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!
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.
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