Denver Day of Resistance

Large Crowd at Denver Day of Resistance

Saturday I skipped out on the February Winter 3-Gun match to head down to the Colorado State Capitol with some friends to show solidarity in the fight for the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.  A large crowd was present and the event even received local news coverage.

Evan Todd Speaks at Denver Day of Resistance

Evan Todd Speaks at Denver Day of Resistance

Colorado gun owners are under siege right now and will be for the foreseeable future.  There are four gun control bills that have passed the House and are on their way to the Senate that will limit magazine capacity to 15 rounds, institute a background check for private sale, charge buyers a background check fee and ban concealed carry on college campuses.

Ladies join Senator Vicky Marble on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol as she addresses the crowd at the Denver Day of Resistance.

Ladies join Senator Vicky Marble on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol as she addresses the crowd at the Denver Day of Resistance.

Train Hard Shoot Fast is a site focused on competition shooting and it is easy to stay in that little world and try to hide from the political climate around us as we focus on the game.  The fact is that the Second Amendment is not about our game or about hunting.  Our Founding Fathers knew the realities of living under an oppressive government and gave us the Second Amendment as a last resort to protect our rights as citizens when all other options have been exhausted.

Call, write and email your elected officials to make sure they know that you oppose any and all gun control.  Be polite but firm.  Keep up the good fight, you are not alone.


Shut Up and Paste Targets

The Winter 3-Gun Series at my local range is a popular event.  In the last three matches there have been groups of about 20 shooters and only a half dozen actually reset the stages after each run.  This lack of common decency seemed to be the norm rather than the exception and it was causing us to run super slow, super late and just basically getting on my nerves.  So when the Match Director sent out the stages for this Saturday’s match I couldn’t help but hit “reply all” and encourage my fellow shooters to chip in…

I would like to remind everyone that resetting stages after each
shooter is part of the practical shooting experience.  I reset the
stage after you shoot, you reset the stage after I shoot.  That’s how
it works.

Some added benefits of resetting stages:

1. You get some exercise:  Which is, of course, one of your New Year

2. You don’t look like a slacker:  Gun owners are not slackers.  You
don’t want your gun-pals to think you’re a slacker, do you?

3. We get to shoot more:  Contrary to popular belief, if we finish
with all the shooters in all the stages earlier, each of us gets to
shoot each stage instead of skipping out on the last stage because we
have to leave and attend to our other responsibilities.

4. It builds character:  In these times of YouTube and Xbox, most
young people are not used to being required to do anything.
Demonstrate to them that hard work is rewarding with the side benefit
of the work not actually being very hard.

5. You will be warm: I know that sometimes it gets a little chilly
standing around for a few hours during Winter 3-Gun.  I guarantee if
you move around to paste targets and reset steel, you will be much
warmer than sitting in your truck and waiting for your turn.

6. You build a network: Let’s be honest, as gun owners we are on a
very scary ride in the Colorado Legislature. We can all use the
connections and contacts that we make while resetting stages with our
fellow shooters.

7. You can talk while you work:  Busy talking about how crappy the
Colorado Legislature is or how messed up the economy is?  Great!
Bring your conversation buddy along to talk while you paste!

8. You could make money: I am bringing a pocket full of one dollar
bills on Saturday.  If you catch me not resetting/timing/scoring and I
am neither on deck nor in the hole, I will pay you a $1 penalty
(provided that you are resetting/timing/scoring when you call me on
it).  You will know me, I’m Dave, the really super sarcastic
and opinionated guy.

9. You will learn something: New or new-ish to 3Gun?  There is no
better way to learn stage breakdown and scoring than by pitching in
and helping.  If you are unsure of what to do or how to do it, just
ask.  Your fellow 3Gunners are all great folks and are more than
willing to help.

10. Show your appreciation:  It is a lot of work putting together one
of these matches.  Show the Match Director how much you appreciate his hard work
by making the match flow as smooth as possible.

See you on the range,

Multi-Gun Training Day: Rifle Transition Practice


Saturday’s Multi-Gun Training Day emphasized the importance of target transitions.  We were working on the rifle and the specific mechanics required to make quick and accurate transitions from one target to another.

