There’s no denying that 3-Gun competition is growing in popularity nationwide. Using a pistol, rifle and shotgun to shoot multiple targets at varying distances is exciting and challenging. Here are some pointers for performing better on the 3-Gun range by the USAMU’s SSG Daniel Horner, a two-time winner of Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3-Gun Invitational (M3GI) match.
Competing in Night-Time Stages
“I use the same gear all year long, so when it comes time for this match (the M3GI), I just adapt the guns, so they will work for the night time,” stated Daniel Horner. “I attach the Crimson Trace lasers and lights to the guns in whatever is the easiest way possible. Last year I just screwed a rail to my shotgun with wood screws. So, people can compete with pretty much whatever they have available and make it work.” Horner also recommends using a pair of head-mounted lamps. One can illuminate your firearms’ iron sights while the other headlamp is aimed at the targets.
Adapting to New Equipment
New 3-Gun competitors really need to focus on their equipment says Horner. “New competitors should know how to operate all their equipment. They should spend time getting familiar with their equipment. I spend exponentially more time ensuring the gear is right than I do shooting.”
Safety in 3-Gun Competition
Everyone practicing with shotguns, rifles and pistols must keep safety as top priority. “Obviously, safety is the No. 1 priority, but after that, the focus should be on developing specific skills,” noted Horner. A good three-gunner must not only be fast, but he or she must also be accurate and be able to adapt to a wide variety of shooting positions. And strategy is involved too. Successful 3-gunners develop a ‘plan of attack’ for each stage.
Watch Night-Time 3-Gun Match Highlights
Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3-Gun Invitational (M3GI), the world’s only night-time 3-Gun match, will be held in the high desert of central Oregon in August. Taking place in complete darkness over two nights, the 2014 M3GI will challenge even the most experienced competitors who must use lights and lasers to hit their targets. Event registration is by invitation only. Learn more about the 2014 M3GI at www.M3GI.com.
Photos of SSG Daniel Horner courtesy USAMU.
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What happens when a round goes off unsafely in an AR? Watch this video and see. At about the 00:40 time-mark the shooter has a malfunction (click no bang), with a round. He then removes the magazine, and clears the chamber (we think). On the next round, at 00:53 you hear a “Bang” and see a big puff of smoke coming out of the upper receiver (see photo at right). This has been called a “detonation” by the video-maker, but we’re not 100% sure what happened. What do you guys think? Watch the video carefully, and state your conclusions in the comment section if you wish.
What Caused this Malfunction? Watch Video…
In any event, the shooter is fortunate his upper did not completely fracture, launching shrapnel into his face or other body parts. This could have turned out much worse. Here are screen-shots from the video, showing details of the gun after the accident, along with the recovered brass case, which separated near the case-head.
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We know many of our readers will attend the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits next week in Indianapolis. There is plenty to keep you busy, notably hundreds of industry vendors displaying their latest firearms and shooting-related products. But if you can break free from the guns and accessories in the Exhibit Hall there are some interesting seminars you many want to attend. First, Chris Cheng will explain his experiences — how a Google techie became the Top Shot Season 4 Champion. Second, 3-Gun Ace Travis Gibson talks about the rapidly growning sport of multi-gun competition. Finally, Tom Marx will lead an in-depth, 4-hour seminar on concealed carry equipment and methodologies.
Seminar: Shoot to Win
Tips, Tactics and Techniques to Shoot Like a Pro
Times: April 25 at 11:00am and April 26 at 2:30pm
Location: Room 136
Description: Chris Cheng, Top Shot season 4 Champion, tells his own personal underdog story of how a tech support worker at Google with very little firearm experience beat out 17 accomplished shooters and claimed the title of TV’s “Top Shot.” Hear anecdotes about the show and join Cheng as he discusses what it took to beat the odds and how you can train and prepare to shoot like a pro.
Seminar: 3-Gun 101
Date: April 25 at 11:00 am and April 26 at 11:00 am
Location: Room 138
Description: Take aim with the fast growing sport of 3-Gun! Speaker Travis Gibson demonstrates what a typical 3-Gun match looks like at the club, regional and national levels. You’ll learn how the events are scored and the various types of target presentations that you will experience with rifle, shotgun and pistol. Travis will also cover equipment requirements with you for each division and discuss the gear needed for those divisions. If you’re looking to get your started in 3-gun competitions, you should attend this seminar.
Seminar: Methods of Concealed Carry
Date: April 25, 2014 at 1:00pm and April 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm
Location: Room 237-239
Description: Tom Marx, a former police officer, and experienced Concealed Carry trainer brings his extensive and in-depth program to the Annual Meetings. This is a serious, four-hour lecture and demonstration program, intended for both officers and civilians. Marx covers all the key subjects guns, ammo and holsters, clothing, carrying environments, physical conditioning, and women’s issues. The lecture follows a segmented, building block approach so that those who cannot attend for the full four hours, can still leave (or come and go) with solid points to take home and put to use in their daily lives.
