The Easy Answer to Guns for 3-Gun

Dan 3GN shootoff 2014

During 3-Gun competitions, shooters use a pistol, rifle and shotgun to engage targets while moving through a course of fire. Accuracy, speed and agility are all blended together into fast-paced competitions that are often decided in tenths of seconds. In recent years the sport of 3-Gun has continuously evolved and rapidly gained popularity. This progression has resulted in firearms that are more advantageous to competitors. For a new shooter though, gun and equipment selection can be overwhelming and confusing. Looking at what the professional shooters use, and why, can provide you with an easy approach to navigating through the endless options of firearms for 3-Gun competition.

3GN Dan Rifle

Currently, Daniel Horner is undoubtedly the best 3-Gun shooter on the circuit. Some of his most notable shooting accomplishments include:

  • 7-time USPSA National Multi-gun Champion
  • 3-time 3-Gun Nation Champion
  • 2-time IDPA National Champion
  • 2014 Trijicon World Shooting Champion
  • 1st Place 2014 USASOC International Sniper Competition (with partner Tyler Payne)
  • 1st Place 2012 International Sniper Competition (with partner Tyler Payne)
  • 4-time Winner of Mammoth Sniper Competition (2012-2015, 3 times with Tyler Payne, 1 time with Candice Horner)

Daniel is a member of the Action Team for the U. S. Army Marksmanship Unit. He continues to improve his game and dominate the multi-gun circuit. Daniel chooses his guns based on their reliability, accuracy and weight. Read on for a rundown of his guns.

RM3G Dan Rifle


To effectively compete at 3-Gun a rifle should be both lightweight and accurate. Daniel’s rifle weighs 8.1 pounds, and shoots sub-MOA groups at 500 yards (with 77 grain Sierra Matchking projectiles). Many AR-15 components weigh mere ounces, so there are limits to where weight can be removed. Ounces do add up to pounds, though. The best areas to lighten your rifle are the barrel, lower receiver, bolt carrier, and buffer. A quality barrel and optic are the easiest way to attain a sub-MOA shooting rifle. Because Daniel’s rifle is both lightweight and accurate, he is able to consistently make his hits.

Class Dan Shotgun


Taran Tactical Innovations Benelli M2.  Daniel’s Benelli M2 has the complete TTI upgrade package, which includes a machined and polished loading port, custom bolt carrier, and 12-round magazine tube. A Benelli from Taran Tactical Innovations with a 26” barrel weighs 7.5 lbs. The choke tube Daniel uses most is cylinder. The upgrades to the shotgun make it easy to reload and engage targets while still maintaining the consistency for which Benelli is known.

RM3G Dan Pistol2


Daniel’s pistol is an STI 5” Eagle slide with a Tactical Lite 4.0 frame with a bushing barrel, chambered in .38 Super Comp, and shoots 2.5” groups at 50 yards. The .38 Super Comp stacks better in high capacity magazines due to the straight-wall casing and rimless design.  Daniel has been shooting the same pistol for the past 12 years and it has over 400,000 rounds through the same slide and frame; it is the definition of dependable.

RM3G Dan Pistol

Gun selection is crucial in the sport of 3-Gun. Instead of utilizing trial and error to select firearms for 3-Gun, capitalize on the success of others. Everything a professional shooter does is purposeful. Watch and learn how pro shooters, like Daniel Horner, employ the tools of their choice to win.

3GN Pro1 Interview

Five tips for succeeding at 3-Gun:

  1. Read the rules for the match you are attending. Many matches have different rules, so acquainting yourself with the current match rules can save you from a disqualification or division change.
  2. Know how to operate your guns and gear. New shooters can easily get stressed when the buzzer goes off. Practicing with your guns and gear will build muscle memory to help you through unexpected malfunctions while you’re competing.
  3. Relax.  3-Gun is just a game. Don’t stress. You’ll learn the game and improve the more you compete. 3-Gun should be fun!
  4. Take care of yourself while at the match. This includes bringing snacks, water, sunscreen and a first-aid kit.
  5. Be a sponge; learn from everyone. 3-Gun competitors are eager to share their knowledge and experiences. You’ll learn and improve faster if you listen to more experienced shooters and then decipher which tips will most help you improve.