DOPE at 7, 25 and 50 yards

DOPE at 7, 25 and 50 yards

After a quick DOPE refresher at 7, 25 and 50 yards to demonstrate the importance of knowing your mechanical offset and holds, we swapped our bolt carrier groups for

CMMG .22LR conversion kits, got out the steel “lolly pops” and went about training to transition from low ready to first shot on target and to properly transition between targets.

This was my first session of actual training with the CMMG .22 LR conversion kit and I am absolutely sold on it.  The benefits of a .22 conversion kit are numerous, chief among them is using the same platform you normally do in competition which allows you to get more repetitions on the same trigger, optic, etc.  You can safely perform drills with .22LR far closer to a steel target than you would be able to with center fire.  And finally the cost effectiveness of the ammo just can’t be beat, you’re talking $0.03 per round compared to $0.30 per round (or higher lately).  For short-range rifle drills I highly recommend a .22 conversion kit for the AR-15.


Transitions are very important in 3-Gun and Practical Shooting in general.  In competition you must always be scoring points and one way to do that is to minimize the time spent not shooting.  This means that the time spent between engaging targets is costing you the lead and you must eliminate it.

The proper way to transition from one target to another is to lead with your eyes.  You start with your eyes and weapon on the same target, break the shot(s) and follow through.  Next, transition your eyes to the second target and follow them with your weapon while keeping your eyes focused on the second target.  Repeat.

That’s it and it sounds simple enough but under the stress of the clock and people watching, a lot of shooters tend to rush it and move their weapon and their eyes at the same time.  Our practice focused on going slow and performing a firm, deliberate transition each time.  Practicing slow and smooth will allow you to recall the motion and perform it quickly in competition.

We performed each of the following drills mulitiple times from 7 yards and 25 yards:

  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage one target with one round. (1 round per string)
  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage end target with one round, transition to farthest target and engage with one round.  (2 rounds per string) Perform both right to left and left to right.
  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage farthest left target with one round, transition to next target and engage with one round.  Repeat for all five targets. (8 rounds per string)  Perform both right to left and left to right.


After many drills and repetitions with .22 LR on the steel we swapped back to center fire, set up a quick drill with Metric IPSC targets that incorporated our 7, 25 and 50 yard dope, initial target engagement from low ready, target transitions and a magazine change.

  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage targets from left to right with two rounds each, change magazines and engage from right to left with two rounds each.  (20 rounds per string)


We were on the range a solid three hours and it was time well spent.  Teaching yourself to slowly and smoothly perform the mechanics of an action during practice enables you to recall that action quickly when under the stress of a timer in competition.  And that is what Multi-Gun Training Day is all about.

Budget 3-Gun Rifle Upgrades

Budget Multi-Gun Rifle with Palmetto State Armory Upper

The same day I fired the inaugural shots out of the first AR-15 that I built I also was also able to shoot a friend’s mid-length gas system AR.  I immediately knew that I had made a newbie mistake by going with the carbine-length system on my 14.5″ AR.  The mid-length had a softer recoil impulse and allowed for very quick follow-up shots.  After putting thousands of rounds downrange over nearly two years, and much of those rounds during competition, I finally decided to upgrade to a mid-length gas system upper receiver group.


Palmetto State Armory Mid-Length Upper

Palmetto State Armory Mid-Length Upper

Recently I caught one of the Daily Deals from Palmetto State Armory that had a great price on a stripped upper assembly. The upper is a 16” barrel with a mid-length gas system and has other desirable features such as being Cold Hammer Forged, chrome lined and M4 feed ramps. In addition, PSA’s barrels are supplied by FN so I know the quality will be there.

I have purchased items from Palmetto State Armory in the past, in fact my lower parts kit, receiver extension (buffer tube), spring and buffer came from them.  I have always found them to have decent prices for a decent product and would recommend doing business with them.


Mid-Length vs. Carbine Gas System Comparison

Mid-Length vs. Carbine Gas System Comparison

There are some key differences in the DS Arms upper receiver assembly I was using before and the new upper receiver assembly from Palmetto State Armory that you can see in the photo. The DS Arms upper is a 1:9 twist, 14.5” barrel with a pinned and welded BattleComp 2.0 flash hider (for an overall length of 16.5″) and a carbine length gas system. The PSA upper is a 1:7 twist, 16″ barrel with an A2 flash hider and a mid-length gas system. From the photo you can see the noticeable difference between the 7” carbine and the 9” mid-length gas system.