Here is a full list of Special Events at the 2014 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits:
Maggie Reese, one of the nation’s top female 3-gun shooters, recently signed as a factory-sponsored Team Colt shooter. It seems that blue and white suits Maggie just fine. Maggie just won the Ladies Open Division title at the Superstition Mountain Mystery (SMM) 3-Gun match in Mesa, Arizona. This marked the third time Reese finished as “High Lady” at this competition. Maggie told us: “The SMM 3-Gun is a competition I’ve gone to since the start of my shooting career, and it’s always a pleasure to go back.”
Photo credit: Yamil Sued
Reese used a Colt LE6920 for the rifle portion of the SMM 3-Gun. “There was a lot of accuracy involved in this particular match,” said Reese. “Having a dependable rifle made all the difference in trusting my shot placement.”
The stages also included distance targets up to 350 yards, along with some unique challenges. One stage had competitors strapped to a chair that was rotated to a 90-degree angle (See video below). “Shooting sideways was a fun experience,” said Reese. “Body placement was so important for this stage, along with being comfortable with your rifle. Up next for Reese is the 3-Gun Nation Pro Series Event in Tulsa, followed by the USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals on April 16 in Las Vegas. To follow Maggie Reese and other Team Colt members this season, visit Facebook.com/ColtFirearms.
Superstition Mountain Tilting-Chair Stage (Benny Hill style)
This video, by Brett Russo, features Jamie Franks, Taran Butler, Craig Outzen, Maggie Reese, Peter Jonasson, Chris Cheng, Jessica Hook, and others.
Here is Maggie with other shooters at SMM 3-Gun. Can you name the people in the picture?
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Anette Wachter (aka ’30CalGal’) is one of America’s top long-range sling shooters. A member of the U.S. National Rifle Team and a NRA High Master (both mid- and long-range), Anette has an impressive shooting resume. She has also recently started shooting 3-Gun and tactical matches. These “run and gun” matches involve rapid transitions, with shooting from a wide variety of positions. To help improve her 3-Gun shooting, Anette has developed a specific exercise regimen, which she calls the 3-Gun Biceps Series. Here’s a short sample:
ANETTE: One thing you can be sure of in a 3-Gun match is shooting from weird positions. I have noticed that the stage designers love port holes [in barriers]. There are many that are on the ground that you have to shoot through. Or perhaps it is not a port hole but just underneath a barrier. Imagine you are running to that spot with rifle in hand and you have to use one arm to brace your fall to the ground, while holding the rifle safely and facing down range in the other, and then get in to position to shoot, then back up again using one arm to push off of. I have an exercise I have been doing for a awhile that works great for this move…
The “Shooting Low Porthole Plank” starts off in a plank position — make sure your back is straight.
Along with being a talented competitive shooter, Anette has her own Gun Blog, 30CalGal.com, and she writes for several gun publications including GunUp Magazine, Shooting Sports USA, Sure Shots Magazine, and Wide Open Spaces. She also designs and crafts custom jewelry items, many of which utilize cartridge cases or other shooting-themed components. You can purchase Anette’s jewelry through her AW Collections webstore.
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CZ USA had many new (and updated) products on display at SHOT Show 2014. A new camo version of the CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer (VPT) caught our eye. This is one of the best options for Rimfire Tactical Competitions, and well as cross-training with low-cost rimfire ammo. Chambered in .22 LR, the Varmint Precision Trainer was designed to provide the same look and feel as a full-size tactical rifle while allowing for more economical training. The high-quality Manners Composite T4 stock wears a new camouflage paint scheme this year. The rifle features an .866-diameter heavy barrel that should offer good accuracy. MSRP is $940.00.
The black-stocked rifle below the camo VPT is another interesting rimfire from CZ. New for 2014, this CZ 455 Tacticool Suppressor-Ready sports a 16.5″ varmint-contour barrel with 1/2×28 threads for the “can”. This allows easy installation of your suppressor, while allowing a short overall package. For varmint hunters who want a quiet, stealthy rifle, this model fills the bill. NOTE: CZ does NOT provide the suppressor. That must be purchased separately and an ATF tax stamp must be obtained. Check the laws in your jurisdiction to determine whether suppressor ownership is legal where you live.
3-Gun Competitors will be impressed with CZ’s new scattergun, the 712 Practical. Priced at an affordable $699.00 (MSRP), this semi-auto shotgun, designed specifically for 3-Gun competition, features 10-round capacity (counting a shell in the chamber). The 6-position, adjustable buttstock offers various lengths of pull from 11.25 to 15 inches. The ATI fluted magazine extension provides 9+1 rounds of firepower and extends just past the 22″ barrel to help protect the muzzle. The new 712 Practical comes complete with 5 choke tubes — all for a price that undercuts some comparable 3-Gun shotguns by hundreds.
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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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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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