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The Exciting Sport of 3-Gun Shooting
Try this fun test of speed and accuracy, using rifles, pistols and shotguns
By Tony Mandile
Photos courtesy of 3-Gun Nation
One of the fastest growing shooting sports in the country right now is the action-packed multi-gun competition commonly known as "3-gun."
The reason for the name is somewhat obvious; competitors use three different firearms -- a modern sporting rifle (MSR), that is, a rifle built on an AR-platform; a pistol; and a shotgun. Matches generally involve courses where the shooter must move through different stages and engage targets in a variety of different positions. Each stage will generally require the use of different firearms and require the shooter to transition between them.
The targets might include clay pigeons, cardboard silhouettes, steel targets of varying sizes and anything else the match organizer designates as a target. Distances of the targets might vary from 1 yard to 500 yards or anything in between. The shooter who hits the most targets -- and avoids certain "no shoot" ones -- in the least amount of time is the winner.
Although local ranges might opt to alter the rules somewhat, most abide closely by those set up by the International Multi-Gun Association (IMGA) or the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), which regulates some matches. Each of these organizations has guidelines and rules, but the ability to adapt them for specific matches is what makes 3-gun competition dynamic and exciting.
Just as it is with the practical pistol matches, 3-gun simulates combat or self-defense situations. A stage provides a certain scenario for using one or more of the guns in a specific sequence. Each stage is each match will usually be different than any you've shot before.
Two of the largest sanctioned 3-gun matches are held annually. The Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun event is held in Mesa, Ariz., in March, and theRockyMountain3-Gun Championship takes place in August (Aug. 1-3, 2013) at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M. Also, the NBC Sports series "3-Gun Nation" has a professional circuit featuring the top 64 ranked shooters in the country who compete in a points series that ends in a year-end shoot-off for $50,000.
Getting started in 3-gun competition is easy. Visit the National Shooting Sports Foundation's Where to Shoot site and find a shooting range in your area that puts on 3-gun matches. Then spend some time watching and learning, also, don't be afraid to ask questions. Once you decide to take the plunge, go easy and don't spend a lot of money on anything too fancy. It's a learning process, and it's about having fun.