I can remember very clearly one of the first conversations I ever had with Erik Lund of FNH USA’s pro shooting team. He took one look at my footwear and looked at me with an inquisitive look, obviously disapproving of my dapper Danner boots. I knew I had done something wrong, I just wasn’t quite sure yet. Never fear — he quickly let me know that apparently my footwear was proof that I wasn’t taking this whole 3-gun thing seriously.
3-Gun is a completely different beast from most shooting we do on a daily basis. Show up for a defensive handgun class in your latest “tactical chic” operator-wannabe outfit and no one bats an eye — mainly because they’re wearing the same thing. But if you show up for a 3-gun competition in that same outfit you would be most decidedly out of place.
The difference is that while most shooting focuses on the actual shooting, with 3-gun shooting is a secondary consideration. The ability to put rounds on target is the result of your mastery of the first challenges of 3-gun: movement and planning. The ability to move your body around a course and plan your shots is what 3-gun is testing, and for those who master those first two challenges the shooting comes much easier.
The reason why Erik disapproved of my boots was that they didn’t give the proper grip needed to catapult my… er… “large frame” around a 3-gun course. We’re both big guys, and it takes a lot of energy to get us moving as well as get us stopped. Boots like my pair of Danner footwear were great for hiking and farting around on the range, but for 3-gun they just don’t cut the mustard.
Erik’s idea of the perfect footwear is a set of football cleats. In his mind, the way they are set up is perfect for the stop-and-start of a 3-gun stage. Personally, I like the flexibility and light weight of trailrunning cleats. They were also blue, which matched my fetching outfit at the time. But then again, to each their own.
The same mentality applies to more than just footwear. Solid shoes are a start, but moving on to gear selection and even firearm selection the first thing you should be thinking is how that piece of kit will impact your ability to manuver around a stage. A Browning BAR is a great gun, but it might not be “the one” for 3-gun just due to the weight. A chest rig sounds like it would fit the bill for holding your loaded magazines, but the awkward position of the mags makes it difficult to use in the middle of a stage.
Like I said, 3-gun is not primarily a shooting sport. 3-gun is a sport about movement, and if you want to be competitive you need to adopt that mindset and use that principle to guide you in everything from firearms to footwear. 3-gun is a sport, and those who do well treat it as such.