Looking to get into the shooting sports? If you’re new to firearms, you may have heard the term “3-gun” when talking about recreational or competitive shooting. But maybe you're not sure what that “3-gun” means. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
3-gun is currently one of the fastest growing shooting sports. It provides shooters with the opportunity to master a variety of marksmanship skills using a host of firearms in a fluid and dynamic setting.
If the name didn’t already give it away, this sport involves three different firearms rifle, pistol, and shotgun.
The equipment will vary among shooters but 3-gunners typically start with a AR-15 style rifle (or any semi-automatic rifle in .223), 9mm pistol, and semi-automatic or pump 12 gauge shotgun.
Courses are designed with a variety of obstacles and targets where the competitor can shoot anything from steel plates to flying clays to paper silhouettes. Each shooter travels and shoots around barriers - like walls, barrels, or even an airplane, as seen at the NRA World Shooting Championship. Scores are based on the time it takes to travel the course and how accurately they shot each target.
3-gun matches vary but mostly fall into three divisions: Factory, Practical, and Unlimited.
Factory is a great place to start for beginners. In this division, the firearms are configured very close to factory specifications. For pistols, optics are not allowed on the gun and the magazine capacity limit is 15. For shotguns, optics, again, are not allowed and tubes are limited to 8 rounds. However, rifles may have a non-magnified optic (red dot) in conjunction with iron sights. Internal modifications of all three guns are allowed.
Practical is the most popular division in the sport. This division allows all readily available options of optics and gear. The configuration of the guns in Practical are similar to Factory with a couple exceptions. Rifles may have one magnified optic which can be used in conjunction with iron sights. For shotguns, the use of optics is still not allowed but there is no limitation on the size of the ammo tube (you can only begin the course with a max of 9 rounds but can add more after the starting buzzer). Pistols are the same as those used in the Factory division. Internal modifications of all three guns are allowed.
Unlimited is the "anything goes” division. Any optics are allowed in any combination on all three guns. There are no magazine capacity limits, except for a 170 mm length limit on pistol magazines.
“Practice makes perfect” couldn’t hold any truer meaning than for 3-gun shooting. Sure, plinking at the range may help, but to develop these competition skills, shooters need to practice with a variety of firearms, targets, and obstacles.
Are you looking to get into the world of 3-gun? Try out NRA Outdoors 3 Gun School. This school is a two day course held at Peacemaker National Training Center (PNTC) in West Virginia. The course offers a fast-paced combination of lessons and firing drills, including actual 3-gun stages. Using a proven step by step instruction model, PNTC 3-gun instructional staff will guide students through the complexities of 3-gun including; equipment, ammunition, firearms, rules, strategies, safety, stage planning, and stage execution.