3-Gun Nation is starting to branch out, trying to involve “lower level” shooters in their competitions as well as the cream of the crop. To that end, they’re organizing something called the 3-Gun Nation National Club Series. These shoots have the blessing of the NRA and are designed to spread the more unified and game-like competition across the country. It’s a cool concept, and a welcome change from the hodge-podge of rulesets used in competitions right now. At the first Pro Series competition, they set up two of the classifier stages and gave everyone a go at them; including yours truly . . .
The point of a “classifier” stage is to have a set stage configuration that can easily and exactly be replicated at any competition. That allows thousands of competitors to accurately compare their scores on each stage and rank themselves accordingly. This allows for a “classification” system (A flight, B flight, etc.) to be developed, further segmenting the competitors and making sure that new shooters don’t wind up competing against the Eric Lunds of the world.
Classifiers typically focus on one specific aspect of the competition (such as a specific skill or common challenge) and use that to identify who can execute that particular set of skills the best. These two stages were perfect examples of classifier stages.
The first stage was 100% shotgun, and focused on reloading on the move. The set-up consisted of two arrays of six steel targets, one with falling steel plates and the other with pepper poppers. Two boxes were positioned on the ground some 10 feet apart, and each array could only be shot from the designated boxes (meaning you need to move from one to the other).
Shotguns are typically restricted to an 8+1 configuration, meaning that shooting two 6-round groups requires a reload. And the best time to do that is while you’re on the move, since doing two things at once is almost always more productive than a standing reload. So the stage boils down to shooting your shotgun as fast as you can, reloading on the move and doing it again.
Since I had now (kinda) mastered the “load two” shotgun reload method, I felt pretty confident about my ability to take down the stage in a timely fashion. And while the reload was rockin’ awesomely fast, my shooting left something to be desired. I spent an extra round on a steel plate that refused to fall, and just didn’t pull the trigger fast enough on the first array. That cost me a few precious seconds, time I didn’t have. The second array was much better, as I just looked for a “flash” sight picture (the impression of a target in the sights) instead of trying to get a full sight picture.
I finished that classifier in 12.24 seconds. I thought I’d done pretty well, but then I looked at the top scores. The “good” guys had done it in 6 seconds.
The second classifier focused more on transitions and rifle reloads. We started with a shotgun, empty it at an array of clay pigeons on all three sides. From there, we dumped it in the barrel and grabbed a staged rifle from the table. Two arrays of three targets then needed double taps, with a mandatory reload in the middle.
Again, I thought I ran this one pretty well. I royally screwed up a couple practice runs, but the third time was the charm. The tricky part was dumping the shotgun and picking the rifle up off the table as quickly and smoothly as possible. And while I probably could have staged the rifle better (perhaps a bit closer to the edge of the table). I figured I did a pretty good job. I ran it in a little over 12 seconds…while the big boys were running it in about 7.
The sucky part about a classifier stage is that you don’t really know how well you’ve done until a lot of people have shot it. USPSA classifier scores are well known as they have been run millions of times, but these are brand new in the 3-gun world. I’m a big fan of their design, and I can’t wait to see how shooters of all levels make out on them.