Oh, the glorious life of a 3-gunner … travel, weekends spent with friends and hours and hours of shooting. Sure, it looks and sounds glamorous, but there’s a whole lot that goes into participating into a weekend match. I asked my friend, Rebecca King, a sponsored shooter for SENTRY Products Group, what it takes to pack for all those 3-Gun matches she attends each year.
Prior to packing for a match, Rebecca checks the weather. She prepares for the average stated temperature, plus or minus 10 degrees. If it predicts a 70-degree day with a 30-percent chance of precipitation, she packs for a 60- to 80-degree day and includes rain gear and sunblock. That prepares her for both wind chill and a lack of shade on a sunny day.
When Rebecca flies to a match, she condenses her packing list and only includes the basics. Her 2 checked bags, at 50 pounds each, contain all her gear, and her carry-on holds her clothing and personal items. She also always packs a luggage scale. Anyone who has ever paid overweight fees or had to shuffle items between suitcases understands the importance of this item. To avoid packing ammunition, Rebecca usually orders her ammunition online and has it shipped to the match in advance, tracking it to make sure it arrives. However, she always leaves space and weight in her bags, taking into consideration having to pack ammo for the return flight as well as potential prize table pick-ups.
Now, driving to a match is an entirely different story. When traveling by car, Rebecca has the freedom (and storage capacity) to pack extras, including gear to loan to other shooters. For these trips, Rebecca uses a color-coded, laminated list. First, she gathers all 3 of her range bags.
- One for carrying her guns between stages
- A small bag for range gear
- A large bag for a bunch of extras
She brings the bags into her living room and completely empties them on the floor. More than once, she experienced going to retrieve something she thought she had, only to find out it wasn’t there. Perhaps she loaned it to someone or removed it for cleaning. Now, she always starts with empty bags and knows every single item that she placed inside. She never assumes something made it into the bag.
For the next step, Rebecca hands off her list to one of her kids and has him or her read it to her line by line. As she finds each item she says, “Check!” and places its bag. She makes it super easy by color coding her list based on the bag she puts the item in. Only when they get to the end of the list does she know she has everything she needs. Now, depending on where she’s traveling to, she might pre-load all her magazines at this point. Then, after packing her personal items she loads up her car.
This step only involves the gear-packing part for shooting competitions. There’s so much more that precedes these steps. Being an extremely organized person, Rebecca make spreadsheets to help her with a schedule for all matches she plans on attending. The following list includes those considerations:
- The date of the match, including driving or flying time.
- The time of match registration. Most match registration is online and some fill up within minutes.
- When to book a flight and hotel.
Rebecca needs to keep track of all this information, which is almost a job in itself. Luckily, as if you haven’t already noticed, she is an extremely organized person.
So, for those of you that think competitive shooting is all fun and games, consider everything involved in attending a shooting match. Heck, I never even discussed what happens when Rebecca gets home from a 3-gun match.