My First Midnight 3-Gun Match
Originally written for Guns & Tactics September 3, 2014
Jacqueline Carrizosa shares experiences from her first 3-gun match, ever. Welcome to the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-Gun Invitational.
I recently traveled to Bend, Oregon to compete at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-Gun Invitational and report on the event for Guns & Tactics Magazine. It’s the only match of its kind, taking place on the Oregon high desert with competitors shooting in the dark of night into early morning using lights, thermal imaging, night vision goggles, and lasers. It was an amazing experience and my first 3-gun match, ever.
The next few days would be filled with a schedule of activities that would effectively introduce me to 3-Gun. As media attendees, we got to attend workshops before the competition to help us understand how 3-gun works. It all starts with a big dinner and a who’s who of firearms industry media. Clearly the M3GI has made everyone’s radar and is an annual event not to be missed. The hours ahead are going to require me to learn fast and perform strong. Being that I’m so competitive by nature, I knew I would need plenty of energy.
Crimson Trace brought out top competitors, like the Team Miculek, to provide the media attendees with 3-gun training. Kay and Lena provided competitive shotgun training and Jerry Miculek presented rifle training. Chris Cerino was also there to help with pistol training. The training material was very straightforward and to the point, a learning experience I enjoyed. One of the main topics covered was natural points of aim to coincide with a natural swing of your arms while moving standing and firing to keep it consistent and rapid. That’s everyone’s goal after all right? Shoot fast and accurate! Jerry talked to us about plate rack engagements with a firm trigger press. Lena covered rapid shotgun loading from your belt. These little tips alone can help make or break the short time you have during each stage.
The Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association (COSSA) range was about an hour ride from our room at the Sunriver Resort. On the first night, we would shoot five stages and the action was scheduled to begin about 20:45.
My first stage at Lew’s Saloon went pretty smoothly! The experience of clearing the targets around the house at night was a little different than during the day. One of the challenges was finding the targets in the dark! That’s where the products and accessories come in handy. Light it up and get through your stage. To make things harder, at 01:30 in the morning it’s pretty cold in the desert. At one point during the night, I actually felt a mental slow down and froze up with a shiver before shooting the rest of a stage. So, if you’re thinking of shooting this event next year, realize that layering up is going to be essential to help keep your core warm and stay proficient on the guns!
The second night was a lot of fun and still very competitive. We started at Stage 10 with pistols shooting at three paper targets. Then shooters climbed into a modified Can-am Commander to engage targets with a mounted M249 SAW outfitted with a Crimson Trace Laser. Running full-auto spends ammo quickly. I watched a lot of shooters run out of ammo before reaching the last target! Shooting smart is definitely key in this stage as well.
FLIR was on the scene with thermal imaging scopes at one of the stages. This was one of my squad’s favorite stages to shoot. However, my personal favorite was Stage 6 “Click Click BOOM.” Stage 6 had you running with Night Vision Goggles from i2 Technologies and shooting the suppressed Glock and the Suppressed MK 109 from PWS.
On the first stage of the second night, I learned a hard lesson… The first string of targets are distant. By hitting these targets a shooter could add points to his or her score and I got through those pretty well. But, the second string of stage one was a different story. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not turning on my pistol’s light along with the laser to engage hidden targets in the dark. I had just been shooting with the laser only. I went too fast and missed some of the targets and when I re-engaged those targets I accidentally broke the 180-degree rule. Barely breaking that rule got me disqualified from the rest of the match, but it’s something that happens to even the best shooters from time to time. So, I sucked it up and learned my lesson the hard way. For the rest of the night, I focused on helping my squad and continued the learning by staying with them as they moved through the remaining stages, scoring them, and re-taping the targets. Understanding the rules and not breaking them is key to finishing the match.
Also, setting yourself and your gear up accordingly for each stage and string of shooting is important. You’ve got to take each stage as it’s own and not think that because you have everything set up from the previous string or stage that it will work on all of them. Using your weapons accessories to the best of their abilities will enhance your performance. If you can get more light, use it.
The overall winners at the event were the US Army Marksmanship Team’s Daniel Horner, taking his third win in a row at M3GI and claiming $10,000 cash grand prize, and Lena Miculek who took home “Lady High.”
In between stages I spoke with Lena Miculek about her career path in the firearms community and asked if she had always enjoyed it. Her answer was no. Lena grew up shooting with her parents both being on the range all the time, but the shooting wasn’t always the fire in her eyes. There were high expectations of Lena to live up to her parent’s status. However, Lena eventually connected with her passion for shooting and has now become of the very best female shooters in the world. We also talked with Shelley Giddings about the “negative-good commentary” she would receive. Shelley discussed experiences where sometimes the feedback is just not welcome. Some will give a pat on the back and say “awesome job” when the shots were just not up to her personal par. She would prefer to just have constructive criticism to help her hit her shots, rather than a false innuendo.
I also talked with Olympic Biathlete Twins Tracy and Lanny Barnes about female cargo pants. I myself have busted a few pairs of cargo pants trying to run, shoot, and just operate at the range. Having a strong athletic body, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wasted a few dollars here and there trying to find what utility pants could fit and perform well for me at the range. Lanny has quite the athletic body, too. The twins recommended trying the new 5.11 Tactical Cirrus and Stryke tactical pants for women. They are finished with a flex-tac fabric that stretches. The Teflon of the fabric provides superior protection against moisture, stains, and soil, and strengthened bartacking at all stress points provides enhanced resilience that stands up to the toughest operational environments. Definitely interested in getting my hands on a pair here soon!
In thinking about how to prepare at home for next year’s match, one tip I suggest is running on sand. Running on sand can take immense effort and require a lot of energy from your body. You’ll clear your stages faster if you get good at running in the sand. Running in sand is not the same as running on grass or dirt. When you throw your body’s momentum forward and dig your toes into the sand, your body leans in at a greater forward angle. With that greater angle, if your back leg can not catch up quickly enough to take the next step in your sprint you could fall flat on your face. To avoid this, sprint light and slightly flatfooted to avoid digging your toes into the sand and use your hips to drive your legs through your sprints. Find some sand and give this technique a try!
The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational is truly a unique nighttime 3-gun event and has become a must shoot for many of the pros. Each year the event grows more in popularity and scope. Crimson Trace had demonstrated the utmost professionalism while running the event and really took good care of everyone who attended. Safety was definitely paramount at all stages and throughout the event. I’ll definitely be taking home the lessons learned in the dark and integrating them into my firearms training classes I instruct in Las Vegas, Nevada.
**UPDATE AUG 2020**
Unfortunately, this was actually the last match they threw together for the Midnight 3GUN. Crimson Trace is still in business, but no longer hosts this match.