On Monday, I participated in the 13th Annual American Petroleum Institute (API) three-gun competition at the American Shooting Center. My friends from Continental Production Services invited me to join their team – thank you Craig Corbell and Grant Richardson. This was my first three-gun competition and, I must admit, I was nervous. While my team of five shooters had a variety of experience with firearms, everyone was new to three-gun.
My nervousness was due to expectations of my ability and those that I was shooting with. Our team of five had the gambit of very experienced to novice shooters. I don’t think anyone had shot a 3 gun competition event before so we were all new. Three gun competition involves the use of three different types of firearms: pistol, rifle, and shotgun. The contestant scores points by shooting targets. You shoot both paper and steel targets with pistol and rifle, some with a hostage scenario. A shooter loses points for striking a hostage. The shotgun portion includes stationery clay targets, a moving star target, and various other heavy stationery targets designed to fall when struck. The pistol and rifle paper targets require you to shoot them twice also known as a double tap. The steel targets are just a single shot. The steel targets are typically smaller or at greater distances. The rifle targets were similar but at a greater distance although nothing is over 52 yards. The shotgun targets are very simple with all being stationery except for the shooting star, as it is called. You shoot the top target first and work your way down creating little movement. Shooting a side target first causes greater movement.
I am a shotgun shooter born and bred and my grandfather owned and operated the Houston Trap and Skeet Range. He also built and operated the Greater Houston Gun Club, which is still in operation today. I was raised on a gun club and was involved in the shooting community at an early age.
The Texas Gulf Coast has produced some of the finest shooters in the world. Glenn Eller, a member of the USA Shooting Team, is from the Houston area, and a US Olympic gold medalist in Beijing. His longtime coach is Dan Carlisle, a local prodigy and another Olympic medalist I have great memories of Clarence Stansberry, Ed Doolan, Eric Hilton, Bob Brister, and many others who shot regularly, if not daily, at my grandfather’s place – great shots all. Bill Poole served as the general manager of the Houston Trap and Skeet range and is now the managing director of the NRA’s educational and training division.
While the event was a fun executive shoot rather than a true, sanctioned three-gun competition, I still wanted to abide by the rules. Last year, I won a Kel-Tec KSG at an NRA fundraiser and I really wanted to use this gun during the competition; but, with a fifteen round capacity, it was not really appropriate.
In this competition, I used an AR-15/223 that was custom built by James Hillin at Full Armor Firearms. I liked it so much that James is currently building a left-handed version for me – yes, I am a lefty.
I also shot a Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun, which is a great shotgun for three-gun. The Berretta sights are similar to those I am used to shooting skeet, trap, and sporting clays. My shotgun thinking has always been more along the lines of the Perazzi and Krieghoff. This made me skeptical of tactical shotguns and shooters. It is a different type of shooting altogether and I now have a different perspective on both guns and shooters.
The pistol I used during the competition was a Glock 34. Unfortunately, I am just not a Glock guy (mostly because of their triggers). Firearms are very individualistic and mastery comes after lots of practice. While I fired a few hundred rounds through the Glock pre-competition, I was never quite comfortable with the gun. I have always been a 1911 guy but I do love the new Sig Sauer X-Five. My friend, Grant, shot the X-Five and killed it on the pistol course. Three-gun pistol shooting is all about muzzle rise on the second shot. The pistol paper targets require a double tap or two shots. The X-Five is great because it is designed to not rise after the first shot so it is more akin to shooting a .22.
If you remember Monday’s weather, it was sunny and cold. The temperature was around 36 degrees for most of the event. The ground was covered in mud from the previous day’s rain. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun. The shooting community is full of a great group of conservatives who share my belief in the right to bear arms. Shooting is always a great way to relieve stress, get outside, and get some exercise. I know there are a lot of three-gun shooters out there and feel free to post comments. I am no expert here and happy to learn from others.
You can find me most Saturdays shooting at the American Shooting Center with Dwight, Robert, Pete, other Robert, Chris and a few more down on six or seven. I promise that I will train harder for the next event because I was truly humbled by all the great shooters. Shooting is always a great way to relieve stress, get outside, and move your body. I cannot thank the American Shooting Center employees who worked really hard to make this a great event in very inclement weather enough. I would also like to thank the American Petroleum Institute for putting on the event. And, yes I won a Glock 19 as a door prize for participating! Next weekend, pick up a gun or get adventurous. Get outside of your comfort zone and try something different and have fun!