How To Become A 3-Gun Competitor On 15 Minutes a Day And A Shoestring Budget

  • Sumo

Ok, so this isn’t really my 3-gun rifle! Shooting a stage at a match in Texas that required a prop gun (grenade launcher). Fun!

Ok, this one is straight from the Facebook post that I asked for blog suggestions.   Thanks to J.M. for this one!   Now, full disclosure on this one…I’m not a 3-gun specialist, I shoot primarily handgun competitions.   My hopes is that the corresponding post on my Facebook will elicit the responses from some of the full time 3-gunners out there for some additional tips!   Also, as soon as I dug my feet into this one, it grew out of control.   So I threw together a nice document you can print and follow with all of the drills mentioned in this article.  Also, in the future, expect some new (bigger) downloads..something that would be printable and useable if you chose to follow my “15-minutes a Day 3-Gun Program. ”

Get it here:  15-Minutes a Day 3-Gun Program

On to the program!

Pre-Requisites:  Get trained by the best shooter you can find.   Ok, in order to succeed in this endeavor, you simply have to have solid technique.   To enhance your skills through practice first you must understand the correct technique first.    Your options:

  • Figure out what type of 3-gun (also called multi-gun) shooting you want to do.    The reason for this is that some sports require slightly different skills than others.   An example would be some of the non-USPSA type matches require you to re-holster a hot handgun during the stage.   This is something that we NEVER do in normal handgun (USPSA) matches and is something you will need to be able to do safely and effectively.    The sport you want to be successful at will dictate how you do some of the drills.
  • Take a full class (I know….might break you out of your shoestring budget).  Here’s the deal, if you simply skip eating out 6 times over the next six months you will likely have the $$ to take a class.  IF you are really broke, consider getting a top rate instructor to come to you.  Most that offer courses like I do will let the coordinator train for free!   Just do the legwork and get the instructor there.


    Get some training! It’s too expensive to waste ammunition with incorrect technique.

  • Order some instructional material.   If you simply can’t afford a class and there is a reason why you can not host one, then simply order the books and DVD’s out there that will show you how.   Can’t afford them?  Contact the author and ask if you can get a free copy of there material for a written review and some promotion.   I would gladly send a book or DVD of my program (Your Competition Handgun Training Program) if they legitimately convinced me they would review it and post on several shooting forums, Facebook, etc.   I know for a fact that several of the best 3-gunners out there have done some good instructional videos.    And here is one more tip:  Once you have their material and have learned the techniques they teach, do a video of yourself using them and post them to Youtube and ask your expert for feedback.    I bet you will get them to watch the video and give you feedback!
  • Hit Youtube and watch the free stuff you can find.   A word of caution here…sometimes when something is free, you get what you pay for!   Be cautious of what you watch.   Make sure the source is solid, and it won’t be hard to check out some of the 3-gun material out there that showcases top 3-gunners.  Here are some great ones I found and recommend (there are many more, but once again, watch material from a qualified source!):
    • My Youtube page includes videos on most aspects of shooting a handgun better, as well as one moving mount rifle video.
    • My Rapid Fire Co-Host Iain Harrison explains How to Avoid Disqualification in 3-gun.
    • My friend Jeffy Miculek shows How to shoot a Rifle.
    • The Noveske Shooting Team’s Weak Hand Reload Video.  (note: I learned the same technique from Kurt Miller and he taught me to keep the stock in my shoulder)   There is also a second method of loading that is dominating in 3-gun now and that is the “stuff two” method.  I strongly suggest you research it before practicing weak hand loads!
  • Kiss some butt.  Yep, I just said kiss butt.   Find out who the best 3-gun competitor in the area is and tell them you are trying to be the best you can on 15 minutes a day and a shoestring budget.  Tell them you will be their humble “grasshopper” if they will take some time and give you some shooting advice.   Even if you can just meet them at the range and watch them and then ask if they will give you a few tips on shooting, you will be a step ahead.  You will be absolutely amazed at how helpful the good shooters out there are.  I know in my area alone there are some of the best 3-gun shooters in the U.S.   If I was new to 3-gunning, I would visit a match and get to know those guys (Jesse Tischauser, Kurt Miller, Chris Anderson, etc.) Just ask!

Ok, so now that you have met the pre-requisites, let’s get on with the program:   15 minutes a day and a shoestring budget.

