While going through an ample supply of magazines, plinking targets at the range might be ideal for most recreational gun owners; nothing says excitement more than participating in a 3-gun competition. Most first-timers typically ensure their AR15 upper receiver has a match-grade barrel and the perfect red dot ruggedized miniature reflex sight.
Also, they’ll probably want to adequately maintain their semi-automatic shotgun and pistol to guarantee superior functionality while on the course. There are, however, a few other items you’ll want to include in your gear on your first attempts, such as a range bag with all the maintenance tools and cleaning items, plenty of water and high-protein snacks, and the proper eye and ear protection.
If you’ve studied what a 3-gun competition requires, you’ll understand that the correct competition clothing will make all the difference in the world regarding comfort and mobility. As any seasoned 3-gun veteran will tell you, wearing suitable tops, pants, belts, and footwear not only should keep you cool and comfortable but also help you gain a tactical advantage.
Shirts for Competition
When selecting a competitive shooting top, the first thing to check is how well the fabric stretches and moves with your body. Not only should the shirt flex with your body motion, but the material needs to move about without getting in the way of your movements.
A breathable top is essential when participating in any USPSA 3-gun competition, which calls for continuous action as you run through an obstacle course while firing three different types of firearms. The tactical top you select should also contain snag-resistant fabric so you can quickly deploy and return your pistol, rifle, or shotgun to its preordained place.
Moisture-wicking properties are essential when picking out a competition shirt or top for 3-gun matches. USPSA 3-gun matches call for rapid movement and running the course against the clock while rapidly acquiring targets and maintaining precise shot placement. You’ll no doubt break a large sweat, and extensive collections of perspiration can not only be uncomfortable but frequently prevent you from your giving it your best performance.
Not all 3-gun competitions occur in the late spring or summertime, and you may discover your first time in competition may require more than just a tactical shooting top, pants, and footwear to keep you comfortable during the match. Remember that not every winter jacket is equal when wearing a shooting jacket while participating in your first 3-gun competition.
The first thing to look for when picking out a shooting vest, let’s say AR500 Bullet Proof Vest, is that it won’t restrict arm motion when worn while aiming and firing at targets on the course. If you can’t quickly acquire the target and place the shot were intended because the jacket restricts your motion, then the fact it keeps you warm and dry during a match won’t matter much.
The jacket you choose needs rip-stop fabric in case of an accidental snag or contact with a sharp object, and the lining should be thin enough to allow freedom of motion and yet provide you the right amount of layer protection without bulk. While many first-time participants don’t think about them, you’ll want to ensure the cuffs of your jacket are hook and loop so you can keep the sleeve cuffs out of the way of your hands as you make it through the course.
Blue Jeans or Shooting Pants
Admittedly, many first-time 3-gun competitors slide into a pair of their favorite relaxed-fit blue jeans off the hanger to wear during competition. Unfortunately, your favorite blue jeans can sometimes rip in the most embarrassing locations. When selecting a few pairs of shooting pants, be sure to check for reinforced seams in the seat of the pants and bar-tack reinforcement at all the major stress points.
Also, when it comes to a ripped pair of pants, you should check to ensure the pants are made of Flex-Tac® rip-stop fabric. If you’re not sure where to find shooting pants such as this, look at some of the tactical clothing the Stryke company manufactures.
Since this is probably your first time competing in 3-gun competition, you may not have thought about the amount of kneeling instances you’ll experience as you travel through the course. Even the least challenging 3-gun course may resemble a few blocks of a war-torn city that recently suffered a catastrophic event. There’ll be rubble and rocks and all kinds of objects you may have to plant your knees on to make the shot. Ensure the shooting pants you pick out have kneepad-ready knees beneath the exterior fabric to make the entire ordeal more palatable and less painful.
A Belt That Works Overtime
Although it stands to reason a belt will hold up your shooting pants, a genuine shooting belt does so much more than that. A proper shooting belt should not only be sturdy enough to hold your pistol’s holster, but it should also be strong enough to handle items such as additional mag pouches, multi-tool packs, and assorted accessories.
One of the best belts to consider is the Maverick Battle Belt which features the correct type of ergonomic curve to provide maximum stability while remaining extremely comfortable to wear. While many first-time 3-gun competitors don’t think a belt is essential because the fit of their pants is perfect on the hips, there are a few 3-gun competitions that require a belt of some sort to participate. As a first timer, be sure to check on the requirements of the match you intend to sign up for before you arrive.
Shoes on the Ground
Many first-time entries on a 3-gun match show up on their first day of shooting trials with various types of footwear such as combat lace-up boots, steel-toed work boots for additional ankle support, and yes, even cowboy boots. While this type of footwear may work well for some, it may not be the best selection of footwear for 3-gun competition.
When selecting the right kind of footwear, think about what you’ll need to accomplish as you compete. One of your shoes’ key capabilities needs to give you positive traction in various surfaces and conditions such as wet grass, mud, loose dirt, and even snow. If you don’t want to sacrifice mobility for stability, look at the line of competition footwear from Salomon Speedcross, which provides the perfect style of tread and traction you’ll need when racing through a 3-gun competition course.
While these items aren’t clothing, they are essential items you’ll want to take with you when heading out to your first competition. Things such as tactical eyeglasses, workable earmuffs, and shooting gloves that withstand the heat of your upper receiver’s handguard and provide a positive grip on your shotgun and pistol are just as important when competing. So, be sure to bring them.