Mammoth Sniper Challenge 2015


Photo credit: USAMU

“Do you want to do Mammoth together?”

“Sure, I guess so.”

That was the simple dialogue between my husband, Daniel, and I about 6 months prior to the Mammoth Sniper Challenge of 2015. In previous years, Daniel had competed in (and won) the Extreme Tough Man division with Tyler Payne being his partner. Fast facts about Daniel and Tyler: they are both in the Army Marksmanship Unit, they each have extensive training and experience, they have shot several sniper matches together as a team, and won every match they’ve shot together. With all that being said, the bar was set pretty high for me as Daniel’s partner.

I didn’t know the first thing about sniper matches, precision long range shooting, or what Mammoth was really about. I trusted Daniel, and just figured everything would be ok and as long as I did as he said and didn’t quit. The advice Tyler gave me ended up being a recurring thought throughout the match, “Expect it to suck. You’re going to walk a lot, and every time you do, you’re going to think it’s stupid.” We did walk/ruck a lot, a total of 23 miles in two and half days. And at around the one-mile mark of each ruck, thoughts like “Why am I doing this? I could be in my bed, warm and cozy; this is stupid,” would cross my mind. I learned the match was just as much about mental fortitude as it was about skilled shooting ability. On day two, my body reached a limit of pain that was physically debilitating and mentally challenging. The decision to push through was a no-brainer, but the way I did it was to accept I would be hurting for the duration of the match and it will come to an end.


Running to a position during a stage seven. Photo credit: USAMU

Cliff notes version of the match (Extreme Tough Man Division):

  • We shot as a team, with me as the primary shooter and Daniel as secondary (which is only pertinent for target engagement). That meant I usually shot first and my targets ranged the farthest, this ended up being beneficial for my lack of experience.

Photo credit: USAMU

  • We had to carry all the guns, gear, ammo, food, and sleeping supplies throughout the match.
  • The rucks (long walks between stages while carrying our gear) ranged anywhere from 1 to 5.5 miles, the max time limit was 18 minutes per mile. If you don’t make the time limit, you are cut from the division.
  • The first ruck was the worst. It was 3.6 miles over 11 berms, several of which were up to 20 feet tall. I struggled thanks to these berms; at one point (more like three) I was literally crawling to get over them. During this movement, Daniel took my rifle for the sake of our success. We quickly learned my max ruck sack limit for an 18-minute timed mile on that terrain was about 50lbs. We moved gear between our packs at the first stage, and Daniel carried my rifle the rest of the time to ensure I wouldn’t make us fail. Thankfully this was a team event, and he was allowed to carry my rifle.
Daniel's ruck

Failure was not an option. Photo credit: Joseph Niederbrach

  • We completed 3 stages on Friday and Saturday and 2 on Sunday.
  • Each stage had an 8-minute limit to complete the course of fire. We shot from awkward positions and most stages had some sort of obstacle. Keeping track of time while shooting saved us from wasting too much time on targets that wouldn’t benefit us overall.
  • The stage briefs were read very quickly and not repeated. It was important to take notes and understand which targets are worth more than others, because some weren’t even worth shooting at.

