Pro Tips & Training
One of my favorite drills
In 3-gun it is all about your transitions and reloads. One of my favorite drills is the WMD Drill or the Weapons Manipulation Drill. It utilizes all 3 guns and helps you to become proficient with not only your reloading, but your transitions as well. Here is an example on how to run it, but there are a lot of videos on youtube that can show you visually
Don't let these things slow you down
My Twin Sister Tracy Barnes breaks down some things that slow you down in 3-gun and how to over come those. Click here to see what Tracy Barnes says about the 6 Things That Slow Us Down in 3-Gun
Everything you need to know about 3-gun from fellow 3-gunner
Here are some great ideas from a fellow 3-gunner- Click here to read and learn about everything 3-Gun from George Koehl IV at www.3-gun.com/blog
Organization can help
My husband is always reminding me and helping me to become better prepared and more organized at matches. Knowing where all your extra parts and pieces are and having your magazines, ammo, shell caddies, mag pouches, and belts organized can help elevate stress and allow you to have the time you need to walk stages and get focused instead of scrambling to get ready before the timer goes off. I use plastic containers to store my mags (one to keep the dirt and elements out of them) and have separate containers for full mags and ones I need to reload. That way I'm not scrambling and grabbing half loaded mags and sticking them on my belt only to find out they aren't full half way through the stage. I also keep my ammo organized so I can quickly grab what I need and reload if necessary. Having extra mags can help in longer matches, especially if you are shooting stages back to back. I also like to plan out the night before what shell caddies and mag pouches I'm going to use in every stage so that I can add them to belt as I go. Having these things organized as well as extra parts and pieces if something breaks can help elevate stress. Also bringing extra food and water can help keep you hydrated and your blood sugar normal and help you feel better and shoot better.
Stage planning for matches
Coming up with the best strategy for a stage at a match can be difficult. Depending on the match and the stage, there can be quite a few different ways to shoot a stage especially if you are given options to shoot targets with different firearms. I highly recommend getting to a match early to walk stages, come up with a good plan and memorize the stage before you have to shoot it. Always shoot a stage in a way that plays to your strengths. Just because a pro shoots it one way, that doesn't mean that you have to shoot it the same way. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and move and shoot at different speeds. Pick a strategy and plan that will get YOU through the stage the fastest and with the fewest amount of penalties. Once you come up with a good game plan and are back at your home or hotel, run through the stages in your head and visualize them. Visualization is key and can really help you to memorize the stage and make it that much easier for your body and mind to remember where everything is when your under the clock.
To clean or not to clean your guns at a match
A lot of shooters I know always ask me if I clean my guns during a match and the answer is yes. I am a little obsessive about cleaning and maintaining my firearms because there is nothing worse than having your equipment go down because you haven't maintained it properly. I've heard a lot of people say that they are afraid to clean their guns and have something put back together wrong and have the firearm not function properly the next day in the match. I'm not sure if that is an excuse or a viable worry. Here is what I think. If you clean your guns often enough and really pay attention when you are cleaning/taking apart/putting them back together, you wouldn't have a problem. I'd rather run on the side of clean than have a gun go down because of dirt or carbon build up. So many matches we shoot in have variable weather like rain or sand storms, so it is important to clean your guns and keep them well lubricated and happy. I use Otis for all of my cleaning and have for the past 15+ years. otistec.com.
Keeping your scope lenses dry during a rain match
Trijicon makes rifle scope lens caps that can keep your scope lens dry in a rain storm while competing, training or hunting. It's a good idea to have a lens cap on your scope to keep the elements out, but if you don't have one, then a good old ziplock or sandwich bag and rubber band can work just as good, they are also easy to snap off and get ready to shoot if need be. So keep your scope's lenses covered to avoid an obstructed field of view when it counts and either get a lens cap or try the baggie/rubber band combo. trijicon.com.
