Colorado Multigun

Introduction to 3Gun



Here are some match reports from "Major" or National-level 3Gun matches in the last few years. They give a good indication what 3Gun competition is about.

Cavalry Arms 3Gun Match 2005
   Rocky Mountain 3Gun 2005
   International Tactical Rifleman Championships 2005
   TacPro Sniper Tournament 2005
   MGM Ironman 3Gun 2005
   Snipers Paradise Sniper Challenge West 2005
   International Tactical Rifleman Championships 2004
   Rocky Mountain 3Gun 2004
   Superstition Mountain 3Gun 2004
   Rocky Mountain 3Gun 2003


The priorities for a beginner 3Gun shooter are simple: (1) Safety, (2) Have fun. Having "just the right" equipment is not important. The best thing to do for your first match is to bring what you have, and borrow whatever you need.


Here's the basic equipment you need, broken down by each weapon type:
  • Rifle: A reliable magazine-fed centerfire rifle .223REM/5.45x39 caliber or larger, with the equivalent of 3, 30-round magazines. A sling is suggested but not required.
  • Pistol: A reliable centerfire pistol caliber 9mm/38Spl or larger. Enough magazines or speed-loaders/moonclips (if revolver) for 40-rounds. A secure belt or drop-thigh holster which covers the trigger guard is required. If using an auto, belt magazine holders are suggested.
  • Shotgun: A reliable magazine fed shotgun, minimum 20GA. Bring #7.5 shot and some slugs. Some method of carrying extra shells is suggested.
  • Ammunition- For local matches, 100 rounds each of pistol, rifle, and shotgun should be sufficient. Bring at least shotgun slugs.


You do not need to be a member of the "host" range/club to shoot 3Gun. The match fee is an extra few bucks for non-members, that's it. Match fees are generally $15 or $20. It goes to paying the host range, buying targets, steel, and other materials.


Most 3Gun matches use the USPSA/IPSC safety rules. Refer to the USPSA rulebook for safety rules & protocol.

The primary safety rules are pretty simple:

  1. no loaded guns, pistol magazine wells empty, unless under the direct supervision and command of a Range Officer (RO)
  2. while shooting the stage, keep your finger out of the trigger guard unless you are on-target and shooting, especially when reloading, moving, or clearing jams
  3. while shooting the stage, no gun can point beyond 90 degrees from the "downrange" direction... this is called the "180 degree line" rule. if the gun ever points "up" range at all, you're sent home
  4. don't sweep anybody with a gun, unloaded or not. handguns are kept in holsters empty with the hammer down, and long-guns are carried muzzle up or down, or in a case.

If you have never shot an IDPA, IPSC, or 3Gun match before, just let the match staff know. They usually ask if there are any new shooters at the shooters' meeting. New shooters are given a little mentoring to square them away.


During the fall/winter months, we often do not have access to the 200 yard berm (hunter sight-in gets it). In that case, the most difficult rifle shot might be a 50 yard shot at an IPSC "head" (6x6). If we do have access to the 200y berm, we usually shoot and move from about 190 - 125y and shoot at pie-plate size targets. Besides that, expect rifle shots from contact distance out.

Shotgun shooting comprises shoot steel plates and stationary pigeons from about 3 - 20 yards, and slug shots on paper or larger steel from usually 25 - 50 yards. If you can hit a silhouette with a slug at 50 yards offhand, no shot will be technically too difficult.

Pistol will be: contact distance to maybe 20 yards. If you can shoot silhouette IPSC head-shots at 7 yards and stay on a full silhouette at 25 yards, you won't have technical difficulty hitting the targets.


You are scored against people with similar equipment. The divisions break down like this:

OPEN- anything goes. The typical open pistol is a USPSA/IPSC open pistol: fully compensated, optics, 38Super, the whole bit. The typical open shotgun is a Remigton with a long 12 or 13 round tube, reloaded using speedloaders. The typical open rifle is an AR15 with a 3-9x scope or ACOG, and a secondary red-dot sight for hosing.

LIMITED- No ports or compensators on pistol or shotgun. No optics on pistol or shotgun or rifle. The shotgun cannot use speedloaders, and capacity is limited to 9 total in the gun. Rifle can have a compensator no larger than 1" diameter. Rifle must use iron sights. The typical Limited shotgun is a Benelli M1S90 with a 20" bbl, 7 in the tube, 1 under the carrier, 1 in the chamber. The typical limited rifle is an A2 AR15. The typical limited pistol is any autoloader in 40 cal or larger (see Scoring below for note).

TACTICAL/MODIFIED- Same as Limited, but the rifle is allowed one optic of no more than 4x power (variables are OK, but you agree to not turn it above 4x). The typical Tactical rifle is an AR15 with a TA11 ACOG, a 1-4x variable, or similar setup. An Aimpoint would be in Tactical.

Scoring for local matches uses USPSA scoring, where each target provides the opportunity to gain or lose points for hits, misses, and the shooter's point total is divided by his time to provide a "hits per second" factor. This type of scoring provides a natural balance between speed and accuracy.

[Colorado Multigun Home]     [Email CMG]
© Copyright 2006 Colorado Multigun, all rights reserved
$Id: howto3gun.html,v 1.7 2007/03/07 20:03:08 zak Exp zak $