Three gun is one of the most complex sports you can participate in, bringing to the table three different aspects of the same sport. In shooting, regardless of what you may be pulling the trigger on, many of the fundamentals are the same, and those fundamentals and our ability to execute them help us to become top notch shooters. Working on fundamentals always helps to improve your skills. With any skill you want to be able to look at your strengths and weaknesses and see what of each is making you better or hindering you. In this post we’ll discuss the 6 top things that hinder shooters in 3 gun, and in any shooting sport.
These are the top 6 things that slow us down and cause us to have a longer par time on a stage.
The top 6 things that slow us down:
Oh that wonderful mass of grey matter that sits between our ears! Your brain is the very thing that is your ally and your enemy all at the same time. In sports, often times it is our enemy. When I competed in biathlon I always used to say that your brain is good for only one thing when you’re competing and that’s encouragement, and that’s it. Gasp! How can your brain not be useful when you need it most? It’s simple… if you have to think about it you are already slower than you should be. If you have to think about it you are leaving yourself open to mistakes. Thinking slows us down. What we do and how we do it should be muscle memory. Muscle memory is a form of procedural memory that turns certain tasks into memory through repetition. In other words, it’s what happens when you do something so many times that you don’t need to think about it in order to do it, i.e. brushing your teeth, walking, squeezing a trigger, aiming, target acquisition. The more you practice certain skills the more they become muscle memory, memory through repetition. Practice, practice, practice! Which is a tried and true path to success. (We practice using Redwolf Airsoft pistols & Tactrainer Airsoft Targets) Once you’ve committed your skills to memory, you can run a stage without thinking. You can shut the brain off and just put the pedal to the metal, so to speak. You’ll find your best stages are the ones you don’t even remember how you shot them and how they went. You just did it and didn’t have to think about it.
This is a very obvious reason that we are slower on a stage. The more you miss the more time you have to spend making up shots or the more time that is added onto your overall time. The best way to remedy this is to try and analyze why you’re missing. We all miss for different reasons. i.e. skill level, over thinking, wind & other external factors. The key to this is to figure out why you are missing. Are you causing the miss or is it an external factor? We’d all like to blame everything on our equipment, but the simple fact of the matter is that most often we are the cause of the miss. My sister and I shoot JP Rifles, they are the highest quality on the market, so there’s no blaming anything, but a solid hit on them! Whether it’s a poor execution of one of the basic fundamentals, or some type of internal factor, it’s your job to figure out why you missed. Once we understand the why, we can figure out the how. The why is either external or internal. Which is it? Now, once you’ve figured that out, you can work on fixing and bettering your skills to avoid a miss all together. Misses happen, but don’t let them happen as often. Figure out the why and get down to business fixing it.
How many of us get to a match, open up our Explorer gun cases and see that the dirt & carbon build up is still caked on our guns from the last match. If 3 gun were a 4x4 sport, the dirt would've a sign of some serious fun that was had. If 3 gun were some type of team sport, not cleaning our gear would be part of some superstition that helped us win the game, but in reality, we just got busy and didn't have time between matches. We went back home to the grind of every day life and our poor competition AR's and shotguns, or our race pistols got neglected. This is an almost completely unavoidable reason for being slower on a stage. Yes, some times our equipment wears down, but proper maintenance will help you avoid malfunctions altogether. Imagine match after match of no frustrating malfunctions. Pretty nice thought, huh? Now go clean your guns! J (We suggest you use Otis products www.otisgun.com)
If we plan for stages we'll be faster and more efficient, if we don't it'll take us longer to get through them...the main reason being (going back to #1) is we'll have to think about it in order to do it. It won't be muscle memory. No stage will be complete muscle memory and match directors have seen to that when planning and designing stages, but being prepared will give your brain the proper time to analyze and prepare for a match or stage. If we are still trying to clean our guns or find where we put that extra mag we won’t be using our precious time to plan out the stage and visualize it. After all, how much did you spend on that match entry? You might as well get the most out of it.
5. Firearms that don't fit
If your guns don't fit you're wasting your time. Not only will you be more likely to miss, it will also take you longer to acquire the target. Your equipment needs to fit you like a glove. For example, when I draw my STI DVC 3 gun pistol my hand fits the grip perfectly and my eyes can always find the sights. If your equipment doesn't fit like a glove you'll take a longer time to find your sights, your sight alignment and the target. If you equipment isn't positioned or fit right to you you're more likely to miss because your body is working against the mechanics of the position and likely pulling your natural point of aim off the target. (Hint: a Hogue rifle or shotgun stock would help for a great fit!)
6. Placement of equipment
Efficiency and time go hand in hand. This is especially the case when it comes to the equipment you have on your belt or body. Where your magazines are, your shotgun shells & even where and how your rifle or shotgun is slung has a huge impact on how efficiently you reload your firearm or prepare to shoot, which ultimately effects time. I'm not going to tell you where on your belt everything should be placed, because it all depends on the type of stage you are shooting and it's even somewhat personal. I will tell you that planning out a stage also involves planning out your equipment and your belt. Being able to quickly grab a magazine or extra shot will aid you in getting through a stage quicker. Sometimes, however the most efficient position for your gear might not be the best. This may be the case if you have to shoot a certain position like prone where you could potentially lose all your shotgun shells when laying on them, or you have a stage where your rifle reloads are more important than your shotgun, so maybe your extra mag is closer to arms reach than your shotgun shells. Let's face it though, we only have so much real estate, so it is important to plan it out. If you have to think about where your equipment is on your belt that goes back to #1 and thinking too much and it also slows your entire process down. It's important also to plan out your shotgun shells. Know where you put your slugs, your bird, and your buck shot. Stages are designed to challenge your ability to adapt and adjust to different scenarios and challenges. (Hint: Try Fiocchi’s new colored and deadly accurate low recoil slugs for quick reference on your belt & solid hits!)
I don’t like to focus on the negatives in sports, but figuring out your weaknesses and how they are slowing you down is an important key to going faster. Take some time to think and analyze what’s slowing you down and next thing you know you’ll be flying faster through stages!