.22LR Rifle Training for 3-Gun

I do a lot of rifle training with my .22LR AR conversion, both for reasons of cost (six cents per round vs. 25-50) and logistics (a lot of ranges prefer you not to use rifles in the pistol bays.)

Most of what we do in 3-gun, can be effectively practiced with a .22LR rifle.  Slow-fire accuracy, target transitions, setups and position shooting, reloading and weapon manipulations, all of these can be done with a .22LR.  The only things that cannot be effectively practiced with the .22LR carbine are recoil control on single targets, and long range holdover and wind doping.

When I’m practicing, especially outdoors, I like to break my training up into blocks.  I pick a skill that I want to work on, and do a warmup, some skill development drills, and a more complicated drill that ties everything together.  Ideally, I don’t have to change the stage setup for the entire block.

This is a training block that I use for position shooting with the rifle, based on the old Gunsite Rifle Bounce.  It’s designed for the .22LR, but it can be scaled up to work with any rifle, or even a shotgun with slugs…

For the targets, I use cheap 2″ steel plates at the indicated distances.  This scales up to 8-10″ plates at 100, 200, and 300 yards.  You can use other targets, but the drill really works better if they’re reactive and self-resetting.  The Bianchi barricade can be replaced with anything sturdy enough to use as a support – a trash barrel, shooting bench, table, or what-have-you.

Warmup –

  1. From offhand, fire ten rounds, slow-fire, on T1.
  2. From supported kneeling (using the barricade,) fire ten rounds, slow-fire, on T2.
  3. From prone, fire ten rounds, slow-fire, on T3.

Skill Development –

  1. Start standing in Box A, rifle at port arms.  On signal, fire one round on T1 from offhand.  Record your time.  Repeat 10x, and record your number of hits.
  2. Start standing in Box B, rifle at port arms.  On signal, fire one round on T2 from supported kneeling.  Repeat 10x, record your times and hits as before.
  3. Start standing in Box A, rifle at port arms.  On signal, drop prone and fire one round on T3.  Repeat 10x.
  4. Start standing in Box C, rifle at low ready.  On signal, move into Box A and fire one round on T1 from offhand.  Repeat 10x.
  5. Start standing in Box C, rifle at low ready.  On signal, move into Box B and fire one round on T2 from supported kneeling.  Repeat 10x.
  6. Start standing in Box C, rifle at low ready.  On signal, move into Box A and fire one round on T1 from prone.  Repeat 10x.

The Working Drill –

  1. Start in Box C, rifle at port arms, loaded with six rounds only.  On signal, engage the targets in the following order:  T1 from Box A offhand, then T2 from Box B in supported kneeling, then T3 from Box A in prone.  Record your time, add 10 seconds for each miss.
  2. Start in Box C, rifle at port arms, loaded with six rounds only.  On signal, engage the targets in the following order:  T3 from Box A prone, then T2 from Box B in supported kneeling, then T1 from Box A offhand.  Record your time, add 10 seconds for each miss.  Score as above.

Running through this entire block takes be 60-90 minutes, and uses up 120-150 rounds of ammunition depending on how many extra repeats I do.  In that time, I get a thorough workout in the most commonly used rifle positions in 3-gun shooting, getting into and out of positions quickly, trigger control, and movement.  Each individual drill is a building block for the next, and the working drill ties everything together into a pretty good simulation of a 3-gun rifle stage.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting some more of these ‘block drills.’  Stay tuned!


AAR – F2S Consulting High-Stress Shooting Class

Pictures from the class

Over the weekend of July 28th, I attended the (first!) F2SConsulting High-Stress Shooting Class, held at the Echo Valley Training Center in High View, WV.

The F2S High-Stress Shooting Class is an advanced course, intended for students who have previous training with the pistol and carbine.  The purpose of the High-Stress Shooting course is to instruct the students in solving complicated shooting problems, under conditions of environmental, physical, and psychological pressure.  The instructors for the course are Jack Leuba and Chris Abernathy.  Jack and Chris are USMC veterans with extensive combat and instructional experience.

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First Tactical Rifle Match of the Season!

Overall, the first match of the year was pretty successful, though we did have to overcome a few difficulties. For the first half of the match, competitors had to put up with howling cross winds of 25+ mph that made it difficult to both hit and score the furthest distance target.

