A blaring horn sounds behind you, and the clock begins to tick. You hastily unholster your pistol, slide in the magazine, and align the sights. As more precious seconds pass, the trigger tugging begins. A series of steel targets drop with a pronounced metallic clang, prompting your dash to a nearby barrel where you pull out a shotgun, stuff shells into the semi-auto’s lower, and start shooting. After more steel targets tumble, you clear the shotgun, check the safety, and drop the gun back into the barrel. Next, you make a mad dash for a distant table, where you pick up an AR rifle, insert and tug the magazine, and begin shooting the many targets in the lane ahead. The seconds continue ticking away.

In less than two minutes, you’ve shot more than 20 rounds of 9mm, a dozen 12 gauge shotshells, and at least 20 rounds of .223 Remington through the rifle. You can finally breathe.

That’s 3-Gun.

3-Gun competitions are rapidly growing in popularity at ranges across America. Television shows featuring “top shots” have added to the public interest and enthusiasm. Winning this mix of running and gunning, though, also requires planning and prepping.  If you participate in 3-Gun, your shooting skills and firearms knowledge are tested in every lane, at every event.

“You need to master manipulation skills, know your gun, and learn about feeding it and keeping it running,” notes Chris Cerino, owner and instructor at Chris Cerino Training Group and a History Channel Top Shot All-Star. “You also need to know your shooting gear, where stuff is and how to get it out.”

Cerino also recommends learning the fundamentals of shooting and suggests critically analyzing why you hit targets—and why you miss. “If you miss, you obviously need to try something else,” he continues.

Cerino now travels across America teaching others how to compete, and win, 3-Gun competitions. He is a fan of using Crimson Trace Lasergrips, and products such as the MVF-515 foregrip for practice and competition because a downrange laser lets you see unnecessary firearm movement and helps you work to prevent it.

One thing that lures some shooters into the 3-Gun circuit is that no two courses are alike, and you may have to shoot in total darkness. Those are the conditions competitors will encounter in Bend, Oregon this August at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-Gun Invitational. To learn more, visit www.crimsontrace.com.

To find a range near you that hosts 3-Gun competitions and training classes, visit www.chriscerinotraininggroup.com or www.wheretoshoot.org.

Image courtesy Crimson Trace

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