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

Getting involved in 3-Gun
It is safe to say that the one industry Barack Obama has managed to invigorate is the firearm’s industry. As Washington focuses on legislation to curb gun violence, gun and ammunition sales are skyrocketing throughout the country as people are acting with a sense of urgency to expand their collections in advance of any restrictions that might be implemented.  

The FBI performed 2.7 million background checks in recent months, an increase of 58.6 percent over the same period in 2011. Gun dealers across the country are reporting that they have never seen such demand for both guns and ammunition. In California, 350,000 guns were sold in 2002. By 2011, that number was 600,000. Last year, it jumped to 817,000, a single year increase of 36 percent. Thank you, Mr. President!  

Part 1 of a 3-part series

As one of the many people motivated by the looming threat of pending restrictions on firearms and ammunition, you went on a shopping spree at every gun store in your city and bought several weapons to build your arsenal, and purchased what little ammo you could find, generally calibers you don’t even own (yet) because that’s all that was left, hidden behind boxes of Fiocchi shot shells. So now what do you do?  Most people will go home and store their weapons in a gun safe and pull them out occasionally to show their friends, wipe them down and place them back in the safe again.  

You took the first step in exercising, investing in, and protecting your second amendment rights by purchasing a firearm. The next step is to continue being involved by using that firearm, promoting responsible gun ownership, while at the same time building self confidence and becoming increasingly proficient in the handling and use of the firearms you own.  

How do you do all of this you ask? Simple…let me introduce you to the world of 3-Gun shooting.

3-Gun shooting is a rapidly growing sport that involves the use of a pistol, shotgun and carbine (AR-15s/M-4s) to shoot various courses of fire, which often simulate tactical and defensive situations where shooters must hit or neutralize a series of targets (paper, steel, and clay) at varying distances from 1 to 200 yards, and sometimes further, while navigating through obstacles in an efficient and timely manner. Some stages may require the use of only one weapon, while others will incorporate all three (pistol, shotgun, carbine) in a single stage. The object is to successfully neutralize all targets in each stage in a safe and proficient manner (accuracy and speed are key). After all stage times are collected and totaled, the shooter with the fastest cumulative time is the winner in his or her class.  

There are several divisions within the sport of 3-Gun shooting (Open, Tactical Scope, Tactical Iron and Heavy Metal). For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the most popular division, Tactical Scope; which allows the shooter to have a single optical sighting device (scope) on their carbine, while the pistol and shotgun used have only iron sights. The division you choose to compete in will determine the specific gun and equipment choices you make.  

To get started you will need a semi auto handgun of 9mm caliber or greater, a semi- auto shotgun that will preferably hold eight rounds in the magazine tube, and a semi-auto rifle with detachable magazines.  A sturdy belt, secure holster and mag holders/pouches complete your rig.   

The most important thing to remember in the selection of your gear is that the guns you elect to use must be reliable and able to hold a zero.  In addition, you must make certain that you are intimately familiar with the functionality of any weapon retention system, mag pouches, shot shell side-saddles, bandoliers etc. that you decide to use before you get on the range.

Before buying a bunch of equipment you may not need, I would recommend that you visit a local shooting range that hosts 3-Gun matches and go out and watch one. Talk to some of the shooters and ask them about the sport and their equipment. This will help you decide what division appeals to you, which will ultimately be the deciding factor in determining your equipment selection.  

Also, the next time you are in Turners, Fowlers, Bass Pro Shops, Big-5 etc. take a moment and speak with the sales reps behind the counter and pick their brain about various firearms, ammo, and other accessories used in the sport. You’ll find a majority of them to be extremely knowledgeable, and some even actively engaged in the sport itself. Last year, Turner’s Outdoorsman held its first internal shooting competition where staff could showcase their shooting talents, but more importantly obtain hands on experience and knowledge of today’s most rapidly growing shooting sports such as IDPA, IPSC and 3-Gun.

We will cover equipment selection in greater detail in future articles, but for now, use what you have and get out and shoot. You will learn much more about what works and what doesn’t once you get behind the trigger and start shooting in a few of these matches. If you are reluctant to jump right in and shoot a match, take a few formal shooting courses on each of the individual weapon platforms to build your confidence and improve your skill set. Now get those guns out of the safe and out to the range.  Be safe!     

A complete guide courtesy of 3-Gun Nation is a good place to get additional information and research any specific questions you may have regarding the sport.


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Mike Duffy is a retired law enforcement professional and current Owner/Chief Operations Officer at Solutions Group International (SGI).  Mike can be contacted at mduffy@solutionsgroupinternational.com His column on gun shooting sports will run each month. This is his first column.
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