3Gun – The Best Game Ever Played
Recently, I've been posting about action shooting, including IPSC and IDPA. Those sports are commonly shot with a pistol, though some clubs use carbines. If you want to be a complete weekend-warrior, 3Gun is the game for you.
3Gun combines the use of pistol, carbine, and shotgun to engage cardboard and steel targets for an unbeatable dynamic shooting experience.
Like other 'practical' shooting matches, a typical 3Gun match is divided into several 'stages', each stage is a simple obstacle course of walls, windows, and assorted barriers arranged around an array of targets. 3Gun stages are typically shot on larger ranges to make the rifle stages challenging and safe; in Canada that's often 100 meters, while in the US the rifle stages can be 300-400 meters (that's yards for you 'Muricans).
A typical stage might start with the your pistol loaded and holstered, your rifle in hand; for most shooters, that rifle is an AR15, but I've seen shooters with everything from a Garand to a VZ58, so anything goes. When the timer starts, you engage some distant steel targets with your rifle, the Range Officer behind you calling the hits. You're an amazing shot (in your mind), but have you been practising lying in the urban prone position, shooting through the letter-box at the bottom of a VTAC barrier? No, you haven't, so pinned 5-round mags are littered around your feet like goat bones in a dragon pit.
After you've successfully hit all the rifle targets (or given up, depending...), you clear your rifle and ditch it onto a table, or into a carpet-lined barrel. You run forward and pick up your shotgun, an array of clay birds on short stands await you on each side, and you pulverize them with birdshot, pink mist blowing in the breeze. Like most people, you don't have much practice speed-loading a shotgun, so your reloads, off a shell rack on your belt or chest, turn into a gong-show of flying shells and comedic fumbles. You eventually shove enough ammo into your Benelli to finish the stage, blowing up the last couple of clays. The shotgun, unloaded, goes into another carpet-lined barrel.
You draw your handgun and run further into the field to face an array of cardboard targets; perhaps a mix of USPSA torsos and IPSC octagons (IPSC people are more civilized, so their targets lack humanoid shape). Two rounds in each cardboard, and you're done... you look around nervously before holstering, the large stages commonly used for 3Gun could be hiding more targets. You probably got them all... The Range Safety Officer watches you unload, slide forward, and pull the trigger to prove your gun's empty. Wow, what a rush!
All outdoor action shooting is fun, but 3Gun is some next-level gaming for two reasons: first, it's bigger, and sweatier, and dirtier. You're carrying heavier loads, three kinds of ammo, and the stages tend to be physically bigger and demand more movement. Secondly, even people who shoot a lot rarely practice reloading their AR or their shotgun, especially under pressure. Sure, you know how to put ammo in your shotgun, but once the timer starts, and you're rocking that brand-new BFG plate carrier with twelve shotshells racked on the front, your motor control goes up in smoke and you've got the whole thing on your GoPro. Like A Boss.
If you like the idea of 3Gun, but your local club isn't putting on matches yet, there is still fun to be had; take your non-restricted battle-rifle (XCR, ACR, Tavor, ... Garand) and your shotgun, and have your own party on crown land. A home-made tactical barrier, a few clay target stands, and a handful of gongs are all you need to party in the back-country. Take extra time to examine your backgrounds, and make sure your rounds are hitting the hillside behind your favourite shooting spot. In action shooting, errant rounds are more likely to go where they shouldn't, so design your course of fire with safety first.</p> <p><br /></p> <p>If you want to shoot middle-of-the-pack in 3Gun, you're going to need to spend some money. A decent AR15 and a shotgun with a five-round capacity barely gets you started. That AR needs either an ACOG sight or a fast-switching 1-4 or 1-6 optic, and at some point you'll install a trigger from Timney or Geissele. Your shotgun (a Benelli M2 or M4, of course) will soon get a red-dot sight and a 10-round tube, maybe an oversized charging handle and bolt release.
Or... you can just show up with your trusty SKS, an old Glock, and a borrowed Mossberg, and show everybody how it's done. See you at the range!