If you live on planet Earth surely you’re heard of 3 Gun Nation. Well, so have I but frankly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was my third big 3 gun match but the first one under the 3G Nation sanction and certainly the most complex I’ve shot. Here’s what I learned, I hope it helps you or at least it makes you laugh.
Battle in the mud – sounds more fun than it is. :)
Lesson 1: You have to have a game plan. I know I’m absent-minded, easy-going & generally a go-with-the-flow kinda gal. Turns out my “show up & play” mantra doesn’t work with 3 Gun, at least not with 3G Nation stages. The first stage I saw blew me out of my little fantasy real quick. Wow – this stuff looks complex! A ton of targets & steel, some only visible at certain angles, stages spread out over several shooting bays and 3 guns to alternate between… To top it all off, certain targets can be engaged with your choice of gun. Frankly, I didn’t even know where to start. Fortunately, there were several experienced 3-gunners in my squad that gave me tips on how to break down a stage & plan what to do, when & where.
Lesson 2: Slugs suck, especially when you’re in Open class. Let me elaborate: there are certain targets you have to hit with slug rounds instead of bird shot in your shotgun. We’ll leave the part about me only trying slugs for the first time a few days before the match out of this discussion. The point is – you have to plan for these accordingly because they are not always in the beginning – they can be in the middle of a stage that already has a lot going on. So, if you’re in TO, you can just pop a few in as you need them but if you shoot Open class – you really have to plan when/where you will have these slugs loaded in your shotgun. And then if you miss…. Well, let’s just say you have to count a lot!
Lesson 3: Know where your point of aim is on long distance targets. My rifle is sighted-in at 200 yards so I knew my point of aim is different at 100 & 400. Still, my scope is only 1×4 so the long shots were hard for me – mostly because my heart was about to jump out of my chest from excitement.
Lesson 4: Be prepared to shoot in less than favorable conditions. The first day at Rockcastle was great – nice weather, friendly staff, an amazing squad. On the second day, however, all hell broke loose as rain poured on & off pretty much all day. The remaining four stages turned into a muddy mess, resetting the targets was a major chore, nobody even though about painting the long distance targets and the staff was overworked & behind. Fortunately, we all remained nice and professional about it and even shared a few laughs. Being the girly girl I am, I’m actually pretty proud of myself for even surviving it. Needless to say, I didn’t do that great on day 2… Oh, did I mention – bring your rain gear!
Lesson 5: If you think you’re going fast, you’re probably wrong. Now, this may just be my problem but I suspect I’m not alone. There are so many different things happening in a 3 Gun stage, so much to remember and so much to do! In my little world I really thought I was going lightning fast; turns out I was moving like a turtle. :)
Lesson 6: Safety first. This really should have been lesson #1 but since I didn’t have an issue myself, it appears further down. There were 22 DQ’s in this match – accounting for more than 10% of the shooters and most of them were safety-related issues. So, mind your muzzle, safeties & trigger finger!
Lesson 7: Practice your shotgun reloads. This seems to be the one thing that can make or break your match when it comes to 3 Gun competition.
Lesson 8: Equipment matters. Yeah, yeah – I know all the pros tell you that you don’t need fancy gear in order to perform well. Maybe that’s true if you’re a professional but for me – I’ve noticed that every little bit helps. It just makes for a much more enjoyable experience when your guns run smooth, don’t kick you like a mule, and man, do they look good! So, do your research, ask questions at the range, save your cash and invested in high quality gear. And if anyone offers to let you try out their gun at the range – do it. I let people try mine all the time too and if you see me at the range – feel free to ask me about my TTI guns!
Photo credit: Thanks to Becky Yackley Photography
Lesson 9: If you want booze – bring it. That’s right, folks – Rockcastle shooting center is located close to Cave City, KY in what people refer to as “the Bible belt” – an area of the south that, among other characteristics, is also mostly alcohol dry. You can’t buy booze at stores or gas stations, there are no clubs & bars and about the only place you can get a cocktail is at a restaurant (but not on Sundays). The people are really nice though & the food is great so it kinda balances out. ;)
Lesson 10: Everyone should try it. Don’t allow the complexity of 3 Gun Nation stages scare you. It is not just for pros, 3 Gun is a great sport and it is accessible to everyone regardless of their skill level. As long as you’re safe, don’t let that “I’m not good enough” voice discourage you from having the adrenaline ride of your life.
I really hope the lessons I learned help you & encourage you to look up a 3 Gun Nation club near you, gear up and just go – you won’t regret it!
Your friendly neighborhood gun lady,
Special thanks to my friend & mentor Taran Butler of Taran Tactical Innovations for talking me into this match, giving me help & support, being super fun & equipping me with the sickest guns & basepads a girl could ask for!
Also, thank you Safariland for my gorgeous red ELS belt, 014 Competition Holster, all my pouches & range bags – everything held up extremely well in the rain & mud. One doesn’t really think about how important high quality accessories are until they see other people struggle with safely carrying their guns!
5.11 – I LOVE my Cirrus pants! I only wore them day one, though – I couldn’t get myself to roll in the mud with them… :D
Thanks to my friend Kathy Ergovich of What-Ya-Say Hearing Protection for my custom earplugs – 3 Gun is extremely loud and I hate earmuffs.
Thanks Becky Yackley Photography for the one good picture I have from this event (featured)!
Thanks to my hubby (who cleaned my guns, packed & carried everything, and was not too pushy), my squad mates and all my friends for encouraging & supporting me as I keep trying more & more shooting disciplines.
Last but not least – thanks to all the 3 Gun Nation staff – you guys rock and are true professionals able to handle whatever faith (and the weather) throws your way!