We also had an issue with scoring hits on the furthest target of the match, a steel IPSC target at about 375 yards. This will be corrected at the next match by setting the targets up to activate a strobe light when hit.

Probably the biggest success of the match was our introduction of an open-terrain, non-square range stage that challenged competitors to move down a hill and up and onto a structure.

The introduction of a VTAC wall as one of the stages presented some technical challenges that required shooters to engage a steel target at 125 yards from a multitude of positions. This also threw in the added challenge of requiring competitors to move into and out of position, which is something that not many people (including yours truly) practice with any regularity.

Overall, I think this match was a success, despite some of the bugs, which will be corrected in time for the next match.

Note the bolt is in the process of ejecting the spent casing.


Not often you catch muzzle flash in full daylight.

We introduced a new thing to the match this year. Every other month, we’ll be running a standards course using a VTAC wall. Despite the relatively close distance of the target, this proved to be very challenging. The hardest part of shooting through this thing, besides the awkward shooting positions, is transitioning between the ports.

Flying brass looks awesome.

February Blackwater 3-Gun

Last Sunday, as has become a habit, I shot the monthly Blackwater 3-Gun match. This time, though, I brought my new HD camcorder along…

I ended up winning the match by just over half a second.

The Good:
Shotgun – I ran the shotgun better than I ever have. Loading, accuracy, and speed were all excellent. It’s probably fair to say that I won this match on the shotgun.
Movement – Looking at some of my old match video from last year, my movement has been improving a great deal. I still have a lot of work to do on this part of my game, but my progress has been pretty significant.

The Bad:
Rifle – I don’t know if I’ve just been getting faster with the other guns, but my rifle shooting seems really slow, especially offhand and supported offhand. It’s probably well past time to break out the .22LR and do some serious position shooting practice.

Fun match as always. Next month, the season really begins to heat up, so expect to see more posts like this.


External Ballistics for Practical Rifle

The most important element of practical rifle shooting can be summed up in one sentence: You have to know where your rifle shoots.

This truism was illustrated for me a few weeks ago at the Tidewater 3-gun match.  Somehow, between the Topton team match and Tidewater, the zero on my rifle shifted about 3MOA low and left.  Normally I can blow through 200-yard Flash Targets with barely a care, but Sunday I was missing them left and right.  Well, mostly left…

Anyhow, this is a problem I see quite a bit.  A lot of shooters never have the chance to shoot a carbine out past 50 yards, and these are the shooters who struggle mighty with 200-plus-yard steel.  They don’t know where their rifle shoots.

So, whenever I get a new rifle or a new load, I like to run a dope table for it.  It’s easy to do, and it will save you a lot of heartache and dropped point on those long range stages.

You’ll need your rifle, ammo, a place to shoot (at least 100 yards, and 300+ is even better), and a stack of targets.  You don’t need to go all crazy elaborate with the targets – I use 3×5″ index cards stapled to sheets of scrap cardboard.

First things first, throw a target up at your preferred zero distance.  I zero my 3gun rifle at 100 yards, and my defensive rifle at 50.  Shoot at least a 3-round group, adjust your sights as appropriate, and repeat.  I prefer to do all my zeroing from supported prone, but there’s probably nothing wrong with establishing your zero from the bench.  Just don’t make a habit of it, and be sure to wash your hands afterwards.  😉

Okay, now you have a zeroed rifle.  Now it’s time to figure out your holdover at some different distances, from different positions.  I do this by shooting 10-round groups at different distances.  The distances that you shoot at are up to you and your type of shooting, but some suggestions are in the table below:

  • Prone – 50, 100, 150, 200, 300, and 400 yards.
  • Standing – 15, 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards.  I’d stretch it out to 150-200, except that I just can’t hold an offhand group that far out…
  • Supported offhand: 50, 75, 100, 150, and 200 yards.  I use a VTAC barricade or something similar as a rest.
  • Rollover prone/reverse rollover prone: 25, 50, and 100 yards.

For a given position, I set up a target at each distance and shoot the groups in a single string.  Then I measure the holdover/hold-off and note it in my shooting journal.  I frequently shoot different positions on different practice days, as a warm-up – prone one day, offhand the next, etc.

That’s the end goal of the zeroing process – to collect enough data that you’ll know exactly where to hold to hit a given target, no matter the circumstances or conditions.  Once you have that, you’re one step closer to mastery.

– Chris