Safety and Training

Drills for 3 Gun

Shooting a pistol with four cartridge cases in the air

I have been shooting, training, and training others a long time. I am not a top competitor at 3 Gun. However, I recognize 3 Gun as a shooting sport that is a lot of fun, especially for those who love to shoot. That must come first.

Next, you may have a desire to compete for the sake of it. 3 Gun is a great thing for this. As an instructor, I recognize what it takes to win and I hope these lines will help you to get started and be competitive. I am looking forward to comments from three gun shooters and hope that they will add to my knowledge.

Sig Sauer 3-Gun
Running at full speed takes plenty of practice.

Before you begin competing in 3 Gun, you have to understand that the baseline is that you must already be skilled in the basics of shooting. You should be able to shoot well. You must be able to shoot safely. Get this squared away, and start training. Remember, poor training will result in the waste of a lot of ammunition!

If you cannot afford to take a top-rated training class, well, you are in the same boat with a lot of people. Some have the time but not the money—others vice versa. Purchase a DVD or take advice from a YouTube video from someone who has actually won at 3 Gun more than once.

3-Gun Drills 2
Be certain to get rapid magazine changes down pat before proceeding to competition.

As for training, I have won a string of combat-style matches and handgun silhouette. I was firing a minimum of 500 rounds a week in practice. This is a small amount compared to what competitors fire to stay on top today. When other demands including a job, family, and education intervened, I toppled from the top spot.

Commit to the program and realize that it will be three to five months before you see significant improvement. Firearms skills are perishable. You will improve with time, and you will reach a plateau. After that, it will take more work to get to the top.

Dry fire is essential. Practice handling, speed loads, dry fire, and trigger press. These drills will improve your gunhandling. Gunhandling is more important than marksmanship in some competitions. The marksmanship problem isn’t as severe as the speed problem.

The following are good training sessions, beginning with the handgun.


Ten times from the competition holster.

Draw, re-holster, draw—do not look at the holster as you draw and re-holster.

Dry Fire

Focus on a bright orange target on the backstop. Execute 10 good, trigger compressions—using a triple-checked unloaded firearm and a backstop that would stop a bullet!

Execute 10 reloads from slide lock. If you use snap caps this will go much easier.

The Shotgun

Practice loading the shotgun with fake shells. Load two, load one, load until the gun is at capacity. Load the shotgun and move into the firing position. Load it with one shell or two and then move into the firing position. Keep practicing. Do not be a robot. Mix up the number of shells loaded.

Shotgun 3-Gun Drill
Running the shotgun takes plenty of practice.

Practice working the action. When space allows, practice moving forward quickly and moving to the rear quickly. Take long sliding steps, so you do not trip and fall on objects behind you.

Rifle Drills

Practice shouldering the rifle and acquiring the sights quickly. Shoulder the rifle and find the sights 10 times. Next, shoulder the rifle and dry fire the piece 10 times. Begin with the muzzle down, and a triple-checked empty chamber. You need not use an empty magazine. This drill is easier if the magazine isn’t in place and the bolt doesn’t lock back.

Next do a barricade drill, shouldering the rifle and dry firing from the right side of the barricade (or corner wall) and then the left side. This is good preparation for 3 Gun competition. As you progress, there are other drills. You should move and pivot to address targets at all angles.

These dry fire drills will be a solid foundation for 3 Gun shooting. Keep safety first as you progress to live fire and pay attention to the basics.

Do you shoot 3 Gun? Share your favorite drills in the comment section.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

1 Comment;

  1. Handling/ firing less rounds- but more frequently will gain you competency. Worked for me one summer shooting a Redhawk 44Magnum

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