Acquiring your sights quicker
You can save a lot of time in shooting by getting your first and transitional shots off quicker. One way to do this is to pick up your front sight in your peripheral. In shooting when taking that first shot you lead with your eyes and the sights will follow. But to do this quicker and more accurately without having over travel or under travel, learning to pick up that front sight in your peripheral will help. Your peripheral vision is responsible for seeing movement and will take over from your primary vision once it see movement. So if you let it, your eyes can naturally help you to be a better shooter. Try this, Set up 3 paper targets in front of you with your pistol at about 10 yards. with each target 3 yards apart. First practice one shot draws and trying to pick up your front sight as your are brining the gun out in front of you to the line up the sights. Don't look down a the sights, but see at what point you can see your front sight and guide it into the right spot in front of you and on target. Once you have this mastered, then move onto transitioning from target to target. Go left to right then right to left and after you are done taking a shot on one target, look over to the next target and snap that gun into your field of view and onto the target. Try the same thing in acquiring that front sight in your peripheral as you are snapping the gun over and onto the target. This is a very simple drill, but it can save you valuable time in the long run. Another thing that helps me in picking that sight up quicker is having a HIVIZ sight on my pistol and shotgun. Check them out here.
Shooting on the move
I was always the person who thought that if I just stand still and shoot all my targets then run as fast as I can to the next set of targets that I will still be ahead of people on time. Well that isn't always the case. It can be in certain situations, but I there are a lot of situations where moving and shooting will cut your time down significantly. Some of the things that I do to learn how to shoot is to put up a target at 50 yards and start out walking slowly towards it and watching my sights while I walk. Usually you are going to shoot much closer, but this allows you to cover more ground while watching your sights. You don't have to shoot while doing this quite yet but walk towards the target over and over and think in your head or dryfire when you would shoot and what part of your step would be the best time to pull the trigger. Once you've established good timing and are more comfortable walking then try it live fire. Every time, check your hits and see if your are hitting your target and what kind of hits you are getting. Repeat this pattern and increase the pace just a little, once you get that pace down then repeat the process and keep doing that until you are running and shooting. Make sure you practice all directions, but start out with shooting walking straight at the target until you get comfortable with the barrel movement. Get out there and gun and run!
Learning how to quad load
If you haven't tried to quad load yet or are to afraid to or think your hands are to small to do it, then think again. I believe anyone can do it. I've seen small children do it so forget the excuses and start practicing. My recommendations is to start slow. A lot of people start out to fast and rip the shells off their caddy and try to stuff them into their tubes as fast as possible and shells go flying. Try uber slow motion. Get a good grip with your finger wrapping around the shells with the shells pinched between your fingers and the pad of your thumb. Your thumb will go over the top of the shells. Once you pull them from the caddy (practice this over and over until you get it down, then move onto the next step) then bring them to the loading port. You will push the first two shells that are sitting against the pad of your thumb in first. Again do this slowly so you don't fumble. Push them down and in until they catch while your finger are grasping the other shells. Once those are in then simple load the last two like you were just loading 2. The key to this is to go slow and do it step by step until you get it, then move onto the next step. If you mess up, then start over. Get a good grip before you remove the shells from the caddy, figure out where the shells should sit in your hand because everyones hands are different and shaped differently. You can do this! Just keep trying and I guarantee you will figure it out! I like the Taccom quad load holders. They don't fall out and are easy to grab the shells from Shop here.
