Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 2010, at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun match. If you’re not familiar with it, the SMM3G is one of the premier “outlaw” 3 Gun matches in the country, with a reputation for challenging stages and innovative stage props.
it was also one of the first venues for the 3 Gun Nation TV show, where Keith Garcia won $5,000 by beating a rather respectable field of competitors in a shoot-off. 3 Gun was going to be The Next Big Thing. FN-USA and a bunch of other gun makers poured a ton of cash into the sport, along with businesses outside the gun industry like Polaris ATVs.
The upside looked limitless. You could get into 3 gun fairly cheaply. I once figured out that a decent 3 Gun rig cost about as much as a Wilson Combat 1911. The stages were challenging and fun. You’d bring in rifle shooters and pistol shooter and expand the pool for other shooting sports. Heck, you’d even bring in the tactical LARPing crowd by telling them they were shooting something that started at a Soldier of Fortune convention.
But a funny thing happened on the way to shooting sport dominance. People got all geeked up for three gun and bought all kinds of gear and then realized two things.
- The real-world application of the sport was limited at best and
- It was really hard
People quickly found out that fast shotgun reloading was the key to winning a3 Gun match, and that skill really didn’t apply outside of the shooting range. We say “three times the gun, three times the fun,” but what that also means is three times the skills to learn. 3 Gun quickly faded in importance in the shooting sports world, and now it’s mostly known as a way to train Hollywood celebrities.
But now we have a new sport that’s going to be The Next Big Thing, and that sport is Precision Rifle. Scratch a new PRS shooter, and chances are, you’ll find a former 3 Gunner underneath. Daniel Defense is making a bolt action gun, and so is Sig Sauer*. Even Springfield Armory is getting in on the (bolt) action, all of them hoping to capitalize on the success Ruger and their Precision Rifle.
Will it work? For a while, yes. The biggest thing working against Precision Rifle is the lack of 300 yard+ ranges. Most people have to drive for hours on end to go out to 500 yards or more, and doing that every month can get a little tiresome. One thing working in the favor of Precision Rifle is that everything you learn on a stage is almost directly applicable to long-range hunting, so at least there is a method to the madness. Will Precision Rifle do what 3 Gun couldn’t do, and build a niche for itself that rivals IDPA, USPSA or Cowboy Action? Probably not. Will it drive sales in today’s world of niche-driven gun marketing? Oh my, yes. And that’s all the gun companies want it to do.
* Yes, I know, Sig’s been selling bolt guns for years, but they were re-badging Steyr rifles for a long time. This new gun is made in-house.