide provides step-by-step instructions that will help non-professional, “home builders” assemble a competitive match or varmint rifle. This book isn’t for everyone — you need some basic gun assembly experience and an aptitude for tools. But the AR-15 Builders’ Guide provides a complete list of the tools you’ll need for the job, and Zedicker outlines all the procedures to build an AR-15 from start to finish.
Along with assembly methods, this book covers parts selection and preparation, not just hammers and pins. Creedmoor Sports explains: “Knowing how to get what you want, and be happy with the result, is truly the focus of this book. Doing it yourself gives you a huge advantage. The build will honestly have been done right, and you’ll know it! Little problems will have been fixed, function and performance enhancements will have been made, and the result is you’ll have a custom-grade rifle without paying custom-builder prices.”
The Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide is not available from most large book vendors. However, Creedmoor Sports has plenty of copies in stock (item BK Builder, $29.00 on sale). To order, visit www.creedmoorsports.com or call 1-800-CREEDMOOR.
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3-Gun Nation (3GN) has redesigned the 3GunNation.com website, adding many key enhancements. The most important new feature is a Google-based, interactive mapping system that shows 3GN clubs around the country. Each 3GN range location is “pinned” on an interactive map. Just click on the pin to find more information. Zoom the map with your mouse scroll wheel to find three-gun friendly ranges in your area.
In addition, 3GunNation.com now features all past issues of the 3-Gun Nation E-Magazine. Simply click on the magazine tab to access hundreds of pages of 3-Gun eZine content. The home page now also features the 3GN leader boards, updated automatically after each match.
“With new competitors joining the 3GN ranks on a daily basis, the need to post and track scores is paramount” said Chad Adams, 3-Gun Nation Vice President. “3GN has reached a point in which our members demand their scores and rankings quickly, easily and in real-time. Thanks to our partners at Rangelog, we are now able to do just that.”
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This article by Corey Swantz originally appeared in The Reloading Press, the Sinclair Int’l Blog.
Much less precision is required to get good scores in 3-gun competition than in strictly accuracy-oriented disciplines like F-Class or Benchrest. In 3-gun, [the game is] about hitting targets in the shortest amount of time, not how close to the center of the target you can get or how small the group can be. Ammunition that’s accurate to 1-2 MOA is more than sufficient for 3-gun competition, as the targets tend to be 4-6 MOA in size.
For my personal 3-gun load testing, I used three powders: Varget, IMR 8208 XBR, and Accurate 2230. All three powders gave me good results, but the 8208 XBR was the leader of the pack. I settled on a moderate charge that pushes a 73gr Berger BTHP at about 2,500 fps through my 16″-barreled AR15. While I’m sure I could obtain a higher velocity with these bullets, this speed yielded the best accuracy results in my initial testing with fully prepped brass.
With the high volume of ammunition that I need for 3-gun matches and practice, I wanted to eliminate as many case prep steps as possible and still end up with ammunition that was accurate enough for 3-gun. I fully prepped some once-fired brass from primer pocket to case mouth and everything in between. I also took some once-fired cases that had simply been trimmed to length, and loaded them without doing any other prep work. With these loads in hand, I headed out to the range to shoot some groups. Below are the results from my 200 yard group tests:
Prepped Brass Delivered Higher Score on Bullseye Target
As you can see from the photos, the groups yielded results along the lines of what I expected. The fully-prepped brass produced five 10s , whereas the un-prepped brass produced only two 10s, and both of those just touched the outer edge of the 10-ring.
However, the un-prepped brass kept all the shots inside the 8-ring, which is plenty precise for shooting the large targets used in 3-gun matches.
National Defense Match at Camp Perry
I decided to further test my un-prepped brass loads by shooting them in the National Defense Match (NDM) at Camp Perry and the Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro-Am Championship. At the NDM, the target used in the longer-range stages was a standard-size NRA Tombstone target, similar to the targets used in most 3-gun matches. Using the un-prepped brass loads, I was able to keep all my shots on the tombstone targets from 100-300 yards, and had only one miss from the 400-yard line. That one miss was my fault, as I jerked the trigger on the last shot, pulling it off to the left. Un-prepped brass held up quite well under Camp Perry NDM conditions.
Un-Prepped Good Enough for Class Win at Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro-Am Championship
Two weeks after the NDM, I traveled to Kentucky for the Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro-Am Championship. There were seven stages in this match, two of which required long-range rifle shots with my AR15. The longest stage of the match had eight steel targets sized from 4″ to 10″ in diameter, placed from 75 to 265 yards. My ammunition proved accurate enough at these distances to neutralize all the steel targets with single shots, something few other shooters were able to do. I finished over two seconds ahead of the nearest competitor on this stage and ended up winning the event. Clearly un-prepped brass was plenty good for the Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro Am, too!