Finding our targets for our first stage. Photo credit: USAMU

  • We slept outside on Friday and Saturday night, temperatures were freezing. Our cold weather gear was extremely beneficial when we slept (and Benadryl). It was imperative to be well rested in order to shoot our best.
  • We were part of a really great squad. The men on our squad were so experienced, it was educational to watch them shoot and to learn about them. I was very thankful to the guys who always finished the rucks first, because they decided the shooting order…and they always ordered everyone fairly.
  • The staff were professional and well organized, they kept the match running smoothly.
  • Before our last 5.2 mile movement, we learned that we had tied with another team and would have to participate in a shoot off for first place. Each team shot from 800 yards, with each team member firing 10 rounds to engage targets of various sizes.
  • We ended up winning. This came as a huge surprise because there were some very legit competitors (36 teams total). I don’t think anyone would have put money on us to win. We won because we are a good team, communicate well, neither of us get our feelings hurt in moments of high stress, and we let the little failures go (like missing a shot). Those little failures end up being lessons in how to immediately improve. I can’t count on one hand how many times I shot at the wrong target, most of which happened on our first stage. Daniel was patient and corrected my errors without creating undue stress while on the clock.
Start of a stage, Daniel lifting the log, me carrying the gear.

Start of a stage, Daniel lifting the log, me carrying the gear. Photo credit: USAMU

Daniel carrying the log up to our shooting position.

Daniel carrying the log up to our shooting position. Photo credit: USAMU

Stage 7, my portion. Shooting from 700 yards at 1.5 MOA targets.

Stage 7, my portion. Shooting from 700 yards at 1.5 MOA targets. Photo credit: USAMU


Post-match pic with our rifles.

Tips if you plan to shoot Mammoth:

  • Practice shooting from unstable positions and use the gear you have to your advantage (i.e. your pack and multiple sand socks).
  • Wear comfortable boots and good socks.
  • Invest in quality sleeping gear (lightweight tent, sleeping bag, etc).
  • Learn to read trace and give corrections.
  • Have good guns and gear, know your dope and expect to shoot out to 1000 yards.
  • Pick a teammate you care enough about that immediate anger or stress won’t affect your overall performance.
  • Expect to be cold, in pain, and exhausted most of the time.
  • Don’t quit.
Final Ruck

After the final ruck. Photo credit: Joseph Niederbrach

Get the run down on our guns and optics: Precision Guns and Optics: A Winning Combo

Read another competitor’s AAR of the match: Click HERE

Check out the match website, 2016 registration is open: Mammoth Sniper Challenge

Follow Mammoth Sniper Challenge on Facebook for updates.


My favorite picture. An RO caught this moment through a spotting scope after we won the shoot off.

More pics:


I rested every opportunity I could. Photo credit: Mammoth Sniper Challenge


Setting up our camp site. Photo credit: Mammoth Sniper Challenge


Reorganizing my pack and getting ready for rest. Photo credit: Mammoth Sniper Challenge


Photo credit: USAMU


Partner assist stage. Photo credit: USAMU


Photo credit: USAMU



Photo credit: USAMU


Jumping into the back of a dump truck to shoot from. Photo credit: USAMU


Photo credit: USAMU


Photo credit: USAMU

Mammoth Prizes

We walked away with great prizes. Big thanks to the Sponsors! Photo credit: Mammoth Sniper Challenge

For more pics from Mammoth, check out the album on Facebook.

Stay tuned for one of my next posts about the gear and supplies we used.

Questions welcome :)



Zero Preference, Keeping it Simple


Competing and doing well in 3-gun competitions has a lot to do with personal preference of gear and guns. Mind you, training is pertinent, but figuring out what works best for you is subjective. I prefer not having to think about much when I shoot except “See target, see sight on target, pull trigger.”

Most 3-gun competitors use either a 50 yard or 100 yard zero for their rifle. Through trial and quite a bit of error, I have learned that using a 50 yard zero works best for me. I utilize this zero for all matches, whether only short range targets are present or a mixture of both long and short range.

Using a 50 yard zero simplifies my thought process when shooting most distances encountered at 3-gun matches. At most major matches, long rang targets will not go further than 325 yards. The bullet trajectory of most 55 and 77 grain .223 or 5.56 has the same point of impact at 50 yards and 200 yards. This means at 50 yards and 200 yards, I would hold center of the target and would make the hit. During a match, if there are rifle targets at 50, 100, 200, and 300 yards, my thought process is: “50 yards- hold center, 100 yards- hold low, 200 yards- hold center, 300 yards- hold high.” By streamlining my thought process for the rifle portion, I can focus on other aspects of the stage that require more attention to detail.

