On the AR15/Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro/Am, first, I gotta give full props to name sponsor and match "imaginer" AR15.com, Match Director Jeff Crambit, Match Chairman Joe DeBergalis, all the guys at Rockcastle, especially the Noble family, and the match sponsors (including but not limited to Brownell's, Sinclair, Hornady, policestore.com and a who's who of the industry) for a spectacular and I believe game-changing match.
I'll be talking about the match on Wednesday's podcast, but I did want to at least touch on it on the blog. I shot 3-gun back in the day...I enjoyed it thoroughly, but at the time I was a pretty good pistol competitor and I decided to focus in that direction. We have covered several of the big 3-gun matches for SHOOTING GALLERY, including the Rocky Mountain 3-Gun and the FNH Midwest 3-Gun, and none of them had really captured my imagination. Great matches; great television "fodder," but the commitment to a sport requires a sort of immediate connection to what's going on, and at least for me, that connection was lacking.
Which was surprising to me, because I'm a cowboy shooter, which is a multi-gun sport. One of hte things that attracted me to cowboy was the transitions (I am an old, overweight former triathlete, after all). I thrilled at the amazing athletes of 3-gun — Daniel Horner, Michael Voigt, Bennie Cooley, Robbie Johnson, Jerry Miculek (of course) — and their ability to deliver any shot cooked up by Machiavellian match directors, but it was with the same view as one might look at a magnificent basketball game or a NASCAR race, something for the genetically gifted, superbly in shape and lucky enough to be sponsored athlete.
I did some consulting on the future of various shooting sports, including 3-gun, and in doing so I found a lot of similar opinions...that the barriers to entry for 3-gun essentially capped that sport far below the more mainstream sports. Those barriers go beyond the simple expediency of having to purchase 3 trick (and often expensive) guns. The long-range (500 yard+) shots called for in many matches require both a place to practice and a heavyweight commitment to training that's increasingly rare. The athletic challenges for some of the big matches are daunting.
This is not criticizing those matches or 3-gun, only pointing out the barriers to entry. That's why I thought the Arfcom/Rockcastle match was such a brilliant idea...the longest shots for the pros were in the 300-yard range; a little less for the amateurs. I know from experience that you can tune up for shots at that distance on a 100-yard range, which are much more accessible to larger numbers of shooters. The stages were all pretty contained, while remaining very interesting and darned challenging!
In short, it was a match that I and a lot of other spectators thought, "Wow! I wish I was shooting this match!"
I talked to MD Jeff Crambit a little bit, and he was like a kid who had gotten what he wanted for Christmas. His goal, as he told me, was to make a match that was exciting and challenging and accessible. I told him I thought he succeeded. If 3-gun can be a competition that can be run on a majority of what we might think of as "normal" ranges and appeal to the larger body of practical shooters, I think the sport will soar. I also think that such a path would enhance the current big matches by funneling new shooters to them.
It'll be interesting either way!