Because of the results I’ve gotten on the practice range, and two very solid performances in competition last year, I feel confident that my loading process for the upcoming 3-Gun Nation Semi-Pro Series will consist of simply sizing and trimming brass, then loading it with my preferred recipe. While the fully prepped brass was indeed more accurate, the un-prepped brass loads were accurate enough to allow me to hit 3-gun targets . Now, I can take the time I save in the reloading room and spend it out on the practice range.
Corey Schwanz, Sinclair Reloading Technician
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Miculeks Dominate Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun
Here’s proof that the family that shoots together, wins together. Legendary shooter Jerry Miculek, his wife Kay, and their daughter Lena, all took home top trophies at the 2013 Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match in Mesa AZ, March 22-24, 2013. The annual event hosted by the Mystery Mountain 3-Gun Club, included more than 300 shooters.
Jerry took top honors as the Match Champion, High Senior. Kay was the Women’s Open Champion and Lena won 2nd place in the Ladies Tactical Optics division and was also High Junior. That’s a great across-the-board performance for the Miculek clan. Learn more about them at Miculek.com.
Jerry says: “You get to the next level by being the first one on the range and the last one to leave.”
The Next Generation — Lena Miculek
Lena Miculek, the daughter of Jerry and Kay Miculek, was born and raised on Shootout Lane. Lena claimed her first National title at the Sportsman’s Team Challenge when she was only ten years old, and has since won four more National titles in both the Junior and Sportsman’s A divisions. In 2010 Lena followed in her fathers footsteps, competing in the USPSA Revolver Division.
Lena’s main focus is now on Multi-Gun competitions, specifically 3-Gun Nation events. Lena had a very successful first year of Multi-Gun shooting, culminating in a class win at the 3-Gun Nation shoot-offs in Vegas during the 2013 Shot Show. Lena also had a huge break-though in her shooting career at the 2012 IPSC Shotgun World Shoot in Hungary, where she was crowned the Ladies World Champion (Standard Division).
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3-Gun Nation and Samson Manufacturing announced the first-ever professional lady tournament series in practical shooting. The 3GN Lady Pro Series Tour will feature a dozen of the game’s top females, all competing for cash payouts and a slot in the 3GN Lady Championship Shoot-Off where the winner will be crowned champion and take home $25,000 from Samson Manufacturing.
3-Gun Nation Lady events will take place concurrently with the 3GN Pro Series Tour. The ladies will shoot the same courses of fire, and in front of cameras for 3GN Television. 3GN President Pete Brown stated: “This tour will not only show the top ladies are good, but that some of them can even challenge the top guys in the sport.”
You can watch the 3GN Lady Pro Tour and the 3GN Pro Series Tour by attending the following events: April 13, Glengarry, WV; May 18, Tulsa, OK; June 22, Tulsa, OK; Sept. 7, St. George, Utah; Jan. 15, 2014, Las Vegas. To learn more about event locations, or broadcast dates for 3-Gun Nation Television, visit 3GunNation.com.
3GN shooter Maggie Reese shown in photos.
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This week on Gun Girl Radio, Julie Golob interviewed the talented Maggie Reese for a fun “girl talk” episode Gun Girl-style. Maggie is a two-time 3-Gun Ladies National Champion as well as a Season Two contestant on the History Channel’s Top Shot TV show.
The podcast interview explores Maggie’s journey from new shooter to national champion. Maggie talks about the challenges that she faced along the way, such as dealing with injuries. Julie and Maggie also chat about their experiences of shooting and competing with other women. Maggie shares some of her secrets to having fun and looking great on the range. In addition to talking all things competition shooting, Julie and Maggie share some reality TV insider Top Shot talk. CLICK HERE to listen to this episode. You can also subscribe to get future Gun Girl Radio podcasts.
About Gun Girl Radio Gun Girl Radio is a proud part of the Firearms Radio Network. The show features information and insider perspectives on shooting sports, training, hunting and all things outdoors by two of the firearms industry’s most talented female shooters, Randi Rogers and Julie Golob. Click icon at right to learn more. Gun Girl Radio releases a new podcast each Wednesday at 12:00 pm CST.
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Lars Dalseide, editor of the NRAblog, found a cool new product for pistol shooters and 3-Gun competitors. The new NRA Handgunner Backpack provides a convenient transport solution for your pistols, magazines, and assorted range gear. This product offers all the carrying capacity of a large range bag, in a design that, when worn on your back, leaves your hands free to haul long-gun cases, target frames, spotting scopes, or other bulky hardware. Measuring 17″ wide, 22″ high and 9″ deep, the pack has plenty of room for your gear.
