October 2-4th this year was the 5th annual Fallen Brethren 3-Gun down in Jacksboro, Texas. Held at their private range complex, the Spartan Tactical Crew has been putting on this match since 2010. I was lucky enough to compete in that first match, and it's only gotten better since.
This is one of my favorite matches. I recommend it to anyone serious about their 3-Gun shooting. That said, you need to know what you're in for to make the most of it, and you need to prepare.
The Lay of the Land
If you don't know, Spartan is headed up by none other than Jim Smith, formerly of U.S. Army Special Operations. After retiring, Jim went into the training business, focusing on tactical and hunting-oriented firearms. He also does consulting for big-name customers like Leupold Optics.
In between all that, Jim found the time to begin a world-class 3-Gun match five years ago. Thanks to Jim's background, Fallen Brethren differs from your ordinary 3-Gun event. The Spartan Tactical crew has cracked the code on how to run a national-level match like this.
Fallen Brethren favors rifle over pistol and shotgun with a strong focus on the accuracy side of the scoring continuum. What do I mean by that? Many events fall on the "speedier" side of the continuum: relatively easy targets engaged at utmost speed.
Not so at Fallen Brethren.
You'd better bring accuracy and a good rifle zero. Jim's stance is that this approach is more reflective of real-world practical shooting. Who am I to disagree?
This is truly a rifleman's match with longer-range steel targets (past 100 yards) presented on at least half the stages. The notorious Stage 9 presented 20 (!) targets past 150 yards, all engaged while touching the infamous boulder. The farthest was placed at a little over 600 yards.
FB3G also presents the shooter with stages requiring some offhand skills. These come in the form of targets out to about 100 yards that have to be engaged via unsupported offhand.
Pistol and shotgun are outside the norm as well. At least four of this year's stages included difficult pistol shots at 25 yards and beyond. That was a mercy since in 2010, Jim was cruel enough to put a Bianchi plate rack at 35 yards.
The shotgun targets tend to be easier with moderately difficult slug targets. This year had one all-shotgun stage with a bit of loading.
So how should you prepare for all of this? I focus on three areas in my train-up for this event:
For me, the pistol shooting drills of choice are easy. I shoot the Bianchi plate racks (i.e., the real deal Bianchi course of fire): two strings of six at 10, 15, 20, and 25. Rob Leatham doesn't call this "The Test" for nothing.
Second of all, I take an MGM B/C zone steel target and practice with it at 50 all the way to 75 yards. Long-range pistol targets are very popular in 3-Gun. Look no further than the Rocky Mountain 3-Gun, Blue Ridge 3-Gun and FNH USA if you don't believe me.
These two drills are the best that I've used. For FB3G in 2015, I used the same pistol that I used in 2010 (although I didn't shoot it as well): a CZ CTS Long Slide from CZ Custom.
On to the rifle.
At this year's match, I shot an 18" JP-15 with an ultralight contour barrel, LMOS™ and the Armageddon Gear roller trigger. I ran a Leupold Mk6 1-6x M-TMR reticle in a Warne SKEL mount shooting 75-grain Hornady HPBT bullets.
The biggest issue at this event is having a truly good zero and knowing the proper holds for each shot. It's one thing for a ballistic program to tell you where to hold. It's another thing to actually have gone on and shot at those distances.
If possible, actually shoot your rifle at 300, 400, 500 and even 600 yards to truly learn where those holds are. Don't trust your BDC reticle or your phone until that data is proven on the range.
Also, remember that elevation, temperature and other environmental changes will affect these holds. Make a point to shoot at the event's sight-in range to the maximum distance that you can.
For offhand training, I keep it simple: MGM lollipops at 50 and 100 yards on the clock. Don't rush the shot to make time up from the ready. I shoot for 1½ seconds at 50 and 2-3 seconds at 100.
That's hardly lightning speed, but I shoot for consistency. Remember what I said about the continuum? Getting consistent hits is what wins.
The last thing you should keep in mind is that he FB3G usually offers the shooters some choices on positions. This year, for example, you could shoot crouched off the rock or prone on Stage 9.
Now, I chose prone for stability but chose poorly. The rock offered enough stability and far more mobility in transitioning between targets. Prone was slightly more stable but required much more movement to see all the targets. Lesson learned.
The point is, be versed in shooting from multiple positions, including compromised ones. Learn where you and your rifle are strong and weak. Work to your strengths as much as possible, and have a plan for the stage before you start it.
Like I said at the start, the Fallen Brethren is a match I recommend often. Jim and his team really know what they're doing. If you're looking for a challenge—and can bring some good trigger control and a good zero—the FB3G is for you.