Three-Gun Shooting Competition: Heaven or Hell?

The Swinger
The dreaded swinger. This was a challenging target for all, especially if you never shot one before. It is a combination of hits, speed and timing to get it to roll over.

For speed and excitement the Zip Line was top-notch.  Shooters started on top of a 30-foot tower with a line running to a smaller tower.  Once the shooter was all strapped in and ready to go, it was a simple matter of lifting up his or her feet. Doing so, started you sliding down the cable, once you passed a marked point you could insert a magazine and charge the pistol to engage several paper targets on either side of the zip line.  When you hit the far tower, the cable shifted into reverse allowing you to pick up missed targets. That was good for me because I missed most of them on the way down. I did mange to get some bonus hits on a plate rack on the way back so that helped.  As fun as The Zip Line is I don’t know what you could do to practice for it.

My favorite stage was sponsored by Crimson Trace, Smith & Wesson, and Surefire.  It included a tunnel about 100 feet long with shooting lanes to the right and left holding targets. When you entered the tunnel were required to retrieve an M&P pistol and Surefire flashlight from a bucket.  It was pitch dark in the tunnel, so the flashlight was a necessity, but the M&P was fitted with Crimson Trace Laser Grip sights, which made the double taps effortless in the crouched position.  Upon exit there were two targets to engage just as your eyes were readjusting to the light. Hit those and it was a mad dash off to the sub gun.  This stage also had a MP-5 submachine gun at the ready. Everybody shot the first portion in semi auto and then switched to full auto for a “dump” target.  All hits in the dump target were bonuses.  Good times!

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You might get the idea with all the running and gunning, sliding crawling through tunnels that this competition might be a little loose or even dangerous. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I was really impressed with the diligence of the RO’s and the planning of weapon positioning in the stages.  Guns were to be either cleared and open or on safe when in transition and the Range Officers were right on that.  They wouldn’t let you go on unless your weapon was in the prescribed safe position for the scenario. Failure to follow these rules was also a match DQ, which gave some extra incentive to the shooters.

There was a lot going on at this match and we shot from 0630 to around 1930 for two days and until noon on the last day.  We had at least two and often four range officers on every stage and with shooters helping to reset the stages things moved along really well.  It is a well-planned event and Mike and his crew do their best to see that every shooter thoroughly enjoys the match.  The Iron Man is “must” for next year’s competition schedule.

2012 Match Dates

The 2012 match will be held June 3-9 at the Parma Rod and Gun Club in Parma, ID. Registration is not yet open, but watch the website and register immediately. Typically all the available slots fill up within the first two days of registration.  If you are interested in participating or acting as a sponsor for the 2012 match, please contact MGM at or call 888-767-7371.

Combat Shooting Massad AyoobBefore heading to a competition like this, you'll need proper instruction. Combat Shooting with Massad Ayoob is written by America's best-known combat pistol shooter, Massad Ayoob, who is credited with idea of “stress fire.”

In this book, Massad speaks about mindset and jumps right into the aspects of learning combat shooting. Next, he highlights three gunfighters- Wyatt Earp, Colonel Charles Askins and Jim Cirillo- and the lessons we can learn from each.  Lastly, Ayoob shares his perspective on the importance of competition as training before closing with a discussion of the choices involved in being responsibly armed.

Click here to get a copy of Combat Shooting with Massad Ayoob.


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