When you see 3-Gun shooting on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or any other online outlet, often you see the moving images of a competitor blazing his or her way through a course of fire. As viewers see these videos, they often do not get a clear picture of what went into making that video possible.
Beyond the stages, so much more goes into running a match of any size. All of the coordination and effort is mostly volunteer-based, with little to no reward for the work put into planning, promoting, constructing, and administering the match. So we designed this series of articles to showcase the match directors, the volunteers and the guys and girls behind-the-scenes that make our sport possible.
With that, we are kicking-off this series with Marc McMaster of Outdoor Sportsman’s Club of Bellefonte, PA. McMaster is a 3-Gun shooter with a full-time job and many other responsibilities that we are all too familiar with. However, Marc not only runs a successful club, but its over 2 hours from the closest metropolitan area. Within that, Marc (along with Pierre LeClair) helped us develop a 3-Gun 101 Class this past year which introduced over 25 new shooters into the sport.
3GN: How did you get into 3-Gun and competitive shooting?
MM: My first foray into competitive shooting was IDPA around 2012. A few years later our club started running some 2 Gun matches (pistol/shotgun) I saw these guys doing this crazy stuff loading a shotgun while I was pulling shells out of my pockets. We did that for a full season and then one of the shooters wanted to start doing 3 Gun in 2016 so we started running small outlaw matches that year.
3GN: What inspired you to step up and become the club match director?
MM: Our first year of 3 Gun at Outdoor Sportsmans Club was run “by committee.” There were 10 of us (which we now refer to as “The Original X) and we shared duties of stage design, set up, RO, etc. The club leadership really wanted one person they could go to for multigun related issues so the next year I stepped up to be the match director. We still have a great group of shooters that help design stages and run matches.
3GN: How many competitors do you have at your monthly matches and what are some of the challenges you face?
MM: We’re starting to hit 30 shooters pretty consistently for our monthly matches. Our biggest challenge is the distance we are from larger cities to draw more shooters. When I talk to shooters at other matches the reason they state for not shooting our matches is the distance. We’re about 2.5 hours from Philadelphia and the same from Pittsburgh but I recognize that is a long one day trip for a monthly match. I try to make the matches worth travelling for.
3GN: Is there anything in particular that you try to implement into your match that you’re shooters enjoy the most?
MM: Our club has some really unique features that you don’t get at a lot of clubs. We have a small shoot house in one of our bays that Penn State uses for their deputies academy that we also try to implement in our monthly matches. We also have a pretty nice woods course (jungle run) where we can shoot all 3 guns. Our rifle range is 300 yards and we try to use all of it every month. We’ve shot out of towers in the woods and also we have a towable tower that we can put anywhere on our club that sometimes makes an appearance as well. Recently some of our stages were compared to Blue Ridge type stages that are very physical with lots of movement. My stage designers are pretty creative and a little crazy. One month we even had a Donkey Kong themed stage.
We also run at least one classifier stage per month so shooters still get the opportunity to test themselves in the national ranking system.
3GN: 3GN Clubs have the option to use any ruleset they want for stages other than classifiers. Do you use 3GN rules beyond the classifier stages? If so, what is it about the 3GN rules that appeal to your club the most?
MM: We generally tend to stick pretty close to 3GN rules so shooters have some consistency and don’t have to try to figure out what ruleset they’ll be shooting on any given day. Any of our deviations are generally prop specific penalties on spinners, etc.
3GN: If there was another way that 3GN could help your club aside from the national rankings system and club promotions, what could we do?
MM: I think 3GN does a great job of promoting clubs if the clubs take advantage. I’m still surprised when I see my little club show up on an email that goes out to every shooter. I think there’s a lot of value in what 3GN does for the membership fee.
3GN: Is there any other commentary that you would like to add?
MM: I believe it’s every 3 gun shooters responsibility to continue to grow this sport. This sport is pretty intimidating to get into as well as expensive and we can help increase our numbers by taking newer shooters under our wing and teaching them the fundamentals of safety and shooting. I try to offer newer shooter borrowed gear so they can try before they buy and I’ll even loan out guns if someone has one go down or doesn’t own one of the three yet. Veteran shooters did that for me when I was learning the game and I’m trying to pass that on.