Program Principles:

  • Commit to this program for 12-16 weeks minimum before expecting to see any significant improvements.    Remember, we are working with 15 minutes a day, so DO NOT skip practice sessions.   Do whatever you need to in order to get them done.
  • Dry Fire will be our secret weapon number 1!   The reality is that most people can’t get to a range in 15 minutes, so my intent will be to train you from home for 75+ % of this program.    We will enhance your skills to a very high level with dry fire manipulation drills alone.   Some of you might wonder if 15 minutes will do it, and I say if you are efficient, YES!   I got a great tip from multiple time world champion Eric Grauffel in a class he taught in Frostproof Florida years ago, and it was that he limited his daily dry fire to around 10-15 minutes a day.   And most of the time, he said he dry fired around 10 minutes.   Would more be better?  Maybe, but I would still cut your session off at 30 minutes unless you were having the time of your life and staying completely tuned in.   Remember, you can build bad habits in dry fire as well as good ones.  Staying mentally connected during the session is a important as the amount of time you spend dry firing.
  • Mental training (active and passive visualization) will be our secret weapon number 2!  Numerous studies have shown that mental imagery (visualization) can actually stimulate the muscles used to do the action you are visualizing.   We are going to use that skill to enhance our practice sessions.
  • Live fire training will be focused exclusively on learning to better manage the firing cycle of the weapon we are practicing with.   This means we will focus entirely on what makes a good shooter good, and that is managing the sights, trigger, and recoil better.  We will do manipulations during live fire, but only to incorporate the drills.   Our focus will be improving how we pull the trigger, see the sights, and manage recoil.
  • This program focuses on the training, but matches are critical!  Shoot and watch as many as possible, but I am NOT going to count that time against my 15-minute program!
A visual of the zig/zag drill covered later.   Photo taken by Corey Lack.(

A visual of the zig/zag drill covered later. Photo taken by Corey Lack.(

The routine:  This routine assumes that you will be training seven days a week.  Any less and our 15 minutes a day begins to fall apart.  In reality…15 minutes a day is tough on the live fire days, so I am not going to count the drive or prepping magazines, etc. in the 15 minutes…just shooting!     Also, this routine is designed for a competitor that shoots the tactical or limited divisions and needs to work on their shotgun reloads.
Monday:   Handgun Dry Fire  Session 1:

  1. Static Draw (3 sets of 10)
  2. Statice Reload (3 sets of 10)

Tuesday:  Shotgun Dry Fire (reload practice):  Practice reloading the shotgun.  Work different combinations, such as loading one at a time, then two at a time, then three (if you load with the weak hand method), then four.   For those of you that load two at a time, set up different combinations in that load configuration such as load two, mount, load four and mount, load 6 and mount, load 8 and mount.   Once you have gotten the basics down standing still, then practice loading the shotgun on the move, moving forward and backward, and laterally.   Use a PAR timer to keep track of your loading pace, and work to continually reduce the time and get faster.

Wednesday:  Rifle Dry Fire Session 1:  This session will focus on static position Practice.    Work the following on a PAR time and try to lower the time:

  1. Mount and dry fire from the muzzle up (research what is a legal start) position x 20 repetitions.
  2. Mount and dry fire from the muzzle down (research what is a legal start) position x 20 repetitions.
  3. Mount and brace on a barricade/wall gun on the right side x 20 repetitions.
  4. Mount and brace on a barricade/wall gun on the left side x 20 repetitions.
  5. Mount and brace over a low barricade (kneeling or squatting position).  Work 10 repetitions strong side knee down and 10 repetitions elbow on strong side knee.

Thursday:  Handgun Dry Fire Session 2

  1. Clock Stepping Drill
  2. Clock Pivoting Drill
  3. Moving Mount Drill

Friday: Rifle Dry Fire Session 2 Dry Fire Session

  1. Moving Mount Drill muzzle high
  2. Moving Mount Drill muzzle low

Saturday: Live Fire Practice (see table)

You will rotate through live fire every weekend and work on one gun.  The next weekend you will work on another gun.   The focus will be as follows, so rotate through these in order.   IF you have more that fifteen minutes, then practice with two guns that day.

Sunday: Shotgun Dry Fire (reload practice)

Check out the live fire Practice Drills:



Practice Drill(s)



Extending (toward) Prep and Press and Horizontal (l-r) Prep and Press



Mount Prep and Press and Horizontal (l-r) Prep and Press



Static Draw/Varied Target Area and Static Reload/Varied Target Area



Pivoting Mount/Varied Target Area



Reload Drills



Two Shot X-Drill



Two Shot X-Drill (rifle Variant)



Multi-Port Drill



Multi-Port Drill (rifle Variant)






SHooting and Moving, Forward and Backward



Moving Mount Drill – Forward and Zig/Zag



Shooting and Moving, Multi-Directional



Shooting and Moving, Multi-Directional (with load)



Handgun/Rifle Transition Drill



Handgun/Shotgun Transition Drill


Ok, there you have it.   I way bigger and more complex program than I ever thought I would write on a blog on training for 3-gun success!  As stated before, a full 30 day 3-gun tune up program is in the works if the interest is there.    And since this thing grew way bigger than I thought (and could get into this blog), I quickly compiled a document that you can now download and use as you wish.  PLEASE send people to the blog and give me credit for the time it took to put it all together!    Look forward to a full training program (downloadable) sometime in the future!

Get it here:  15-Minutes a Day 3-Gun Program

Until Then – Train Hard!

Mike S.