With a 100 yard zero, targets out to 200 yards can easily be hit. When I used a 100 yard zero, I would hold center on targets out to 100 yards and then start to hold high on further targets. What I did not like about the 100 yard zero is that with no magnification and just a red dot optic, I had to put too much space between the top of the target and the bottom of the dot when shooting past 250 yards. When your hold over a target requires a lot of space, it is easy to lose track of the expected point of impact.

To get an accurate 50/200 yard zero, I zero my rifle at 50 yards first. Then verify the 200 yard point of impact, and I adjust as needed to until my hits are dead center at 200 yards. As a new 3-gun competitor, I have been able to dodge a lot of penalties on long range steel by having a simple approach to my rifle game.


Originally written for:  GunUp the Magazine, in April 2014


3-Gun Nation Ladies Pro Series Qualifier


Last weekend I competed for my chance into the 3-Gun Nation Ladies Pro Series.  There was a bit of deja vu as far as stages are concerned- but that’s a good thing.  Long story short, I made the cut and I’m honored to have the chance to shoot the fast-paced pro series.


Who finished first?!  Katie Harris, of the US Army Marksmanship Unit, of course!  Katie is a good friend and a phenomenal shooter whose success is due to her unsurpassed skill.  Some shooters are successful thanks to experience.  Katie is different; there is something intrinsically unique about her competitive edge.  Junior shooter, Ashley Rheuark, attained second place.  Ashley is fairly new to 3-gun, but is a very accomplished pistol shooter with a master shooting resume.  I remember watching her shoot at a local match and thinking “She’ll be on top of this game in no time.”  And here she is, a force to be reckoned with.  I was very pleased with my 3rd place finish, being competitive against national champions, is a blessed position to be in.


Photo credit: Reanna Kadic

Now let me tell you about Reanna Kadic.  Reanna is a junior shooter (16 years young), and is an absolute delight to be around.  Her bubbly, happy-to-be-living-life-to-the-fullest personality exudes grace and confidence.  She has not been competing for long, but I expect to see great things from her in the future.  Reanna’s dad was with her; his supportive attitude was remarkable.  Their day consisted of a lot of “I’m proud of you,” “Good job,” and critique that was extremely positive.  The best part of my day was bearing witness to their strong bond.  Parenting done right.


Here are a few tips from mistakes I made at the 3-Gun Nation Qualifer:

  1. Wear sunblock, or you will feel physically drained by mid-day.  I often give this advice, but rarely listen.  I will no longer be stubborn about this.
  2. If you forget something in your stage plan, don’t slow down trying to figure out what is missing.  Slowing down will definitely not help you.  I forgot my mag change on stage 2 and when I missed it, I knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure it out in the moment.
  3. Don’t dwell on that last bad shot.  Think about the one you’re about to take, it’s more important.
  4. Treat every stage with the same amount of importance.  I didn’t give the walk through on my final stage as much attention as I did the others.  I missed an important position because of it.

What did I do right?  Several things, but here are a few:

  1. Didn’t get stressed.  Refer to this article for info on how I deal with nerves:  Have No Fear
  2. Visualized what every single shot should look like for each intended target before shooting the stage.
  3. Shot with both eyes open for the whole match.  Seriously, this is a big deal for me, cause I previously continued to revert back to my bad habit of closing my left eye.
  4. Reloaded my magazines immediately after shooting a stage.  This helped with focusing on the next stage at hand.

Photo credit: 3-Gun Nation

So what does all this 3-Gun Nation stuff mean?  3-Gun Nation (3GN) is an organization that promotes our Second Amendment right through competitive shooting events.  The Pro Series is a tv show where competitors have to first make the cut to compete and then will compete against each other on the tv show.  In addition to the Pro Series, 3GN holds Regional matches that attract new and experienced shooters.  If shooters do well at the Regional or Club (matches held by local shooting ranges) series, they gain an invite to the Pro Series.  The Pro Series is the quintessence of “run and gun,” there is no room for error in this high-speed environment.  The Regional Series matches consist of longer stages and further shots, these matches are a great place to learn the sport and also to contend for titles.