Quad-Pistol Gear Hauler
The cleverly-designed Handgunner Backpack carries up to four pistols. Undo the zipper, slide out the compartment, place your pistols in one of the four foam gun cradles. Store your magazines in a zip-up side pocket with six (6) individual mag sleeves. There are also specially designed compartments for ammo boxes, muffs, protective eyewear, target stapler, and more. You’ll find handy embroidered patches showing the right spot for each gear item.
Lars tells us this pack is comfortable and sturdy. The shoulder staps and the rear back panel feature moisture-wicking padding. To keep the rain out, the pack comes with a waterproof cover. And the pack won’t collapse when you set it on a bench — it is designed to stand up on its own.
We’re impressed with the design and features of this pack. A lot of smart thinking went into its design. As you might expect though, because the Handgunner Backpack has so many features, it’s not cheap. This specialized backpack sells for $119.95 at the the NRA Online Store. We don’t think that’s too much, considering what this pack can do. This could be a sweet Xmas gift for the pistolero or 3-Gun shooter in the family. If you are running a shooting match, the Handgunner Backpack would make a great prize — way more useful than a walnut plaque.
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It’s October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve, (aka “Halloween”). That means the neighborhood kids will be ringing doorbells as soon as it gets dark. No doubt some of you proscrastinators will wait ’til the last minute to set out your Halloween decorations and Jack-O-Lanterns. Don’t worry, in the video below, our friend, 3-Gun ace Taran Butler, shows how to carve a pumpkin in just about 5.5 seconds, give or take a tenth. Taran performed this feat of speed-carving with his trusty Infinity handgun, chambered in 9mm Major.
What Are the Origins of Halloween?
Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”), also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints). According to many scholars, it was originally influenced by western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain. Others maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has Christian roots.
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More than 500 competitors from 43 states and three foreign countries made their way to Rockcastle Shooting Center (Park City, KY) this past weekend to participate in the AR15.com/Rockcastle Pro-Am 3-Gun Championship. These attendance numbers are huge for a shooting match. The 2012 Rockcastle Pro-Am set a new record as the single largest gathering of competitors and sponsors ever for the emerging sport of 3-Gun. At this year’s Rockcastle event, the nation’s top 3-Gun pros competed on eight tough stages designed by past/present 3-Gun champions. Amateurs shot seven similar stages on a separate course, tailored especially for the amateur/celebrity competitors. CLICK HERE for complete match results.
16-year-old Noveske Shooting Team member Katie Harris at Pro Stage 7, Day 1 of the Rockcastle Pro-Am 3-Gun Championship. Photo by Magpul Industries.
Here’s the official Rockcastle Pro-Am promo video produced at the 2011 Championship:
Here’s a POV (Helmet Cam) Video Taken by Competitor Rick Birdsall in the 2012 Rockcastle Pro-Am:
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The 3-Gun Nation (3GN) Pro Series Tour kicks off this week on the NBC Sport Network. The first action shooting pro tournament series, the 3GN Pro Series Tour features the top 64 shooters in the sport, all competing for the largest cash payouts in 3-gun. This season’s shows include spectacular slow-motion footage shot with new high-speed cameras. The Pro Series episodes follow nine top pros, including defending 3GN Champion Tommy Thacker, Mark Hanish, Kalani Laker, Jesse Tischsauser, Keith Garcia, Patrick Kelley, Bryan Ray, Matt Burkett and Craig Outzen.
This week, the field converges on St. Augustine, Florida, the first stop on the 2012-2013 3GN Tour. Top pros Daniel Horner, Jerry Miculek, Taran Butler and more battle the field in the inaugural 3-Gun Pro Series match, a made-for-TV course of fire that presents a wild array of challenges, including some of the fastest 3-Gun stages ever. 3GN Pro Series episodes also feature Shooting Tips with top pro shooters, including 3GN Director of Competition Rob Romero, Colt’s Clint Upchurch, and Noveske’s Jansen Jones. “3-Gun Nation” airs Wednesdays at 1 PM EST and Sundays at 7:30 AM EST — only on the NBC Sports Network. For more info, go to www.3GunNation.com.
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In his Guns & Ammo Blog, Top Shot (Season 1) Champion Iain Harrison explains how to get started in 3-Gun Competition. Iain begins with some very practical advice: “Don’t worry too much about the gear. Spending a ton of money to get into the game, only to discover a few months later that you want to head in another direction, is a surefire way to alienate your significant other…. Go shoot what you have, even if it’s not ideal; you’ll learn much more about what works and what doesn’t by shooting in a match than you ever will by reading blogs like this.”