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28 Responses to How To Become A 3-Gun Competitor On 15 Minutes a Day And A Shoestring Budget

  1. Jim Welker says:

    I ran across this while sitting at Jiffy Lube today!
    Raced Home and printed it! Could’nt have come at a better time.
    3 Gun / Multi-gun seems to be finally catching on in Illinois, but is still few and far in between.
    After spending the winter finally putting together my equipment. This article could not have come at a better time. I needed a serious regiment that I could do at home to help get me in tune. I own my own business so I still work 60-80 hours a week and try to cram in multiple other daily needs. I have finally made the commitment recently to jump in feet first this year. I just signed up for a 2 day class ” intro to handgun competition” on May 3rd and 4th and a club level 3GN classifier on April 6th.
    I will keep you updated on my progress and Thank you for your commitment and the sharing of knowledge.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    just printed my copy

  4. Pingback: Weekend Knowledge Dump- April 18, 2014 | Active Response Training

  5. John says:

    The link says the doc has been disabled???

  6. Gene says:

    Linked states disabled on this end too?

  7. Lan Nguyen says:

    Awesome info, thanks for the post. My first competitive shots downrange were 1.5 years ago in 3 gun, and only cancelled matches have kept me from shooting every weekend. I noticed that a lot of 3 gunners started with solid pistol backgroumds, and I knew I was chasing the pack. I bought your book and DVD, and the drills have helped my pistol game tremendously. I will use the drills listed here to assist my training as well. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  8. TabBarr says:

    i’m enjoy shooting and hope to 3 gun very soon. I am going to practice the drills and document my progress on Instagram. I’m so excited

  9. Jim Martell says:

    Mike, thanks for the program! This is gold. I love it!
    The link I believe the above commenters were referring to is the “Get it here: 15-Minutes a Day 3-Gun Program” link embedded near both the top and bottom of the post. It takes me to a dropbox page that says “Nothing Here / The file you’re looking for has been deleted or moved.”
    I’m still working on match-bumping to Expert in IDPA in the three SA divisions, but I do look forward to playing the 3-Gun game one of these years.
    Thanks again for a GREAT post!

  10. Sam says:

    Great info will surely use it

  11. Steve Wilson says:

    Thanks for posting this – I’m starting this program today and continue through the winter. I like that it is for 3 gun. I need more practice on rifle and especially on the shotgun which I rarely use.

    I have Mike’s books and DVDs, they are awesome. They are the ONLY materials I recommend with no reservations – keep up the good work.

  12. sprawlcowboy says:

    Dropbox – Link not found?

  13. deavertex says:

    I’ve got a question, and I mean it very seriously. Everything I’ve seen on 3 gun makes it look like a lot of fun, and a bunch of good people do it. My question is, what are you really talking about when you say “shoestring budget”? At the price of ammunition these days, it’s no big deal to run through a couple of hundred dollars worth of ammunition in an afternoon of shooting, so I’m thinking we’re not on the same wavelength there. I DO know that when I told my wife that I could get 300 rounds of .30-’06 for $200, she spluttered for five minutes. (Just an example. I actually own nothing right now that would do for 3 gun.)

    • admin says:

      Hey there- Good questions! First and foremost, the definition of “shoestring budget” is different for each person. In what I wrote, it was just a term that meant that if you want to be a good three-gunner, there is a solution if you really desire that. Dry firing (as the program suggests) is a big part of this equation for those that can not afford the same amount of ammunition expended by the average competitive shooter. We each have our limits and financial obligations, so there really is not an answer on what you should spend. What I can say for sure, is there there are no free sports, especially in shooting. If you want to have some fun and get better at shooting though, 3-gun is worth a try!

      • deavertex says:

        Thanks for the response! My wife enjoys shooting, but she doesn’t understand why anyone would want to do it more than as an rare diversion on a slow Saturday. But baby steps. I have at least three guns to get first. If I can get her past what’ll probably be a couple of thousand bucks worth of iron that she won’t see a need for, then we’ll see!

        • admin says:

          We have your back! Good luck and hope to see you on the range.

        • Mike Bell says:

          Getting started is a lot of shooters hang up. Before you buy anything, go to some 3 gun matches if you can and ask the shooters questions about gear for beginners. 99% of them will be happy to point you in the right direction. I shoot at Atlanta 3gun and CSRA 3gun in Augusta GA and that’s how I got started. I was at a USPSA match and they were talking about an upcoming 3gun match and they said come out and check it out. I did three years ago…..and its been a blast ever since. Started with what I had for the first year. A Remington 1100, A basic m4 ar-15 and one of my Glocks.

  14. foxroe says:

    As a new-ish competitor I’m looking into suggestions into dry fire practice. Let me tell you the suggestions you’ve made are helpful as competition dryfire is much different than what we practiced when I was in the Army. A whole lot less reload drills with the rifle, and more with everything else! This has created a helpful baseline for me, and so for that I thank you.

  15. mib4814 says:

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for a great article, I have now been following it for a few days enough to have used every weapon system at least once..

    Like many shooters I found the costs can be prohibitive but Airsoft 3 gun is becoming very popular with many great competitions organised.

    Your training program, also makes the jump to Airsoft very well.

    Thanks for all your great training material.


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