Please leave any questions in the comment area below.

Upcoming 3-Gun Nation Regional matches:



In order of finish, here are the Ladies who will be competing in the 3-Gun Nation Ladies Pro Series:

Katie Harris

Ashley Rheuark

Candice Horner

Audra Brown

Kellie Prince

Reanna Kadic

Tennille Chidester

Returning Pro Ladies are:

Lena Miculek

Kay Miculek

Dianna Liedorff Muller

Randi Rogers

Becky Yackley


Precision Guns and Optics: A Winning Combo


Daniel and I shot the Mammoth Sniper Challenge as a team, competing in the Extreme Tough Man division. The match, known for being one of the most difficult, required that we carry all the guns, gear, ammo, and food we needed for three days/two nights and eight courses of fire. We rucked everything, through obstacles, for a total of 23 timed miles (18 minutes per mile maximum).  We slept outside in freezing temperatures and shot dynamic stages that tried our physical limits just as much as our marksmanship skills. Our success was undoubtedly determined by our keen selection of guns and optics.

We ultimately won the match because we made our hits. I shot primary; my targets were 400-1040 yards. Daniel shot secondary; his targets were 150-650 yards. The target sizes ranged from ½ to 3 MOA.

Our rifles were identical (total weight of each rifle with scope and bipod was 14.5lbs).  Here’s the breakdown:

Surgeon Scalpel Short Action Rifle with a PROOF Research Barrel


Photo Credit: USAMU, SFC Piper

Action:  Surgeon Scalpel 591 Short Action

  • Very smooth bolt throw
  • Easy bolt lift after firing

Barrel:  28” Carbon Fiber wrapped PROOF Research

  • Immediately shot great
  • Consistently 0.3 MOA results
  • POI did not walk when barrel heated during courses of fire and during testing

Candice5shot100yrd  Dan5Shot300yrd

Pictured above: Candice’s 5 shot group at 100 yards (Left) and Daniel’s 5 shot group at 300 yards (Right)

Trigger:  Jewell Trigger, set to 2lbs

  • Light pull
  • No grit
  • Crisp break
  • Easy to adjust

Brake:  Badger Ordnance FTE Muzzle Brake

  • Extremely effective in mitigating recoil

Caliber:  .308 Winchester

Ammunition:  Federal Premium, 7.62x51mm, 175gr Sierra Matchking

Stock:  McMillan A-5

  • Easy to adjust cheekpiece
  • Adjustable length of pull

Bipod:  Sierra 7 Bipod

  • Quickly attaches and detaches to picatinny rail
  • Tension adjustable pan and track features
  • Legs lock individually at the 0,45,90,135,180 degrees
  • Raptor feet provide stability on barricades

Photo Credit: USAMU, SFC Piper

Rifle Scope:  Leupold Mark 6 3-18x44mm with H59 reticle with Leupold Mark 4 Steel Rings

  • Tracked properly
  • Great clarity
  • Lightweight
  • Rugged
  • Locking elevation turret
  • Easy to use zero stop

Spotting Scope:  Leupold Mark 4 12-40x60mm with H32 reticle

  • Very clear
  • Easy to see trace
  • Durable
  • Used in conjunction with Aimpoint (T1 micro)
  • Used with Bushnell tripod

Photo Credit: USAMU, SFC Piper

Image Stabilized Binos:  Fraser Optics Gyro-Stabilized 14x40mm

  • Extremely quick to employ
  • 2 depths of field to see trace
  • Compact
  • Low energy consumption
  • Very rugged
  • Can see trace as well or better than a spotting scope to 600 yards
  • These binos would be better if they had a Horus reticle

Photo Credit: USAMU, SFC Piper

Huge thanks to Surgeon Rifles, PROOF Research, and Leupold Optics for making products that are innovative and unparalleled.


