3 Gun Zen – by Tracy Barnes – 3Gun Nation Pro Series Shooter

3 Gun Zen – by Tracy Barnes – 3Gun Nation Pro Series Shooter

Shooting the pistol fast

A good majority of 3 gun shooters come from a background in pistol shooting. They shoot either USPSA or IDPA or something similar. This means that a lot of 3 gunners are competent and skilled with the handgun. Therefore the playing field, as far as the pistol is concerned, is more level. That is until you add speed. 90% of 3 gunners can shoot their pistol well. The other 10% separate themselves from the rest by shooting their pistol fast AND well. The key to this isn’t necessarily just pulling the trigger faster, it’s utilizing your skills with the pistol to accurately take down targets quicker than anyone else. This is achieved through quick double taps, fast transitions, and most importantly shooting on the move. I remember a stage at the Midnight 3 gun match up in Oregon a few years back that was all pistol. Daniel Horner had some ungodly fast time on it. The stage was pretty straightforward, except that it was in the dark and in the middle of the night. Most of us had a few places where we stopped and shot a slew of targets. It was a good strategy to make sure you didn’t walk by any targets, but it wasn’t the winning strategy. In 3 gun you win stages by constantly being on the move. There are times when you are forced to stop and shoot a target, but if you want to win, you should be constantly moving. You can be moving at a snail’s pace, but at least your moving. The only way to accomplish this is to practice it. We all get in a habit of going to the range and standing in front of the target and shooting it, but if your range allows, move, in every direction and practice safely engaging the target. If you can’t practice moving and shooting at your range, then do it dry firing or get an airsoft set up and practice what you’ll actually be (or should be) doing in competition. This is the winning strategy. Move or lose.

Shooting your rifle accurately.

The key to success in 3 gun with your rifle is getting those long range targets with your first shot. This is what separates the pros from the joes. When I first started 3 gun, I’d stubbornly shoot an entire mag at one target because I just knew I could hit it. I had a background in rifle and my pride would get in the way. Next thing you know I’m down an entire mag of ammo, I’d wasted all the time it took to shoot that entire mag & I had a penalty for not hitting the target. Some stages my stubbornness would put me dangerously close to timing out. Fast forward a couple of years of 3 gun practice and some advice from better 3 gunners and I’m hitting my targets or moving on after only a few shots. Misses happen, I’m no stranger to that. In biathlon, we got seriously penalized for a miss. We’d have to ski an extra 150-meter penalty loop for each target we missed. Not only did that take longer, which hurt your overall time, but it made you more tired & it was humiliating because the crowd usually added a few boos while you’re skied off your mistakes. In biathlon and in 3 gun if you make a mistake on your first shot you have to be able to quickly analyze why you missed. Was it you? Did you jerk the trigger? Was it not a good hold? Or was it an external factor, like wind or the sun, etc. being able to quickly figure out why you missed can help you follow up a mistake with a hit. The way to learn this is by shooting…a lot. This is something that has to become instinctual. You shouldn’t have to think about it, you should just know, “I jerked the trigger”, or “that wind gust pulled my shot left”. With round after round at the range, you should be able to start noticing patterns and start to develop an ability to call your shots. A great way to develop this skill in practice is to have someone with a spotting scope to help you. You shoot at a target (preferably cardboard or paper so they can see the hits) and you “call the shot”. You tell the person with the spotting scope where you think the bullet went. They’ll correct you if you’re wrong, but after a while, you should be able to accurately tell the spotter where you hit (and even why), this is how you successfully call your shots. This skill will help you to figure out where you are missing.

The key to getting the hit with your first shot is knowing your rifle and the ammunition you are shooting. Long range shooting can be a bit of a science, but knowing where your bullet hits at a certain distance, at a certain altitude and pressure, with a certain wind speed, etc will help you to hit that first shot almost every time at any range. You don’t have to have some fancy app that will tell you where to hold, but you do have to know your equipment and how it shoots. Again, the only way this is solved is by going to the range and shooting a lot, from different positions, angles, distances, etc. sighting in at each different range you shoot at will also give you an idea on where you’re likely to hit. Every range is different and has different conditions that will affect your shot. Practicing what you’ll see in competition is a winning strategy. Hitting your shots on the first try will get you the win, and being able to call your shots to recover from a miss will separate you from the rest of the shooters who just bang away at the targets.

Hitting your shotgun reloads.

Let’s face it, there are enough of us weekend 3 gun warriors that practice and dry fire. That means we can’t afford to not hit our reloads. If your dropping shells on the ground you’ve just separated yourself from the top tier. The thing that’s separates the very top from the top half is they are hitting their reloads at top speed. The next step is to then practice loading on the move & then loading without looking. If you can successfully load with your eyes on the targets instead of with your head down staring at your lifter, then you can better anticipate and prepare for your next shots. The key though, as you saw in the video and you’ll see while shooting a match, is consistency. You don’t have to be the fastest loader out there, but you can be the most consistent and that will help you to win.