One of the fastest growing shooting sports in the country right now is the action-packed multi-gun competition commonly known as “3-gun.”

The reason for the name is somewhat obvious; competitors use three different firearms — a modern sporting rifle (MSR), that is, a rifle built on an AR-platform; a pistol; and a shotgun. Matches generally involve courses where the shooter must move through different stages and engage targets in a variety of different positions. Each stage will generally require the use of different firearms and require the shooter to transition between them.

The targets might include clay pigeons, cardboard silhouettes, steel targets of varying sizes and anything else the match organizer designates as a target. Distances of the targets might vary from 1 yard to 500 yards or anything in-between. The shooter who hits the most targets — and avoids certain “no shoot” ones — in the least amount of time is the winner.

Although local ranges might opt to alter the rules somewhat, most abide closely by those set up by the International Multi-Gun Association (IMGA)

The ability to adapt for specific matches is what makes 3-gun competition dynamic and exciting.

Just as it is with the practical pistol matches, 3-gun simulates combat or self-defence situations. A stage provides a certain scenario for using one or more of the guns in a specific sequence. Each stage in each match will usually be different than any you’ve shot before.

Equipment:

Pistols:

Most shooters use 9mm semi-autos, but the .38 Super and .40 S&W are also popular in some divisions.

Rifles:

Most serious competitors choose MSRs in .223 caliber with fairly short barrels in the 18- to 20-inch range and 30-round magazines. But any semi-auto that will handle larger magazines are normally permitted.

The Christchurch Pistol club is not certified for .223 caliber, so most members shoot .22 or 9mm pistol caliber rifles. The club does hold events at other ranges which are certified for .223

Shotguns:

Any reliable autoloading or pump-action shotgun will work. For serious competition, it should have an extended magazine tube, a good set of sights and interchangeable chokes. Both shotshells and slugs are used in most 3-Gun matches.

Accessories

Each shooter needs a holster for the pistol and some sort of belt/pouch system to carry extra magazines and ammo.