AimPoint Comp M2

AimPoint Comp M2

Swapped over my Aimpoint Comp M2.

Magpul MOE Handguard

Magpul MOE Handguard

Added a Magpul MOE Handguard. I dig the feel of the MOE Handguard and of course the rifle furniture has to match.

Miculek Compensator

Miculek Compensator

I changed out the stock A2 flash hider for the Jerry Miculek Compensator. The Miculek Comp drastically reduces muzzle rise allowing for super quick follow-up shots but trades all that for some pretty serious muzzle blast out the sides. People next to you on a traditional firing line will hate you.

Budget Multi-Gun Rifle with Palmetto State Armory Upper

Budget Multi-Gun Rifle with Palmetto State Armory Upper

I have not built the perfect Multi-Gun rifle by any means.  What I have built is a budget 3-Gun rifle that serves dual purpose as both a competition and defense rifle.  This rifle setup as it sits now should be good for many thousands of rounds and will hold up well for competitions until my skill has outpaced my gear and I build a proper, dedicated 3-Gun rifle.  Right now the largest improvement that I could make would be replacing the mil-spec trigger with a nice match trigger.  That will likely have to wait for the next build.


I was a little concerned about the accuracy of the 1:7 twist barrel with the 55 grain mil-spec ammo that I shoot but was rewarded with decent 1 MOA groups on my first outing.  Considering the tolerance stacking that occurs with a 4 MOA dot on the Aimpoint Comp M2, I was pleased with the groups and didn’t mess with it any further.  The first real test of my upgraded AR-15’s capabilities was at the long-range Multi-Gun Training Day that I host at my local range.  The rifle performed fine from prone and in any unconventional position that we shot out to 300 yards.  I have about 200 rounds on it now and am looking forward to getting a few thousand more downrange before I upgrade again.

If you’re looking to build a budget three gun AR-15 rifle I highly recommend checking out Palmetto State Armory’s uppers and adding some simple upgrades including a Miculek Compensator and Magpul MOE Handguard.

Carbon Arms Intro to 3-Gun AAR

3Gun Training

3-Gun Training


Recently I had the opportunity to take a 3-Gun class taught by Mark Passamaneck and James Casanova.  For the uninitiated Mark and James are the owners of Carbon Arms, inventors of the TWinS Shotgun Loading Systems and a couple of very accomplished three-gunners.  When I saw an announcement on the local AR-15 shooter’s message board that they were holding a 3-Gun training class on Black Friday I was in.

The class was held at Colorado Rifle Club in Byers, the same range that hosted the 2012 Noveske Rifleworks Colorado Multigun Championship that I competed in this April.  Google claimed it was a two hour drive but I remember it taking significatnly less. Not one to be late I decided to err on the side of Google and wound up an hour early for the class.  That was just fine by me because I got to meet James and Mark early and help them set up the two practice stages that we would be shooting later on.

Michael Bane Rocking the Mossberg JM 930

Michael Bane Rocking the Mossberg JM 930

I also got to meet a bunch of very cool shooters that came out to learn about Multigun and better their skills.  While I was chatting with one of my shooting buddies that attended, I heard a guy talking to James and I recognized his voice.  I turned around and it was Michael Bane of the Down Range Radio podcast.  Michael is also the producer of nearly a dozen TV shows on the Outdoor Channel but I know him from the podcast.  He was there with his “sweetie” to learn about 3 Gun as well and they turned out to be the nicest, most down-to-earth people.  As it turned out Michael brought a 22″ Mossberg JM 930 T&E gun that was identical to mine save all the match scars.

When the stages were set up and everyone had gathered, Mark started out the class with a good 30 minute talk that covered the Four Tenants of 3Gun, gear they take to the matches, how they travel, stage breakdown and rules, divisions and gear.  It was very cool to listen to Mark talk about the things he does to prepare for a match, the tools and gear he carries with him to the match and to hear the stories of his match experience.


