My First 3 Gun
Yesterday we had a special event at our local gun club. In fact it was very secretive when they announced it about two weeks ago. They gave a few obvious hints for people who were paying attention. Required equipment: pistol, rifle, and shotgun as well as the necessary holsters, mag pouches and shell carriers for reloading on-the-go.
Well I missed the initial sign-up, and given the popularity of the usual classes it would most likely be full within a day or so. Having never done anything 3-gun related and probably having zero chance of finding another way to do it short of catching a plane to a more gun-friendly state back on the Mainland, I shot off an email to the registrar and crossed my feathers. To my surprise there was still space a week later, and it wasn't until the event was over that the reason for all the secrecy became apparent. People are terrified of competition, especially doing something new that might make them look like fools in front of lots of other people.
This time the public relations stunt actually worked out. The event was full of amateur shooters who were curious and had some experience, most of whom had never participated in a 3-gun event before. For those of you who don't know, 3-gun is one of the fastest-growing competitive shooting sports because it's as close as you can get to playing a first person shooter video-game in real life (without the nasty side effects of targets shooting back).
Dropping Some Cash
There is an intensive investment required to get in the door unless you have some really cool friends who will let you borrow their stuff. People in our club love training with pistols and rifles, but it seems as if a big percentage of them have shotgun recoil-allergies so one of the instructors made his personal 870 available to those who didn't have one. Also we ran the course using birdshot. That was a big issue for everyone at one particular stage where we had to break clays parked on a backstop several meters away, but illustrative of how much steam those little pellets loose coming out of a smooth-bore over relatively short distances. Out of frustration I ended up doing a mag dump on my Saiga 12, which actually took care of the problem. Sometimes overwhelming brute force is the solution after all. Go figure.
Not For Experts Only
This also brings up the best part of events like this. As the locals here say “Bumbai you learn.” While the rifle and shotgun portions were going my way, the pistol sections were really throwing me for a loop. In total I racked up about close to a minute in penalties (5 seconds for each missed shot) which knocked my ranking down to 11 out of 20. In a relaxed environment I can make the cans dance with my .40 but when it came to stress I'm all over the place. A little Google-Fu when I got home revealed that I basically had thrown my fundamentals out the window. My grip is going to require some tweaking and rehearsal to make sure I'm maximizing contact with the frame and using the same technique every time. Also my trigger pull sucks, my presentation is wonky, and I don't even remember what my feet were doing. You get the idea. This is all stuff that's better to become aware of and improve in a relatively safe and controlled environment, especially when it comes to the gun I'm most likely to defend my living space in a tightly-packed neighborhood where stray bullets can carry terrible consequences.
Dialing It In
While the setups were rudimentary and the schedule dragged on a couple hours longer than the organizers had planned, we really appreciated the non-competitive nature of the event. Everyone learned something that day and only a couple people quit in frustration and disappeared into the parking lot. At least three optics died, several failures to feed, and some guys who had dropped some serious cash on their kit got humbled. It helped justify my theory of going for low-budget solutions and only upgrading when something is obviously not working. People poke fun at me for the Chinese chest rig, TRS-25 red dot, and my belt-pouch-pistol-mag-holder thingie. Maybe when my skills get to the point where shaving a couple seconds off my score makes sense then it will be time to consider upgrading. For now the money is probably better spent on ammo, targets, and fixing my truck so I can make it to the range safely.
Fighting The Good Fight
Unfortunately for the people who put on this event (and hopefully future ones like it) Hawaii is one of the most restrictive states in the nation when it comes to firearms. The club is very cautious about everyone following the rules and specifically request that participants do not publicly share photos unless given they are given express permission on how to use them. Because of fear that some overzealous legislative action, they are afraid of people even mentioning the name of the organization in the media unless they have some control about how it's being used. Meanwhile they are fighting behind the scenes to maintain the rights that we still have, and with some luck and enough cash in their legal fund I sincerely hope they can win back some of the rights we have already lost.
So if you are wondering why I'm not sharing any photos or video of the event, it's not because I'm afraid to look bad on camera. I'd love to ham it up and show people some of the high and low points of the day, but as one of the organizers put it "...we are a victim of our own success- we cannot accommodate all the people who would like to participate". In other words I'm already lucky enough to get on the list now and then, and I usually try to stay later and help with the clean-up to make sure I stay on good terms and keep my spot.
Private land owners take notice, because if you are willing to go through the legal hassle of setting up your own range then there is a growing market who will literally beat a path to your door.
Get Thee To A Rangery!
In any case, the rest of you who are interested in this stuff should never hesitate to participate. Chances are there is a local organization nearby that would love to have new members come train with them. If the first place you try doesn't work out then keep looking. The good ones will encourage you to do better without making you feel inferior and give you the best opportunity to have a great time no matter what your final score is.