Tonight when the top 3-Gun shooters in the nation toe the line to shoot it out for the $50,000 payoff at the 3-Gun Nation Pro Series Finals at Virginia International Raceway, the competition will be fast and furious.
Defending champ Daniel Horner will take on 15 of the best 3-gun shooters in the nation in a head-to-head format that will conclude with only one man left standing. And while Horner has won the championship more than his fair share of times, a repeat is no certainty with top shooters like Greg Jordan, Keith Garcia, Jacob Betsworth and others ready to stake their claim on the top prize. But don’t think 3-Gun Nation is just an outfit for a few hundred of the nation’s top shooters.
The Pro Series Finals is definitely the culmination of a year of stiff competition in what is largely the public face of 3-Gun Nation, but actually represents only a small fraction of what 3-Gun Nation has become—and how the organization is helping boost the quantity and quality of competitive shooting throughout the United States.
Starting Saturday, VIR also plays host to the 3-Gun Nation Nationals, presented by Freedom Munitions. About 250 competitors from across the country will shoot for the title of 3-Gun Nation Nationals Champion in several different divisions and classifications over the two-day match spread throughout VIR’s outstanding shooting venue.
But don’t think 3-Gun Nation is just an outfit for a few hundred of the nation’s top shooters. In truth it is much more—and that’s where the organization is greatly growing the sport and, in turn, growing the Second Amendment.
The 3-Gun Nation Regional Series offers top-quality, two-day 3-gun matches at excellent shooting venues throughout the country. In 2016, about 200 shooters competed in each of six separate regional championships in Florida, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
To say the stages are challenging at these big matches is an understatement. But 3-Gun Nation somehow manages to put together stages that challenge the best of the best without leaving newer shooters—even beginners—wishing they hadn’t participated.
I was fortunate enough to shoot in the 3-Gun Nation Southwestern Regional Championship in May in Marble Falls, Texas. It was a fantastic match with excellent management, a good mix of bay and open “jungle-run” style stages, and a wide variety of shot distances for all three guns.
In the end, however, the match was all but ruined by heavy rains throughout the weekend, forcing match management to base the final results on the six stages that all competitors were able to complete. But without the Texas spring rains, it would have been one of the finest matches I’ve ever attended.
Pro Series, Nationals and Regionals aside, 3-Gun Nation’s real crown jewel is its grassroots Club Series. The organization has dozens of member clubs throughout the United States (and even a few overseas) that hold hundreds of Club Series matches each year. This is where everyday 3-gun shooters— and many times, beginners—find outstanding weekend competition close to home.
I competed in matches at three different 3-Gun Nation clubs this year in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Virginia. All offered excellent stages, top-notch competition and quality match management, as well as the camaraderie that seems to come naturally to the majority of 3-gun shooters. Pro Series, Nationals and Regionals aside, 3-Gun Nation’s real crown jewel is its grassroots Club Series.
Micah Scott, who along with his wife, Hannah, directs the 3-Gun Nation Club Series matches at Old Fort Gun Club near Fort Smith, Ark., signed on to be a 3-Gun Nation club the first year the Club Series was launched, and hasn’t looked back.
“As anyone who has shot or ran a 3-gun match for any length of time knows, there was a long period where you would see a new rule set at every match that you attended,” Scott said. “The most prevalent rule set in the Midwest was USPSA multi-gun. 3-Gun Nation offered a rule set that has been picked up by clubs across the country, which means that my shooters can expect uniform rules and classifiers at each match they attend that runs under the club series rules.”
Scott said shooters being familiar with the same rule set—in this case, 3-Gun Nation rules—from match to match has many advantages.
“This speeds things up at the shooters’ meeting and helps cut down on rule questions from shooters regarding penalties, etc., during the match,” he said.
Competitors at Old Fort tell Scott that they especially like the fact that through 3-Gun National classifiers stages they can compare their performance, head to head, against shooters throughout the country who shoot the same classifier stages.
“The classifiers give them a similar ranking as they would have in pistol matches and a rule set that was purpose-built for 3-gun,” Scott said. “Additionally, they like the fact that shooting the classifiers gives them an opportunity for a slot to Nationals and, in the past, the opportunity for an invitation to the pro-series qualifier.”
The support Scott receives from the 3-Gun Nation staff makes the decision of whether to remain a 3-Gun Nation club or go off in some other direction a no-brainer.
“Overall, 3-Gun Nation is run by a group of people who are deeply dedicated to not only the sport of 3-gun, but to growing the sport of 3-gun,” Scott said. “Through the years, the overall support given to the sport by 3-Gun Nation has been outstanding. Pete Brown, Charles Sole and Bryan Corry have made every effort to make sure that uniform rules were made and that everyone had the plans to build the same props, which again led to more uniform matches from club to club.”
Indeed, Scott’s and other match directors’ dedication to 3-Gun Nation continues to grow as the organization’s programs expand more and more each year.
“The original idea was to grow and promote the sport with our TV show, which we did,” said Chad Adams, 3-Gun Nation vice president. “But over time we saw that the sport needed so much more: a sanctioning body, a universal rule set, better match presentation, fair and consistent application of philosophies and rules.
“So we hired some of the best minds in the game and developed a rule book, the Club Series, the Regional Series, and 3GN Nationals. The response to all of the programs and growth has just been phenomenal.”“Overall, 3-Gun Nation is run by a group of people who are deeply dedicated to not only the sport of 3-gun, but to growing the sport of 3-gun.” — Micah Scott, 3-gun match director, Old Fort Gun Club.
One might think that with a Pro Series, Nationals, Regional Series and Club Series, Adams and his associates would be satisfied with what they have accomplished. But that’s not the case.
In 2016, the organization introduced single-gun matches of all shapes and sizes, ranging from pistol, to shotgun, to rifle only. It even held tactical shotgun side matches at several Regionals and the National Championships, giving members even more opportunity to do what they love most—shoot, and shoot a lot.
3-Gun Nation has even introduced a fledgling new Airsoft division, allowing those with less space and fewer shooting venues to enjoy the fast-growing sport of 3-gun. It’s a great avenue for letting those who don’t have the equipment or opportunity to participate in the real thing to get a taste of the game of.
And let’s not forget to mention the organization’s educational opportunities. Beginning this year, 3-Gun Nation offered training courses the day before several regional championships. Taught by seasoned 3-gun veterans, the courses cover not only the basics of equipment, shooting, stage breakdown and match strategy, but also allowed those in the class to shoot the actual match in the same squad with the instructors.
These courses aren’t just good for beginners. I attended the training course at the Southwestern Regional and what I learned, even after competing in 3-gun for the past three years, has helped me save valuable time at every match I’ve shot since then. Instructors Chad Drewery and Mike Sexton shared their decades of knowledge of competitive shooting in a way that was simple to understand and easy to put into practice. And Drewery even shot the match right alongside us, yielding some “on-the-job-training” that isn’t easy to come by otherwise.
If you think it sounds like 3-Gun Nation has a good thing going, you’d be right. To learn more about the organization and its shooting opportunities, visit 3gunnation.com. And to catch some of the Pro Series Finals and 3-Gun Nationals live, check out 3-Gun Nation’s Facebook page by clicking here.