Equipment – Accessories Part 1

There is always a lot of discussion out there about equipment, particularly in 3 gun.  While I am still in the process of figuring out what works best for me, I have come to some conclusions particularly regarding accessories.

For this post let’s talk about the belt, and it’s assorted gizmos.  3 Gun takes a lot of equipment. That’s just the plain and simple fact of the matter.  By definition you are shooting 3 different weapons, that have their own characteristics and unique uses.  Each one requires different manipulation, techniques, and supporting equipment.  As a result, you need to be carrying all kinds of different things during the course of a stage.

Each stage is different and may require a different approach to reloads depending on the need of the weapons used, and in some cases the distances and target types to be shot.

The question then becomes what equipment is going to work best for your body style, your athleticism, and your shooting style. Let’s start by defining requirements.

To shoot a course of fire you will need:

  1. A holster for your pistol.
  2. A magazine pouch to support reloading your pistol, and in some cases more than one.
  3. A caddy of some sort to allow you to reload your shotgun.
  4. A pouch to hold spare rifle magazines.
  5. A load bearing system of some sort to support all this stuff.
  6. You need to be able to reconfigure your load from stage to stage.

It doesn’t sound like much until you start to physically work through, where do I put all this stuff?  How do I reach it, unload it from its spot and reload my weapon quickly and often either on the move or in an unusual body position?  I still have to maintain my muzzle awareness, I cannot put the rifle down on the table and fiddle for a magazine.  The demands of 3 gun can place some awkward physical demands on your body.

There are a number of different approaches to solving these requirements.  If you look to a combat load out, you will see everything festooned around a load bearing vest.  This vest often includes plates and other body armor.  This is not generally the best approach for 3 gun, although I have seen folks take this approach.  Either they have some additional requirements that drive them this direction (i.e Saiga shotgun mags) or they have duty requirements that drive them to not confuse their approach to work with their approach to competition.

For most folks, the approach is to use some kind of belt system.  Over the years the belt systems have changed but the common denominator is stiffness.  You are going to wind up hanging a bunch of weight off this belt, and moving through some physically challenging stages.  Your belt needs to support that, and not come off your body.  There are a couple of primary types here.  There is the “riggers belt” which is a broad belt that is very stiff, very strong and will thread through your belt loops.  The other is a double layer competition belt.  These double layer belts have an inner layer that runs through your belt loop, and an outer layer that you hang your gear from.  The outer layer is extremely stiff, and has an inner side that “velcros” to your inner belt.  Most of the competitors out there today will run a belt system.  A large percentage of them favor the double layer belt approach, as it provides a bit more flexibility to locate your equipment, and change it around from stage to stage.

So let’s focus on a double layer belt system for a moment.  There are a lot of them out there, and for the most part they are pretty consistently made.  Take a look around at your next match and talk to folks about it.  I think that you will find a variety of brands from Safariland, Double AA, CompTac, and Blade Tech all being used.  Each has some unique approaches to how their gear works and you will need to evaluate what works for you.  I have looked at both the Safariland ELS compatible belts, and the more traditional double layer belts and prefer the more traditional approach.

Holsters:  Here again personal preference comes into play, and there are a lot of different holsters out there.  The primary requirement of your holster is that it holds your handgun safely and securely during movement, and that you are able to reholster safely.  There are a number of “retention systems” and connection styles out there on the market.  In my mind your holster must be rigid.  To accommodate this, a plastic injection mold holster is your best bet.  Your holster must cover the trigger.  If you choose to have a SERPA, or other retention system built into the design you should expect some extra scrutiny from the Range Officers as there are schools of thought that see these systems as a safety hazard.  Remember you are going to try and be racing here.

Speaking of racing, there is an entire class of race holsters out there.  If the class that you are shooting in allows these race holsters, go for it.  I just cannot offer you any advice on them.

At some point you need to connect that holster to your belt too.  There are a number of different systems out there.  I started with a paddle holster that allowed me to wiggle the positioning as I need to.  Since then I have switched over to the Tec-lock system by Blade-Tech.

Next Up:  Pistol Magazine Pouches, Rifle Magazine Pouches and Shotgun Caddies.

Oak Park – Father’s Day 2013

Havoc-Five rolled out to The Oak Park Sportsman’s Club on father’s day to run the 3 gun match that they put on.  It was a nice local match that conflicted with Area V, and father’s day and was still pretty well attended (58 shooters).  Weather was warm and sunny, with a bit too much humidity.

5 Stages, and a lot of shooting was done by all.  As always there are a lot of things that I did well, and a lot that still need work.  That said, things are coming along.  Last year was the first season that I really began participating in 3 gun and the learning curve was steep.  This year, I have a better handle on the equipment and many of the necessary techniques.  The focus now is on pushing myself, and trying to build in some practice time.

Let’s break down the stages.

Stage 1:  18 rounds all shotgun.  3 arrays of six steel targets at 10 yards, and three static shooting positions.  Overall I had the highest hopes for this stage, and the most disappointing results.