James Giving Feedback

James Giving Feedback

Pistol Group

Glock 17 Pistol Group

After the talk we were told to gear up with our pistols and mags and head to the firing line to shoot a quick group and get some feedback on our fundamentals.  We were aiming at a paster in the middle of the lower A-Zone on a Metric IPSC target about 20-25 yards downrange which was easily the farthest pistol group I’ve ever shot.  That said I did pretty good with the exception of one flier down low where I totally anticipated the recoil and dipped the muzzle before firing.  From the group we learned how accurate we are at typical pistol distance on a 3-Gun stage as course designers tend to put small steel at distances up to 35 yards requiring a perfect trigger press.

AR-15 Group

AR-15 Group

After we showed clear we grabbed our rifles, got back on the line and were instructed to put a five-shot group in the center of the head box and follow up with four rounds as fast fast as we could pull the trigger while aiming at the paster in the lower A-Zone.  What James and Mark were trying to teach us here was the mechanical offset of the AR-15 platform at pistol-distances, the importance of compensating for it and to be able to run the rifle like a pistol at close distances.  I did well at the mechanical offset portion of the drill as I have done drills before focused on compensating sight height over bore at close distances in the past.  I was pretty quick on the trigger for my rifle for the speed portion of the drill but not as quick as I’d like to be.  More practice is needed in this area before I can say that my gear (mil-spec trigger, mid-length gas system, etc) is holding me back.

Carbon Arms SSLP6 Pinwheel

Carbon Arms SSLP6 Pinwheel

Next we were treated to a shotgun loading demonstration where James and Mark traded off teaching us a myriad of different methods to load the shotgun.  We learned the weak hand reload, the Carlock Shuffle, strong hand TWinS, weak hand TWinS and the Quad Load.  Having seen the multiple ways the pros do it we geared up with our carriers (many students borrowed gear) safed our shotguns and headed to the line to practice what we had just learned.  I am a weak hand loader so I started off with what I already knew to get some feedback from the pros.  After multiple repetitions James hooked me up with an SSLP6 Pinwheel and I got the opportunity to try out a little TWinS loading on my own.  Rolling the shotgun over to have the loading port up took some thought and practice but from the very get-go I was able to load six shells of the Pinwheel way faster than I can load four weak hand from a caddy and I’ve been practicing that for 10 months!  I did not get the opportunity to try out the Quad Load with an SSLP8 Pinwheel or a TWinS FSL but my experience with loading two shells at a time with the SSLP6 tells me that I will be swapping over to a TWinS system as soon as possible.  I just can’t deny how fast they are. The only thing holding me back from snagging a couple right now is that one SLP8 is $97.  You’d need at least two but likely more for a larger match.


We broke up into two squads with one instructor each to attack the two stages that I had helped set up earlier in the day.  My squad first went with James to the shotgun/pistol stage.  James went through a quick stage brief and then asked for volunteers.  Of course I went first and the group got to learn from my mistakes.

Pistol Shotgun Stage

Pistol Shotgun Stage


The stage was what James called a “pistol-length stage” as it was fairly short and had one shooting position.  The stage was symmetrical from the center point with the first course of fire consisting of four clays, a close IPSC Metric Target, two MGM 4″ x 10″ Knock Over targets, and a Pepper Popper with a clay flipper on the left.  The right side was the mirror image.  We were instructed to start with Shotgun first which meant that I would start with nine in the gun and reload at some point.  Of course you’d only need to reload three if you hit all the targets but you might as well load four and have a spare since you’re going to your belt anyway.  You’d then abandon the shotgun either unloaded with no rounds in the tube or on safe and draw your pistol to engage the remaining targets.  The way I did it was to engage the four clays on the left, load four, engage the four clays on the right, engage the two poppers in front then the two aerials and then unload the last round (should have just safed it), drew my pistol and engaged the two IPSC Metrics and the four remaining steel.  During the intro discussion Mark told us a great Jerry Miculek quote that applies to time-plus scoring in Multi-Gun “See brown, jerk trigger fast two times.”  I tried to put this into practice but ended up with “two alpha” and “alpha charlie” which means I was not going fast enough.  It is difficult to break the “alpha-only” habits that I worked so hard to ingrain during 6 months of shooting USPSA-style matches at my local range.

