Central Oregon to host gun events

Major 3-Gun events slated for this summer at COSSA park

Gary Lewis / The Bulletin /

Two major Modern 3-Gun events are scheduled at the Central Oregon Shooting Sports Associationrange this month and next.

The 2013 Colt and Colt Competition Northwest Multigun Challenge starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.

In competition for this year's total prize purse of $85,000 will be 3-Gun Nation notables such as Travis Gibson, John Bagakis, Chris Sechiatano, Taran Butler, Chuck Anderson, Warren Becker, Scott McGregor and Burton Thompson, as well as Bend's Cody Leeper.

The Crimson Trace Midnight 3-Gun Invitational kicks off at sunset Aug. 16 and runs into the wee hours of the morning each day with awards on the afternoon of Aug. 18. The entire competition will take place under the light of a first-quarter moon.

Competitors are encouraged to use thermal-imaging and night-vision equipment in conjunction with lasers and lights on the eight-stage course for a possible top cash prize of $10,000.

To compete in 3-Gun, a shooter brings a 9mm or larger semi-automatic pistol, a 20 gauge or larger semi-auto shotgun and a semi-auto rifle, chambered for 0.223 or larger.

A course of fire starts with the beep of a timer that records the sounds of the shots; the final shot stops the clock.

In a typical stage, when the timer starts, the shooter moves past a barricade, engages several targets with a pistol then picks up a rifle, rounds a wall and engages more targets, finishing with a shotgun. It may take 45 seconds to 2 minutes to complete a stage.

Modern 3-Gun was started by regular guys who wanted to hone their skills with a variety of weapons. As the sport has taken hold, it remains the domain of regular shooters who want to improve their skills with rifle, pistol and shotgun.

The skills' transfer to combat is obvious. That is why active-duty military and law enforcement pros compete alongside men and women who will never wear a badge, but may have to defend themselves one day.

If it is all about movement and training to some shooters, it is a chess game to others. Engage all the targets, yes, but don't think you have to shoot them the same way the other guys do. Look for every advantage.

The Midnight 3-Gun Invitational is unique in that all shooting takes place after dark. Competitors race the clock and the sun because competition must close at dawn.

On most stages, the only light is mounted to the gun or the shooter. Night-vision goggles are available on some stages.

For safety, every shooter, as well as everyone in the audience, wears light sticks front and back. Shooters wear blue while range officers wear red and attendees, media and vendors wear purple lights. Blue floodlights illuminate pathways, while red floods illumine staging areas. Head-lamps with red lenses allow staff and shooters to move from bay to bay without interfering with a competitor's night vision at each stage.

Ryan Fraker typifies the law enforcement side of 3-Gun. A Redmond police officer, he shoots at the COSSA park several times a month.

Fraker had the benefit of law enforcement training, but the lessons learned at last year's Midnight 3-Gun were not lost on the law enforcement pro. “It is amazing how many things can go wrong when you can't see.”

People forgot to turn on weapon lights and lost precious seconds trying to find targets in the dark. A number of people didn't see targets and didn't shoot some, even when the targets were right in front of them.

“When you take away one of your key senses, you realize how much you took it for granted,” Fraker said. One of the takeaways was to carry a backup light or run two lights on each gun.

According to Michael Faw, of Crimson Trace, TV crews from the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation will be in town for the Midnight 3-Gun event.

Sponsors for both events include Colt, Colt Competition, Warne Scope Mounts, Leupold Tactical Optics, Crimson Trace, Nosler, Danner/LaCrosse, Leatherman and many others.

What do shooting events bring to Central Oregon? Competitors, as well as media for both of these matches are expected to account for between 100 and 200 hotel rooms per night and a corresponding number of rental cars and meals in local restaurants.

Spectators are welcome at no charge at both events, but are required to bring ear and eye protection.

For information, visit www.nwmultigun.com and www.crimsontrace.com. To see videos of national competitors in action, click up www.3gunnation.com.