By Christian Swann, The Shooting Channel
Well I did it! “I survived the Task Force Dagger 3 Gun Match, at the legendary 4,500 acres training center, Legion Operator Training Center, coming in 13th place in my division. The TFD match is considered to be the 2nd hardest match in the nation. It was insane!
In recent years, the sport of 3 gun has become increasingly popular. Competitors use three different firearms for competing which includes: a modern sporting rifle, ( mostly AR’s ), a pistol and a shotgun.
To compete, shooters must move through different stages and engage targets in different positions while transitioning between firearms. You can compete in different divisions that vary by equipment requirements.
Limited is the entry-level division and is followed by Tactical, Heavy Metal (HeMan), Open and Outlaw Open. Requiring the same skills for combat or self-defense situations, 3 gun challenges shooters to stay calm and adapt to their surroundings. The goal of the shooter is to shoot the course with perfect accuracy in the best time possible. I personally went to open division this year and really loved it. But, it’s definitely the most expensive division to be in!
The author, with a heavy load, making her way to the next grueling stage.
On our first day we arrived at the range at 6:30 AM. I’d been fortunate to stay onsite at a cabin thanks to Marc Masoner at Legions, so I didn’t have a long drive. That morning we were treated to the most amazing sunrise, but after the sun rose and the briefing began, all hell broke loose. It was a total monsoon; torrential rain, flooding, mud up over your ankles and wind gust up to over 30 mph. This lasted all day and night!
Designed and laid out by Andy Horner and Mike Cassedy, known for creating the most challenging stages in 3 gun, the stages were challenging in every way. You not only had to take into consideration all of the aspects of the stages, shots, where your shot placement was going to be, or where you needed to place your slugs, but the weather conditions became a major factor. The mud was over your ankles, or deeper, in almost every stage.
The entire 3 days you were running in soaking wet clothes and shoes, covered in mud. I think my boots weighed at least 15 lbs by day two. Every stage had something everyone would remember for a long time to come.
There is no stopping the United States military. No legs, no problem. They just go compete in a grueling three gun competition.
Stage one, well the very first stage of the day, had a 185-yard pistol shot to make. No, not feet, yards!
Stage four was one of my favorites. You had to crawl on your belly through a tunnel and deep mud and take shots out of ports with your shotgun, maneuvering from side to side and forward, ground your shotgun, grab your rifle and sling it. Make your pistol shots while moving.
Grab an ammo can and run up a 3-story sniper tower. At the top, the wind was blowing, wet, etc. and you had to reach out and grab a rope and pull up your ammo from the ground, then load your rifle and make 6 long range shots from 2 different positions. All while being accurate and before the buzzer went off. Remember, in this match, everything is timed. Most stages have to be completed in less than 4 to 4 1/2 minutes.
Stage 6 was also great. It took place mostly in a dense wooded area. Again, mud almost up to your knees. This stage started with throwing a grenade into a bunker, grabbing your loaded shotgun that was sitting next to a tree, take out small steel targets all along the path on both sides, (most were pretty well hidden) and remember that there were 2 long range slug shots in there somewhere. Then at the edge of the woods, ground your shotgun.
In the middle of the very muddy dirt road was a 145 lb. plus soaking wet and muddy pretend victim on a sled that you had to pull about 30 yards while making multiple pistol shots. After you get the sled to the drop and clear area you un-sling your rifle and scale a large Army truck, then get into position and make 7 long range shots out to 500 yards.
It was a long, hard 4 days and not much sleep or food. On my drive home, hungry, tired, aching , blisters, I could only think that, however challenging, it had been only 4 days. Our men and women in uniform are called upon to do this for months at a time. Not knowing the end time, not having a hot shower at the end of the day, no $200,000 pot at the end of the race. Their prize? Well, it’s simple; they do it for our freedom. Please take a moment, reach out to a veteran and say “ thank you”.
Christian extends special thanks to the following sponsors, instructors and supporters: Templar Tactical Firearms and Suppressors; Core 15 Rifles; Carolina Guns and Gear; Clenzoil; Advantage Tactical Training Center; Logan Corse; Nic Irvin; Curtis Proske; Bram Frank; Mike Wasielewski, and most of all her husband, Greg George.