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My 2nd Year Competing in 3-Gun Nation

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Here we are at the end of September, 2017 and the competition year for 3-Gun Nation is nearly finished.  Last year at this time, I wrote an article looking back at my first year competing in 3-Gun Nation, and I set some goals for 2017.  So I thought I’d write a follow-up to that article see how I did against those goals, review my overall performance, and set goals for 2018.  Here are the goals I set for myself in 2016:

    1.  Shoot every local match I possibly can.  Check.  There were definitely less opportunities to shoot local 3-Gun for me in 2017 as compared to 2016 (problems with local clubs caused fewer matches), but I I think I averaged at least two local 3-Gun matches every month which is quite a bit.  On the flip side, I did a better job of shooting a more and different clubs this year, so I broadened my exposure as opposed to shooting the same locations and matches I did last year.
    2. Get some 3 Gun Specific Training.  Check.  I took a shotgun class from Keith Garcia in April, and took Keith’s full three-day 3-Gun class in August.  I also took a one-day competitive pistol course from Bob Vogel which, while not specific to 3-Gun, was very benefitial.
    3. Go to at least one 3 Gun Nation Regional Match.  Check.  I did shoot at the 2017 3-Gun Nation East Regional.  Unfortunately, I DQ’d at the match.  But it was a great learning experience for me.
    4. Do well enough to be invited to the 3GN Nationals. At the begining of September, 3-Gun Nation began sending out invitations to the 3-Gun Nation Nationals.  There are a few different ways to get invited, but the point is, not everyone receives an invitation.  In September of 2017, I did receive an invitation to shoot at the 3-Gun Nation Nationals:

Looking back, 2017 definitely had its “ups and downs” for me in 3-Gun.

I shot my first “big” match of my shooting career at the March 2017 3GN Ohio State 3-Gun Championship.  Unfortunately, it was a disaster of equipment failure for me – shotgun.  I brought two shotguns to the match, and experienced mechancial failures with both.   I had hoped to finish in the top half of competitors, but instead came in 71st out of 100 – the worst placement I would have all year.

The next “big” match up for me was the 3-Gun Nation Eastern Regional in May – disaster once again struck, and I DQ’d on the very first stage of the match – my first ever DQ.  I was of course very disappointed, but I still got to get a feel for what a “major” match was all about, walk all the stages (even if I didn’t shoot most of them), did some stage planning and got some valuable experience.

By June, I was unbelieveably frustrated with my lack of performance in the matches I shot.  I wasn’t shooting nearly as well as I was at the end of 2016, and I felt that equipment issues were largely to blame.  I had switched pistols and was shooting the new P320 X-Five, and had also switched shotguns.  Both were quite an adjustment for me.  And my shotguns were continuing to run unreliably.  A great leason was learned here about “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Chasing the latest and greatest gear is often a mistake.

The next 3-Gun match I would shoot would be a local match on June 24th – it was a Star Wars themed match:

I came in 12th out of about 30 shooters, which I was pretty pleased with given the strong talent the match drew.  I had one bad stage, but overall felt good about my performance.  Best of all, it seemed like me equipment failures were finially behind me and I was starting to shoot to my potential with my new gear.

Then came the July UCOA 3-Gun match in Findlay, Ohio.

This match would be my best club match peformance of 2017 – it was a great match for me, and I placed 4th.  The August UCOA match was also good for me, and I placed 8th in that match:

I then shot the 2017 Rockcastle 3-Gun Championship Pro/Am, and finished well above my expectations.  I shot in the “Am” side of the match, and finished 12th (out of 33) in the Open division, and finished 74th out of 230 overall competitors:

While the Rockcastle Pro/Am isn’t a 3-Gun Nation event, it’s still considered the largest 3-Gun match in the US with approximately 500 total competitors.  Finishing in the top 100 on the Amature side of the competition was a huge personal accomplishment for me.  The match did reveal a huge weakness in my long distance game, which held me back from placing in the top 20 of the match.

From a 3-Gun Nation classification standpoint, I did improve in 2017.  I moved up to “High Marksman” and finished 35th in the Nation in the Unlimited Class on the 3GN Leaderboard:

Overall, I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made in 3-Gun in 2017.  I met all the goals I set in 2016, and had some notable accomplishments outside of those goals.  I also got my 3-Gun Nation Range Officer Certification, and RO’d several local club matches at a few different clubs:

Being an RO really helped my stage planning – I highly recommend folks new to 3-Gun pursue getting RO certified, and volunteer to help RO at your local matches.  It flattens your learning curve for the game.  You don’t have to start running a timer – run the scoring pad and be a second set of eyes for the primary RO until you have more experience.

Now I’ll start focusing on goals for next year:

  1.  Move up to “Expert” classification in 3GN.  This is probobly a low bar goal considering I could likely classify at that level now had I the ability to shoot more classifiers.  Hopefully 3GN further tweeks the classification system to make it more worthwhile for clubs to run classifier matches, as well as at least one classifier stage every match.
  2. Improve my long-range game.  Right now, I feel my long distance shooting (at least 3-Gun long distance, which we’ll call from 200yds to about 500yds) is my weakest link.  This will be a difficult one to overcome as I have almost no convienent options to practice past 200 yards.  So, I’ve got to start shooting more at 200 yards at my own home range, buy a chronograph and figure out my dope at 300, 350, 400, 450, and 500yds.
  3. Work on “explosive movement.”  I’m about 5′ 7″ tall with a long torso and short legs.  I’m not a fast runner.  My point to point movement stinks.  I’ve improved some things this year like shooting on the move, and reloading on the move.  But I’m slow when it comes to exploding from shooting position to shooting positions.
  4. Complete a 3GN Regional.  I want to go to another 3GN Regional match and NOT DQ this time.  Right now, I’m targeting the 3GN Southern Regional in Frostproof, FL in February of 2018.
  5. Be invited to and compete in the 2018 3GN Nationals.  As honored as I am to have earned an invite in 2017, it’s just not going to fit in my schedule this year.  And given the deficiencies in my long-range game, this isn’t the year for me to compete at the 3GN Nationals.  So I think 2018 will be my year for Nationals.

Are you shooting in 3 Gun Nation?  If not, head over to the 3 Gun Nation Website and find a club match near you!

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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