I’m not an advocate of team sports. Depending on other people’s abilities and having others depend on mine is way too much pressure for me. Many of my friends played sports in school growing up, and I frequently attended their games. I experienced firsthand how their parents and coaches would yell and correct them as they played. Even after we left the game, the same parents would complain about the other team members and how bad they played. It was easy to come to the realization that I would not be playing team sports any time soon. I don’t do well being yelled at before, during or after I am doing something, especially in front of a group of people. But, 3-Gun meets my minimal competitive needs. As a 3-Gun competitor, I set my own goals, create my own “plan of attack” and am responsible only for myself. Since there is no coaching in 3-Gun, I only have the voices in my head to listen to.
3-Gun is an individual sport, but unfortunately there are some competitors who take the individual part just a little too far. Yes, you shoot as an individual, but you are also a member of a squad. There is not an “I” in team and there certainly is not an “I” in squad.
For the past 3 years, I have held the endearing title of “Squad Mom” by many competitors, both younger and older than me. At least once a day, while walking through the NRA Annual Convention, SHOT Show or any competition, someone will yell out, “Hey Squad Mom!” I might turn to see Jason Hornady, Neil Davis, Iain Harrison, Graham Hill or any one of the “children” I took care of on a squad at some match. Collecting and putting score sheets in order, making sure the person on deck was ready and sometimes even passing out snacks was part of what I did.
My 3-Gun experience began behind the scenes, watching range officers getting ticked off, having to correct someone, and competitors giving dirty looks to others that were smoking and joking when they were supposed to be setting steel and taping targets. With a background of knowledge through observation, I could be called the “Emily Post” of 3-Gun.
The following is a list of what my 3 years as Squad Mom have taught me:
- Always arrive at your stage on time. Be ready for your 5-minute walk through at the start time. A wise man once said, “If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re 10 minutes late.” This definitely applies to 3-Gun. Do not make others wait for you!
- If there are paper score cards, make sure you have yours filled out and ready to hand to the range officer when you arrive at the stage. I put mine in the order I will be shooting and mark the stage numbers ahead of time.
- Upon arrival at your stage, wait until the previous squad is finished before you start walking on it. Not only does your interference slow down the squad in front of you but you also are getting in the way of the next shooter making his plan of attack.
- Listen as the range officer explains the stage. It’s plain courtesy.
- A 5-minute walk through is a 5-minute walk through! Don’t make your squad wait because you need to look just one more time.
- As a member of the squad, you are expected to set up steel and tape targets for all other competitors. The only time you don’t have to is when you are the on-deck shooter or you’ve just finished shooting.
- After you have shot the stage remember to sign your score sheet. Do not immediately walk to your car. Get your gear in order and sign that paper.
- Always remain at the stage until your entire squad is finished. You will need to reset targets before your squad moves on. If for some reason you need to leave, let more than one person know you’re leaving and why.
- A quick handshake and “Thank you!” to the range officers for volunteering their time to work the match is always appreciated.
- Pick up any trash and make sure you have all your belongings before moving on to your next stage.
- Check with other members of your squad and make sure everyone has a ride and confirm the time.
Hopefully, my etiquette list gives you some information on participating in 3-Gun and helps alleviate any apprehensions you might have. If you’re still unclear, find someone on your squad that looks like they know what they’re doing and ask questions. You might also consider becoming a Squad Mom and learn from behind the scenes, like I did. Whatever you decide, know that there are always people out there willing to help you along.