It’s obvious that you’ll need three firearms — pistol, carbine/rifle, and shotgun. But Harrison explains you don’t have to go out an get the most expensive (or complex) weaponry. For the rifle/carbine segment, Harrison says: “A vanilla AR15 with a low-power variable scope is a good place to start. Pretty much any flat top AR15 [will do].” For a scattergun, yes it would be nice to have an exotic Benelli M1 Super 90, but a low cost semi-auto from Remington, Winchester, or Mossberg will be competitive. And many guys start off with their “old reliable” Rem model 870 pump shotgun. Harrison explains: “Add an extended mag tube to the Remington 1100 lurking in the back of the safe and you have the shotgun component covered, though if you’d rather run your trusty pump gun… that’s cool too.”
Choice of Pistol and Caliber
The best handgun brand and caliber is really a matter of personal choice. You want a “dead-nuts” reliable pistol, for which you can get affordable accessories (holster, mag pouches, high-cap magazines). Glocks, 1911s, HKs, Sigs, S&W M&Ps are all popular. As for caliber choice, Harrison notes: “Most guys run 9 mm handguns as the capacity advantage over a .40 or .45 is significant, but whatever you choose, your holster is as important as the piece it contains. Bump a loaded pistol out of your holster in the middle of a stage and you’ll be going home early.”
Video Shows Highlights from 3-Gun Nation 2011 Championship
In his Guns & Ammo Blog post, Harrison also give advice about 3-Gun optics and he lists particular firearms models that are favored by competitors. Learn more about these topics by visiting the 3-Gun Nation website. When it comes to gun shopping, Harrison does advise to “buy new” — that’s because active 3-gunners fire so many rounds in practice and competition that they really can wear out their firearms. Click Here to read Harrison’s full Getting Started in 3-Gun Blog article. While visiting GunsandAmmo.com, check out Harrison’s amusing Top Five Reasons to Try 3-Gun. Here’s Reason Number One: “It’s sexy. So sexy in fact, it’s the only shooting sport with its own TV show!”
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The 15th annual MGM Ironman Match drew 280 competitors — the largest field ever. Present were elite professional teams, privateers, juniors, ladies, top military and LEO teams, and shooters from as far away as Denmark. This challenging 3-Gun event, held June 3-9, 2012 at the Parma Rod & Gun Club in Idaho, featured 11 diverse stages of pistol, rifle and shotgun challenges.
The aptly-named Ironman match is one of the toughest 3-Gun matches on the planet. Over the course of three grueling days, competitors must complete 11 stages (segments), shooting in excess of 900+ rounds per shooter per segment. EVERY stage requires the use of ALL three guns. The Ironman is long, intense, and you shoot till you drop! Mike Gibson, the founder of MGM Targets, and the “inventor” of the Ironman, has said: “This match isn’t for weenies or crybabies”. Mike adds, “Over the past 15 years, I estimate over 4.5 Billion rounds have been fired in this event.” That’s a lot of lead going downrange!
MGM Ironman Has Unique Stage Designs
The MGM Ironman is an intense test of both shooter and equipment. Participants shoot a variety of classes and various scenarios including shooting from the back of a moving vehicle, from a 20-foot tower, while driving a golf cart, and while carrying a dummy. Of course there are plenty of MGM-made reactive targets (photo right). There’s even a 285-foot-long Zipline pistol stage. You don’t see that in the typical 3-Gun match!
With creative and challenging stage designs, high round counts, and a great RO crew the Ironman is truly a unique match. Every stage has a 10-minute time limit with an average shooting time of about 7 minutes per stage. This year, some of the times were hampered by a day of steady rain and wind, making it all the more challenging. Overall, great efforts and camaraderie made for a great event.
2012 MGM Ironman Match Winners by Class:
SCOPED TACTICAL CLASS – Daniel Horner; OPEN CLASS – Michael Voigt; LIMITED CLASS – Warren Becker; HEAVY SCOPED CLASS – Barry Dueck ; TROOPER CLASS – Ben Fortin; JUNIOR TS CLASS – Brian Nelson; SENIOR TS CLASS – Ralph Arredondo; LADY OTLH CLASS – Bethany Harris; MILITARY/LAW TS CLASS – Ben Fortin.
Here is a video from the 2010 MGM Ironman. It shows many of the multi-gun stages, including the Zipline stage, filmed from multiple camera angles.
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