View Full Version : What I learned at my latest 3-gun match

August 3, 2002, 09:50 PM
I shot my 2nd 3-gun match this morning and learned some more important lessons (well - these are really all things I should know by now, but a heavy dose of reinforcement never hurts!):

1. Never take an unproven weapon to somewhere you might need to rely on it. Last Saturday I was having some trigger reset troubles on my FAL carbine and put a new polished trigger group in the gun. In hand cycling I could not make it fail (and it felt just GREAT), but couldn't get to the range to test it with live fire before the match. Mr. Murphy, however, showed up on the first course of fire and helped the hammer ride the bolt forward, in effect making me have to clear five different failures within the first few steps of the match (in a gun that NEVER failed before I started "improving" the trigger). I also learned in the shotgun stage that # 7 1/2 shot is not enough to reliably knock down the heavy steel targets they were using. I used twice as much ammo (and a much longer time) than I should have, but I finally got them all down. If I would have brought #4 shot (or tested my loads on steel) I would have been fine.

2. There is only ever one shot. I let the failures of my carbine get to me and instead of thinking about each shot I was making I was still stewing over the carbine failures and letting it piss me off. I rushed the pistol portion of the same stage and had a failure to neutralize (stiff penalty). In the next stage I was still focusing so much on whether or not my carbine would fail again I was not making the 100yd hits on steel I needed to in this stage. Missing frustrated me, and it made matters worse. Neither the shot I have already made (or missed) or the upcoming shots I'll have to make should have been in my mind - only the shot I was making right then. I rushed the pistol portion of the stage again (still frustrated) and had another failure to neutralize because I was not examining the targets closely enough - I mistook a "bad guy" for a "hostage" and didn't touch him.

3. Don't unload your gun before you're finished shooting. :-) In the shotgun stage we were required to unload completely and "show clear" before putting the shotgun down and transitioning to the pistol for that phase of the stage. Being preoccupied with my steel difficulties I cleared the gun with 8 "bad guys" still staring at me and had to pick up rounds off the ground around me to finish them all (DDDDUUUUUHHHHHH!!!!!).

Anyway - better to make mistakes while playing a game than when it really counts. Some of the issues I had were "gaming" issues that wouldn't matter when it came down to it - within 25yds either 7 1/2 or 4 shot will take someone down just as well, and most of the failures to neutralize were because one round hit centermass and the other (two hits required per target) hit in the abdomen or shoulder or something. Real life says you shoot until they're down, and cardboard targets just don't tell you how to do that. Still no excuse for my performance, but then again that's why I'm shooting these "games" - to learn. I have read about all of these things many times but it just doesn't sink in until you've tried it.

Anyway - hope as many people get out to try 3-gun as possible. It's the most fun you can legally have with a shotgun, rifle, and pistol!


August 4, 2002, 10:01 PM
Wow, tough day. You make some super points. The more important point is about focusing only on the shot you are taking now. You can't change the past, the future is yet to come. Not that this is completely relevant to three gun matches, but I noticed my shooting buddy while he was firing his revolvers. The instant the trigger breaks, he is cocking the hammer for the next shot. No follow through at all, and this isn't competition, this is just informal shooting. I then started paying attention to my own revolver shooting and realized I was doing the same thing. It really helped my accuracy when I quit doing that (although old habits are hard to break). I think the same mentality exists with large capacity autoloaders; both rifle and pistol. We spend so much time concentrating on how many rounds the gun holds that we lose sight of the fact that each shot counts. We may have a 30 round mag, but the first shot might be all we need if we make it count.
There is nothing like competition to bring out the worst in a firearm. My worst story; I was shooting an IDPA match. I was and am new to the sport. I was shooting a new bullet, and instead of function testing them prior to the match, I just showed up. As I am watching the first stage being shot, I see a guy standing there and think to myself, that looks just like Rob Latham. It turns out it was Rob Latham. Here is a world class shooter, a guy that I have read about for years, hell I even own one or two of his video tapes. The pressure is on when it is my turn to shoot since Rob is running the timer on the stage. Well, you can guess the rest, my OAL was too long, the rounds didn't want to feed through the mag and I got to stand a foot away from a world class shooter and clear jam after jam. Not one of my shining moments.
I have never shot three gun, but it is something I would like to try. Maybe this month ?

August 4, 2002, 10:29 PM
Not focusing on previous screwups! HA! I hate when I do that. Botch a stage, and then go and botch another one because you are still mad at yourself from the first. I hate when I do that.

August 5, 2002, 06:09 PM
Maj. John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.) has commented several times that at his sniper/shooting classes that the shooters using semi's don't shoot very well unless he makes them single load.

August 8, 2002, 02:19 PM
I was shooting a handgun match earlier this summer. I'm new to shooting, and was doing horrible.

I murdered every "hostage" more than once!

It wasn't until I stopped focusing on doing bad, and just started having fun that my times and shooting improved.

Having your head in the wrong area of your body happens, but focusing on it tends to keep it there, from what I've learned.

The great thing about these matches and the gun community in general is, we love to help the new guys out.

Andrew Wyatt
August 9, 2002, 04:30 PM
The use of birdshot intrigues me. Was buckshot not allowed or were you going for a low recoil shotgun?

August 9, 2002, 10:21 PM
Nah - buckshot was not allowed. #4 or #6 shot was suggested but I'd heard that 7 or 8 would do fine on steel (and it was cheap as could be at Wal-Mart) so I brought it. Won't happen again.

Thanks for the replys everyone - I agree, mindset is everything!