Improve Your Shotgun Game for 3-Gun


Understanding that the shotgun can make or break your 3-gun game is paramount. If you do not learn to work with your shotgun, it will become your weakest link. When I first started competing, I saw a distinct divide between those who accepted the challenges of the shotgun and adapted accordingly and those who did not.

Competitors tend to focus on how to improve their pistol and rifle. While it is important to improve those firearms, it is also equally important to pay attention to the third gun for 3-gun. There are not many competition shotguns that are ready for a match straight out of the box. To be match-ready, the shotgun should be modified for easy reloading and have a higher capacity magazine tube.

There are several companies that sell extended magazine tubes; most competitors utilize a tube that will hold 10 to 13 shells. I prefer a 10 round magazine tube because I like to tailor my load plan to even numbers. The magazine tube spring will get worn from repetitive reloads that happen during matches and practice; keep a spare spring on hand. But if you are in a pinch and do not have an extra, you can stretch out your old spring until you replace it. You should be able to load the tube to maximum capacity without resistance, if it is too difficult to get that last shell in, you can cut the spring down. To test if the spring is worn and needs replacing, load the tube, turn the gun upside down, press the action release and pay close attention to the speed that the shell is released onto the lifter. Then clear the shell from the lifter and ensure the chamber is empty. Continue checking the speed each shell is released from the magazine tube. If you notice that the last shell seems to be released slower or is more sluggish than the first shell, you should consider replacing the spring before your next match.


Modifying the shotgun loading port is relative to how you reload the shotgun. I load two shells at a time with my right hand, which is my strong hand. I had the loading port modified so that, when flipped upside down, the right side of the loading port has more material cut away and is smoothed out. Doing this enables me to load quickly and easily. The way the loading port is widened for a shotgun can be compared to putting an extended magwell on your pistol, both modifications serve the same purpose: quicker, fumble-free reloads. For the way that I reload, there is no reason to modify the lifter.

Learning which choke to use and when is an oversight many competitors unfortunately often make. The most useful knowledge I learned that helped improve my shotgun game was at an all-shotgun match. I had a crash course in chokes, and the importance of patterning a shotgun. The chokes I use are: diffuser, improved cylinder, and modified. When I patterned my shotgun, I tested the limits of all the chokes. For measuring the distance, I used my own paces instead of standard yards. When I’m unsure if my choke of choice will work during a stage, I walk the distance from the target and know immediately if I’ll make the hit. The other important part of patterning a shotgun is to know how different brands of ammunition perform. Use paper targets to pattern your shotgun, you will be able to see the shot spread. Slugs hits are one of my biggest areas of weakness. I steadily improved my slug hits once I accepted the fact that my improved cylinder and modified chokes cause a different point of impact and that there is a large difference between ammunition brands. I have three brands of slugs and they each have a unique point of impact, I need to be cognizant of that fact when loading my shotgun. One upgrade on my “to-list” is to get a rear sight for the shotgun, this will also help make those far slug hits.

You can only be as strong as the weakest link in your game. For many 3-gun competitors, the shotgun is a continuous struggle. Anyone can excel once they understand several crucial aspects of the shotgun as they relate to 3-gun success.

Photo credit: Becky Yackley

Photo credit: Becky Yackley

Originally written for:  GunUp the Magazine


Have No Fear

My first match

My first match

I have seen many competitors get nervous during shooting matches. Some of the signs and symptoms of their nervousness include hand tremors, sweating, nausea, and self-doubt. What is the root cause of these manifestations?

Fear can have an incapacitating effect on the human body. Fear is learned, and is only useful for the purpose of survival. Competing in 3-Gun is not life or death, so you must remove fear in order to perform your best. There are two types of fear that can affect your mental game: fear of the known and fear of the unknown.

