After my first 3-Gun match in February, clearly I was hooked, and couldn't wait till the next. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for me—every single monthly 3-Gun match I could make got rained out! But, finally, this month's Texas Multi Gun match was actually happening... and it was extra-exciting because it would be the first time I was going to be shooting Ice Storm in a competition (read more about the white Saiga 12 gauge here and here).
There was a lot fewer competitors this time around, which was fine with me, as the last match seemed to be ENDLESS—this one only had about 6 people on a squad vs. February's 14 people per squad. Sure Shots San Antonio leader Becca was there with me, as well as my "spirit animal" Jonathan Foo. So, I knew a fun day was in store no matter how I shot.
Since I had received the Ice Storm a few weeks ago, I had been testing different ammo in it—I had heard Saigas were picky. I found a handful that seemed to work great, one of which I luckily had enough of in the garage to bring to the match (otherwise I'd have been screwed, as I hadn't ammo-shopped before the match, assuming it would be rained out yet again.)
The stages were pretty fun, though not as interesting as the match back in February. No shoot house this time! But there was one stage where the falling steel hit a clay pigeon release and launched two clays into the air, one of which on my turn was already broken when it launched—doh!
I had had some concern about mag reloads in the Saiga under the pressure of the timer. As I have written about before, getting used to an AR-style magwell with an AK-style "rock and lock" insertion is something different and takes some getting used to. Sometimes I can do it in a couple seconds, and sometimes it seems that sucker with never go in! This was not something I wanted to deal with on the clock. I couldn't have been happier when I realized that I could seat my mag and ground my shotgun in the barrel at the beginning of the stage—problem solved! And another wonderful thing about 3-Gun is that sometimes (often, I believe, though I'm not sure) once you run dry with the shotgun, you can transition to pistol and finish the job. For now, until I can change those mags like I can on my rifle and pistol, that's my strategy! In the meantime, at home, I seat a mag every time I walk by the Ice Storm. Practice!
I took it real slow and tried to shoot as smoothly and as accurately as possible. All my gear ran great, which is always a bonus. I can't wait to shoot 3-Gun again, and now I am looking at other clubs and locations to see what's all out there, I have a feeling the possibilities are endless!
Working out my gear setup was an interesting endeavor. I have a favorite belt that High Speed Gear had given me over a year ago: It is a SureGrip that I love for competition (read the review in Sure Shots Magazine -Issue 5). When I wore it to our training day, one of the guys suggested I turn it around so it buckles in the back, that allows me to utilize more "real estate" in front. What a great idea! I was able to add a few more HSGI pistol and rifle tacos, and attached my brand new UM Tactical UMH3 Universal Holster.
Prior to training day, I had assembled a lightweight rifle, complete with a Dragon muzzle brake Lantac had given me, and I already loved shooting it, so for rifle I was set. I had long ago sold my Glock 19 to a fellow Sure Shot, and had been using a Sig P229 for IDPA matches, but I wanted to go back to a Glock for competition. To work with the UM holster I needed one that was railed, so a friend loaned me a Glock 17, and it was as reliable and easy as I had remembered my 19 being. As far as shotguns, I decided to borrow Carrin's MKA 1919XN Firebird Precision Conversion, purely for the fact that it is mag-fed and I hate (and am terrible at) loading standard shotguns.
The day of the match, 18 Sure Shots showed up to compete! Texas Multigun, the hosts of the match, were so excited the Sure Shots were starting in 3-Gun they had drawings for Cerakoting of a pistol, an AR lower, AND a CZ P09 pistol, which one of our Sure Shot ladies won!
After the drawings, it was time to squad up and get moving. The turnout was SO huge for this match they had to add a stage and squad, and even with all that there were still 14 people on our squad. To keep the duration of the match within a reasonable time, they put a "par time" on each stage. It was 60 seconds, which means at the 60-second mark the timer stops and you get a penalty. While I completely understand the reasoning behind the par time, in my opinion it was a bit unrealistic, as a few of these stages were extensive and hard for even the most seasoned veterans to complete in under 60 seconds. Add any malfunction (which is a given, as we were usually running three different guns per stage as well as working out our gear setup) and there goes the time.
The six stages in this match were creative and fun, and definitely unlike any stages I'd ever gone through in IDPA. There was even a shoot house where we had to run into and shoot out the window to the steel targets out back. One stage had steel targets out to 500 yards!
Here is something that happened on the first stage I shot: I did not breathe the entire stage. Not one breath! Thank god for that par time. As soon as the stage finished and I realized I hadn't taken a breath the whole time, I vowed to myself I wouldn't do THAT again, and I didn't.
While it is terrific that so many people turned out for this match, the sheer number of participants made the match drag a bit. Watching your fellow squad members shoot their stage is definitely entertaining and educational, but to watch 13 people go through 6 stages—that's a lot of standing around. But, there are definitely worse things than being out on the range on a beautiful Texas day!
As I write this, I am four days away from our next 3-Gun match this coming weekend (if it doesn't get rained out!). Since last month's match, I've made some adjustments to my gear setup. For one, I have bought a Glock 34, and bought and installed new sights: Trijicon HD Night Sights in orange. I switched out my SureGrip belt with a lower-profile, lighter version: High Speed Gear's new SlimGrip belt. I'm still figuring out which shotgun will work best for me going forward, so for this match I will be borrowing Will Moore's Winchester Super X (and hoping my thumb survives the reloads!).
All in all, I'm thrilled with the world of 3-Gun and everything that goes into it. There are so many things to consider, so many options, which I find very interesting. I love that it "forces" you to practice on all three firearms platforms (pistol, rifle, shotgun). I'm hooked, so stay tuned for more as I write about my experiences and progress in this new shooting endeavor!
Niki Jones is the Founder and President of Sure Shots, Texas’ Women’s Pistol League, which boasts over 300 core members. She is an NRA-certified instructor and has been shooting since she was five years old. She also holds her state commission as a Personal Protection Officer. When not on the range, Niki works in the magazine industry for various lifestyle publications.
Carrin Welch, a native Texan, is a relative new comer to shooting. She joined the Austin Sure Shots for practice one night in January of 2011 and never looked back. She is a NRA-certified instructor and also holds her commission as a Personal Protection Officer. Carrin recently launched ChickaBomb, offering a line of gun inspired jewelry, apparel and gear.