Ft. Benning, Georgia -
Last weekend, top 3-gun competitors from across the nation descended upon Columbus, Georgia for the Ft. Benning 3-Gun Challenge. Known as one of the country's most challenging and exciting 3-gun competitions, this match is designed and run by the Army Marksmanship Unit's Action Shooting Team.
While there, we had a chance to sit down with newcomer Bryan Ray.
We first introduced you to Ray at the Adams Arms Ozark 3-Gun Championship in September. That's where we chronicled his performance in the 3-Gun Nation shoot-off. As a newcomer to the national 3-gun scene, Ray has had some amazing finishes, including this weekend when he took first place in the Heavy Metal Division despite fierce competition from seasoned veterans.
Here's what he said about his recent win and incredible run in 2010.
NRAblog: How long have you been competing in 3-gun matches?
Photo courtesy of 3-Gun Nation
Bryan Ray: My first 3-gun match was the 2009 Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun. I shot Heavy Metal and came in second behind the late, great Eddie Rhodes. Not only did I feel it was an accomplishment to come in 2nd, but at the Blue Ridge it's a feat just to finish the match. Later that year I shot the Area 6 Multigun and came in 2nd behind Michael Fordyce, and finished up 2009 with a 4th place finish at Ft. Benning.
You’ve had a pretty good year for 3-gun in 2010. Tell me about some of the bigger matches you’ve competed in this year and how well you’ve finished.
I've shot four major matches this year and two locals, starting with the Blue Ridge 3-Gun (BRM3G) in April. Working the BRM3G as a Range Officer, we shot it on the Wednesday and Thursday before the match started and cleared the brush for the other competitors. The weather was perfect for us, and I felt like I shot a strong match.
Of course, due to an act of God (severe weather conditions), we didn't get to see finals. I was lucky enough to get drawn for the 3-Gun Nation shoot-off, but got disqualified in the third round for stepping outside of the box. It was a great experience to be able to compete against the best in the country in my home state.
Next up was the Ozark 3-Gun Championship in September. This was a difficult match to shoot without mistakes. I only won two stages here, but my others were consistent enough to come out ahead in the final points. I made the 3-Gun Nation shoot-off again but got knocked out in the 2nd round by Daniel Horner, who I was squadded with at the match.
I shot the Area 6 USPSA match in November and came in second place. Michael Fordyce outshot me on six of the nine stages there for the win.
And of course it wrapped up with Ft. Benning. In 3-gun we all say that he who screws up the least wins and I think this is more true at Ft. Benning than anywhere else. I won three of the stages, and the two I am most unhappy with my performance also turned out to be bad stages for several of the other top competitors.
It's been said that the Ft. Benning 3-Gun Challenge is the best in the country. How does it feel to win Heavy Metal against some of the nation’s top competitors?
I am ecstatic to win this match. This match throws everything at a shooter: off-hand rifle, odd positions, tight pistol shots, long range, shooting on the move, aerial clays- I feel this match is a one of the better at testing all of a shooters abilities. To win here is an honor for me.
What sets the Ft. Benning 3-Gun Challenge apart from other 3-gun matches?
The hospitality of the AMU and the Army is amazing. They provide resources for the match that others cannot. This was my first opportunity to fire the M249 SAW and M209 grenade launcher and riding in a Stryker never gets boring! With the AMU team behind match set-up and admin, we get the privilege to shoot stages designed and set-up by some of the best 3-gun shooters in the country.
We competitors always thank the match staff, Range Officers, and sponsors for putting on a great match and they deserve it. But I would like to thank all the other shooters. Only at a 3-gun match will you find people who are in direct competition with you willing to offer advice about a stage, caution about a tricky target, or share stories of how they messed up to try to help you avoid the same fate.
Congratulations on your win, Bryan! We can't wait to see what you do in 2011. Check back, because we'll have an interview with another winner, Clint Upchurchwho took first in the Open Division at Ft. Benning .