Poor past performance can cause you to worry that it will happen again. If you haven’t had enough trigger time and are aware of your areas of weakness, you might dwell on parts of a match where you expect failure. Feeling like you are being watched while shooting can cause you to worry about what others are thinking or saying about you. All of these examples are fear of the known; you are familiar with how similar experiences have made you feel and now you are letting them hinder your future performance.

You might be completely new to competitive shooting and not know what to expect. A match that has further shots or different stages than you anticipated can cause you to feel unprepared for this new experience. Fear of the unknown can be just as debilitating as fear of the known because your mind can construct some very irrational possibilities.



Both types of fear can be handled in the same way because fear is not productive in your growth as a competitive shooter. Build your confidence by strengthening your fundamental shooting skills and believing in your capabilities. Do not think of the match as a whole entity, instead focus on each stage. At each stage, focus on each target. Concentrate on the present in order to keep your mind free from the fears that could inhibit your performance. With so much focus on what is about to happen, there should not be any room left to worry about what other people think. Their thoughts have no impact on how you have prepared, so what they think absolutely does not matter in reference to the stage you are about to shoot.


Focus on your current shot

I like to view every stage as a new, fun experience. By doing so, I prevent myself from worrying about my overall standing in a match. Even though I am not the best shooter, I am not intimidated by the outstanding performance of my competitors. I believe that their success does not mean my failure; it just means I have a lot to learn. I do not remember the last time I have been scared or fearful in a situation. Have no fear and you will improve your game.

Originally written for: GunUp the Magazine


About that Prize Table


It’s fun to compete, but it’s icing on the cake when awesome prizes are involved. Match Directors work incessantly to ensure the prize tables awe competitors. The prize table is actually not about the prize table or even about the match; it’s all about you. Now that you know the prize table is all about you, let’s talk about what that really means.

I have seen prize tables where the actions of others made me think “Wow… this is madness, these people have no manners…someone please put order to this mess!” Match results are read in order by finish; prizes are supposed to be picked in the same order. The appropriate action by the competitor is to fall in line after their name is called and pick up their prize. It is also not okay to prevent other shooters from selecting an item by hovering over several different prizes cause you cannot make up your mind. At the end of the day, even the prizes are just items that can be bought and are not worth others getting a bad opinion of you if a prize table situation gets sticky.


Sponsors shine at the awards ceremony and prize table. There is more to match sponsorship than just putting guns, gear, and gift certificates on the table. Sponsors are able to gain exposure while actively showing support for shooting sports. This does not immediately translate into revenue for those sponsors. To show your appreciation, send the sponsor a quick letter or email. It is important to let the match sponsors know that they’ve made a good choice by sponsoring the event.

prizetable4  prizetable1

Most competitors do not shoot matches with the expectation of walking away with an amazing prize. No matter what you walk away with, do it with grace by thinking of the sponsors and your fellow competitors. When is comes to prize tables, the etiquette is simple: take your turn, be kind, and say thank you.

Originally written for: GunUp the Magazine


I’ve Been Adopted

15260270647_c956037f1f_z  CandiceNKarla

Almost two years ago, a competitive shooter told me “You need to shoot 3-gun. Just come watch a match.” I did as I was told and showed up to a monthly Tarheel 3-Gun match as a spectator. Following a squad for the day gave me insight as to what to expect during matches. Competitors were welcoming of my timid questions and encouraged me to show up the following month to shoot my first match. By the end of the day, I thought “This is awesome; I will shoot 3-gun.” I left the range that day with several points of contact who offered to help me get prepared for 3-gun.

I was amazed at how welcoming seasoned competitors were to a new shooter, like me. The same people who would become my competition were my biggest supporters from day one. I had no guns, gear, or knowledge of the sport. Several of the “regulars” at the Tarheel 3-Gun monthly matches followed through on their offers to get me squared away for my first match. In October 2012, I shot my first match using borrowed gear, guns, and ammunition. That match was a small, personal victory: I didn’t DQ, I didn’t come in last place, and I wanted to come back for more!

