RM3G: What It Takes

By Victor Gold

The JP Enterprises Rocky Mountain 3-Gun has never left my match calendar since 2010. With plenty of matches to choose from each year, the RM3G is a no-brainer every time.

One of many draws for this event is the venue: the NRA Whittington Center. This 33,000-acre facility is really a thing to behold. In addition to established ranges for every shooting discipline, the beautiful natural terrain allows for a one-of-a-kind 3-Gun match.

If you're a gun guy or gal, you owe it to yourself to make a trip to Raton, New Mexico and check it out. Call it a pilgrimage. If you're interested, find out more at nrawc.org.

Both the venue and the format make the RM3G a different kind of match than any you've come across before. This is doubly true if you're used to shooting smaller, very contained courses of fire. For some ranges in some parts of the country, there's all there is. The RM3G is a different beast entirely.

If you plan to shoot the RM3G—and I definitely recommend it—here are my tips:

  1. Get there in advance so you have time to acclimate. The Whittington Center approaches 7000 feet elevation. Especially if you're coming from a low-lying area, you'll appreciate an extra day or two to adjust.
  2. Take the opportunity to do stage recon—just another reason to get there early. To do this properly at RM3G takes about a day. Stage designer JJ Johnson is a sadistic bastard creative genius with a predilection for unique (read: hidden) target presentations. On your prep day, do the following:
    1. Verify zero on your rifle. You'll likely need to take a click or two off your elevation given the thin air.
    2. Locate all of the targets on each stage. Sometimes the foliage can make this tricky, so best to get it done when you're not under pressure.
    3. Lase all of the long-range rifle targets. (You have a good range finder, right?)
    4. Develop a rough stage plan. This could change as you get closer to shooting, but you won't show up to any stage cold.
  3. Bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. You may not need either depending on the weather. But if you do, you'll be glad you came prepared.
  4. Drink lots of water. There's water provided at each stage, but bring plenty of your own and don't skimp with it.
  5. Know your dope out to 650. This is a marksman's match, especially with the rifle. A lot of the long-range rifle shots come at the end of the stages. So, be prepared for precision even once you're winded.
  6. Be able to hit with slugs to 100 yards and pistol to 50. This isn't your standard square-range match. The stage design can afford to be very decompressed.
  7. Consider bringing a popup canopy for shade. Not only will you be out of the sun, you'll be very popular with your squad mates.
  8. Get in shape. Let's be honest – a little cardio, strength training and flexibility will yield benefits for all of us on and off the range.
  9. Make some friends or bring some along. Shooting buddies are great, and the longer I do this, the more it's about relationships.
  10. Practice doing stuff with your rifle slung:
    1. Shooting and loading your shotgun
    2. Shooting and reloading your pistol
    3. Running uphill over rough terrain
    4. Unslinging the rifle, getting it loaded and getting it into action
  11. Consider trying another division. In his after-match speech, John Paul often reminds us that we're not there to take something nice off the prize table. Rather, we are there to hone a skillset that is "uniquely American."

He's right, of course. That said, if you've ever thought of trying Limited or one of the Heavy divisions, this match would be a good place to do it. Prizes are aggregated (i.e., one table for all and not separated by division). So, the competitors walk the table based on their percentage of their division's winner.

In other words, you could shoot Limited Scope, but be prepared for some superhuman in a yellow jersey (Army Strong!) to crush the field. Delivered the same performance in another division, and you could be walking the prize table quite a bit sooner. If your prize is very important to you, it's something to think about.

There's some advice from a six-year veteran of the RM3G. I hope you'll take it to heart, and maybe I'll see you out in New Mexico next year.

If you want a taste, take a look at my stage run on Stage 7 at this year's match.


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