The Case For Rifle/Pistol Matches
The number one reason people tell me they don’t want to shoot 3 Gun is because they don’t have/don’t want to buy a shotgun just for shooting a game. I have heard this more and more since the mid-2000s. There are three major things I believe are contributing to this:
1) There is a large pool of people that came back from the global war on terror. They have bought carbines similar to the ones they were issued, and want an outlet to practice the martial skills they learned and used. Very few of these people actually used shotguns, and those who did will admit their limited utility.
2) The focus in commercial defensive/tactical shooting schools as whole is largely geared around rifles and handguns now, there aren’t as many tactical shotgun classes taught anymore by comparison.
3) Expense: one less gun makes it that much more affordable to compete in both initial equipment investment and ammunition costs. While people may own shotguns, few are optimized for shooting 3 Gun. Competitive 3 Gun Shotguns are somewhere between a home defense shotgun and a hunting shotgun. 21-24″ barrels with chokes and full length or longer magazine tubes are the norm. The ammunition carrying equipment to be competitive is also increasingly impractical for anything other than competing. The shotgun is consequently viewed as much more specialized equipment than rifles or pistols.
With these things in mind, there is an untapped market of potential competitors. The 2 Gun Action Challenge Match in Tucson, Arizona is an event that appeals to these demographics. It is strictly a rifle/pistol match. Many of the stages combine physical challenge elements. The more complex stages are often based around real world incidents. The mean age of competitors is younger than other venues. More active duty military, veterans, and Law Enforcement attend it. There are also more people attending who have paid for commercial training that want a monthly event to keep their skills sharp
Including physical challenges as part of stages changes the tone of the match. Shooting this match feels more like a training session with friends than a serious competitive event. It also helps keep away the whiners and complainers that can ruin the experience. The fewer the targets on the stage, the harder the stage is physically. Physical Challenges Can Include: 100-200 yard sprints, kettle bell throws, carrying heavy objects, crawling under obstacles, or going through obstacles. The end result is more challenging stages with less ammunition expended.
Inclusivity Fosters Success
The match has wisely chosen to remain inclusive in the sense that any equipment allowed at other multi-gun matches is allowed there. Arizona has a large action shooting population, they can use the same rifles and pistols they use in 3-Gun if they want. Prohibiting equipment simply gives people a reason not to participate. There is crossover from other local competitive venues as a result. Armored division is available for people who wish to compete with body armor on as it does tend to make one slower and the physical challenges harder.
Stage Design Defines Everything
2GACM distinguishes itself based upon stage design and shooting/physical challenges. Events that try to distinguish themselves based upon equipment restrictions invariably prohibit equipment with real world applications. Stage design alone determines how useful something is in reality, and how martially applicable the match itself is. We often see that traditional match equipment is a liability at 2GACM. At the basic level magazines fall out of pouches because the match is more physical. Typical competition rifles are too long to maneuver in confined spaces. Short Barrelled Rifles can in fact be advantageous. Limited eye relief optics are slower, the more times the shooter has to reacquire the sight picture or from awkward positions. Carpets are not placed on the ground in shooting areas so muzzle brakes can kick up dirt/dust obscuring targets down range.
Run Your Own Match
2GACM is open source; all you need to get your own match going is a range that is 50-100 yards, shot clocks, and 2-3 steel targets. If you don’t like what your own local clubs have going on, get your own match started. Even if it’s just 5-10 guys at first you can grow it over time and make more complex props and acquire more advanced target arrays. You do not need the backing of a national organization to make your event happen. There will be a learning curve in match logistics and how to set up and run your match in a timely manner. As long as you have a range to run your match on, none of the challenges you face are insurmountable.