ACTS: Not like any other Action Shooting Sport

The American Confederation of Tactical Shooters is a relatively young competition shooting organization having existed only since 2005 and only having 3 chapters currently.  The focus of ACTS is to test practical shooting skills with rifle and pistol in scenarios representing civilian self defense, law enforcement, or military engagements.

I am fortunate to live close enough to attend the Arizona chapter based in Tucson, and have been participating there since 2007.  I’ve been competing in action shooting sports since 2002, primarily 3 gun, and ACTS is very different from that genre of competitive shooting.  The more main stream 3 Gun has become, the more routine, watered down and game centric it has become.  I very rarely encounter a stage that makes me think “Can I actually do this?” in 3 Gun vs “How fast can I do this” anymore.  ACTS regularly pushes the envelope through physical challenges, awkward shooting positions, and highly technical shooting. ACTS regularly faces the shooter with problems that make them question if they can actually accomplish the stage.

The difference between ACTS and other multigun competitions was emphasized greatly at the December 2011 match in Tucson.

Stage 1 required the shooter to wear a heavy pack and sprint back and forth between positions while using rifle and pistol.  Any missed shot was plus 10 seconds to the shooter’s score.

Stage 2 involved shooting upside down and crawling out of an obstacle representing an over turned vehicle.  In the linked video you can see the shooter handles his gun aggressively, throwing it clear (which would likely result in a dropped gun DQ anywhere else, even though its not inherently unsafe).  ACTS is hard on equipment, and I don’t recommend bringing any guns or gear you want to maintain show room quality finish on.

Stage 3 had a 20 second par time for the shooter to engage 6 targets and get out through a hole in a prop.  Short par times are often used to force shooters to move faster and increase the urgency in completing the stage.  (unfortunately this was the only video of myself from the December 2011 match, I had camera issues.  I placed 1st/14 Enhanced, 2nd/39 overall)

Stage 4 required the shooter to engage a pistol target at 50 yards and a rifle target at 100 yards crawling back and forth through a tunnel in the dirt every 5 hits with each gun.  ACTS Stages often get competitors and their gear dirty; carpet or other ground cover to make it more comfortable for the shooter is a rare occurrence.

Physical challenges combined with hard technical shooting is the next evolution of the practical shooting sports.  Physical fitness plays a key role in self defense or combat.  Correspondingly ACTS has higher participation than other competiton venues of active or reserve military, law enforcement personnel, and recently out of the service veterans who enjoy the challenge and want to keep their skills sharp.  Likewise self defense oriented citizens, and students of tactical training schools are likely to find ACTS more interesting and relevant to their interests than other multigun competitions.

I’m not dismissing 3-gun or multigun as not useful or not fun; it certainly can be and is probably a better place for shooters without a lot of experience or skill to start.  There is however a demand for the type of competition ACTS offers.  Whether people want to run clubs under the ACTS umbrella or start their own matches, the time has come for the action shooting sports to progress forward into this area.

About SinistralRifleman

I've been competing in the action shooting sports since 2002. I believe competition shooting to be an excellent way to build gun handling and marksmanship skills and encourage all gun owners to seek out some form of competition shooting. Anyone can become reasonably good at it if they devote the time and resources to do so. Winning, while nice, need not be your goal; bettering yourself through the pursuit of excellence is something we all can achieve.
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