The second string we shot removed one clay from either side of the array and allowed us to start with either shotgun or pistol.  James gave us a hint for the stage strategy saying that if you shot pistol first you could drop both poppers, abandon pistol and engage the two clays in the air with the shotgun.  Well of course I had to try just that and when I did, I dropped the first steel and had a Mike on the second.  I had a brain-hiccup for a moment trying to figure out if I should take a second shot or just abandon the pistol.  While I was deciding this, the first popper was falling, activating the flipper and tossing the clay in the air.  Luckily I made a decision in time, abandoned my pistol on the table, picked up my JM Pro 930 and destroyed the clay in the air.  I then engaged the three clays on the left, the popper, the flipper, loaded 1 extra shell and engaged the three clays on the right.  Afterwards James gave me a little feedback and instruction to the rest of the squad saying that if you were to choose that as part of your stage strategy in a match that you’d have to commit to taking two shots and abandoning the pistol no matter the result.  Good advice and great to hear first-hand from a top level shooter like James.

Multi Gun Stage

Multi Gun Stage

We broke for lunch and when we came back my squad hooked up with Mark on the 3-Gun stage.  The stage was again pretty simple, start from Box A or B, engage 5 Colt Speed Plates with pistol, abandon in bucket, load rifle and engage 10 IPSC Metric Targets, abandon on table, load shotgun and engage four Knock Overs and three Auto-Poppers.  What Mark wanted to teach us here was to save time while moving and to look for doubles on the shotgun.  The three of the five pistol targets were obscured by walls from the boxes but you could see four of five if you moved slightly.  Mark recommended that we move while drawing to save the time and to get in position.  This required only one move as you could engage four targets from one position and the fifth from a second position on your way to the dump bucket.  You then picked up the rifle, loaded off your belt and went to work on the 10 IPSC Metrics.  Abandoning rifle, loading shotgun and getting into position gave you an opportunity for a double on the Auto-Poppers.  I did very good on the pistol here cleaning the Colt Speed Plates in only five shots, I took some extra shots on rifle as I was going too fast and called some misses.  I loaded the shotgun fairly quickly and hit both sets of Knock Overs in one round per plate but was unable to get the double that Mark showed us.  I tried but I must have been aiming low or my pattern wasn’t tight enough.

Next Mark showed us how to do a mixed load in the middle of a stage where you were required to engage both bird shot and slug targets.  We loaded four bird shells into the magazine, racked one into the chamber, loaded a slug, shot a bird target, shot a slug target, loaded two slugs, shot a bird target, shot two slug targets, loaded a slug, shot a bird target, shot a slug target and then unloaded the last bird shell.  I was pretty skittish of this as I was disqualified from the 2012 Noveske Rifleworks Colorado Multi Gun Championships because I screwed up a candy cane load and engaged a bird shot target with a slug.  Mark talked me through it and was very patient while I called out the loads I was putting into my Mossberg and what target I was engaging for each round.  I did just fine and didn’t kill any of CRC’s targets, putting all of my slugs on paper.  I can see how this is a more effective method of shooting a mixed array of targets than I had tried in April and way faster than engaging all the bird targets on a stage first and then going back for the slug targets.


I thoroughly enjoyed attending Carbon Arms’ Intro to 3-Gun class.  Although my 3-Gun skill level was a bit higher than most of the other attendees (many had never competed in a 3-Gun match) I still was able to walk away feeling like I got a great return on my time and money investment.  Just being able to ask Mark questions on rifle/shotgun zero, ammo, holds, gear, etc and being able to get real-time feedback from James on technique, mechanics and strategy were invaluable.  Both are very obviously experienced instructors and each has their own style that will reach the individual shooter in different ways.  A very big thanks to Mark and James for taking the time to plan and host such an awesome class and for all their help in polishing my game.

It looks like Carbon Arms is now offering more advanced rifle and shotgun courses and I look forward to training with them again in the future.  James and Mark are stand up guys that have a love for the game and genuinely want to see their students succeed.  You can’t ask for much more than that.