Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Is The 3-Gun Nation?

3-Gun competition is one of the fastest growing action shooting sports, and one of the first to get it’s own dedicated television coverage. 3-Gun Nation TV with hosts Mark Wills and Chad Adams is the hottest new show on the Versus channel. 3-Gun challenges shooters to engage courses of fire using a mix of rifle, shotgun, and pistol, with the goal to get the fastest time through the course with no penalties. The courses are challenging and include a combination of cardboard, clay, and steel targets, including targets that move and aerial targets that must be hit with a shotgun.

Cheaper Than Dirt! recently joined the 3-Gun Nation as a sponsor for the remaining 2010 and upcoming 2011 season. Pete Brown, Executive Producer of 3-Gun Nation TV, was gracious enough to sit down with us and talk about these 3-gun competitions and what the 3-Gun Nation TV Championship Series adds to the competition.

What is the 3-Gun Nation? 3-Gun Nation is a tournament series completely dedicated to 3-gun. What we do is we draw points from previously established matches. Last season we had 5 matches on our tour. At each one of the matches on the tour competitors accrue points in the series that count towards qualifying them for our championship.

Basically last year our series comprised of Superstition Mountain, MGM Ironman, Rocky Mountain, FNH Midwest, and the Blue Ridge Mountain 3-gun. All of the shooters that competed at each of those matches had match points tabulated to count towards our overall series. At the end of the season we had our championship where we took the competitors three best scores from the 5 matches in our series – and that gave us our top shooters that qualified for our championship.

At the end of the year we tabulate all of the data, and last year we cut off at 50. We took the top 50 and had a 1 day match in Las Vegas with 4 stages of fire and the top 16 from those 4 stages of fire went into the head-to-head 16 man elimination shoot-off in Vegas for a $25,000 grand prize from Leupold, $10,000 from U.S. P.A.L.M and $5,000 from Timney Triggers. The event, as with everything so far, has been 100% supported companies within our industry.

How do you go about selecting the competitors? Can anybody be a competitor on 3-Gun Nation? Absolutely, anybody who signs up and shoots any of the matches on our tour can get into our shoot-off. You can walk in off the street, shoot the match, and if you are in the top 8 from that match, you’re in.

This isn’t like your typical reality TV show then where producers audition shooters with a casting call, there’s no drama, it’s all about how well you can shoot? There is no Hollywood here, it is 100% raw unfiltered competition. You show up, bring your A-Game and you can win.

Last season we had 5 matches and our championship. To get into the championship you had to shoot a minimum of 3 of those matches. We take 3 scores out of the 5 matches to get the total score for the season. If you shot all 5 matches on the tour, you could have 2 bad matches and drop those points. We only take your top 3 best scores. But you have to shoot a minimum of 3 matches.

At the end of the year we tabulate all of the data, and last year we cut off at 50. We took the top 50 and had a 1 day match in Las Vegas with 4 stages of fire and the top 16 from those 4 stages of fire went into the head-to-head 16 man elimination shoot-off in Vegas for the $25,000 grand prize.

What does the schedule this year look like? The 2011 3-Gun Nation Season is a bit larger than the 2010 season, consisting of 7 qualifying events along with the 3-Gun Nation Championship. However, like last year, only 5 of the events will feature a $5,000 shoot-off. Also, just like last year, you will need to shoot at least 3 qualifiers to have enough scores to make our championship. We have simply expanded the number of matches available as qualifiers.
(Bold matches are TV events featuring a shoot off and the $5,000 prize – 5 qualifiers; 1 championship)

Ft. Benning 3-Gun (December 2-5, 2011)
3-Gun Points: YES
3-Gun Shoot Off: YES
3GN TV Event:YES

Superstition Mountain 3-Gun (March 25-27, 2011)
3GN TV EVENT: YES (Segments Only – Not full episode; no 3GN shoot-off)

Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun (April 29 – May 1, 2011)
3-Gun Points: YES
3-Gun Shoot Off: YES
3GN TV Event:YES

MGM Iron Man (June 9-11, 2011)
3-Gun Points: YES
3-Gun Shoot Off: YES
3GN TV Event:YES

Ozark 3-Gun (September)
3-Gun Points: YES
3-Gun Shoot Off: NO
3-Gun TV Event: YES (Segments Only – Not full episode; no 3GN shoot-off)

Rocky Mountain 3-Gun (August 4-6, 2011)
3-Gun Points: YES
3-Gun Shoot Off: YES
3GN TV Event:YES

USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals (DATE: TBD/October)
3-Gun Points: YES
3-Gun Shoot Off: YES
3GN TV Event:YES

3-Gun Nation Championship (DATE: TBD)
3-Gun Shoot Off: YES
3GN TV Event:YES

Let’s talk about the 3-Gun Nation hosts, you’ve got Mark Wills who is a well known singer and Chad Adams co-hosting. Tell me a bit about your hosts. First of all Mark Wills just brings his personality and his love of the shooting sports. He is a famous country singer who also happens to be a firearms proponent and enthusiast. He actually got started in pistol, shot Bianchi, and learned of 3-Gun and then learned what we were doing and wanted to be involved. When we heard that he was interested in what we were doing, obviously that was a no-brainer for us. He is just a great personality on camera and is a great promoter of the sport. He sorta represents the everyday shooter, the everyday guy who is learning what 3-Gun is and how much fun the competitive shooting sports are in general. He hosts special segments on our show where he goes and trains with different people in the industry that can pass along some knowledge to those people who might take an interest in shooting a match, whether it is 3-gun or pistol or shotgun. He breaks it down for the people who aren’t necessarily high-speed top level shooters. My partner Chad Adams reports from all the matches, interviews competitors and hosts our shoot-off. He brings several years of firearm industry experience to the table, as well as a career in firearm journalism. He really identifies with the shooters and what they are doing, and the equipment they are using. This past season was the first time he ever MC’d a live event. Superstition was our first match, he went out there in front of the crowd and made it happen, I was nervous for him! He really makes the shoot-off entertaining. He does a fantastic job.

