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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Getting involved in 3-Gun: Part 2

Getting involved in 3-Gun: Part 3

Over the last several years, 3-Gun / Multi-Gun competitions have rapidly become one of the more popular action shooting sports. Hopefully you have had the opportunity to jump into a couple of matches and by now have been bitten by the competitive bug. You want to get better, be more competitive, and win. You know in order for this to happen you will need to practice, practice and practice. You will also need to have an intimate knowledge of the various equipment rules and scoring systems in use at different matches and have a clear understanding of how to balance speed and accuracy with each.
The active 3-Gun competitor has to understand several different scoring systems. 3-Gun matches are put on by a wide variety of groups. There are organizations such as USPSA and IPSC who put on matches, Industry groups, and even the U.S. Military will sponsor matches. There is no single governing body for 3-Gun competition. Each match has its own set of rules and scoring system. This can be confusing for the new and experienced 3-Gun competitor as there is a lot to process and remember. I will attempt to break it down and lay it out to dispel some of the mystique.

Each competitor must understand the equipment rules and the scoring system of each match that they will be participating in. There are (3) main scoring systems in use throughout the country: International Multi Gun Association (IMGA), Comstock (USPSA), and the Horner scoring system. Each scoring system attempts to balance speed and accuracy. In speaking with many competitors, International Multi Gun favors speed, the Horner system tends to favor accuracy, while Comstock scoring falls somewhere in the middle.  

International Multi Gun:

International Multi Gun scoring is based on the concept of target neutralization, and is a variation of the time plus penalty system. Each stage is worth 100 points regardless of the number of targets presented for that stage. The shooter’s score is based on the total time it takes to complete the stage, plus any penalties incurred along the way.

Target neutralization requires one “A-zone” hit or 2 hits anywhere in the scoring area of the target. For example: one “A-zone” hit or two “D-zone” hits will neutralize a target. Reactive targets (Pepper Poppers) must fall to score. Swinging/flashing targets must react in the manner prescribed in the stage briefing. An Event Official may call hits. No power factor is recognized. Penalties are incurred for failure to neutralize, failure to hit engaged targets, failure to engage targets, and for stage not fired (SNF).

Comstock Scoring:

Comstock scoring is the traditional USPSA/IPSC scoring system. Using this scoring system, no limits are placed on the amount of time taken, or the number of rounds fired by a competitor during the prescribed course of fire.  

A competitor's score is calculated by adding the total point value of all scoring shots, then deducting the value of procedural or other penalties that were assessed. This result is then divided by the actual time taken by the competitor to complete the course of fire, to arrive at a "hit factor" for each competitor. The competitor with the highest "hit factor" shall be awarded the maximum available stage points for the course of fire, with all other competitors ranked relative to this score.

Horner Scoring:

Andrew Horner developed the Horner Scoring system. Scores are again determined on a time plus penalties system. Stages are worth a certain point value based on the number of guns used during a stage. A stage involving (3) guns is worth 150 points, (2) guns 125 points, and (1) gun 100 points, regardless of the number of targets presented during the prescribed stage.

Stages requiring multiple guns are worth more points due to the complexity of the stage. The competitor’s stage score is determined by the time they take to complete the stage plus any penalties assessed along the way. The Horner system puts an emphasis on accuracy, especially on targets at greater distances (you better be prepared to engage targets out past 100 yards). The shooter with the fastest time takes all the available points and the other competitor’s scores are calculated as a percentage of the winning time.  No power factor is involved in the Horner scoring system.  However, you better be able to knock down all of the steel targets you encounter.

The most important thing to remember with scoring systems is that you must develop strategies that will benefit you the most based on the scoring system you will be shooting under at matches. When shooting under International Multi Gun scoring, you must focus more on speed as getting hits on target is what this game is about. Under Comstock scoring you must learn to play the hit factors that each stage presents. When shooting under the Horner system, you must focus on accuracy and shooting “points”, not incurring time based penalties.  

As you continue to get exposure to the sport by shooting matches, you will gain additional clarity on the rules and scoring. Focus more on the shooting component and the associated strategy needed to give you the competitive edge will fall into place.  Now get out to the range and enjoy the sound of freedom.

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Mike Duffy is a retired law enforcement professional and current Owner/Chief Operations Officer at Solutions Group International (SGI), a premiere tactical training company catering to Western state hunters and shooters. Mike can be contacted at mduffy@solutionsgroupinternational.com.  His column on action shooting sports will run each month.  

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