  • Array 1:  Missed the first target and set the stage for the rest of the stage.  Came back for the first steel and moved to the second box.
  • Array 2:  Flubbed the reloads between the boxes.  I had to move laterally from A to B and the load two method was awkward moving across like that.  I should have reloaded statically and then moved.  Missed a plate in array 2 that I had to pickup also.
  • Array 3:  Plate rack.  Piece of cake, how many times have I done this.  <Not>,  I had to go back and pickup two.  Reload from box B to box C was better but need to work on shotgun reloads they need to be smoother.

All in all, I probably left 10 – 12 seconds on the table.

Stage 2:  Nice stage with a mix of rifle and pistol.  9 rifle targets to be shot through 2 different ports with a single target that could be seen from either port.  Move 20 yards to a pistol array.  4 paper targets in an array on the right, and then step to the port to shoot a Texas star.

The rifle array went well but my body position was not as aggressive as it should have been.  30 yard targets were wobbling way too much and my follow up shots were not as quick as they could have been.  The pistol array went well.  The Texas Star…first time that I have shot one with a pistol.  Not as smooth or as quick as I would have liked and it took a little bit of getting accustomed to.  Need to focus on the front sight more, and less on the results.

There was probably another 10 seconds that I could have picked up here.

Stage 3:  2 shotgun arrays with movement and a reload between them.  Then a “hoser” pistol course that had 15 targets tucked away in various little nooks and crannies.

The shotgun arrays went well, still can be quicker on the reloads and I need to work on those techniques.  The pistol array, took me a couple of seconds to work through the mental  “GO FAST” realization and I took a little too much time looking for a perfect sight picture on 5 yard targets to start.  I had one malfunction from a reload… I need to clean the magazines and maybe replace a couple of them.  All in all I probably should have been able to shave 10 seconds from my score here.

Stage 4:  This is actually the stage we started with and I was pretty happy with it.  Two rifle arrays, one a close in hoser and a second mid-range array of three at varying distances with a barrel stack, and a no shoot to contend with in a narrow alley.  Dump the rifle and pick up a staged shotgun, move to the port and take out the shotgun array.  All the movement was right to left and a little awkward for right handed shooters.  No reloads.

I was positioned well.  The shots went well.  I could have moved more quickly between shooting locations but it was a good stage.  I finished 2nd overall on this one.

Stage 5:  A pure rifle stage (30 rounds) with a lot of movement.  From the starting position, which was angled 45 degrees to the right from straight down range, there were targets close in over to your left in front of the close in wall, and straight ahead in an field of no shoots.  Moving through the course of fire, there was a target hidden on the left near the wall that you had to get before you passed the 180, then back to the targets on the right, then back to the left between barrels, then back to the right and work your way to the left, then finally two through a port that you had to move to.  A challenging mental and physical stage, remembering where the shots had to be made from and moving through the course without overrunning your shooting positions.

Good results on this stage.  Fairly pleased with the way it ran.  In hindsight I think I might have taken a little different approach to the targets but the reality is that moving faster and targeting faster was the key to this one.  I could have boogied through the course marginally faster.  There was maybe 4 seconds that I could have picked up.  Note:  40 round magazines would have been good here.

All in all, it was a fun day at the range with my bride on Father’s Day.  I won’t share her thoughts on the match but, she may choose to do so at some point.  She shot well but, it is still a new sport for her and she is working through the learning curve.

Areas of focus before the next match:

  • Shotgun reloads.  Load 2, Load 4, Strong hand reload.  Just need practice.
  • Body positioning.  I was pleased with my shotgun stance but not my rifle stance.
  • Movement.  I need to work on fast twitch muscles and getting from one place to the next.
  • Mental:  Sometimes you need to do static reloads.  Commit that to memory before you run the stage.  Also take the time to plan the stages a little better, and visualize.  I spent too much time keeping score for the squad and not enough time prepping for the stage.


  • Stage 1 – 20th 
  • Stage 2 – 16th
  • Stage 3 – 13th
  • Stage 4 – 2nd
  • Stage 5 – 10th
  • Overall:  11th
  • Within Division (Tac Optics): 9th  – I’ll take that.  Kind of coincidental that my 9th lifetime 3 gun match, I finish 9th.  In any case, I am pleased with that.

Area 5

One of the things that I have not been good about with shooting is setting goals.  During the course of this year, I have been making notes and trying to set some goals and milestones.  The USPSA Area events are one of those that is going to make it onto the goal sheet.

In the interim, best of luck to everyone shooting the event this weekend.  I hope to be among you next year.

Long Range Awesomeness

Now this is pretty incredible.  A 1000 yard shot is nothing to sneeze at.  I have done it, and it takes a bit of skill to do it on a consistent basis, as well as an understanding of your equipment, physics, and your environment.

This video, wow.  A cold bore 1000 yd shot, off hand.  Granted, he is shooting a .50 caliber rifle which simplifies some of the physics.  To offset that though, the rifle weighs 37 lbs. and he did this from standing.  I guarantee you his sight picture was dancing all over the place.  Watch.  Be amazed.  Don’t try this at home.