You bring up an important point about the importance of bringing the shooting sports back into mainstream media and getting the public educated about our sport and the industry. The number one motivation for us is to expose the sport of 3-Gun to the world. The first time I ever saw a 3-Gun match it really just jumped out at me and hit me in the face. I could not believe that it was such an unknown sport. If there is ever a shooting sport that can reach out to the mainstream and intrigue the everyday viewer, it’s 3-Gun.

There is athleticism, there’s speed, there’s long distance rifle shooting, there’s running and gunning high-speed pistol and shotgun shooting, it has it all. Every stage is different. I don’t think it’s what people really think of when they think of a shooting match. To me, 3-Gun is the equivalent of the X-Games of shooting. What we’re trying to do is take 3-Gun and not only raise awareness but also help it grow and bring in new shooters.

The guys who are in 3-Gun are really passionate about it. This is a great opportunity to take the shooting sports to a level that no one has ever seen before.

With 3-Gun TV we’re really able to capture the essence of the sport. If you flip on the TV and you see 3-Gun Nation, you won’t want to change the channel. We’re out to grow the sport of 3-Gun, and we’re out to do it by producing the best TV show we possibly can and grow our web presence to draw interest.

Where do you see the future of 3-Gun and all of the action shooting sports heading? This year there’s going to be a fresh crop of 3-Gun matches popping up all over the place. People are talking about new matches and there are many segments of the firearms industry that really want to get involved. The more that the industry gets involved with the sport, whether it’s with 3-Gun Nation or not, the more we’ll see an increase in the number and frequency of matches across the country.

What I see is more matches popping up in more places and it being more accessible to folks outside the core group of dedicated shooters. Our goal is to help facilitate that in any way that we can and to be the number one resource for 3-gun competition, whether it’s finding a local match in your area or helping to facilitate local matches and getting new shooters involved.

How important is it that we encourage the next generation of shooters to get started in 3-gun? That’s a big thing that we want to do. We are trying to involve the youth and what we’d like to see is companies within the industry step forward and help us sponsor a division for the youth. How cool would it be to have 2 or 4 of the top youth competitors from the match go into a heads-up competition? If we had a new sponsored division for the junior shooters I think it would result in a grass roots level surge in popularity of the sport and begin to bring a lot more participants.

In this day and age of iPods and video games and all of the things that grab our kids attention, it can be incredibly hard to get the youth out of the house and into the discipline and challenge of the action shooting sports. We’re trying to make the sport entertaining enough that the kids want to get outside with their parents or a responsible adult and learn the basics of firearm safety and learn how to shoot quickly, accurately, and safely. With the right positive support, I think we’ll see more kids want to get out and participate in the sport instead of playing a video game.

There are 3 things, if you follow the rules of firearm safety, regardless if you’re on the range at a 3-gun match or if you’re hunting a whitetail deer from a tree stand, the firearm safety rules remain the same. The fundamental common sense rules of firearm handling apply in all aspects 3-Gun as they do in any shooting sport or activity. With the proper guidance and proper mentoring, it can be a great sport for adults and youths alike.

3-Gun Nation TV also has some great educational segments where viewers can learn tips and tricks to improve their skills. We do, you know we want to show how accessible the sport is. People see great shooters like Taran Butler and Bruce Piatt and Jerry Miculek and think that it’s not even worth going out and practicing or competing. But if you watch the show and you see Mark Wills out there, you see how much fun it is. Mark shot Blue Ridge and he had a blast. One of the things that you don’t see in the show, because we just don’t have the time to show it, is that there were like 300 shooters at that match, and of course they’re not all top level contenders. There are prize tables with over $200,000 worth of merchandise on them and you don’t have to land in the top 10 to take home some great prizes. I’ve heard of matches where you could shoot and come in 30th place and still walk home with a new rifle from the prize table. I’m not a great shooter and even I could get 30th place. Just because you see Taran Butler going a million miles an hour on a 3-gun stage doesn’t mean that the next guy has to go that fast. Chances are, if you go at the speed your skill allows, you’re going to do well and end up getting a great prize even if you finish 30th.

The other great thing is that guys like Kurt Miller or Bruce Piatt will probably hang around after the stage and help out that guy shoot that stage and give him some great tips and tricks. That’s the great thing about these top level competitors is that they’re all great guys and really friendly, willing to help out new shooters. Some of these guys you see on television, they hang around and if they see a new shooter come in to shoot a match, they’re going to do whatever they can to help him or her enjoy the match.

So, these guys we see on TV aren’t your typical superstars- No! They’re not. They will go out of their way to help a guy to shoot better because they want to see that guy enjoy the sport. Let’s face it. The more people who are enjoying the sport, the better it is for everyone.

How do you respond to critics who say that sports like 3-gun should be banned, that it’s not a sport that we should be promoting? It’s unfortunate. I think it’s unfortunate because those same people, if they met the people in our industry and took a step outside of their comfort zone and got to know the sport a bit better, I think you’d see a 180 degree turn around in their opinion.

We will continue to show how safe the sport is, and how much fun it is.

I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to us today and I can’t wait to see the next season. When can we expect to see the next season start? The 2011 TV season premieres Saturday, July 30th at 7:30 am

The 2010 3-Gun Nation TV series is currently airing on Versus Monday at 7:30am Eastern and Thursdays at 3pm Eastern.

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