IMG_7908  1614131_10202889254501731_1340782356_o

In preparation for what would become my new life as a 3-gun competitor, I relied heavily on the help from others. There is camaraderie and friendly competition in the sport of 3-gun that I did not expect. Aside from the shooting aspect of the sport, I have made strong friendships with people whom I can depend on in any situation. I’ve been adopted into an amazing shooting family that I didn’t know I wanted or needed, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back, I know that I would not be where I am today without the kindness of complete strangers. I am forever indebted to those who pushed me outside of my comfort zone so that I could grow as a 3-gun competitor. Now I look forward to matches as if they are a family reunion that cannot come fast enough. It’s wonderful to shoot matches, but it’s so much more meaningful when you care about the people you shoot with.

Match  photo-11

My advice if you are thinking about getting into 3-gun, go watch a local, monthly match. Ask questions about gear, guns, and stage descriptions. Most competitors will readily let you check out their gear and guns of choice. Not only will you make great friends, but you will save yourself time and money when you’re receptive to those who have been shooting long enough to know what really works in competition.

I would like to give huge thanks to people in my shooting family who played a major role in my first year of 3-gun: Mike and Nancy Oberman, Charles Sole, Steve Wall, Rob Noel, Damon and Dana Woodall, Eric Eckhardt, Garrett Howell, Joe Satterfield, Joe Harris, Katie Harris, Andrew Barnes, Clay Martin, Jim Granger, James Gill, Will Hiett, Cody Nelson, Morris and Madison Thompson, J.J. Nuttlemen, Andy Horner, Karla Herdzik, and Clint Upchurch. All of those people gave me guidance and opportunities in one way or another which has made me a stronger competitor in an environment that I blindly jumped into head-first.


Originally written for: GunUp the Magazine


3-Gun Gear: Whatever Works

1780126_10203059412635578_1970967941_o Shotgun3GN

Getting into the sport of 3-gun can be overwhelming. The question I hear most often is “What gear do I need to get started?” When selecting 3-gun gear, decide what purpose it will it actually serve.

My bottom line when choosing gear is function, followed by cost. As long as my belt stays in place, my holster retains the pistol, my magazine pouches hold the magazines, and my shotgun shell caddies firmly hold the shells: my gear functions as intended. Spending money on top-of-the-line gear will not make anyone a better 3-gun shooter.

As a new shooter, I cannot justify spending hard-earned money on fancy 3-gun accessories. For example, a belt can cost anywhere between 30 and 250 dollars. Practice makes progress, and that price difference between the low-end and high-end belts can instead be used to buy much-needed practice ammunition. I learned that valuable lesson after spending money on items I did not need, and they did not make me a better shooter. Currently, I am back to the first inner/outer belt combination I started out with and the cheapest magazine pouches I have purchased to date. All that extra, unnecessary gear is now collecting dust in my garage.

At the bare minimum, a new 3-gun shooter needs: a belt that stays in place and can hold two pistol magazine pouches, one rifle magazine pouch, and a pistol holster. There are several different shotgun shell caddy options. If you are just starting out, get on track with the upward curve of fast shotgun reloading, which is the load-two or quad-load methods. There are several different companies who manufacture shotgun caddies for the load-two and quad-load technique. From day one, I have been using caddies manufactured by Carbon Arms and my shotgun reloads have been consistently fast. In regard to cost, caddies designed for the load-two and quad-load methods are not the least expensive option, but they do serve the higher purpose of cutting time on your reloads. In that case, it is absolutely worth the extra cost.

Photo credit: Becky Yackley

Photo credit: Becky Yackley

The best way to figure out what equipment to buy is to watch what other, more experienced competitors are using. Several of the top-level competitors are using some of the least expensive gear, and it works perfectly for them. On the other hand, there are competitors who have the newest gear on the market and swear by it. When purchasing gear for 3-gun, start slow and start cheap, you will quickly find out what works best for you.

Originally written for: GunUp the Magazine