The number one reason people tell me they don’t want to shoot 3 Gun is because they don’t have/don’t want to buy a shotgun just for shooting a game. I’ve heard this more and more often since the mid-2000s. There are three major things I believe contribute to this:
1) A large pool of people came back from the Global War on Terror. They bought carbines similar to those they were issued, and want an outlet to practice the martial skills they learned and used. Very few of these people actually used shotguns, and those who did will admit their limited utility.
2) The focus in commercial defensive/tactical shooting schools as a whole is largely geared around rifles and handguns; there aren’t as many tactical shotgun classes anymore.
3) Expense: one less gun makes it that much more affordable to compete in terms of initial equipment investment and ammunition costs. While people may own shotguns, few are optimized for shooting 3 Gun. Competitive 3 Gun shotguns are somewhere between home defense and hunting shotguns. 21″-24″ barrels with chokes and full length or longer magazine tubes are the norm. The ammunition carrying equipment to be competitive is also increasingly impractical for anything other than competing. The shotgun is consequently viewed as much more specialized equipment than rifles or pistols.
With these things in mind, there is an untapped market of potential competitors. There are two matches in Arizona that cater to this demographic: the 2 Gun Action Challenge Match in Tucson, Arizona, and Arizona 2 Gun in Peoria, Arizona. Both are strictly a rifle/pistol match. Many of the stages combine physical challenge elements. The more complex stages are often based around real world incidents. The mean age of competitors is younger than other venues. More active duty military, veterans, and law enforcement members attend them. There are also more people attending who paid for commercial training and want a monthly event to keep their skills sharp.
Including physical challenges in stages changes the tone of the match. Shooting these matches feels more like a training session with friends than a serious competitive event. It also helps keep away the whiners and complainers who can ruin the experience. The fewer targets on the stage, the harder the stage is physically. Physical challenges can include: 100-200 yard sprints, kettle bell throws, carrying heavy objects, crawling under obstacles, or going through obstacles. The end result is more challenging stages with less ammunition expended.
Inclusivity Fosters Success
The match has wisely chosen to remain inclusive in the sense that it allows any equipment allowed at other multi-gun matches. Arizona has a large action shooting population, and those action shooters can use the same rifles and pistols in 3-Gun if they want. Prohibiting equipment simply gives people a reason not to participate. There is crossover from other local competitive venues as a result. Armored division is available for people who wish to compete with body armor on as it does tend to make one slower and the physical challenges harder.
Stage Design Defines Everything
2 Gun Matches distinguish themselves by stage design and shooting/physical challenges. Events that try to distinguish themselves through equipment restrictions invariably prohibit equipment with real world applications. Stage design alone determines how useful something is in reality, and how martially applicable the match itself is.
We often see that traditional match equipment is a liability at 2 Gun. At the basic level magazines fall out of pouches because the match is more physical. Typical competition rifles are too long to maneuver in confined spaces. Short Barrelled Rifles can in fact be advantageous. Limited eye relief optics are slower, due to the more times the shooter has to reacquire the sight picture or from awkward positions. Muzzle brakes can kick up dirt/dust, obscuring targets down range.
Run Your Own Match
The rules for these matches are open source; all you need to get your own match going is a 50-100 yard range, shot clocks, and two or three steel targets. If you don’t like what your own local clubs offer, get your own match started. Even if it’s just five or ten guys at first, you can grow it over time and make more complex props and acquire more advanced target arrays. You don’t need the backing of a national organization to make your event happen. There will be a learning curve in match logistics and how to set up and run your match in a timely manner, but as long as you have a range to run your match, none of the challenges are insurmountable.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Primary: Subscribe to our newsletter here, get the RSS feed and support us on Patreon right here.
Alternate: Join us on Facebook here or check us out on Instagram here.
Contingency: Exercise your inner perv with us on Tumblr here, follow us on Twitter here or connect on Google + here.
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author: Russell Phagan has been working in the firearms industry since 2001 when he was introduced to action shooting sports in general and 3 Gun in particular. He views competition shooting as a valuable activity not only for personal development and gaining professional knowledge but also how to improve firearms products and make them more user friendly and effective. Combining the practical use of firearms with testing out new product ideas and technology is one of the things he enjoys most about 3 Gun. Phagan also believes anyone can become reasonably good at it if they devote the time and resources to do so.
“Winning, while nice, need not be your goal; bettering yourself through the pursuit of excellence is something we all can achieve”