The warmth of the desert sun melted into Oregon’s Badlands as a slight chill and intense anxiety crawled up my spine. It was the first night of the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-Gun Invitational.
I was signed up—and amped up—to partake as a total rookie. Having never shot in any type of competition, this was jumping head first into a pitch-black pool of uncertainty. And the next light I’d see would be shining from a Picatinny rail.
How do I … ?
Where do I … ?
When do I … ?
Am I allowed to … ?
When it came to shooting 3-gun, I was more green than the Crimson Trace laser that I was aiming downrange. But as I fed FMJ American Eagles from a 30-round magazine into the chamber of my Mossberg MMR and “neutralized” paper silhouette targets, I started to get the hang of it.
Fast-forward to the following night. It was the sixth stage out of nine on this unique 3-gun course at the COSSA outdoor shooting complex. I was just a few hours away from successfully completing my first match; the pressure would soon be gone and I’d rub elbows with professional shooters as they rolled into the range the following day. Been there, done that. Or not. With night vision goggles fixed to my head and a full-auto rifle in my hand, I searched for the final target through the windows of a shoot house. I found it, bumped two rounds into the human-shaped paper and broke my “180″—an instant disqualification from the match. My confidence was crushed and there I stood, dejected, among a mass of peers from the shooting sports media.
But then, Chris Cerino politely interrupted my insecure internal reflection and offered his condolences: “I know what you’re feeling right now.” He went on to explain how he and his son have both been disqualified from 3-gun matches.
Bryce Towsley, another seasoned 3-gun shooter, shared a few of his own kind words in reply to a mourning Facebook post that I made shortly after being disqualified. “The saying is, there are two kinds of 3-gun shooters,” Bryce commented. “Those who have DQd and those who are going to DQ. We have all been there. Sucks.”
Both were nice gestures, but at the time my mind’s eye saw only one thing: failure. Then, the next day, I quickly snapped out of it and reality set in. There were no casualties, other than my ego. I had just stepped up to the plate and shot my first 3-gun match. At night. With gun lasers and lights. Hell, it was a solid first attempt at the sport.
Most importantly, I realized there are some damn good—and supportive—people in the 3-gun community, and shooting in a match is exhilarating. Will I compete again? You bet. And a recent poll at HuntingClub.com revealed that only a small percentage of NAHC members have participated in a 3-gun match. If you haven’t given it a shot, consider it.
Below is a closer look at the 3-gun experience. Stay tuned for more details about some of the Crimson Trace gear that I became familiar with during the M3GI event.