3-Gun Overview

The following information remains pertinent for 3-Gun competition.

USPSA shooting’s roots are handgun competition.  There is a division for just about everything [9mm/.38 or larger] out there.  There is also a fast growing segment of our sport called 3-Gun – basically USPSA with handguns, rifle, and shotgun.  Within that discipline there are several “flavors” each with differing philosophies. 

USPSA 3-Gun is an emerging environment.  While the breadth of issues can’t be covered adequately here, perhaps the central issue is the scoring methodology.  What works very well in pistol competition is somewhat problematic in 3-Gun.  The issue becomes significant as we shoot multi-gun stages, where the shooter uses two or more firearms on a given stage.  Issues of power factor, balancing the possible points for each type of firearm, equipment configuration across Divisions become more complex.  There are a couple of different strategies emerging and it is likely that over time a single system of scoring will emerge that will work for everyone.

The USPSA 3-Gun Supplement and the current USPSA Rulebook define one approach to 3-Gun Competition.  It is a provisional supplement – good evidence of the evolution taking place in the sport.  It uses the same scoring software that is used in handgun competition, recognizes the Comstock scoring and power factors.  Links to those resources are provided below.

International Multi-Gun [IMG] Rules represent another strategy.  While the safety rules and general structure is the same, scoring is quite different.  It is based on “time plus” – ie the shooter’s time on a stage and penalties and bonus points are expressed as time added or subtracted from that.  All stages can earn a maximum of 100 points; the shooter with the lowest time [factored with penalties and bonus points] is given the 100 points and everyone else’s points earned are a percentage of that.  The actual scoring is also different, in that rather than “points per hit” the target is considered neutralized with either one “A” zone hit or 2 hits anywhere on the target [steel must be activated or fall to score].  Anything less than that becomes a penalty in assessed seconds for failure to neutralize the target.  A copy of IMG Rules is available below.

At our club, the monthly 3-Gun matches are scored under the IMG Rules.  We find that it is far easier to score, makes stage design and balance easier to accomplish, and reduces the time required to determine match results.  As better methods are developed, we will re-evaluate our match guidance and procedures.  An important point to keep in mind is that the fundamental gun handling/safety rules and procedures are the same; the scoring of the match is somewhat different.


USPSA Multi-Gun Rules [PDF]

2012 Oklahoma City Gun Club 3-Gun Rules [PDF]

General Talking Points in Preparation for 3-Gun Competition:

  • Gear:  3-Gun matches involve a lot of equipment and ammunition. A wagon, range cart, or something of that sort is highly recommended.
  • Carrying Ammunition: Anywhere you like on your person or on your firearm, except not in your hand. Many folks put carriers on their shotgun, forearm, or belt; rifles can have magazines tied together, on the belt, etc
  • Ready Condition: Chamber loaded, magazine in, gun cocked, safety on. Bipods must be stowed and retracted. Sling must be in the carry position, not “wrapped and ready”. Unless the position is stipulated for a course of fire, the gun may be mounted and pointing at the target, but the safety must be on and the finger off the trigger.
  • Targets: In addition to the usual IPSC targets, 3-Gun allows the use of “miscellaneous targets” – flash targets, self-resetting targets, clays, etc. To “balance the scoring”, you may see 10 point steel on certain stages.
  • Gun Handling Policy: Obviously, long guns don’t fit on a convenient holster. Generally, when not in use, long guns should be in racks, or cases. When moving without a case, the approved position is muzzle up and chambers open. If carriers need to be filled up [for example, side saddles on a shotgun], do that away from the Safe Areas, and keep the gun handling to the absolute minimum required. The same rules apply to handling ammunition in a Safe Area – don’t do it. Racks will be provided throughout the bays to hold long guns when not in use.
  • Reloading on the move: It’s different with a long gun, and an easy way to DQ from the match. Add walls, doors, and ports and it is easy to run into trouble. Be careful!
  • Shotgun stages will primarily involve “pistol distances”, though slugs may involve some longer shots. In no case, should steel be engaged with slugs at close distances – it isn’t safe, and USPSA recommends that it be treated as a range failure and stop a shooter who inadvertently uses slugs on a close stage against steel targets. It is a significant safety risk.  USPSA recommends slug only be used on “slug-only” stages, and with paper targets or if steel is used it be at 40 yards or greater.
  • Shot vs slugs: Generally, IPSC course of fire will involve more shot than slugs. At the OKC Gun Club, we limit the shot to #6 or higher. The majority of targets will be steel or frangible targets such as clay pigeons. IPSC targets or steel at distances over 40 yards are for slugs; shot holes in an IPSC target are ignored.
  • Rifle stages may be shot on pistol bays at those distances and also may involve targets to as much as 350 yards. At the OKC Gun Club, unless we shuttle shooters to the highpower range, we will be limited to a little over 100 yards, using the Black Powder Range adjacent to our action pistol bays. Even at 100 yards, many of the flash targets we use are pretty challenging.
  • Some of the courses may require a lot of shots – either a lot of targets, or a lot of make-up shots at long distance.  Barrels get very hot, so watch out.
  • Our Club 3-Gun matches will involve 4 - 6 stages. For planning purposes it is recommended that shooters bring a minimum of 75 – 100 rounds each for rifle and pistol, 50 shotgun shells, and 15 – 20 slugs.

Bring what you’ve got, don’t sweat the small stuff, be safe and have fun.  That’s all that matters.  Come and try out something a little different.  It’s a blast!