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Competition Shooting 101 – MultiGun Matches

Are you thinking about taking the plunge into competitive shooting but you can’t decide whether you want to compete with your handgun, your rifle or your shotgun? Good news, there are multigun matches that allow you to compete with all of them!

Multigun (also called 3-Gun) matches are a great way to get involved in the shooting sports - it's a fantastic way to meet other shooters and improve several of your shooting skills. If you're interested in shooting multigun matches, but don't know where to start, read on to find out how to get started.

Equipment Needs

In order to shoot a multigun match, you’ll obviously need some combination of all three types of guns:  a handgun, a modern sporting rifle (AR-15 platform) and a shotgun.  And of course, you’ll need ammunition for all of them.  The basics are the same as for any shooting sport such as eye protection and hearing protection.  Beyond that, a cart of some sort is nice because you’ll need an efficient way to move three guns, gear and ammunition around the range.    

Handgun – Any handgun that is acceptable for the shooting sports will work.  The most popular type of handgun for multigun matches is a 9mm semi-automatic.  You’ll also need a holster, mag pouches, and a sturdy belt. 

Rifle – The most common choice for rifles is an AR-15 style rifle chambered in .223.  And most shooters utilize a larger capacity magazine (30 rounds) during matches.

Shotgun – Pump actions shotguns are fun and will certain work during a match, but if you’re going to make this a regular hobby, you might want to invest in a semi-automatic shotgun.

Start with the basics and decide how you want to upgrade after you’ve shot a match or two.  You can stay basic or go big with gear and such.

Rules and Divisions

There are several organizations that oversee the rules for multigun matches such as the International Multigun Association (IMGA) or United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).  However, many local ranges offer their own version of a Multigun match based on the established rules.  The biggest trick is figuring out which division or class you may belong to.  Depending on the match guidelines, the divisions used may include Open Division, Modified or Tactical Division, Factory or Limited Division, or Heavy Metal Division.  If you are unsure of which division you belong in, the match director and staff will be happy to help you determine the best fit. 

Action Shooting

Most multigun matches are scenario based.  You’ll be in a squad with other shooters and move through multiple stages or scenarios.  For each scenario, a course of fire given with multiple targets and even multiple types of targets.  Before any shooting begins, the Safety Officer for the stage will conduct a walk through to explain the course of fire.  The shooter progresses through the course as it is laid out.

 There are two things that make a multigun match special.  First, the standard shooter does not often get the opportunity to run from target to target with their rifle or shotgun in hand as they move about.  And second, shooters are also required to transition from gun to gun as they progress through the scenario.  For example, a shooter may retrieve their shotgun and shoot several targets to start the scenario.  Then, they may have to make it safe and put it down, draw their handgun for several more targets, holster and finish with their rifle on the last of the targets – all in one scenario.

These two features make multigun a fantastic way to practice skills that most ranges do not allow in the course of everyday shooting.   Just like any other action shooting match, scores are based on time and accuracy. 

Just Shoot

Like any other competition or local match, the first time can be very intimidating.  Most ranges will allow you to come and watch to get comfortable.  Everyone at the match will welcome your questions and are eager to get new competitors into the game. 

So the most difficult step is the decision to register for your very first match.  After that, it will be smooth sailing as you grow, learn and make friends with other multigun competition shooters.  Just get out there and shoot!

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