Selecting proper footwear
I've heard a lot of people asking me and others about what they recommend for footwear. A lot of shooters wear Salomon's and I wore their ski boots when I was racing and training for the Olympics. But I do have one suggestion- don't buy shoes from a company that specializes in ski boots and not running/hiking shoes. I have tried darn near ever shoe on the market and there are very few that have past what my family and friends call my “Olympic Test” . I am not easy on any equipment because I push hard and go further than most are willing. The one shoe I found that has held up to the test are Lowa's. Lowa boots and shoes are handmade in Germany and have better quality material in them so they are more expensive, but they will last several years instead of the normal 6 months for most shoes. Just like all of my sponsors, I chose them, not the other way around. I want to use the best and don’t just take a check from what ever company approaches me. I can vouch for these shoes because I have put them to “The Olympic Test” and they passed I have yet to find another shoe that will pass my test. If you don't take my word for it, try them and let me know what you think, and if they don't hold up, I will buy them from you. They are that good. lowaboots.com
Shooting in the cold
Shooting in cold weather is a challenge and since it is winter in a good majority of the US, then I have some tips that will help you keep your fingers warm and functioning. Often when our fingers get cold they loose dexterity, meaning they don't function as fast and accurate as they did when they are warm. This is because your body is taking the warm blood supply from the fingers and concentrating it in your core to keep you warm. To help keep your hands functioning properly, try wearing arm warmers and have several pairs of gloves you can switch out. Once one pair gets cold while wearing them, switch them out for a new pair. I usually keep a pair tucked close to my body to help them stay warm and absorb some body heat. Putting them in your pockets or tucked in under your belt are great places to keep that spare set. Also stock up on hand warmer and keep them close to your wrist (careful not to burn yourself) where the blood supply is entering your hands. That will help warm the blood going into your hands and heat them up. Definitely recommend the 2 pairs of gloves though. Stay warm!
Controlling your heart rate vs breathing
A common misconception is that as a biathlete I can control my heart rate and drop it down from a level of race pace (around 180 BPM) to a resting heart rate (around 40BPM). Although i can drop my heart rate a few beats by relaxation techniques, it is not possible to drop your heart rate from 180 to 40 instantly. Your heart is beating that hard for a reason. If it wasn't than your body would fill up with lactic acid and many other byproducts from exercising as well as not be able to transport the oxygen and nutrients necessary for proper body and muscle function and a lot of bad things would happen. The heart is also a voluntary muscle. It beat freely on it's own as an automated response. You don't have to think about your heart rate to have it beat. You can't control your heart rate, but you can control your breathing. I can stop my breathing when ever I want to, hold my breath. But luckily I can't stop my heart. If this would be possible we'd all be dropping like flies. So my tip to you is to learn how to control your breathing and accept a certain amount of movement associated with heart rate. Take a few really deep breaths before you start shooting and this causes the body to relax and start returning to homeostasis and will help you shoot more accurately and be more relaxed.
What guns and ammo I shoot
A lot of people ask me what I use for guns & ammo- Here is a list of what I use. It may be a perfect fit for everyone, but having competed at the highest level in sport I can tell you that I don't take my equipment lightly. I only use the best equipment out there.
Physical training and exercises
With you are training for 3-Gun please don't forget about your physical training too. Physical training is just as important as your shooting training. Being in good physical shape can help you to move quicker and shoot faster. Try these plyometric/ strength exercise to help you increase your hand and foot speed and move faster during a stage.
This time of year it is hard for some people to get to the range. It is the off season, its cold, the list can go on and on. This time of year however, you can make huge gains on your competitors if you put in a little extra time. One of my favorite dryfire drills because it truly works is simple- The dryfire hold. You can do this with any firearm (rifle is the easiest). You simply get into position, aiming at a spot on the wall and see how long you can hold until your wiggle pattern starts to break down. If you do this often enough you will build up all those tiny little stabilizer muscles in your arms and shoulders that help support the firearm and you will have the strength and endurance to hold your firearm steadier and for a longer period of time. Think this is boring, you can do it while watching tv or listening to music. Devote just 2-5 minutes a day to this and you will notice a huge difference.
Motivation for setting goals and following through with them
Searching for motivation to get out there and train? Try putting your goals up in places you are going to see them often. For example, on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, on your computer or phone screensaver. Seeing them and having little reminders to dryfire or get the training in for the next match can make a huge difference. It's a busy world out there and it's easy to get distracted by a million other things on your mind. Visual reminders can help motivate you to get out there and reach your goals!