Three-Gun Shooting Competition: Heaven or Hell?

Have you ever dreamed of doing something to challenge every element of your shooting skills? Point your truck toward Parma, Idaho and bring along a couple thousand rounds of ammunition, it is time to take on the MGM Iron Man 3-Gun Competition. You’ve got to be nuts to try it, but now that I have tried I can tell you nothing will come between the next match and me.

Are you asking, “What is the MGM Iron Man?”

The Slide

The slide. Targets are engaged from the top in any position you can get comfy in and again from the ground.

“This match isn’t for weenies and crybabies,” says Mike Gibson, creator of this one-of-a-kind 3-Gun match developed to test your shooting, physical conditioning, and your ambition to finish the longest and most intense shoot you will ever attend.

Gibson owns Mike Gibson Manufacturing, and produces MGM Targets, those high quality steel targets you see on all the best ranges. I have been trying to wreck a couple he sent me for T&E a couple years ago.  It can’t be done; a little white paint and they are ready to shoot again.  They are reasonably priced and the price includes shipping. But enough of the commercial for MGM, this story is about the match he founded in 1999 and has been running ever since.

The Iron Man combines all of the tougher targets that everybody dreads in regular 3-Gun matches and moves them farther away requiring they be shot from tougher and more uncomfortable positions.  If you shoot a limited or scoped tactical class there is no bi-pod option and the rests are not steady.  One rifle rest was a hangman’s rope hanging from a beam and you fired while standing on a table.

There are many more targets per stage and the round count for a stage is as many as some complete matches I have been to.  The squad I was on started out on Stage 10, which required 97 rounds; 32 rifle, 35 pistol, 19 shot, and 10 slugs.  That was the minimum needed if you didn’t miss.  For me, the whole match was about carrying enough shotgun shells.  Not only do you have to have a way to carry them, you have to manage how you shoot to engage the slug targets and shot targets accordingly and with the greatest efficiency.

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The stage started with the pistol.  We had to shoot through some barricades and the first shot knocked over a steel target to reveal a paper target that poped up and disappeared from view in a second and a half.  This paper target had to be hit at least once in the A or B area or twice anywhere.  Then we saw the “swinger” and it was not as exciting as it sounds.  A pressure plate in front of the window through which it was engaged started things with the “swinger” and scoring proved to be a challenge.

Next up was a short jog around the berm to a table with a dummy weighing around 90 pounds.  I had to carry this dummy a golf cart about 50 yards away and place in the cart without knocking over my shotgun that was staged on the seat. I had to engage some targets with the shotgun while driving the cart!  Other targets included a variety of shotgun poppers, whirly gigs, plate racks, and clay bird targets.  All this was followed up with 10 slug against on five targets at about 50 to 60 yards.

The most diabolical of targets seemed to be the Double Target Spinner. I had never seen anything like it before. The target consists of two round target plates of different diameters on arms of about the same length balanced on a stand. This leaves the heavier one at rest on the bottom.  The spinner rotates on the stand when you hit one of the plates. The goal is to make it revolve over one full turn.

Hitting the plates, which is no easy task, is only half the challenge.  You also need to time your hits to move the targets properly. I never did get used to that thing but it definitely is something to practice for next year.

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