How I Started Shooting 3-Gun (and Shooting in General)

I love teaching new people about guns.  That has been my passion for the past 15 years.  It all started when I became a Small Arms Training (SAT) Range Operator with the Canadian Forces in 2004.  Until my release in 2008, most of my life revolved around planning “Range Ex’s” in Calgary ASU for Cadets, students, and the various Calgary Reserve units.

Those ex’s usually were on a Saturday, and if called out to one, SAT Operators (like myself) had permission to go into the SAT range the previous night to prep.  Truthfully, many times after setting up the C7’s, C9’s, C6’s and M72’s, I’d get a bit of “personal training time” consisting of running a computer simulation where our position was attacked by a brigade of mechanized Russian infantry.  I’d go from gun to gun, destroying APC’s with the LAW, hosing down infantry with the C6 or the M203.  One time, one of my fellow operators was there, and egged me on when an attack helicopter came into frame.

“You can’t take that thing down with a grenade launcher,” he said, mockingly.

“Watch me,” I replied with a smug, ‘Hold My Beer’ expression.

With one shot from the M203, I knocked it out of the air.

On a few occasions, I may (or may not) have brought non-military guests during those prep session.  10 years after the fact, I’m pretty confident some of the things my “guests” and I did likely would have gotten me charged for “Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.”

We were all 24 year old’s once (or some of us will be shortly).

My experience as a SAT Operator was one of the biggest drivers towards me eventually starting a 3-Gun program at the Buffalo Target Shooters Association (BTSA).

Shooting guns is fun because it is extraordinarily mentally strenuous.

The first time I shot a gun, it was one of the most stressful things I had ever done, up to that point.

(NOTE: In the Canadian Army, a “rifle” is never to be confused with a “gun.”   I spent many hours on a military radio net debating such, but I’m not in the army anymore, so whatever.)

It was March 2001, at CFB Suffield or as my detachment commander and called it, “The Asshole of Alberta” or “Suffer-field.”  I was sworn in two weeks earlier and just issued my kit (none of which I knew how to use, as a know-nothing Private Recruit).  It was freezing cold, not so different from how it was in March 2018.  There wasn’t any snow, but the ground was frozen the Friday we arrived and set up our tents.

I learnt that night why you don’t inflate your air-mattress by blowing into it and why you don’t sleep in a CF sleeping bag with socks and long-johns (unless you want to freeze your ass off and not get any sleep).

The next morning, my section commander, a flamboyant, red-head, gay Master Corporal (who I later grew to deeply respect for his soldiering and leadership skills) lined up the 5-6 other recruits for C7 TOET’s (Tests of Elementary Training).  Problem for him was none of us had any “Elementary Training.”  None of us has ever held a gun (rifle) in our lives.  We were all a bunch of clueless 17-19 year old kids.

I vividly remembered the scowl on his face when he ordered us to pick up a rifle and one goofball private (me), dropped it on the ground, hard.

An important leadership principle I learnt years later in the Pre-Junior Leaders training course was that a performance failure of an untrained subordinate is the responsibility of that subordinate’s superior.  I realize to this day the torn look on Gay Master Corporal’s face reflected both his disgust at my cardinal sin of dropping a weapon (something no TRAINED soldier does), but also his disappointment at himself failing to properly instruct me on how to hold a damn rifle.

Like I said, years later (and to this day) I have enormous respect for that man.

Regardless, this segues to why I 3-Gun today.

In some way’s, I’m like the Gay Master Corporal (besides the fact that I’m not gay, not white, and not in the army… so actually, in no way am I like Gay Master Jack – but whatever).

Between when I released from the Army in 2008 until 2015,  I became a Range Safety Officer at The Shooting Edge (2008 – 2011).  I volunteered on the Board of Directors with the BTSA (becoming a Range Safety Officer in the process) as well as started the BTSA’s Young Guns Youth Program.  I aggressively shot at IDPA competitions where I did pretty well, until my wife and I started making babies – at which point I had to stop.

The whole time, I wanted to shoot a 3-Gun program.

I have e-mails to the BTSA executive dated to 2009 where I pressed the matter but for a myriad of reasons I’ll get into in another post, it wasn’t until Fall of 2014 things fell into place.  With the help of some powerful individuals, we were able to start “Thursday Night 3-Gun” which eventually morphed into “Monday Action Shooting League” (again, more on that later).

My hope for 2018 Action Shooting League is two fold (the same it has been since I started it).  Get new shooters into the sport and help existing shooters get better at it.

Just make sure you don’t drop your damn rifle!

Our first shoot is on Victoria Day, May 21 2018.

I hope to see you on the range!

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