3-GUN PART I LET’S LOOK AT THE HANDGUN. C SHARI LEGATE NIghthawk gunsmith Brian Chaney is breaking the internal edges of the frame, which enhances the trigger’s crisp, clean feel. ompetitive shooters are mostly purists. They shoot one discipline and work to excel in that one game. To become a dominant force in any game, it’s necessary to focus all your energy and ability on that one discipline. Very seldom, you see a high-power rifle shooter partake in a Silhouette match, or a Skeet shooter competing at Trap. But in 3-Gun competition—well that’s a different game and the shooters are a different breed. If you haven’t heard of 3-Gun competition, you haven’t been listening. Three-Gun Competition is the fastest growing shooting sport right now. So, if most shooters are purists, Three-Gun competitions consist of why is this shooting sport growing so numerous unique and different stages. quickly? If you’ve never shot a 3-Gun Each stage is set with a mixture of competition, it’s easy to ask the ques- targets—paper, steel and clay. There is tion, but once you’ve stepped out on no set number of stages or a regulated the range of a 3-gun event and actu- consistent course of fire in. It’s up to the ally shot in a match, you’ll understand creativity of the course designer, which the appeal. This game will challenge is what makes the game so challenging. even the most experienced of shooters. Each stage usually requires the use of However, there is a lot to this game. The all three guns, and the most important guns, the gear, the targets, the strategy. factor is speed. How fast you can shoot Three-Gun is exactly what its name through the stage is the key and oh… THE HANDGUN says. Three different guns used in the one other thing: hit all the targets. This game requires a lot of equipsame course of fire—a pistol, rifle and Economy of movement is essential. ment and getting into it can be a bit shotgun. Most shooters use a 9mm Whether it’s in the draw, in the reload- expensive, depending on the type of semi-auto handgun, but there are .38 ing of magazines or shotshells, in the guns and gear you choose. ManufacSuper’s and .40 S&W’s, depending transition from one gun to the next or turers are making guns and gear just on the division. The rifle is an MSR in the amount of steps it takes to get for 3-Gun competition. Companies (a modern sporting rifle, usually built into position. All are strategized and such as FNH USA, Smith & Wesson, on an AR-platform) with a barrel scrutinized. Seconds matter and each Glock and STI and numerous others length between 18 and 20 inches and a second is taken into consideration. If all make guns for this event, so it boils 30-round magazine. The shotgun is a turning right instead of left to engage down to how much you want to spend. semi-auto with extended magazine tube the next target saves a half second, turn However, in 3-Gun, the handgun is the and interchangeable chokes. Both shot- right. Missing one target might force most used, so you need a good quality shells and slugs are used. a reload and seconds are wasted. A pistol accurate, reliable, fast and easy to And that’s just the guns. Let’s talk sloppy reload is a disaster. After watch- make safe. gear. Without a doubt, this is the most ing some of the top 3-Gun shooters, I In trying to pick up precious seconds, gear-intensive game I’ve dealt competitors are always seeking with. In Olympic rifle, shootto tinker with their equipment. ers hauled their gear in little Quicker draws, faster ways to wagons there was so much reload are always on top of and the same holds true in everyone’s mind. For my first 3-Gun. Some shooters use competition, I used a Nightspecifically designed 3-Gun hawk Custom 1911 9mm Domibags carried on their back. nator. I knew I needed a gun All three guns, all the ammo, customized to me, and in today’s magazines, holsters, shell market, where handguns come carriers, etc., but those bags off an assembly line like candy, I can weigh up to 70 pounds or didn’t want to have to spend the more. That’s a lot of weight to extra time and additional dollars carry around all day. I swore I customizing the gun to me and would never use a wagon, but the game. that was before I came across Shari’s competition 1911 starts as a jumble of parts and each is fitted I called Nighthawk Custom by just one gunsmith at Nighthawk. 3-Gun. and we started the process by 14 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH 2015 would say the mantra for 3-Gun is: The smoother you are, the faster you are and the slower you look. Now, I covered many 3-Gun competition’s over the years, personally know many of the pro-shooters and have shot parts of the event at different times, but I never actually entered and shot an entire event… until the Brownells Lady 3-Gun Pro-Am Challenge a few months ago. Deciding to shoot this event, I looked through my gun safe determining what I had and what I would need. I’ve accumulated a lot of handguns, rifles and shotguns over the years, but none of my handguns would work for this competition. So, I saw this as an opportunity for a new gun.