3 Gun Beginner “Getting Started” Part One

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As the world of 3 Gun blows up, and interest grows, you might find yourself asking “Do I have what it takes to shoot 3 Gun?”  You have seen every episode of 3 Gun Nation and think it is something that you want to try.  You have even found a local club that hosts monthly 3 Gun matches in your area; you just worry about having the right gear.  In part one of this multi part series, I will talk the minimum gear that is needed to get out and start shooting 3 Gun.  Beware going in however,  this sport is extremely addictive, and it won’t be long until you are joining the equipment race and chasing the more complex gear I will discuss in Part 2.  However, for now, here is the 3 gun Beginner.



As the name implies, 3 Gun (or Multigun as it is often called) is a sport that includes the implementation of 3 guns.  The first we will discuss is a tactical style rifle.  The most common rifle type in the world of 3 Gun is the AR15 pattern rifle.  This rifle type is most commonly chambered in the .223 or 5.56×45 caliber, but can also be adapted to other calibers such as 300 Blackout, 6.8 SPC, and 6.5 Grendel.  .223 is the most common round you will find in any 3 Gun Match.  As a beginner, you want utilize whatever rifle you already have in your safe and are comfortable shooting.  This would include a basic AR15 such as the Adams Arms 16” Base Rifle or 16” MOE Rifle.



Once you have brought your rifle out of the safe, you must decide which division you intend to shoot.  In the beginning, this will be tied to the type of optic or sighting device you have on your AR15.  The most common divisions that a beginner shooter will be equipped for are the Limited (or Tactical Irons) or Tactical Optics divisions.  The Limited division, also commonly known as Tactical Irons, is for people who have either just iron sights on their rifle or a non-magnified optic such as an Aimpoint or EOTech.  The Tactical Optics division allows you to utilize a magnified, most commonly a variable magnification, optic on your rifle.  When you are just starting out it is recommended to bring out what you already own, rather than shopping for optics before you find what you like.


In addition to your rifle, you will want at least three 30 round magazines to ensure you have enough to run even the longest field courses at the match.  You should be able to carry at least two on your person.  At first, this can be in a magazine pouch on a belt, or just in your back pockets, as long as you can easily access them.


The second gun that we will discuss is the pistol you will shoot.  Just like your rifle, you will want to bring a pistol that you are comfortable with to the match.  The most common pistols you will see at a 3 Gun match are high capacity 9mm pistols, such as the Smith and Wesson M&P or Glock.  Most competitors will be using a longer slide version of either of these guns, such as the M&P Pro 9mm or the Glock 34.  You will need to have a holster for your pistol that provides adequate retention to keep the gun holstered running around.  You will also need at least three magazines for your pistol, once again to ensure that you can complete the courses of fire.



In the divisions that a beginner would be shooting, discussed above, the pistol is not allowed to have any type of electronic sighting system.  This type of pistol will bump you into Open division, which we will discuss in part two.


The shotgun is the third, and often most feared gun in the 3 Gun arsenal.  This is because of all the guns used in our sport; the shotgun is the one that is most specialized for our sport.  Sure lots of people have a pump .12-gauge shotgun in their safe, or maybe even a semi-auto, but most of them are configured for wing shooting and hold two in the magazine and one in the chamber.  If you take out the plug you can get to four in the magazine, but that is still a far stretch from the 8+ round tubes seen on most 3 Gun optimized shotguns.  Many of you might have a home defense shotgun with a shorter barrel and longer magazine.  Bring that out, and learn to stuff rounds in it and place your shots well.  The biggest advice for a new shooter is stick with what you have.  Your hunting gun might require you to load a lot more than the people who are hard core 3 Gun shooters, but the point of this exercise is to learn the sport without having to buy too much gear.  In addition to your shotgun, you are going to need a way to carry shot shells in a readily available fashion to keep feeding the gun through the stage.  This can be accomplished with anything from a loose fitting vest with big pockets to a dump pouch on your pistol belt.  The main thing is easy access to your ammunition.


In the end, the goal of getting out shooting is to have fun and maybe learn something about the sport.  There is a long way to go from this beginner stage.  Do not let the gear be what gets in your way of getting started.  Click this link to download a simple “What you need for 3 gun checklist”. Use this checklist each time before you leave the house to ensure you have what you need to shoot your 3 Gun match.


Download the What you need for 3 Gun beginner checklist here.


In part two, we will discuss the more advanced gear that is available for other classes such as Open class and the Heavy classes.  We will also discuss more specialized gear that is designed with the sport of 3 Gun in mind and will allow a shooter to compete at a higher level.

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